On 7 December 2013 I posted an entry on this site entitled “Auckland Council. What Price an Apology?”
Five days later, on 12 December, I sent an email to Doug McKay with a copy to all Auckland Councillors. The following day I put out a Press Release.
Press Release: Gary Osborne AC Ratepayer 13 December 2013
Doug McKay, Chief Executive of Auckland Council, issued a directive that blocked my emails to elected representatives for 8 months. Council ordered an “investigation”.
The “investigation” cost ratepayers $50,000 and did not address the blocking of my emails to elected representatives. I complained to the Ombudsman and was advised to write directly to Doug McKay seeking an apology. He refused.
Here is my open letter to him:
“12 December 2013
Your egregious decision to block my emails to elected representatives was, in my opinion, inexcusable. Your attempts to justify it by snide innuendo and obfuscation did you little credit. There is no justification for denying the rights expressed in the NZ Bill of Rights Act under Sections 13 and 14, namely freedom of thought and freedom of expression. Emails are an effective modern tool for communication with elected representatives. For a democracy to function fully the citizens must not have their communication with elected representatives blocked. The fact that your decision was made without consulting either me, or the elected representatives is atrocious. In the words of one Councillor “In my 18 years as a councillor I have never known any “filtering” that was done without my permission. There might not be a legal requirement but there certainly is a moral and ethical requirement that people can communicate unhindered with their elected representatives.
I had the same outrage at the start of this term when my mail was arriving opened! An email is just the same as a letter. If addressed to me it is me that should read it and no other without my permission.”
Your initial denial that anybody’s emails had been blocked or censored, followed by an assurance to another ratepayer that “There was never an intention to block emails or withhold information from elected members.” demonstrates inconsistency. Your preparedness to play games of semantics rather than address issues simply, makes me question whether you were worthy of the $800,000 per annum afforded to you by the ratepayers of Auckland.
People of my father’s ilk risked their lives fighting against the evils of Nazi Germany. Many would turn in their graves if they could see the power exercised by a highly paid bureaucrat over democratically elected representatives.
When I was teaching, if I made a mistake I acknowledged it and apologised. If I didn’t know the answer to something, I would do my own research and endeavour to find out – I didn’t rely on third party hearsay. I am hopeful that the newly elected Council will place high value on delivery of the dual promises of accountability and transparency so regularly reiterated to ratepayers in the lead up to the formation of the Super City. They have been seriously eroded during your tenure.
Doug, you are a great disappointment to me.