At tomorrow's Council meeting an Elephant in the Room will be the adoption of the minutes of the previous week's meeting that fails to accurately reflect what happened during a Public Forum presentation by Mr Peter Bernard. Mr Bernard spoke for a total of seventeen minutes in Public Forum however at the five minute mark he said something that bought a Point of Order. At that point the rest of the presentation was edited out by Council under legal advice. So to was the Motion put up by Councillor Rob Pollock seconded by Councillor James Thomson requesting an apology from Mr Bernard or his expulsion from the chamber. This Motion was a formal motion, yet the Mayor, as Chair failed in her duty to immediately proceed with it as is required, calling for a vote. Instead she continued with her conversation with Mr Bernard for several minutes. In the meantime a Motion which had been raised and seconded sat in limbo. During her ongoing discussions with Mr Bernard the Mayor acknowledged the motion and even repeated it yet she failed to act on it as the Chair as required by meeting protocol. The Councillors also failed to act, calling for a Point of Order advising her that there was a motion on the floor that required a vote. The General Manager also failed to advise her of her failings in not immediately dealing with the motion. In the end the Mayor managed to glean from Mr Bernard what she considered to be an ingenuous apology with Mr Bernard saying he would apologise for anything she wanted him to. Under the Local Government Act the General Manager is required to record in the minutes all motions raised and record who raised it and seconded it and document the outcome. This was not done. Why not? Because legal advice sought by Council says that as Mr Bernard finally "apologised" it rendered the motion defunct. In addition to not recording in the minutes any mention of the second motion seeking an apology or expulsion Council also deleted from the public record twelve minutes of video of Mr Bernard's presentation. It is understood that the legal advice also offers Council an out in explaining their deletion of twelve minutes of Mr Bernard's presentation saying that as Council is not formally obliged to Live Stream Public Forum sessions they are at liberty to do as they wish with recordings of those sessions including editing if they so wish. All of the above might well be true and once again Council may well will wheedle their way out of a sticky corner however what is evident is that they have once again failed the community. The consequences of their editing actions manipulates the public record A previous Council agreed to web cast Public Forum, they agreed to archive Public Forum and they agreed to minute Public Forum however this council, at their discretion and under legal opinion will no doubt audaciously announce tomorrow that as Public Forum is discretionary so to is how they capture, store and record it and that the second motion wasn't put to the vote and therefore didn't exist. Technically they are probably right and will be smirking at once again winning over the community however if measured for moral and ethical correctness to best serve the community they have more than failed
It shall be interesting to see how they deal with this but don't be surprised if the worm turns. It will also be of no surprise to learn that it was all discussed in the pre-council meeting briefing and be tactically evaded when the Minutes come to be adopted. In the meantime Council have advised Mr Bernard in writing that if he doesn't provide them a hard copy of his presentation then, at the next meeting (tomorrow) the Chair might move to ban him from presenting again in the chamber.