stop bullying

by Geoffrey Churchman

Waikanae people know from the affair of the Osbornes’ hedge in Te Moana Road in 2017 (see the posts at the time) that the present Kapiti mayor has no qualms about relentless denigration of those who oppose his notions.  On that occasion he went on Radio NZ making various nasty descriptions about them, including the claim that they were blackmailers, and repeated these in two local free newspapers.

This resulted in His Worship being asked through lawyers to retract and apologize. He refused, so was sued for defamation.  Eventually he did retract and apologize with a full page in the Kapiti News, a process which ended up costing Ratepayers around $120,000 in direct plus indirect costs of staff time. (see this post)

Unsurprisingly, however, the Mayor’s bullying of his critics didn’t stop there and not only members of the public, but different elected members, including Cr Bernie Randall, Guy Burns of the Paraparaumu-Raumati Community Board, and James Westbury of the Waikanae Community Board have been on the receiving end of it (in the last case during the era of Micheal Scott and ex-CE Mr Dougherty.) Usually, these include the threat of a ‘Code of Conduct’ complaint.

Last week I became the latest addition to the list of people to receive such bullying. On Monday afternoon the Mayor left a nasty message on our home phone which shocked Eva who phoned me about a disgusting message he had left. Unfortunately, Eva’s immediate response was to delete it, as it should have been kept as evidence.

This was followed by a similar, albeit more restrained, e-mail.  It transpired that he had seized on a piece of satire composed by one of our contributors and edited by Roger Childs which was posted on this blog as the basis for his attack.

One would reasonably assume that as a former journalist (albeit one who was sacked from the Kapiti Observer for making up stories) he would appreciate the role of satire in political commentary.  He probably does, but when it suits him, he will use it as an excuse to strike back at his critics, in this case by alleging that the mention of “Political Concubines” constituted “sexist values.” And, of course, he made his standard “Code of Conduct” threat.

Roger Childs comments: “We all need to respect the right of satirists and cartoonists to make fun of the rich, famous and infamous. Most politicians have thick skins and laugh when the humourists get going. What possible code are we supposed to adhere to? Maybe it’s the Code of Napoleon.”

Usually His Worship doesn’t read Social Media or online Current Affairs magazines like ours, but his Second in Command, Cr Holborow, assiduously does and reports anything critical to him — and often attacks the authors herself, usually with an intemperate phone call to the editor, a riposte by way of an aggressive comment, or both.

In this occasion, not only Holborow but her council comrade Buswell also dove in, via a fake Facebook account, with an appalling personal attack on me. She is known for complaining to moderators of Kapiti Facebook pages about comments she doesn’t like, but makes improper comments herself with fake accounts.  Because of this vendetta we have decided to file proceedings against her under the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015, as she has well crossed an acceptable line.

The Mayor tried to enlist other councilors on Thursday after the official meeting had concluded by raising the article with them, but was told by Chief Executive Mr Maxwell that when it comes to satire he (and they) dont have a leg to stand on. But we have no doubt that his behaviour is going to continue until he leaves office, hopefully when this triennium is up two years from now.