The Code Uncovered

The Elected Members Code of Conduct (EMCC) statement is reviewed and confirmed at each triennium by Local Councils. The final draft is binding and set in stone under The Local Government Act 2002, and supported by various other legislation. Compliance is monitored by Council at the ‘Conduct Review’ … an open annual meeting which provides for a little privacy protection for Councillors and total privacy protection for Council employees including the Chief Executive. Penalties are available where breach of the Code is established.

All this seems reasonable enough except that the EMCC document in Napier appears to have developed into a cornerstone Deed and now has unofficial ‘constitutional’ status. In a weak Administration, the EMCC is a manifesto that can shift control of the city from the Councillors to the organizational bureaucracy – the staff.

A Shift in Power

The Napier version of the EMCC has obviously been reused, reworked and refined over years, until it has evolved much wider definitions than simply a Code of Conduct for Councillors. It now defines limits on the Mayor and Councillors (‘concerns should not be raised … other than with the Chief Executive‘); it shields council employees from any/all responsibilities (‘elected members, not officers, bear the ultimate responsibility for decisions’); and it delivers dictator-like power to the Chief Executive Officer (‘no lines of reporting will by-pass the Chief Executive Officer’ and ‘statements … should be made only after consultation with the Chief Executive’).

This is a thoroughly scurrilous and subtle legal vehicle and it is conferring power for the organizational staff to control our open democratic process. Results of this shift in control are known to the City’s unhappy clients and Ratepayers, who are totally frustrated, angry, and dismayed that the Gestapo ooops, Napier City Council appears to exercise a deadening unbridled power.

Masking Incompetence

At Napier City the ‘Elected Members Code of Conduct’ is loaded with cunning diversions which serve to hijack the declared objective ‘to provide guidance to … the Mayor and Councillors.‘ Remember this is supposed to be a Councillors’ Code of Conduct and one would expect it to be less like the ‘da Vinci Code’ and more like the Real Estate Institute ‘Code of Ethics’. It should not be a cover for Council employees stuff ups!

But our concern does not stop there. This intense compulsion for protecting staff raises questions about competency and professionalism of the employees. Why is it necessary to dump everything on the Elected Councillors and almost never sack a civil engineer or the occasional dodgy accountant? (‘Elected Members should ensure the anonymity of individual officers is preserved, and will not comment publicly on the Management or Staff’) Many staff are known as ‘The Grey Brigade’ because they have been on this cushy gravy train for 20, 30, and more years.

Need for Change

The EMCC blunts our Councillors’ real authority and reduces the Representatives’ role to advisor and mediators on behalf of Ratepayers. This creates a silent surging power struggle between Representatives and the bureaucracy and because it is a confused and contentious ‘Code’ it destroys, not builds, partnership possibilities. Councillors are turned out to fend for themselves every three years, but staff (especially the Managers) can make it a life long profession sheltered in the cradle of no responsibility. The EMCC needs to be revisited in an intelligent quest to restore authority to the Elected Representatives and return energy to this near lifeless local body.

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3 Comments

  1. From my own personal experiance of serving on the Russian Front -Napier City Council, Which can be best decribed by me after seeing some recent C & N news footage, as similiar to that of serving on some robotic corrupt council in North Korea! The present Elected Member Code of Conduct, which I politely refused to sign . Is nothing short of "gagging" tool that protects the backsides of incompetant corrupt self serving conflict of interest paid officials from having the whistle blown on them by elected members. And any present Napier city councillor with anything between the ears that cannot comprehend that part must be as thick as two short planks, not able to read, not wanting to see- or only there for the money?

    This same Elected Members Code of Conduct was used against me by Mayor Arnott (after being engineered by NCC puppet master CEO N B Tayor with the aid of two of his devious cronies in the hope of shutting me up and making behave like a neutured trained toy poodle.

    And for what ? As an "elected representive of the people". I commited the heinous crime of daring, to have the temerity to speak up and critisize a highly paid, supposed qualified senior council manager for one of his stuff -ups that ended up costing the innocent hardworking ever flogged Napier ratepayer over $300, 000 ! Yet it was I (the concerned elected member, that landed up being summoned by Mayor Arnott to her organised Kangaroo Court s to apologise!

    And so, with the help of the Hawkes Bay Today yesterday -so it goes on. And so it will for as long as the the present intake of councillors near always sing from the same pre -prepared song sheet of the mayor and the CEO and we are unfortunate enough to have Loise Pierard as editor. Boy am I amongst thousands that are over the moon he got the long over due dumpty do.

    As the worthy mayor of Tauranga quite rightly said when he raised his concerns, shortly after he become elected -' who's runing our city- the paid salaried officials- or us the peoples elected representitives? Well, did he have some bad news for some of them-oh dear -what a shame -never mind- good on him!

    Unfortunately for us, I sincerely believe the majority of elected Napier city council members are simply nodding heads-rubber stamps with no individual ideas. And love him or hate him? Former Cr John Harrison- always did his homework and had his say. If elected to the power trust -can you imagine the shock!! Enough to make linesmen fall off their power poles?

    One would of hoped by now that elected members of the people would have cottoned on! That it is they, The elected members -not always council officers that are rightly the ones to make and get reccomendations on Council Agendas from which to introduce New policy.

    Sadly, however, what appears to be hapening in Napier City Council, is a blantant case of the tail wagging the dog!

    Just what would these elected members, the Topp Twins and the local rag do without Marineland? And what's this latest headline breaking news I hear about some some swash buckling leather garbed lesbian from the freaks Hero Parade on a Harley bullied the Napier Council into voting to do away with Santa's Parade?

    Dashing my chance of getting a free lolly from a councillor!

  2. Former NCC. Dave Bosley, has a point concerning honest transperency, expected from local leadership.( although Dave, a forem seaman is a bit more radical than me from his own experience of survival.

    Recently a position was advertised in local press, for a C.E.O for the Maraenui Urban Renewal Plan, A government , local crime prevent strategy. for the benefit of Maraenui

    A real farce, as the positon was already designated to Cr Rob Lutter.

    Cr Rob Lutter admittted on his appoitment,"I have no idea about communnty development"

    Yet Rob Lutter is paid to do a job," that back scratches the providors , without any evaluation for the thousands of dollars contributed to a process at alienates NGOs and volunteers…

    Community Development practicioners, who applied for the position were humilated by the appointment. of Cr Rob Lutter.

    With both Governments supporting harsher penalites to prevent crime, and the SSTrust Garth McVicar and the Act Party now using crime for votes, Local leadership should support 'our own people falling through the cracks, with perceptive local people who "have been there," and undersand the problem.- not a perk to appoint an inexperienced Cr Rob Lutter. as a NCC yes man.

  3. Rob who Pat? Does he ride in Sam Kelts horse races? If so does he ride a 'Mare'? or a donkey?

    Any NCC councillor that wants to speak out clearly will be in big trouble. That Council is ruled by one man -who has been there too long.

    If it was not so serious it would be a complete joke.

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