Mayor defiant over council name-calling

By Wayne Thompson

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams called a city councillor a "smart arse" for challenging his recollection of a meeting - and refuses to apologise.

"Basically he was trying to say I was a bloody liar," the first-term mayor told the Herald last night.

"I'm not apologising to some person who is trying to undermine me all the time."

The councillor, Chris Darby, said he had been questioning Mr Williams' recollection of a previous councillors briefing, because the mayor had not been present throughout.

"He looked directly at me and told me I was a smart arse."

Mr Darby called a point of order and asked the chairman of the meeting to ask the mayor to withdraw the comment and apologise.

"The mayor retorted, 'I will not, because you are a smart arse', and at that stage he was walking out. Then the chairman asked me to leave. I was surprised because I didn't think I would be ejected as well."

Mr Williams denied he had been expelled from that meeting or any others.

"Of course not. The chairman just said would I apologise and I said, 'No, why would I apologise when it's true?' "

He added: "I had to go anyway at that time. I had other commitments."

The meeting chairman, community services and parks chairman Tony Holman, refused to discuss the issue.

"I've made it clear to all the staff and to councillors that our meetings when in confidential [session] are confidential."

But one of the councillors at the meeting, former Labour MP and Assistant Speaker Ann Hartley, said Parliament would have taken a dim view of such behaviour.

"You'd be out on your ear if you did that. You probably would be named for it."

Being named means the MP is censured by the Speaker and suspended from the debating chamber until an apology was given.

Mayor Williams said he had obtained a transcript of the previous day's briefing and distributed it to councillors.

"It showed my comments were correct. I said, 'My case is proven, thank you very much'."

Mr Darby, who is in his second term, said the mayor had said some "unfortunate things" to him before.

"I don't think lashing out with his tongue is becoming of a mayor and it's all too common for Mr Williams.

"It's not constructive, it's not helpful and it's not working for the city."

- NZ Herald

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