Conduct complaint lodged about councillor
Palmerston North city councillor Chris Teo-Sherrell is facing a complaint that he has breached the councillors' code of conduct.
But before a panel is set up to consider the complaint, he wants a chance for councillors to discuss "festering" issues that prompted him to make a comment that has caused offence.
"There are much bigger issues than one comment by one councillor."
He wants the complaint shelved until councillors have had a chance to talk about his concerns on council governance.
The complaint relates to Teo-Sherrell's criticism of council management in the Manawatu Standard's council report card feature in June, in which he alleged staff were trying to control things.
Last night an extraordinary meeting of the council delayed appointing a panel to hear the complaint until after an informal councillor-only forum on Friday.
The call for a delay was put by mayoral challenger Lew Findlay, who asked that the issue be "left on the table" until after Friday.
The meeting had been called by Mayor Jono Naylor to discuss the appointment of three non-councillor panelists to hear the complaint.
Discussion was to have been held in private, but Teo-Sherrell opposed the exclusion of the media and public.
"The complaint is against me. I'm not precious about privacy."
And he said that the three people proposed for the panel were also used to public life, and their names would be known quite soon anyway.
Deputy mayor Jim Jefferies said it was reasonable for the names to be released later, but discussion about the individuals' suitability for the job should be kept private.
However, the meeting did not progress that far.
Councillors voted 9-6 to allow the extra time for Teo-Sherrell to discuss the matters he was concerned about at the end of the week.
Naylor said he could not call another extraordinary meeting on the same issue, and would likely have to circulate a notice of motion asking for the matter to be picked up by the full council meeting at the end of the month.
Naylor said it was incredibly short-sighted of councillors to close down the debate before he had a chance to address the comments made by Teo-Sherrell.
He was not sure if it would now be possible for the complaint to be dealt with in this term of council.
The code of conduct complaint is the third in Palmerston North in seven years.
The last, against former councillor Michael Feyen, was withdrawn in June 2010 without going to a hearing.
In the previous case, in 2006, Teo-Sherrell complained about former councillor Gordon Cruden's email labelling his actions as "frivolous and vexatious". A panel of councillors dismissed the complaint. Teo-Sherrell labelled the hearing a farce, and later succeeded in having the process changed so complaints would be heard by non-councillors.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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