Mosgiel Taieri Community Board threatened with demise

Received from Maurice Prendergast
Sun, 14 Jun 2015 at 12:32 a.m.

[Undated email by excerpt. -Eds]

From: Maurice Prendergast
To: Bill [Feather]
In response to your e-mail below in which you seek feedback from Board members on the recommendation of the Representation Review team, I offer my comments as described below.
Effective representation and fair representation; while enshrined in legislation, are really just haughty ‘weasel words’ because while members may masquerade during election campaign as being representative of a particular catchment/community; once elected they can freely abandon their ‘fine principles’ and commit their loyalties to quite alien causes. Case in point: Rural electors who thought they would be effectively and fairly represented by a rural Councillor/ representative of the huge City hinterland found that same Councillor voting to remove their one precious budget consideration (the seal extension budget) and curiously voted for the same amount of funding to favour the provision of cycleways. Conclusion: there is no discipline that binds elected members to the principles of fair and/or effective representation. Cr Wilson has demonstrably personified this. This segment of Local Body law should be removed and pronounced unworkable.
Number of Councillors: The most effective Councils since re-organisation in 1989 were those with 21 and 18 councillors. Why? Enhanced salaries for (presumed) talented chairmen of Committees generates a ‘dash for cash’. Currently (at 14 Councillors) the mayor ‘cabals’ by having guaranteed loyalty from his six Committee Chairmen whose salary he has enhanced by bestowing upon them lavishly paid Chairmanships; thus securing an implied loyalty to the Mayor (or be sacked). Peter Chin introduced this draconian practice. When I was Deputy Mayor back in the mid-nineties the Mayor (Turner) relied on trust and appointed for three years. Peter Chin changed that to annual reviews – just to stop his footmen straying from loyalty to him I guess. So having secured six avaricious troopers, on any given issue he can be sure of six votes plus his own (7) which curiously is half of 14 and in the event of a tied vote he can exercise his casting vote to get across the line. That is what is so magical about the number 14, and that is why it will be strenuously defended (or even reduced). So a decision to have only 14 Councillors gives the Mayor a guarantee that he will preside over his ‘Fiefdom’ This was never possible when (say) there was 18/20 elected members. There was always up to 14 and then 12 (when the number dropped to 18 Councillors) who were not ‘tainted’ by having accepted gratuities from the Mayor. In a perverse way this always guaranteed honourable behaviour and reasoned decision making by Council and ‘debt laden vanity projects’ never saw the light of day. I don’t expect a ‘buy-in’ from the public at large because the rank and file electors (largely) don’t like Councillors, and if there were more I would anticipate an ‘uninformed’ revolt – which is a pity because this would be guaranteed means of discipline. But my analysis is that an addition of (say) six more ‘back-bench’ councillors at (say) $50,000 per annum, ($300,000) would be about the best investment the ratepayers could have made in the recent past. And the remedy is staring us in the face. Who was that philosopher who said “those who ignore their history shall be condemned by it”. The exercise of power that currently burdens us in debt is the product of having insufficient disaffected/ unsullied members – members who have retained the capacity not to be corrupted.
Community Boards: I am ambivalent about the Review Team’s proposal. Community Boards have never worked as expected by the Commissioner when established in 1989, and while I have served on six or seven Boards during the 35 year life of the ‘new City’, with the exception of the Strath Taieri Board it has been an unrewarding experience. The Boards suffer from not having any decision making authority and consequently suffer from having no sense of purpose. Initially each Board was granted $2000 per annum (euphemistically referred to by the CEO of the day as ‘drop dead’ money) – such was his limited respect for the function of the Boards and intended for the most menial of chores like keeping the toilet paper and light bulbs up to their community Halls etc. Then a Committee/Working Party was established to review the function of Boards with power to decide – a committee stacked with Community Board members and unsurprisingly the annual grant went from $2000 to $10,000 pa; but this change was not intended for any particular purpose. Without any strict purpose set down for these funds it has often generated an exercise in a kind of cronyism where conflicts of interest seemed to flourish. The distribution of these funds is attended by a set of criteria which is carefully described as ‘Guidelines’. Of course nobody can be nailed for imprudent expenditure of these funds because their distribution is bound by the discretionary word ‘Guidelines’. I attempted to get some kind of discipline on board at a recent Board meeting by changing the operative word Guidelines to a more disciplined caption ‘Rules’ but I did not even get the support of a seconder for my motion. Therefore every other member seemed to be comfortable with the freedom of having no rules associated with this ratepayer funded slush fund, and this kind of caballing is in my view why the Mosgiel Taieri Community Board is being abolished. I cannot raise an argument against that recommendation. E&0E)
Maurice Prendergast

