‘Incessant’ conflict of interest claims pushing Cr to limit
THE topic has divided Councillors and the community for months and letters to the Editor continue to pour in reflecting that division.
And with the appearance of Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock on commercial radio this week calling for a halt to the Cultural and Civic Space, and threatening legislative intervention, it's back in the headlines.
One point repeatedly raised by those calling for a halt to the $76.5m project is the question of Cr Michael Adendorff's potential conflict of interest when voting to proceed as he owns several properties in the CBD.
Cr Adendorff says he has defended these accusations on several occasions and sought advice from three professionals prior to voting which all indicated there was no significant conflict of interest.
He realises he signed up for a high level of scrutiny when becoming a Councillor but the accusations in recent months have gone too far.
"This incessant insistence that I have done something wrong is starting to tarnish my reputation," Cr Adendorff said.
"And I am reserving my right to take defamation action from now on in."
But as letter writers, like Bonnie Capell, have pointed out it's all about the perception of a conflict. She has asked Cr Adendorff to explain how he decided if the interest was 'Non-Pecuniary - Less Than Significant'
"I'm sure, as a lawyer, Councillor Adendorff would know exactly how to determine his interest - maybe you could enlighten the rest of your community as to how you can flip-flop on pecuniary versus non-pecuniary. Put our minds at ease," Ms Capell wrote.
Cr Adendorff says it's up to an individual Cr to assess what their level of interest is and reiterated that prior to voting on the Cultural and Civic Space he sought advice from three "highly respected professionals. They all told me without hesitation there would be zero benefit to me."
Code of conduct complaints (which include conflicts of interest) are referred to Council for action either by an independent 'conduct reviewer' or to be referred to another party such as the Independent Commision Against Corruption (ICAC).
Coffs Harbour City Council's annual Code of Conduct Complaints Report from December 2019 outlines the number of complaints received and breaks them down into category and status.
The report shows the total number of complaints received about Councillors and the General Manager was 12 and of these, eight were finalised.
None of these breaches were found to have been a 'conflict of interest'.
While a number of these complaints were referred to a conduct reviewer, seven were referred by the GM or Mayor to another agency such as ICAC, NSW Ombudsman or Police.
The number of complaints yet to be finalised is listed as four.
To see the report go to the Council agenda of December 12, 2019.
To find out more about the complaints process follow this link.
Meanwhile Cr Adendorff continues to throw his support behind the Cultural and Civic Space.
"These attacks have been a desperate political stunt to stop me from voting on the matter but I can't be threatened.
"I will keep supporting this project because I believe it is the right thing to do for the community."
Minister Shelley Hancock's office has been contacted for comment.
When Mayor Denise Knight spoke to the Advocate earlier this week she still hadn't received any formal communication from the Minister's office.