Northland regional councillor Mike Finlayson has not been asked to apologise for statements that prompted complaints that he had breached the council's code of conduct, and has not been punished (Finlayson in breach of council code, June 20).
Cr Finlayson (Te Hiku) spent more than an hour outside the meeting room last week while the council discussed the report by an independent investigator, barrister and mediator Paul Sills, into the complaints, with recommendations including that he apologise to the complainants and take care to separate his views from those of the council.
Finlayson, who described the complaints as "part of a concerted political campaign to silence an elected official (who was) contesting their position," had defended his stance since making, and drinking, a cup of tea using water from a stream in an area where 1080 had been dropped in September last year.
Before being asked to leave the meeting, he outlined his environmental advocacy role as a private individual and elected NRC member, saying he saw no reason to abandon those values.
The council resolved not to require him to apologise to the Far North anti-1080 campaigners who had taken his comments personally. He had claimed that he was not aiming at anyone in particular when he wrote in the 'Northland Age' that some concerned people had been "hijacked by the type of emotive (1080) propaganda that would make Goebbels proud."
Mr Sills had already dismissed a complaint that he had breached health and safety legislation by drinking the water to prove it was clear of 1080, while other recommendations, including that the council remind him in writing that he needed to separate his personal and council opinions, were rejected, on the basis that if such a letter was required it should go to all elected members.
CEO Malcolm Nicolson said council policy allowed representatives to express personal opinions as long as they make it clear that those opinions were not the council's. He also noted Cr Finlayson had articulated a personal view because the council did not have 1080 policy, which was his fault.
To the obvious dismay of the complainants, who were in the public gallery, the council then agreed to develop a policy.
Cr Finlayson said the complaints process had been stressful.
"Drinking that water was a response to a challenge that came from anti-1080 people," he said.
"I knew the water testing had come back clear, and I wanted to show that the narrative that 1080 poisons water is a false narrative. I'd also like to make the point that I never personally attacked people, but I have been personally attacked, and called a liar, among other things."
Meanwhile council chairman Bill Shepherd declined a request from one of the complainants to speak, prompting the claim that they had been denied acknowledgement and respect, despite Mr Sills' finding that Cr Finlayson had breached four sections of the code of conduct.
"Naturally we are disappointed that the NRC have essentially ignored the findings and recommendations, thus demonstrating a real lack of accountability," she said.
"While Cr Finlayson was allowed to write a lengthy rebuttal to the investigator's report, and allowed to speak at the meeting before the deliberation, (we) were not given any such opportunity to respond to the report. It created a climate of bias and left us feeling frustrated, unheard and disrespected."