Please-explain notice for arrogant mayor

MICHAEL CUMMINGS - EDITOR
Last updated 12:00 17/02/2014

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OPINION: Mistakes happen. But when a mistake has a negative impact on the lives of hundreds of people, it takes a special kind of arrogance to refuse to apologise for it.

Horowhenua Mayor Brendan Duffy seems to possess that rare lack of humility, if his handling of Tokomaru's water woes is any guide.

Three years ago, the good people of Tokomaru were told they would have to boil their water for 10 years.

They would have to endure that daily inconvenience for a decade.

Not surprisingly, the people of Tokomaru, who had all their lives laboured under the illusion they were living in a first-world country, were deeply dissatisfied with this situation.

But life went on in the small Horowhenua town.

Then, last week - three years after the boil water notice was imposed by the Horowhenua District Council - they were told that not only did they not have to boil their water any more, but the notice should never have been imposed in the first place.

Ooops.

Now, this is where one might expect the leader of the organisation that issued the boil water notice to graciously and humbly apologise for causing three years of inconvenience and frustration to hundreds of people who help fund his organisation.

Instead, arrogance. Mr Duffy told his ratepayers that "for a variety of reasons" both his council and the MidCentral District Health Board had a boil water notice in place, "each relying on the other to make the decision on how long it should stay in place". He said "there has been a perception" at the council that the boil water notice was there at the request of the Ministry of Health.

Assuming, as we now must, that perception was incorrect, what was it based on? Who at the council was responsible for liaising with the ministry to ensure the decision was based on sound information, and why did it take three years to realise the boil water notice was not necessary?

According to Mr Duffy, "what's more important" is that his council and the ministry have finally uncrossed their wires and realised the notice was unnecessary. We disagree.

We think that if Mr Duffy believes an apology from him is not warranted, he at the least owes his ratepayers in Tokomaru a full and frank explanation as to what happened, how it happened, and why it was not his council's fault.

ONE MORE THING: If Mr Duffy would like to offer that explanation, the Manawatu Standard will make as much space as is necessary on this page for him to do so.

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- Manawatu Standard

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