Michael Feyen

A spate of councillors behaving badly

With news this week of Hamilton City Councillor Mark Bunting's lewd messages on social media to a journalist, and Horowhenua District's Mayor Michael Feyen triggering a walkout during a council meeting, it occurred to me that we've had a rash of local government representatives behaving (or alleged to have) badly.

The first incident that pops to mind is that of Kāpiti Coast District Councillor David Scott, who was charged with indecent assault, having allegedly pressed himself up against a female council staff member. Councillor Scott is due to go on trial for this in December.

I personally had a run in with Hamilton City Councillor Dave Macpherson, whose nasty and sexually explicit tweets prompted me to lodge a code of conduct complaint with the Hamilton City Council. I won't link to the tweet because it's really not something any elected representative should ever think is appropriate to tweet, and it's pretty disgusting to read. But you can read the Council's response to my code of conduct complaint below.

Then it emerged that another Hamilton City Councillor - Mark Bunting - had sent a lewd joke to journalist Angela Cuming (warning offensive content). Hamilton City Council seems to have a problem with its culture as Councillor Angela O'Leary has highlighted that there's been an ongoing problem with councillors making offensive comments.

And then there's Horowhenua's Michael Feyen. I'm not quite sure where to start with this, as basically the man has been courting controversy for a long time, and has generated a fair amount of it in the short time he's been mayor. Earlier this year was the battle over Feyen's choice for Deputy Mayor that resulting in a running battle between the mayor and councillors, while the most recent was a mass walkout of councillors over Feyen's handling of a council meeting.

Mayor Feyen has indicated he wants to call in the assistance of the Local Government Minister, but I'd wager that will be a move that blows up in his face quite spectacularly. The old rumour mill suggests that Feyen's councillors haven't yet deployed the nuclear option against him yet. Stay tuned...

Suffice to say, I haven't even remotely covered off all the examples of local government representatives behaving badly, and this is before we start to look at the dysfunctional nature of more than a few of our District Health Boards too.