The fish n chipper gave the Kremlin a fist up the back passage this morning, but, as is my wont, I don’t think they went far enough. They probably only just reached the Invercargill Shitty Council’s stomach.
This whole process has so many procedural failings, one has to call into question the capability of the director of finance and the town clerk to carry out their roles in a manner suitable for their positions and responsibilities.
One also has to wonder about the governance procedures at the Kremlin.
In my experience, when elected members (or Board members, for that matter) have a conflict of interest, they are expected to remove themselves from the room – not just from the table. Every Board I have been on or worked with has had that rule.
Mark von Dadelzen’s excellent textbook, “Member’s Meetings” sets it out clearly:
Such decision-makers are usually excluded from meetings of the statutory entity while it discusses, considers anything relating to, or decides, the matter in respect of which such decision-makers have an interest.
Even if the legislation does not exclude such people from meetings, good practice suggests they are better to leave to avoid any suggestion of influence.
If, however, the meeting is open to the public and reporters it may not be necessary for them to leave the room, but they should still move away from the table.
He then goes on to refer to Standing Orders for Local Authorities, and here’s what they say:
Members who have declared a non-pecuniary conflict of interest in matters to be discussed should consider leaving the meeting room for the full duration of discussion on such matters if they have a fixed position leading into the decision making process as a result of the declared non-pecuniary conflict of interest.
Now The Aged Al Bundy might argue he didn’t have a fixed position, but this suggests otherwise.
I personally don’t think any Councillors should be on Council-owned company boards unless i) they have particular skills the Board can utilise (being able to call someone a C U Next Tuesday doesn’t count, because any C U Next Tuesday can do that, Al) and ii) they are a member of the Institute of Directors and have gone through that body’s extensive training scheme(s). I wonder if the Councillors collecting thousands from their seat-warming prowess realise that they aren’t indemnified for any potential cock-ups under section 43 of the Local Government Act?
I certainly don’t believe a Council employee should be the chief executive of the Council’s holding company. That mistake has been proven over and over during this current sorry saga.
And finally, with such a massive undertaking, when was the last time the Council’s Audit and Risk committee met? Perhaps the chair was too busy scoffing at the plebs to arrange a get-together on something as important as the uncalled capital proposal:
Cr Graham Lewis chooses to interpret the paucity of public feedback on the uncalled capital proposal to date as indicative of both apathy and contentment to trust the council. He often highlights the importance of just trusting experts – enough to raise the question of whether he is the ideal personality type to chair the council’s audit and risk committee.
The Kremlin had a great opportunity to re-jig their appallingly poor (that’s being nice) governance structure when they were about to appoint a brand new CEO in early 2013. But The Man With Too Much To Lose fudged his vote, the rest folded, and we’re left with the local government’s equivalent of a double facepalm.
Something has to change.