Received from Russell Garbutt
Fri, 15 March 2013 at 7:49 AM
Well, it seems to have taken a while to happen, but happen it nevertheless has. Until the full wording of the joint statement issued by Paul Orders and Athol Stephens can be studied a little more closely, one can only assume that Mr Stephens has left the Council’s employ in a manner rather similar to that when Jim Harland suddenly found a desire to cease being the DCC CEO on the election of a new Mayor.
While Mr Stephens is quoted as being proud of what he has achieved and rates his time with others in the DCC as being a time of “great progress in the city, that had left the city with a ‘magnificent collection of modern community assets”, others may care to describe his time over recent years in more critical terms. There is no doubt whatsoever that Mr Stephens has, in his role of Chief Financial Officer, fostered, encouraged, or stood by, when financial prudence simply flew out the window. The current level of debt alone is a measure of the financial performance of the City, and while Councillors have the final say in the governance of the City, Mr Stephens occupied a central, crucial role in setting out strategies that resulted in this astronomical growth in debt levels. I don’t think we have yet seen the full extent of the financial dealings that has been carried out behind the scenes. Money has been spent far faster than it has been earned and that money has had to come from somewhere. Whether it has been by the issuing of guaranteed bonds offered at extraordinary rates to still anonymous investors, or by dabbling in the murky, wide-boy areas of interest rate swap derivatives, all this activity has been overseen by Mr Stephens. He has also had a role in overseeing, by his previous membership of a number of Boards of City owned entities, the troubling and frankly stupid practice of borrowing to pay dividends.
It is also illuminating that once again Cr Syd Brown rises to offer the mandatory words of praise. Cr Brown was a major figure in the governance of the Council overseen by Mayor Chin, that was the body ultimately responsible for the financial stupidity that has resulted in “a magnificent collection of modern community assets”. While many would argue convincingly that most of that last Council – indeed most of the current Council – wouldn’t have a clue what was in the papers and reports that was set before them, a small few knew exactly what was happening. Indeed, as I’ve often said before, it took about 20 people in this City to determine to build the new rugby stadium against every indicator that it would be, and remain, a financial disaster, and against the wishes of the wider community. Mr Stephens was one of those 20, as was Cr Brown.
### ODT Online Fri, 15 Mar 2013
Council head in quick exit
By Debbie Porteous
Dunedin City Council senior finance manager Athol Stephens has quit and will clear his desk today after the shock announcement yesterday of his departure.
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr