Power play foiled by arrest

By Joanne Carroll

Michael Williams
Michael Williams

A local politician from a leafy, well-to-do village has been charged with drink-driving and refusing to accompany a police officer.

Michael Williams, a chartered accountant and the Howick Local Board chairman, faces a defended hearing at the Manukau District Court on March 1.

Williams was charged after the roadside incident in May but has kept the matter from his board members amid his bid to replace deputy chairwoman Adele White, who is also a senior police constable.

Williams is charged with being more than twice the legal limit with a reading of 169 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood, and refusing to accompany a police officer in Auckland on May 10.

The stoush between Williams and his deputy has drawn the National MP for the area, Jami-Lee Ross, into posting an online petition backing White.

Ross' wife, Lucy Schwaner, is also a board member.

Ross and Williams ran together in the Citizens and Ratepayers Team for the 2010 local election.

Ross yesterday told the Herald on Sunday the charges against Williams gave "some new context to his attempt to oust a well-known and respected senior constable".

He said he supported White, who he believed had been targeted unfairly by Williams' autocratic style of leadership.

At his home yesterday, Williams told the Herald on Sunday he was advised by his legal counsel not to comment.

An online letter signed by Williams and four other board members says he and White are "often diametrically opposed" and he believes she does not have enough time for the job.

"I wanted to give Adele the opportunity to allow this important change to occur by moving aside quietly and with dignity, and to this end I took her aside privately and asked her to resign. Adele has chosen not to resign," he wrote.

The letter was signed by member Steve Udy who yesterday said he had not been aware of Williams' charges.

"What I would say is he has been a little bit silly but that has nothing to do with Adele not being the right person for the job. He may have a Caesar complex but we have to live with that," he said.

Lucy Schwaner said she could not understand why Williams was trying to demote White. " I don't know where he's coming from. Adele has served her community well," she said.

She said she was shocked to hear about the charges.

"If those charges are proved, I don't think he should hold his position as chair. I don't think that is suitable for a person in his position," she said.

- Herald on Sunday

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