From: Bill Feather
Sent: Thursday, 11 June 2015 3:10 p.m.
To: Sarah Nitis; Martin Dillon ; Maurice Prendergast; Blackie Catlow; Mark Willis
Subject: Representatation Review
Good afternoon all,

You each will have received a copy of the findings and recommendations of the Hearing panel released last evening. If not a copy of the report is attached.

The Council are to consider this report at an extraordinary meeting on Monday 15th June at which a number of Community Board Chairs including myself will attend.

I am interested to gauge the feeling of the community over the Review Panel’s recommendations and would like for you to forward to me your assessment of community support or otherwise that you learn of over the next day or two for the recommendations under consideration. The media broke the news this morning in the ODT and are planning a follow-up in more detail in either tomorrow or Saturday’s edition.

Your thoughts are important please respond earliest.



[Bill Feather, Chairman, Mosgiel Taieri Community Board]

Related Post and Comments:
11.6.15 DCC representation review

█ For more, enter the term *mosgiel* in the search box at right.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, DCC, Democracy, Design, Economics, Hot air, Name, New Zealand, People, Politics, What stadium

34 responses to “Mosgiel Taieri Community Board threatened with demise

  1. Brian Miller

    I fully support Maurice Prendergast’s comments above. For both the number of Councillors and the Community Boards discretionary fund.
    I was a member of that board for several terms, and one term in particular saw the cronyism that went with the discretionary funds. I had spoken to the powers that be on this issue, and it appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
    Not only was the discretionary fund based on cronyism, but the board meetings were also run on cronyism. A case in point was when the chair allowed one of his board mates to personally abuse another member of the board without any intention of calling the member to order. Fortunately it has been recorded in the board minutes, and cannot be disputed.
    An audit is needed on the Mosgiel Taieri Community Board’s distribution of the discretionary fund. It could be an interesting exercise to see how much of the fund was distributed to groups with board members involved and not declaring their interest.

    • Ray

      Sir, I may be wrong and I hope I am, but if I am reading you and the wonderful Maurice Prendergast correctly, the whole local bodies legislation has been a total failure because we now have and have had tremendous CORRUPTION. If there is the buying of favours within the Council, DCC property being sold to line an individual’s pockets, cabals within the legislative body to keep particular mayors in power and to do their bidding right in the DCC itself.
      Can any of this be taken to the police?
      What can ordinary ratepayers do?

      • Hype O'Thermia

        No of course it can’t be taken to the police, and the ordinary ratepayer can’t do a damn thing, that’s the beauty of the whole thing.
        Bet your life nobody signed “I will vote according to your wishes in return for this lucrative appointment” – OTOH everyone within the “club” knows the way to behave if you don’t want your committee to be “restructured” ie disbanded, called something else, and a more “cooperative” person appointed to the extra-money role.
        As for voting to approve something that benefits Mr XXX, even if he has stood aside everyone knows the situation, and that Mr XXX and his best mates will make life easy and profitable for cooperative colleagues, but the precise opposite for those who oppose.
        Nothing needs to be written down.
        It’s all absolutely the most unexpected, unpredictable coincidence that things work to smoothly deliver permissions, “minor” alterations in the district plan, etc etc to certain people – how could anyone say otherwise?
        Police need actual documentary evidence, as do the various auditing and corruption-busting authorities. And Dunedin is a long way from home base, out of sight, off the to-do list.
        Compare Counties Manukau Police take active interest in theft of vehicles with “energetic” police response to DCC vehicles that (for all the interest they took in examining the easy answer that one dead guy took’em all and um-ah, where are they now?) were probably transported onto another planet by visiting aliens – nothing to see here, sir!

