Simon Woolf on the WCC

Cr Simon Woolf writes on Facebook:

Oh my gosh. What must you all be thinking! Two Dom Post articles exposing poor council/ Councillor culture within two days.

I can tell you it has not been the happiest time for me in the past near three years!

I thought I could make a difference, and bring a more collaborative cohesive approach to council. To a degree there is collaboration, however there isn’t a sense of team, and much on the collaborative side of things takes quite some effort. I have tried my best. At times it has been so frustrating!

There are a lot more areas that are agreed on, than aren’t, however when disagreement does occurs it has been often bitter. Lines are drawn, and often certain Councillors overstep. Some Councillors have been overstepping for a considerable time too! The culture has developed where certain Councillors get away with things as there are no consequences for poor behavior. That has really surprised me. When there are no consequences the discipline and focus goes. Personalities become egocentric, and forget why they are Councillors. It becomes about them, and not the city. It guts me!

From almost day one, I was amazed by the baggage some long term Councillors brought to the new triennium. At our first workshop together, which ironically was at the Zoo, two re elected Councillors walked out, after altercations with other re elected Councillors.

I made my first big mistake that day, and managed to get everyone back in the room! One long standing Councillor, whose behavior has been appalling this term, should have been isolated then and there, and for the good of the city. I ended up chairing a good proportion of the rest of the workshop. The worst part was that the poor behavior was played out in front of the Executive Leadership team. That was unacceptable, and I certainly spoke out as to how I felt that was so damaging. I have been left shaking my head many times ever since!

We deserve better.

This council’s performance has been less than effective at times due to a lack of teamwork. The squabbling and in fighting has at times been shameful. I can tell you there are Councillors who are not party to the poor behavior, and do not play dirty! We are all being tainted by association, and that is also frustrating..

I mentioned baggage earlier, and one of the areas I will be pushing Central Government for, re elected, or not, will be to look at limited terms for Councillors, and also Mayors. Wellington would be ideal for a trial too. We need a change, which mostly revolves around culture. I would propose no Councillor should be able to serve more than two four year terms. Mayors and Deputy Mayors, could have a further two, or maybe even three, four year terms, if re elected. ( If you get an exceptional leader, you don’t wish to lose them too early!)

The Deputy Mayor should very much be given the ability for an extra term or two also. The most successful tenure Wellington has seen in it’s history, was when Sir Michael Fowler was Mayor, and Ian Lawrence was his Deputy. They were a team. Sir Michael was the creative visionary, and out front, while Ian was the administrative strength, who crossed the “t’s” and dotted the “i’s”!

I saw a similar model last year, first hand in Los Angeles, with the city of Arcadia, Their model ensured a continual refresh of vision, governance, leadership and ideology. A couple of their current Councillors served the maximum 8 years, were then forced to sit out a further four, and were then re elected again. The break is seen as being very positive. After what I have seen in this triennium we need to consider a new model of governance. It should be a priority. Civic governance should not be a job for life!

I agree.

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