Invercargill mayor Nobby Clark admits returning to work too soon, takes month off

Invercargill mayor Nobby Clark is refusing to step down from making public appearances following a Code of Conduct investigation.

But the embattled mayor has admitted he returned to work too soon after open heart surgery and would now take a month off to refresh and look more positively on his role.

An extraordinary meeting was held on Friday to discuss the investigation into allegations he mocked, disrespected and degraded guests at a United Fire Brigades’ Association event including labelling volunteer firefighters as second hand citizens.

Councillors voted to ask him to delegate his duties to all formal public events for the rest of the council term after receiving advice Clark might suffer from brain fade following his surgery, as well as deciding to formally censure him and ask him to apologise to those impacted.

Clark declined to comment to media, instead releasing two statements through the council’s media team on Monday afternoon.

He refused to step down from making public appearances, saying that removing him from public duties was not a penalty that they could use, it was not binding and based on health concerns he could monitor, and he already shared his work load while preparing to retire at next years’ election.

He also addressed the complaint, saying he has apologised twice for banter, but his comments about volunteers supported and acknowledged their work.

Clark said he did not raise this with the investigator because he believed the public complaint should not have gone through a Code of Conduct process “as to do so, would quieten elected members from saying anything controversial”.

It was the second Code of Conduct complaint he has faced this year, after councillors Ian Pottinger and Ria Bond filed a complaint after Clark repeatedly and unapologetically using the N-word during an interview.

Invercargill mayor Nobby Clark arrives at an extraordinary council meeting and refuses to resign despite councillors calling for it as a result of conduct complaints and inappropriate behaviour.

A vote to ask him to resign was narrowly defeated at Friday’s meeting, with some councillors suggesting he might not be capable of performing as mayor if he was impacted by brain fade – which he said he suffered from in his apology to the association.

He confirmed he had experienced some brain fade which was an impact of the surgery and could result in “some minor disjointed presentation” and take two years to clear.

But he said he flagged this with councillors and senior council staff.

“Recent advice from two leading NZ medical professors, states that brain fade can be an impact and tends to dissipate within three months. I don’t have any current, ongoing impacts and I feel fine,” Clark said.

“I’ve also had a medical test to ensure that I have no memory deterioration and that was positive and normal.”

His second statement arrived less than an hour after the first, saying, upon reflection, he came back to work too soon after surgery.

“Having spent some time over the weekend considering the impact of the Code of Conduct on me, Karen and our family, and the wider community, I’ve decided to take a further month off work,” Clark said.

The council had approved a three month Leave of Absence following his surgery and he returned to the role after two months.

Deputy Mayor Tom Campbell will fill his role with support from the committee chairs until Nobby Clark was expected to return late next month.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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