A Waikato regional councillor found guilty of breaching the council's code of conduct twice in two weeks apologised in a tongue-and-cheek manner on an online forum - deliberately saying sorry to the public for the council's use of 1080 poison rather than those he offended.
Clyde Graf, who represents Thames-Coromandel, was ordered to make written apologies after two complaints were upheld relating to his communication he made about the council's use of the 1080 poison. He was also sanctioned and offered mentoring and training.
However Graf told the Herald nothing in the information he sent out what was incorrect and he felt the code of conduct could sometimes be used against councillors if they did not share the same view.
Waikato Regional Council did a u-turn on Monday night after initially refusing to name the councillor at fault, but the Herald can confirm it was Graf who published the offending article and the subsequent apologies on public forum Tasmanian Times, which he regularly contributes to.
Council chair Paula Southgate also slammed the move by council staff to keep his name a secret saying she believes the council should be transparent about these matters.
The first complaint about Graf was made by Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board who took issue against Graf's article titled "Maori Trust Boards Give Tick to Drop 1080 Poison Directly into Water".
The outspoken anti-1080 campaigner then issued an apology on the same site defending a councillor's right to challenge council. "I believe it's important for councillors to ask questions and raise concerns if they believe there are shortfalls in information-sharing and consultation processes - and it's important that this can happen without the prospect of them losing their committee chair or committee membership."
However Graf, who represents Thames-Coromandel, also said he stood by the fact that the information in the original article which he had been made to apologise for was correct.
A second apology was published three weeks later after fellow regional councillor Lois Livingston made a formal complaint about Graf using council resources - understood to be his council computer - to write a letter to the district's mayors and councillors apologising about the consultation process carried out for the 35-year 1080 poison resource consent application.
In his lengthy apology he said he was sorry about the harm 1080 poison was doing and for the inaccurate consultation process carried out by council.
"However, my apology is not to Waikato Regional Council, but to the people of the Waikato Region. It is our council that issues the resource consents that permit these atrocities to take place on a weekly basis," the post said.
Southgate said the breaches were around Graf not making it clear it was his personal view and not one of councils. She had no issue with Graf advocating against 1080 as well as he was transparent about it.
"The complaint is actually really really quite simple. It's about the use of of his council title - in other words the chair of the environmental performance committee - and the use of council's website and email addresses and things to share views with others that doesn't represent the formal view of council."
The investigation into Graf's two complaints cost ratepayers $9000.
Council decides to "name and shame" councillors
Meanwhile the Waikato Regional Council has backtracked on its decision not to name councillors who have breached the councils code of conduct - now releasing all the names and reasons for the complaints.
Along with Graf, councillors Livingston, Tipa Mahuta and Stuart Husband have also been on the receiving end of complaints - with half of the complaints laid by fellow councillors.
Mahuta was called out by Theresa Stark for "making an improper comment" and this was resolved with the help of the chair and chief executive.
Peter Buckley complained Livingston made a false accusation and the matter was settled after she was served a reminder by the chair about the need to maintain respectful relationships with other elected members.
Meanwhile a complaint from a member of the public about inappropriate behaviour from Stuart Husband was investigated and dismissed. Similarly was one made against Graf earlier in the term.
Waikato Regional Council chief executive Vaughan Payne defended the council's earlier stance not to name and shame councillors, but said those reasons were "no longer relevant or outweighed by the need to be transparent".
Southgate said she did not think code of complaints should be handled by elected members and supported a process independent of the council. She said it interfered with more pressing council matters.
The complaints related from the start of the three-year council term in October 2013 until May 2016.