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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Thursday is Timmsday

We meet on Thursday in the boardroom at ES (the public are welcome - please join us for what will be a fascinating look into how local politicians operate. Or you could find some wet paint and watch that dry :-) to thrash out the Timms affair. Already behind the scenes, there's been plenty of thrashing. Most of the action has been around the manner in which this meeting has been "shaped" by Acting Chairman Nicol Horrell and his supporters. Concern around the choice of "confidence" as the motion to be put has already been expressed in the media. Legal opinion said that the use of a motion of confidence is unprecedented in local body politics - they could find no previous case to base their opinion on. Votes of "no confidence" were the usual practice. Acting chairman Horrell said he chose a confidence motion because "it would be improper" for him to move a vote of no confidence in Ali Timms. I'm unsure how that could be, given that it's normal practice in other councils.
The agenda for the meeting provided another surprising aspect to the affair. It paints a rosy picture of our chairman and her attainments, but doesn't mention her fall from grace, described as "unacceptable" and given the council's stamp of "extreme disapproval", at all. In it, we read that Ms Timms has "been a hardworking and effective chairman" and that the meeting  "gives the council the opportunity to consider Ali's performance as chair since the last election", which all sounds very positive, doesn't it.
Latest in this series of "developments" is the news that Ms Timms will vote on the motion of "confidence" herself. At first hearing, this sounds ludicrous. Bias is something councillors are constantly challenged to avoid having and it's impossible to see how Ms Timms cannot be 100% biased when it comes to a vote to establish confidence in herself. Were she not intending to vote for herself, she'd have stood down by now, saving the council a good deal of money and time. It may be usual practice for someone in this position to vote I don't know, but it sure smells funny to me. I suspect there will be many Southland people, those interested in this democratic process anyway, who find that more than just a little curious. We'll see if there is any reaction following the drama of the day.
The individual councillors will each be presenting their view of Ms Timms "performance" and I'm certain there will be strong opinions expressed. It all comes down though, to the numbers. If Ms Timms can marshal 6 votes in her favour, then add her own, the motion of confidence will be passed.
I'm certain she will have been wearing out the leather on the bottom of her stylish shoes in the pursuit of support from many of the councillors, but I've not had her knocking at my door.
Perhaps she's taking my support for granted :-)
*Update - yes, legal opinion is that a person can indeed vote on a motion of confidence, even if it's in them selves, a matter of natural justice I've learned and I'm a supporter of that, that's for sure!
*Update on the update - not so, after looking more closely at the reply. The right to hear and be heard is covered by natural justice, but not the right to vote. That's the arguable aspect of this whole affair. You might think that it is unseemly to vote for yourself, if that vote was a deciding one. There are people watching this unfold with great interest.

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