Pre-election council report sparks fly

Wellington City Council CEO Kevin Lavery’s pre-election council report is causing a bit of fuss, with everyone finding something in it to make a scene over.

Labour’s Mark Peck and Malcolm Aitken slammed it, releasing a hyperbolic statement claiming unelected council officials are setting the direction of the city, riding roughshod over elected representatives:

This document reads like a party political manifesto. It’s the elected representatives who lead on policy and strategy; the council officers are there to implement it. You wouldn’t believe it reading this report.

We won’t be led by unelected officials. We’ll be led by the people because that’s how a proper functioning democracy works.

We’re talking to lots of seriously dissatisfied Wellingtonians. A number have told me they’re unhappy with the role council officers are playing in the decision-making process the level of influence they have.

I can see where Peck and Aitken are coming from, but I think the report is quite helpful. It presents the issues and position of the city in an accessible and clear manner, not only for rate payers, but also for candidates. And given some of the unique people running in this years elections, anything that can help ground them in fact or give them food for thought (as Lavery’s suggested solutions to issues) should be welcomed. If Lavery has half brain and any political nous he’ll not only understand the distinction between governance and management, but also respect it. He’d be a fool to not to.

In campaign mode (not using Council resources :-)) Celia Wade-Brown tied herself to the report and Lavery’s performance saying it reflects his rapid grasp of Wellington’s advantages and challenges and endorses his recent appointment and effectively the job she’s currently doing by saying:

We need urgent implementation of the direction set by elected members.

I led Kevin Lavery’s appointment as chief executive and he’s proving his worth. We employed him to implement the Council’s new direction. Effective management combined with compassionate modern leadership will fully realise this city’s potential.

Dr Lavery endorses our direction of being a ‘smart capital’ with strong environmental credentials. I also give credit to staff for working hard across the breadth of Council services in tough financial times. I’m proud to have kept the 2013 rates to the most affordable level in ten years.

I welcome the new CEO’s emphasis on the organisation being more rapidly responsive after an election and his encouragement to invest in our city’s economy. He also shows a genuine interest in a range of transport choices, not only roading.

This term I expect faster progress on long haul flights, appropriate concert venues, and more effective economic development.

Predictably John Morrison used the report to attack the mayor saying it’s a damning indictment on the current Mayor’s leadership:

Wellington needs decisive and inclusive leadership, not the ‘hands off the wheel’ approach that we’ve had for the last three years. Any report card that shows half of residents don’t think they get value for money from their council services is alarming.

And a 6 out of 10 score for overall performance is embarrassing and unacceptable.

To get momentum back into the city, my first job will be to deliver the chief executive a 100 days plan and I will then work alongside him and the incoming council to ensure it gets delivered.

The time has arrived to put the old administration firmly behind us and embrace a more decisive and progressive approach.

Morrison seems to forget that he has a shared responsibility with the mayor in governing the city and that he’s been around since 1998. A 6/10 overall performance score is his problem too. Blame for everything doesn’t solely rest with the mayor, whoever holds the position.

Like Jack Yan has done by releasing his manifesto months out from polling, will Morrison release this 100 day plan before the election so voters can scrutinize it? If not, how long after the election does the 100 day plan countdown start?

I also find it hard to believe a Morrison-led council would be any more progressive in how it operated than the current one.

Read the report here.

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2 responses to “Pre-election council report sparks fly

  1. Pingback: City Watch #10 | WCC Watch·

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