Let's see, shall we?
Deafening Wall of Silence 1. The Walden family are trying to get key green belt reclassified for urban development - land which coincidentally they own. Paul Walden, who is , by some amazing coincidence a member of the Walden family, is also Chair of the Local Board. He has been asked countless times in countless fora what his stance on this, but he refuses to comment. Given his position of potential influence, even King Lear could spot the conflict of interest. But like Old Man River, he don't say nuttin'. Nefarious skullduggery? You might say that, I couldn't possible comment.
Deafening silence number 2. Let's move on to another, shall we? Eons ago, in their desperate pursuit of a new pool at any cost, the LB commissioned a feasibility study, at a cost of $25000, to see if school land was the answer. Putting aside the fact that this was an extraordinary waste of money, as even a dead hedgehog could have pointed out the impracticalities of such a scheme, the said study was promised by the end of April. Just to clarify, that was April 2014. Not April 2015, although given the absence of any such study materialising, it's entirely probable that April 2015 is a more likely release date. By some amazing coincidence, the actual recipient of the cash appears to be one John Stansfield, boyfriend of socialist politican Denise Roach, who masterminded the LB's election campaign. But despite the many, direct questions on the subject, the LB refuse to give an answer. Nefarious skullduggery? You might say that, I couldn't possible comment.
Deafening silence number 3. And then there's the matter of the secretive and slightly sinister Blackpool Residents Association, formed shortly after the local elections, and the immediate recipients of enough cash to plant thousands of fruit trees on every berm in Waiheke. Who is this covert group? No-one knows. Why were they deemed eligible, suitable even, to administer so much of our cash on such a spurious idea? Despite repeated questioning, the LB refuse to clarify the situation. Or to identify BRA members. It is rumoured, however, that one Millie Watkins, an ardent campaigner on behalf of the LB members during the election, is a key force in the BRA. Nefarious skullduggery? You might say that, I couldn't possible comment.
Given the levels of knowledge, experience and intellectual capital of the Board members, it would be all too easy to dismiss this as a simple case of moronic incompetence. But there is a pattern emerging here, a pattern as wide as a Texan herringbone. Large sums of public money are vanishing into the pockets of unelected, unaccountable people, who appear, again by amazing coincidence, to be friends of the LB.
Even if the conspiracy theorists are wrong, and there is an innocent explanation, you would have thought that the LB had the gumption to provide it. The longer these deafening walls of silence continue, the more people will put two and two together and get words like corruption and misappropriation popping into their heads.
And why, you might ask, are the public not joining in and baying for answers? Could it be that, having elected this Board on a tidal wave of hysterical righteousness, they are simply ashamed and embarrassed to admit they were wrong? Or do they perhaps fear reprisals? It's safe to say they will be no more than fair weather friends.
When the truth emerges, when the recriminations begin, they will distance themselves faster than Usain Bolt. But until that day we must continue to dwell on opposite sides of a Chinese wall so impenetrable it beggars belief, a wall of absolute disdain for rate payers, a wall of complete unaccountability, the Great Wall of Waiheke. By Jerry Flay