The difficult art of saying sorry
By Roger Childs
Responsible media outlets quickly print or state retractions if they get a story wrong. Often they will also apologize to individuals for any stress or embarrassment or unintended damage to reputation.
Some politicians get highly annoyed when they get it wrong, or are found out making incorrect statements, and have great difficulty in saying sorry.
Australian John Howard couldn’t bring himself to say sorry to the stolen generation of Indigenous Australians and Councillor Michael Scott refused to apologize last year when a legal report found him in breach of the Code of Conduct.
Now the Kapiti Mayor seems reluctant to rectify an error of fact he made in a Kapiti News column earlier in the year.
The sequence of events
15 December 2016: The Council votes on changes to Standing Orders. A division is called and the motion is carried, with Cr Elliott voting against. Crs Cardiff and Buswell are absent for the vote.
25 January 2017: In his Kapiti News column the Mayor states that The changes were unanimously voted for by all the elected representatives.
26 January 2017: Salima Padamsey emails KCDC asking for clarification on how the voting was carried out.
22 February 2017: The Chief Executive (CE), Pat Dougherty, states in a letter to Ms Padamsey that Crs Buswell and Cardiff were absent from the 15 December meeting, but that there was no division called for in the vote. However, the audio recording of the meeting indicates that he is incorrect.
2 March 2017: Salima Padamsey addresses the Council meeting and points out that the CE and the Mayor have erred on the matter of unanimity and a division at the December vote. The CE apologizes.
13 March 2017: The CE states in a letter to Ms Padamsey that there was a division called for, and that Cr Elliott voted against. He apologizes and states that the minutes will be changed at the next Council meeting.
29 April 2017: In an email to the mayor, deputy mayor and councillors, Ms Padamsey notes … the Mayor has yet to correct his article and set the record straight.
10 May 2017: The Mayor responds in a letter to Ms Padamsey, saying that she was right in pointing out the error in the minutes of the 15 December Council meeting, but makes no reference to his mistake in the Kapiti News column on the standing orders vote.
What’s the problem?
In his Kapiti News columns of 3 and 10 May, the Mayor made no reference to his error in the 25 January article.
It’s hard to understand why he can’t just set the record straight and move on.
The CE has apologized and the minutes of the 15 December 2016 meeting have been changed so the Mayor needs to step up and bring the issue to a close.
Is this a case of Mayor Gurunathan being too busy to deal with what he might regard as trivia, or is it another example of the arrogance of power?