Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Confusion over board member’s email use

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Howick Local Board member Bob Wichman, fourth from left, pictured with his Howick Local Board colleagues. Photo supplied

A Howick Local Board member says his access to his official Auckland Council email address has been “restricted” in what he’s calling “censorship” of his views.

But it turns out all is not as it seems.

Board member Bob Wichman was recently told the email group that includes all Auckland ward councillors “only accepts messages from people on its allowed sender list, and your email address isn’t on the list”.

He says he received the message after sending an email to mayor Phil Goff, all of the city’s councillors and the chief executives of the council and Auckland Transport (AT) asking the proposed route of the Eastern Busway that would see it go through Burswood be scrapped.

Wichman wants that option canned due to the “wasteful expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars and unnecessary confiscation of sixty residential properties”, he told the email’s recipients.

Planning and design work on the busway’s next stage from Pakuranga to Botany is ongoing and AT is expected to release more details in the coming months.

Despite the claims of censorship, council local board service general manager Louise Mason says no restrictions have been placed on Wichman’s council email account.

“He is not on the permitted senders list for the ‘all councillors group’ which he included in his email regarding the Eastern Busway,” she says.

“Subsequently, member Wichman received an automatic response advising him that his email was not able to be sent to that list.”

It’s not the first time Wichman has drawn attention to the use of his council email account.

In May last year the Times reported he was warned his access to official emails may be restricted after he sent an email on the Covid-19 pandemic to all of the city’s local board members.

In it he detailed what he said he’d seen on the TV news broadcast the previous night, including that if someone gets vaccinated against Covid they can still get the virus but they won’t die, and millions of people who caught Covid were not vaccinated and did not die.

“I believe we have been fed a lot of rubbish,” he wrote.

Following Wichman’s group email on Covid last year, Mason said he’d been told his email was “ill-advised”.

“We also reminded him it’s best practice to use an Auckland Council email address for council business only.

“Further options the council have is to remove individual access to sending group emails.

“The member has been advised this privilege could be removed if further emails like this are sent.”

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