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An Unfortunate Episode!

There was a notable outburst today when Leach intervened in a reply from Steve Baker to a legitimate question from Strat Peters regarding the treatment being accorded “Internal Borrowing.” Glenn turned his comments into an attack on me personally, and my integrity, intelligence, writing ability, and virtually everything else. I cannot recall if my antecedents were called into question, but short of foul language, it was a stupendous and concerted display of venom, vitriol and vituperation on a rising crescendo.

After two to three minutes of this I came to the conclusion that it could only end in disaster if I stayed – such was his state, and I left the Chamber. My departure was accompanied with a string of abusive language from Glenn, followed by him bursting through the door after me demanding that I accompany him to his office.

I instead re-entered the room to recover my jacket and was met by an ashen faced Peter French rushing out and imploring Glenn to “calm down”. He and Cr Goudie accompanied him to his office while someone amongst those remaining suggested that a break for lunch would be a good idea. I left, but returned to the Chamber for the start of the afternoon session, and noted a certain frisson, if not tension in the air.

I really think that it is time that there was a sign from others in the room that it is not only undignified, but unacceptable for a Chair in meetings like this to behave in this manner - even allowing for the fact that Nick Smith’s amendments to the Local Government Act have settled almost dictatorial powers on to mayors. It is up to councils to reign in people like Glenn who lack self control, and who are so enamoured with their own infallibility that anyone who expresses a contrary view is immediately, and comprehensively vilified. His Council is frankly, cowed, and his Chief Executive’s performance this morning gutless – his failure to intervene was a tragic display of of his all too obvious inadequacies.  

I am unfamiliar with the basics of bar-room brawling, which I suspect is where we were heading this morning, but I am generally able to hold my own in most debating situations. What is happening in our Council does not amount to debate at any level – it is simply bullying – there is no other word for it, and I don’t wonder that other mayors and staff from within the Region are over Glenn.

It was probably the post on the Triennial Agreement that got up Glenn’s nose, though I suspect that everything I write raises his blood pressure to some degree. Amongst other things, he accused me of  criticising staff, and I surely was hard on Sam Napia on this occasion. But Sam was fine about it when I spoke to him during morning tea – I have known Sam for many years, was immensely supportive of his effort during the Moanataiari debate with WRC. Nevertheless, I still believe that his Paper on the Triennial Agreement was heavily weighted to one particular point of view, and unworthy.

Staff should be very careful when placed in this situation with a dominant mayor. They have an obligation to rate-payers to present impartial position papers to Council, even if they express a view in their recommendations. Presumably Sam is one of the 24 staff who we were told today are paid in excess of $100,000 a year - at that rate, if any of them feel that they are beyond criticism then they are in the wrong job. Every other reference to staff in recent posts has been positive, Hammond and Day excepted. .

I am heartily sick of this nonsense, and will refrain from further comment on the matter. Nothing is going to change as regards the blog – with well over 1,000 unique visitors a week, I will continue to express my views. If others, including Glenn don’t like them then they don’t have to read them – it is that simple. If he feels that I am not giving him or his Council a fair shake, let him respond in kind.

Bawling me out inside a public Council meeting is futile, pointless and embarrassing to all concerned. And it could be life threatening!


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Reader Comments (15)

Good Grief. What an appalling state of affairs. The man is not fit to lead a booze up in a brewery let along a Council. it is best that he retires at the end of this term before he does too much more damage to the reputation of local government. it is this kind of behavior that enables Central Government to treat the local government with disdain.

May 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Once again Leach shows his true colours – what a buffoon. Once word of his outburst got around staff were cringing in their seats embarrassed at such lack of self-control by this so called leader. The fact that his lap dog Hammond did nothing just confirms what’s in store for staff who don’t toe his line – they’ll be left to hang by the very person who they should expect support from. But I guess since Hammond displays no respect for staff what else can we expect. Don’t back down Bill…’ve obviously exposed another weakness in Leach and his lack of ability to compose himself when the going gets tough is just another nail in his coffin.

