Or are they?
Over the Waitangi holiday weekend (when I’m sure you were all paying close attention!), the Napier Council ran an advert indicating that applications would be accepted, until March 6, for the position of Napier Chief Executive.
The term of the current incumbent, Neil Taylor, will expire on 30 June of this year. And, as the advert says, the Council is required to declare a vacancy and advertise its intention to appoint a CE for a term beginning July 1. The advert notes that “the current incumbent is expected to apply” — a not-so-subtle message that any “challenger” faces an uphill battle.
One certainly gets the impression that this “invitation” is a pro forma exercise. I wasn’t able to get information on where else or when this advert might have appeared. (It might have run in the East Timor Gazette … I’m still checking!)
Now, maybe Neil Taylor is hands-down the ideal CE for Napier, and a real search for alternative candidates would be pointless … a nuisance for busy Councillors.
Perhaps Mr. Taylor still comes to work each day spewing new ideas, championing outside-the-box thinking, rooting out cobwebs and challenging the status quo. Certainly that’s what Napier ratepayers have the right to expect … especially as the city and region faces pretty tough times ahead.
But, considering that Mr. Taylor has been Napier’s CE for seventeen years (since 1992), and has been employed by the Napier Council since 1982, one might legitimately question whether it’s time for some fresh thinking and rejuvenation at the top of the NCC’s 500 employee fiefdom.
One would hope that the Napier Council might launch into an energetic search — like the Hastings and Regional Councils recently did — casting a wide net and testing the waters to see what kind of talent might be floating around these days.
For the peace of mind of ratepayers, the Napier Council should require Mr. Taylor to make the case in a genuinely competitive arena, against worthy “opponents” actively identified, that his experience and prior performance trumps fresh blood (assuming equally impressive performance). Let the best man or woman win! Another term shouldn’t be viewed as a “default” reward.
But I’d be surprised if real choices are what the Napier Council has in mind.
P.S. Speaking of Chief Executives and fresh blood, today marks the one year anniversary of Ross McLeod as CE of Hastings. So far he’s managed to duck an interview with BayBuzz, claiming he’s a mere “servant” of the elected Councillors. If CE’s didn’t make a difference, HDC wouldn’t have switched horses, would they? You can’t hide forever, Ross!