Radich has ‘none of the skills’ for mayor

Dunedin's mayor has "none of the skills" needed for the role, which has left a leadership vacuum in the city, a councillor says.

Cr David Benson-Pope was commenting as questions emerge about the council’s chief executive appraisal committee, which Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich chairs.

Cr Sophie Barker, who is the deputy chairwoman of the committee, has disputed the mayor’s claims the committee has met regularly, saying the lack of proper process was "a little bit dangerous".

A council policy document says the committee meets quarterly, but the Otago Daily Times has found evidence this term only of a meeting on September 8 last year, understood to be an annual evaluation and review.

Cr Benson-Pope said Mr Radich’s failure to hold the meetings was symptomatic of him having "none of the skills required to perform this role".

The mayor had "only a casual relationship with acceptable meeting procedure".

There was "all in all, a profound misunderstanding of the mayoral role coupled with a lack of the required skills and thus a leadership vacuum that is obstructing progress and development".

Mr Radich responded by saying Cr Benson-Pope was not on the chief executive appraisal committee.

In his role as chairman of the committee he had an informal "check-in" with chief executive Sandy Graham in January, Mr Radich said.

Cr David Benson-Pope. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Cr David Benson-Pope. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
He said meetings had been held quarterly, although some quarters had been "larger than others" to better align the meetings with other council business.

The key meetings took place six-monthly.

"As you can read in the delegations manual, the main functions of the committee are to set KPIs [key performance indicators] and review performance.

"These functions are well in train."

The council’s delegations manual sets the frequency of the meetings at every three months, sets the quorum at five committee members and names Cr Barker as the deputy chairwoman.

She said Mr Radich’s recollection of regular meetings did not square with her own.

Cr Barker said she was "unaware" of quarterly meetings and had only attended one, in September last year.

The chief executive was the councillors’ one and only employee and informal check-ins did not meet the definition of a meeting of the committee, she said.

"You’d expect the committee to be aware of them.

"It would be very unusual not to involve the deputy chair.

"We’ve got to do this stuff transparently and with accountability and an informal check-in ... it’s not proper process.

"I really worry about informal check-ins, or whatever they are, because it’s not proper process and that’s a little bit dangerous," Cr Barker said.

Cr Jim O’Malley, another committee member, said in the previous term of council, under former mayor Aaron Hawkins, the meetings had not happened regularly either.

However, he too said he had only attended the one meeting this term, in September last year.

If informal meetings took place without a quorum, they were not valid, Cr O’Malley said.

"What I can say categorically, is other than that one meeting, I have not been invited to any."

At present, the committee is made up of Mr Radich and Crs Barker, O’Malley, Bill Acklin, Marie Laufiso, Lee Vandervis, Carmen Houlahan and Andrew Whiley.