Within weeks of taking office, the new Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC) is already facing a revolt from within the ranks of its 10 councillors.
In a bitter attack on first-term Mayor Ross Church, new districtwide Councillor Jackie Elliott has accused him of running ‘the least transparent and democratic Council in New Zealand. ‘
She says the previous Council’s amendments to KCDC meeting rules have effectively blocked any chance ‘to bring transparency and fairness to the Council table.’
And she says CEO Pat Dougherty’s interpretation of amendments to standing orders meant four notices of motion she tried to put on the table for discussion have been stymied.
This is because they require four supporting signatures to even get the item on the agenda, she says.
Cr Elliott also says that when she tested the new mayor’s ability to ‘change’ as promised to the public of Kapiti just weeks ago she asked him to support a notice of motion to revise the clause back to one or two signatures.
He declined, saying it would waste the Council’s meeting time to discuss what he calls unnecessary matters, she says.
However Cr Elliott maintains she didn’t ‘stand for election on a ticket, and is not standing on one now.’
“Each elected individual has a right to raise public concerns for discussion. It is what we were elected to do,” she says.
Cr Elliott says the CEO’s interpretation of the clauses in standing orders is also dubious,
“He first said the four-signature policy applied only to amendments of the standing orders.
“Now he now says it is to be applied to any resolutions and any decisions by the previous Council.”
Cr Elliott says the CEO has also said that 75% of the table must be in favour of a motion to be successful.
“While this applies to amendments to the model standing orders and in water supply privitization issues, I am now being told it applies to any previous decision.,” she says.
“Where is the democracy in that? I challenge the Mayor to explain to the public what is democratic about two people at the table outweighing the wishes of the other nine if they so chose.”
Cr Elliott says other Councillors have not run into this brick wall yet as they haven’t attempted to bring anything to the table.
“In the rush to shut down open and transparent debate, the Mayor and CEO are blundering,” says Cr Elliott.
“An example of this was made last week when the Mayor shut down a public speaker, Dale Evans, saying he was in breach of standing orders. It is staggering that the Mayor does not know standing orders apply to elected members and staff only.
She adds: “Mr Evans, who was critiquing the performance of the CEO. deserves an apology from the Mayor and meeting Chair for the way he was spoken to in the meeting.
“Sounding a lot like Mayor Rowan, the Mayor stated he solely was accountable for the actions of the CEO.”