Council appointments (rumbles)

ODT 1.11.13
Vandervis rejected other posts, including subcommittee role: Cull

While the detail might be considered “divisive”, the following email exchange is in the public’s interest. Readers can make up their own minds on the content and politics.

Friday, 1 November 2013 10:37 a.m.

—— Forwarded Message
From: Lee Vandervis
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2013 10:49:07 +1300
]To: Chris Morris [ODT]
Conversation: Appointments
Subject: Re: Appointments


Clearly my long business and Council experience has been sidelined by Mayor Cull as all inside Council Committees positions were closed to me, not just the really influential Chair positions but all other Council Committee positions as well. This is what Mayor Cull meant when he said of positions of responsibility – ‘I have given you nothing’.
The supposed ‘roles’ outside Council Committees that have been offered have been roles of so little use or interest that the Mayor was having trouble getting any Councillor, experienced or otherwise, to go on them. I volunteered for three of these outside Council Committee ‘roles’ but again was denied all of them.
Many of these outside Council ‘roles’ have been recently scraped or numbers of Councillors on them reduced, recognising that they are largely a waste of Councillor’s time. In the past the Mayor has had trouble finding Councillors willing to serve on them, and then trouble getting Councillors to show up once they had agreed to attend. At least when I was on such outside Council committees like Olveston , Regent Theatre, Settlers Museum, etc my attendance record was second to none, and I have done my long stints on minor committees, inside and outside Council since 2004.
My three years on the Otago Settlers Museum outside Council Committee was particularly frustrating as I was unable to influence the waste of vast amounts being spent on ridiculous items like the $700,000 glasshouse for the AB Steam Locomotive with cheap reflective glass!, or the insincere pushing of an insane observation tower to boost other budgets.

The Mayor should make up his mind whether he stands by his statement that ‘I have given you nothing’ or by his other claim that he has offered me roles. He can not claim both. The ‘roles’ he now claims have been offered to me are are all outside Council Committees and of so little consequence that the Mayor can not even remember which ones he has offered me. There is nothing to ‘work hard’ at or points to prove in such outside Council roles offered. My record of hard work and attendance on Council stands second to none.

I do not recall the Grants subcommittee offer, but I would have rejected it because I have done Grants before and am opposed to the wholesale degradation of the Grants process which used to promote Community Projects when I was first elected in 2004, but now has become largely a rate-paid gravy-train for the well-connected.

Hopefully that fully answers the contradictory claims by Mayor Cull that he both has, and has not, given me nothing.

Kind regards,

On 31/10/13 9:54 AM, “Chris Morris” [ODT] wrote:


A couple of follow-ups from your email.

1. You haven’t really directly addressed the second question in my original email (below) – how you can claim to be sidelined when you were offered roles, albeit ones you didn’t really want, and turned them down?

2. The mayor says you have, to some extent, sidelined yourself by declining roles you didn’t like. Would you not have been better to accept whatever you were offered, and work hard at it to prove a point, than say no?

3. The mayor says you were (either in writing or via staff) offered at least three roles – the Toitu board role, a spot on the grants subcommittee, and a third one he can’t recall. Do you recall the grants subcommittee offer? And, if so, why did you turn that down (my understanding is that subcommittee would be an internal role)?


On 30/10/2013 6:40 PM, Lee Vandervis wrote:

Re: Appointments

I was refused all 3 outside appointments that I indicated I would be prepared to work at, as well as all possible inside appointments by Mayor Cull.
I was only belatedly offered Toitu [which I had already just served 3 years on] and one other reserve nothing type appointment because staff could not get anyone else to agree to serve on them.

Mayor Cull has been unusually true to his word when he said “I have given you nothing”. That he now tries to pretend he has given me something after all is laughable.

I do not just claim to be sidelined, but to have been personally abused by Mayor Cull who has accused both me and Cr Calvert on nationwide TV as ‘having shonky policies’ without saying what these are.
I have great ability and experience which the biggest-spending and money-wasting Infrastructure Services Committee desperately needs and now will not get as its Chair because of a petulant Mayor who can not bear being exposed or criticised, and has given the Chair to a well-meaning Councillor with irrelevant legal training and no engineering understanding.

I wanted the University role because I have strong University connections, knowledge and mutually beneficial ideas for the University/DCC relationship which has stagnated in recent years. My wife is a senior lecturer there, I still have staff relationships for when I got my degree there, I have been a provider of sound and lighting system to the University for 30 years [and lived in Dundas st for 15] and want to improve parking, 30 km safety zones, better conference business cooperation rather than the current competition, and get real Uni/DCC joint ventures happening.

