Some insights on DoC here from insiders … note that familiar word ‘restructure’ the the smoke & mirror modus operandi of the corporates. When the music stops (the restructure music) … less bums on seats, more work for those who are left, more profits for CE & the likes. A post Rogernomics tactic.
Insiders pan DOC’s corporate embrace
Another sign of how the Department of Conservation has lost its way, some insiders and ex-staffers say, is its embrace of corporate management methods. David Williams reports.
Faced with staff discontent, the Department of Conservation called in consultants and rolled out a suite of management tools. First there was the so-called interface project, to improve relations between scientific and operational staff. After that, there was “team process” and “reflection logs”, and, for managers, “single-point accountability”.
DOC director-general Lou Sanson, a proponent of the changes, says when he was appointed in 2013 the department was “siloed”, after two big restructures that shed 250 jobs. The new wave of staff interactions have led to huge advances, he says.
But critics say the new set of behavioural rules are another sign DOC has lost its way – showing how disconnected the leadership of the organisation’s become from the work it’s there to do. One former DOC worker says the department’s been captured by fads, which has ushered in a period of “empty change”. They paint a picture of excruciatingly awkward, hours-long meetings of unnecessary navel-gazing.
Another former DOC staffer says: “A tremendous amount of money, time and effort was being spent on what I would regard as wasted projects trying to make communication internally within the department better.”
‘Just doing his job’
A current DOC insider says the changes accentuated the decision-making authority of managers, who were encouraged to manage workers more assertively. That’s made them more sensitive to people who – like departed ecologist Nick Head – challenge authority about poor decisions.
Head was controversially suspended for sending photos to conservation organisations, after being asked to do so, of irrigation pipeline work on public conservation land. But some of his ex-colleagues say he was just doing his job and was effectively punished for speaking up about “piss-poor” decisions.
“The purpose of the Horowhenua District Council is to enable democratic local decision making to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well being of the Horowhenua District in the present and for the future… ” Horowhenua District Council
The Horowhenua Dictrict Council’s Ross Campbell, elected representative of the Miranui
Ward, expresses his growing concern about the way things at the HDC are run, in particular, with whom important information is shared and the way decisions are being made.
Horowhenua Mayor Duffy has a select Committee of close business associates – a non-elected, hand picked business group with no sworn allegiance to the district, that tells the elected councilors how to vote. Cr Campbell is not alone in his concern.
Fellow Councilor Michael Feyen of Foxton confirms what Cr Campbell is saying … “Take the time to have a listen to Councillor Ross Campbell’s very good summation of what we are up against in this HDC District. If the Horowhenua wants to progress it won’t be under the current regime.” Both Cr Feyen and Cr Campbell speak out regularly about the polluting practices of local government. Cr Campbell was allegedly assaulted in 2004 for his active part in this.
Listen to Cr Campbell’s recent announcement from his Facebook page (the following is a transcript):
“My name is Ross Campbell and as most of you know I’m the District Councilor for the Miranui Ward which takes in Tokomaru & Shannon, Opiki, Buckley & Mangaore and this lovely part of the district of Miranui.
I’ve got a few things that concern me when I’m in Council. One of them is these … we get a lot of information at Council … we get information from the NZTA you know, that’s the roading people; we get Government departments telling us all sorts of statistics and things, what they are likely to do and what they want to do. We get a lot of information from statistics of course, we get market trends, we get inquiries from overseas investments … we get information from Regional Councils, Health Boards and so it goes on … there’s a lot of information coming in. This information is meant to be used in briefings to councillors, to help them in their decisions, planning the district, and which way we want to go, if we want to go forward or we want to go sideways or whatever the case might be, and so we use this information to help us make decisions. But this concern is something that I want to bring to you … it’s not always the case.
Our Mayor … some of you might not know this … our Mayor has formed a group of his closest business associates. They’re the people who he mixes with. And together with these associates there are developers, there are retailers, there are manufacturers, contractors, who have been selected by him. They’ve formed themselves into what we call an Economic Development Committee. That’s what the Council calls it but I actually call it an Economic Advantage Committee … over their competitors. You see all the information that we receive is passed on to this committee who are not elected people … they’ve not been elected to be there by you, who may be arguably your closest competitor in your business, and these people all get an unfair advantage over their closest rivals, and that rival could be you.
Because of all this information coming in, they know where the trends are, they know the direction the council’s thinking. They are privy to information that gives them an advantage over others, especially at this time when we councillors are told often to be quiet about the different possibilities that may happen.
These business associates of the Mayor actually came to our table at Council the other night and addressed us and advised us to vote for the policies that would benefit them!
What is that? To me that’s insider trading. I call it that but you may call it something different. But I’m not allowed.
This handful of business associates that our Mayor has selected are receiving an advantage over their competitors, and it’s just not right. These folks have not been elected by you. They’ve never sworn allegiance to the district, and are being rewarded for their faithfulness to the Mayor.
