Biffo for Guru

Discordant notes from a corner car yard

KCDC Councillor is labelled

‘thoughtless, gutless and deceitful’

A major row has broken out on the Kapiti Coast District Council over Cr K Gurunathan’s criticism of fellow Councillor Ross Church for limiting Grey Power’s speaking rights at a council workshop he chaired.

Now Councilor Church has hit back, accusing Cr Gurunathan (Guru) of being ‘inaccurate, thoughtless, gutless and deceitful.’

In his piece in ‘Notes from a corner dairy,’ Guru, without naming Ross Church specifically, says the ‘unilateral move to limit the ability of Grey Power to speak freely at workshops is dumb.

‘The rationale that this right gives Grey Power undue influence to influence councillors is dumber and questions the intelligence of elected members.’

Cr Ross Church responds

In a note to Kapiti Independent, Cr Church says:

“Councillor Gurunathan, in his pathetic missive (March 7, Kapiti News) “ Notes from a Corner Dairy” (perhaps that’s where his true future lies) is inaccurate, thoughtless, gutless and deceitful. Inaccurate, because there was never any attempt to gag anyone.”

He says:”Thoughtless, because he is extremely disparaging about his fellow elected representatives without checking his facts first (but then, when did Gurunathan ever let the facts get in the way of a good story?).

“Gutless, because he doesn’t have the balls to name me as the one he’s aiming this barb at. Deceitful, because he knows that what he has written is not accurate, and he knew that long before he put pen to paper.”

‘The facts are simple’

Cr Church continues: The facts are simple (though, unsurprisingly, Gurunathan seems to have trouble with them). The Long Term Plan workshops are for council staff to brief councillors on all issues facing the community, so that councillors can then release the information to the public for the public consultation process.

“The public are welcome along to listen at the workshops . This is not the stage for public input. That would delay the process, and be putting the cart before the horse. As Chair, I have to make sure the process ensures that the documents are produced for the public in a timely fashion. Public consultation then rightfully takes place with everyone having the same opportunity of input using the same documents.”

‘Previous chairs allowed Betty to speak

He adds: “Previous Chairs have allowed Betty van Gaalen to speak throughout these workshops. I have continued that practice. (I must point out at this point that I have nothing but huge respect for the tireless work that Betty has put into our community).

“However, recently I have been admonished by several people and parties, saying that the practice of allowing Betty and Grey Power to speak so frequently gives them undue influence over the process, before its public release. Whether you accept that or not, that is the perception.”

“So,” he says,” I had a quiet word with Betty (and two independent people) to see if there was another way we could gather her input. We agreed that we didn’t want the perception of Grey Power bias to continue, and we agreed to gather Bettys (and Grey Powers) input in different ways. Trying to find a way to make things fair? Yes. Gagging? No.

“Gurunathan seems to be having huge difficulty deciding if he is a Councillor or a reporter. Personally I think he should find a third option.

“As a reporter he is inaccurate and inept. As a Councillor he is, at best, inconsistent. Given his ability to flip-flop on all issues, perhaps he should sell jandals from his corner dairy.

“He has voted twice for water meters. What’s the bet he next votes against them. Not in the interests of good decision making. In the interest of self promotion perhaps? Run with the hares and hunt with the hounds. Whose intelligence is in question here? Have another bob each way Guru.”


It is really obvious to anyone who attended last November and Decembers Council meetings that the reason Betty has been asked not to speak is because she spoke her mind.
And described Councils recent fiscal decision making as it is – The whole picture very unflattering to Council, the Mayor and CEO.
I could imagine those who had a quiet word in Mr Church’s ear said, ‘Off with her head’ (Quote Alice in Wonderland) and its not the first time we have heard this quote from the current regime.

Betty van Gaalen seems to be the only one to come out of this sorry squabble with any dignity.
Councillors, Please confine yourselves to rational arguements.

As the Grey Power person involved in this saga I make the following comments:
Although not being in the best of health at the present I have attended several workshops recently, I accept I have been vocal.

However, I have tried not to abuse the privilege extended to me for several years. In this round of work shops Cr. Church has always been courteous and allowed me to speak. However at the Work shop on Thursday March 1st he met myself, another Grey Power member, and the Chair of the Older People’s Council,before we entered the meeting room.
He asked me not to participate in the meeting as he explained that some of the Councillors had peole telling them that I had undue influence on the LTP.
At the time I said ‘If that is what you want, I won’t speak.’
Cr. Church addressed the meeting on this change in procedure, saying some of the councillors didn’t want me to speak as they had people sayng I had an undue influence on the LTP before it went out for consultation.
I could tell him in the break times if there was anything I had to say.

Cr. Gurunathan was the only person to speak up for me saying he disagreed, and had not been asked about this.
No one else spoke which I found disapponting.

