Thomson report on Sir Tim

The Thomson report on Invercargill City Council is here. It deals with Sir Tim’s difficulties more bluntly than I expected:

This void is seen by participants as most clearly manifesting itself in the Mayor’s reported increasing inability to carry out many aspects of his role.

The reported deterioration was stated by many as being evident in the previous triennium but as getting progressively worse. The Mayor appears, according to most of those interviewed, to be struggling to follow Council agendas and papers without assistance, although a couple of participants see that as a situational issue rather than cognitive difficulties (“he works off paper whereas the rest of work off computer and the pages don’t always line up”, although I am advised by management that this has not been the case since early in the adoption of digital board papers). Many interviewees reported a range of obvious concerns including short term memory deficits, confusion, and the need to be closely managed by both Council staff and senior Councillors in order to chair a Council meeting. They report increasing incidents of embarrassment during meetings
which a, generally, compassionate Council has done their best to hide from the public. This approach is now failing (as is evident from the increasing media statements regarding aspects of his performance) and many Councillors report a general community concern about “what is happening to Sir Tim”.

I’m all for compassion but not at the expense of common sense. If a Mayor is unable (as opposed to unwilling) to perform his role, then he must resign of the Minister must step in.

This meant that the Mayor would essentially be chairing a full Council whose agenda was primarily only the approval of minutes, thus ensuring that the Mayor was chairing difficult or complex meeting agendas less
frequently. The Mayor saw this as a deliberate diminution of his power, which it accurately was, but, in my opinion, that was a side outcome of the change rather than the primary motivation for the change. Many of those I spoke with saw it as a compassionate way to protect his reputation and by reducing the opportunity for his difficulties to be apparent to the public.

Basically what the Council has done is delegate everything except approval of minutes to committees of Council, as the Mayor can’t chair a meeting which has to decide on a difficult issue. Chairing of the Council is a bare minimum part of the job for a Mayor, and if he can’t do that, then I’m sorry but time to retire.

Worth reading the entire report to see how bad it is.

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