Open Letter’ to Mark Ford, appointed CEO of a bigger Watercare and Chair of the ‘Statutory Entity’ Auckland Transport .
8 October 2010
‘Open Letter’ to Mark Ford, appointed CEO of a bigger Watercare and Chair of the ‘Statutory Entity’ Auckland Transport .
cc: ‘Interim’ CEO of Watercare Services Ltd:
Ian Parton –
please ensure that this email is passed on to the Chair and all Directors of Watercare Services Ltd. Thanks.
Eighteen months ago, you left your positions as CEO of Watercare Services Ltd, and Chair of the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) as the appointed Executive Chair of the Auckland Transition Agency.
( The unelected appointed body to set up the ‘$UPERCITY’ structure for the corporate takeover of the Auckland region).
Now you are set to go back through this ‘revolving’ corporate door to return as CEO of a far bigger Watercare and Chair of Auckland Transport.
Remember what the Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide said on 22 May 2009, when he announced your appointment?
“I am very pleased to be able to announce a transition agency of this calibre,” Mr Hide said.
“Mr Ford is highly respected in his present leadership roles as Chief Executive of Watercare Services Ltd and Chair of the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA). He has a strong understanding of Auckland governance and a proven record in managing complex situations and leading high performing teams.
To manage any perception of a conflict of interest,
Mr Ford is to resign from his present positions with Watercare and ARTA. ”
You were tasked with heading the organisation setting up the $UPERCITY framework – particularly the seven Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs) into which 75% of Auckland regional rates are to be paid – then you end up with arguably two of the ‘top jobs’ – CEO of Watercare and Chair of the ‘statutory entity’ – Auckland Transport?
How is this not a major ‘conflict of interest’?
Arguably, you have used your position as the Executive Chair of the Auckland Transition Agency (ATA) to help ‘feather your own nest’?
Is this not arguably ‘misuse of public office for private gain’ – a form of ‘corrupt practice’?
Particularly when the Directors of Watercare Services arguably ‘your mates,’ (as you have known a number of them for years as CEO of Watercare from 1994 – 2007), appoint you in an uncontested selection?
“This is the most demanding and important corporate assignment in New Zealand. That is why we’ve chosen someone of Mr Ford’s calibre and appointed him as Executive Chairman to ensure he has the powers to fulfil his role effectively.” (Rodney Hide, 22 May 2009)).
If you have such a ‘strong understanding of Auckland governance,’ are so ‘highly respected’, and of such ‘callibre’ – why is it that you appear to consider that the underpinning principles of the Local Government Act 2002 – ‘open, transparent and democratically accountable’ local government don’t apply to you?
WHY HAVE YOU NOT YET PROVIDED THE ANSWERS TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS?
(Please be reminded, you were first asked these questions, by email on 25 June 2010 and invited to reply in person to a Public Meeting held on 5 July 2010, calling for an investigation of the seven United Water New Zealand contracts.
You declined to attend the Public Meeting, and were then asked to provide answers to these questions in the form of an OIA reply on 2 July 2010.
These questions were still not answered.
Remember what you said about ‘transparency’, as published in the NZ Herald on 7 September 2010?
“Mark Ford, who will chair the mega-Auckland Transport CCO responsible for spending about $1.4 billion a year of ratepayers’ and taxpayers’ money, was relaxed at the possibility of public meetings being part of the statement of corporate intent between the council and the CCO.
“We have got to win over the confidence of the public.
There are various mechanisms – performance service, transparency and a whole series of things,” he said. ”
Are these just empty ‘weasel words’?
There is, as you know, considerable public interest and concern about the ownership, operation and management, pricing and quality of Auckland water services.
If you do not answer these questions, then, in my considered opinion, you are quite simply, not ‘fit for duty’ because this proves by your practice – you are neither ‘open’ nor ‘transparent’.
I look forward to your prompt, (albeit belated) reply.
A) Information which explains why you, when CEO of Watercare Services Ltd, appointed known water privatiser, ex-Mayor of Papakura, David Hawkins, to the position of Corporate Liaison Manager for Watercare Services in 2000.
B) Information which confirms that you were aware of the Report of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG), in 1998, which was critical of a number of key aspects of the ‘Papakura franchise’, signed by David Hawkins as Mayor of Papakura in April 1997:
(These shortcomings were referred to in this recent ‘Regulatory Impact Statement’
“REMOVING BARRIERS TO WATER INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT IN THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 2002 – REGULATORY IMPACT STATEMENT:
34. A potential risk is that councils lack expertise in the area of PPPs and other concession arrangements, and that developing such arrangements requires specialist skills. This was suggested in reports by the Auditor-General on the Papakura franchise agreement and the Wellington DBMO arrangement.