I wanted Otago Museum because I have worked there [eg supplied Butterfly House and other sound] because it is a Committee I have never been on before, and because Dr. Ian Griffin is a brilliant bloke who is open to new ideas. We share a love of astronomy and technology which few other Councillors understand.

Gasworks is again a Committee I have not been on before, and the opportunities for what could be done there became evident in my time as Chair of the Heritage Fund, and Heritage Buildings re-use Committee. Love of technology and its history also make this attractive.

My time on the Toitu Board was unrewarding mainly because of a management [since moved on] that were impervious to suggestions or my input. The extraordinary amount of money that was not well spent on the Toitu development was kept out of reach in terms of information [especially by Graeme Hall] and then Linda Wigley. I always felt that I was being treated like the proverbial mushroom when trying to get better value for the enormous spend at Toitu.
I am unaware of being offered any 3rd role unless it was some reserve Committee that nobody wanted to go on and staff were trying to get anybody at all.

On 30/10/13 3:02 PM, “Chris Morris” [ODT] wrote:

Hi Lee,

You’re probably aware I’ve had released to me today some emails relating to your run-in with Mayor Cull over the appointments process. In particular I’ve had emails relating to the outside appointments process released. They show you went for three roles, including the University Council role, but also that you were offered (and turned down) the offer to continue in your Toitu board role. Cull has also told me, in a subsequent interview this afternoon, that you were offered at least two other outside appointments verbally, the grants subcommittee and another (which he couldn’t recall), but also turned them down.

I’m interested in your comments on all this, particularly given your comments last week about the Mayor wanting to “completely sideline” you.

Can you respond to the following by 5pm:

1. Why did you turn down the outside appointments?
2. How can you claim to be sidelined, when you are offered roles and reject them?
3. The Mayor says you have sidelined yourself – what is your response?
4. Why did you want the University Council role, when it is (I’m told) traditionally always taken by the Mayor of the day?
5. Why did you want the other two roles (Otago Museum and Gasworks)?
6. Why did you consider your time on the Toitu board “unrewarding”, and the offer to continue in that role “insulting”? Aren’t there other councillors that have also accepted roles they would rather not have?
7. What was the third role you were offered and turned down? Were there any others, and why did you say no?

Feel free to add anything else and I’ll take a look.



—— End of Forwarded Message

Above, Cr Vandervis says: I do not just claim to be sidelined, but to have been personally abused by Mayor Cull who has accused both me and Cr Calvert on nationwide TV as ‘having shonky policies’ without saying what these are.

[Interviewed by 3News before the elections] Mr Cull says he’s quietly confident he’ll get another term in office, and isn’t worried about his eight rivals. “Six of them have no public office experience, and the other two that do have a pretty shonky record at public office experience. You know, extreme, nutty policies.”

Mayor Cull screenshot [3 News 7.10.13] 2Screenshot —Mayor Cull (3News 7.10.13), read and view the item here.

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18.10.13 DCC: Final vote tally + St Clair boat ramp
13.10.13 Pressuring Cull and his GD Party . . .
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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, DCC, Democracy, Economics, Hot air, Media, Name, People, Politics, Project management, What stadium

32 responses to “Council appointments (rumbles)

  1. Anonymous

    Dave Cull’s “extreme, nutty policies” feels like a set-up for tomorrow’s Odd News. I felt real hope when Peter Chin was removed from office but each time I read our Mayor’s thoughts I feel less inclined to trust this council. And that bar was already set real low.

    • I share your forebodings. Cull will never be the brains trust, he’s easily led and swayed by the wrong people – and will never master high finance, not while he holds hands with Stuart McLauchlan under the table.

  2. Hype O'Thermia

    Ohhh…….. so THAT’s what they’re doing under the table.

  3. Cr Lee Vandervis’ letter, ‘Perilous waters ahead for ‘Captain Cull”. as published in the ODT is in effect a challenge to the Mayor to ‘put up or shut up’. The Tremain cartoon inference that Cull has discarded Cr Vandervis like an unwanted cat is in some ways prescient, and may well come to haunt Mayor Cull. There is an old saying that “it is wise to know your adversaries and to place them closest to your bosom”. Or words to that effect.
    It is now quite plain to see that Cr Vandervis will hold the Greater Dunedin faction to account on every step of their journey. He will, I am sure be supported by Crs Calvert and Hall on matters financial, and it is this which will cause the most heartache for Mayor Cull. To suggest that he might have brought this situation upon himself would be churlish, but oh so true.
    It is going to be a very interesting settling in period, particularly with a new financial manager yet to get his feet under the table, and the unknown value of a new CEO. This, together with the Mayor and GD’s avowed intention to push ahead with pet projects all of which will consume lots of yet to be funded monies.
    The New Year’s Draft Annual Plan will be eagerly awaited and could be the trigger for the main show to start. It might not be good governance but it sure as hell will be great theatre. I can’t wait.

