Councillor offers to refund citizen insulted by rainbow path

Author
Vera Alves, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 21 Mar 2021, 3:36PM
An Upper Hutt ratepayer didn't like to see his rates go towards the rainbow steps. Photo / Dylan Bentley
An Upper Hutt ratepayer didn't like to see his rates go towards the rainbow steps. Photo / Dylan Bentley

Councillor offers to refund citizen insulted by rainbow path

Author
Vera Alves, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 21 Mar 2021, 3:36PM

A city councillor in Upper Hutt has offered to refund the citizen who expressed outrage at the painting of the steps at the City Council building in rainbow colours.

Upper Hutt City Councillor Dylan Bentley shared the complaint he received from a concerned citizen on Twitter, who took offence at the rainbow steps.

In response, the councillor offered to refund the ratepayer's portion of the money invested in painting the steps - which he said cost around five cents per ratepayer. In fact, Bentley went as far as doubling the refund, offering to give the man a ten-cent coin.

"Got some negative feedback about the new Rainbow painted steps at Upper Hutt City Council today so I responded," Bentley posted on Twitter, adding the hashtag #pride.

In the complaint, the unidentified resident said they have been a ratepayer in the area for 45 years and demanded to know why the steps had been painted in rainbow colours.

The ratepayer considered the rainbow "offensive" and demanded it be "removed immediately".

"To us a rainbow is a promise from God, way back in Genesis that he would never flood the Earth again," they wrote.

The councillor shared his response, in which he explained to the concerned ratepayer that the steps have been temporarily painted in rainbow colours "to show our support for our rainbow community during the Wellington Pride Festival which is currently taking place".

"I'm not sure in which grounds you find this offensive but to me I think it's a beautiful way to show our support for those in our city who are members of the rainbow community," Bentley added.

"Diversity is something we are proud of at Upper Hutt City Council."

Bentley then offered to refund the offended ratepayer.

"If your concern is the cost of these steps being painted then I can advise you that the cost works out at roughly 5 cents per ratepayer. If you would like this returned to you then forward me your mailing address and I'll send you a 10 cent coin to compensate."

He also suggested the ratepayer, who mentioned their offence was based on religious grounds, should take advice from the Bible itself and remember to "love thy neighbour".

Bentley closed off his reponse by wishing the person a "happy pride month".

The exchange went viral on Twitter, with people applauding the way the councillor handled the complaint.

"Thank you Dylan. Great work. Amazing reply. I haven't seen the steps, but they sound great," Auckland Councillor for the North Shore Richard Hills said.

"Love your work, Dylan," Max Tweedie, director of Auckland Pride, replied.

"I would not normally reply to bluntly to a ratepayer but it really irritated me the way they approached the situation," Bentley told the Herald.

He says feedback for the rainbow steps so far has been overwhelmingly positive and he is encouraged by the people's positive reaction.

"Most people are really positive but then some just like to complain," he added.

Bentley said he has an envelope and a ten-cent coin set aside for the ratepayer but, so far, has not heard back.