        • Elizabeth

          Lest we forget, the Deloitte reports (plural) for their Citifleet investigations are yet to be handed over by Mayor Cull and CEO Bidrose,
          for public viewing. In them is material evidence for the prosecutions that never happened.

          This matter is not yet concluded.

      • Elizabeth

        If there is anything to do on a snow day, read the Crimes Act. Seriously, where monies have been fraudulently misdirected anyone can take a private prosecution…. don’t have to rely on the local constabulary who seem to be in cahoots with DCC to cover up Citifleet fraudsters inside and outside the council, and who have fleet vehicles serviced by the same companies that serviced and fed way over 152 Citifleet vehicles and car parts through DCC for private gain.

  2. Ray

    This is stunning stuff.

  3. Wingatui Flyer

    This was the board that supported a $2 million stormwater system to drain rural land, while the main street business area stormwater system flooded business every time a 1/10 year rain event occurred. They certainly knew how to get their priorities right.

  4. Calvin Oaten

    It is not a form of racism, but being Brown certainly helped.

  5. Hype O'Thermia

    Free money for the quickest grabbers v fund for responsible spending on necessities and being meticulously accounted-for, and it’s up for a vote? Turkeys ‘n’ early Thanksgiving, similar choice, similar voting pattern not hard to predict.

  6. Diane Yeldon

    Yes, agree with Maurice Prendergast. The Community Boards have too little power to ever be effective and, if given more, risk becoming a group of petty tyrants. While they exist, the chances of any true grass roots community group arising are limited by the false perception that the CB will do the job for them. Money spent on Community Boards would be better invested in good local meetings places, eg halls and neighbourhood houses.
    In contrast, the mayor who can now appoint committee chairs who get a considerably higher salary, has far too much power. And the financial incentive for councillors to suck up to him is BAD. I suspected that the present government changed the law like this when they did the Auckland ‘supercity’ legislation in the hope that their mate John Banks would RULE Auckland.
    Why do we have twelve people on a jury? Because we are trying to get a ‘representative’ view. There is this idea of ‘the wisdom of crowds’. Wise local government requires a very wide-ranging general knowledge which no single person is likely to have. So we need a true council (ie a collective) to make good decisions. At the moment, my observations of DCC meetings prompt the view that everyone (ALMOST without exception) is in the mayor’s pocket.
    It might seem a minor point but there was no legitimate adjournment at the full council meeting on 28 April 2015. You can see this if you watch the meeting video. Mayor Cull merely muttered during the discussion of an agenda item: “We’ll have a break for five minutes,” (while the staff were getting copies of a resolution not in the agenda). Look at Standing Orders and you will see that any adjournment during discussion of an agenda item must be moved and decided on by the whole meeting. Otherwise the chair (mayor) would have the (too great) power to shut down any decision-making he didn’t like the look of. But every single councillor (except one!) confirmed those minutes as a true and correct record. Whatever the mayor says….
    This is NOT the way a democratic system is supposed to work. There is supposed to be TRUTH and INTEGRITY!!!
    Well, that is why I am now making sound recordings of DCC meetings (when I can) and posting them online on my new website. And get them out into the public domain the next day so readers can compare the sound recording with what you will read in the Otago Daily Times!

    • Diane Yeldon

      But anyone going to tomorrow’s meeting about the Representation Review) might consider using a voice recorder (you just have to inform the chair in advance that you want to record) because I doubt if I will dare go out in snowy or frosty weather. I dare not risk slipping and breaking a bone.

  7. Peter

    I suspect, or hope, the demise of this dubious Board, in all its machinations, is not just a result of the Representation Review, but also might be the DCC’s way of getting rid of it quietly. Handy for them, but so typical of the DCC. They never deal with recalcitrant characters and make them accountable. They just slip them out the back door. Trouble is rust never sleeps if you don’t treat it.
    Brian and Maurice. They have possibly taken note of your revelations about how that Board works, but they would never admit you were both right.

  8. Jacob

    Another slap in the face for Bill Feather and his community board. Council is advertising for public input into recreational development in two new Mosgiel subdivisions. Why is the community board not involved and running this one, as it is in their territory. Could it be that the council has had enough of this incompetently run board, and has decided to take control of Mosgiel affairs. Not before time.

