The Watchdog

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OIA to Auckland City Council CEO David Rankin: re all steps taken by those responsible at Auckland City Council to ensure Metrowater complied with it’s statutory duties over the attempted Iosefa house sale?

9 June 2010

Auckland City Council CEO
David Rankin

OIA to Auckland City Council CEO David Rankin:

RE: HOW MUCH AUCKLAND CITY ‘COUNCIL CONTROL’ WAS EXERCISED OVER ‘COUNCIL CONTROLLED ORGANISATION (CCO) METROWATER, IN THEIR (UNLAWFUL) ATTEMPT TO SELL BY PUBLIC AUCTION THE FAMILY HOME(S) OF MARIA AND LUAPO IOSEFA?

Dear David,

This sale by public auction was called off at the ‘eleventh hour’.
However, I now intend to find out to what extent those responsible at Auckland City Council for ‘monitoring’ Metrowater’s performance as a ‘Council Controlled Organisation’ (CCO) exercised, (if any) ‘council control’ over this attempted Iosefa house sale by public auction over a disputed Metrowater account.

1) Please provide all information, including, but not limited to; emails, meeting minutes, reports, memorandums; which detail exactly what steps were taken by the following parties to ensure that Metrowater’s CEO, staff members, lawyers, Board of Directors, complied with Metrowater’s statutory duties, as outlined in the following legislation, Metrowater’s ‘disputes process’; Metrowater’s 2009 Statement of Intent; and Metrowater’s 2009 Annual Report:

a) The Mayor of Auckland City Council, John Banks.
b) The Deputy Mayor of Auckland City Council, David Hay.
c) The Chair of the Finance and Strategy Committee of Auckland City Council, Doug Armstrong.
d) The Finance and Strategy Committee of Auckland City Council.
e) The CEO of Auckland City Council, David Rankin.
f) The General Manager of Finance for Auckland City Council, Andrew McKenzie.

A) The Local Government Act 2002;

METROWATER’S STATUTORY DUTIES AS A COUNCIL-CONTROLLED ORGANISATION UNDER THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 2002 STATE:

” 59 Principal objective of council-controlled organisation

(1) The principal objective of a council-controlled organisation is to—

(a) achieve the objectives of its shareholders, both commercial and non-commercial, as specified in the statement of intent; and

(c) exhibit a sense of social and environmental responsibility by having regard to the interests of the community in which it operates and by endeavouring to accommodate or encourage these when able to do so; ”

_____________________________________________________
60 Decisions relating to operation of council-controlled organisations
All decisions relating to the operation of a council-controlled organisation must be made by, or under the authority of, the board of the organisation in accordance with—
(a) its statement of intent; and
(b) its constitution.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________

B) The Human Rights Act

Human Rights Act 1993 No 82 (as at 01 October 2008), Public Act
Discrimination in provision of goods and services
44 Provision of goods and services

(1) It shall be unlawful for any person who supplies goods, facilities, or services to the public or to any section of the public—

(a) To refuse or fail on demand to provide any other person with those goods, facilities, or services; or

(b) To treat any other person less favourably in connection with the provision of those goods, facilities, or services than would otherwise be the case,—

by reason of any of the prohibited grounds of discrimination.

__________________________________________________________

C) The Human Rights Amendment Act 2001

Part 1A
Discrimination by Government, related persons and bodies, or persons or bodies acting with legal authority

* Part 1A (sections 20I to 20L) was inserted, as from 1 January 2002, by section 6 Human Rights Amendment Act 2001 (2001 No 96).

