Dr Michael Bassett

Dr Michael Bassett

Newspaper Columns

Warren Flaunty and his local boards

In this morning's Herald on page A6 is the story of Warren Flaunty, a West Auckland pharmacist, who on 9 October managed to get himself elected to no fewer than three local boards, plus a licensing trust and a district health board. It now transpires that Mr Flaunty can't be at all three swearings-in because there is a time and date conflict. Asked why he doesn't drop at least one of his local boards because he can't claim to be a "local" in three different locations, Flaunty claims that to resign anything at this stage would cause an expensive by-election. Pity he didn't think about this when standing for election to so many slots in the first place! But actually, his reasoning for keeping all the positions is not correct.

Help could be at hand. If the old law allowing a council to appoint a member in the event of a vacancy hadn't been changed in 2002, the parent councils could have assisted Mr Flaunty were he to resign one or two of his boards. They could simply appoint the next on the list and there would not necessarily be a by-election. But Mr Flaunty hasn't yet been sworn in and he doesn't yet hold any of the positions to which he was elected. There is still time for him to recover some semblance of personal respect from the debacle. He should surrender two local board slots on the grounds that he can't really represent "locals" in three different places. If he surrenders one or more at this point before he is sworn into office then there would be no need for a by-election under the 2002 legiclation. The Returning Officer could inform the councils that Mr Flaunty has been replaced by the next on the list, and another person could be sworn in. No by-election. No waste of public money.

There are three possible explanations for Mr Flaunty's behaviour so far. The first is greed. He wants five honoraria adding up to about $150,000 of public money. The second is that he has an overwhelming sense of his own importance to the community or communities he wants to serve. He'll soon realise, and the voters will too, that he can't do so many jobs. The third possible explanation is that he is wanting to expose Rodney Hide's many potholes in the legislation. If it is the last of these explanations, then he has made his point. He could now enhance local democracy and regain at least some of his reputation by resigning one, or preferably two, of his local boards forthwith.