FNDC’s Deputy Mayor Tania McInnes states on her own website:
• “From a Council perspective, I recognise the need to have confidence in our leadership and that sound, prudent decision making is the way in which we are expected and need to operate. That open communication and healthy relationships with our communities, government agencies and other community organisations is a must in achieving community well-being. As a district, we need to be innovative – think and act outside the box (we can be trail-blazers). We must promote a culture of respect and integrity.”
In a Fairfax Media interview she stated on 04/08/2017 that FNDC support lobbying Government for cat controls although she never consulted anybody before she alone voted at LGNZ conference in favour of NCMSG’s proposals. She said:
• “It is a difficult and controversial topic, but it’s about prioritising it within Council’s normal work requirements.”
And although she kept the public completely in the dark before her decision, she said afterwards:
• “It’s a community decision.”
Our letter to McInnes and following conversation:
Sent: Wednesday, 9 August 2017 10:35 a.m.
Good Morning Deputy Mayor McInnes,
since we have learnt from the media, that you, as the representative of FNDC have voted in favour of NCMSG’s ideas at the LGNZ Conference in July of this year, we have been wondering which reasons had prompted you to make such serious decision which will affect the lives of many pets and their caring families in the Far North.
We are especially wondering about your motives because your specific vote was very important, considering the extremely narrow result of 51:49 votes and the fact that our neighbouring Whangarei District Council had obviously come to completely contrary conclusions and have voted against the proposal. Although you are probably familiar with their reasoning, we take the liberty to remind you that the large majority of WDC councillors expressed concerns over the difficulty in managing and administering the issue and the huge costs to the ratepayers, whether it would become a companion cat versus feral cat situation (here it must be added that there is a distinct difference between feral and stray cats, the latter very often being companion cats; for more information see Animal Welfare Act) and who would be responsible and liable for cats dumped on their properties, or that cats are critical to a lot of people, especially elderly ones, notwithstanding other doubts and uncertainties, mainly related to scientific evidence.
On your website you inform the public about your convictions, that:
• now, more than ever we need to change the way we think and the way we do things
• sound, prudent decision making is the way in which we are expected and need to operate
• open communication and healthy relationships with our communities is a must in achieving community well-being
• as a district we need to think and act outside the box, that we even could be trail-blazers
• you, like most of us, want to see our kids’ grandchildren to be still able to watch tui in the kowhai…
Well, we all agree on that. But there is a problem. It is the complex of manipulatory perception, commonly called tunnel vision, prejudice-influenced views and a subjective way of thinking. As you know, it usually affects decision making processes quite negatively and their outcome will then not be what is required for our communities and their intricate interests. If we, for instance, request for our grandchildren to have beaches where they can collect shellfish, then we should certainly not allow poisons to enter our waterways, which are believed to be “necessary” because we may have eradicated cats, previously well capable of maintaining a natural balance. In this context we have more questions for you:
In September 2016 NCMSG has promised all interested groups (us included), consultation on the topic and collaboration. We, like so many others, submitted our thoughts, worries and suggestions. Have they been made accessible to you? In order to make a truly informed decision?
Have you read at least one of many submissions? And if so, which one? Ours, the one from your own district, maybe?
We doubt that, as we have never received any feedback, not to mention the promised offer to collaborate with the decision makers.. Could it be, that you in your capacity as our delegate from the Far North represented just a personal view, impaired by partial information rather than one reflecting the majority of our elected representatives?
Was your decision really sound and prudent? Have you before communicated with your community openly? Did you in fact think “outside the box”, as you say, when you accepted an old fashioned opinion of people who argue for biased and scientifically untenable claims?
Northland Cats in Balance, our group of people who actually want “to change the way we think and the way we do things” disagree with this 51:49 vote you are jointly responsible for and we ask you to listen to our argumentation, because we believe that it is never too late to make corrections, especially if there is still time like in our case when FNDC are planning to have the new Bylaw about cat management pass in 2018/2019.
We want to talk to you, each Councillor personally and also with the Mayor.
Yes, please, let’s make decisions, as you also say, that show respect for the environment and the way we utilize and care for it. Without poison, without destroying self-regulating ecological patterns, but with a true understanding how nature really keeps its balance.
And let us not forget that when a cat has killed 10 rats, she has saved the lives of hundreds of birds!
We look forward to hear from you soon.
Northland Cats in Balance
McInnes responds (23/08):
Kia Ora Klaus
thank you for taking the time to write. I am happy to meet with you to discuss, how does next Wednesday, 30th in the morning in Paihia suit you?
Klaus responds (24/08):
Good Morning Tania,
thank you for the prompt reply and your offer to meet you. Yes, next Wednesday, the 30/08/2017 would be fine. However, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that in order to prepare and facilitate our talk, we need answers to our questions before the meeting. In particular we would like to know beforehand
- which have been the reasons for your vote, considering the numerous and important counterarguments like e.g. scientifically proven facts?
- Have you consulted interested and well informed groups of the public who know what they are talking about before you voted?
- As far as we know, there has been no informed debate or exchange of views on this topic within FNDC before your vote at the LGNZ conference. Is this true? Does this also apply to the four other remits at the conference which passed with disproportionately clearer results?
- Have submissions on the NCMSG’s matter been made accessible to you?
- Have you read our submission, the only one from the Far North District before you voted?
- Did you know about the consequences which the recommended measures like cat curfews, compulsory micro chipping, cat rangers and changes to the Animal Welfare Act would actually have on a natural balance?
I look forward to your reply. Would you please also let me know where in Paihia it would suit you to meet me?
