In response to many people asking me what I would have done differently at the outset given the STV votes necessary to be Mayor, my plan was to change many things.
First I would have awarded Councillor positions/subcommittees on merit/experience, and depending on Councillor preferences would have made either Cr. O’Malley or Cr. Hawkins my deputy because they are the most accomplished speakers with ability to chair meetings and would have brought a representative balance to Council.
I would have awarded equal payments to all Councillors to avoid the A-team/B-team self-interest issues, and disestablished the main Committees and Chairs positions as these are name-only pretensions. This would make all these Committee meetings full Council meetings, since they are not subcommittees and include all Councillors anyway.
Councillors are all elected equally to represent all of Dunedin, so should have an equally level playing field where the focus is on good decisions, rather than on personal advancement from mere Councillor to the empty title of Deputy Chair, to Chair where you get some real influence and now an extra $12,000+ per year, membership of important and sometimes even more lucrative subcommittees and the inner circle A-Team, then to Deputy Mayor and finally to the position that really matters – Mayor.
For example, as a fellow Councillor, Cr. Hawkins earned more that twice as much as I did last year [Cr Hawkins total remuneration from the DCC was $136,075 in the 2017/18 year], not because of more experience or RMA certification, but because he was one of Mayor Cull’s favourites, a chosen Chair and Commissioner.
The Mayoralty is all-important because all of the decisions above are the Mayor’s to make [even if some need rubber-stamping by Council], along with being the media spokesperson for Council, oversight of agenda preparation, conduit to the Chief Executive and staff, control of full Council meetings, control of a Mayoral fund, and automatic membership of University of Otago and Chamber of Commerce Committees, etc.
The often-quoted claim that the Mayor has only one vote and needs the ‘teamwork’ of a majority of Councillors ‘to get things done’ is mistaken on many levels. To get good decisions that will get needed things done, the Mayor can ensure properly informed, balanced agendas and reasoned respectful debate, all of which are currently undermined by party politics, brown-nosing for positions and higher pay, unbalanced staff agendas, Groupthink and Codependency.
Poor Council decisions, pet projects, and wasteful spending have long been the result, so that Dunedin’s development continues to lag behind the New Zealand average on: Employment, Consumer spending, Tourism- visitor spend,
Guest nights, Car and Commercial vehicle registrations, Job seekers, Traffic flow, Residential and non-residential consents and Gross Domestic Product.
Dunedin has the educated people, natural Port, beautiful environment and historic infrastructure and land to do much better than the NZ average, and better Local Government is the key to realising this potential.
In conjunction with the CEO, I would have created a new staff position called ‘Chief of Staff’ who would liaise and communicate between staff and elected representatives to give elected representatives a closer understanding of staff information and processes, allowing relationships between elected members and staff to be better informed and mutual directions better achieved.
The physical raising of Mayor and Staff above the Councillors’ floor level in the Council Chamber is a minor but dis-empowering bit of psychology that I had intended to change by getting rid of the raised-floor sections for Staff, quitting the elevated Mayoral throne and sitting at the head of the Debating Chamber table at the same level as all other elected members.
I believe that with no greasy pole to climb and the elimination of Mayoral-created hierarchies amongst Councillors, that a focus on debate of issues rather than on personal Councillor advancement and earnings would be encouraged.
Many other DCC efficiency changes have long been needed in my opinion, and as Mayor I believe it would have been possible to introduce many of these quite quickly.
My hope looking forward, is that Dunedin will still be able to reach its long-delayed potential and embrace the changes needed.
The following email, including my suggested efficiency changes from 2006 and a more comprehensive up-to-date ‘102 Ways’ list from the Taxpayers Union are detailed below:
From: Lee Vandervis <email@example.com>
Date: Sunday, 29 July 2018 at 5:41 PM
To: Jordan Williams <Jordan@taxpayers.org.nz>
Subject: 102 Ways BRILLIANT!
Imagine my joy in reading your 102 ways for Councils to save money, when the DCC has done only 1 of them!
As a first-term Councillor in 2006 I proposed a more modest but some similar 30 suggestions as follows:
TENTATIVE SUGGESTIONS FOR DCC 2006 RATES REDUCTIONS
PICK AND MIX THE OPTIONS FOR –5%.
(Ratepayers will probably never notice the service difference)
1 – Restrict staff travel. Use 50% of budget saved, to fund IS video conferencing.
2 – Restrict consultant use. Use 50% of budget saved, to fund DCC Engineer & DCC Lawyer
3 – Restructure upper management. Promote only 4 best DCC managers to business-like 3 tier system
4 – Restructure middle management in favour of team leaders, rather than having both managers and leaders.
5 – Make management responsible for energy efficiency in respective areas.
6 – Reduce secretarial staff by 50% creating flexible secretary pool. Only CEO & Mayor to have own P.A.
7 – Reduce analyst staff by 50%, reducing number of surveys, reports, and data collections.
8 – Reduce Citifleet 15% from 230 to 200 vehicles, [sell old ones and promote car pooling].
9 – Institute bare-bones email tender process for all $2000+ expenditure, formal process for all $50,000+
10-Institute 5% preference for local business contractors. [reduce National travel costs + boost local economy]
11-Axe unproductive paperwork and PR; City Talk, Staff Zone, Fact Line, Surveys, Economic Impact Studies…
12-Build closer University relationships and get free surveys/studies done as projects by graduates.
13-Close graphics department. Close Bindery. Publish most items on-line.
14-Use 50% of Bindery budget saved to fund IS print shop, for reduced hard-copy printing requirements.
15-Wind up Transportation Strategy department. Use 50% of budget to subsidize integrating bus systems.
16-Close Economic Development Unit. Use 50% of budget to fund new Tourism Dunedin and business mentors.
17-Close Communications and Marketing dept. Use 50% of budget to contract Events and two Organizers
18-Lease extra two unused Civic centre floors [5&6]
19-Reduce Central Library staff levels by 10%. Rationalise to 3 floors. [Upper floors Town Hall breakout space].
20-Restrict City Property to maintenance/operations role. Avoid specialist property development and speculation.
21-Staged selloff of Property assets giving net return of < 7%, and retire debt with proceeds.
22-Contract out Solid Waste and Landfill operations with specific waste minimisation specifications.
23-Defer Transportation Strategy Strategic Corridor
24-Defer Moana Pool gym/office development
25-Defer Chinese Garden
26-Halt Dunedin Centre development. Upgrade existing Town Hall as is.
27-Reduce Settlers development to stage 1 [proper collection storage]
28-Restrict Harbourside development to access and facilitation role.
29-Promote regular grass-roots Rugby use and sponsorship of Carisbrook. Promote ‘Build the Brook’ Lottery
30-Sell naming rights for Logan Park development to ODT
Cr. Lee Vandervis
47 Garfield Avenue