Whitianga Public Meeting
Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:45AM
Bill Barclay

The Apology

Thames-Coromandel Mayor Glenn Leach and Chief Executive David Hammond expressed their most sincere apologies to the ratepayers of Mercury Bay, the wider community and those who attended a public meeting this afternoon to hear about the $1.4m overspend for the development of the Mercury Bay Multi Sport Park.                                                                                                                               

"On behalf of the Thames-Coromandel District Council and our elected members we want to apologise to the Mercury Bay Ratepayers, the wider community and anyone affected by the mistakes that have occurred in the development of the Multi Sport Park project," Chief Executive David Hammond said to more than 100 people who attended the meeting.                                                                                   

"Our mission is to be accountable and transparent to you all in what we deliver and today is part of doing this. This issue has rocked my team to its core and the implications are still ongoing. We want to bring this to a conclusion as soon as possible," said Mr Hammond.                                                      

"We can assure that in our time this is not going to happen again.  Our commitment going forward is to work with you to make this facility something that we are all proud of now and in the future," said Mayor Leach.

This abject public apology issued at yesterday’s meeting at Whitianga was timely, and appropriate. It is a perfect example of public relations at its best, and would have followed intense internal self-examination, and realisation that gross errors have occurred that could and would not be overlooked. The errors were rooted in the culture that has developed over a long period of time, and David Hammond must be given every support in his efforts to get to the bottom of it and institute lasting reforms. I am sure that all of us wish him well in that regard.

It was fully in accord with the reasonable and measured approach he demonstrated during his contribution to the presentation. That was in complete contrast to Mayor Leach who preceded him. When all the spluttering rhetoric was deconstructed, it was clear was that his fury was not only directed at the previous Council, but at the press (and “a blog!”) that had deliberately set out to undermine his administration that had been instrumental in moving the District in the right direction.  

His outburst was something to behold - vitriolic, sustained, apoplectic and comical - not humorous, but mesmerizing as he strode about sans microphone, waving his arms and unloading. This we have grown used to, but it was clearly impressive stuff for the 100 or so elderly and club types who attended – National is alive and well in Whitianga, and Glenn’s legion of supporters in the town were not going to miss this fracas.

He mentioned Noel Hewlett, but attacked Dal Minogue directly with casual regard to the truth, and with bile aplenty. He subsequently attempted through a weak Chairman to prevent Dal making any reply or defence of his actions. All Dal was able to do was point out that a major plank of Leach's accusations concerning the knowledge the 2004 Council had of the famous Deed before it was ‘sealed’ was if fact completely contradicted by the content of a letter Dal had in his hand from David Hammond. Leach simply said “I have no knowledge of that” before continuing unabashed with his diatribe, and the loyal followers called on Dal to “Sit down!” Buffoonish may be a strong word to describe our Mayor, but it certainly sprang to the lips of several of those who witnessed the performance, and to whom I spoke. 

Predictably, and with venom, a concerted effort to move the entire political blame for the debacle on to the previous Council is underway, and Leach dropped deep, dark hints that he “had more to reveal in that regard”, and that he would pursue the truth to the end to ensure that those responsible were named and shamed. I don’t hold much fear that he has anything of significance to offer, but he will undoubtedly use his powerful new spin doctor outfit to lash out in an attempt to remove any possible political backlash against him or his compliant "team".  He certainly was unable to point to anything new yesterday that constituted a ‘smoking gun’.

The apology says it all really.




Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
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