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Editorial November 14th 2020

Welcome to this week’s editorial, This week saw another embarrassing revelation that puts yet another thorn of the arse of our beloved Council with the admission, by the general manager, that our councillors were not fully advised of a material correspondence between the Office of Local Government and Council in regards to the $70million Mackay Park project prior to their vote to endorse a tenderer for the project and commit a substantial amount of additional funding. The OLG correspondence, received two weeks prior to the councillors voting to proceed with committing $19 million of ratepayer funds to fill The Gap between grants and the estimated construction cost, clearly would have indicated the concerns that the OLG held around Council’s capacity to fund the future operations and maintenance of the facility once it is opened. The Council staff advised the councillors that the OLG assessment concluded that Council’s review met relevant criteria of the Guidelines (below in red box)

The statement in the red box (above), used in a report to councillors, came, in part, from a letter from the OLG to the General Manager. But the full statement by the OLG was never made known to the Councillors or the Audit and Risk Committee. That correspondence actually added another paragraph (below) :

During debate of July 28th 2020, the Councillors considered that they had been fully advised of everything they needed to know in order to vote. Under a GIPA request following that vote the provision of the OLG letter and response from the GM proved that they had not been advised. The decision, made by a staff member, to not provide that letter to councillors is of concern. Clr Nathan said during the debate around the award of the tender and committing to the $19 million “We as the elected body have been thoroughly briefed,” indicting that she knew everything to make an informed decision. Clr Pollock added during debate “There is nothing more to be placed to the Audit and Risk Committee for them to make a more informed decision than they have already provided”. Yet the Audit and Risk Committee had not been provided the letter either. During debate, and prior to the final vote, the Mayor said “Ultimately, what the community knows is what the community knows. What concerns me is what you, myself and my fellow councillors know. Because we are the ones who need to have all the information in front of us to make a decision on behalf of those who have democratically elected us to make decisions on their behalf. ” This was stated with the General Manager sitting right beside her knowing that the Councillors and Audit Risk Committee had NOT been provided a copy of the OLG letter that advised that Council SHOULD also consider the risks to projected revenue of both the facility and Council. But vote they did and they were played for fools. Will they take any action now this has been revealed? No, once again they will be too gutless to act. Until next—lei

Above: the look you have when you are told something you didn't know

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