Does the Code of Conduct have a Future?

 

Perhaps this can best be answered by retracing the past.

 

In July 2004 a Waitakere City ratepayer complained about the conduct of Councillor Ross Dallow. His complaint was addressed to the Conduct Review Board. The eventual outcome of that complaint was a letter from Bob Harvey dated 26 July 2004 stating “It would appear to me that he was meeting with you in his role as Chairman of the Sports Trust and not in his role as a Councillor of this city. Therefore, I have referred your letter to him.”

 

In December 2006 I complained about Councillors Penny Hulse and Linda Cooper failing to declare a conflict of interest. Here is the outcome of that complaint:

 

                       WAITAKERE CITY COUNCIL

                 CODE OF CONDUCT

                     COMPLAINTS REVIEW BOARD

 

Complaints Review Board: Mayor Bob Harvey, Deputy Mayor Carolynne Stone, Philip Griffiths

 

Complainant: Mr Gary Osborne

 

Complaint:

On 22 December 2006 Mr G A Osborne lodged a written complaint with the Chief Executive alleging that Councillors Hulse and Cooper had breached the Code of Conduct by failing to register their interest as members of  The Digital Earth New Zealand Society Incorporated (“Digital Earth”) in the annual statement of interests required to be filed by them under the Code of Conduct by 31 January 2006.

 

The Group Manager: Democracy and Support Services advises that:

       Digital Earth was incorporated on 15 September 2005 and that Councillors Hulse

       and Cooper were among the 15 persons who signed the application for

       incorporation in their capacity as “members” of the unincorporated society.

       An inspection of the Council’s Register of Interests showed that neither

       Councillors Hulse nor Cooper, nor the Mayor or any other Councillors, had filed

       the updated  annual statement which was required to be filed by them by 31

       January 2006.

 

The Board has considered the information presented to it by Council officers relating to the complaint including;

(a)    The letter from Mr Osborne dated 22nd December 2006 containing the

Complaint;

(b)   A summary of facts relating to the complaint;

(c)    Written submissions from Councillor Hulse on behalf of both Councillors Hulse and Cooper.

(d)   A copy of the Letter from the Office of the Auditor General dated 14th February 2007, to Mr A Bhatnagar re the Digital Earth Conference.

2. The finding of the Board on the specific complaint is:

(a)     The context of the complaint does not give rise to any issues relating to conflicts of interest.

(b)    In particular it is noted that there is no conflict of interest (either pecuniary or non-pecuniary) at issue and the integrity of the Councillors concerned is not in question.

(c)     The likelihood of any conflict ever arising, even in the broad terms as defined in the Code, as a result of the Councillors membership of Digital Earth is very unlikely.

(d)    That Councillors Hulse & Cooper did not note their membership of Digital Earth in the Register of Interests.

(e)     That this amounts to an omission of form rather than substance and in the circumstance outlined is considered to be a minor technical breach of the Code.

(f)      That the omission was inadvertent and not assisted by the failure of the Council administration staff to send reminders to the Mayor and Councillors generally that such action was required in accordance with the Code.

(g)     That the omission to file is shared in common with all other members of the Council.

(h)     That no further action in relation to the complaint is required other than notification of this decision to the Complainant and the Councillors concerned.

3. As a result of the issues arising from this complaint the Board comments as follows

(a)     That it be recommended to the Mayor/Councillors that the Code of Conduct be

reviewed.

(b)    That the Chief Executive Officer implement a process for reminding the

       Mayor & Councillors of the requirement to file an annual Register of Interests

       and to update the register as required.

 

Board of Review decision dated 28 February 2007:

Mayor Bob Harvey      Deputy Mayor Carolynne Stone          Philip Griffiths

                                                                                             Independent Member

 

Shortly after this the Code of Conduct was reviewed and took away the right of the public to lodge formal complaints.

 

On 16 August 2010 I complained about the atrocious email from Linda Cooper to both the CEO and Bob Harvey asking for action to be taken. Here is Bob Harvey’s response:

Dear Mr Osborne,

No, I do not intend to take any action at all on this matter.

