OPINION: Memo to Wellington City Council chief executive Garry Poole: Should the capital, God forbid, ever be struck by a major natural disaster, do not be tempted to seek a whopping great pay rise.
Memo to Wellington City Council: Should Mr Poole ever be minded to seek a whopping great pay rise in the midst of a crisis, dispense with his services.
Memo to Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker and the seven Christchurch city councillors who last month voted to give chief executive Tony Marryatt a 14.4 per cent pay rise: nip down to the sackcloth-and-ashes emporium and pick up a job lot of hessian suits. You're going to need them if the fury expressed in The Press letters page is any guide.
Memo to Mr Marryatt: Do not attempt to justify a $68,000 pay rise by telling people who lost wives, husbands, children, homes and livelihoods in the February 22 earthquake that you had to work nine weekends in a row. What do you think they were doing? Picnicking amidst the rubble?
Further note to Mr Marryatt: On your first day back at work, after a two-week holiday on Queensland's Gold Coast, do not allow yourself to be photographed wearing jandals and shorts. Doing so shows a lack of professionalism and a lack of respect for other staff, ratepayers and the organisation that employs you.
It is hard to decide which is more staggering – the size of Mr Marryatt's pay rise – which takes his total salary to $538,529 ($120,000 more than Mr Poole's) or his, and the council's, attempts to justify it. Both Mr Marryatt and his employers have shown themselves to be tone-deaf to the concerns of the city's inhabitants.
The ratepayers who pay his salary are struggling to put their lives back together. Many are still grieving over the loss of loved ones. Thousands have had to abandon their homes. Thousands of others face lengthy waits to have cracks and other damage repaired. Many have lost their jobs. Some have lost their businesses.
They do not want to hear about interruptions to the chief executive's weekend plans. Nor are they interested in "market remuneration", "levels of performance" or councillors' fears that that they might have lost their chief executive if they did not bump up his already handsome salary.
This is not business as usual. It is a time for everybody to chip in – something thousands of Christchurch residents have done without thought of remuneration or recognition for their efforts.
If they hear anything at all about the chief executive, what they want to hear is how hard he is working to put their city back together. If they see him at all, they want to see him on the end of a shovel helping to remove silt from liquefaction in damaged neighbourhoods, not lounging about in jandals and shorts.
Leadership is about more than managing budgets and staff. It is about setting an example and inspiring others to give more of themselves. Mr Marryatt has conspicuously failed to do either.
He and the council should consider his position.
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