Council Meeting 21 May 2014
Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 11:14AM
Bill Barclay

One can only imagine that the appropriate staff are tearing their hair out at their inability to post accessible documents on the Website - it is now Tuesday midday, and still the only way to view tomorrows agenda is to wait five minutes while the entire 308 page document is downloaded on PDF, and then go searching for whatever interests you - what a circus, but fairly indicative of the manner in which the outfit is currently managed.

It is a pity, because there are some interesting papers that should be read - closely, starting with Sam Napia's on the "Triennial Agreement and Other Waikato Mayoral Forum Initiatives". I wish I could bring you the entire text - it reflects the shouted announcement in yesterday's Waikato Times of "Leach's Divorce". Actually, the language used by Sam is deeply reminiscent of some of Leach's more rhetorical outbursts, and either shows that Sam is tired of being used as sword carrier, or is otherwise content to play his part in the the Great Unitary Authority Debate in the hope of some payoff down the line. 

Either way, it appears that there is no room for debate - the issue is closed as far as Leach (and apparently staff!) are concerned, and we, the public are left simply to fall into line - never mind economic, or practical arguments to the contrary that doubters may have chosen to explore in any public debate on the issue. Leach calls the tune, and has slammed the door shut on dissent. He obviously considers that the Morrison Low Report on the subject is the last word, and based on his reported bullying during the Annual Plan process, don't expect any tolerance for those who choose to argue contrary views during any public hearings.

Leach's attitude is of course a disgrace, but the fact the supposedly neutral bureaucrats are be prepared to take up the cudgels on his behalf doubles the damage to democratic process. It is reflective of the damage done by Nick Smith in championing the new mayoral powers - we may be the first, but we will certainly not be the last to suffer the consequences. But Leach will certainly be the poster-boy for the new arrangements - just you wait - Henry Higgins, just you wait!

In the meantime, just get your head around this piece of Napiaism (verbatim!):

"The proposed Triennial Agreement includes an attachment of Mayoral Forum work streams, including the proposed Waikato Spatial Plan of which this Council is unsupportive."


"A strong theme throughout the proposed Triennial Agreement is the notion of "One Voice". This is a lovely sentiment. However, the Policy Committee considered that it would be better to meet the the statutory requirements of the Triennial Agreement before attempting to codify a sentiment that sadly in recent times has manifested in media statements emanating from a Mayoral Forum and regional council purporting to include this council's support for a matter that is known to be disagreeable to this council."

There follows a convoluted argument around sections of the Local Government Act that purport to provide support for TCDC's position, and clarifying what is obviously a major issue surrounding mediation. 

It then proceeds to define TCDC's requirements that will need to be incorporated into the Triennial Agreement before it will sign, and thus provide validation. It is a perfect example of the foot-stamping childishness redolent throughout the remainder of the document. There appears no room for negotiation - simply a threat that without TCDC's wording, there will be no Agreement, and the old Agreement will continue in force. The re-worded Attachment A (the Triennial Agreement) is appended to the Paper wherein TCDC's objections to the Spatial Plan are outlined - apparently because of its "fundamentally flawed" Business Case.

The TCDC attitude to the Business Case is summed up as follows:

"It is the staff view that the proposed Waikato Spatial Plan can hardly be considered as an effective instrument because the business case on which this edifice is based is a foundation of sand."

I kid you not - that is the actual wording in the Report to Council.

Of course, these sentiments may fully represent a deeply held view, but one has to question just how valid these views may be in the face of what appears to be universal support for the Agreement from the remaining members of the Mayoral Forum. There is no doubt that Leach was deeply offended by the failure of any other Mayor to support his motion at the meeting earlier in the year when he proposed delaying the Triennial Agreement until unity had been achieved. He was on his own, and probably felt totally justified in shunning further approaches. I would love to know just where John Tredigda stands on the matter - he cannot posssibly be supporting Leach, and has not to my knowledge come out publicly to express a view one way or the other regarding the proposed Unitary Authority that is being so widely discussed. 

There appears to be deep exasperation being expressed in other quarters at Leach's uncompromising stand, but on the other hand, a lack of clear understanding as to the position from whence Glenn is coming. They clearly are puzzled by the standing Leach claims, or gives to the famous Robinson Petition, and most probably wonder what the hell is going on. They appear ignorant in the main of this Council's absolute commitment (nay, reliance) on the tourism industry to keep its place in the economic tables that are production based elsewhere in the District.

But none of this justifies the absolute head-buttingly contrary position that Leach and his staff are now openly propounding. It is childish, damaging and not in the interests of the rate-payers of this District. They of course won't necessarily understand the consequences of this until the bills come in. Nothing has been presented to date that indicates the cost of this pig-headed policy. Like all consultants, Morrison Low can read the tea-leaves, and are quite capable of presenting a report that supports the view that our Mayor has made abundantly clear to all - why would they do otherwise - they already have further consulting assignments in the bag (see By-law Review!).




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