Both the Hastings and HB Regional Councils got themselves organized today.

On the personnel front, a changing of the guard occurred at HBRC, as Rex McIntyre took over the Chairmanship from Eileen von Dadelszen, edging Allan Dick by one vote. Christine Scott was elected Deputy Chairman over Kevin Rose.

In Hastings, perhaps the big winner was newly-elected Wayne Bradshaw, securing the Chairmanship of the Finance & Monitoring Committee. Some might say this looks like a case of Mayor Yule practising the tested maxim: keep your friends close, and your enemies closer (“enemy” would certainly overstate the matter in this case … but you get the idea).

For those who elected Bradshaw specifically to be a rigorous critic of Council money-handling (and not a Jones-like “yes man” in general), it will be interesting to see how independent-minded he remains as a member of His Worship’s cozy inner circle.

With respect to issues, the big winner seemed to be the environment … at least judging from the concerned notes sounded by both Lawrence Yule and Rex McIntyre in their respective inaugural remarks.

Both men — apparently embracing Al Gore as their new role model — emphasized the need for their councils to address the implications of climate change (of course that’s poppycock to the Hawke’s Bay Today) and the need for a commitment to environmental sustainability.

In Yule’s case, the campaign appears to have been chastening — or at least educational — with respect to the environment. The Mayor said his Council had merely “paid lip service” to these concerns in the past, adding “we haven’t got it right.” He was explicit in acknowledging the scope and intensity of constituency demand for greater environmental sensibility in Council policies, as well as the extent of public frustration and distrust over Council decision-making where environmental issues were concerned.

He announced his intention to create a new environmental advisory group, which will have representation from councillors and the public, to educate and advise the full Council throughout the policy development process (details to come next week).

Encouraging words from both politicians. Rhetorically, each has set a higher environmental bar for himself and his council.

Will they walk the talk? Stay tuned.

Tom

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