…for Disappointing, Dismal and Desultory.
Guru was elected Mayor on Saturday 8 October 2016. His election promises included —
- Put public speaking time at the start of all council meetings
- Hold public meetings at the Saturday markets
- Revamp the Council website to be open and useful
- Reduce council bureaucracy and make doing business easier
- Link each of Kapiti’s 650 streets to a Neighborhood Support Group
- “Revoke the shameful and undemocratic June 2015 decision to designate a 50 m stretch along Kapiti Road West for the sale of psychoactive drugs, also called legal highs”
Some of his election statements included —
“A local authority should conduct its business in an open, transparent, and democratically accountable manner”.
“A council not open, transparent and accountable cannot be trusted to nurture genuine collaboration and partnerships with all its communities.”
“KCDC bureaucrats should be transformed to become public servants.”
“Spiraling rates and debt levels have to be reviewed and made affordable. The first step to fix this — as Mayor, I will direct council’s main public servant, the CEO, to make the cuts ratepayers can live with.”
They were good statements. But his record in office so far? Not good.
The first of his promises above was kept, although he did not want broadcasting and official record keeping of them. The second was, too, although they have primarily been opportunities for council propaganda promotion.
The rest? No.
Nearly all his local newspaper columns have simply tried to justify council Boss Mr Dougherty’s secretive, authoritarian rulings without mentioning him.
Rates this year rose by an even greater percentage than they increased in a single year under Ross Church’s 3 years as Mayor. The water charges are still there. Borrowing has gone up. Spending and the number on Dougherty’s payroll have gone up, too.
In September 2013, Guru said:
“KCDC chief executive Pat Dougherty is wrong to claim that candidates cannot take a strong position on the removal of coastal hazard lines. I have and will continue to campaign on removing these hazard lines from the LIM property reports as soon as possible. Council staff had unilaterally imposed these lines on the LIMs of 1800 properties. It was retrospectively rubber-stamped by a majority of councillors without formal legal advice. I have always maintained that this was a denial of natural justice”
But did he instruct Dougherty to withdraw the defence of the CRU’s 2016 legal action because Dougherty was still in the same mindset 3 years later? No.
Guru went to the High Court in 2015 over half the elected councilors being excluded from the Chief Executive Pay and Performance committee. He argued that the whole council should be part of this — and he won. Now, in an about-face, he stated in a standard “public excluded” council session on 28 September that only six elected councilors should be on the committee appraising applicants for Dougherty’s replacement. The others will simply get to consider a “short list” of three. One assumes that 6 is the number of likewise sycophantic Dougherty devotees on the council. Needless to say, they do not include David Scott. (There must be 3 others, too — possibly Crs Benton, Buswell and Cardiff from what we can assess.)
As for “open and transparent”, the amount of council meeting time spent in public excluded sessions has now reached the point where it could be called a secret society. What don’t they want the ratepayers to know?
We had to refer to the Ombudsman this year one of our Official Information requests (about top bureaucrat fringe benefits) because the council refused to answer unless we paid them!
Last year, Waikanae ward council candidate Tim Parry said: “A lady asked me recently, ‘Why do so many people who stand for council stop representing what they campaigned for when they get elected?’ I think the answer is lack of transparency or openness. They hide behind slogans which misrepresent their true personality and perhaps hidden agendas.”
Maybe it’s a case of “all power corrupts”?
A concomitant question is, “Why are the councilors there?” To look important? Because they have time on their hands and want to feel useful? It won’t be the money, as the $33,000 a year gross that councilors get (plus a bit extra for chairing committees) isn’t a startling amount for the time they need to spend if they take the job seriously.
Some probably are motivated by good intentions, but when you’re an anti-establishment candidate and you suddenly find yourself having to deal with the establishment to achieve anything… Even U.S. President Obama and now Trump have discovered that it’s hard. Still, that does not excuse the councilors’ predictable rubber-stamping of what the KCDC bureaucrats want, rather than what the people want.
