Marking their cards
Today’s edition includes our mid-term report on Porirua City councillors’ performance.
Going by the reaction to our assessment in 2010, it is likely to be a talking point in the community.
The response to those initial ‘‘report cards’’ indicated readers’ welcomed them, though I recall a few people felt them mean-spirited or juvenile.
We are not trying to shame people who have put up their hand to serve their community, but we do retain the belief that those who stand for public office and pull a wage from ratepayers’ money should be scrutinised. We also want to generate interest in local politics and improve voter turnout.
We did our best to ensure our independent panel of 10 community members was balanced; geographically, culturally and politically – with representation from key sectors such as business, arts, sport and education. We also rectified a previous oversight by including a youth voice.
I was impressed by the diligence of the panelists. If they did not feel they had reasonable knowledge of a councillor they did not assess them, and for those they did, they did not always feel capable of grading every category. This meant for some councillors only six assessments were used to form average scores – and in three of the five criteria we had only four assessments for Faafoi Seiuli – hardly comprehensive and not ideal. But one could also argue that a lack of recognition by so many panellists says something in itself.
I was surprised by the outstanding grades the majority of first-term councillors received and my confidence in the assessments was comforted by how comparable the scores of seasoned representatives were to their 2010 evaluation – which shared only one panelist.
Though the new panel generally scored the council more generously – all bar two recorded higher overall scores than in 2010 – the pecking order is consistent, with no wild fluctuations.
Mayor Nick Leggett – who the panel remarkably awarded 495 points of the 500 available to him – Euon Murrell and Denys Latham again scored very highly, and Litea Ah Hoi and Liz Kelly polarised another panel. Their high and low assessments cancelled each other out, again positioning them back in the pack with Sue Dow.
Tim Sheppard and Ken Douglas did receive noticeably higher scores from the new panel, though the latter’s overall positioning was the same as 2010 due to the stellar scores of rookies ’Ana Coffey, Anita Baker and Bronwyn Kropp.
Study the evaluation or dismiss it, it’s all food for thought going into the 2013 elections, particularly as each ward is expected to be reduced by one seat. Readers can be assured we will assemble another panel before then.
Matthew Dallas, Editor