Letter to the Editor - from Jo Malcolm

Good Citizen's Awards - what a disgrace!

Having been so dismayed by the Waitemata Local Board’s recent decision not to recognise Community Advocate Gael Baldock with a Good Citizen’s award (notwithstanding she received over 19 nominations), I decided to seek further clarification and to do so under LGOMIA.

For those of you who don’t know LGOIMA (like the OIA) is one of the pillars of our democracy. I strongly recommend you become familiar with it if you are ever fighting the good fight against the Council.

From the LGOIMA request, what I can tell you is this.
1. Gael met all criteria set out in the standard and did so in a comprehensive, sustained and impressive way.
2. Gael achieved more nominations than any other, by some margin.
3. This is the second year in a row she has been snubbed in this way.
4. Of the 20 Nominees only 3 were not awarded a Good Citizen award’s and one of those was because they had been acknowledged previously. One was Gael and other one was someone Gael had herself nominated.
5. When asked if the criteria were consistent this year the answer was “Yes, it is consistent across previous awards with minor changes where required.” One can only assume those minor changes were to exclude Gael.
6. When asked what the reasons were for declining Gael were the official answer was:

The panel members deliberated on each nomination to the best of their abilities. The independent panel members stepped back from this specific discussion. (What!! They removed the independent panel members!) The panel was unable to reach a decision on the granting of an award to this nominee.

Subsequently, the recommendation from local board panel members was to put this nomination request back to the full local board membership for further consideration, and the majority view determined an award should not be given.”

The critical point here is that City Vision control the Board through Anahera Rawiri, Richard Northey and Alex Bonham along with Chair Gen Sage (who crossed the floor to secure the title and salary of Chair), were those who voted against. The very same who Gael regularly holds to account on behalf of the community.

When I asked board member Alex Bonham why Gael was not awarded a Good Citizen award she responded, “Gael works extremely hard, but it is totally inappropriate to single out political reporters for an award. It is fraught with conflict. Similar issues applied to other nominees who did not get awards.”

Really? Hold my beer. How many of the nominees were political reporters? Precisely none.

How is a community (unpaid) advocate who writes the odd article for the Ponsonby News a “political reporter”? She is not.

And none of the unsuccessful nominees were declined for a similar reason. Did member Bonham lie to me to protect herself and her colleagues? It would appear so.

But wait – it gets worse. No less than four of the award winners have written or regularly write opinion pieces and advocate for their communities in the very same way Gael does, through the media. In fact, it would appear one recipient is a very active member of the Green Party. Fraught with conflict – Alex? Seriously?

So lovely local community when it comes to Good Citizen’s judge for yourself.

Oh, and that particular little fiasco, according to the LGOIMA cost you, the ratepayer $5,000. Remember that when you get round to voting in the 2025 Local Body elections. #greenpartynz

It is long overdue that the CEO of Council, haul the Chair of her dysfunctional Board into to his office, for a “please explain” meeting and some Governance 101 training.

And Alex Bonham and her City Vision colleagues owe quite the apology to Gael and to the community for their skull duggery and for disrespecting all past, present and future award winners.

What a disgrace!

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Published: April 2024