  9. Jacob

    Looks like nothing has changed on the Mosgiel-Taieri community board. Looking at the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting. It looks like the knives are being sharpened for use against the longest serving local body representative on the Taieri, Maurice Prendergast.
    Under the heading of “Chair’s Report”, with the subheading “Lowlights”, [it says] “A MTCB member speaking negatively of DCC staff at Public Forum of Council Meeting… not acceptable behavior(sic) of elected representative.”

    I say good on Maurice for telling it like it is. Could this public criticism by the chair of a fellow board member, be a breach of the council code of conduct that the board has signed up to ?

    {References. Report saved. -Eds}

    Mosgiel-Taieri Community Board PUBLIC AGENDA

    Chairperson’s Report

    • Elizabeth

      Dunedin City Council Published on Jun 1, 2017
      Dunedin City Council – Public Forum – 30 May 2017
      Minutes, agendas and reports related to this meeting can be found at

      As Diane Yeldon says at her comment:
      You can also see Maurice Prendergast speaking at the same public forum where he is severely rebuked by Mayor Cull for criticising staff. But is this unfair and pointless criticism or is Maurice Prendergast justly critiquing staff decision-making? The latter, IMO, so I can’t see why it should be forbidden.

  10. Hype O'Thermia

    There’s no value in rebuking a person at a public meeting for saying something. They’re factually wrong? – correct them. Or, you don’t like it? – take a concrete pill and STFU

  11. Keith

    Have just been having a look at the above Mosgiel-Taieri Community Board agenda for their next meeting. It appears that they are now going into the catering business. There is an item on the agenda that shows they gave $350 to their trougher mates, the Business Association, for catering purposes. At a time when there is a national outcry about Councillors’ meals being funded by ratepayers, here we have a community board funding catering for a business association and their cronies. If this is the best that the board can do with ratepayer funds, then it is about time that this slush fund was stopped. On a closer look at the agenda, there appears to be some very close links between the board and the business association. Enough said.

  12. Rob Hamlin

    There is a much more alarming moment in the full meeting video where Lee Vandervis is informed that there are ‘standing order’ that prevent an individual councillor from (subsequently?) criticising motions passed by the council. WTF??? Go take a look.

    Cull in the video is big on ‘offence’ given to staff, by MP and seems to use this as an excuse to close down questions on their activities. Hard to see how any conscientious individual could ‘govern’ under such circumstances.

    He then goes on to refer to MP’s submissions as “rambling”, when MP is still present. Highly unprofessional and rude in my opinion, especially given that MP’s soft and maybe hesitant delivery appeared to be due to health and disability. MP can definitely do nothing about this, and he should more correctly be appreciated for his decision to front up despite them, rather than insulted to his face by somebody who appears to be too ignorant and shortsighted to appreciate that they too may end up in that place. You could reasonably argue that MP was rude too – but that is not a justification for Cull’s remarks.

    It’s also a bit rich coming from one who many might consider to be the honorary president of the ramblers association. I note that there are several councillors sitting around that table who as part of their politial identity are usually very ‘big’ on such ‘offence type’ issues. To their extreme discredit, they did nothing. You can decide whether or not to pursue a ‘gypsy’ lifestyle. You cannot decide whether or not to be older.

    My opinion on freedom camping is that if they can afford to pay Emirates or whoever else $2,500+, to come here, and then to either buy or hire a car when they are here then they can afford to pay the community $10 a night for an official overnight place, which is not an existing community asset, is staffed/patrolled and has a place for them to shit where people don’t tread in it, and a place where their litter can be contained.

    $10 a head may well not cover the cost of this, but it’s the principle that is important – as noted above the fact that they are here indicates that they are neither stupid nor destitute, and the requirement for a budgeted $10 a night could easily be disseminated in our overseas source markets for such tourists – as could the penalties fines/confiscation /clamping for not allowing for this amount in their budget.

