Hawkins apologises for sharing information

Aaron Hawkins
Aaron Hawkins
Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins has apologised to Dunedin city councillors after breaching the council’s code of conduct rules.

Mr Hawkins shared confidential information from a public and staff-excluded meeting assessing council chief executive Sue Bidrose’s performance with Dr Bidrose last year.

And while in general the briefing Mr Hawkins gave was "usual", some detail should have been kept confidential, Dyhrberg Drayton Employment Law partner Steph Dyhrberg found.

After investigating a complaint by Cr Lee Vandervis on the breach, in a 12-page finding obtained by the Otago Daily Times, Ms Dyhrberg determined the breach to be non-material, but recommended the council develop guidelines to ensure confidential matters were handled better — and that Mr Hawkins "apologise to Cr Vandervis and other members for his misjudgement".

Mr Hawkins said this week when the council took office this triennium it inherited the chief executive performance review midway through "and I made changes to make it more inclusive of all elected members" but he should have made the process "clearer to all parties in advance".

"I have apologised in writing to all of my elected colleagues for this oversight," he said.

Ms Dyhrberg writes in her December report that at the staff-excluded November 12 meeting, a proposed "key performance indicator" for the council chief executive was raised.

Cr Vandervis proposed the chief executive should be "present and able" for 90% of normal working days.

At issue was how Dr Bidrose came to learn of the failed motion from the meeting when she wrote to all councillors a week later noting the matter of her attendance had not been raised with her previously, reminding councillors of their obligations to her as her employers.

Cr Vandervis complained the information was shared in such a way that future breaches could result in legal action.

Also, the confidentiality breach was compounded because Dr Bidrose shared the information with two of her staff.

When Mr Hawkins was interviewed for the investigation he did not recall discussing with Dr Bidrose who had put the matter up for a vote.

According to Ms Dyhrberg’s report, Mr Hawkins and Dr Bidrose travelled together by car to a meeting in Oamaru when they "chatted" about the performance review.

While councillors were "pretty happy" with her performance, one of two issues raised in conversation was the matter of the time Dr Bidrose spent in her office.

Dr Bidrose asked if Cr Vandervis had raised the issue, Ms Dyhrberg’s account states.

Dr Bidrose could not recall if Mr Hawkins said yes, "but she was certain he did not say no".

Dr Bidrose then "put two and two together" as to who had raised the concern because of an official information request by Cr Vandervis into the amount of time she spent in her office.

Dr Bidrose then checked the minutes from the meeting she was excluded from, in order to correct the wording she used in her email to all councillors, which she also sent to communications staff due to interest in the issue at the time from the ODT.

While Dr Bidrose was found not have broken a council rule by authorising herself to see information from the staff-excluded meeting into her review, her power to do so should not be used "in that way", Ms Dyhrberg advises.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

Comments

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Strict council rules about who should know what and when, especially ABOUT someone else, are absolutely necessary. Our elected reps cannot represent voters if they don't know what is going on. And know it at the same time and to exactly the same extent as each other. No 'inner circles' or special pulling of strings by the mayor, committee chairs or any privileged minority. It sounds nitpicking but how would you like to be an elected rep and find out what the DCC is doing by reading about it in the ODT? It used to happen... A LOT! The breaches with the council companies were especially dreadful. I remember ODT reporting Paul Hudson protesting that Peter Chin called on him at his home to have 'a little chat' about the council companies. In fact, anyone doing an ODT search using key words "Paul Hudson" will find many instances of various little chats and, even worse, stuff like this: https://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/governance-exploitation-another-name
Strict protocols on information-sharing about DCC and its companies are definitely in the interests of the ratepayers!

The new "department" of Mayor has failed to keep the rules. I always knew that when you increase the bureaucracy you increase the sluggishness of delivery and perpetuate error.

and so it begins, surprise resignation one day, then this the next, surely we can get to the bottom of whats really been going on here, thanks Lee for making an issue of this behaviour...

Sack 'em! (the Mayor that is)

SH_88 You have a virus called Trumponomics. Better isolate yourself!

One at a time, they are removing themselves... I'll give him 6 months. I believe he will come to understand being the Mayor isn't about 'personal visions'. It's about ensuring the services and amenities are maintained and improved. It's about managing a city that people are proud to live in. It's about delivering the expectations of those that pay for those services. Sadly, Dunedin's 'basics' are Third World. Personally, I see him as disconnected to the reality. Dunedin is poorly served by its council. Has been for a long time.

This is the writing on the wall that Sue Bidrose saw coming; it's only a matter of time and Hawkins and his followers will go too. We are coming for you and eventually will have you all removed until we get a council that respects the ratepayers wishes and not "his Vision".

Getting an elected Council or a Chief Executive AT ALL, let alone any that respect the ratepayers' wishes, is going to be a very hard ask unless members of the Dunedin public, most of who use non de plumes when commenting on the DCC's performance, show some respect and basic good manners to the people willing to take on these demanding jobs and roles. I have no objection to criticism but it ought to be factual, specific and with evidence and not merely an attempt to demolish the person's character.

Mr T Thu - Is that the royal 'we'? Because you don't speak for the majority of ratepayers who did vote for a mayor with an environmental vision. What they didn't vote for was time-wasting nitpicking from councillors or staff. We want cooperation and action for change.

The STV system served them very well didn't it? Fact, Vandervis had more votes. So in fact, the majority wanted CHANGE in the council. So that would make your statement....patently incorrect.

"9,481 voted for Vandervis and 9,074 voted for Hawkins. So in the democratic election, Vandervis won by 407 votes. In the non-democratic STV redistribution vote, Hawkins was given an additional 8,148 votes. Vandervis was given an additional 4,870 votes. This changed the results giving Hawkins a win with 2,871 votes over Vandervis. Interestingly to note; by the 13 and final iteration under STV, almost 80% of the votes originally cast were redistributed to other candidates".

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