Tag Archives: ombudsman

DOC withholds information after demands from Thompson and Clark

The Department of Conservation (DOC) withheld official information after demands from security firm Thompson and Clark, internal emails show.

Thompson and Clark spied on anti-1080 activists for DOC, sharing intelligence through what it called its “Fusion Centre” – locked, hidden chat channels on messaging app Slack.

The work cost nearly $4000 a month – several government departments are signed up to similar packages – and also included a weekly phone briefing involving senior staff from both organisations.

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https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2018648974/doc-withholds-information-after-demands-from-thompson-and-clark

“Public should not have been excluded”: more on the Council front, this time Napier

Familiar story isn’t it? Public excluded. Causing ongoing controversy everywhere. What 14484651_1472593802754892_3596900895775183479_n.jpgare they hiding? Oh, that’s right. Sensitive information. Sure. It’s not rocket science is it with everything else that they’re making headlines for these days? Especially recent revelations on the developers’ & fire sale prices in the Horowhenua.  Anyway, this one is on the topic of a Councilor’s personal safety & water.  That clean green stuff we’re known for internationally, right? That’s found in possibly just 40% of our rivers now. Oh well, business is good, and that’s the main thing isn’t it? On the safety topic, that’s a growing issue too as some Horowhenua folk found out when they decided in 2016 to highlight Council’s role in polluting the local waterways. Same happened to a Councilor for doing the same in 2004. Interesting times people.
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From Stuff.co.nz

The public should not have been excluded from a council meeting in which a city’s drinking water supply was discussed, the Ombudsman’s office has found.

Napier City Council excluded the public from attending all items of its Audit and Risk Committee meeting on December 7 last year. The major item on the agenda was titled ‘Update on Water Supply – Drinking Water Quality Improvements’.

The meeting was held just three days after the council told ratepayers they needed to urgently cut down on water use as water levels were about to run out, and just weeks after Stuff had revealed that the council was failing to meet national Drinking Water Standards that had been in place since 2008.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/hawkes-bay/103531119/public-should-not-have-been-excluded-from-napier-council-meeting-says-ombudsman

Draconian media policy adopted by Horowhenua District Council

by Veronica Harrod

Horowhenua District Council has adopted a media policy that refuses to recognise media questions unless the questions are from, “a news media organisation registered by the New Zealand Companies Office.”

“Any further enquiries that are not for a news media organisation registered by the New Zealand Companies Office will be treated as Official Information Requests,” said council’s communications advisor Trish Hayward. The council also wants to know what news organisations the information is being provided to and what the deadline is.

Dr Gavin Ellis, author of ‘Complacent Nation’, a book that explores the erosion of New Zealanders’ right to know said, “The council is bound by the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act’s principle of availability that states information should be made available unless there is a good reason for withholding it.”

“Nothing in the Act gives council the right to withhold information on the grounds that a publication and deadline are not given by the information seeker. I believe that, if the council refuses to supply information to a freelancer for that reason, there are good grounds for a complaint to the Ombudsman. It is useful for council officers to know the deadline to which a journalist is working but that is in order to expedite the flow of information, not to stem it,” said Dr Ellis.

The council’s media policy was adopted after questions were asked about how council was fulfilling its legislative requirement to consult on a very important 20 year 2018-2038 Long Term Plan (LTP).

This is the first time the district has been presented with a draft 20 year plan, all previous one’s have been ten year plans. Council has signalled an intention to rate the small communities of Waitarere, Hokio, Ohau, Manakau and Waikawa $106 million for new water and waste water systems due to “new growth.”

New growth that has been created by land and property developers who haven’t contributed one cent towards essential infrastructure since council voted to cancel contributions in 2015. Since then there has been an explosion of land and property development in Horowhenua.

There will only be three days before submissions on the draft 2018-2038 LTP close on 26 March if the council wait 21 days under the OIA to answer the questions.

Council has been asked (1) why public consultations are being held at the Levin Aquatic Centre instead of Te Takere that is regarded as the centre of the community? (2) Whether council has more responsibility to ensure ratepayers are fully informed considering an intention to raise $106 million for new water and waste water infrastructure in “new growth” areas? (3) why it is acceptable land and property developers haven’t contributed one cent to essential infrastructure in “growth areas” yet ratepayers are expected to pay? (4) How much does the infrastructure rate equates to in dollar terms for each affected area? (5) Given the complexity of the draft 20 year LTP whether public consultations should include more than four relatively obscure public meetings? (6) What has council been doing to consult residents that need assistance to understand the draft LTP implications (7) Why has the council called the 20 year LTP, “Consultation in preparation of 2018-2038 Long Term Plan” instead of a draft document? (8) Why has the council decided to hold so few consultations and none at Te Takere? What was the rationale behind that decision? (9) Why doesn’t council doesn’t visit marae, associations and groups around the district and tell them how they will be directly affected? (10) Wouldn’t travelling to Marae be an effective way to consult with Maori ratepayers? (11) Why is a public meeting on the Otaki to Levin North expressway considered important enough to be held at Te Takere but not the district’s LTP? (12) Why only one month for consultation on a complex and lengthy document? (13) Why is council running so many consultations simultaneous taking into consideration residents have busy lives and, unlike the council staff, are already juggling many responsibilities and obligations? (14) Does the council think the consultation process on a number of important documents simultaneously would meet the standards of the Office of the Auditor General if a governance complaint was made? (15) The draft LTP states “Look out for upcoming consultations that are outside the consultation on the LTP. The outcomes from these may result in future changes to the LTP.” Shouldn’t the LTP be informing the other consultations not the other way around?

