Dunedin city councillor Lee Vandervis has rejected an apology
from Mayor Dave Cull for referring during the local body
elections to the councillor's experience and policies as
''shonky, nutty and extreme''.
Mr Cull yesterday issued an apology to Cr Vandervis in
response to a formal code of conduct complaint laid by Cr
Vandervis about a television interview in which Mr Cull said
the two other Dunedin mayoral challengers who had public
office experience had ''a pretty shonky record'' in public
office and their policies were ''extreme, nutty''.
The two were Cr Vandervis and Cr Hilary Calvert, who did not
lay a complaint.
Cr Vandervis said the comments breached the provision of the
Dunedin City Council's code that covered relationships with
other members, which said elected members should conduct
their dealings with each other in a way that focused on
issues rather than personalities, and avoided aggressive,
offensive or abusive conduct.
The use of the word ''shonky'' irked in particular, as the
New Oxford Dictionary of English defined it as meaning
''dishonest, unreliable, or illegal, especially in a devious
way'', he said.
The complaint was being handled by deputy mayor Chris Staynes
- who must deal with complaints where the mayor is the
subject - and was in mediation.
Cr Vandervis posted a copy of his complaint online on
Mr Cull yesterday said the mediation had been
''inconclusive'' and he had decided to issue the statement of
apology to clarify the situation.
In the statement, he said his interview comment was intended
to relate to the policies of some mayoral candidates.
''I pride myself on addressing issues rather than
personalities and the comment was not intended as an attack
on the candidates. My intention was to comment on the
policies of the candidates.''
He said he never intended his reference to ''shonky'' to be
interpreted as acting illegally.
''With the benefit of hindsight I realise that my comments
were not limited to the candidates' policies. I apologise if
the words I used were taken as an attack on either their
characters or themselves personally.''
The mayor initially yesterday sent Cr Vandervis an early
draft of the apology, which the councillor roundly rejected.
Once the final version of the apology was received last
night, Cr Vandervis said his response stood.
The apology was not anything like that sought in mediation
and by adding the ''suggestion of 'acting illegally' ''
further compounded the ''already defamatory'' words used by
the mayor on television, he said..
''We were midway through a mediation process to agree on an
appropriate apology, which makes the mayor's unagreed public
comment now wholly inappropriate.
''I hereby thank the mediator for his genuine efforts, and
terminate the mediation, looking forward to my formal code of
conduct complaint, which [Cr Staynes] has agreed has a case
to answer, being dealt with properly by the Code of Conduct
Cr Staynes could not be contacted last night.
The apology is the latest chapter in the volatile
relationship between the two elected members.
Mr Vandervis in 2011 made a complaint against Mr Cull about a
range of issues, including the handling of points of order,
which was eventually dropped without resolution.
Last year, the mayor publicly chastised Cr Vandervis for
questioning the integrity of a fellow elected representative
when he accused a councillor of not attending meetings, when
that person was in hospital recovering from surgery.
Cr Vandervis later apologised.
Mr Cull gave Cr Vandervis no positions of responsibility in
the new council committee structure because, he said, he had
no confidence the councillor could contribute constructively,
or maintain any of the relationships needed to do the work
This is Mr Cull's third public apology in the past 18 months.
He apologised after characterising the Dalai Lama as ''the
leader of a minority sect'' and apologised to two Otago Rugby
Football Union board members to avoid defamation after
criticising the board on radio.
The council contributed $29,000 towards the pair's legal