AMID talk from Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt of “snakes in the grass” trying to undermine him, a legal academic says councillors could fight his decision on who should be his deputy.
Sir Tim announced he had selected Nobby Clark as his new deputy following Toni Biddle’s resignation from the Invercargill City Council.
Victoria University of Wellington associate professor of law Dean Knight said mayors had the power to appoint deputies without the decision being voted on or ratified by other members of the council.
However, councils retained the power to remove a deputy mayor by a majority vote at a specially called meeting.
“If a deputy mayor was removed, then the mayor again has the power to appoint. And we may have to go around again.”
No councillors contacted on Tuesday said they opposed the choice.
Cr Ian Pottinger said: “It’s Tim’s choice – it’s his call.”
However, a social media post by Sir Tim on Monday evening suggested not all were happy.
He posted a screenshot of an email he received with the subject line: “snakes in the grass”.
The email anonymously informed the mayor of a conversation overheard between “two prominent councillors” about his choice of deputy mayor.
“I would suggest you may need to watch your back… It sounded suspiciously like a plot to support your decision in public while undermining it from the shadows.”
None of the councillors contacted knew about any such plots.
Cr Lindsay Abbott said he would not condone such sculduggery.
“I have no idea [who the councillors were], but they would get both barrels from me if it was true and I knew who it was.”
When asked if he thought there was a plot to undermine the mayor, Cr Pottinger said, “no”.
“No, I think he has been reading too many Shakespeare scripts.
“We’re there to do a job people are imagining factions, toxicity and everything. I’ve been on there 10 years now and this term is no different to any other,” Cr Pottinger said.
It had been sensationalised in the media, he said.
“All these opinions have hit the paper… We’ve filled out reports to the DIA [Department of Internal Affairs] and I’ve listed an entire account of the media’s coverage of this entire thing and listed the actual substantive nature of what was involved. Is it major or is it people just unhappy they didn’t get their way?”