Tracy Watkins Karl Du

City Councillor dismisses allegations

Sharon Stewart has come out in the Eastern Courier dismissing my allegations as mere "mean-spirited innuendo".

Apparently she asked "everybody" about her conflict of interest but so quietly that no-one in an official capacity including the minute taker heard. If they had heard surely that would be in the minutes.

Surprise, surprise no record of any such utterance.

Now I am not alleging corruption here, far from it, I am merely asking whether this looks tidy or not.

Ms Stewart says "If anybody felt there was a conflict of interest they could have said". Well, yes, they could have Ms Stewart, but the only person who could truly know whether there was a conflict there or not was you, and according to the minutes you didn't see fit to have that noted officially. If as you say it was important to you why didn't you have it recorded officially and thus avoid any possible speculation otherwise.

Committee Chair Mr Burnside also needs to have a good hard read of the pertinant legislation before uttering such inanities as "There's no way there's a pecuniary interest there".

Councillor with conflict passes $1.6 million contract

A Manukau City Councillors action have come to my attention for a having a conflict of interest when awarding a multi-million dollar contract.

The contract, worth $1.6 million, was awarded at the March meeting of the Manukau City Council Environmental Committee. Minutes of the meeting show that Sharon Stewart was present and voted for the contract "ENV-5497".

I have decided to release information that was obtained under the Official Information Act as part of our ongoing campaign against corruption within governments.

Sharon Stewart has voted to award a multi-million dollar contract, at a closed-door meeting, to a company that her own daughter works for. In the attached minutes of the meeting you note that Sharon Stewart was present throughout the duration of the meeting and no votes were recorded against any resolution, particularly in Item 20. Item 20 deals with a contract being awarded to GHD Ltd for a sum of $1,626,663 plus GST.

No problem so far except that GHD Ltd happens to be the employer of Rebecca Stewart, daughter of Sharon Stewart. To make matters worse, according to my research on Rebecca Stewart actually lives in the same house as Sharon Stewart, seriously exacerbating the situation.

[quote]Pakuranga Electoral Roll: Page 182

Line # 046 – Stewart, David John – 21 Treeway, Pakuranga

Line # 093 – Stewart, Rebecca – 21 Treeway, Pakuranga

Line # 102 – Stewart, Sharon Lee – 21 Treeway, Pakuranga[/quote]

This action severely undermines the public confidence in her as a city councillor and can only be described as an act of dishonesty and corruption.

I believe that the actions of Sharon Stewart are defined as an "indirect pecuniary interest" and are in breach of the Local Authorities (Members Interest) Act 1968. When convicted the penalty for breaching the Members Interest Act is being disqualified from holding office as a councillor.

The law states very clearly that councillors can't vote for contracts if they have a pecuniary interest in that contract. Because Sharon Stewart's daughter is an employee of the company and also lives with her, Sharon Stewart has undoubtedly committed an unlawful offence against the public.

Sharon Stewart has also violated the Manukau City Council code of conduct which requires councillors to withdraw from meetings where they have a conflict of interest. The Code of Conduct also states that:

[quote]The ability of elected members to make impartial, objective and transparent decisions is paramount to the community's confidence in the Council's ability to govern.[/quote]

Sharon Stewart's actions appear to be typical of Manukau City elected officials that have acted improperly for personal gain. I note that at present Mangere Councillor James Papali'i is being charged with fraud, and Botany Community Board Chairman Michael Williams is being prosecuted for breaches of the Building Act.

Sharon Stewart has added to an increasing list of Manukau City elected officials who have used their position to act inappropriately. I call on the Manukau City Council to urgently launch an inquiry into this decision, and for Sharon Stewart to resign her membership of all Council committees until an investigation is completed.

Further Sharon Stewart is a dead set hypocrite by looking at this past article . It seems she is willing to challenge others when they have a conflict of interest, but will vote on a $1.6m contract that she herself has a conflict of interest over.

WhaleOil.co.nz will be writing to the Council Chief Executive Leigh Auton about the conduct of Sharon Stewart, and her breach of the Local Authorities Members Interest Act and Council Code of Conduct.