Otago Daily Times

Mayor’s deputy call can be fought: aca­demic

- LAURA SMITH and ABBEY PALMER Snakes · Animals · Wildlife · Invercargill · Victoria University in the University of Toronto · Wellington, New Zealand · Department of Internal Affairs

AMID talk from Mayor Sir Tim Shad­bolt of ‘‘snakes in the grass’’ try­ing to un­der­mine him, a le­gal aca­demic says coun­cil­lors could fight his de­ci­sion on who should be his deputy.

Sir Tim an­nounced he had se­lected Nobby Clark as his new deputy fol­low­ing Toni Bid­dle’s res­ig­na­tion from the Invercargi­ll City Coun­cil.

Victoria Uni­ver­sity of Welling­ton as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of law Dean Knight said may­ors had the power to ap­point deputies with­out the de­ci­sion be­ing voted on or rat­i­fied by other mem­bers of the coun­cil.

How­ever, coun­cils re­tained the power to re­move a deputy mayor by a ma­jor­ity vote at a spe­cially called meet­ing.

‘‘If a deputy mayor was re­moved, then the mayor again has the power to ap­point. And we may have to go around again.’’

No coun­cil­lors con­tacted yes­ter­day said they op­posed the choice. Cr Ian Pot­tinger said: ‘‘It’s Tim’s choice — it’s his call.’’

How­ever, a so­cial me­dia post by Sir Tim on Mon­day evening sug­gested not all were happy.

He posted a screenshot of an email he re­ceived with the sub­ject line: ‘‘snakes in the grass’’.

The email anony­mously in­formed the mayor of a con­ver­sa­tion over­heard be­tween ‘‘two prom­i­nent coun­cil­lors’’ about his choice of deputy mayor.

‘‘I would sug­gest you may need to watch your back . . . It sounded sus­pi­ciously like a plot to sup­port your de­ci­sion in pub­lic while un­der­min­ing it from the shad­ows.’’

None of the coun­cil­lors con­tacted knew about any such plots.

Cr Lind­say Ab­bott said he would not con­done such scul­dug­gery.

‘‘I have no idea [who the coun­cil­lors were], but they would get both bar­rels from me if it was true and I knew who it was.’’

When asked if he thought there was a plot to un­der­mine the mayor, Cr Pot­tinger said no.

‘‘No, I think he has been read­ing too many Shakespear­e scripts.

‘‘We’re there to do a job — it’s amaz­ing how peo­ple are imag­in­ing fac­tions, tox­i­c­ity and ev­ery­thing. I’ve been on there 10 years now and this term is no dif­fer­ent to any other,’’ Cr Pot­tinger said.

It had been sen­sa­tion­alised in the me­dia, he said.

‘‘All these opin­ions have hit the pa­per . . . We’ve filled out re­ports to the DIA [Depart­ment of In­ter­nal Af­fairs] and I’ve listed an en­tire ac­count of the me­dia’s cov­er­age of this en­tire thing and listed the ac­tual sub­stan­tive na­ture of what was in­volved. Is it ma­jor or is it peo­ple just un­happy they didn’t get their way?’’

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