Hammond Goes - Leach Sad!
Monday, December 14, 2015 at 3:57PM
Bill Barclay

Well that one came out of left field - here is David Hammond's resignation, notified at 12.50pm today:

Chief Executive of Thames-Coromandel District Council David Hammond has announced he will be leaving Council at the end of the financial year on 30 June 2016.

"We have nothing but appreciation and respect for David's input on the Coromandel," says Mayor Glenn Leach. "We inherited a Council that had lost touch with its community, and was crippled under high rates and debt. With David’s passion for Community Empowerment we have turned this around and what's been achieved is huge," says Mayor Glenn Leach.

"Working for the Thames-Coromandel District has been a challenging and rewarding time and I have thoroughly enjoyed working for Mayor Glenn and his team," says Mr Hammond. "There was no blueprint to do what we achieved here - we wrote the book on it ourselves. A Chief Executive needs to know when he has achieved what he was brought on to do. I have met that mark and will leave the Council with great staff and in great heart."

Mr Hammond was brought to Coromandel in January 2012 for a three-year period to lead a restructure of staffing, costs and community governance structures. His time was extended further to help Council stabilise and consolidate following that change period.

"David has made some lasting contributions to the Coromandel during his tenure as CE," says Mayor Leach. These include:

• Developing the most devolved model of local government decision-making in New Zealand and Australia through our Community Empowerment structure which Mr Hammond has spoken about internationally
• Pulling council operational costs down to the lowest per property in the Waikato post-restructure;
• Leading  our Council out of high rates with several years of consecutive rate decreases, and with many District Commercial and Rural rates not expected to rise back up to former 2010 levels for over 15 years;
• Leading our Council out of high debt with a projection now made of nil external debt possible over the decade.

Mr Hammond and his family will remain on the Coromandel which has become their adopted home.

If anyone is able to contribute any further information as to the reason behind this sudden move, please comment. Interesting that he is planning to continue to live here. There is no indication in the announcement that he is not planning a continuing relationship with our Council.

For all the back-slapping that one normally expects from Leach, regardless of the job that anyone has done, we all know that there has been major disaffection amongst the troops, and likely departures planned for the very near future. Whether Hammond's departure brings about any change to these plans will become clearer as time goes on. What I do know is that there would have been little likelihood of any continuing bonhomie with any of the likely mayoral candidates, so that continuing tenure after October would have been highly unlikely in any case.

The simple fact of the matter is that despite the obvious achievements in the rates and operational costs area, almost every other area of success claimed by Leach in the Press Release is debateable, if not stretching the truth. Certainly - i.e. the so called success of the devolved decision-making process is total nonsense, a financial burden and  an open invitation to a convoluted and un-democratic process that has simply failed when subjected to objective judgement, but it was Leach's model - not Hammond's. 

More importantly, nearly all of Leach's major economic projects have come under the hammer, and have proven to be major, or potential disasters. Hammond has certainly been right at the forefront in each of these, and must be fully conversant with the dangers that lie ahead. Posts that I have put up recently provide sufficient indication of the dangers ahead, and equally the absence of anything other than puffery in the local main-stream media.

I think that it is very wise of Hammond to 'bite the bullet' and make himself scarce from 30 June 2016. The worst that could happen is for our inexperienced Council to makes matters a great deal worse by appointing Day in his stead. I suspect that such a move is highly unlikely, but heaven help us if such is the case. This ship needs a steady and experienced hand, determined to re-direct the energies of our remaining competent staff to the core business for which our Councillors were elected. Unfortunately, Leach will have a major hand in the appointment just as he reaches the apogee of his term, thus saddling his successor with his handiwork!

For all that, I extend my best wishes to David for his future career, in whatever field.   

 

 

 

Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
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