Labour Southern Ward Councillor, Paul Eagle has come out swinging on an interim report on the CitiOperations debacle that seems to raise a bunch of questions. Eagle is quoted in the Dominion Post saying that the report shows evidence of more than a decade of work to dismantle the unit, while keeping councillors in the dark.
This has been a defining issue for Eagle. He had been friendly towards the Greens, but you can feel the sense of betrayal in his statements and postings in social media. It was reported that Eagle had attempted to halt progress of the outsourcing, but was over ruled on Celia Wade-Brown’s casting vote – and that was clearly felt deeply.
Eagle posted this week that he has helped to organise staff farewells and is helping workers look for new roles.
It appears that councillors were ‘briefed in workshops’ 15 times on what was happening, but that did not constitute a ‘formal’ briefing. I must remember this line next time I forget something – “oh you only briefed me on it, I needed a formal notification to pick up the kids after school and we’d look silly if we got them now so let’s just move on.”
What we have heard from disgruntled staff within Council is that they had enjoyed working with Celia Wade-Brown as environment portfolio lead and as a councillor and most welcomed her election to the Mayoralty. However, there is a feeling that staff get blamed every time things get forgotten and it’s obviously starting to wear thin.
Hopefully the full report sheds some light on the big questions that the Mayor asked – “How did that happen? Why were our hands not on the steering wheel?”
But given we are rapidly heading towards an election, what does this mean for the relationship between Labour and the Greens? Eagle is a big and growing figure around the Council table and right now he seems angry. If Wade-Brown is to have a second term, she must rebuild the relationship.
I think that starts with transparency and fronting up on what she knew along with a sense of acknowledgement that under her leadership, Council got it wrong. Ultimately, she is the Mayor and is responsible. While it may have started two mayors ago, her casting vote was critical to this round and it was that vote that created the chasm.