Potty-mouth report stuns Mayor Shadbolt

By Hamish McNeilly

Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt
File photo
Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt File photo

A southern council has gone into damage control after publishing a list of offensive words in a community board agenda.

The Invercargill City Council published 88 pages of the latest Bluff Community Board agenda on Wednesday, including a 28-page report from a disgruntled board member on "Board member conduct''.

That report, obtained by the Otago Daily Times, includes a page containing eleven profanities of which this newspaper will only publish two - "damn'' and "hell''.

Mayor Tim Shadbolt said never in his more than two decades as a mayor had he seen such a report, and the council, as printer and publisher, would have to "take our share of the responsibility''.

"It is just so extreme, and seems so unbelievable that, with the systems we have in place at the moment, that can slip through the net.''

Mr Shadbolt said council and councillors would be "highly embarrassed over what's happened'', and would work to ensure it never happened again.

Initial questions to the council were referred to acting chief executive Dean Johnston who declined to answer specific questions.

"The item in question has now been placed in public-excluded and the matters you have raised below and any discussion will be privileged," he said.

He confirmed the report would be reissued, and that the offending report was removed from the council's website yesterday.

The Bluff-based author of the report entitled A history of events at the Bluff Community Board, Brent Procter, detailed the ongoing spat between the board and fellow board member Charlie Te Au, enclosing emails, media coverage and a list of profanities.

An attached email from Mr Procter to Mr Te Au said: "If you won't observe common courtesy and desist from emailing me I'll make a police complaint against you under the Harassment Act."

In his report Mr Procter included a list of profanities and their definitions, after alleging Mr Te Au swore at him at a board meeting earlier this month.

That matter was to be discussed at the board's next meeting on October 31.

When contacted tonight Mr Procter said the council had "corrected" the issue by transferring the item to the meeting's public-excluded section.

Because it was in public-excluded, he was unable to comment further, he said.

Mr Te Au said he was uncomfortable with some of those words and their definitions, and wanted whoever allowed their publication to apologise to those offended.

"I think a public apology may be required to anyone who downloaded this from the council," he said.

On Wednesday he received a copy of the report in the mail and contacted council officials, including the acting chief executive and deputy mayor to suggest they pull the offending content from the council's website.

"There must be checks and balances somewhere. Somebody must have signed it off for it to be printed for the agenda," the Bluff-based process worker said.

Mr Procter was entitled to his view, and the pair "had differing personalities", Mr Te Au said.

Chairwoman Jan Mitchell said: "The Bluff Community Board always has worked well together and continues to work positively within the community but there are personality differences with some members that are proving to be a problem."


- Otago Daily Times

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