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TCDC at Crossroads

There have recently been disturbing indications of a remarkable malaise within the Castle leading to upheavals of even greater significance than those of earlier this and last year. What is even more remarkable is the manner in which these upheavals have been disguised, or even hidden from the public gaze by the use of extensive ‘gagging’ clauses in severance contracts.

With a reported 45% turnover of staff since the advent of this Council, there is no way that extensive institutional knowledge can be maintained, and with morale at an all-time low, discipline can really only be sustained under threats and with an atmosphere of insecurity permeating the whole place.

Such is the situation reportedly being experienced within our Council, led by a Chief Executive who appears to be totally out of his depth, and a Mayor renowned for day to day staff interference, and ego driven projects masquerading as policy.

Dita De Boni in her NZH column last Friday quotes from a ‘Forbes’ article by Victor Lipman -“Grandiosity - which can be mistaken for vision - as well as other psychopathic traits are also qualities that can help one get ahead", he says. “But for how long?”, asks Ms De Bono. “People with these corrosive tendencies are counter-productive. A bullying blowhard can get results for only so long, before teams implode and stress claims skyrocket.”

There appears no way of getting to the bottom of what exactly is happening because the people to whom it is, or has happened must defend financial pay-outs and other incentives designed to prevent them from describing the conditions that have led to their departure. Those that remain stay silent and siloed within their areas of work, constantly bedevilled by investigations and repeated warnings of the consequences of disclosure.

This is apparently what has led to an unprecedented situation with several senior staff having recently instituted grievance cases. There are even reports of one senior staff member being granted six months ‘stress’ leave, and another having secured a substantial cash settlement of his grievance. More cases may well be on the way with untold financial implications for Council, and rate-payers.

In addition, there have been several reports earlier in this and the previous term of bullying and sexual harassment, leading to substantial cash settlements. This only happens when an organisation suffers from incompetent leadership, leading to ‘down-line’ fear and trepidation. 

It is time all of this was brought out in the open. Perhaps the recent advent of what is reported as an extremely successful PSA membership drive may lead to more transparency. It will only be when its members feel sufficiently confident to break their silence in a unified manner that some of this malaise may be brought  into the open, and those responsible held to account.


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Reader Comments (5)

Word is out that 'short term managers' have been engaged to take over Katina Conomos and Murray Fosters positions at an eye watering amount of money [many thousands of dollars I believe] - can anybody please confirm??
Toxic is a word that is used to describe current working conditions within Council so not surprised that my former colleaque's have turned to the PSA for advice and succor. For those left-- there is life outside council!!!
What I wonder is the current cost to Council in dollar terms of all these resignation and redundances payments???
The cost in loss of knowledge must be phenominal.

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAloe Vera

Really sad. I have not heard any good things come from staff when describing the work environment recently. I guess nothing has changed.

I really wonder how people can expect an organisation to be functional and serve the people effectively when it produces such a negative and intimidating environment for staff.

Mind you it is interesting when you look at the leaked emails which are currently national news, it goes to show that if you control the media you control peoples opinions. Well until the truth comes out I guess.

Certainly a huge amount of knowledge has walked out that door, there never seems to be a real value placed on corporate knowledge but it certainly can make things cheaper in the long run. Been a few wheels reinvented over the years.

Would love to know if you could OIA the total volume of money that has been provided to staff who have left which is over and above any normal contractual obligation, i.e. unused leave etc. No names, no details, just total amount of public money spent?

Number of PSA members before and after would be an interesting stat too.

Keep up the good work Bill, even though it must be tiring and frustrating at times.

It is good to know that not all Councils in NZ are not the same and that there is a good life to be had outside of the Coromandel. Sad fact is a lot of staff can not leave due to other personal factors. Nothing like feeling trapped to help with the 8-5 motivation.

August 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVeni, vidi, abiit

Yes, to those in the know, the TCDC is a sick puppy.

The most worrying thing though, is that because Leach is blindly supported by many influential people, this fact will continue to be suppressed.

And the same applied to Barriball in the first 4 years of her office by the same people until she fouled her nest with them.

Even more worrying however, is the fact that this situation is not likely to change, given the especial arrogance that has been demonstrated over many years by the Leach-Barriball-Luxite behind-the-scenes-leadership team who knows-what's-best-for-all-of-us.

I don't see this changing, as these people will never give up power over their now established ability to elect a Mayor of their choosing while also establishing and giving that Mayor a puppy-dog Council.

When did you last hear about a debate that actually happened in the Council chamber?

Heaven forbid that we have one of those!

The only possible way out of this mess is to force the reintroduction of STV voting which would deny the block voting that continues to elect complete, stooge Councils.

August 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterABC

You have to feel sorry for any replacements of the 45% unknowingly walking into such an environment! -
Not only is it lost organizational knowledge but also industry knowledge because the TCDC luminaries have got the notoriety they so crave... ha ha, demanding that moral be improved! Thats the way.

September 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter...

The update from TCDC to this blog is interesting. No PG's for bullying or sexual harrassment (fair enough), but what would be more indicative of an unhealthy workplace is how many PG's have been raised over other matters during the "Leach Period", compared to previous periods. Bullying can be called many different things! There are quite a number of current and previous staff who have had "stress leave" (its officially sick leave, so may not be officially categorised as stress leave) during the Leach Period for varying lengths of time (I was one of them), and this point should not be lost. Previous to Leach, it was extremely rare for staff to go on "stress leave". Finally the currrent high staff turnover, illustrated by the constant flow of vacancy advertisements, should be raising red flags in the organisation, and questions should be asked by council as to why the turnover is so high. The word is out in the small local government sector that working at TCDC is not a pleasant experience, and this is will be one of the main reasons why staff are getting harder to come by. TCDC can push the lifestyle as an attraction to the ara all they like, but with a good lifestyle must come a happy work experience.

September 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBig Kahuna

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