A retiring city councillor has fired parting shots at some colleagues with a brutal performance ranking -- two weeks from polling day.
Max Mason's scores and comments about fellow councillors were published in the Bay of Plenty Times on Friday in a full-page advert taken out by the Campaign for Better Council Governance.
Campaign chairman Alan Withy told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend the group had neither taken donations from candidates nor given donations to candidates.
But the councillor given the highest score in the advert has admitted he knew Mason was working on it in advance and encouraged people to donate to the campaign to help pay for the ad.
Larry Baldock - who Mason scored 9/10 - said for the last three elections he had been "encouraging business people to get behind a campaign to try and improve the quality of councillors".
"If that's led to them making donations to this, then yes I have been involved to that extent," Baldock said.
Baldock, endorsed on his election materials by Mason, said the opinions were Mason's own.
Baldock did not believe there was anything wrong with his own actions. He was not a member of the campaign.
"I don't see any conflict. The goal is to get good people elected to the council.
"It's not an ad promoting me, it's Max's assessment."
Bella Vista saga: The curious case of the missing computer server
What mayoral hopefuls would do with your hard-earned cash
Tauranga mayoral contenders on city's transport woes
"Everyone will make up their own mind."
Baldock said the ranking he received was "a little too generous".
Mason, stepping down after serving one three-year term, scored the performance of all colleagues seeking re-election.
Scores ranged from 9/10 for Baldock to a 4/10 for Bill Grainger and John Robson.
Mason also ranked himself with 5/10. Strengths included being "pleasant and personable". Weaknesses included being "too collegial" and "not politically minded enough".
Comments made by Mason in the advert included that Mayor Greg Brownless was ''very hard working'' but ''lacks strategic perspective''.
He expressed the view Rick Curach had ''many years in Local Government'' but made ''too many knee-jerk amendments apparently on a whim, in debates''.
Steve Morris ''works hard for his constituency'' but was ''occasionally immature'' while John Robson ''had some business consultancy experience years ago in the UK'' but ''in debates he frequently and tediously repeats his history, experience and superiority''.
Catherine Stewart, also stepping down this year along with councillor Leanne Brown, said it was strange Mason ranked himself but not the two women.
The Bay of Plenty Times Weekend contacted all councillors mentioned in Mason's piece for comment.
Robson had no comment, while Brownless, deputy mayor Kelvin Clout and Curach responded in writing.
Brownless - scored 5/10 - said: "Everyone is entitled to their opinion, however, it's certainly not an independent rating. In a democracy voters are the judge."
Clout - scored 7/10 - said Mason's assessment of him was "fair and accurate". He agreed he could be "too nice" but it was possible to be nice and still be an effective leader.
Curach - scored 5/10 - said: "It's no surprise, given [Mason's] very apparent bias for his voting block around the council table." He later asked to retract the comment.
The others did not respond by deadline.
Mason was not able to be reached for comment yesterday.
He has been in Australia since the start of this month, cycling from Adelaide to Darwin and dialling into council meetings over the phone.
Withy, of the Campaign for Better Council Governance, said Mason prepared his ranking from Australia, including his self-ranking.
"It showed the man wasn't just firing shots at everybody else, he was also prepared to self-evaluate."
Withy, who said he had known Mason a long time, said he heard Mason was preparing the piece and asked to use it in the ad.
The ad was authorised by the campaign, which also provided an email address.
Tauranga electoral officer Warwick Lampp said the ad did not fall under the definition of an election ad as - from what he could see - it was not from a candidate nor promoting anyone for election.
Therefore it did not breach any election advertising rules.
What is the Campaign for Better Council Governance?
The group has a Facebook page created on September 4 but a Google search found no other web presence.
The Facebook page lists one team member, Murray Maunder - who owns a video production company - and features video interviews with Tauranga City Council election candidates.
The campaign group's chairman is Alan Withy, a business mentor, independent mediator and Resource Management Act commissioner.
He said the group formed about a month ago, a decision significantly driven by the council's handling of the 11 Mission St decision .
The campaign had four board members - himself and Maunder along with two others who did not want to be named publicly. It had no formal membership.
The Bay of Plenty Times independently confirmed the campaign's secretary is former Bethlehem College principal Graeme Preston.
Withy said the group was a "small unincorporated society of concerned citizens who want to see better governance that has been evident of recent times in City Hall".
He said the campaign was funded by "donations from friends and people who share our goals."
The campaign was surveying candidates about their experience, positions and values and intended to analyse the results alongside the Maunder's interviews.
Based on that data, it may choose to back particular candidates.