Vandervis censured over 'aggressive' parking ticket exchange

Dunedin city councillor Lee Vandervis has been censured by his colleagues after a investigation found he engaged in "loud, aggressive and intimidating behaviour" towards a staff member.

Lee Vandervis
Lee Vandervis
Councillors at today's full council meeting voted unanimously in favour of issuing Cr Vandervis with a written censure to demonstrate his conduct was unacceptable.

That was despite Cr Vandervis continuing to dispute key parts of the investigation’s findings, insisting he had not been afforded "natural justice" and maintaining the complaint against him was politically motivated.

He also vowed to continue using his "loud" voice to raise call out council dysfunction where he saw it.

The Code of Conduct complaint against Cr Vandervis alleged he had engaged in "an uncalled-for verbal attack" on a DCC customer services staff member during an exchange at the Civic Centre reception on September 13.

An report into the incident by independent investigator David Benham, made public this week, concluded Cr Vandervis’ behaviour breached the council’s code of conduct on three counts.

The resolution to censure him at yesterday’s meeting came from Cr Mike Lord, who said he had also spoken to a trusted staff member who detailed the exchange.

Cr Vandervis had been "loud", and the situation "embarrassing", and Cr Lord accepted the staff member’s version of events as well as Mr Benham’s report.

Most other councillors spoke in agreement, including deputy mayor Christine Garey, who said the council had to enforce the code of conduct to be a responsible employer.

Cr Carmen Houlahan agreed, saying councillors had to be held to an even higher standard than the public, while Cr Chris Staynes said there was no doubt the incident had occurred as described and was not politically motivated.

Cr Jules Radich spoke in support of Cr Vandervis, saying if the exchange was over a $12 parking ticket — as the complainant had claimed and Cr Vandervis had denied — then it was "a very small matter".

He also questioned whether the video showed "much shouting or loud-looking" behaviour, and said he was "very reluctant" to censure Cr Vandervis over the incident.

"We have quite a lot of complaint going on here about not very much," he said.

Cr Marie Laufiso took a different view, saying if she had her way Cr Vandervis would be asked to resign.

His conduct "is violence — and we should have no tolerance for violence of any kind", she said.

Comments

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Once again DCC focusing attention on a verbal spat that occurred 3 - 4 months ago. I had hoped the new council would focus on current issues and bring some openness to council workings. But then seemingly we are stuck with the same internally focused stuff while keeping real decisions hidden as much as possible.

A new broom with the same old bristles.

Due process needs to be followed. This is not the first time Vandervis behaviour has come to light. It is now recorded.
Not we can form a track record and the next time he abuses somebody he stands down from Council.
Someone needs to rub a book on how long it will be to his next harassment of somebody.

His conduct "is violence — and we should have no tolerance for violence of any kind", she said.

Violence: 'behaviour involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something'

In case it needs to be pointed out, hurting someone's feelings is not violence, so please stop misusing the term.

It's an Employment matter.

Berating workers is typical top down behaviour. For 'hurt feelings', say 'intimidation', because of the power imbalance.

Basically Vandervis is this person employer. What you are saying is that it is acceptable for a boss to yell and point, finger and threaten court action to yourself and family.. is this correct?

Vandervis should hold his head up proudly...another sham vote by the do nothing council!

Due to unacceptable behaviour and his account of what happened was a lie as well.
Vandervis needs to stand down and do the city a a favour.

What rubbish.
Here was I thinking new broom sweeps clean but no, seems it doesn't.
Are we in for another three years of councilors who are happy to add to the city's debt?, seems so.
Instead of actually pushing ahead with their election rhetoric the councilors are happy to attack one of their own.

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