There are two parts to it:-
- Staff not telling councilors everything they should know;
- Matters constantly being discussed in “public excluded” council sessions.
We’ve seen, many times, that the KCDC pays lip service to the expectations in the Local Government Act about conducting its business in an open and transparent manner. In practice, the KCDC is open and transparent when it suits the council, and not otherwise.
Despite his proclamations in 2016, nearly every council meeting since Guru was elected Mayor in 2016 has had a secret session where the public and media are unceremoniously told to leave and the live streaming gets turned off. More recently, elected Community Board members have been given the same treatment.
It simply raises the question: what don’t they want Ratepayers to know? Usually those who are affected by decisions made this way find out later when they receive council letters, often curt ones.
The general rule should be, whoever proposes a council paper be “public excluded” should have to prove absolutely that it is justified for legal reasons. Embarrassment of the organisation or individuals is not a valid reason.
That isn’t the only problem, however. Given the culture just described above, it’s also probable that staff don’t bother to tell the councilors everything, either. Their attitude towards elected members is often disdainful: they see the councilors and community board members as temporary while they are there to stay.
This problem is something that hopefully the announced Efficiency Review will look at.