Fri, 18 Dec 2015 at 11:41 p.m.
From: Chris Staynes
Date: 18 December 2015 at 8:23:07 PM NZDT
To: Diane Yeldon
Cc: Sandy Graham, Sue Bidrose, Lee Vandervis
Subject: Code of conduct.
Dear Ms Yeldon,
I refer to your email to me on 17 December 2015 making a Code of Conduct complaint about Mayor Cull. I provide the following response.
The Code requires that any alleged breach involving the Mayor is reported to me in the first instance. In receiving the complaint as Deputy Mayor I then have to be satisfied that there are “reasonable grounds for believing that a provision of the Code has been breached”.
I have reviewed the Code and Standing Orders and have concluded that there are not reasonable grounds for thinking a provision has been breached and as such I will not be progressing the matter. I now outline my reasons for reaching this conclusion.
The Code of Conduct (section J2.2) requires that the Mayor is responsible for ensuring the orderly conduct of business as determined in standing orders. There is also a requirement that the community have their concerns listened to and deliberated on in accordance with the requirements of the Act (section J 3.3). Therefore, the principles of the code of conduct may apply to the conduct of speakers at a public forum.
Standing Orders (section F7) provides that the Chairperson has the discretion to decline to hear speakers at the Public Forum where the number of speakers exceeds the time allocation for the Public Forum.
On Friday afternoon, Ms Jordan was advised by the Mayor that given the size of the Council agenda to be considered at the meeting, the public forum was fully subscribed. He instructed that no further speakers were to be taken. At the time of that advice, you had not indicated you wished to speak.
You advised an interest in speaking by email on Sunday, 13 December 2016. You were telephoned and advised on Monday morning that the public forum was fully subscribed. You withdrew your request to speak at the public forum during this conversation. You subsequently arrived at the public forum requesting to speak. There was no additional speaking time for the public forum period (as all speakers had used their maximum time) and at the meeting the Mayor declined your request to speak.
It is not a breach of standing orders to decline the opportunity for a speaker to speak at a Public Forum, even though the request was made within time and standing orders provides for the opportunity to extend the Public Forum (section F2). It is not mandatory for the Chairperson to have a resolution of the meeting to extend public forum as the discretion sits with the Chairperson before the meeting commences to accept or decline speakers. As regards the prioritisation of public forum speakers for those talking to agenda items, the priority of speaking is set at the time the public forum content is confirmed.
For the reasons above, I have concluded that there has been no breach of the Council’s standing orders and that therefore no breach of the code of conduct has occurred in this case.
Agenda papers are available on the Council website on the Wednesday evening prior to the Council meeting (in this case on 9 December 2015) and I would encourage you to give earlier notice of your wish to speak to ensure that you do have an opportunity to speak to agenda items at future meetings.
I have copied the original recipients of your email in my response to you.
Sent from my iPad Pro
Dear Ms Yeldon,
This email is to confirm that I have received your Code of Conduct complaint and I am considering the matters raised, once I have completed this I will get back in touch with you.
Sent from my iPad Pro
On 17/12/2015, at 6:30 AM, Diane Yeldon wrote:
Dear Cr Staynes, I wish to make a Code of Conduct complaint against Mayor Cull. At the last full meeting of the council (14th December, 2015), I had given notice to Pam Jordan (Governance) that I wished to speak at Public Forum. When she told me that the meeting was heavily booked I said I would withdraw because my topic (support for alternative transport modes) was not time dependent. Then at 9.00 am I attended the continuation of the adjourned previous council meeting and saw the agenda for the meeting of the 14th. It is a matter of record that I made an official information request about the Procurement Policy which was being developed by the Risk and Audit Subcommittee with virtually all meetings and all meeting content in non-public. Grace Ockwell responded by telling me that the proposed policy would be public when it went to a council meeting. So the morning of 14th Dec was my first chance to see this proposed policy (although I could have seen it a few days earlier when the agenda became public if I had known to look but Grace never told me WHICH meeting it would be going to).
So [I] asked Pam Jordan if I could speak at Public Forum to that agenda item because it was the only chance I could possibly get. What I wanted to ask the council was for the policy to be open to public submissions because the whole process had been totally non-transparent. There had been considerable public comment on Mr Epere with his criminal background getting a council contract after asking at a public forum (surely not in the first place an appropriate use of a council public forum to ask for personal advantage!). There had also been considerable public interest in the [Citifleet] fraud with the main question being, “Where is the independent oversight of in-house council activities to prevent fraud?”
There had been further public interest in the issue of the contracted out mudtank cleaning with the public revelation that the contracted service had no sucker truck in Dunedin so clearly could not have been doing the work all the time. Then there was further public comment from an arborist who [publicly] said that the tree felling at Logan Park cost the Council far too much. Then a local painter, Dean Kelly, publicly said he was unfairly deprived of council contracts because they always went to the ‘big guys’.
This last comment raises the issue of whether the council should prefer local contractors over outsider to the city to stimulate the local economy and, further break up contracts into smaller chunks so that smaller local businesses can get a look in (when times are hard, the odd council job may stop them from going under). Further to this, there was the Public Forum submission of Ms Annaliese de Groote who asked that the DCC have a policy of giving work opportunities to people with disabilities.
All of the above matters are in the public interest and warrant discussion by the community they affect.
Standing Orders require councillors to value participation and engagement in council matters from members of the public. Standing Orders also provide for setting aside 60 minutes of a council meeting for public forum speakers. If the 60 minutes is used up, then Standing Orders allow the meeting chair to put it to the meeting that public forum be extended. I was the only further speaker at that meeting (14th Dec). Mayor Cull knew I wanted to speak to the agenda item (17) of the Proposed Procurement Policy. He also knew it was the only possible opportunity I or any member of the public would be able to comment on it because it was not going to be open for public submissions and was going to be decided at that very meeting.
Other Public Forum speakers who were not speaking to an agenda item preceded me. I am sure if the question of whether public forum might be extended (only by five minutes) to allow me to speak to an agenda item had been put to the meeting that the meeting would have agreed.
So the conclusion I come to is that Mayor Cull does not value input and engagement from members of the public. He does not do what he can to promote it. And so by his actions towards me at the last council meeting he has not upheld the Council’s Code of Conduct.
I have read the procedure for Code of Conduct complaints in the Appendix to the Dunedin City Council’s Standing Orders and I await your further instructions on carrying out this process.
█ Dunedin City Council – Standing Orders (PDF, 856 KB)
28 Oct 2015: The Standing Orders set out rules for the conduct meetings of the Dunedin City Council and includes the Code of Conduct for Elected Members, as adopted at the inaugural Council meeting Oct 2010.
█ Committee Structures and Delegations Manual (PDF, 557 KB)
21 Apr 2015: This document details the constitution of the Council, Committees and Subcommittees, and the delegations to the Chief Executive.
Tabled at the full Council meeting on Monday 14 December:
█ Report – Council – 14/12/2015 (PDF, 143.8 KB)
Procurement Policy (Proposed), December 2015
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr