KCDC Paddy-whacked by Padamsey

Salima Padamsay
Salima Padamsey

Democracy campaigner says Council is devaluing community’s voice

By Salima Padamsey

If the KCDC continues to fails  to record the new public forums, they deny citizens their place in the Council’s institutional memory.

But I think the Council’s decision to hold a public forum at the beginning of certain meetings is a great idea. It just needs to take another democratic step.

Support during the election campaign

This will encourage public participation, which so many of our newly elected representatives said was very important during the campaign.

At the moment, however, there is a major shortcoming: the Kapiti Coast District Council does not keep a public record and in particular an audio transcript of the public forums.

.I think it is necessary to carefully  examine the issue of record keeping.

What are the advantages of having a public record of these public forums and the issues that are discussed?

The advantages of having a public record include: –

  • We have an accurate record of what was discussed with our elected representatives.
  • Future misunderstandings can be avoided.
  • Everyone will be accountable for what they have said.
  • There will be a clear list of actions, which need to be taken to resolve certain issues… etc.

Without a public record of the forum the community are denied their place in the Councils institutional memory.

KCDC Headquarters -- denying a democratic right ?
KCDC Headquarters — denying a democratic right ?

This devalues the communities voice in the forums, furthermore there is no institutional memory of the forum and should council members change, we run the risk of repeating previous conversations and the forum having little impact.

Community ‘improves’ decision making

Community participation improves the quality of decision-making and by having it as a matter of public record it makes collaboration between the Council and the community much easier.

Community participation gives us in the Kapiti District confidence that our concerns are being given proper credence and respect; and that we are a consideration in decision making, which we are entitled to be.

Public records also give those that are unable to participate access to what has been said and to remain informed of the issues being raised by other members of their community, empowering them to offer support or to raise a counter opinion, should they be moved to do so.

‘Accountability and transparency’ needed

The Mayor needs to  take the lead on initiating recording the forums
The Mayor needs to take the lead on initiating the recording the forums

Despite the fact that the forum is an informal process, keeping public records allows the council to demonstrate both accountability and transparency, two edicts that are necessary for maintaining a democracy, and fulfilling a promise made by this Council for this triennium.

Isn’t it time that the Council upheld the values of democracy and made good on their promises?

So Councillors, I am asking you to stretch out your arm and press the button for audio recording, allow the community a record of the decisions and discussions that take place as we go forward into the future; not as two disparate groups; but as a community; open, transparent, and empowering. 

Together let us make break down the boundaries that exist between people and politicians and together be accountable for our future.

One interim solution is for people who present issues to the Public Forum, until such times as comments are recorded formally, that want their comments on the record, is to send a transcript of their presentation to all councilors. It is then at least on the Council record. But of course it also needs to be in the public domain.

I really do not understand why Mayor Gurunathan is so resistant to have public forums recorded given his past utterances, campaign slogans, and his time in ‘opposition’. Is he afraid of having to be accountable for his statements, promises or actions? Or does he just not want to be challenged now he is in power. To constantly tell us it is working is mere spin. To refer to public forums as ‘cage rattling’ is demeaning to those that take the time to attend. Maybe some lessons in the manner of communication are in order.

Maybe as Salema suggests Mayor Gurunathan needs to practice that muscle of reaching below the desk and switching on the recoding system. I offer to demonstrate how little effort is required to develop this action!

There does need to be some acknowledgement publically around whether councilors intend to take up the issues presented and what they intend doing with them if anything and also what was the eventual outcome. Otherwise it just disappears into the great blue ether.

If Mayor Guru doesn’t change his mind, then some voluntary body, like the CRU which Salima is (was — Ed)secretary of, will need to start doing this and post transcripts on its website. Videos could be uploaded onto video sharing sites such as Vimeo or YouTube.