Jonathan Larsen furious at report

By Mike Barrington

11 comments
Auditor-General Lyn Provost may be sued by Jonathan Larsen.
Auditor-General Lyn Provost may be sued by Jonathan Larsen.

Former Kaipara District Council representative Jonathan Larsen may sue Auditor-General Lyn Provost over her lumping him in with council colleagues labelled "inept and incompetent".

He has told her he intends seeking council assistance to provide him with legal representation for a defamation action following the release last week of her 420-page report on her office's 20-month inquiry into council handling of the Mangawhai sewerage scheme.

Mismanagement of the sewerage project contributed to an $86 million debt blowout which led to the Government appointing four commissioners to take over governance of the Kaipara district from the council last year.

In a community briefing at Mangawhai last Tuesday, Mrs Provost apologised for "substandard" Audit Office work monitoring the council books.

Her report found "poor governance, poor decision-making and inadequate management" by the council.

But Mr Larsen, a 42-year-old Kaiwaka fireman, had constantly questioned council decisions and set up the WorkBoot Councillor website to communicate issues to ratepayers.

He told Mrs Provost it was bad enough being vilified for trying to get the truth on the council and no one - including her office - taking any notice when he raised issues with them. "It was bad enough to hear Commissioner John Robertson apologising for the previous council when I believe I have nothing to apologise for," he said.

"It is even worse to now be labelled in the media, as a result of your report, as incompetent and inept.

"I have asked myself as the key person on the council that raised the issues why I should allow my work to be characterised in such derogatory terms and what effect that may have on my career for the rest of my life."

He asked Mrs Provost for her office to take immediate steps to minimise the harm done by issuing a public apology and organising time for him to appear on national TV and radio.

He included with his request, documents showing how his questioning of council business was either ignored or treated as an imposition, with former mayor Neil Tiller and deputy mayor Julie Geange accusing him of disturbing council harmony.

He had contacted the Auditor-General and was told in October 2011 the auditor was well aware of his concerns about council financial management of the Mangawhai sewerage scheme and did not intend inquiring into council management beyond the annual audit process.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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