    • ODT 2.11.13 (page 31)
      Letter to the editor
      Perilous waters ahead for ‘Captain Cull’, says Vandervis
      Captain Cull has rearranged some of the deckchairs on the DCC Titanic, ordered Greater Dunedin speed ahead, reinstated the first mate that helped steer the ship into such perilous waters, put a lawyer in charge of the engine room and confined his best engineer to below decks. Whether these appointments can stop the DCC sinking in debt remains to be seen.
      Cr Lee Vandervis, Roslyn

      • Received.

        —– Original Message —–
        From: Lee Vandervis
        To: Elizabeth Kerr
        Sent: Thursday, November 07, 2013 9:49 PM
        Subject: FW: Formal Code of Conduct Complaint re TV3 news item detailed on What If

        Hi Elizabeth,

        Thank you for drawing my attention to the detail of comments by Mayor Cull as below.
        I have made a formal Code of Conduct Complaint in response to Mayor Cull’s TV3 comments.
        Deputy Mayor Staynes has replied promptly suggesting that we “seek a mediated solution” late next week.

        Looking forward,

        —— Forwarded Message
        From: Lee Vandervis
        Date: Thu, 07 Nov 2013 11:01:15 +1300
        To: Chris Staynes, Chris Staynes
        Cc: Mayor Cull, Sandy Graham
        Conversation: Formal Code of Conduct Complaint
        Subject: Formal Code of Conduct Complaint

        Dear Chris,

        In the interests of clarifying DCC elected member’s expected standards of conduct with respect to each other, please consider the following Code of Conduct Complaint of Mayor Cull in regard to his nationwide TV3 interview where he said:

        Mayor Cull TV3 (1)

        I believe that Mayor Cull’s public statement regarding the two Mayoral Candidates with political experience related clearly to Hilary Calvert and to myself, and the Mayor has confirmed this to me [in the same Councillor responsibilities meeting where he said “I have given you nothing”], that he publicly said I had “shonky policies”.

        What he actually said was “Six of them have no public office experience, and the other two that do have a pretty shonky record at public office experience. You know, extreme, nutty policies.”
        I note that the New Oxford Dictionary of English defines ‘shonky’ as meaning – “dishonest, unreliable, or illegal, especially in a devious way”.
        As a Councillor my public office experience goes back before Mayor Cull’s, to 2004 when I was first elected to the DCC, and my policies have been broadly not to buy things that you can not afford, and not to run two Councils when one Unitary Council could do both jobs much more efficiently.

        It was unfortunate that Mayor Cull chose to make this public comment without saying which of my policies were “extreme” or “nutty”, or how my public office experience since 2004 constituted a “pretty shonky record”. I would like Mayor Cull to explain exactly what in my record of public office experience has been pretty ‘dishonest, unreliable, or illegal’.

        In any event I believe that Mayor Cull’s statement contravenes various DCC Code of Conduct requirements, particularly J3.1 Relationships with other members.
        “…elected members shall conduct their dealings with each other in ways that:
        [c] focus on issues rather than personalities
        [d] Avoid aggressive, offensive or abusive conduct.”

        I believe that there are reasonable grounds for believing that at least this provision of the Code of Conduct has been been breached and that the matter should be referred to the Code of Conduct Committee for investigation. Mayor Cull’s statement was certainly offensive to me and offensive to many of my supporters.

        I need to remind you that on the previous occasion where I made a formal Code of Conduct Complaint of the Mayor to you as Deputy Mayor, that you failed to act on the Complaint and that you stalled proceedings against the Mayor for so long that the Complaint was eventually dropped after a year of inaction by you as ‘too much water under the bridge’.

        In the event that I do not receive a prompt [within 2 days] decision from you one way or the other, I reserve the right to publicly encourage you to make a decision, something I regret not having done last time.

        If you find that there are no reasonable grounds for a Code of Conduct investigation, I will welcome the clarity and the new line drawn in the sand regarding how elected members may refer to each other.
        If you decide that an investigation is warranted and breach of the Code indentified, I look forward to at least a prompt “appropriate apology” from Mayor Cull [J4.2], appropriately on the same Nationwide TV3 news where his statement as above was publicly made.

