Councillors' last supper dishes up acrimony
At least two city councillors are refusing to attend a flash, slap-up end of term dinner tomorrow night after a war of words broke out over who should pay.
Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button has planned the Canterbury Club event to thank councillors, their partners and retiring community board members for their efforts over the last three years.
Most of the $4215 cost is covered by a $3300 donation, but leaving any shortfall to ratepayers prompted Cr Yani Johanson to pull out of "the last supper" because Button had criticised anyone who refused the "free" meal.
Cr Helen Broughton is also not going because of "reservations" she has about the event.
Button planned the dinner because she was concerned the present council term would end without time to reflect on what it had achieved.
Anyone who objected to the event was "mean spirited" and "put the guilt on everyone else".
Johanson said Button's comments were "symbolic of the personal attacks" he and others had endured over the last three years and enough was enough.
Churches in northern Christchurch received $3300 in donations soon after the September 2010 earthquake - money the churches then tagged for councillors to spend on themselves. The money remains unused.
The last farewell party staged by the city council was in 2007, which came with a $20,000 price tag. There was no function in 2010 as the council finished just weeks after the September 2010 earthquake.
North City Church pastor Donald Scott, whose church gave the $3352 donation after the 2010 quake, had no issue with the money being spent on a farewell dinner.
The money came from anonymous sources to help support councillors through what was "an incredibly hard time".
"It's up to the council how it is spent. That's the nature of a gift."
Cr Glenn Livingstone was not going because it clashed with "prime door-knocking time" in his re-election campaign while Cr Aaron Keown was launching an event at the same time.
Cr Jamie Gough is going, Cr Sue Wells was undecided, Cr Sally Buck will pay for her own meal, and the others - Crs Jimmy Chen, Barry Corbett, Claudia Reid, Peter Beck and Tim Carter - could not be reached.
Council democracy services manager Darryl Griffin said the cost comprised of $2889 for the meal, a $300 venue hire fee and another $1026 for refreshments on arrival. Guests will pay for any extra drinks.
The church's contribution meant the balance was $863 or $16 per guest.
Button said the total bill was "a small price to pay" for councillors who had served through an extraordinary three years.
"This [dinner] is about closing and finishing [the council term] well."
The last council was farewelled with "a few certificates, a cup of tea in the mayor's lounge".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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