Ken Gilligan might be the most spectacularly competent and well-suited fellow in Hawke’s Bay to be appointed to the board of Unison.

Nonetheless, the three members of the Power Consumers’ Trust who just appointed him, as he stepped down as fourth member and Chair of the Trust, had no business doing so in the final days of their term.

This action fails the sniff test.

You all know the sniff test … something smells so foul, so wrong, so off, that you just drop it, toss it out, walk away.

In this case, it smells too much like one of the Club taking care of one of their Club members.

As best I can tell, there’s no crisis at Unison that cried for this new director to be appointed in such emergency mode. New members of the Consumers’ Power Trust will be elected by October 1 … surely time enough for them, as the newly mandated representatives of the people of Hawke’s Bay, to consider an appointment.

After all, appointing the directors of Unison is the most crucial charge of the elected members of the Consumers’ Power Trust.

James Palmer, re-standing trustee and one of those “lame ducks” who appointed Gilligan, was quoted as follows in HB Today: “Should the incoming trust dislike one or all of the board they are perfectly at liberty to change that.”

Spoken with the disingenuousness of someone who, at a relatively young age, has already been in politics too long.

Sure the new trustees could replace Gilligan. But now, under these circumstances, they would need to act in a potentially confrontational context and with considerable embarrassment to both him and the Consumers’ Power Trust as a whole.

I am standing as a candidate for the Consumers’ Power Trust. Let me say as plainly as I can: If I had been sitting on the Trust with bare weeks left to serve, I would not have agreed to this process nor voted for the appointment.

This kind of process breeds cynicism and suspicion about the governing process … something we scarcely need more of. Shame on the outgoing incumbents on the Consumers’ Power Trust.

And speaking of breeding distrust, shame on the Hastings Council for holding its Tuesday discussion of the Hastings city marketing strategy in public excluded session. Whenever the going gets tough, or potentially embarrassing, Councils instinctively want to run for cover and hide behind closed doors.

The Hastings Council has just been kicked in its tender parts by Charter Hall, developer of Nelson Park. Charter Hall wants to build smaller retail stores in their new — supposedly “large format” — complex than originally agreed to. CBD retailers are threatened and alarmed, and are looking to the Council to stand up to the developer and protect the original agreement.

The Council wants to lick its wounds in private, but Hastings CBD retailers and the public they wish to serve deserve to hear Councillors discuss publicly the full impact on city marketing of the change in plans Charter Hall proposes. They have a right to know just how hard Hastings Councillors intend to fight for the viability of the CBD. And Tuesday’s session should be the place they get their answer.


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