        Kind regards,
        Cr. Lee Vandervis

        {Personal contact details omitted. -Eds}

        —— End of Forwarded Message

        • ### ODT Online Mon, 18 Nov 2013
          Council code to be reviewed
          By Debbie Porteous
          Dunedin’s mayor is instigating a review of the Dunedin City Council’s code of conduct in a bid to take the politics out of the process. Mayor Dave Cull has called for the review, saying he would prefer complaints were referred directly to independent commissioners to handle instead of him – as is the case now – to remove any question of lack of transparency around decisions.
          Read more

  4. Anonymous

    The cartoon is available online:

    Garrick Tremain 2.11.13

  5. Once again Mayor Dave Cull shows his political naivety by going public expressing personal, ill thought out comments. He repeatedly does that embarrassing himself and the office he represents. There never was a more stupid action than his going on national radio and castigating the ORFU people. The result was a suit of defamation filed by Wayne Graham and Laurie Mains for damages of $500,000 each. The outcome was a ‘grovelling letter of apology (on the Mayor’s letterhead) publicly submitted and an agreement to compensate the appellants for all their costs incurred. We do not know to this day as to whether there was any damages agreed to as well. Regardless of his personal like or dislikes of people the electors chose, he has no right to be publicly expressing his opinions in the manner in which he does. The man is in danger of becoming a liability to both himself and the city.

  6. Text received.
    Letter to the editor, published at ODT 12.11.13 (page 8)

    Loss of councillor’s experience ‘unfortunate’
    For the next three years Dunedin City councillors will be paid about $49,000 per annum. Chairmen of standing council committees will receive in the vicinity of $59,000.
    Various subcommittees of council are formed from time to time, the most influential of these being formed usually from the chairmen of these committees – for example, the Appointment Committee, which has a major role in informing the rest of the council regarding part of the appointment of the next CEO. These subcommittees rarely, as I understand it, make decisions but they are influential in advising the rest of the council on various important issues.
    I imagine Cr Vandervis considers he may have been useful as an experienced councillor in contributing to council by being a chairman of a standing committee with the added responsibilities and commensurate increased remuneration such a role brings. It is perhaps unfortunate his skills, experience and popularity with the voters have not been recognised by an appointment to such a role.

    Cr Hilary Calvert, Dunedin


    Serious money
    From a DCC report tabled at the Council meeting on 29 October 2013:

    DCC Chairs and Deputy Chairs for Council Committees

  7. Hype O'Thermia

    Hilary Calvert is showing the clarity of thinking and expression I hoped she would contribute. Let’s hope she doesn’t catch the hillbilly-feud germ that has adversely affected the thinking of so many councillors before her.
    My guess is that she has natural (or acquired parliament-variant?) immunity.

  8. Anonymous

    Does DVML need to make a new appointment for a Commercial Manager?

  9. Jock

    I don’t know if anybody noticed, but the recent controversy over the Elm Grove school in Mosgiel. That was turned down for a liquor licence for a special event by the licensing agency. Had a person sitting on the hearing as a commissioner who actually had an application before the licensing agency, for the renewal of a liquor licence. It would appear that, that person by having an application before the licensing agency was therefore sitting in judgement of another applicant.
    Was this another Dave Cull appointment ?

    • Guess I could look up which councillors sat on the hearing panel – there’s only one of the present councillors that I can think of who would also be a licensing applicant. Rural.

  10. Whippet

    How is it that a person that has an application before the licensing agency, can then sit on and make a decision on another licensing application. Does that mean that a developer can then sit on a hearing and be part of the decision making process of another developer ?
    Are there no rules to uphold the integrity of hearings.
    Then of course if there is no integrity at the top you can see how easy it must have been for Swann to pull the wool.

    • Whippet – you point to exactly what we’re landed with, with this council.
      Having made some enquiries I find that the councillor on the hearing panel did declare an interest – but, wait for it, the panel chairman failed to remove that member from the panel. Hmmm.

    • Jock
      November 13, 2013 at 1:25 pm
      “…Was this another Dave Cull appointment ?”

      November 13, 2013 at 8:43 pm
      “…Then of course if there is no integrity at the top you can see how easy it must have been for Swann to pull the wool.”

      This ineptitude continues unabated. See on page 6 of today’s ODT under the heading, Thomson still out in the cold. Eileen Goodwin reported “…When he sacked Mr Thomson at the start of 2009, Mr Ryall said it was a matter of accountability for the $16.9 million dollar fraud.

      And now we know that Mr Thomson is put in charge of the DCC finances by none other than Mr Cull. I leave you to draw any conclusions you want from any of that.