Official Information Act request refused by Horowhenua District Council

By Veronica Harrod

An Official Information Act request for the minutes of economic development board meetings held in 2016 and 2017 has been refused by Horowhenua District Council.
In response to the request council’s chief executive David Clapperton said, “The Horowhenua Economic Development Board is not a committee of the Horowhenua District Council. Council is not required to hold and does not possess copies of Horowhenua Economic Development Board meeting minutes. We are therefore unable to provide the information you have requested.”
Profiles of the nine members of the economic development board featured on the council website include three councillors. Deputy mayor Wayne Bishop who is also deputy chair of the economic development board, and councillors Barry Judd and Piri-Hira Tukapua.
Board chairperson Cameron Lewis is rumoured to be standing as mayor at the next local body elections. He has been asked to confirm whether this information is true and his response will be published once confirmation or denial has been received.
Other members on the board include men regarded as “captains of industry” Andy Wynne, Antony Young, Evan Kroll, Larry Ellison and Ron Turk.
The request was made because of concerns the board is having an undue and unmandated amount of influence and control over decisions made by council.
Horowhenua’s economic development three year strategy (2014-2017) states it is, “a ten year vision to guide three year outcomes, priorities, actions and initiatives” that was developed, “with business as well as the council, regional council, central government and council’s key partners.”
The strategy also states an intention to take, “economic development…to the centre of council’s actions.”
After the Official Information Act (OIA) request was received the council removed the profiles of board members from its website in the first instance.
When asked to comment on why this had been done council’s communications advisor Trish Hayward said, “Council is in the process of updating the information, layout and photographs on the Horowhenua Economic Development Board page of our website. The page has been temporarily deactivated while the update is carried out. We expect the update to be complete, and the page to be reactivated, early this year.”
The profiles and page featuring board members has been activated again.
The OIA request has been referred to the Office of the Ombudsman to determine whether council is required to release the minutes of board meetings for 2016 and 2017.

Click on the heading below to go to HDC’s website featuring the board members …

Horowhenua Economic Development Board (Members)


Note: I do recall clearly in the council meeting where the Mayor’s chosen deputy was demoted, shortly after his election. One of the reasons given for his demotion at the time in that public-allowed meeting was because he had spoken out about his concerns regarding these non-elected people who were members of the above board, having access to council/business information ahead of their potential competitors. The board members were named one by one at the time & those present were told that these people provided employment for the Horowhenua. Since that time one of those employers has shifted operations to Vietnam with a loss of 30 local jobs. You can read about that here:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11857632

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Veronica Harrod
is a qualified journalist with a Master of Communications specialising in traditional and new media content. Investigating and reporting on political, economic and legislative trends that negatively impact on the day to day lives of people is one of her main areas of interest. Lifestyle content she is interested in includes celebrating our own especially the tireless work community advocates do as civil citizens participating in democracy to keep those in power on their toes. In a media age dominated by a multi billion dollar communications and public relations industry paid to manipulate information to protect and advance the interests of the few over the many there have to be journalists who are impervious to the all pervasive influencial role they have over local and central government and corporate interests.

For more information about Veronica’s professional qualifications see her Facebook page.

Complaint made to Privacy Commissioner over Horowhenua email interception

From Stuff.co.nz

A Horowhenua woman has laid a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner after discovering the district council’s chief executive was intercepting her emails.

A draft audit report on the Horowhenua District Council revealed this month that incoming and outgoing emails from people on a “blacklist” had been intercepted by chief executive David Clapperton.

Once the emails were intercepted, Clapperton could then either block or redirect them, or let them continue to their intended destinations, the report showed.

Horowhenua resident Christine Toms said she laid a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner on Monday after being outraged to discover she was on the “blacklist”. .

READ MORE:
* Councillors stand by under-fire chief executive embroiled in email snooping revelations
* Concerns raised about email interception at Horowhenua District Council
* Editorial: Clapperton’s position is untenable
* Legal questions about ‘astonishing’ email interceptions

“To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. This is quite serious stuff.”

By initially failing to communicate that her emails were being intercepted, the council was not meeting her expectations as a ratepayer, Toms said.

Toms, who was previously mayor Michael Feyen’s interim secretary outside of the council, said she should have the right to directly communicate to council staff and Feyen.

She said she had also filed a complaint with the Ombudsman’s office in the hope the council’s practices would be investigated.

Toms thinks Clapperton should stand down during an inquiry into the matter.

READ MORE

https://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/95090468/complaint-made-to-privacy-commissioner-over-horowhenua-email-tampering

Taranaki Regional council Wastes $85,000 fighting Media’s Exposure of their Polluting Practices

Fairly obvious who is in bed with whom here … it’s becoming such a regular occurrence with Local Government. Corporate control, corporations cooperating with corporations, duping the people that they are democracies. Democracy is a long gone mythical illusion. Check out our Local Govt Watch pages for more corruption. It’s rife now.
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8:36 am on 15 July 2016

Taranaki Regional Council spent $85,000 unsuccessfully contesting RNZ’s coverage of its oil industry waste farms – known as landfarms.

In 2013 RNZ began investigating the controversial practice of landfarming – where oil industry waste, including fracking waste, was being spread on farms in Taranaki.

Within hours of the first story airing, the council announced it was no longer allowing fracking waste to be disposed of on landfarms.

RES.Copy of 20081013_IMG-New Plymouth_0570

However, the council laid several complaints with the Broadcasting Standards Authority contesting many aspects of RNZ’s coverage of landfarming.

Documents obtained under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act reveal the council incurred $85,000 in legal costs to challenge the stories.

The council argued the coverage amounted to “misinformation” in “attack-style journalism” which was “of grave concern and… no service to the public”.

However, the authority found the coverage was fair and accurate and the council was “disingenuous” in claiming fracking waste had only been disposed of historically on the landfarms.

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