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Tuesday, 18 December 2007

SIR HUMPHREY'S MYTHOLOGY

The Local Government Act 2002 requires councillors and community board members to make a solemn declaration before taking up their duties. In the case of the Waiheke Community Board it reads: 'I, [name], will faithfully and impartially, and according to the best of my skill and judgement, execute and perform, in the best interests of Waiheke, the powers, authorities and duties vested in, or imposed upon, me a member of the Waiheke Community Board by virtue of the Local Government Act 2002, the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, or any other Act.'

Excellent.

But in the booklet titled 'Practical Guide for Elected Representative'(October 2007), sent to them after the election, councillors and community board members were given a paraphrase of that, but with a little twist tacked on at the end: 'An elected representative is the decision-maker who is elected to make decisions in the best interests of his or her community, based on the information provided by an officer.'

The preceding paragraph had underlined the point in advance: 'An officer is employed to provide specialist technical expertise, and will provide information that enables the elected representative to make informed decisions.'

'My skill and judgement' has thus been replaced in advance by an officers. But why let a little thing like the law get in the way of some good old office-mythology. The Machine rules! OK?

The controlling mindset can also be seen in the agendas. First they are 'determined' by The Machine, then the word 'recommending', inserted by The Machine, precedes every resolution. Not 'for your consideration', 'possible action', or some such phrase for all hose 'decision-makers'. Just 'recommending.' It is an odd, mealy-mouthed use of the present tense for a start, but the super-title is clear: 'This is what we want you to do, please obey.'

Yes, Sir Humphrey.