Vandervis rejected other posts, including subcommittee role: Cull

Outspoken city councillor Lee Vandervis, who complained of being sidelined from senior posts within the Dunedin City Council, rejected at least three other roles offered by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, it has emerged.

The offers included a second term as the council's representative on the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum board, as well as a ''significant'' role on the council's grants subcommittee, Mr Cull said.

However, Cr Vandervis responded to the museum offer by sending an email to council staff - copied to Mr Cull and councillors - scoffing at the idea.

He complained he had already completed three years of ''hard and unrewarding'' work on the board, and had ''done my time''.

''Please tell the mayor that I consider his suggestion ... to be insulting,'' Cr Vandervis wrote.

The email, sent last Friday, was part of an exchange over Mr Cull's appointments in the days after election results were announced on October 12.

Copies of the emails were released to the Otago Daily Times this week after an official information request.

They showed Mr Cull emailed all councillors on October 21, asking them for their preferred appointments to outside organisations.

Cr Vandervis asked for three of 23 positions available - representing the council on the Otago Museum and Dunedin Gasworks Museum boards, and taking the council's only seat on the University Council.

All three of Cr Vandervis' requests were rejected by Mr Cull, leading to some behind-the-scenes offers of other posts, which Cr Vandervis rejected. Mr Cull said, when contacted, Cr Vandervis had rejected at least two other roles, in addition to the settlers museum role, after discussions with council staff.

Mr Cull said the offers showed Cr Vandervis ''has, to some extent, sidelined himself''.

''I think what he's saying is that he only wants to do the things that he wants to aspire to.''

Mr Cull's comments came after it emerged last week that Cr Vandervis had been over-looked by Mr Cull for all senior roles within the council.

That prompted a war of words between the pair, as Mr Cull said Cr Vandervis could not be trusted for senior roles, and ended an acrimonious meeting with his councillor by saying: ''I have given you nothing''.

Cr Vandervis could only recall being offered two roles outside council, and not a seat on the grants subcommittee, but ''would have rejected it'', anyway.

That was because changes to the grants process had turned it into ''largely a rate-paid gravy train for the well-connected''.

He said the outside appointments on offer were ''of so little consequence that the mayor cannot even remember which ones he has offered me''.

The other offers were made ''belatedly'' by council staff who ''could not get anyone else to agree to serve on them'', he said.

Cr Vandervis said his time on the settlers museum board had been frustrating, as expenditure he disagreed with was approved.

He wanted the University Council role because he had ''strong'' connections to the institution, including through his wife - a senior lecturer - and because he wanted to help improve the campus' surroundings and the relationship with the council.

He wanted the Otago Museum role because its director, Dr Ian Griffin, was ''a brilliant bloke, who is open to new ideas'', and the Gasworks Museum role because of ''what could be done there''.

Mr Cull said the relationship between the council and the university was so significant that ''I wouldn't have considered anyone else for it unless I just couldn't do it''.

Other councillors had accepted roles they would not have chosen, but Cr Vandervis was ''yet to demonstrate'' a similar attitude, Mr Cull said.


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