In a letter to the editor, Gulf News 13 August, John Meeuwsen suggested that a Waiheke Council would be able to seek guidance from the community on significant legal matters through conduits 'like this newspaper'.
I find this interesting because it is the editor's right to select those letters which go forward for publication. This can create an unbalanced debate if the editor uses that right to protect a particular bias.
Below are two letters I have recently sent to the editor of the Gulf News. Both these letters are written to meet the current guidelines for publication although a number of letters published, and in this I include letters written by John Meeuwsen, fall well outside those guidelines.
Neither of these letters were published.
OPEN LETTER TO LOCAL BOARD MEMBERS
It is clear that all of you, directly or indirectly, support One Waiheke in its bid to de-amalgamate from Auckland City.
Your chairman Paul Walden was involved in discussions with John Meeuwsen and the Local Government Commission at the outset.
He is quoted as saying that he told Len Brown that the board wants the island to break away and establish an independent council.
How can you claim that de-amalgamation is not a stance of the board?
Support by petition for Our Waiheke’s proposal represents 0.18% of affected electors.
Our Waiheke claim 65% of respondents to their on-line survey supported de-amalgamation.
Those indicating support for de-amalgamation however, represent a statistically insignificant 2.79% of all eligible Waiheke ratepayers with off-island addresses and residents on the electoral roll.
These figures clearly do not give a mandate for change.
Yet week after week we are fed a diet of information aimed at undermining and destabilising our relationship with Auckland.
Mr Meeuwsen in an open letter to Len Brown says there would be cost ramifications, in money, in disruption, staff implications etc and that these would be legitimate concerns.
Are these not of equal concern to Waiheke Island ratepayers?
Comments from supporters of Our Waiheke provide ample evidence that de-amalgamation is not about independence, it’s about control.
None of you display the leadership qualities required to inspire and unify a divided community.
In the interests of honesty and transparency there is an ethical obligation on Our Waiheke to disclose all their sources of funding to remove any question of influence.
Now is the time for you to openly state your position in respect to de-amalgamation.
If you support de-amalgamation and it does not proceed your position would be untenable.You should step aside.
TIED UP IN KNOTS
I have found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with Mr Meeuwsen’s inability to give anything near a straightforward answer to any of the issues I have raised in my recent letters.
Instead he continues to tie himself up in knots.
His letter ‘The length of string’ offers more of the same (Gulf News, 3 September).
In reference to the functions of regional councils he says “..almost none of the long list of functions are applicable to Waiheke - they relate to functions that a Waiheke Council would need to deal with for itself.”
I am confused.
He goes on to inform readers that "we do not share land or water contamination issues with the wider region nor do we share natural and physical resources therefore none of these functions are applicable to Waiheke".
I am even more confused!
The Resource Management Act is quite clear. Every regional council is required to achieve integrated management of the natural and physical resources within its region.
Does Mr Meeuwsen believe we have no natural or physical resources on the island? That we are unlikely to ever face problems with land or water contamination?
In response to my question of why no allowance was made for legal advice/costs in the proposed budget, Mr Meeuwsen claims he has done his best to address my concerns.
In that respect he has sadly failed.
I am grateful however to Mr Meeuwsen for enlightening me on how to create an affordable budget.
If you can’t calculate a dollar figure for any particular item, leave it out.
Or alternatively write the words ‘How long is a piece of string?’ alongside that item.