Richard Kempthorne The Mayor with Many Minds (and a propensity for changing them often).
Mayor Kempthorne is like a housing company that starts a company to do a housing development and when the development is complete they terminate the company and start a new one for the next development. In so doing they absolve themselves of all responsibilities of the old company. When Mayor Kempthorne changes his mind the new mind seems to be absolved of all the promises and decisions of the previous mind. He seems to change his mind for every meeting.
This flip-flopping style of leadership is tearing the district of Tasman apart. The lack of consistency over the Takaka grandstand between saving it for restoration and tear it down for rebuilding has divided the people of Golden Bay, they now only join forces to all fight the Council. A stronger leadership should have been shown by the Mayor from the start and that might have avoided the passionate grievance claims from all parties.
There is a lack of respect for the office of Councillor that the Mayor has allowed to breed within the culture of the Tasman District Council. Either through his lack of backbone or because he is embroiled in corruption, Mayor Kempthorne has not stood up for Councillors trying to access documents that should have been required reading for Governance – the Waimea Dam schedule of Risk (requested but never presented), the Terms Sheets serving the basis for the contracts with TDC’s partners on the Waimea Dam (suggested to be available if Councillors sign a waiver of Councillor privilege in return for accepting personal liability claims). He stood by and allowed Staff to lie to TDC Councillors over knowledge of the construction quote blowout of the Waimea Dam, a total disrespect of our office.
As someone who has the ability and propensity to use his casting vote to push through agenda items, with the minority of councillors in support, it would be behoving of the Mayor to be extra well informed of the details of such items. However, he repeatedly announced that he didn’t want to know the details of essential documents such as the Schedule of Risk, the Terms Sheets, or the Quote budget blowout figures of the Waimea Dam.
The one unwavering resolution that the Mayor holds is to build the Waimea Dam no matter what at whatever cost it takes. The explanation that he gave early on this term (possibly after the first use of his casting vote – but I stand to be corrected on the timing) was that he stood for mayor on the platform of being pro-dam and was elected therefore he had the mandate to proceed with the dam. I was encouraged by his logic because I stood on a platform of more accountability within the Council and I was elected therefore I have a mandate to keep pushing for more accountability within the Council.
Although the Mayor is resolute that the dam must proceed he has changed his mind many times about the details. The Mayor gave a figure of $90 million that if the dam project went over that he would walk away. If that was the case then he has changed his mind and will no longer be held to a budget cap (fortunate given that we have reputedly well blown the P95 budget).
The mayor promised the residents of Tasman a yes/no vote on the dam during the 2017 Annual Plan consultation, he changed his mind and instead offered a consultation on the Governance and Funding models. His explanation is that a vote against those was effectively a vote against the dam and that would be the end of it anyway. He also changed his mind about that, and when the results of the consultation came in more than 80% against the dam funding and governance models he agreed we should ignore them because they represented only a small portion of the community.
The Cost of the non-dam
We will probably never know how much the dam has cost the ratepayer with staff time not accurately attributed, spending not correctly attributed as ex-councillor Higgins tried to point out, and budgets labelled for other use such as with the NRDA (Nelson Regional Development Agency) who I am guessing spent a considerable portion of their budget allocation on the dam given the propaganda that they produced for the two councils.
Ten Million dollars could have restored the Takaka grandstand ($1m), built a new Motueka Library ($3m), fixed Neds Creek to stop it flooding houses in Murchison ($0.5m), built the Mapua boat ramp ($1m), plus gone a long way toward bringing the rural water supplies up to standard – Dovedale and 88 Valley ($4.5m). To suggest but a few ways that the community could have better benefitted.
However, that is not the only cost to the Tasman district. There is the fact that the urban water supply for Richmond, Brightwater, Mapua, and the irrigators on the Waimea Planes are at least 2 years closer to Armageddon like conditions with water restrictions without an alternative affordable solution. We will now be approaching future drought conditions without a remedy, and at great cost to the community as the dam propaganda highlighted.
A community in chaos and a Mayor who does not want to know anything la la la ….