At that stage I said I was relexed about the situation, after all it is a privilege not given in other councils around the counntry.

At home on reflection, I thought if I was not able to speak I didn’t need to attend meetings. Consequently I emailed Cr. Church to say I would not attend future work shops but would participate in the public speaking before Council meetings, and write a submission when the LTP went out for consultation.
In answer I received a courteous email with an invitation to attend future meetings with ‘business as usual’.

Talking to Cr. Church about this in an amicable way,I suggested that the people who thought I had undue influence on Council should attend the meetings and use public speaking. So often in the past I have been the only member of the public present.

Consequently I attended last Thursday’s work shop, as I will the one this afternoon, exercising the privilege extended to me.

I appreciated Guru’s was written in a dignified way, and set out the situsation as Guru saw it at that time.

I have respect for the way Cr. Church chairs and conducts meetings, he is very polite and skilled.
As for Guru, he has my admiration for his courage and the way he questions issues at the council table. He writes about what he sees and hears. We all have different perceptions.

The LTP has taken a tremendous lot of work by staff and council to produce a document to take our community into the future.
The public has the ability to submit comments on the LTP, maybe somethings will get changed! Who knows?

PS Mr Church gets really personal. He suggests Mr Gurunathan should sell jandals from his dairy. Perhaps Mr Church should become a car salesman! We all have an opinion on that “profession”!

Robin McKenzie

Goodbye Mr Church, It was nice to see yourself shoot without thinking of the consequences. Never mind, you might like to try re-election in 2016. Arrogance is your undoing as it will be for the Mayor and a few of your colleagues in council. Mr Gurunathan has courage and can change his mind with a 180 when provided with a worthy contrary opinion. You might like to try that sometime. I am sure you will be aware (perhaps not) that denigrating Mr Gurunathan personally, as you have done may only cause you to be viewed with “ridicule hatred and contempt” as the old slander laws provided. Councils’ excessive spending throughout New Zealand are about to be curtailed and the brakes applied on the nice to have extravagances that you have enjoyed will cease. The hardship that you have inflicted on ratepayers and senior citizens must surely keep you awake at night. (Then again perhaps not in your case.)

Robin McKenzie

In his role as a Community newspaper reporter Guru was valued and respected. A true investigative journalist who is sorely missed.
While I have been disappointed that he no longer works as a reporter, I appreciate that now we have at least one Councillor who dares to question the decisions of the Mayor and CEO and other Councillors. In this role I consider he, like Betty is another fine community watchdog.

The KCDC Water Supply Strategy accepted by Council weeks before the last local body elections states, No water meters and the decision made to have the first dam construction completed by March 2014. That paper has never been mentioned again and it took Council years and hundreds of thousands of $ in Consultation fees to produce. The project timeline committs Council to June 2012 – Resource Consents Decision, January 2013 – Detail design Complete and February Tender awarded for Construction.?????????????

The Mayor has stated the Council are proceeding with districtwide residential and business water meters as an “austerity measure”…..without even waiting for the outcome of the CRAG committee or holding a ratepayer referendum requested by 7900 Kapiti Coasters.

Add to Helenes list also the change to 9 rural zones to rural village, giving an instant 39% – 60 % rate rise over three years exclusive of the annual districtwide rates increases, also opposed in a majority of submissions and ignored.

“Public Consultation” is just the last step Council go through before pushing forward any and every plan they want to move on. Go the Watchdogs.

Meoowww – councillors must take lessons in the art of personal attack! The following are my own observations and not necessarily those of any organisation I am a member of.

The irony of Cr Church’s statement is that everyone knows that once the consultation documents are printed and released, the outcomes are virtually a fait accompli. For example, Draft Annual Plan submissions were all ignored, except for a few who requested additional funding be included. The consultation on the Amendment to the 2009 LTCCP – Water Meters was a joke, again the majority of submssions sent a resound NO but these were ignored. Most submitters to both the DAP and LTCCP Amendment called for Council to proceed with the dam to secure our water supply ahead of any other ‘wish list” projects (Aquatic Centre, Civic Building “upgrade – misnoma if ever there was one) and this was also ignored.

I note the Council website has the following spiel, under Role of the Council:

“The processes through which the Council engages with its community, how the Council makes decisions, and how citizens can influence those processes.”

So, if submissions to consultation processes are, for the most part, ignored and we are not allowed to speak at LTP workshops, just how is it that citizens can influence the processes that determine our rates?

And as Kapiti Grey Power makes contributions and submissions on behalf of the large number of citizens in our District on fixed or low incomes, surely they have a right to “influence” decisions that will have rates impacts. Betty van Gaalen’s wealth of local body knowledge has also raised issues to councillors and council officers that they had not even thought of, she is an excellent “community watchdog”.