McInnes responds (24/08):
Great, how about we meet at the Library at 10am. I will discuss your questions when we meet in person.
Please confirm that the above is suitable.
Klaus responds (24/08):
unfortunately it will not be sufficient to discuss our questions when we meet in person. I am only the representative of our group and we all want to know your answers before the meeting in order to make the necessary preparations by giving them appropriate and careful deliberations. Moreover, we haven’t had the best experience in the past when we had “personal discussions” with Council members. Too much suddenly became “forgotten” or “wasn’t meant that way”. I am sure you’ll understand.
Yes, I am happy to meet you at the library at 10:00, Wednesday next week. Thank you.
McInnes responds (24/08):
Klaus, I appreciate the concerns you have raised. I should have been clear that I am happy to meet on an informal basis, i.e. Tania McInnes meeting with your group. This is not a Council meeting.
I will leave the ball in your court if you wish to proceed.
Klaus responds (24/08):
yes, I wish to proceed with even an informal meeting, as you put it, but independent of this we request from you answers to our questions in writing, just according to the regulations of the Information Act.
When you say that (quote): “ I will discuss your questions when we meet in person.” (unquote) then there shouldn’t be any reason why you cannot answer them in writing as well. This is plain logic, isn’t it?
McInnes responds (25/08):
I won’t be putting my response in writing. Happy to chat.
Klaus responds (25/08):
Good Morning Tania,
we request your answers to our questions in writing, and this information is requested under the “Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act”.
Furthermore we do not consider the meeting next Wednesday with you as “a chat” but as an informative, official meeting with you in your capacity as Deputy Mayor. Please confirm. In order to prepare yourself for the meeting we attach a copy of the summary of our submission to NCMSG and LGNZ. I look forward to receiving the requested information within 20 working days, counting from today, 25/08/2017.
McInnes responds (24/08):
Noting your LGOIMA request, I have cc’d our CEO to formally respond and process.
My offer to meet and have an informal discussion is now withdrawn.
Important additional note:
Tania McInnes knew very well that our group consists of at least 771 residents of the Far North who had petitioned FNDC only a year ago on a much related matter. So, why has she then not consulted us or at least asked for a debate within Council before she went to this conference where she was only ready for a conscience vote? Where was then her claim that “the matter requires a community decision?”
From “The Local Government Act 2002,
section 14,” requires all councils to take a consistent approach to their activities, by–
• Conducting their business in a clear, transparent and democratically accountable way.
• Operating in an efficient and effective manner.
• Making themselves aware of and having regard to the views of all their communities.
• Taking account of the diversity of their community’s interests, both current and future.
From LAMIA Act (1968) about bias:
“In order to determine if bias exists or not, Council members need to ask:
Is there a real danger of bias on the part of the member of the decision-making body, in the sense that he or she might unfairly regard with favour (or disfavour) the case of a party to the issue under consideration? The question is not limited to actual bias, but relates to the appearance or possibility of bias reflecting the principle that justice should not only be done, but should be seen to be done. Whether or not members believe they are not biased is irrelevant.
Members should focus on the nature of the conflicting interest or relationship and the risk it could pose for the decision-making process. The most common risks of non-pecuniary bias are where:
- members’ statements or conduct indicate that they have predetermined the decision before hearing all relevant information (that is, members have a “closed mind”), or
- members have a close relationship or involvement with an individual or organisation affected by the decision.
In this context:
From “Northern Advocate” (18/03/2017):
“Mr Salmon (Bay Bush Action) said he was “super excited” to represent the Far North and Bay Bush Action at the national awards along with fellow trustee Stella Kake, though also a little nervous. He was pleased that deputy mayor Tania McInnes and Focus Paihia chairman Grant Harnish, who represented the district in 2015, were coming along to lend advice and support.”
From “Stuff” (18/08/2010):
Focus Paihia Trustees:
Grant, the current Chair of the Trust, has been involved with Focus Paihia since its conception in 2009. He is an owner of Salt Air in Paihia. Grant is committed to helping Paihia reach its potential with the support of the community.
Craig Salmon – Trustee
lives in Paihia. Craig is also a trustee and volunteer trapper and coordinator on Bay Bush Action Trust. BBA calls itself a biodiversity protection group operating on around 250-300 hectares behind Paihia.
Craig believes to have an excellent understanding of environmental issues and is, as he says, passionate about carbon reduction (??, apparently his “excellent understanding of environmental issues” has difficulties with basic principles of science) and pest control and biodiversity protection. The Focus Paihia Community Trust Board warmly welcomed Craig to the Board.
And what do BBA say on their own website about the former Paihia Cat Colony?
“With the support of the Department of Conservation, Forest and Bird, Northland Regional Council and locals, Bay Bush Action worked hard to get a wild cat colony cleaned up in a Paihia town Williams reserve.
After years of arm wrestling with the Paihia Cat Protection group, protests against us on TV, National newspaper stories, Facebook pages, leaflet drops in towns, the Far North District Council finally trapped the cats and the SPCA found fully contained loving homes for them. What we had asked for all along.”
And this is the truth:
The Paihia Cat Colony never had any wild cats. All were abandoned companion cats, all de-sexed and well taken care of by local veterinarians and Paihia residents. As FNDC had stated in a press release: “They were too old to fend for themselves.”
FNDC trapped only two cats. One of them turned out to be a companion cat, caught by mistake, and SPCA “lost” the other one in Kerikeri. All remaining colony cats are now scattered and probably starving…. None of them found a loving home.
This is, what BBA really think and do about cats:
Are these the types of self-appointed conservationists we all are dealing with?
Who would align themselves to sadistic acts like this?
Apparently our Council and Deputy Mayor.