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And Then There Were 260!

It has been obvious ever since the advent of the Leach/Hammond/Day triumvirate that staff morale within TCDC has been at a very low ebb. And that is between the flare-ups that have led to the departure of dozens of staff - some extremely valuable and highly qualified units who either crossed Leach, or who became embroiled in Personal Grievance issues that led to being 'bought-off' with large settlements that included secrecy clauses.

I have been unable to get my hands on any of these 'agreements', but that is not unusual - it is why the clauses are in there in the first place. But I have had sufficient information passed to me on a confidential basis to know that the level of 'settlements' has been extraordinarily high for an organisation of this size and type. My impression is that even Hammond is coming to the realisation that all is not well after a long period of being 'in-denial', and leaving the day to day affairs in the hands of Day.

It is not hard to see that Day's personality makes him questionable for the Deputy CEO task - he has a 'controlling' nature, together with a deep desire to create the impression that he is 'in control' when in fact, as has been reported to me, that is seldom the case. Minor successes such as the bringing the AA and vehicle registration facilities 'in-house' are not an indication of great strategic ability - simply the eye for detail required in a minor functionary. 

His personal relations with staff are another matter altogether. With jobs at a premium in a small town like this, everyone is anxious to keep on his right side, but every single staff member with whom I have had contact has spoken of fear, inadequate review or oversight of Day himself,  and his need for 'empire-building'  revolving around 'economic development' at the behest of Leach. Add to that inappropriate communication skills (despite his qualifications in that area) that do nothing to enhance relationships within the organisation.

Hammond appears to be simply 'side-lined' while this re-alignment takes place from council core business to some kind of entrepreneurial 'play-pen' with countless 'advisors,' 'consultants,' and 'managers'  brought in to puff up the importance of these activities, but with 'stuff-all'  to show for their efforts, not least because of  Leach's interference in the day-to-day operations of the Council.

What has happened is that far from being the 'lean & hungry' organisation that he proudly extolled to the Maryanne Twentyman in the columns of the Waikato Times on 28 December 2012, it has grown fat and overburdened with additional and unnecessary staff. The level of rate increases of which he so proud is not a fair indication of success - particularly when the books are as skilfully  manipulated to maintain an impression of probity - something that the Auditor General appears able, and willing to sanction.

As part of his claim to fame in the afore-mentioned article, Leach claimed to have "reduced staff from 230 to around 180," but that was simply not the case. In fact, a large number of consultants had been employed to substitute for disillusioned or dis-established staff, and the opening figure of 230 is illusory – it was 190 at the time of the 2010 election to my knowledge.  

But what is the situation in 2015? - suddenly staff numbers have jumped up to 260 odd - many on far higher salaries, and exalted positions that those who were replaced. In fact, FTE (Full-Time Equivalent) positions have increased from 191 on 1 July 2014 to 260 on 1 September 2015 – a 36% increase. Further, at least 47 (18%) of these positions were unclassified as at 1 September so that it impossible to say in what area they are working.  The rate of recruitment appears to be continuing at pace, but the accounts continue to show a surplus – something simply does not add up, but the sucking-up of the multi-million dollar increase in Economic Development Levies through business rates probably explains the anomaly.

Many of these are new 'business' roles that may or may not be contributing anything of value to 'stake-holders' (rate-payers?), but who do a great deal to contribute to the egos of those who are employing or over-seeing their activities. To remove any doubt, I have documentary evidence to support these statements.

Everyone in the establishment knows perfectly well what is going on in this regard, but few are prepared to speak up - that would be the end of some extremely well-paid (for this town!) positions. The atmosphere of fear and loathing continues, and having observed the outcome for a very long time, I feel obliged to make some of these 'home-truths' known. The general public is kept perennially in the dark by a highly organised, if under-worked team of spin-doctors who complement the 'business' people.

It is really a disgrace that Leach and his cohort have been able to preserve this illusion for as long as they have. I imagine that there are few who are close to the actions that are not aware of what has been going on. The utterly disgraceful manner for instance, in which the matter of Murray Foster was handled should have been a wake-up call, and it is just a pity that Murray felt unable to take legal action against Day and the Council. When extremely competent people are victimised in this manner, it is not unusual for them to simply decide to 'get on with their lives!"

Leach will as usual take umbrage at this post - he generally does, but he should consider very carefully the effect on people’s lives of his rampaging, and what he has achieved by taking off the rose-coloured glasses through which he appears to view all of his past actions. Despite all the superficial successes (Moanataiari, solid waste etc.) he has been a disaster in regard to the manner in which our Council operates, let alone keeping its constituents informed.

The sooner he departs, the better, but French with his limited abilities, and fawning nature is by no means the best choice to take this Council forward from October 2016 - particularly with his mentor living across the road in line of sight, in the old Salutation - the thought of that should send a shiver up a few spines!

And I have no reason to believe that Goudie would be any better – she has already shown that she is adept at interfering, and her past history shows her obsession with land rights and related issues to the exclusion of rate-payer interests in general. And her relationship skills also appear to be deeply flawed - her chairing skills were certainly found wanting when she was unceremoniously removed from that position on the Parliamenatry Law Reform Committee. And while stroppy by nature, she appears unable to argue her corner without losing it.

I hope, as do many other observers out here that some other distinguished soul without any of the baggage of the last five years finds it within his, or her-self to stand up and provide the opportunity for us to choose new leadership to which we are all entitled to be proud.

More particularly, someone who can bring a refreshing, non-threatening atmosphere back into the Chambers, rapidly learn what has gone wrong, and implement a new more community oriented regime. Such a person would have wide support were they prepared to provide such an alternative. I say Chambers very deliberately to draw attention to the current  interference and overlap between Council/governance (Chambers) and executive (Castle). 

Hammond should be standing in his own shoes, and accountable. That is not possible at present because no-one knows where Leach stops, and Hammond begins, let alone Day.

I believe that there are a substantial majority of rate-payers who are aware of what has been going down in the Castle, who are not fooled by the slanted information with which we are provided, who are not cowed by Leach's bombast, and who would welcome such a change.

Does such a person exist?




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Reader Comments (2)

Having just arrived down here from Auckland, I am astounded to hear that the staffing problems that beset Auckland council are also in the this area, bearing in mind half of the ratepayers here are absentee ratepayers and 33% of the Peninsula is under DOC control, why do we need some many drones at Council?
Has anybody enquired as to what the redundancy/PG payments amount to, a very large sum I may suggest?
If there are 260 'ODD' FTE's does this include consultants or is that an extra number?
How many staff have left for whatever reason and are now re-employed as consultants? This appears 'modus operandi' for Council with weak leaders from what I can gather talking to friends of mine in the 'game' as such.
Finally, how many of the staff have six figure salaries? These are the questions that need answers Mr Barclay, and we look to you, as a person who obvoiusly has some inside knowledge, to see if you can supply answers-please.
Thank goodness I am only renting at the moment-- I may have to upsticks and move on, for I fear this Council may be in free fall!

September 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterFootrot Flat

I know the perfect person you speak of to take this council on, grab it by the plums and give it a damned good shake. Hometown girl, with the right pedigree and career background to see right through the BS. Unfortunately she currently lives elsewhere but is working on returning home, and when she does I will be strongly urging her to run for council. All I can say then, is god help them all

October 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRuby

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