The biggest loser in the Waiheke Local Board’s (WLB) ‘reallocation’ of SLIPs (small local improvement projects) funding is the Friends of McKenzie Reserve. This Thursday’s WLB meeting will see funding of nearly $17,000, previously allocated to the Friends by the former Board for weed control, planting and signage, stopped.
The biggest winners are Board Chair Walden and Deputy Brown themselves. They are seeking to create a personal fund of $10k called the “Quick Response Small Projects Fund”. It will be a totally unaccountable fund requiring no Council officer oversight and specially created to circumvent Council’s Slips procedure.
It gives Walden and Brown carte blanche to spend as they see fit, rather in the way they gave John Stansfield, partner of Green Party list MP Denise Roche, $25k of ratepayers SLIPs money with no accountability on the pretext that it was for scoping a school pool. How it actually gets spent we’ll never know.
One could almost admire the deceitful way in which the item was buried in the small print. Only someone with Council experience would have picked it up. Under the reallocations line is “Parks furniture, fixings and illegal dumping budget”. You have to go to the specific form filled out by Walden to see that these are merely possible examples of how the budget might be used. In reality it’s $10k for themselves to spend how they like with no one being any the wiser. I see they’re already sporting new electric bikes.
It is the height of selfishness to even suggest allocating themselves so much ratepayers money at the expense of an outstanding example of a sustainable eco-friendly project. A small band of dedicated volunteers have worked for nearly a decade to improve a Council reserve. In return successive community and local board have supported their efforts by funding various projects on what is, after all, Council land. Most of the money is raised by the Friends themselves.
If this is what ‘sustainability’ means to Brown or what ‘green’ means to Walden we should all take note. It’s a small example of how the ‘Green’ Party would run the country. It's how they run the island.