Invercargill’s conflicting mayor has doubled down against an independent review of who has access to council emails, even though one of them was used against him.
Earlier this month, Sir Tim Shadbolt sent an email to the media in which he referred to the current regime and spoke of the humiliation of a staff member “going through every page” he had.
The content of that email was later shared by the council’s executive director with the group of presidents.
A week later, a media query questioned how the CEO knew about the content of the mayor’s emailed statement.
That prompted the council to recommend an independent review to verify whether the system was working and to ensure that the policy overseeing electronic communications was legal, appropriate, and met expectations.
It would also detail whether those processes were followed when the mayor’s email was intercepted earlier this month, and if improvements could be made.
Plans for that review were presented as a major late issue at the board’s Risk and Underwriting Committee Tuesday morning.
Executive Advisor Jane Parfitt noted in the report that in April the council gave the executive director the green light to take steps to access the mayor’s council email to help the deputy mayor take on some of the mayor’s duties. .
The terms of reference for the review included evaluating the current email access policy, whether all interested parties were aware of the systems and processes in place, and whether the arrangement was reasonable.
“This is not an organization-wide review. It focuses more on arrangements to support the mayor’s office and the council’s desire for greater visibility of the mayor’s activities,” Parfitt said.
The review and its mandate were endorsed by all the councilors, in addition to Sir Tim.
“It does not address the problems that I felt and that someone review his operation I do not believe that the perception is that it is an operation from scratch,” he said.
Later in the day, councilors were asked to approve the independent review, its terms of reference, and the $ 10,000 budget during a full council meeting.
While Sir Tim would generally be in charge, he began the meeting by saying that it should be chaired by someone with “extensive home office facilities” and technical skills for Councilman Alex Crackett to lead in his stead.
Once again, all councilors except Sir Tim voted in favor of the revision, saying it would not adequately address the problem of reading his emails.
It also raised concerns about the involvement of the CEO or her advisers in the review to avoid fairness issues.
“It is an issue that, as I said, fundamental that requires consent for a sensitive area of our work and operations that we undertake.”
Councilmember Alex Crackett said she was surprised by the process, as the mayor was part of the resolution that gave the council access to her emails.
Deputy Mayor Nobby Clark told the mayor that the review was being conducted independently.
“I find it quite ironic that the mayor says that the CEO should not be involved in any review or suggest when the review is because she is involved in it, but the mayor is involved in it as well.
“He’s the one making the accusations and yet he sits here today, giving his pennies.”
Clark said the mayor should have the opportunity to provide input to the independent reviewer.
Councilmember Lesley Soper said the independent review was a healthy step for the council.
Wellington-based attorney Robert Buchanan received clearance to conduct the review with plans to complete it by mid-September.