Excuses are not enough

By Ross Pringle

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Apologies to readers if something about yesterday's paper seemed familiar.

To paraphrase that classic Yogi Berra line, yesterday's report into council attendance was just like deja vu all over again. A different year, similar statistics and some of the same tired old excuses put up by those who don't bother going to meetings.

Strange too how it is the same names cropping up for non-attendance. There is a gulf between most of the councillors, whose attendance ranges from 100 per cent down to an acceptable 84 per cent and Michael Laws and Clive Solomon on 57 and 50 per cent respectively. And that's just for the 44 full council meetings so far this term.

The explanations put forward for the significant absences look more like diversionary tactics. And to argue the missed meetings have no merit doesn't take into account the times material has to be revisited because certain elected members did not attend committee meetings or workshops.

Mr Laws, in particular, protests about the Chronicle's interest in attendance, arguing that it does not indicate the value a councillor brings to the role.

To a degree he is right, and it would be unfair not to acknowledge the efforts by him and others to preserve maternity services and reject the placement of Stewart Murray Wilson here.

Cynics might argue that those issues merely provided a stage for grandstanding and were battles chosen less on the basis of serving the community and more to gain political mileage.

Meeting attendance is one means we have to measure the effectiveness of our councillors, or at least their desire to get involved and serve the community that elected them to office. Attending meetings may not be all that being a councillor involves, but it is nevertheless an integral part of what that community service entails.

Feedback: editor@wanganuichronicle.co.nz

- Wanganui Chronicle

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