Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's education and lifestyle reporter.

Councillor makes formal complaint

FILE
FILE

A statement made by Rotorua's deputy mayor has been described as "undeniably aggressive, libellous and derogatory" by one of the councillors it was aimed at.

Councillor Rob Kent has lodged a formal complaint against deputy mayor Dave Donaldson on the grounds comments he made in a media release sent out by the council breached the council's code of conduct.

And he said he may yet take the matter to the auditor-general and Electoral Office.

The release in question was issued Wednesday last week after a Rotorua Daily Post article in which Mr Kent and fellow councillors Mike McVicker and Peter Bentley said they would not attend a full council meeting, as most agenda items were confidential.

The meeting, set to take place on May 26, did not have the minimum seven councillors to meet quorum and was postponed. It was held this week with the three councillors attending.

Mr Donaldson said in the media release last week he believed Rotorua's interests were being compromised by the trio's decision.

In his complaint sent to council chief executive Geoff Williams, Mr Kent singled out a paragraph from the media release where Mr Donaldson stated: "I am appalled by what I have read in the paper today from some elected officials who are happy to keep their head in the public trough but not partake in the business. They should resign now and take their chances in the upcoming elections."

Mr Kent said in his opinion: "This statement is undeniably aggressive, libellous,
derogatory, and deliberately intended to influence the outcome of the coming elections with regard to sitting councillors McVicker and Bentley, and to myself with respect to my upcoming mayoral candidacy".

Mr Kent said while elected members were free to express personal views in the media, at any time, this was required to comply with the code of conduct and in his opinion in this instance it ''clearly does not".

It was also his opinion that any such personal view of a councillor should not be distributed in the form of an official press release, which he believed inferred the views were those of council, he said.

This was, in his opinion, a ''misuse of council resources" and breach of the code of conduct.

Mr Kent said he was awaiting a response from the chief executive before deciding whether to lodge his complaint with the auditor-general and Electoral Office.

Mr Williams confirmed he had received the complaint and told the Rotorua Daily Post Mr Kent had raised a number of issues and answering the complaint was not straight forward.

He said due to the complaint's complexity he had decided to seek an external opinion before responding to Mr Kent.

Mr Donaldson said he was aware of Mr Kent's complaint and had no comment to make.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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