Councillor Cooper is taking advice from our Legal Services which is right and appropriate.

The CE is also well aware of the situation and I am more than happy that it is being dealt with.

Bob Harvey

Mayor

 

If a Code of Conduct is to be taken seriously, it must be treated seriously.

By 1 November 2010 ATA is charged with the responsibility of having in place a Code of Conduct for Auckland Council. Will it be taken seriously? Let’s hope so.

Here is the response from ATA (Auckland Transition Agency) advisor Terry Sugrue.

“I can assure you that there will be mechanisms in place to ensure that complaints from members of the public with regard the conduct of elected members are appropriately dealt with. The Mayor, Councillors and Local Board Members will all be required to comply with the Auckland Council’s Code of Conduct.”

 

Now that’s encouraging!

Linda Cooper, it’s never too late to apologise, or do you still see nothing wrong with your email.

 

 

 

  

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Does the Code of Conduct have a Future?

  1. John C says:

    It “appears” the new Council will be concerned about the ratepayers it serves but time will tell. As for Linda Cooper apologising, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting!

  2. jim carney says:

    No wonder Waitakere city council ended up facing huge debt when Crs Cooper and Hulse were out in space as founders of the Digital Earth Society !!! Were they taking advice from the Little Green Men or the inhabitants of Mars ?? You have to question which planet these two women live on.!

  3. Council Accountability
    Why I renamed the Council Waitakere City Cowboys!
    This new blog about council accountability is interesting. I could list many highly questionable ‘antics’ that have happened behind the scene…
    I find it quite provocative and even misleading that we now see large billboards with ‘DALLOW’ along with the associated ‘Police’ style of blue markings on his signs. This is actually quite clever marketing on his part, linking the public mind to his former career in the Police with no need for any other slogan or comment. I think we are to believe that this is a man of honesty and strong character.
    My personal experiences were this;
    A few years ago Ross Dallow called me early in the morning (I started at 5.30am in the office) and suggested he had a matter worthwhile to our business to discuss. I was keen to see the positive because the council had for a long time been using rates-money to compete against us, and I had hoped this discussion would be a turn-around. A change of policy? An opportunity perhaps?
    But this was far from the case.
    Dallow came to my Hobsonville office shortly after the call at around 7.30am. Meanwhile I had asked my General manager (Derek ) to attend the meeting – he starts early like me. As Dallow entered he looked disappointed that Derek was also present and leaned over to me saying quietly “Dam, I can’t do what I was going to do!” ….a very puzzling comment?
    We sat down and after brief small talk he began to interrogate me like a policeman. He drew out a handwritten letter that had been sent to the editor of the Western Leader (the council has great influence over the paper obviously and get to view articles about them before they are printed). The letter was in a clear plastic file. He suggested that I had written it and signed another name – which I hadn’t. I recognized the police technique in questioning as he fired the same question at me repeatedly in different forms hoping to get a confession.
    He then asked me for a hand-writing sample which I naively but innocently agreed to. And left shortly after.
    I remember commenting to Derek “Well that certainly wasn’t what I thought it would be!”
    What a waste of our time.
    A couple of days later I mentioned the event to a councilor friend. I was told that Dallow’s behavior was way beyond acceptable and that I should make a complaint to the Mayor addressed to the Council Conduct Committee.
    I did what was recommended and sent the complaint to the Mayor. But Bob Harvey promptly sent it to Ross Dallow himself. Dallow was evidently chairman of the Conduct Committee.
    Dallow subsequently replied a couple of weeks later stating that he had looked into it and found nothing out of order.
    It was then that I realised WCC stood for Waitakere City Cowboys.

  4. Gadfly says:

    Maybe they are from Mars or elsewhere in outer space.Their whacky decisions sure tell us they live in cyberspace.

  5. grammaticus says:

    Will Scotty please beam these two nutters back to the black hole from where they emigrated.We have a surplus here in Waitakere and in the Beehive

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s