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Tuesday
Jun042013

TCDC Stalwart Leaving After 25 Years

The long awaited departure of John Whittle takes place at the end of the month - it appears that he is going out on voluntary redundancy which is probably the best that Council could have engineered in the circumstances. Here is the Press Release

John's departure has been a case of when, not if following the further shemozzle at Whitianga Sports-complex. He is not the only one who will have to carry the can for this, but he was at the top of the pyramid, and has been responsible for most of the embarrassing mistakes that have occurred over the last few years - most notably the Wastewater plants that came in over-engineered and over-priced. His close association with the Hoppers and with the development of the Whangamata marina left a bad tase in the mouths of a number of his colleagues, and certainly elected members.  His eyes-wide-open approach and almost child-like conviction of the rightness of path he wished Council to take was often shaken, but never stirred.

On the other hand, he was a well liked, and professional servant of Council who developed many close friendships over the years amongst those who needed to deal with him. He was closely aligned with  Steve Ruru - Steve relied on him to maintain the party line on all issues dealing with the Council - an uncomfortable relationship I would have to say. Johns modus was to get in an get the job done and worry about how it was to be paid for later. He could not possibly have continued under the current regime for whom he was an easy scapegoat - there were no past loyalties or allegiances to protect him - certainly not McLean who was probably the only one whom he he could have called on. In the end, the politics was just too great, and I have no doubt that he was one of those fingered in the still (and forever) confidential Deloitte Staff Report.

The Presser make interesting reading, and has probably been through the hands of a multitude of lawyers before arriving at an acceptable wording. This excerpt gives the flavour:

 "Given the new Council direction and having moved his Group to a very solid position under his tenure, Mr Whittle has decided to take voluntary redundancy.

"John was the Area Manager for Whangamata before a promotion to Group Manager overseeing our big ticket activities such as water, waste water, storm water, solid-waste, recreation and harbour facilities and roading-services for the past 13 years" said Chief Executive David Hammond.

"I have been incredibly impressed at his contribution recently to the Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki and Matamata-Piako District Council's solid waste joint-service contract".

25 years and all he gets praise for is the solid waste joint service contract. I can't imagine that John will be terribly impressed with Hammond being "terribly impressed." John is entitled to feel a little miffed, but he was part of a past, very unsatisfactory regime going back 12 years or more, and although there are good grounds to lay responsibility for the outrageous over-build of the wastewater plants at the door of the 'growth' advisors at the time - Waikato University, John has to take responsibility for allowing the Whitianga SC situation to get away, and ultimately for allowing staff at that office to ride rough-shod over processes and procedures.

Then again, someone has to also take responsibility for the total failure of project accounting systems. I wonder who that will be? And when that other shoe will fall.

In the meantime, if the delay actioning this process has been down to extended head-scratching over disciplinary action that may have saved a huge (25 years and he is probably on about $250,000 - work it out for yourself) redundancy package, it seems that this was not to be. John walks with the package, and I presume whoever else the buck stops with will now do the same. All too difficult!

Anyway - Go well John - I have no beef with you, and enjoyed an excellent relationship over the years. You are well shot of this lot.    

 

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