Auckland

Auckland Council restricts more than 30 people from contacting it

By Sam Hurley 

ak
Gary Osbourne says Council won’t take intelligent questions from ratepayers Photo: NZ Herald

A former high school teacher says he’s been barred from contacting Auckland Council because its staff don’t like “intelligent questions”.

Gary Osborne is one of 31 people who have restrictions on calling or sending emails to Auckland Council.

The Te Atatu South resident, who taught at Kelston Boys’ High School from 1970 to 1996, can now only contact one person at Auckland Council: issues resolutions advisor Dayle Muru.

“I don’t think it’s at all fair,” the 70-year-old told the Herald.

“If I ring the call centre they won’t answer my questions about anything, they put me through to Dayle Muru.”

He said the council was adverse to “intelligent people asking intelligent questions”.

Auckland Council said 31 people have their communication formally restricted.

Each case is reviewed every six months to determine whether the communications should remain.

In 2013, the council adopted the Unreasonable Complainant Conduct Policy to manage customer conduct which “negatively and unreasonably impacts on the organisation and staff”.

Reasons given for restricting a person’s contact with the council were: unreasonable persistence, unreasonable demands, unreasonable lack of cooperation, unreasonable arguments and unreasonable behaviours.

Osborne said his latest request to council was to ask about an official information request regarding council staff’s salaries.

READ MORE:  http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11785821


Auckland Transport Officials Guilty of Corruption

Radio NZ 9 December 2016

The director of Projenz, Stephen Borlase, faced 12 charges from the Serious Fraud Office for corruption and bribery over roading contracts.

In the High Court in Auckland today, Borlase was found guilty of eight of the charges, and not guilty on four charges of inflating invoices.

The former Rodney District Council and Auckland Transport senior manager Murray Noone was found guilty of six charges of accepting the bribes.

Justice Sally Fitzgerald told the men the Crown had proved beyond reasonable doubt the $1.2 million in payments from Borlase to Noone were connected to Noone’s role administering council contracts.

The bribery and corruption charges against Borlase and Noone related two main types of benefits; the first payments by Projenz of Mr Noone’s monthly invoices that were said to be for consulting services Mr Noone provided to Projenz from 2006 to 2013.
READ MORE


Case Circumstantial & Reliant on Suspicion: Court Told

15th Nov NZ Herald

The lawyer acting for a former Auckland council manager has disputed claims from the Serious Fraud Office that his client created a “culture of corruption”, by pointing to undeclared gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars given by others to council staff – including a former council chief executive.

The explosive claims emerged in closing arguments for the defence in the trial of Murray Noone and Stephen Borlase, accused of bribery and corruption over $1.1 million in consultancy payments between 2005 and 2012.

The Serious Fraud Office alleges these payments, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel and entertainment spending on associated council staff, was connected to Noone’s awarding of tens of millions of dollars of roading contracts to Borlase’s firm Projenz by Rodney District Council and Auckland Transport.

The long-running trial which opened in late September closed today with Simon Lance, acting for Noone, outlining to the High Court at Auckland how the evidence showed his client’s relationship Projenz was neither atypical nor corrupt.

Lance said the prosecution case had made much of potential conflicts of interest and Noone’s alleged lack of disclosure.

“These allegations did eventually lead to Noone’s employment at Auckland Transport being investigation, then brought to an end. But the lack of disclosure cannot necessarily lead to the conclusion there was a corrupt agenda,” Lance said.

Lance said evidence heard over the past seven weeks supported the contention that this was at worst an employment issue, and many of Noone’s colleagues and superiors had treated similar issues the same way.

Lance, quoting former RDC chief executive Roger Kerr-Newell’s testimony given earlier in the trial, said conflicts of interests were not “the end of the world”. Lance said Kerr-Newell admitted to receiving an expensive bottle of whiskey and a cigar from Projenz that were not listed on the RDC gift register.

“Some gifts, for example whiskey, were simply provided as a goodwill gesture – ‘a courtesy of life’. This was seen as standard industry practice,” Lance said in written submissions to the court.

Lance also said the council’s claim that Noone and Borlase were responsible for a “culture of corruption” in Auckland roading management was not supported by revelations at trial that Noone’s deputy Barrie George received hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel gifts and perks from other contractors.

Lance said George received $200,000 in travel gifts from Hiway Stabilisers, all before Noone was employed in 2005 at RDC.

George was originally charged alongside Noone and Borlase, but pleaded guilty on the eve of trial to corruptly receiving $103,580 in gifts from Projenz. He gave evidence for the Crown while wearing a home detention bracelet.

Lance argued the case against his client, and Borlase, was circumstantial and was reliant on suspicion.

“Suspicion plus suspicion only ever equals suspicion. If maybe this thorough investigation, which goes for a number of years, sees suspicions raised: But that is not proof beyond reasonable doubt,” he said.

The trial, before Justice Sally Fitzgerald alone, finished hearing eight weeks of evidence this morning. Justice Fitzgerald directed a hearing be scheduled for December 9 where she would deliver her verdict.

NZ Herald

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/crime/news/article.cfm?c_id=30&objectid=11747724

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