DCC factory crew issues, ELT, CEO….

sue bidrose [whatifdunedin]Following Tony Avery’s departure, a “Ruthless” ‘direct, no-nonsense approach to changeover issues’. Sue Bidrose ‘appeared to lack leadership experience, which she said was “possibly” true’.

### ODT Online Thu, 3 Dec 2015
‘Culture of fear’ at DCC
By Chris Morris
Morale within the Dunedin City Council is taking a hammering as criticism and upheaval fuel a “culture of fear”, staff say. The concerns come from past and present staff, who have told the Otago Daily Times about the impact of constant restructuring, stretched budgets and redundancies.
Read more

So. Staff are at the mercy of the D’urbavilles. There’s a new CEO waiting in the wings if anybody wants to sign out.

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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Image: Sue Bidrose via Dunedin Television, tweaked by whatifdunedin

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12 Comments

Filed under Stadiums

12 responses to “DCC factory crew issues, ELT, CEO….

  1. russandbev

    In light of the fact that the ODT are not allowing comment on their “Culture of Fear” article, and knowing that What if? is regularly consulted by both DCC and ODT staff, it would be worthwhile to point out a number of factors that can be clearly gained by the various reports that are published over recent times.

    Firstly, the relationship between the Mayor and CEO. In any organisation like the DCC the relationship must be based on a “no surprises” basis. Nothing would be hidden that would affect the workings of either Council or the employees of the Council. None of the content of this story should be a surprise to either Cull or Bidrose and so it must be assumed that both agree with the direction and methodologies of the changes that have occurred since Sue Bidrose took over from Paul Orders. Over recent years this key relationship has been interesting to say the least. The kindest thing that could be said of Mayor Chin was that he was asleep at the wheel for most of his tenure. Harland simply filled the vacuum created by this and drove many governance policies. It was Harland who led the harbourside fiasco which was nothing to do with management but should have been a governance issue. This was made easy by the calibre of the Councillors who largely were a sad mix of bone idleness, stupidity and possibly worse. Getting the stadium decision through that lot was easy in retrospect and all it took was the anonymous GOB’s behind the scene to work wonders.

    Secondly, what are the perceived performances of the key players? Jim Harland, known throughout the DCC as Osama Bin Harland earned this name because he was barely seen but caused a lot of destruction when he was. From the moment he arrived he had a very heightened sense of personal entitlement and many tales exist of how this played out. Make no mistake about it, his lack of height was no barrier to making sure he appeared regularly at the trough. His departure when Cull took over was not at all a surprise and it would have been interesting to have been a fly on the wall when Cull and Staynes had their first meetings with Harland. The only pity was that the many examples of things that had happened during Harland’s rule were not actioned more appropriately. But as is the normal case, the perps simply move on to “better things”.

    Paul Orders was way more accessible and full of talent compared to Harland, but he certainly had his hands filled with the huge number of instances of incompetence both at senior Council level and from those sitting round the Council table. Wasn’t all that long before he realised that better things beckoned in his home country. He still had a number of key managers who either had not looked after their portfolios or who were out of their depth. Just how the finances were managed and reported is still a mystery not made any clearer by the departure of Athol Stephens for yet unexplained reasons. There were many very basic things left undone – not the least of which how an organisation could exist without an asset register containing its own cars. There were also the years of ensuring that a few Councillors held down many lucrative CCO chairs and board positions. Some, like Paul Hudson, were eventually exposed for what they were, but remember it was all allowed to happen. Delta went feral and all of the other ORFU shenanigans allowed to happen with simply more millions of ratepayer funds sent down that one-trip toilet.

    But there are a number of effects of clearing the decks. Firstly, the people that get the new positions have a desire not to have any pressures from any unsuccessful candidates that may have applied for the more exalted level 2 or 3 managerial positions. They can be side-lined or pressure put on them to go. The new incumbents invariably adopt a siege mentality where strategies and policies are settled without the benefit of knowing from “coalface” workers whether these have been tried in the past. From anecdotal evidence simple things that used to happen like an interface between traffic management and planning are simply now not done – hence cycleways put in, roundabouts built without the simple knowledge of the turning circle of emergency vehicles. All covered by spin and deflecting what are pretty harmless questions by a compliant press.

