Get out of jail free card

Today it was announced by the Police that no offence has been disclosed regarding the free mayoral concert.

“Wellington Electoral Officer Ross Bly has been told today by the Police that they have investigated a complaint under the Local Electoral Act 2001 about yesterday’s mayoral concert for the elderly.

Mr Bly was today contacted by the Acting Wellington Police Area Commander, Inspector Simon Perry, who stated the matter had been reviewed and as a result, no offence has been disclosed.”

While the matter rests there, a number of unanswered questions remain.  The Police investigation revealed.

“… that Mayor Prendergast had no involvement in the scheduling of the concert and that the date was set by Council staff in December 2009 – when it was not known if Mayor Prendergast would be seeking a further term of office.”

Questions include:

  • Why did the council organise such an event in the middle of the election campaign?
  • If having the event close to the actual day for eldery – 1 October – was so important why have the last three events been held in November?
  • Presumably the 2007 election year event was held in November?
  • When the mayor announced her candidacy in March 2010, why didn’t staff review election period events given the political advantages such an event would give a politically active mayor?
  • Why did Garry Poole feel the need to brief a Dominion Post journalist on Sunday night, well before the Police concluded their inquiries on Tuesday?.

The Audit Office has investigated these kinds of issues post election (see 2006/07 report, para 11.18 to 11.20), as their remit includes the proper expenditure of council funds. Perhaps they will have a retrospective look at this case.  In the meantime the Police investigation file would make an interesting OIA.

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