21 Prohibited grounds of discrimination

· (1) For the purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are—

(j) Political opinion, which includes the lack of a particular political opinion or any political opinion.
__________________________________________________________________________________________
D) The Fair Trading Act 1986

Part 1 Misleading and deceptive conduct, false representations, and unfair practices
11 Misleading conduct in relation to services

No person shall, in trade, engage in conduct that is liable to mislead the public as to the nature, characteristics, suitability for a purpose, or quantity of services.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

(Specifically, in relation to Metrowater’s publicly-stated ‘disputes process’, as advertised on the Metrowater website:

Metrowater’s stated ‘Customer Complaint Process’

http://www.metrowater.co.nz/sitecollectiondocuments/working_with_you_customer_terms_booklet.pdf

“Putting things right
Our customer complaint process
Resolving complaints

Metrowater is committed to providing you with high quality water and wastewater services. If you have any problems with our services, please contact us so that we can deal with your enquiry or complaint. We will investigate the matter and respond to your concern promptly, courteously and efficiently.

Three steps to resolving your complaint

Step 3: Other options
If we have been unable to work together to satisfactorily resolve a genuine dispute, either of us may refer the matter to the Disputes Tribunal or, for matters over $7,500, to the Court.

Given that the undefended and (incorrect) ‘Judgment debt’ from CIV- 00Metrowater’s lawyers stated:

“It is irrelevant that Metrowater elected to pursue its claim in the District Court, rather than the Disputes Tribunal.”
__________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________

E. METROWATER STATEMENT OF INTENT 2009 ( Pg 7)

“THE NATURE OF OUR BUSINESS

1. Commercial Reliability

…..

* Maintain a robust customer debt management process that is fair and reasonable and audited on an annual basis. ”

_________________________________________________________________________________________

F) METROWATER’S 2008/2009 ANNUAL REPORT:

“….

Ongoing debt which is still unpaid, after collection and legal process can be secured by Metrowater by obtaining a charging order on the debtors property through the district court.”

7) METROWATER’S ‘ACTING’ CEO TIM HAMMOND, CONFIRMATION THAT MARIA AND LUAPO IOSEFA, ARE ‘THE FIRST CASE’ WHERE METROWATER HAVE ATTEMPTED TO SELL A HOME, BY AUCTION:

“The CEO of Metrowater, Tim Hammond, has confirmed in writing, (email dated Friday 5 February 2010), that Luapo and Maria Iosefa have effectively been singled out, and treated differently from other Metrowater customers, in regards to the ‘debt management’ process been followed in this case.”

“Query #2: How is it, then, that the Iosefa family have had proceedings filed in the High Court to sell their house…?

Response #2: …….

This is the first case where a Metrowater debtor has reached this relative position of exposure, necessitating such action ………………..”

(If this is the ‘first case’ – then obviously, Maria and Luapo Iosefa are being treated differently to ‘other debtors’).

________________________________________________________________________________________________

2) Please provide the information which confirms which following members of Metrowater’s ‘monitoring bady’ – the Finance and Strategy Committee of Auckland City Council approved/endorsed Metrowater’s declining of the Iosefa’s offer of $150 per week, and the unprecedented sale by public auction of the Iosefa family home 9am Wednesday 9 June 2010.

Mayor John Banks
Deputy Mayor David Hay
Councillor Doug Armstrong
Councillor Aaron Bhatnagar
Councillor Mark Donnelly
Councillor Richard Northey
Councillor Cathy Casey

“I confirm that I made an offer to Buddle Findlay this morning on behalf of Mr & Mrs Iosefa for $150 per week. I undertook to keep an eye on the payment to ensure they would keep it current. MW through their lawyer have declined that offer.
Mr & Mrs Iosefa have no other ready monies.

Peter Jacobson
Bay Law Office
T 6270-390 F 6272-155”
______________________________________________________________________________________________________

3) Please provide copies of all ‘annual audits’ of Metrowater’s debt management processes, since the commencement of the auditing process.
__________________________________________________________________________________________

4) Please provide the information which confirms the number of ‘long-term’ Metrowater debtors,on an individual basis, both residential and commercial, since 2007 on an annual basis, whose ‘accumulated debt’ was over $20,000.

Yours sincerely,

Penny Bright
Media Spokesperson
Water Pressure Group
Judicially recognised ‘Public Watchdog’ on Metrowater, water and Auckland regional governance matters.
“Anti-corruption campaigner”

PH (09) 846 9825
021 211 4 127

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June 9, 2010 - Posted by | Human rights, Metrowater

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