May 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterInsider

What the Hell--- Leach has always been known to be a bully - but such outbursts drags down the Office of Mayor. Such boorish antics are unbecoming for a civic leader. what is more sadder is that it would appear not one councillor called a point of order or remonstrated with Leach--- are all the current lot of elected members just plain gutless??
This Council is on a slippery downward slope -- every month more and more staff are leaving - eventually, there will be no 'knowledge' left in the building-- those left appear to just going through the motions - hanging out for the 2016 elections, when hopefully, what one can only describe as the worst Mayor of all times, gets his marching orders. I guess such behaviour could be traced back to the fact that Leach refused to attend the NZ LG Mayors induction course at the beginning of his term of office. This person is cringe material and we, the ratepayers have him as 'our' Mayor - maybe the Regions Mayors can give him some lessons in statemanship - though I doubt whether Leach would understand what they are on about. Was the HH present? They would be too concerned about their advertising deals, I suspect, to openly criticise Leach
Bring on 2016--- we need a total clean out.

May 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDog Tucker

Maybe the owners/editors of the local papers/radio station already knew of this risk to their personal safety.

Is that why they have not criticised him since his election?

Or are there other reasons?

Keep up the good work Bill.

Maybe internal borrowings do not matter as there will always be growth, right? At least you will have reserves to carry you through any long dips, right?

It is not like you have to rebuild wastewater plants [Thames? Coromandel Town?] or stormwater assets etc in the future? Oh wait, well, if you do, hey you can just use the money that you are required to have put away for there replacement, oh wait a minute, damn, we spent that keeping the rates down to make us look good. Oops!

No worries, the future ratepayers can pay for that! That will be someone else's problem! It is not like interest rates are going up?

Don't let politics or self interest get in the way of making good decisions.

At least the sound, considered, intelligent and respectful debates in the Council chambers where member freely challenge their counterparts views and positions over these matters will prevent this from happening.

Good luck people of the Coromandel, you might need it!

May 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVeni, vidi, abiit

Leach was gifted the mayoralty by the element within the Coromandel branch of the National Party that effectively has political control over it. It is a shame they involve themselves in local politics. But I suppose when you have the power to determine these things by influencing public opinion through a very powerful network, the temptation just becomes too great.

However, it is high time those members of that organisation took responsibility for Leach - they and they alone put him there. Outside this District and the backslapping of this group of 'king-makers' he is a public embarrassment of even greater magnitude than Sandra Goudie (and that's saying something).

But the the thing that is of most concern is the total power Leach has been gifted by these people to determine everything. A healthy, fully functioning Council should be widely representative of all elements in the community, not just of the one dominant political group.

God on you Bill for exposing the big political sickness in our community.

It would be unfair to blame the National party machine for the election of Glen Leach. There is no doubt that members of the National Party on the Coromandel, and it's known associates, did promote and campaign for Glen Leach, but they were really campaigning for themselves, or their own vested interests, AGAINST Adrian Catran [also a known National Party supporter], and it's the campaign AGAINST Catran that carried the day. Why? Because Catran was an opponent to the Mercury Bay Sports Complex contra deal, which is now a multi million dollar additional liability for TCDC because of changes to the Development Contributions legislation. Catran was not about doing any favors for anybody and harbours a concern for the good of the community, rather than the good of a few.
His opposition to property re zoning and permits for building in places that did not meet the established safe sensible criteria made him no friends. He acted in the best interests of the ratepayers who would carry liability for building mistakes, which is what he had been elected to do.
Decline in property sales in urban areas like Mercury Bay has left the TCDC with some liabilities Catran would have never allowed. He was all for tearing up the 'secret deed' no matter what it cost. The request for audit of Mercury Bay project procedure recommended by the audit committee, just prior to the 2007 election, would have been more promptly attended to, and the staffing issues would have been dealt with in a proper manner.
Individuals campaigned against Catran and for Leach, which some may now have cause to regret.
In the personality race Glen winds hands down over Adrian on first meeting, so it was an easy assassination.
In Thames I observed the campaign against Catran being assisted by Strat Peters who in company with a number of leading citizens, several now deceased, set out to put Leach in, because the promise was immediate reinstatement of the Zoom Zone project, a basketball hard court to be funded by the Thames Community for the benefit of a few, whose children will have grown up and left town by the time anything is going to be done.
Similarly it appeared the Dunwoodies campaigned for someone who would fund their pet Treasury Project, already the recipient of a lot of Thames Development capital, which Catran had said was as much as they deserved, only to find that Leach looking at the council accounts had no option but to say “NO” to everything, including the $80-100k for Treasury, because the council accounts were, and still are, a bigger mess than anyone realises.