    The problem remains where people get elected to positions that they are not qualified to fill, and the associated problem of things filling a vacuum. The Council was ripe for takeover by a grouping – and it matters little whether that grouping was one of another little heap of rugby bludgers, or a group of Agenda 21 adherents. The papers are now wakening up to some of the various agendas, but hopefully so will the voting public of Dunedin who see a constant stream of spin and BS emanating from the bastion of the DCC. Hundreds of new cyclists every day, no flooding caused by no maintenance of mud traps etc etc etc. But look around the Council table and look at the skill sets of the key players. Could they exist outside their elected positions? Would they be head-hunted by go-ahead businesses as strategic thinkers? Do they regularly exhibit outstanding governance capabilities?

    Until Dunedin sees major changes I fear more of the same stream of bad news stories. Dunedin does not need the vague promises of 10,000 more jobs based on nothing other than singing in the dark. What it does need is some qualified people ready and willing to stand for Council and a staff that have clearly defined policies to work with.

  2. Anonymous

    So there’s been a change of leadership “style”.

    a) If Avery’s laid-back leadership was a correct approach and staff don’t like the new style after the change, then this would be bad OR
    b) Avery’s approach was bad and staff don’t like the new style after the change and this is:
    bi) GOOD, because it has accountability and enforced performance expectations
    bii) BAD because it’s bullying dictatorial leadership from top-down

    I’m in camp (bii) based on what I know about the new leadership team.
    Worst of both worlds – upheaval without a positive outcome – “still bad, but it’s our kind of bad”.

    Sue’s “possibly” is my “definitely”.

  3. Hype O'Thermia

    “A former staff member, who opted to resign and cites a rising culture of “blame and control” within the council, said the council used to welcome “comfortable debate”. But the focus now seemed to be on a more “hierarchical and autocratic” approach that sought to apportion blame.”
    OK, that’s one way of looking at it.
    Another way is that there was no “blame” ie no accountability, and no control. Waste by the Hargest Island building, demolishing, re-designing and building traffic impediments, changing street layouts etc for the benefit of notional cycling hordes.
    The way this was told to us the forced payers was, essentially, it’s just one of those things.
    If people are stressed by not being able to romp around making then fixing stuffups, no worries, it’s opm and there’s always another rates rise that the council will massage then enforce – well, it’s about time they were stressed. I’m a ratepayer, I’m stressed. My income doesn’t rise at the same percentage as rates demands.
    Yes, job uncertainty is unfortunate. But before I shed many tears for DCC staff I’ll breathe deeply and think about the people in variable hours, minimum pay jobs.
    More unfortunate is the common result that indeed the best people leave first, of their own volition. They are the ones who genuinely are worth hiring elsewhere. The ones who aren’t – or may have to look at variable hours, minimum pay jobs – work on their limpet impersonations.

    • Rates rise and rise. It has been some of the reason why we are selling one property. I can’t afford to keep up with all the additional costs! Insurance has gone up 20% or more. Repairs cost so much more now because most workmen charge for every little thing and charge plenty.

  4. Gurglars

    One thing stands out in the ongoing fiasco discussed above.

    There has been a large turnover of staff.

    When the only way to reduce the huge debt per capita is to lower staff numbers by at least 50% why is there not a sinking lid policy?

    For what reason are the DCC continuing to employ ever increasing numbers?

    It can only be the PUblic Service mantra, empire building, my salary is dependent upon bossing a specific number of underlings.

    It is this method of establishing pay scales that must be eradicated from the public service staff pay discussions. I would be happy to pay key staff more to minimise their department wages bill, on the basis that the staff did a more efficient job. In that way we would get less reports, less botched cycleways, fewer traffic lights, less expenditure on consultants and the list goes on and on.

    We might even get our mudtraps cleaned.

    • Elizabeth

      Gurglars – perhaps count the number of the new Councillor-driven “Strategies” again, these eruptions of sainted idealism require minions! An army of minions.

  5. Lyndon Weggery

    russandbev’s comment leaves us a lot to think about and particularly for next year’s local body elections. After careful thought and personal observation I am absolutely convinced that a good cleanout is necessary to be replaced by elected Councillors that drive good policies onto staff to implement and not the other way round. The horrible situation facing residents and ratepayers on the South Dunedin Flat and the South Coast is a case in point. The existing bunch should have demanded that a deadline be set of Ruth Stokes to ensure the mudtank maintenance report is tabled at the next Council meeting and that a co-ordinated approach to addressing the issues raised by all three Beca, Tonkin and Opus Reports on the Flat, St Clair sand dune and seawalls respectively is attended to as a matter of priority. From now on every Agenda of the Infrastructure Services Committee should include an item asking for a progress report. There is no other urgent matter to be addressed as far as I can see and funding for these projects should take priority over everything else including any upgrade of the Mosgiel Pool. At the moment we suffer as a City from a lack of elected leadership.

