Power struggle at council local board

18:53, Dec 20 2012
Michael Williams
UNHAPPY CHAIRMAN: Michael Williams.

A power struggle is ensuing at the Howick Local Board as chairman Michael Williams seeks to dump his deputy Adele White.

Jim Donald is lined up to become the next deputy chairman after Williams wrote a letter to board members and Auckland Council calling for a January 21 extraordinary meeting to replace White.

In the December 12 letter he said he wanted to expand the role of deputy chair and saw Donald as having more time to dedicate to the job as opposed to White who works fulltime as a police officer and is also a celebrant.

They also often clash , he said.

''I had intended that the deputy would support me in events and Maori affairs and Wayne in ethnic affairs.

''Unfortunately I have found that Adele and I are often diametrically opposed on the direction of these portfolios and this is standing in the way of delivering the board's agreed outcomes.''

Williams appears to have the numbers as the letter was also signed by board members including Donald, Steve Udy, Wayne Huang and Shirley Warren.

There are nine members on the Howick Local Board.

White said when Williams asked her to step aside in a private meeting on November 29 it was the first time she had been made aware of his concerns.

''I was deeply shocked.'' 

She said it was ''totally left-field and Michael had never indicated that he was struggling with his workload''.

''As a result of that I spoke to some of my colleagues on the board and they clearly indicated that they had not asked for this, that it was Michael's initiative.''

White was unanimously elected to her position when the board was formed two years ago and has had no difficulty with the workload, she said. White said other members knew of her commitments at the time.

Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross has started an online petition to retain White as deputy chairwoman and has attracted at least 300 signatures.

Ross is the wife of board member Lucy Schwaner.

White said she was ''very humbled at the support members of the community have given by signing the petition, by the comments that they've made on the petition and by the phone calls, texts, social media comments and people approaching me in the street''.

''It's that that's really kept me going,'' she said.

''I've got to spend the whole time over Christmas thinking about it, which isn't particularly pleasant.''

Adele White

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