Go figure. What do you think? Just last week a decision was made to announce to the retailers in Levin as to where the road of national significance was going. But we wouldn’t announce it until February 2017. As it was told to us by the Mayor we shouldn’t announce it before the election as the Mayor, because of this, could get skinned alive. So just whose interests are we looking after? Folks, we must get out there and vote, and elect those you trust … not those who are there to furnish the Mayor’s ego and their own business pockets. That is one of my concerns and over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some of the other concerns I have. They are concerns that I believe you need to know about … that we haven’t got a Council that’s working directly for you … we’ve got a Council that is working for the few.”
Now, take a look at the mission statement if you like, of the Horowhenua District Council copied straight from their website:
Council’s Responsibilities and Activities
“The purpose of the Horowhenua District Council is to enable democratic local decision making to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well being of the Horowhenua District in the present and for the future.
Council is made up of the Mayor and 10 Councillors (elected members). They are responsible for determining local policy and legislation, and defining the overall vision for the Horowhenua District. Council makes decisions on behalf of the ratepayers and residents.”
The Mayor’s Role
“The Mayor is elected by the District “as a whole”, and as one of the elected members, shares the same responsibilities as other members of Council.” Some of the Mayor’s roles that relate to Cr Campbell’s concerns [abbreviated] are:
Advocate on behalf of the community
Provide leadership and feedback to other elected members on teamwork and chairing committees.
Councils nowadays are fine in their rhetoric, or should I say spin? What they are doing is regularly a very different matter. They should be making decisions DEMOCRATICALLY … on behalf of ratepayers and residents, and not on behalf of the Mayor’s close business associates!!
Horowhenua people, see what is going on in your District governance. Be sure to vote for change this October. Vote for honesty and transparency.
Please help us expose the corruption and lies by our local governments by sharing this information!
For those who don’t know Shannon, it is a small town on State Highway 57 between Palmerston North and Levin in the lower North Island. Recently it featured in the news media following the filming by Horowhenua District Councillor Ross Campbell, of HDC’s pollution of the local waterways. You can read about these events that saw Cr Campbell trespassed, at this link.
More recently, Cr Campbell conducted a street poll to air the proposal by Council of issuing another liquor license in the town. Shannon already has two off license outletsand five licensed outlets, and the public voted an overwhelming 309 to 3 against. Now that is a clear message from constituents to at the very least hold off, and at most to conduct a proper survey of the town.
But no, the HDC Licensing Chair-person Councilor Ross Brannigan and Committee and obviously the Police thought otherwise and granted yet another license!
Disappointed with this outcome, Cr Campbell, who has fought hard for this community, commented that he thought the Police would have been more supportive of locals’ wishes especially with this issue.
Now, I’ve noticed for some time now, as have many others, that DCs seem to not really be listening to what their constituents say. The official spin if you like on their websites tends to sound very democratic but in practice, in reality, as can be seen from all of the above, they are everything but democratic. A former Cr, Mrs Anne Hunt, recently went public and divulged the persuasive measures that HDC take with their own, coercing them to deny the facts about certain issues. Something is clearly not right with local government in NZ, the HDC being no exception. Here for instance, to illustrate, is some of their spin, quoted from HDC’s own website (our emphases):
Council’s Functions, Responsibilities and Activities
The purpose of the Horowhenua District Council is to enable democratic local decision making to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well being of the Horowhenua District in the present and for the future.
In meeting its purpose, the Horowhenua District Council has a variety of roles:
Facilitating solutions to local needs
Advocacy on behalf of the local community with central government, other local authorities and other agencies
Management of local infrastructure including network infrastructure (eg roading, water supply, waste disposal, libraries, parks and recreational facilities)
Environmental management planning for the current and future needs of the local district.
So there is a discrepancy right there in the first paragraph:
…to enable democratic local decision making to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well being of the Horowhenua District
In this instance, clearly demonstrated by Cr Campbell, they are not enabling democratic local decision making. Locals commenting on social media clearly reflected that they neither needed nor wanted more liquor outlets so HDC is neither consulting nor listening to locals and … facilitating solutions to local needs.(Their own words).
So who needs more liquor outlets? … no prizes for guessing that one … the liquor companies of course.
So the question that needs to be asked here is … why is a supposedly responsible DC favoring the wishes of the liquor industry, over the people who voted them in?
Hopefully the locals will be phoning those who made this decision on their behalf .. (in particular Cr Ross Brannigan in case you missed it) to ask them “why”? Why are they contradicting their own policy statements?
We need to be speaking up about these matters … our silence is interpreted as consent.
The contact details for all councilors and others who are serving you the rate payers, can be found on the respective Council websites. And remember, elections are coming up soon … be sure to vote, and vote for those who are genuinely for changing the current status quo.