Sunday, 18 December 2011

You want an apology? Think again, Mr. Mayor

One suspects that Coffs Harbour City Mayor Cr Keith Rhoades may be regretting his insistence on an initial apology from Cr. Mark Graham (in the latest mayoral manoeuvre in a distinctly Byzantine local government saga) on 15 December 2011 - followed by an ineffectual demand for a second apology.

One local wag went so far as to post a transcript of this 'apology' in the online comments section of The Coffs Coast Advocate, which is appreciated as at the time of writing Council still had not published the minutes of this meeting on its website.

By pedrowe from Corindi Beach on 16/12/2011 at 2:25PM
For those who haven't read or heard the apology, here it is.... brilliant…………………………………………
1. I am sorry that Council has used two Conduct Review procedures that are not prescribed within the Code of Conduct. Specifically they are:
a. appointing a Sole Conduct Reviewer who is not independent or unbiased as she has received significant remuneration from Council to provide advice on corporate governance failures surrounding the Rigby House refit prior to her appointment as a Sole Conduct Reviewer. The Code of Conduct is very clear in requiring that Conduct reviewers are independent and unbiased. None of the three members of the Conduct review committee appointed by this Council have an existing pecuniary relationship with Council.
b. appointing a “peer reviewer”. The Code of Conduct does not contain a procedure for appointing a “peer reviewer”.
2. I am sorry that Council has allowed a Sole Conduct Reviewer with multiple conflicts of interest to continue to investigate me. I am sorry that the General Manager has decided to waste ratepayers funds engaging both a Sole Conduct reviewer with multiple conflicts of interest and a “peer reviewer”, given that there is no procedure for appointing a “peer reviewer” within our adopted Code of Conduct.
3. I am sorry that Council has failed to learn from the corporate governance failures that led to the sacking of the former General Manager.
4. I am sorry that Council has used improper and politically motivated conduct review procedures in an attempt to prevent public disclosure of the ongoing involvement of the Mayor and two other Councillors in the corporate governance failures that led to the sacking of the former General Manager.
5. I am sorry that Council has improperly used the Code of Conduct against my open, transparent and perfectly legal handling of the Rigby House refit and the sacking of the former General Manager.
6. I am sorry that the Sole Conduct Reviewer has consistently misrepresented my conduct and published material that defames me. The Sole Conduct Reviewer has implied that my conduct has been dishonest and unlawful. I demand an immediate retraction of these defamatory statements and an apology from her for defaming me.
7. I am sorry that the Public Officer, a subject of complaints against me, has been involved in investigations into my conduct on behalf of the General Manager. This is a clear conflict of interest that the Public Officer has failed to disclose.
8. I do not apologise for any of my conduct as I have not breached the Code of Conduct. Reading the following statement from correspondence between the Mayor and the General Manager “Finally, this matter is only known by the three Councillors and the several staff involved. The matter will and, I repeat, will stay with these people” does not constitute a breach of the Code of Conduct. This statement is not confidential. Nor are the statements “Mayor has been kept informed of the progress of this investigation from the commencement. How can the work done be less than $150000 and not have gone out to tender” or “Probably the most important part of this correspondence is that in another dot point related to building refurbishment costs were confirmed in February 2010 as being $1million”.
9. I do not apologise for sending Council’s Acting Public Officer a written request for legal advice relating to the dismissal of the former General Manager. She did not respond to my correspondence. Leaving two voicemail messages with the Acting Public Officer requesting to be provided with this legal advice does not constitute a breach of Code of Conduct. At no stage have I spoken with the officer or made any improper requests of her. I required the legal advice to enable me to meet my obligations under the Local Government Act. The failure to provide me with this advice prevented me from meeting my obligations under the Act.

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