Following the 2013 local body elections . . .
THERE IS A MASSIVE GAME CHANGE
Is this why Greater Debt Dunedin’s campaigning so hard, with help from ‘friends’? Read on.
Firstly, ‘overthinking’ an image, and an opinion piece from the Nelson Mail (June 2013). Followed by ‘Friday news’ from New Zealand Herald, reproduced in Saturday’s Otago Daily Times (page 3). Lastly, importantly, you’re urged to VOTE – a plea appearing in the ODT, indicating 9 October is the last date by which to safely post your completed voting papers.
### nelsonmail.co.nz Last updated 13:39 12/06/2013
New accountability for mayors
By Keith Marshall
OPINION New law changes passed at the end of last year created some major changes ahead for local government. One of the most important changes, in my view, arises from legally and politically empowering mayors to do the job we expect of them. And, along with that legal empowerment comes some genuine public accountability to perform.
After the coming election, mayors nationwide gain new powers. A mayor will be able to legally appoint their own deputy mayor, appoint all committee chairs and determine the structure of council committees, including which elected councillors are appointed on to those. The legal power to decide their own political teams, structures and processes means that mayors will gain a huge level of political control over councils that they currently do not legally have.
Adding to this direct political control, mayors from the next election onward will also legally be personally responsible for driving the setting of council plans and budgets. This, alone, is a huge change.
Indeed, it may be surprising to learn that currently mayors around the country have no real substantive legal powers – largely the current legal role is one of a “first citizen” and in chairing meetings of the elected council.
Mayors, currently, do not have the legal authority to choose their own political teams nor structures, they do not determine council agendas and nor do they drive council budgets or plans. Right now, those decisions are made by the whole of the elected council and in those decisions, as in all others, mayors have just one vote at the council table, the same as all councillors.
In some ways being a mayor under the current law is a potentially thankless task – one in which they are the public face of the council, and get to be “blamed” for any and all decisions made by the elected council whether or not they personally supported or voted against those decisions.
On the other hand, the current situation also makes it very difficult for us voters to hold our current mayors, and councillors, individually accountable for the decision-making of the whole of the elected council (and the subject of a future column).
In the future, just what and how issues are dealt with will be determined by the mayors themselves; maybe in conjunction with their councillor supporters, or perhaps sometimes even just off their own cognisance.
All decisions of the council will be directly influenced by the mayor through the exercise of their new powers. This is very real political power never before seen in local government in New Zealand – something much more akin to the “presidential” type of mayor as seen in the United States.
Accordingly, at the next council elections, whoever we elect as mayors of Tasman District Council and Nelson City Council will have the legal ability to carry out any election promises they may have made. Any mayoral candidate can set out a vision for us and, unlike at any other time in the past, be in a position to bring that vision into reality if they become mayor. This is a new legal environment for local government.
So what? Well, for one thing, the new law change means that mayors (and their councillor supporters who the mayor will appoint to key roles) will now be more obviously accountable for all decisions. Along with the ability/responsibility to make things happen (via legal powers) goes some true accountability.
● Keith Marshall is a company director and the former Nelson City Council chief executive. Previously, he has owned Thrifty Rental Cars NZ, managed the last nationwide health reforms and participated in the NZ-China FTA negotiations.
### nzherald.co.nz 1:35 PM Friday Sep 27, 2013
Mayors given extra powers
By Rebecca Quilliam
Mayors throughout the country will become more powerful under new law changes set to come into action after October’s local elections. The changes will allow mayors to appoint their own deputies, set the structure of committees and appoint committee chairpeople.
Local Government New Zealand president Lawrence Yule said the changes had the potential to bring real benefits. It enabled new councils to “hit the ground running” and for councillors to work more effectively together, Mr Yule said.
Mayors would become responsible for driving the set up of major plans and budgets, which included long-term and annual plans.
They would also be more accountable for their decisions, Mr Yule said.
The law changes bring all the country’s councils in line with the powers already granted to the Auckland Mayor under the Super City process. The new powers would encourage cross-council collaboration because, in order to use them, a mayor needed the majority support of councillors, he said.
Voting papers for city, district and regional councils have now been sent out. These must be returned posted or hand-delivered in time to reach the relevant electoral officer by noon on October 12. APNZ
Participation in electoral process urged (ODT 18.9.13)
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr
*Image via catherinewhite.files.wordpress.com – ‘Emperor’s new clothes’ re-spun by Whatifdunedin