Politicians not legally able to vote on anything
The Auckland Trains blog describes it as weird:
How weird is this: councillors have been warned to be careful about taking public positions on issues when electioneering.
Auckland City Councillor Cathy Casey campaigned to stop the eviction of Monte Cecilia School and says she has now been advised that she might be disallowed from voting on the issue in the new Auckland Council.
She said that at a legal briefing this morning for newly elected members covering law on conflicts of interest, bias etc, a legal expert cautioned elected members to stay “open minded” and avoid taking public positions on issues when electioneering.
She quotes the the lawyer saying that taking a definitive position could mean that a member is “irretrievable committed’ to a set outcome and holding such a bias, the member should not take part on discussion or voting on that issue.”
In a statement Cr Casey says she was shocked by the advice.
Typically and annoyingly the blog never links or mentions what source they are quoting. It is the nation's best blog on transport but Jon C just copies and pastes things up that are obviously from other sites, usually news sites, without any indication of where his words end and theirs begin. Profoundly irritating not to mention deceptive. So after putting a selected quote from the text into Google we find this press release on Scoop from Cr Casey.
After every election the officials and their preferred legal henchmen make the same threats and spin the same lies to the elected representatives. It may appear weird, but it is also a routine indoctrination. They are told by these parasites that they cannot use their democratic mandates and election promises because it is biased to do so and elected representatives are not allowed to be biased. Which are lies of course - it is precisely the representatives role to carry out their policies.
Only councillors appointed as commissioners in hearing specific planning issues under the RMA have to be unbiased - and that doesn't mean leaving their policy pledges at the door either it just means they have to give the parties a fair hearing and act in the public interest. They represent the public and hold the public confidence by way of their election so they do represent the public interest without having to drop any political baggage. The supposed incompatibility of having campaigned on a policy that may have some bearing on a dispute or hearing to which the member is considering is a false one concocted to keep the power of the officials over the elected, to tilt the advantage to the developers and ultimately to keep the law firms in clover.
The conflict of interest does not sit with elected representatives who have taken policy positions, the conflict of interest lies with unelected unrepresentative people who have taken positions based on what will maximise their incomes.
The little gnome from Simpson Grierson who Cr Casey mentions will have been making a small fortune out of the councils justifying idiotic disputes - and hopefully much of that inter-council bullshit will end on 1 November when the Auckland Council comes into being. The law firms have a vested interest in keeping the charade of disbarring politics from political proceedings because it gives their wealthy clients in the development game and large land, building and plant owners avenues of appeal so that they may get their way on technical grounds. To scare "problem" members off certain issues. There is nothing weird about it. What is weird is that these finks have actually been accorded some degree of respect for so long.
Cr Casey: "I am seeking urgent legal clarification of the opinion put forward at this morning's briefing. Clearly legislative action will be required by Central Government if the democratic mandate of the people who elected me is to be denied in this way.
I don't think any legislation is needed for that. No action is required beyond the elected Councillors getting rid of these insidious middlemen. Stop asking these bastards for advice, stop taking their advice, stop surrendering your votes to them.
It is the officials and the legal industry that are trying to stamp their authority before everyone else, before the paint is dry on the new structure, to intimidate the Councillors into doing as they are told. The Councillors will be well advised to get rid of these legal vultures and to put the officials in their place at their earliest possible convenience. The city must not be continued to be run by officials and developers via lawyers it must be run by elected people who by definition hold a mandate to implement their policy objectives - that ought to be made clear by the councillors and board members themselves. Don't ask bloody Rodney to do it for you or you'll likely get the opposite of what you want.
UPDATE | 11AM: Just going to post this one up on the Facebook account... only to find Cr Casey has done it already! Good stuff.