Tuesday, 8 November 2011

personal responsiblity? not seeing much here

i'm having a difficult week for vrious reasons i'd rather not discuss. so i'm engaging in a cocoon strategy, which seems to work best for me. i'll deal with the world when i'm ready & not before.

in the meantime, i don't know if people have been following the fiasco that is the hamilton city council and the v8s. in case you haven't heard, the new mayor julie hardaker asked for the audit office to investigate the whole process around the v8s, and the audit office has now reported. long-time readers of this blog will remember that ms hardaker, a complete newcomer to politics, trounced sitting mayor bob simcock in an unexpected victory (or at least it was unexpected for mr simcock & his team). one of the key reasons for the loss, in my opinion, was the dissatisfaction of hamiltonians around the v8s and the costs having to be borne by the ratepayers.

well, the audit office report can be found here (big pdf thingy) and it isn't pretty - skip to page 9 for the executive summary. they pretty much found a lack of transparency, lack of a proper business case, lack of due diligence regarding the financial stability of the promoter (there was apparently evidence of financial difficulties faced by the promoter before the contract was signed, but the council didn't check), lack of adequate project management disciplines being applied, inapproriate delegation of approval of the contract to a council subcommittee, lack of a perception of objectivity on the part of mr redman (former mayor and champion of the v8s), lack of adequate financial management and financial reporting of the project. worst of all, estimated costs of the event to the council of $7 million ended up being more like $37 million.

is it any wonder that ratepayers are spewing?

the question, as always, is who is going to take responsibility. the main actor in this whole thing is former mayor michael redman. it was he who championed the whole notion of bringing the race to hamilton, who promoted it tirelessly through local media (most probably using the media contacts he had gained during his years owning an advertising agency), who was definitely the most informed in terms of the contracts and the organisations involved. the first person who needs to be held responsible is this man.

mr redman has always been extremely clever at media strategy. he immediately stepped down from his role at ATEED, then came out swinging. he blames the audit office for shoddy work and biased reporting; he blames the councillors who approved the contracts and expenditure without full information. he thankfully refuses to blame council staff - those staff were under his direction when moved from being mayor to replacing tony maryatt as CEO of the city, and are most likely to have any evidence (if it exists) of improper actions.

what we fail to see from mr redman is any admission of responsibility, no doubt at the request of his lawyers. neither have we heard anything out of mr simcock, the deputy mayor who became mayor when mr redman moved to the CEO position. other than when mr simcock also took pot shots at the audit office for producing a "shameful" report.

both mr redman and mr simcock are busy playing victim, effectively diverting all blame to city councillors who were, in the end, guided by these two. the waikato times played along nicely, publishing photographs of the 9 currently sitting councillors who were also representatives at the time the key decisions were made. somehow the times forgot to include pictures of those who are no longer councillors but presumable equally culpable, including glenda saunders who lost her place.

the letters to the editor, quite predictably given the way this issue has been reported, have been slamming the city councillors and calling for resignations all round. but only a very few letters have even mentioned mr redman or mr simcock, let alone criticised them. the diversion has been a success, though the current councillors are refusing to resign.

the minister for local government has now placed the council on notice, which means that he can put in commissioners at any time.

but finally, today, we get some coverage of the fact that there may be a legal case against mr redman. it appears that he may have authorised expenditure beyond his authority, to the tune of about $4 million. of course the case would have to be taken and funded by the hamilton city council, in which case i'd say it's unlikely to proceed.

there should be criminal proceedings going ahead on this matter. from what i've read so far, one would think that various aspects of local government laws that have been breached. whether or not mr redman and mr simcock are guilty of anything is for the courts to decide, but these appear to me to be matters that need to be tested in court.

i'd also like to see a lot more investigation of the switch that was done - the move of mr redman to CEO and mr simcock to mayor. as far as appearances go, in light of the avove, this appears even more dodgy than it did at the time. was the switch in order to continue the lack of transparency and the lack of adequate reporting? who knows, but the questions need to be asked and investigated in depth.

it's no secret that i have very little (if any) respect for mr redman. that was mostly because of my own experiences of dealing with him, of which the less said the better. but also because i was never a supporter of the v8s and was always unhappy at the way the race was pushed through. you could say i was and am biased, but if so, the audit office report only confirms that bias.

this needs to go further. we need some real accountability and personal responsibility happening here - things that both mr redman and mr simcock have been passionate proponents of. i'm sure that there are others who also need to take their share of the blame, and that includes some staff members. but the buck stops with the leaders, so time for them to show some quality leadership now.

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