To his credit Leach has done his best, and in the face of a major turnaround in the fortunes of property development on which the budgets of the TCDC relied heavily, has applied the brakes and sought to bring back 'area of benefit' rating and 'local empowerment' which has introduced more costs for all concerned, in part masked by borrowing.

The “borrowing” has not gone up, it's the “where it is applied” that has changed.

Every councilor apart from Sandra Goudie, has what they promised “In the Plan” but having something “In the Plan” is a far cry from actually having it happen.

Anything that does not show promise of an immediate tourist benefit [like those walkways] has zero priority, and next in line are things that will bring industry and employment, which the research now shows is limited to retirement or handicapped care, and fishing competitions.

Leach's failing is his inability to keep to the subject, and his use of council meetings to publicly attack anyone who disagrees with him, has criticized him, or he sees as an obstacle.

His tirades, which are becoming louder, longer, and more regular, are an embarrassment, which he needs to be counseled about.

Sitting in the foyer on any day the Mayor is “in” you are left in no doubt there is something wrong here.

My fear is the uncontrolled outbursts may be the external symptoms of a more serious issue over which Mayor Glen Leach has no control.

Give credit to the National party machine for having far more effective management over that which it is truly responsible for.

May 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Elephant

While I agree with the Elephant about some of what he says, some correction is in order.

First, I did not blame "the National Party Machine for the election of Glenn Leach" but "the element within the Coromandel branch of the National Party that effectively has political control over it (ie over the national party machine)". There is a big difference. Yes Dunwoodie is a member of that element - and I could name some others too such as Abrahamson from Whitianga for one.

Also, If I recall the 2010 Mayoral election, Leach was not just campaigning against Catran, but against Minogue and Barriball too (Barriball having lost credibility with the above National Party 'element' due to some stupid antics which effectively also created the disfunction within the 2007-10 Council). In fact at the Thames mayoral candidate meeting (which I attended), most of his vitriol was directed against Minogue not Catran as he was the real threat to his mayoralty.

Also, anyone who claims they could have thrown out the 'Mercury sports complex contra deal' ( by which one can only imagine is meant the the 2004 Deed between the Council and Hoppers) is very badly informed as that deal was shown to be legally binding on the Council if I recall correctly. So sorry elephant, you are a little misinformed there.

True borrowing may not have gone up, but its real level is being constantly lied about through denying the existence of 'internal borrowing' and through the misapprehension that it has been reduced through 'cost efficiency gains' instead of simple reductions in capital spending (effectively creating a capital deficit which will somehow have to be funded by future ratepayers).

Also, I think you will find that 'area of benefit funding' and 'local empowerment' is mostly smoke and mirrors. After all one of the first big decisions by the leach Council was to introduce 'one district' funding for reticulated water and wastewater (funding for which constitutes over a third of Council rates collection).

Elephants can forget, though they certainly have good sentiments!

Re National Party-- basically they were behind the election of the last 3 Mayors in the District--- Barriball used the system very successfully in 04
Not sure if Catran is a paid up member of the National Party-it is probably news to him as well!
with regards to 'tearing up the Deed'-- there always was the element that the deed may not have been ethically binding as it was signed by the then current Mayor, Lux and a senior staff member on the last day of the councils term - without public consultation as I understand it. What did stop the reversal of the deed was the fact that council had changed the 'use' of the land in question and would have had to reverse the reserve classification to hand back the land to Hoppers. It begs the question why council purchased the Sheriff's land for a sports field knowing Council was in co-horts with the Whitianga Waterways. The other concern was, I believe, the fact that Hoppers/Council had carried over reserve credits from the Hardy Estate, which was part and parcel of the deal, from what could be gleaned at the time.
There is absolutely no doubt that the National Party was heavily involved in supporting one candidate in particular-- even to the point that Murray McLean [former National Party MP] pulled his Mayoral nomination [with days to spare], transferring his support to Leach - so go figure- no doubt strings were being pulled!!

May 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDog tucker

There is no doubt Leach attacked Minogue in Thames, and at other 'public' meetings, knowing Minogue was dead in the water from the beginning. As the author of the 'dysfunction' Minogue was an easy target. Niggling Minogue put him off his game. Leach was well coached! Leach knew Barribal was 'off the ticket' [she defied instructions and stood] and he also knew Catran had been kneecapped. The meeting(s) you did not attend featured Leach alone and the one I attended in Thames along with 20 or so others were left in no doubt as to who was the serious threat.
There were other 'Leach alone' meetings, and Catran was skewered at each one. The one in Whitianga left men of conscience wondering where we were going. Whitianga wanted no more of Minogue because he had [in ignorance] helped create the situation Mercury Bay was, and still is, in.
The 'public' meetings were relatively mild.
This was a well structured, ruthlessly prosecuted, campaign managed by an effective well funded team on behalf of vested interests none of whom were anywhere near the firing line.

And yes McLean did what he was told, and has continued to do so.

May 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Elephant

Can the elephant come clean - is he or is he not (shudder) a frigging Goudie supporter?

May 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCurious

Our elected members have failed us. Why aren't they standing up against this bully? Governance is failing the Coromandel. We expect an open debate on the issues. Not a dictatorship. Decisions and debate full of emotion, bitterness and subjectivity is what we've got as well as a bunch of spineless councillors. How long will the silent majority on council put up with this? They seem to just sit there like dummies getting lectured by the headmaster. Everyone focuses on Leach and the CEO - what about the rest of our elected representatives?? The CEO is clearly out of his depth and should resign before he also helps sink the ship. Leach picked a gutless imposter whose smooth talking can't get him out of the mess he is creating. Maybe Leach picked him because he was easily controlled? A well known light-weight who made a real mess at his last job. Reference checking?

May 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterOver it

Connors and Peters walking out? Back by lunchtime I am told! Nothing like a 'free' lunch to overcome your principles. Cowards. No one seems to disagree with the "Mayor" when it comes to Thames getting shafted by Mercury Bay elected members!. Let's all pay for Whitianga's cemetery with 300 years of capacity, and their toilets because its so unfair that they get so many tourists spending money up that way. Watch the Thames Councillors fold when it comes to keeping toilets and cemeteries "district funded". Thames needs to stand up and fight.

May 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSleepy on fluoride

'Over it's' question "Our elected members have failed us. Why aren't they standing up against this bully?" is easy to answer.

Because if your elected members do stand up to Leach, they'll be accused of 'dysfunction' by the powers that lay behind the throne and lose their position!

That's the way the backroom-National-Party-self-appointed-elite have appropriated control of the local government political process.

They elect a mayor who'll do what they want (the fact that is half mad and bonkers doesn't really come into it - it doesn't matter diddly to them) and declare anyone who argues against him 'dysfunctional' and to be removed from office at the first opportunity.

Unfortunately, I agree with 'stunned but not surprised's' comment that it's not healthy for these NP backroomers to involve themselves in local politics like this - but that this is perhaps inevitable as (quote)"...when you have the power to determine these things by influencing public opinion through a very powerful network, the temptation just becomes too great (to not do it)".

We are all stuffed and that's a fact.

May 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeader than a Dodo

Dear Curious
I am not and have never been a supporter of Mrs Goudie as a political candidate. She was not that flash as a councilor first time round. Her performance as a representative for the Coromandel electorate was poor, her performance in the house equally poor, and her select committee behaviour an embarrassment. The National Party, short on quality material, has tended to select party hacks in safe seats who will do what they are told, spout the party mantra, and collect the pension. You can manage government with a dozen intelligent people, and use the rest to make up the numbers. You just need a few attractive [to voters] ones to pick up the marginal seats.
Scott Simpson by contrast is one of the reserves for the top team and is part of a National Party rejuvenation which is not part of this discussion. He is the first MP of any quality in this electorate in living memory.
Goudie has as a councilor shown glimmers of experience, if not intelligence, and she can spot a staff rort at 100 paces. She obviously has good inside information [VERY good inside information], and is impatient at the glacial progress of business in council.
As the 'one who is coming' for mayor at the next election she could be yet another disaster in a long line of poor selections, who, Leach excepted, seemed interested only in having something re zoned for their personal benefit.
The mayoral outsider at this stage is Murray [teflon] McLean who has to be on a promise.
There may yet be a struggle over who gets to pull the strings on this Punch and Judy Show!

May 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Elephant

Okay - that is enough. The comments have deviated to say the least, but are all interesting.
Comments on this post are now closed.

May 23, 2014 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

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