Back to Guru. The low point of his year in office has without question been Dougherty’s machinations against Cr David Scott in April and Guru’s complicity in them.
For interest, below follows a letter that ratepayer Kerry Bolton and his wife sent to Guru at the time. It speaks for itself. Did Guru ever reply, despite the fact that Guru and Kerry Bolton have known each other for some time? No. In Guru’s latest Kapiti News column, he even mentions that he and Dale Evans have known each other as ‘activists’ and distributed pamphlets together.
To Guru: unless you start matching deeds with your words last year, we confidently predict you will be another one-term Mayor.
To the many brave ratepayers who have confronted the regime demanding openness, fairness and ethical conduct: we salute you.
30 April 2017
His Worship K Gurunathan
Mayor of Kapiti
My wife Kathy and I were visited tonight by two amiable police constables.
They at first wanted to know about the ‘incident’ outside KCDC headquarters on Thursday. Our reply was that we did not know of any ‘incident’. They then referred to the mannequins put up as a public art display as directed by Dale Evans in protest at what he regards a ‘political correctness over the top’ at council.
I replied that I didn’t realise this was an ‘incident’. One of the constables replied that ‘incident’ was a wrong choice of word. He asked me to explain what the action was about. I stated something of the background in regard to David Scott’s predicament and how I could relate to the situation, given that I was placed in a similar situation in 2015 by Janet Holborow and other liars, as you know, and said that Kathy and I had agreed to assist Dale Evans on that basis.
I stated that Mr Pat Dougherty came over, accompanied by another staff member, to ask whether we intended to put the mannequins inside the council building. Dale and Mr Dougherty don’t seem to communicate too amicably, so I told Mr Dougherty that the mannequins would not be placed inside the building. Mr Dougherty said: ‘Thank you, Kerry’, smiled, and returned to the KCDC premises without any further comment. He did not raise any objections to this display.
I told the police that the only reason I can think why the council might have contacted them was that while we were speaking with David Scott outside the building, a contracted staff member came out and started berating David Scott. David replied that he did not wish to speak to her, and that he had nothing to do with the mannequin display. Your secretary came out and asked the staff member to go back inside. This staff member was aggressive, abusive, and her presence interrupted a conversation between David, Kathy and myself. We hope this staff member, whom your secretary will be able to identify, is reprimanded for her behaviour, which put David in a compromised situation, given the strictures that Mr Dougherty and you have humiliatingly imposed on him.
Kathy was concerned at the behaviour of this histrionic person, as she has also been in prior situations pertaining to the bad-form displayed by a few staff and councillors.
I asked the police several times why the council had contacted them. They unequivocally replied that they did not know. I would like to know why the police were asked by the council to speak with me? The police constables clearly did not know themselves what the issue was.
Is such a protest, expressed as an art exhibit on public property, now going to be subjected to police involvement at the instigation of council? Where is the freedom of expression you have so often written and talked of? Will this episode, which I suspect, based on past experiences, has been described to police in a false manner by the council, be used as a pretext for extending the two year trespass order against me, which expired this month? While I do not have any pressing desire to set foot within council chambers again, as you know, I regard the lying basis of that trespass notice to be nearly as outrageous as the filthy smears that have been directed at David, and apparently motivated by the same mentality.
I was also asked by police who and why I thought the ‘confidential’ matter involving David Scott had been leaked to the press? I said that this could only have come from within council. An enquiry needs to be initiated by you into how and why this happened, as it is in the wider Kapiti community interest to resolve the dysfunction that continues at KCDC.
I think an explanation is in order as to why the police were sent to Kathy and myself, as the police themselves were not able to give such an explanation. The whole situation is, again, thoroughly repressive, but follows a pattern of some years’ duration.
Statement by Kathy Thomson: “I wish to reiterate to you that as members of the public having a private conversation with our elected representative we were interrupted. I felt violated by your staff member shouting abuse like a mad woman. She never apologised for her outrageous behaviour. I am now fearful of entering the council building on business, and would like a reassurance that this intolerable behaviour by a staff member will not happen again”.
Thank you for your attention