Those hoping that Rodney Hide might get called to account for his creation of the monolithic supercity at Devonport’s local board meeting last night would have left disappointed at the lack of fireworks.
In front of pretty much all the great and good of Devonport, Rodney “Raw” Hide put up a surprisingly eloquent defence of the thinking behind the supercity structure, and showed himself to be more than au fait with details of the new structure, although the extent to which he accepts the actual reality of its implementation was harder to judge.
While he did point out that the system was still bedding in, and there was still much confusion among the ranks of the council officers and CCO staff, he also urged those in attendance not to let either their board members or the council officials “off the hook” in getting progress on issues they felt needed addressing.
Nevertheless the Q&A session was lively (despite one lady who had just been told there would be a Q&A storming out because there “the whole thing was a waste of time because there would be no questions”), with Sarah Bloomfield asking the first question from the floor.
Her question initially sounded as if she were complaining about local weed-spraying; something The Speculator has found frustrating about these public meetings is the fact that there is always a couple of people who miss the point of the occasion and go to rant about some specific issue affecting them.
However, this was not the case with Ms Bloomfield; in fact she was making the very valid observation that the previous council had agreed to a specific policy on the issue, which had apparently been lost by the new council.
The implication? Where was the institutional memory of the previous council? Had it all got lost in transition, and would Devonport therefore experience something akin to Pol Pot’s Year Zero, when history was struck from, er, history and everything started again from scratch? To his credit, Raw Hide immediately acknowledged the issue as important, but many a reader will know that these kinds of “transitional issues” are often not fully controlled for in the restructuring of large corporate entities. He went on to offer to look into the specific issue, but that was missing Ms Bloomfield’s broader point; how much has been lost in the transition?
The Speculator has observed over the years that corporate clients can sometimes behave in a way that we could classify as insane in an individual. As employees come and go, their knowledge is lost and one finds oneself being asked the same question over and over again, giving the same answer, and each time being confronted with a different response. If that’s not a definition of insanity, what is?
Ex-Takapuna councillor Mike Sheehy raised the valid issue of local board power; ie, they don’t have any. Again, Hide parried, stating this would sort itself out once the planning process had been completed (more to come on this from The Speculator).
Margot McRae raised the issue of resource consents, and how important it was that these decisions be reviewed at the local board level as they were under the old system; not by “anonymous people not accountable to the community.” Hide planted his short leg firmly in line with the ball, and the question deflected off his pads to silly mid-off, with a response along the lines of those previously given – that is, give the system some time to bed in.
In the end, the bulbous one’s time was up, and after Chris Darby touchingly presented him with a gift for his new baby daughter (see other Speculator story), and after being warmly clapped, he departed, followed by his entertainingly porcine official.
The Speculator is preparing an article on the remainder of the meeting, which also included some entertaining and insightful moments.