The Dom Post editorial:
It is extraordinary that Wellington City Council’s chief executive could give large sums to an airline and leave almost no record about it. Kevin Lavery’s decision might mean as much as $8m for Singapore Airlines over ten years. The documentation of the deal is slender, amounting to perhaps two pages. This seems a funny way to do business with public money.
Deputy mayor Justin Lester says the spending was within Lavery’s authority and he would be “highly surprised” if there was nothing else in writing. Presumably the politician is now very surprised, as he should be, although he also offers the thought that Lavery “doesn’t send emails.”
Nobody is accusing Lavery of doing anything dishonest, but his handling of this matter has been far too casual. Anyone with this much discretionary power to spend ratepayers’ money owes them a corresponding accountability. That means carrying out and recording a proper analysis and putting the deal and discussions about it in writing.
The issue is not Lavery, but accountability.
It is the Council that set up a secret slush fund for corporate welfare. It is the Council that delegates spending approval to the CE. Councillors should have a policy that any payments must include a detailed business case and analysis.
It is a failure of Council leadership here.
It’s a sign of Lavery’s extraordinary power at the council that an elected politician such as Lester finds no particular problem here.
So elect a Mayor dedicated to making changes.
The issue is not the CE, but the fact the Council has delegated spending authority with no requirements for transparency and analysis.