WHAT’S ON IN COUNCIL THIS WEEK by Craig Bauld
THE hearings committee is in action Wednesday, but I suspect even the most dedicated council-watcher will yawn, turn over in bed and decide to give it a miss.
First up is our third and final set of decisions on proposed plan change 38 — financial contributions and funding principles, this lot regarding cultural and natural heritage issues. If you missed the first and second stages then the third probably won’t disturb you.
The other item involves an application for a change of consent conditions relating to the Clearwater hydro scheme — and unless you are one of the only two parties to the issue, you are unlikely to even blink when we publish our decision. Not that the councillors involved in the hearings will be bored, these things are an integral part of our work and take quite a bit of reading, concentration and thoughtful consideration. But for the ordinary citizen they really aren’t very exciting.
The Herald, being a diligent and community-minded newspaper, will no doubt send a reporter to keep an eye on us, but if that reporter can find a story in it that will interest more than two readers, then I’ll be astonished. Still, with the number of spectators I’m expecting to be in attendance (none), there should be plenty of chocolate biscuits for everyone at morning tea.
Plenty of interest pottering along behind the scenes, of course. With all that holiday break I’ve found myself listening to talkback radio (obviously I haven’t got enough to do!) so I took great delight in informing Mayor Meng that — according to talkback — Chinese people cannot be trusted, are too business-smart for their own good, and shouldn’t be allowed to own farms in New Zealand. Amazing, I suggested to him, that Gisborne voters don’t seem to have noticed his ancestry.
Unfortunately my mickey-taking didn’t really work, because he cackled with laughter and told me he’d caught a bit of the same programme, so he already knew what a terrible person he was. We agreed, though, that things weren’t too bad — at least we haven’t got an Aussie for mayor.
Even though we are currently in the process of advertising the chief executive position (the law only allows for a five-year appointment, with a top-up of another two years if both parties agree), it was a bit of a shock to find that Tasman District had poached Lindsay McKenzie from under our noses. He is a highly competent bloke and has done a great job for us. Short of a truly spectacular opponent, I was expecting him to be reappointed for another five-year term with us.
Lindsay loves new challenges, though. He’s not the sort to allow himself to get too comfortable. I know he is extremely highly regarded in the trade, so I’m not surprised that other councils covetted him.
Outside of councillors I doubt that many locals appreciate what he achieved here, not least in stripping out millions of dollars worth of “fat” from the system, more than I thought possible. Whatever they are paying him, Tasman has got a bargain.
Not to worry, though, we don’t offer quite the salary that some councils do (and you will all have seen some recent horror stories in the media) but there are always bright and bushy-tailed young prospects just itching to take the step up.
I think the days of really long-serving chief executives has gone. I’m expecting us to get an up-and-comer who will add value for five or seven years, then move on further up the career ladder. Nothing wrong with that. You lose a little in knowledge of the district, you gain a little in new energy.