Friday was the first regular meeting of the newly-elected Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

Here are the highlights, odd and interesting.

1. No one came. No member of the public. No media. Just BayBuzz. Probably for the best … the agenda was less than riveting! That said, see item #5, which holds considerable public interest.

2. It was shaky for awhile, but new Chairman McIntyre eventually got his chairman’s legs under him.

3. Oddly, as Chairman of the Environmental Management Committee, the counsellors elected a candidate who seemed bored by the whole idea (von Dadelszen, whose candidacy remarks were to the effect that she really didn’t want much responsibility) over one who made a fervent appeal and seemed ready to throw himself into the task (McGregor). We’re eager to see what passion Chair von D brings to her assignment.

4. “We never get invited” — There was an amusing bit of whining that regional councillors had to virtually beg other local Grand Poobahs for invitations to local photo opportunities like the recent grand opening of the Meeanee overpass. Recent Chairman von D advised new guy McIntyre that this neglect was something he would really need to pay attention to.

5. The most substantive agenda item involved a staff recommendation that the HBRC “develop and implement a local action plan to reduce Council’s and the Hawke’s Bay community’s carbon emissions.” So far, so good. Unfortunately the resolution adopted also contained this provision (based on a staff recommendations that the decisions to be made are “not significant”): “Council can exercise its discretion … and make decisions on this issue without conferring directly with the community or persons likely to be affected by or to have an interest in the decision …”

Let me understand this, during a week in which both Mayors Yule and Arnott, as well as HBRC Chairman McIntyre, felt compelled in their installation remarks to underscore the importance to the region of addressing the  challenge of climate change  — indeed with Yule announcing a joint Council/public member advisory group to examine the matter — the HBRC staff recommended, and the Council concurred, that the issue wasn’t significant enough to warrant consulting with the public!

Granted, the immediate decision was only to hire an intern to apply an off-the-shelf “emissions audit for dummies” tool to the matter. But as the CEO’s recommendation noted, more serious decisions and impacts might flow from this beginning. All the more reason for the public to be involved from the outset … now … as the issues are being framed.

Wow! Forget for a moment that members of the public might actually know something (maybe even more than an intern!) about the issue. Set that radical notion aside for a moment. And just consider the political miscalculation — just how politically tone deaf can the HBRC be regarding public concern over global warming and its local implications?

But then I remember, these are the folks who say the Tukituki is clean enough.

And they wonder why the HBRC gets no respect!


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