Council Meeting 5 August 
Wednesday, August 5, 2015 at 2:49PM
Bill Barclay

Hauraki Rail Trail

The increasing tendency to ‘Workshop’ virtually everything of any importance has meant that we simply get bland decision making amongst much jollity and good cheer at meetings these days. Leach berated Connors when she stepped out of line today in order correct a staff motion on the Whangamata 'I' Site, and then again when she endeavoured to get a whole raft of additional information favourable to the anti-fluoridation campaign into the Referendum motion. Leach was upset at her temerity in 'springing' the motion changes without notice, or 'workshopping' them. Spontaneity is in short supply under Leach's regime! 

But today the guard slipped a little when discussing the Chief Executive’s Report in regard to the Rail Trail (see below!).

Leach was not ‘best pleased’ at what he implied was Hammond’s apparent naïve acceptance of appointment as a ‘temporary’ trustee. And well he might – it places Hammond in an invidious situation vis-a-vis his own Council, and possibly creates a fraught legal situation in the event that the Trust goes ‘belly-up.’ All this appeared to have occurred without reference to Leach - independence yet! Leach clearly wanted his objection to this arrangement reported, so there it is!

And 'bellly-up' is not too strong a description - they are already seeking 'donations' through the 'give-a-little' website - what does that tell us?  Leach made clear that conditions for the TCDC $1m contribution to the Kaiaua to Kopu section have not been met – they were primarily the responsibility of the HDC. And I suspect that Transport NZ is still ‘dragging its heels’ on the Piako crossing which has always been the stumbling block for both HDC and TCDC involvement.

But the failure to produce any financials for a considerable length of time must be causing real concern at all levels. Also, a full reporting of the measures taken to implement the Auditor-General recommendations from last year remains elusive. I mentioned in an earlier post that the appointment by HDC of Tony Coombes, a Paeroa accountant to the Trust must be regarded as an appropriate move. Hammond does not ring the same bells – rather the contrary. But the real problem appears to continue to lie within the relationship with the Principal Trail Operator (PTO)

Anyway, Leach expressed considerable concern at Hammonds' move, so it will be interesting to see the outcome. This is the kind of thing that is normally dealt with behind closed doors, so it can only indicate that this is something else that Leach wanted to get it ‘out there.’

I believe that there are reasons to be really concerned at the state of affairs with the Hauraki Rail Trail, and the sooner the EDC examines the matter the better. 

Thames Indoor Sports

There was another incident in this regard where Leach clearly wanted his role recorded for posterity. It concerned the identity of the mystery naming sponsor. Greg Hampton remained coy about it while legals are completed, but Leach again wants it ‘out there’ that he "found the sponsor, negotiated the Indoor Sports project as the recipient of the largesse, and completed the deal".  

Okay Glenn – be rest assured, this blog will certainly give you full credit when the name is finally ‘outed.’  

Fluoridation Referendum

Rob Plummer and Jane Beck gave opposing views in Public Forum on the wording of the referendum, but complimented staff for the manner in which the paper was put together – all good.

What was not so great was the blatant attempt by Diane Connors (and to a lesser extent – Tony Brljevich) to skew the wording – they both argued strongly for the ability of the protagonists to insert their respective versions of the ‘facts’ and the ‘truth.’ Hammond squealed mightily over his inability to ‘moderate’ such declarations, so it was scrapped – thank God!

There was not much sympathy around the table for Connor’s blatant efforts to satisfy the needs of the ‘antis,’ and her additional wording was rejected in the main. 

Overall, there was general desire to achieve neutrality in every sense, and Peter French was instrumental in ensuring that Connors efforts were countered – well done Peter!

Here is the wording decided on: (this cannot now be changed, in order to meet the 5 November referendum date. Public notice is on 7 August, and the voting documents go out on 14 October)

Context Information

"Fluoride has been added to the Thames water supply since the 1970s for the purpose of reducing tooth decay.  Under the community empowerment model Thames-Coromandel District Council has created this opportunity for the community to voice it’s preference on this issue. Please note that Thames - Coromandel District Council has chosen to remain neutral.  We urge you to do research and exercise your right to vote."

Question for voters to respond to

Should Council CONTINUE or STOP fluoridation of the Thames water supply?

Response question

I vote to CONTINUE fluoridation of the Thames water supply

I vote to STOP the fluoridation of the Thames water supply

Representation

The utter futility of trying to skate around the LGA in order to give greater representation to ‘absentees’ when only six other councils appear to be effected in the same manner as TCDC was explored, again! General frustration all around as it was made clear that the other 56 councils do not want any exceptions to the rules, and the Government is utterly indifferent to the problem.

So the status quo remains – the East-West nexus remains, and long may that remain, for the sake of fairness overall. Despite some of the extraordinary statements made around the table this morning, there appeared no understanding of the potential, even real unfairness of giving the Eastern Seaboard an additional two Council positions. French displayed his inclination towards standing for the Mayoralty by pushing the matter - he was well aware of course that 'pushing' for it costs nothing in the event, given the legislation.

I don't mind admitting that I remain parochial for good and sufficient reason – and I don’t mind owning it!

Public Excluded

Council then retired behind closed doors to discuss the Coromandel Harbour Project – the name that must not be spoken. Except that the CE let the cat out of bag in his report when he indicated that these are the matters to be dealt with:

1.    Ownership of the reclaimed land at Sugarloaf

2.    Contracting with CMFA for further infrastructure development

3.    Seeking expressions of interest related to potential co-funding for the inner harbour development

4.    Coromandel Pier and Furey's creek options

What on earth is it about any of these matters that needs to remain secret? Rate-payers have a right to just how therir rates are being spent, and both staff and councillors need to verge on the side of open debate rather than rely on the obscure but overused provisions of the Act to hide their deliberations.

That is the over-riding principle of the OIA, and it needs to be tested in this particular case. It is my intention to follow this course through the Ombudsman, commencing with a formal request for the release of the documents presented to yesterday's meeting.

 

 

 

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