Kāpiti Mayor K Gurunathan needs to take a few deep breaths and then start to run Council meetings in a more organised and democratic way, says KIN Editor Alan Tristram.
“Public speaking time is vital to our local democracy
This means the Chair should be sympathetic toward citizens who may be very upset by a local issue, but untrained, or nervous, about speaking in public.
Quite often a clear but friendly approach works best.
Citizens who feel they are being respected and listened to, usually quieten down.
Mayor Alan Milne’s fine record
I spent six years as a KCDC councillor, and I had the privilege of working with Mayor Alan Milne.
He was a master at dealing with tricky situations — and a paragon of fairness.
But unfortunately, Mr Gurunathan seems to have got his knickers in a twist over a minor incident.
Forced to leave the meeting
Manly street resident Dennis Grant was forced to leave the council meeting last Thursday after making an impassioned argument.
Councillors were looking at a new beach bylaw.
Mr Grant said there was no consistency in the proposal, the cost of keeping the site ( a beach boat ramp in Manly St ) open had not been mentioned before, and, despite the talk about consultation, ‘there was no consultation with us.‘
At this point the mayor said he found Mr Grant’s comments excessive and asked him to leave.
Our experienced senior reporter assures me that Mr Grant was not obscene, offensive, or in any way violent. It appears to KIN the Mayor may have been over-reacting after racial slurs affected students at a meeting in February. But the Manly St issue is unrelated to that event.
I think the Mayor, who failed to see or note the racial problem at the February meeting, may now vented some of his frustration on the hapless Mr Grant.
Perhaps it’s time for everyone to sit down quietly and have a nice cup of tea.
But, Mr Gurunthan, please be careful how you try to restrict public speaking at an open Council meeting.
And you could start by organising things so that the public are not crowded into a ridiculously small space — and even excluded from the meeting itelf.
It’s time to let local democracy breathe!”