As Christchurch struggles to rebuild after three serious earthquakes, political bickering has broken out over the future of the city's top official.
One councillor says it is about national politics, while business leaders say Christchurch needs a better chief executive than in the past.
Christchurch City Council chief executive Tony Marryatt's contract is due to expire, but he wants to hang on to his job.
Mayor Bob Parker has backed Mr Marryatt so strongly that he has had to step aside from the selection process.
Councillors seem split roughly down the middle, leading to a swarm of mostly anonymous comments in the media.
Councillor Aaron Keown says the mayor's opponents want to destabilise Christchurch to prompt central government intervention in an election year.
Business leaders say the chief executive for the next five years needs broader skills than in the past, combined with a visible passion for Christchurch - but they say that is no comment on Mr Marryatt.