    The UK experience is that isolated/unmanaged free(dom) camp sites (official or unofficial) rapidly get ‘colonised’ by long-term mobile undesirables, who actively pursue the long-term itnerant lifestyle (not the homeless) and turned into dangerous eyesores which act as a base for ‘operations’, and which no normal tourist would go anywhere near. Sadly, those who actually live near such places have no option, and must thus arrange for their personal and asset security accordingly.

    Anybody who remembers the wars of the ‘travellers’ in the Eighties UK might well sympathise with this viewpoint. This was truly a war. Some farmers were bankrupted after invasions and long term occupations delivered by massive convoys of such folk, and pitched battles with hundreds of police were fought to shut some of these sites down.

    • Diane Yeldon

      Rob Hamlin: You say: There is a much more alarming moment in the full meeting video where Lee Vandervis is informed that there are ‘standing order’ that prevent an individual councillor from (subsequently?) criticising motions passed by the council. WTF??? Go take a look. (ends)

      Here’s the meeting (starting, I hope, from the correct time stamp). When Cr Vandervis asks for clarification about a past resolution, Cr Benson-Pope makes a Point of Order. (1.13.23 into video)
      Council Meeting – 30 May 2017

      Mayor Cull at first upholds this Point of Order, then the DCC in-house lawyer seems to be giving advice and eventually Mayor Cull changes his mind and does not uphold the Point of Order. Yes, good outcome because the Standing Order says this:
      20.10 Criticism of resolutions
      A member speaking in a debate may not unduly criticise the validity of any resolution except by a notice of motion to amend or revoke the resolution.(ends)

      Cr Vandervis wasn’t “unduly criticising” the previous resolution; he was asking for clarification. And when Cr Benson-Pope made his Point of Order, he (incorrectly) claimed Councillors weren’t allowed to ‘reflect’ on previous resolutions. On the contrary, such ‘reflection’ can be very useful.

      Nevertheless, I think council chairs, including the mayor, don’t always take enough notice of the whole expression ‘UNDULY criticise’. Sometimes it seems to me that a Councillor has to merely refer to a previous resolution to get shut down. Obviously, endlessly re-hashing what has already been decided wastes everyone’s time (unless it is important and serious enough to go through a long-winded formal Notice of Motion with a seconder to amend or revoke a previous resolution). But discussing outcomes, consequences and ramifications of previous resolutions is IMO an essential part of discussion and can be how the Council evaluates its own performance.

      Along similar lines, Cr Whiley was in a bit of a bind later in this meeting because he referred to a previous resolution which wasn’t implemented the way he had imagined when he voted in favour of it. Mayor Cull tried to shut him down saying, “You’re re-arguing the original motion …. which you voted for.”
      Cr Whiley: ‘And what I voted for and what it’s turned out to be are two totally different things.” (1.29.42 into video)

      I don’t think Cr Whiley was ‘unduly ‘ criticising the previous resolution. I think he was making a valid point. Anyway, Mayor Cull was not really correct to use the term ‘re-arguing’. As noted above, Standing Orders say ‘unduly criticising’. Big difference.

      Must say having legal advice on hand for interpreting Points of Order has upped the DCC’s game enormously. I used to often see incorrect and unfair decisions by chairs on Points of Order before this. And some councillors shut down, unfairly IMO, over and over again. This apparently nitpicking detail is important because we need all of our elected reps to be given an equally fair chance to speak at meetings. That’s what Standing Orders are intended to do – keep order and maintain fairness.

      • Peter

        All good re standing orders but, really, who could be bothered with this carry on? All very tedious. I think you need to be somewhat anal to be a councillor to actually enjoy this stuff. Or infatuated with your own importance.

        • Elizabeth

          Enjoy watching Parliament TV… more entertaining and good to have a Mr Speaker rather than the local govt equivalent.

  13. Hype O'Thermia

    “Cull in the video is big on ‘offence’ given to staff” – what about all the offence he gives to rational ratepayers by eg telling fairytales about sea level rise during a time of emergency when people in a far from wealthy suburb were facing huge financial losses NOT EVEN REMOTELY caused by sea level rise? I’m still not over it, and I don’t even live in South Dunedin.

