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Questions Surrounding EDC Process!

Long-time readers will be aware of my profound scepticism, even contempt for Leach’s blatant attempt to side-step democratic process by setting up what was described as the Economic Development Committee, initially comprising dominant players who were his hand-picked appointees. He clearly wanted to see this Committee take a dominant role in establishing the future course of the Council’s activities beyond the provision of traditional council services.

There will not be many readers who will not find their hackles rising at the thought of Leach’s friends determining the manner in which our rates are to be spent on a range of interesting activities. I have on several occasions drawn attention to their demonstrated limited understanding of what constitutes ‘conflict of interest’ – almost inevitable in the context of what Leach was attempting to achieve.

The most egregious example of his friends accessing public funding for their various activities occurred with the rush to provide Rod Millen with $40,000 to start his private ‘hill-climb’ at Hahei. The consequent embarrassment was palpable, and even Leach gave up endeavouring to defend the allocation – certainly members held their heads in shame as the details leaked out into the public arena.

I was reminded of this when another of Leach’s old mates, and erstwhile tenant! – none other than Warren J. Male – (“Summer Ambassador/Brand Manager” for Mediaworks Coromandel - formerly Coromandel FM) nonchalantly and contemptuously avoided all established application processes in approaching the 26 November EDC meeting direct with a “late application” for a substantial subsidy for entertainment to be provided in Whitianga and Thames in early 2016. The reason for the “late application” was because in his words “only receiving recent confirmation of artists availability.”   

In the absence of significant other work, the Committee’s agenda appears to have deteriorated to that of simply allocating rate-payer funding to major events. Without doubt, that activity has expanded, and come within an appropriate envelope of process and rules that are long overdue and well applied – mainly by the Deputy Chief Executive Ben Day. In fact, it appears to have become a major aspect of his Council role to oversee the allocation of ‘points’ that form the basis of the allocations.

Incumbent in all of this activity is fairness and process. All successful applicants at the meeting on 26 November bar one, followed the requirements to the letter – the applications were detailed and comprehensive, and in most cases substantial resources would have been expended in putting the applications together.

Warren J. Male on the other hand waltzed into the Public Forum and presented his late application as a hand-written few sentences over three pro-forma pages. It provided scant detail, and appeared nothing more than an attempt to access public funds for a totally private purpose promoted by Mediaworks. It still managed to secure 25 (the winning score) points on Day’s assessment, though the application for the Whitianga Concert was rejected for being beyond the time-frame stipulated for events – outside the peak season.

Only $3,000 was allocated for the Thames concert on 14 February, but the quantum is irrelevant – it is the fairness of the whole process that allowed Glenn Leach’s good mate - Warren J. Male to bypass all the usual requirements and thus disadvantage other applicants who had fulfilled all the Major Event allocation requirements.

This was ‘done and dusted’ in a short space of time, and with the same degree of detachment demonstrated in the case of Mr Rod Millen – lessons have not been learnt.

I remain as sceptical as ever of the usefulness of this Committee. It is doing nothing that cannot or should not be done by the Council as a whole. With its own Chairman even questioning its usefulness, it may well be time for consideration to be given to putting it to the sword – but that is hardly likely with the current regime in place. I predict that it will become an election issue nevertheless, and guess who is waiting in the wings to make it so?  




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Reader Comments (2)

Very curious about the strands of connectivity in your blog Bill.
I am no expert and in fact I do not really understand this business of conflict of interest but my mates tell me that WJ Male has a unit or flat in an apartment building on the sme level as the owner who just happens to be the Mayor!.
Then somebody chimes in to say that Mr Day, who did the assessment [according to your article] has a wife or partner [cannot remember what they said] who worked at or works at the now renamed CFM [More FM] radio station-- but that surely could not be right??
There seems to us, anyway, some sort of conflict of interest here--but what the heck--it is Christmas time after all--Goodwill to all men and all that

December 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAfter Thought

The one thing I do know is this - there is very limited understanding of the principles surrounding conflict of interest on our Council. The normal rules are broken with monotonous regularity, and culpability is inevitably escaped through the deliberately misinterpreted rule regarding it being the responsibility of every member to declare their individual conflict. The Auditor General has a quite different attitude, and continuously recommends the maintenance of a fully up-to-date conflict register - I defy you to find such an animal lurking in the corridors of TCDC. Its members are blameless you see, and can be relied on at all times to maintain a squeaky clean record - yeah right!

December 4, 2015 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

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