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A local councilor apparently edits his own Wikipedia page | News

A Wikipedia user by the name of “Leevandervis” has made changes to the Wikipedia page of Lee Vandervis, a Dunedin town councilor with a history of making controversial headlines.

The reviewer received a tip about changes made to Vandervis’ Wikipedia page on April 26, listed as “updated facts and dates” by a user called “Leevandervis”. Vandervis later confirmed that it was his account. Critic Te Arohi was made aware of Wiki’s changes at noon on Thursday 28th, leaving Lee little time to respond, but forwarded his earlier responses to “a similar outrageous attempt to rush and sensationalise a non- history by the ODT who can also answer your questions”.

Some changes were simple, like correcting his birth year. Some involved adding new information, such as: “Lee Vandervis was teased at school because of his Dutch name ‘Lieuwe’, which he later changed to ‘Lee’ by act of poll.” It’s unclear who added this, but Lee clarified that “I was teased at school for being the only blonde boy in class who was regularly called ‘snow’, for being Dutch, ‘going back to Holland’ , though he was born in Balclutha, and for having an uncommon name, Lieuwe, which I afterwards simplified to Lee by act of sounding.

Another change included editing a line about Lee Vandervis settling “a libel lawsuit against [former] Mayor [David] Cull for $50,000,” to read: “In July 2017, Vandervis settled a libel suit against Mayor Cull receiving only NZ$50,000…”

Recently, Vandervis filed a complaint against him for allegedly abusing a Dunedin City Council parking attendant for a parking meter. It was his 12th complaint received. Vandervis always insisted his parking ticket was ‘due to a faulty parking meter’, not negligence on his part, and said ‘it was not a ‘parking ticket incident’ as misrepresented repeatedly by the media, but it was my complaint of a DCC Staff member and his subsequent complaint of my way, who refused to take the details and identification number of a faulty parking meter with signage defective, a defective part return and a defective receipt, all defects having subsequently been repaired.

There have been substantial changes to the section on the parking ticket saga. The version edited by user “Leevandervis” is below, alongside the current version, reversed (at the time of printing).

Those changes didn’t last long: an eagle-eyed Wikipedia editor reverted them just 34 minutes later, citing a “conflict of interest.” They also sent user Leevandervis a message saying, “If you are Lee Vandervis, you must declare a conflict of interest per Wiki guidelines.”

Leevandervis version:
In mid-September 2019, a twelfth complaint was filed against Vandervis through CEO Bidrose after he allegedly verbally assaulted a DCC staff member for refusing to write down details of a faulty parking machine. Video evidence of this alleged abusive interaction was first withheld by the DCC, but later forced into the public arena by Vandervis’ appeal to the Ombudsman. The DCC leaks to social and local print media falsely reframed Vandervis’ complaint about a staff member as an attempt by Vandervis to get a $12 parking ticket.

The unprecedented use of the DCC code of conduct by a staff member, as well as the alleged abuse of process and misrepresentation of the code of conduct by the investigator and CEO Bidrose came under scrutiny legal action brought against the DCC and the investigator by Vandervis, currently on appeal against Judge Gendal’s negative decision in the High Court. Vandervis disputed the complaint and uploaded CCTV footage to social media to support his claim that he did not verbally abuse the staff member. On December 10, Vandervis was censured by his fellow advisers for the alleged incident of staff abuse.

Inverted version:
In mid-September 2019, a twelfth complaint was filed against Vandervis after he allegedly verbally assaulted certain DCC staff for a parking ticket. Vandervis disputed the complaint and uploaded CCTV video to social media to support his claim that he did not verbally abuse. David Benham, chairman of the Otago Regional Council’s Audit and Risk Sub-Committee, has been tasked with carrying out an independent investigation into the matter. On December 10, Vandervis was censured by his fellow councilors for the parking ticket incident. In response, he alleged that his privacy was breached at a critical time during the election campaign.

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