Furtive Phil Goff and his office stripped of influence over LGOIMA process

A furtive Phil Goff and his office have been stripped of influence over the LGOIMA process after the ombudsman smacked his office for their illegal actions.

The NZ Herald reports: Quote:

Auckland mayor Phil Goff’s office has been stripped of its ability to influence the release of information?following an investigation by the Chief Ombudsman.

Ombudsman Peter Boshier found the council had acted unreasonably, and in some respects unlawfully, in withholding for five months a report sought by RNZ.

The report, commissioned by Mayor Phil Goff, had examined the merits of the imported vehicle trade continuing through the city’s port.

Goff had publicly opposed the trade continuing to occupy waterfront wharves, but the NZIER report found losing the business could cost?the city’s economy $1 billion.

At the time this reporter, then working for RNZ, had requested a copy of the paper, the future of Auckland’s port and the vehicle trade had become an issue in the general election campaign.

The council’s governance director said three changes had already been made as a result of the Ombudsman’s investigation, one affecting the mayor’s office where senior staff had been involved.

They will still have an opportunity to comment on, and see decisions that are made, but they previously had the ability to take part in the process,” said Phil Wilson.?End quote.

Good. There have to be sanctions for illegal behaviour.?Quote:

Boshier said the deficiencies found in his investigation were “worrying”.

Wilson said in addition to limiting the role of the mayor or his staff in future, the hand of the council’s specialist LGOIMA team would be strengthened and it would hold the information being considered for release, which hadn’t happened in the NZIER report?case.

Where the team and relevant managers disagreed on whether to release information, that decision would be elevated to the council’s chief executive, or to the governance director.

The council has formally apologised to RNZ in a letter to its chief executive Paul Thompson, as requested by the chief ombudsman.

“On behalf of Auckland Council please accept our apologies for the way we handled your request,” the council said in the letter.

“We acknowledge that we did not meet our responsibilities under the Act nor our commitment to being open and transparent.

The ombudsman in May?upheld a further complaint from this reporter, lodged while at RNZ, finding the six-month withholding of a report on the feasibility of a downtown stadium had been wrong.

Boshier said he would be watching the changes?made by the council to its official information processes.

Wilson said some were in place already, and others such as improved education of staff and management on their responsibilities, were?also planned. End quote.

Phil Goff promised to be more open and transparent in his election campaign. He and his office have been found wanting but, as usual, it is ‘hands-off’ Goff who apparently doesn’t talk to his senior advisors at all about official information requests concerning reports he himself commissioned.

If you believe Phil Goff has no part in delaying this release then I have a bridge I can sell you.

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