Teo-Sherrell's conduct hearing held in secret
The press and public were shut out of a code of conduct hearing against Palmerston North city councillor Chris Teo-Sherrell yesterday, but not until after he made a spirited attempt to have a public hearing.
Cr Teo-Sherrell, who intended to call fellow councillors Lew Findlay and Bruce Wilson in his defence, said justice should be seen to be done unless the circumstances were exceptional.
The complaint he faced related to a statement he made to the Manawatu Standard in June.
In that statement, he said his greatest disappointment as a councillor was the poor manner in which he believed some of the senior management team had served councillors.
He said they continued to "operate in a fashion in which they try to control things through fair means and foul".
The code of conduct requires that councillors avoid publicly criticising any employee in any way, but especially in ways that reflect on the competence and integrity of the employee.
The reason for the planned private hearing was to protect personal privacy.
Cr Teo-Sherrell said there were some things he planned to tell the hearing panel that could impinge the privacy of council staff members, but he gave a commitment he would not do that in public.
The panel, chaired by JP George Mathew, took an adjournment to consider Cr Teo-Sherrell's request for an open hearing, and returned to ask what council management thought. The staff present were acting chief executive Ray Swadel, chief financial officer Grant Elliott, and general managers Peter Eathorne, Anthony Lewis, and Ray McIndoe.
Mr Swadel said absent staff members, chief executive Paddy Clifford, City Future manager Sheryl Bryant and human resources manager Wayne Wilson, were also parties to laying the complaint.
"We need to be mindful of those who are not here, and our expectation that in accordance with the code, the matter would be heard in part two [with the public excluded]."
The code allows the committee hearing the complaint to make the decision. Rules dictate that when the alleged breach could impinge on the privacy of staff, the meeting should be held with the public excluded. The council has scheduled an extraordinary meeting next Monday to receive the panel's recommendations. It is also expected to be public excluded.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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