Sunday, June 23, 2024

Dunedin Council accepts Code of Conduct findings against Mayor, Councillor

Dunedin City Council has accepted the findings of an independent investigator, who found Mayor, Jules Radich and Councillor, Carmen Houlahan, breached the Council’s Code of Conduct.

Councillors yesterday voted to accept the findings of independent investigator Jordon Boyle, following two separate Code of Conduct complaints against Councillors Radich and Houlahan in September.

Mr Boyle’s reports upheld both complaints as material breaches of the Code of Conduct.

On 8 September, Council’s Chief Executive received a joint complaint from Councillors Sophie Barker and Jim O’Malley about the actions of Mayor Radich following a confidential Council meeting on 29 August.

Mayor of Dunedin, Jules Radich.

The complaint related to statements made by Mayor Radich on 30 August, on Radio NZ,
about a Code of Conduct complaint against Barry Williams, Chair of the Strath Taieri Community Board, which was considered at the 29 August meeting. Mr Williams’ Code of Conduct complaint related to an allegation of verbal abuse and using a racial slur.

The complaint alleged that Mayor Radich’s statements breached the confidentiality of the meeting and minimised the seriousness of Mr Williams’ actions.

On 31 August, Mayor Radich issued a public apology, saying, “I want to apologise unreservedly for minimising the clearly racist comment made by the chair of the Strath
Taieri Community Board in my comments to media”.

In a separate complaint received on 12 September, Cr Barker stated she had received eight missed calls “in swift succession” from Cr Houlahan on Friday 8 September, followed by 17 text messages throughout the same day and the following day.

Some of the text messages sent to Cr Barker by Cr Houlahan, which were released by the Council in a statement today.
Councillor, Carmen Houlahan.

The calls and texts related to why Cr Barker had laid a Code of Conduct complaint against Mayor Radich.

Cr Barker said she found the texts to be aggressive, with their content having a “devastating impact” on her and believed they were in breach of Council’s Code of Conduct.

Cr Barker received an email apology from Cr Houlahan on Monday, 11 September, which was not accepted.

Cr Barker stated that “this apology did not address the content of the texts, just the number. An apology cannot undo the level of aggressive and continuous harassment over a period of nearly 24 hours. It cannot undo the deeply hurtful things that were said in those texts”.

Mr Boyle found that Cr Houlahan’s calls and messages to Cr Barker breached her Code of
Conduct obligations, namely ‘Relationships between members’.

Councillor Houlahan has been asked to write an appropriate letter of apology, while Mayor Radich has already apologised publicly for his comments, the Council said in a statement today.

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