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Upshot of 'Ouch'!

It is clear that Leach cannot be allowed to pursue his attempts to subvert the right of media, and rate-payers to inquire into aspects of the Council processes and operation. The fact that his sidekick Hammond sat dumb-struck during the tirade mounted by Leach at the meeting on 25 March speaks volumes as to his competence and ability. It is of course his role to emsure decorum, and adherance to Standing Orders, both of which were absent at that time.

And Baker showed that he is noting more than a pawn of Leach's, but he is hardly alone in that amongst the upper echelon within the Castle where job preservation is the primary instinct, even when addressed as "yous" from the top table!.

Accordingly, I have penned the following letter to the Auditor Gneral. It will certainly be interesting to see how he/she handles the situation - past performance does not engender a great deal of confidence that anything will happen other than it be referred back to Hammond for 'comment'. We will see in due course, but I for one will not be holding my breath!

Dear Mr Robertson (Deputy AG - Local Government)

I am replying to you specifically on the matter of this inquiry following receipt of the reply dated 20 February 2015 from Sves Cunliffe-Steel as a new, but related inquiry.

At a Council meeting dated 25 March, the TCDC Mayor made statements regarding the costs associated with the compiling of the Council’s response to my letter to you dated 2 February 2015. He forced the CFO (Mr Steve Baker) to reveal my name in open meeting as having initiated the inquiry, and then instructed Mr Baker to prepare a report on the costs of dealing with my inquiry, and others that I have initiated since the advent of this Council. He demanded that this Report be presented to the next Council meeting for the widest possible dissemination.

From the attached email screen shot you will see that Mr Baker appears to have decided on his own volition that this costing process should extend to another inquiry that I initiated with the Ombudsman dated 15 May 2014, together with any other general inquiries that I may have made to Council.

As I have indicated earlier, I am a local government blogger, attend all Council meetings, and provide the only alternative source of information regarding the operation and processes of our Council other than through Council press releases.

Arising from the unanticipated outburst by the Mayor in Council on 25 March, I would like to ask of you the following questions:

a)     Is it appropriate for a matter raised with you by a blogger/ratepayer in regard to the Council’s Long Term Plan to be raised in this manner in an open Council meeting. (I emphasize that I am not concerned in the slightest at my name being revealed in this manner)

b)     Is it appropriate that a costing report of this nature be prepared for what appears to be purely political purposes?  

c)     If this process is in order, then why is the same process not followed in regard to all such inquiries?

As you see from the screen-shot, the LTP inquiry is the only matter concerning this Council’s finances that I have referred to your office – the matter concerning the Ombudsman remains unresolved, and relates to the allocation of a $20,000 business grant by a staff member outside of Council’s guidelines. The screen-shot further indicates that the CFO is about to report substantial costs apparently incurred in dealing with my LTP inquiry.  

I submit that this process amounts to intimidation, and interference with the statutory right of members of the media and ratepayers to legitimately seek information concerning the operation and processes of councils generally, without being subjected to intimidatory behavior as outlined.

I seek that you take appropriate action under whatever legislated authority granted you to ensure the continued integrity of the complaints process that you are required to administer.

A copy of this letter will be provided to the Ombudsman who I believe may also have concerns about breaches of statutes for which he/she is responsible.

Yours sincerely,




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