‘Utu Complete’ text said to have been sent after Russ Rimmington was appointed regional council chairman

Councilor Fred Lichtwark, pictured, is said to have sent a text

Tom Lee / Stuff

Councilor Fred Lichtwark, pictured, is said to have sent an ‘Utu Complete’ text to former Regional Council Chairman Russ Rimmington which was laminated last month

“Complete Utu.”

That’s the wording of a text reportedly sent by Waikato Regional Councilor Fred Lichtwark to his colleague Russ Rimmington after the latter was removed as chairman last month.

The allegation is contained in documents published at Things this week after a request to the Hamilton High Court about a judicial review of the eviction initiated by Rimmington.

An earlier alleged text from Lichtwark to Rimmington in April read “Karma delivered,” said an affidavit from Rimmington, which believed it was a reference to a group of councilors agreeing to vote on his leadership.

* More political heat arose over decisions to overthrow the Rimmington from the regional council
* Review puts extra pressure on Rimmington ahead of key leadership vote
* Offer to lift sanctions, regional councilor Fred Lichtwark withdrawn

The details of the alleged texts are the most important new information described in the court documents.

Rimmington claimed Lichtwark had a predetermined view of how he would vote on May 9 and therefore should not have participated. Had he stepped down, Rimmington says he would still be president.

Through judicial review, he is seeking to have the vote declared invalid, reclaim the position of its president, and pay the costs.

The papers delivered to Things do not include anything from Lichtwark.

A document from a regional council lawyer dated June 10 said Lichtwark had not yet had a chance to formally respond to the allegations made in the court documents. He had therefore requested that the documents not be released to the media at this stage. He also suggested that the court documents contained information about Lichtwark’s communications with other advisers, some of which were intended to be confidential or sent in error.

But on June 20, Judge Neil Campbell preferred to allow access because the proceedings involved a public body and elected officials, and the request for documents came from the media.

Russ Rimmington is fighting to reclaim his position as chairman of the Waikato Regional Council.

Tom Lee / Stuff

Russ Rimmington is fighting to reclaim his position as chairman of the Waikato Regional Council.

Rimmington’s affidavit said that if proper processes were not followed to fire him, the situation should be quickly rectified. It was important that the issue be addressed well before the local elections this year.

He said that ahead of the vote there was a clear legal opinion about the risk Councilor Lichtwark’s public comments would be evidence that he had predetermined his vote and that Rimmington’s impeachment could be challenged if he voted. Lichtwark was one of 8 out of 14 councilors who rejected him.

“If Councilor Lichtwark had disqualified himself, as I believe he should have, the motion would not have passed” with the necessary eight votes, Rimmington said.

“Later that day… I received a text message from Councilor Lichtwark in which he said ‘Utu Complete’.

“He has, in effect, ended what happened on the one hand by referring to ‘karma’ and on the other hand by referring to ‘utu’.”

Another document from Rimmington’s attorney submits that Lichtwark “disadvantaged” Rimmington due to ongoing issues with Lichtwark’s behavior towards other councilors. Lichtwark’s texts, media comments and complaints against Rimmington meant he should not have voted.

The attorney’s paper goes on to seek a statement that Lichtwark should have disqualified themselves, the decision be reversed, Rimmington reinstated and that Lichtwark should not vote on any future motion to remove Rimmington. Fees were also requested.

Lichtwark said on Thursday that he still had not filed documents in court. He said that, on legal advice, his only comment was, “I voted as I did in the interest of the region and the Waikato Regional Council. It was not predetermined. »

A hearing date has not yet been set, the court said.

Elna M. Lemons