      {Link added. -Eds}

    • Five recommended for district licensing panel


      Report – Council – 21/11/2013 (PDF, 159.7 KB)
      District Licensing Committee – Members

      Colin Weatherall, commissioner and chairman
      Cr Andrew Noone, deputy chairman
      Cr Benson-Pope
      Tanya Surrey (Queenstown lawyer)
      Colin Lind (Dunedin JP, former policeman)
      Wayne Idour (private investigator)
      Peter Burrows (former licensee)

      • ### ODT Online Sat, 23 Nov 2013
        Confusion over district licensing committee members
        By Debbie Porteous
        The five people approved to be Dunedin district licensing committee members have been appointed by the Dunedin City Council. […] Councillors voted to move the discussion into the non-public part of the meeting after some confusion as to why the appointments were on the public agenda, when that was not the usual practice.
        Read more

        • I read more.
          “Cr Lee Vandervis was the only councillor to oppose the move, saying too many matters were being discussed in private lately.”
          What’s Lee got against secrecy? Why is he always the awkward one who thinks there’s something inappropriate about treating the public like mushrooms?

  11. Whippet

    Well done, Mick. Cull goes cap in hand to the Government to save jobs at AgResearch. While with the other hand he gives the government the two fingered salute and promotes Thomson to the chair of the finance committee. If our tree hugging, cycle riding Mayor thinks that he can treat the Government of the day in such a manner, how can he then expect any support form the Government, when next he asks for it?
    Elizabeth. It is interesting to note that a developer sat on a hearing of a subdivision in Mosgiel not long ago. Not sure that an interest was declared, but the chair of that hearing was quite aware, as was the person that put the name forward for this person to sit on the hearing.

  12. ### ODT Online Tue, 24 Dec 2013
    Vandervis rejects Cull’s apology over language used in interview
    By Debbie Porteous
    Dunedin city councillor Lee Vandervis has rejected an apology from Mayor Dave Cull for referring during the local body elections to the councillor’s experience and policies as ”shonky, nutty and extreme”.
    This is Mr Cull’s third public apology in the past 18 months.
    Read more

  13. ### ODT Online Tue, 28 Jan 2014
    Adjudicator to hear complaint against mayor
    By Debbie Porteous
    An independent adjudicator is to be called in to hear a code of conduct complaint against Dunedin’s mayor. The Dunedin City Council agreed last week to depart from the usual path and appoint an independent person to resolve the complaint from Cr Lee Vandervis, following the failure of mediation.
    Read more

    ● Mediation ended after Cr Vandervis rejected a written apology from Mr Cull in December. The councillor said the apology was nothing like that sought in mediation and only compounded the situation.

  14. Cull needs to get over his girly-feud attitude to Vandervis.

  15. Jacob

    And who appoints the so-called Independent (some one from the inner circle) Adjudicator ?????

  16. Received from Rob Hamlin
    Submitted on 2014/02/14 at 10:33 am

    Posted this in response to what I consider to be a highly deceptive McPravda headline:

    Cull, Vandervis censured over feud

    I have no doubt that they won’t post it.
    {Your comment was posted at ODT Online. -Eds}
    “This headline is deceptive as it implies both men were censured. This is not so. The mediator directed that the Mayor was required to write the apology required by Cr Vandervis, and to get it approved by her before releasing it, which implies a certain lack of confidence, even now, in the Mayor’s willingness to perform.

    The mediator then went on to say:

    ”A quick apology from you, Mayor Cull, would have nipped this in the bud. But both of you have let this run on for months at the expense of ratepayers.”

    Which basically states that the extended stoush is entirely due to the Mayor’s reluctance to issue the apology that the mediator thinks was justified at the time. Mr Vandervis is just included as an aside in a comment at the end of a decision that enforces exactly the remediation that he sought, and it cannot be in any way considered to be a formal censure of Mr Vandervis.

    The Mayor has lost this case outright – Mr Vandervis has not been censured – The headline and opening passages of this story should reflect that fact.

    In fact the mediator’s final comment/”telling off” (McPravda description) actually makes no sense as what alternative did Mr Vandervis have but to keep on going to get the remedy that the mediator says was justified? It is quite clear that he would not have got Cull to accede to what the mediator now acknowledges was his reasonable request had he not done so.

  17. Absolutely correct Rob. The ODT has again distorted the impression of the mediator’s ruling. The correct heading should have been: ‘Game set and match Vandervis’, or ‘1 nil to Vandervis’. Let’s not forget, it was Cull who made the public statement in the first place, else this unfortunate business would never have eventuated. Again, he displays an arrogance, and political naivety unfitting for Mayoralty. Be interesting to see the tone of the written apology when it arrives.

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