Craig Cooper: A fresh start

By Craig Cooper

CEO Mark Simpson.
CEO Mark Simpson.

I know from personal experience that as a manager or boss, going into a poorly run business is a lot easier than taking over one that is running smoothly.

It is easy to spot problems, to make change.

Having met new mayor Sheryl Mai several times, I believe she is a smart person who will make short-term change that will assert herself as the new boss.

She will also already be thinking about the long-term change necessary. After some time vainly hoping for the best, I lost faith in the previous council after the manner in which it conducted the review into CEO Mark Simpson.

The review answered very few questions about Mr Simpson's conduct, after he sacked his PA for breaching council protocols that he gave someone else permission to breach.

There are some fine individuals representing Whangarei, but as a collective I believe it lost the plot in a term that suffered from lack of leadership and saw, I believe, the lunatics take over the asylum.

How can we manage a project such as the multi-million dollar Hatea River bridge, and not have any money left to finish the footpaths nearby?

Why are central city streets patched like an old asphalt quilt? Why do we have a code of conduct for councillors that requires transparency, and action in the best interests of the town, that they are not held accountable to?

And why do Whangarei residents say their 20-something kids won't come back home until it's safe to walk around our streets at night?

I encourage Ms Mai to call for a judicial review of the previous council's handling of Mark Simpson's review, to put an end to the speculation and rumour around how it was handled.

Otherwise it is a political millstone that Ms Mai will be forced to carry.

I would also suggest a conversation with residents, other than the local newspaper editor, about why Whangarei is not safe at night.

It is not the council's job to solve that problem, but they have a leadership role and there are plenty of people, myself included, who will offer to help.

Part of the reason Ms Mai won was because in public, she was articulate, positive, and open to change and new ideas.

Now she also gets to demonstrate what she can achieve internally, with staff and re-elected politicians indoctrinated in the arrogant, old school way.

Having lost faith in the past council, I am starting again and putting my faith in democracy and a new mayor leading to positive change.

Haere mai Sheryl, and good luck with the hard work in front of you.

- Northern Advocate

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