Rachel Sanson for Nelson

To correct the record....
Code of Conduct Complaint
Nelson City Council's Chief Executive (CE) lodged a code of conduct complaint against me in October 2021. This was communicated to me via email by the Mayor. Neither the CE nor the Mayor had a conversation or raised any concerns with me, about the complaint matters in the year prior to me receiving this complaint. Neither have met with me since to discuss matters.

In my view, the Code of Conduct complaint against me was targeted. In June this year, I made a complaint to the Human Rights Commission, for discrimination on the basis of political opinion. This complaint was accepted by the HRC, and council was invited to participate in HRC mediation. Unfortunately council declined this invitation.

Due to council oversight in not appointing a code of conduct panel at the start of the triennium, an investigator was not appointed until February 2022. The investigator then conducted interviews with the CE and I only, in April and May, and completed his final report in June.

Council scheduled this to be heard in a public livestreamed council meeting on 11 August 2022. The CE Complaint was included in the meeting agenda, alongside the report from the investigator. Despite requesting that my response to the CE Complaint also be included in this report, it was omitted. My full response to the CE Complaint can be viewed here. My speech in the meeting can be read here, or watched here.

Some statements made by participants in the meeting were not factually correct, and were quoted in news reports. I am taking this opportunity to correct the record.

Mr Dougherty, CE
Statements from the meeting attributed to Mr Dougherty:

"He said he tried to discuss Sanson's behaviour with her directly on several occasions, but lost faith after she "launched an attack" on his staff during a committee meeting a week after their last meeting in September 2020." RNZ article

"Dougherty said he had met with Sanson "two or three times" in her first year at council and gave her advice. But two days after their last meeting she "launched an attack on my staff and suggested I had breached my KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)", after which he concluded she was not meeting him in good faith and so put a stop to the meetings." Stuff article

The evidential background does not support the "launch an attack" and "breach my KPIs" statements as outlined in my response to this matter in the complaint (which can be read here).

In summary, this matter centres around a Forestry Advisory (FA) Group decision to replant Marsden Block 42.06 in pine despite it being identified as 'to be considered for alternative landuse' (potentially replanting in natives). I had respectfully and carefully raised queries about this decision, between May 2020 and September 2020. Working with staff, who were helpful and cognisant of my concerns, to navigate council process, and try to bring this back to the FA Group. There was a reference to this block in the 29 Sep 2020 meeting agenda, pgs 123 & 124 . I asked the Chair, external appointee Mr Murray (not a staff member) if the decision on this block could be revisited (I had been advised by GM Infrastructure that it was the Chair's discretion). I anticipated I would need to provide sound reasoning for the basis on which the initial decision could be reviewed, and referenced the concerns which I had been raising (which all FA Group members were aware of), I also referenced the Local Government Act requirement to provide sufficient information to elected members for decision making, and that there was even a reference to this need in the CE KPIs, which were available online on Council's public website. The CE was not in the meeting, and I made no comment about him not meeting his KPIs, nor any criticism of staff whatsoever. However, the Mayor stopped the meeting, left the room, and returned quite a while later (about 20 minutes) with the CE in tow, and told him in front of the room, that I had criticised him for not meeting his KPIs. This was simply untrue, but I was not given an opportunity to speak or correct the record. However, there were members of the public in the room, and they have written witness statements confirming the facts of the meeting (available on request).
Mayor Reese
Statements from the meeting attributed to Mayor Reese:

"I've heard criticism to say 'where is the mentoring, where is the guidance?' I can look back through my emails and find many, many offers of mentoring, but you can only mentor if someone is prepared to listen." Stuff article

The evidential background does not support the statement above. I had in fact spent months seeking guidance, support and had requested mediation with the Mayor, in November 2020 (review details here).

When an offer of a mentor was suggested (in a letter from the CE, not an email from the Mayor. I have been unable to locate an email from the Mayor offering a mentor.), I responded that I would welcome this. But nothing was ever provided. In the absence of follow-through, I sought out my own mentors, two women elected members from other councils who had experience in navigating similar issues to those I was facing.
My speech (cued below)
Authorised by: Rachel Sanson