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Thursday
Feb262015

Unelected Economic Development Committee

My enquiry regarding the membership and remuneration of the UEDC has elicited the following response:

ED COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP

a)      What are the respective roles of Cr Brljevich and Cr Connors at yesterday’s Economic Development Committee? and b) If either were present at yesterday’s meeting as ‘members,’ can you please advise by what process that appointment has taken place?

"Bob Renton resigned from the Committee last week.  Cr Diane Connors is a confirmed reserve and stood in for Mr Renton. Cr Sandra Goudie is also a confirmed reserve. I understand our governance Manager Angela Jane provided this same information to you last year about reserves."

c)      Arising from b) what is the current balance as between councillor, and ‘outside’ members?

"The members of the EDC  are Mayor Glenn Leach, Deputy Mayor Peter French. Reserves - Cr Goudie and Cr Connors.

A report is now going to Council to endorse Cr Tony Brljvich as a permanent replacement for Mr Renton. Cr Brljvich attended the meeting in an unofficial capacity to get an understanding of the committee's work programme. He had no voting rights."

d)      Can you please advise the total amount paid to ‘outside’ members for the 2014 calendar year, broken down for each of the three ‘outside’ members.

"External members are Brent Page, Leigh Hopper and Grahame Christian. Mr Christian and Mr Hopper get paid $997.50 per meeting. (It also includes the withholding tax payable of 33%) and Mr Page $1330.00. The meeting fee includes the workshop and is a day rate."

This is all very interesting, and follows my December email exchange with Ben Day and Angela Jane who were obviously caught out over the membership and control of this Committee. They appeared to have an incomplete knowledge of the status of Bob Renton who is not a sworn member of Council, cannot be regarded as a 'Council' member, and therefore contribute to the 'Council' membership of the Committee.

Angela Jane's irritation at having been caught out on this interpretation is reflected in the wording of Laurna's email - "I understand our Governance Manager Angela Jane provided this same information to you last years about reserves." - an utterly irrelevant comment in view of the confusing musical chairs pantomine that took place yesterday.

Renton has now resigned and Diane Connors appointed as an additional 'Reserve' member - necessary because of Cr Goudie's apparent reluctance to attend meetings of any kind. It may be coming close to the time when she should be requested to 'consider her position.' 

The upshot of all this is that it has been decided (presumably by Leach) that Cr Brljevich is to be appointed at the next Council meeting to replace Renton. He sat in as an 'observer' today. That will bring the 'Council' member numbers back up to three, thus removing the anomaly that they clearly resented being brought to their attention. 

The embarrassment was compounded yesterday when Christian was asked to 'not vote' in order to maintain the 'balance' as there were only two properly appointed 'Council' members present when Leach departed at 3pm for some long-standing appointment. 

What a joke - all Leach had to do was to admit that he had made a mistake, or had been badly advised, and get on with the job. Instead we had this panto performance yesterday in an effort to 'cover' the mistakes. And the changes do not alter the power situation significantly - at last there is 'equality' with three councillors and three outsiders, but the fact remans that the Chair remains an 'outsider' with the casting vote. Regretfully, it remains an Unelected Economic Development Committee - mores the pity!  

REMUNERATION 

As for the 'outsider' members who have had control of the Committee, their remuneration of $997 per meeting, and $1330 for the Chairman warrants close examination. The payments  probably represent an amount equivalent to that paid to professional directors, and members of Government authorities. What concerns me greatly is that using yesterday's meeting as an example - it lasted for no longer than one and a half hours. Previous meetings have probably gone for longer periods, but not much, and I have seen little evidence of major preparation on what have been relatively light-weight agendas. 

After one year of operation, my personal assessment is that they have not contributed a great deal of value either to the discussions, or deliberations. All it appears to do is hand out baubles to staff members looking for alternative funding for their various projects from Day's apparently bottomless Economic Development Fund - mostly in the $20k range.

Chair Brent Page bared his teeth for the first time yesterday over Coromandel Harbour Project, and that is a good sign, but it is not much to warrant the expense that has been incurred to date to run this totally superfluous Committee that appears simply to reflect Leach's expansive ego.

 

 

 

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