So says Rex McIntyre, who believes he is entitled to $1,480 per month in ratepayer funding for his home-away-from-home in Napier, while he serves as Chair of the HB Regional Council. As reported here by the DomPost, “… it was ‘too bloody bad’ if ratepayers were upset at the cost.”
I can appreciate two sides to the subsidy issue: As a democracy, if we want anyone with the interest, commitment and ability to be able to serve in elected office — regardless of where they live or how rich or poor they are — should we not be prepared to provide reasonable financial support to make a level playing field?
Or do we simply say, keeping in mind that the Chairman’s job pays $106,211 plus travel costs: Hey, if you’re not prepared to shoulder the burden, don’t apply for the job?
Presumably, the Chairman’s fellow Councillors have been fully aware of — and approving of — this ratepayer subsidy for their Chairman’s special living expenses. If so, they should not leave Rex out there alone twisting in the wind. The full Council should either spring to his defence, taking ownership of the policy, or inform the public of their individual disapproval. Either way, BayBuzz would be happy to publish the views of any Regional Councillor on the matter.
But there’s perhaps a more fundamental issue here, and that’s the attitude evidenced by Chairman Rex in his statement … “too bloody bad.” That’s outrageous and unacceptable.
Maybe the reporter simply caught Rex on a “bad hair day.” For which, if he recanted, he might be forgiven.
But ratepayers who have seen the Chairman in action at public meetings will see confirmed in this remark a trait he displays too often — the public be damned. Watch Rex at a public meeting on water policy in Havelock North or at a public meeting on sewage disposal in Mahia and you’ll see an elected official who is intolerant of dissent, combative in style, and disparaging of the average ratepayer (who, as Rex has put it more than once, basically cries for far more goodies from local government than he or she is prepared to pay for).
Not exactly the deportment one would expect of the leader of a Regional Council that otherwise seeks to present itself as progressive and open to engagement. But I guess if his modus operandi is OK with his fellow Councillors, the rest of us must swallow it.
That said, this time, Rex might have handed the ratepayers something they know they don’t want to swallow … his rent!