The Taxpayers’ Union is stunned a Hamilton City Councillor is using inflated official information costs to pursue ‘utu’ on the Union for a series of exposés relating to the Council.
Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams said:
“There is clearly something fishy going on here. Spending sixty one thousand dollars to answer some questions suggests there is something fundamentally wrong with the Council’s information systems. One request – asking for the time 51 council officials spent creating lego ducks – apparently cost more than $1,000 to answer, even though the details we sought were ultimately withheld. That story was featured by RNZ’s Afternoon programme, and would have, rightly, embarrassed the Council.”
“Talking on Newstalk ZB this morning, Councillor Macpherson argued that the Taxpayers’ Union should simply ask for information by picking up the phone. But in the case of the lego ducks, we did just that – only to be told to put the request in writing!”
“Of course councils have an incentive to inflate their reported costs for responding to information requests they don’t like answering. If, however, they’re telling the truth, that's an even bigger scandal: they're spending absurd amounts on spindoctors to sanitise their information releases.”
“There is also a constitutional convention that public sector organisations do not calculate the costs of preparing responses to information requests or Parliamentary questions. There is also usually a practice of telling concerned parties when information is about to be released. Strangely, that didn’t happen here, even though it was information that singled out a specific organisation."
“The way these conventions have been ignored, and how this information was released – via a far-left blog with a Councillor name-calling his political opponents – calls into question the integrity of the Council and this particular Councillor.”
writing to the Council’s CEO to seek a meeting about these