Here is the astonishing reply I received (which I dare not paraphrase, lest I not do it justice):
Good evening Tom
To respond to your question:
I asked at the Council meeting last week (which I think you attended?) that my apology be noted as, since I am an Accredited Hearings Commissioner who is a member of the current HBRC Hearings Committee, I believe that it would be inappropriate for me to attend this public meeting. This was in order to avoid any suggestion (when I am a member of the Hearings Committee dealing with any future matters relating to the Tuki Tuki ) that I might have been influenced in any way by opinions (as opposed to scientific facts) expressed at the meeting. Such a suggestion could lead to challenges of any Hearings Committee decision on the grounds of actual or perceived predetermination, bias or conflict of interest.
Please note that I will not respond to any requests for any further explanation of my decision to do this as I do not regard it as a matter for debate or discussion; this is a matter on which I (and every councillor in this position) have to make a decision according to my perception of my duty and responsibility as an Accredited Hearings Commissioner and member of the Hearings Committee.
Eileen von Dadelszen
1. Every other member of the HBRC Hearings Committee attended the meeting — its Chair, Christine Scott, Ewan McGregor, Liz Remmerswaal, Morry Black. Maybe they were wearing earplugs … I didn’t notice. If not, by Eileen’s standard, I guess the Hearings Committee will have trouble coming up with an untainted quorum for today’s hearing on Tuki consents!
2. The very purpose of the meeting was, in large part, to probe the scientific information that is supposed to drive management of the Tukituki. Where does one gain a better understanding of the science than in a challenging session like that one? God forbid that mere citizens might know a thing or two about the science.
3. It is precisely to guide us through matters like the convergence of science and policy that we choose our elected officials. For example, scientists give us nuclear power; elected officials (in NZ) say, no thanks. As voters, we expect that our views will have some bearing on how our elected officials carry out their responsibility. Of course, if the officials shun public meetings on such topics, it’s tough for them to know much about their constituents’ preferences and concerns.
Looking into the matter further, I’ve come to realize how seriously Councillor von Dadelszen takes her position.
Because the Tukituki issue has generated such public outcry, with commensurate high risk of potential exposure to mere opinions, I’ve learned that Councillor von Dadelszen is planning to take the following protective measures:
1. She will not expose herself to any media whatsoever until no potential Tuki consent matters are likely to come before the Hearings Committee, or until the river runs dry, whichever occurs first.
2. Her home telephone line and Internet connection have been programmed to filter out — like spam — any and all attempts by non-accredited outsiders to communicate information regarding the Tukituki.
3. She will discuss the Tukituki only with individuals holding advanced degrees in chemistry, hydrology, marine biology, geology and other pertinent academic disciplines. Un-educated farmers, fishermen and other practitioners with years of hands-on exposure to Tukituki management issues should not approach within 50 meters. [Silly me, I thought science began with observation.]
4. When venturing from her home, where she inhabits a glass bubble, Councillor von Dadelszen will be encapsulated in a moonwalk-like protective soundproof suit. This will ensure that no stray comments or opinions will possibly be heard, attach to her person or otherwise contaminate her processing of pure scientific data.
Councillor von Dadelszen, I’m sure I speak for all of your constituents when I thank you for taking these extraordinary measures to
isolate insulate yourself. We are confident that your judgment on Tukituki matters consequently will be far superior to that of your contaminated colleagues, wallowing in the mudpit of public opinion. [Special warning: Watch out for McGregor … I saw him actually talk to a farmer at the meeting.]
And we are sooo grateful that at least one Councillor has the guts to tell us what they really think … that constituents are a icky bunch of bloody idiots … and a damn nuisance!
Sorry, this is “accountability” at its worst.