35. In Papakura, for example, the Auditor-General noted that:
·the Council relied on limited internal and local expertise when setting up the agreement and it was not reviewed by an external expert;
·the franchise agreement inadequately documents the franchisee’s obligations to release particular information to the Council;
·the franchise agreement focused on performance indicators relating to price and quality, but indicators for customer service and asset management and development were not well defined; and
·there was a lack of agreement between the parties about how the condition of the infrastructure would be measured over the duration of the franchise – no baseline was established and an asset management plan was not undertaken.
 Controller and Auditor-General – 2006 report, as above; plus Report on Papakura District Council:
Water and Wastewater franchise, April 1998. ”
C) Information which explains why you, when CEO of Watercare Services Ltd, appointed Graham Wood, to the position of General Manager Operations of Watercare Services,(in or about 2007), and what steps you took to:
1) Inform all elected representatives that made up the Watercare Shareholders Representative Group (SRG), of Graham Wood’s former position as the former Managing Director of United Water South Australia,
2) Inform the public of Graham Wood’s former position as the former Managing Director of United Water South Australia.
D) Information which explains the role played by David Hawkins and/or Graham Wood (if any) whilst working for Watercare in the securing of any NZ United Water contracts.
E) Information which explains why, on the Watercare Services Ltd website, when you were CEO, there was no section which covered the Watercare Shareholders Group, to make the following information publicly available: SRG meeting minutes; SRG reports ; information about which elected representatives were actually members of the SRG, and the like.
F) Disclosure of all / any interests (if any) you had or may have, either pecuniary or non-pecuniary with:
1) United Water;
2) Veolia Water,
3) Past or current members of the World Bank, including, but not limited to David Shand, the Head of the Rates Inquiry and one of the three Commissioners on the Royal commission of Inquiry into Auckland Regional Governance
G) Disclosure of all / any interests (if any) you had or may have, either pecuniary or non-pecuniary with Veolia Transport, who have the contract with ARTA (of which you were Chair since 2007) to operate train services on the Auckland Passenger Rail Network.
VEOLIA TRANSPORT AUCKLAND
In 2004 Veolia Transport Auckland Limited was contracted to the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) to operate train services on the Auckland Passenger Rail Network. The contract has subsequently been extended through to 2014.
VEOLIA TRANSPORT (WORLDWIDE)
Veolia Transport, as a leading private operator of public transport, manage over 2.63 billion trips per year globally, thereby decreasing traffic congestion, combating climate change and avoiding over 4.1 million tons of Co2.
Veolia Transport is part of Veolia Environnement the world’s leading environmental services company.
Mark Ford (Executive Chair)
CEO of Watercare Services Ltd since 1994 and Chairman of the Auckland Regional Transport Authority since 2007. Previous roles have included CEO of Auckland Regional Services Trust and CEO of NZ Forestry Corporation. )
H) Information which confirms your position, as Executive Chair of the Auckland Transition Agency, on the request for a ‘full and thorough independent investigation of the pricing practices of private water company United Water’s seven contracts’ as requested in the following:
Petition 2008/60, presented by Su’a William Sio, on 9 December 2009:
“Requesting that the House of Representatives do not implement any legislative changes to the Local Government Act 2002 which would make it easier to privatise water services via changes to ‘contracting out’, and ‘Public Private Partnership’ (PPP) provisions, until a full and thorough independent investigation of the pricing practices of private water company United Water’s seven contracts in New Zealand has been undertaken.”
(This Petition is still an ‘Item of Business’ before the Local Government and Environment Select Committee – I checked on 8 October 2010.)
Two ‘You Tube’ clips which explain the $UPERCITY
‘Organisational Flow Chart’:
The Auckland $UPERCITY ‘organisational flow chart’ visually shows in a way that words cannot describe, how this corporate takeover which you have helped to set up will work.
You know full well that this corporate structure cannot be made to serve the public and the public interest.
This information is now in the ‘public domain.’
Water Pressure Group
Judicially recognised ‘Public Watchdog’ on Metrowater, water and Auckland regional governance matters.
AUCKLAND MAYORAL CANDIDATE
PH (09) 846 9825
021 211 4 127
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