  14. Peter

    ‘Sticking up for staff’ is a fluid thing. Handy to manipulate staff, as in Donald Trump’s World, to be ‘loyal’ to you.
    Of course, at other times, when there has been an obvious cockup, that can’t be explained away, the problem has suddenly become one of bad advice by ‘staff’. In other words they are scapegoated because they can’t defend themselves. Handy for politicians.
    By way of an aside, you might have seen the fawning of Trump’s cabinet towards their President. Funny.
    It happens the world over, of course. Sucking up to the boss while bagging him behind his back. Dunedin City Council is no different. We all have heard the stories. Loyalty is fluid.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      In the great original Bedazzled, hapless Dudley Moore asks Lucifer, the Devil (Peter Cook) why he was thrown out of heaven. It was so boring, declares Lucifer, all that floating around on clouds adoring God, just imagine, “O God you’re so wonderful, you’re almighty, you’re all-powerful, you created heaven and earth… I couldn’t stand it a moment longer” all spoken in a sardonic monotone.
      (Couldn’t find a clip of this, so that is the gist of it from memory)

  15. Lyndon Weggery

    For Diane’s encouragement you will all be pleased to know that the draft resolution proposing a South Dunedin Community Board was soundly defeated by the 150 attending last Monday night’s meeting at Nations Church and sponsored by the Greater South Dunedin Action Group. This decline of the Motion followed some poignent arguments against Community Boards that were delivered to the meeting by Councillor Lee Vandervis. While GSDAG didn’t personally support the Motion it allowed it to be floated to the Meeting as Clare Curren MP saw it as a proposal that had come from the DCC sponsored local Stakeholders Group that had been recently been formed and it was important to see if it gained traction at a public meeting.

    • Elizabeth

      Well said Lyndon. Ms Curran needs to stop her electioneering. Or invite representatives of other parties to speak at public meetings so we have balance not the Red flag all the time. The GSDAG needs its independence, and its own mailing list and for notices and correspondence – not for same to be going out on her ticket.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      Re: “DCC sponsored local Stakeholders Group”
      Whenever I see the word Stakeholders in the context of DCC and its ilk my hackles and blood pressure rise.
      Who are stakeholders? How are they different from the rest of us (ratepayers) (neighbourhood) (service users) ? Who picked them as Stakeholders, and what criteria were used? What special interest do they have in the matter, that is not shared by the rest of us?
      What are their names?

      • Elizabeth

        The stakeholders include social service agencies active in their ongoing support to the community of South Dunedin eg Methodist Mission, Presbyterian Support Otago et al. This membership was explained at the meeting, as distinct from GSDAG. A call to the DCC Community Development Officer will provide the details.

        • Hype O'Thermia

          Is there a procedure for others “active in their ongoing” (support to the community) (other interest in the matter) to request inclusion?
          I don’t mean just South Dunedin, this is about special rights, consultation etc with “stakeholders” in all contexts.

        • Elizabeth

          As suggested, call the DCC Community Development Officer to access details.

      • Diane Yeldon

        I agree that the term ‘stakeholders’ is unfortunate. “Included interest groups’ might be more accurate. That is, currently included. Which hopefully implies that more might be included if they ask and maybe address such requests to the DCC Community Development Officer.
        I know DCC made a decision to have any ‘workshop’ or ‘working party’ notes available on their website, in the interests of transparency and inclusiveness. Same procedure should be okay for ‘interest group meetings’. Such groups probably actually want to promote public engagement and information, rather than desiring secrecy.

  16. Diane Yeldon

    Good decision. ‘Place-based groups’ are more grassroots and independent, I think. When the fire dies out, they do too and then good riddance. Appropriate for some issue-based groups. Too much public resourcing can go into the electing and maintaining of a new Community Board with agendas, formal process and all the rigmarole – in other words, organisational input, rather than output. But it depends on the locality and the people. If a CB is functioning well and the locals are happy with it, then I think it’s an asset.

    But bad CBs are worse than nothing IMO. I think you can check the health of a Community Board by how many candidates there are. Consider that if there are 12 candidates for 6 places, each candidate has a sort of 50% chance of getting in. Sort of … If only 40% of eligible voters are voting, then how representative are the ones elected? Maybe some candidates have just worked out a good source of pocket money.

    Agree that party politics in local government is a risky and confusing mix.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s