Bid for board trans­parency lost

Rodney Times - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JAY BOREHAM

The door for bet­ter trans­parency at the Hibis­cus and Bays Lo­cal Board peeked open briefly at its last meet­ing, but was quickly slammed shut again.

Board mem­ber David Cooper moved to al­low res­i­dents to at­tend the board’s work­shops. This was of­ten where a lot of de­ci­sions were determined ahead of of­fi­cial busi­ness meet­ings, he said.

‘‘For some time now I have felt very un­com­fort­able, al­most em­bar­rassed, at the fact we have closed door work­shops,’’ he said.

A re­port from the coun­cil’s le­gal de­part­ment showed con­cern for some of the board’s prac­tices and gave them the op­tion to al­low res­i­dents at work­shops, but ex­clude them from con­fi­den­tial mat­ters, he said.

Cooper found it ironic peo­ple were ex­cluded when mem­ber’s cam­paign slo­gans were Peo­ple and Pen­link First or Peo­ple Over Pol­i­tics.

‘‘Thou­sands of peo­ple chose us to act in their in­ter­ests when they voted for us and they have a right to know what we do,’’ Cooper said.

Mem­ber Caitlin Wat­son sup­ported the mo­tion and said con­stituents have a right to in­volved in the de­ci­sion mak­ing process. If she was a mem­ber of the public, she would be star­tled at the speed at which some of the board’s busi­ness meet­ings ran, she said.

‘‘Sim­ply be­cause dis­cus­sions have al­ready taken place be­hind closed doors in our work­shops,’’ Wat­son said.

But Julia Parfitt and Gary Holmes didn’t agree.

Holmes said de­ci­sions weren’t made at work­shops, but op­tions were ex­plored and free and frank dis­cus­sions held.

Parfitt said she wasn’t against act­ing in a closed way and it was the stan­dard prac­tice of lo­cal board and coun­cil work­shops.

The ben­e­fit was a chance to get an un­der­stand­ing of all the op­tions and test and ex­plore ideas with­out set­ting ex­pec­ta­tions for the public, she said.

But Parfitt ad­mit­ted work­shop re­ports needed more de­tail so peo­ple un­der­stood what op­tions were ex­plored.

Board mem­bers were split when vot­ing on the mo­tion. Cooper, Caitlin Wat­son, Vicki Wat­son and Mike Wil­liamson voted for, while Parfitt, Holmes, Christina Bet­tany and Janet Fitzger­ald voted against. As chair­woman Parfitt made a sec­ond cast­ing vote to break the split and voted against the mo­tion a sec­ond time.

The board’s de­ci­sion was split so chair­woman Julia Parfitt’s cast­ing vote against the mo­tion tipped the bal­ance.

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