    {There is an elected leadership, it’s just that it’s setting agendas and work that you/others don’t agree with. The reports cited are far from being the sum of answers needed since Beca’s at least is predicated on rising sea level:
    Paul Pope’s strategic overview of coastal conservation #Dunedin. -Eds}

    • Calvin Oaten

      This current council is coerced by the Mayor and the Greater Dunedin cabal into following the Agenda 21 edicts such as ‘environmental sustainability’ as emotionally espoused by Cr MacTavish. No-one can exactly explain what that means but it sounds good.

      There was the decision to compel the Waipori Fund to divest any investments in the fossil fuel industries, regardless of the financial implications to the fund by doing so.

      Then there is the ‘biggy’, slavishly following the ‘sea rise’ mantra despite there being no discernible increase in the norm over 120 years. This puts all of the South Dunedin flat residents to grab their worry beads.

      This is slavishly promoted by the media as a given, as is the main culprit Co2 being responsible for global warming. It’s said that since pre-industrial times the level in the atmosphere has risen from 250 parts per million (PPM) to today’s 400PPM.

      That represents an increase from a concentration of 0.025% to 0.040% an increase of 0.015%. Think about it for a moment, 0.015%. Nitrogen makes up 78%, oxygen 21% and Co2 0.04%. The oxygen comes as itself plus the component in the water vapour which is infinitely variable but recognised in its cloud form as a greenhouse factor.

      Historical records also show that in past cycles the warming comes first, followed by Co2 increase, not the other way round.

      Only the IPCC forces this edict and it serves its purpose and fits the aims of Agenda 21.

      That governments both central and local have been seduced by this constant barrage unsupported by empirical data might go down in history as one of the biggest and most costliest scams ever. We just have to wait and see.

      But so far nature has refused to play the game, and no measureable warming or sea rise as threatened, for over eighteen years, will be starting to make a lot of people start to scratch their heads.

      All of course except those on the gravy train of academic grants, consultants like Beca, and contractors who stand to make fortunes by following the flow and fleecing the rate and tax payers blatantly.

      I just hope it stalls long enough at the likes of the Paris jamboree until the issue is proven one way or the other. Till then prudence would say hold your powder until you can see the whites of its eyes.

  6. Elizabeth

    ODT 3.12.15 (page 3)

    2015-12-03 17.33.32

  7. Peter

    Change is never comfortable when you don’t agree with the nature of that change. Whether an employee is competent, or not, it is time to go if you don’t adapt to change. That’s life.
    Change from the dark Harland years was necessary. We are in a somewhat better place, in my opinion, but only just. Personally, I don’t feel confident the
    council is on task financially. I see too many councillors at odds to what direction the city is taking. I see little cohesion. Point scoring seems the order of the day. The council is ideologically at odds and there seems little recognition of what works rather than agendas being set and met.

  8. Gurglars

    Peter, of course it’s idealogically at odds. You’ve got the rabid dogs, the Greens blaming everything from the theft of cars, non mud trap cleaning, poor system maintenance and the sky falling in on anthropomorphic climate change, one or two councillors trying to bring sanity to financial probity, another funded by big business, a disgraced former politician and a couple of old beadles that are defintely past their use-by date not by age, but by relevant contribution and another who has stated that his interests lie on $900 per day rather than $1000 per week.

    Until there is No, Zero, Stipend for the job of councillor, we will be beset by career national politicians on a steppingway to national Green politics, or disgraced persons of many persuasions, seeking a job as they are otherwise unemployable or some seeking a backdoor knighthood.

    Time for a rethink, the employees will not want more change, they made that clear in the ODT today, it’s the ratepayers who must organise and call the shots.

    Don’t go in with blank cartridges, the time is now to construct a sensible intelligent, rational coalition of ideas.

    It’s been a long time since Dunedin had any of those reasoned requirements.

  9. Elizabeth

    Th Chamber is not very representative and has very little sway with Dunedin ratepayers and residents. Too inward looking. A Club.

    The [2016 local body] election meant it was up to voters to set the direction the council would take. –Copeman, Otago Chamber

    ### ODT Online Fri, 4 Dec 2015
    Growth on Otago chamber’s agenda
    By Dene Mackenzie
    The Otago Chamber of Commerce would put a frustrating year behind it and the newly-elected board would focus on an agenda of growth and development, chamber president Ali Copeman said yesterday. […] Sitting director and Dunedin deputy mayor Chris Staynes was not successful in the election yesterday. It had been a frustrating year watching the struggle the Dunedin City Council had gone through and the council seemed to be in a holding pattern.
    Read more

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