Council cops heat over panel appointments

Salima Padamsey, representing the Coastal Ratepayers United (CRU) group, ruffled a few feathers at the recent KCDC meeting when she challenged the impartiality of the science panel set up to review the controversial Shand Report.

“This Council, in April 2013, unanimously passed a motion of a creation of a science panel that would review Dr. Shand’s report on Coastal Hazards 2012. The key point in the resolution was that anyone on that proposed science panel had to be totally independent of Roger Shand.

“Councillor Cardiff was very clear in that meeting that no one working or having worked with Shand could sit on the science panel. He gave an example of John Lumsden and Jim Dahm as being disqualified,” said Ms Padamsey.

She then stunned many councillors by revealing that the only person put forward by KCDC staff from all the scientists available from around the world, was James Carley. He was on none of the submitters’ lists, he was solely appointed by Council Staff.

“According to the CEO’s report of July 18, 2013, he stated that the all of the appointees had been thoroughly searched. So thorough was the search that it failed to uncover any links between the two men. So thorough was the search, it failed to uncover that they had peer reviewed each other’s papers. It failed to uncover the fact that they had stayed together at Dr. Shand’s home. So thorough was the search that it failed to uncover the fact that Mr. Carley had co-written with Shand junior numerous conference papers. It also failed to uncover that at the very moment of Mr. Carley being appointed, he was co-authoring a paper with Dr. Shand on coastal hazards.”

Ms Padamsey then asked if the Council was satisfied with its staff saying such negligent vetting is fully acceptable and that ratepayers continue to be happy with constant problems of this ilk.

“I say constant because some of you may remember the Auton debacle. Mr. Auton was chosen to undertake the PDP review. It was only after he had started working that it was decided by KCDC that there was potential though tenuous perception of conflict of interest. As a result, he was dumped. So again we see background checks that were inadequate.

“Some people will come to the conclusion that this panel is not truly independent and its findings are tainted and infected.

“I feel very sorry for persons of integrity, such as professor Komar having to suffer from such a slight all caused by KCDC staff failing to do its job in July.”

Ms Padamsey says there will be others who will ask who was behind singling out Mr. Carley to go on the panel. “Was he there to soften criticism of Shand? From information received, council staff sought the opinion of an expert network. Was this network Mr. Dahm and Mr. Reinin Hamill or other scientists in the Shand clique? What’s the difference between this and jury tampering.”

Ms Padamsey says she certainly does not want to see these kinds of grave mistakes being repeated. “I also don’t want to see innocent people being shafted with responsibility particularly when they were not even working for the council in July when the serious mistake occurred.

“CRU and others put in hundreds of hours of work to ensure the whole science panel process was a success. This co-operation could have been a good model for others to follow. It could have shown how successfully co-operation can work. And more importantly, all the stakeholders would have accepted the findings of this panel without question.”

Ms Padamsey, addressing the chief executive Pat Dougherty, said “Unfortunately, because of what your staff had failed to do in July 2013 has prevented this from happening.”