Lame duck Mayor Len Brown lost another vote in Council yesterday. This time it was his attempt to stop CCOs submitting against the provision in the Unitary Plan to line Maori pockets through 'cultural impact assessments'.
I received this press release from Councillor Cameron Brewer.
Len Brown rolled on keeping key CCOs silent on Cultural Impact Assessments
I’ve always been very suspicious of the motivation behind this provision in the Unitary Plan. It affects development significantly, especially so on Waiheke where many of the 3600 identified sites can be found around every part of our coastline. If you think resource consents cost a bomb now you’ll find crossing the palms of up to 31 iwi for each consent will send the price through the roof. I can’t help wondering if this is the price Maori have extracted for keeping silent about the mayor’s disgusting use of the Ngati Whatua room.
Mr Brewer says with this specific issue in mind, both CCOs last month asked the Mayor and councillors that they be allowed to put in their own full standalone submissions to the independent hearings panel reviewing the draft Unitary Plan, after being instructed by the Mayor they were not to in an earlier letter he sent to CCOs.
Len Brown has been an authortitarian Mayor from the start. Your previous Board protested strongly about his diktat to exclude Local Boards from making submissions but to no avail. Len Brown MUST Stand Down.
This week seems to be Local Board censorship week. Today I question why the Waiheke Local Board is putting some correspondence on the Business Meeting agenda and not others. Is it because they will only deal with issues raised by their supporters and ignore everyone else (i.e. the vast majority of the community).
So far this week I’ve covered the following:
Ken Edwards wrote this letter to Paul Walden on 14 January, copied to Mike Lee, expressing his concerns about the mess on the Causeway Reserve.
This letter should have appeared on the 30 Jan or the 13 Feb agendas let alone the 27 Feb. To date Mr Edwards has received no acknowledgement from Walden, not even to the follow up letter he sent 10 days ago. Why?
Letters to the Board making representations on various matters are just as legitimate for bringing issues to the Board’s attention as Public Forum. What is disturbing is when only certain letters are acknowledged and not others.
Censorship, favouritism, cronyism, wasteful spending and nothing actually getting done are becoming the hallmarks of this Board.
People don’t write letters for fun they want answers to the issues they raise. Not giving them one doesn’t mean the issue will go away, at least not while I’m around.
The new Local Board forbids the taking of photographs of elected members during their open business meetings and the press capitulates without a murmur. Where were the howls of protest at the gagging of the media from the media themselves?
Were there any of the usual photos of the meeting? Photos of public forum submitters waxing lyrical about their favourite issues?
The last Board was regularly subjected to photography - anything from cameras to amateur film makers plotting block busters with themselves as the main characters: enthusiastic amateurs taking videos to display on Facebook and Waiheke Cinema. Where now are the microphones of Waiheke Radio capturing the eloquent words and erudite musings of Board members? True, they wouldn’t hear much. The silence from Board members is deafening.
Already widely known as the voice of the Green Party, Waiheke's local papers need to refocus and stand up for their media rights. They're not the official mouthpiece of the Board – are they? Council has a vast communications department to deal with that. Come on guys - the headlines should read - "Public muzzled - cameras banned by Local Board" and the follow-up an exposé of why local bodies can't stop the general public from taking photos of them at work.'
It’s hard to hold the press here in any regard when they fail to uphold their own freedoms. Until they do they're not worth the paper they’re printed on.
Waiheke Local Board Chair Paul Walden informed the public at the Board’s last Business meeting that they weren’t allowed to take photographs of Board members at a PUBLIC meeting. Apart from being an outrageous abuse of his authority it simply ain't so.
Let me set the record straight for Paul and everyone else who attends Local Board meetings. Read this advice taken for the website of the NZ Police Federation. You will find it very instructive.
What are the rules around taking photos or filming in a public place?
There’s nothing more public than a meeting of a Local Board or Council. There’s nobody more openly accountable than local elected representatives.
Imagine where the banning of taking photos in public places could take us! Is the local media included in this ban by the Board? No more photos in the local papers?
Do we need to put up a sign to alert tourists who may want to take a photo of Oneroa shops and people in the street to put on their Facebook? “No locals on camera please”.
I know it’s an inconvenience this democracy thing, but just a friendly piece of advice, this is not the inclusive approach you all promised. Such an action flies in the face of transparency and democracy and reeks of secrecy.
A ban on photography by the Board won't hold up in court and has no foundation in law. It’s a slippery slope.
Let’s not be the bad boys of Auckland Council. Fess up Paul and admit your mistake.
The untimely death of media personality Charlotte Dawson has once again turned the spotlight on the darker side of social media.
Social media can be useful, but for infantile minds that have never progressed beyond the school playground, Facebook and Twitter are fertile grounds for their childish spite and envy. Bullying is rife in the internet playground. Even here on Waiheke there's a site (the aptly named WIPP) where Facebook bullies have urged others to kill themselves. Sadly, the consequences for the subjects of abuse who have unstable personalities, especially those suffering from depression, can be fatal.
David Farrar has this to say about the tragedy on Kiwiblog:
Dawson was very open about her battle with depression. Many were supportive of her, but there were quite a few who were incredibly nasty towards her on Twitter and urged her to kill herself. I hope those people who took part in her tormenting go through a period of soul searching.
It is sad and bad when bullying leads to this.
A prime example of how social media bullying can escalate into abuse was demonstrated on WIPP over the weekend.
On Saturday evening I posted a blog, with photographs, of the ‘Stand Down Len Brown’ protest march up Queen St that day. Local Board Chairboy, Paul Walden, showed his immaturity by re-posting the photographs to the WIPP site knowing it would lead to a feeding frenzy of personal abuse. Naturally this ensued. It was clear he knew what he was doing because he refused to remove the thread even when urged to do so after the bullying turned into abuse. The bullying only ended when the subject of some of the abuse threatened legal action.
As chairman of a local board Walden needs to understand that his actions reflect on Council as an organisation. The organisation has a code of conduct for how elected representatives deal with the public. He disrespects the position when he behaves in this manner.
He forgets he represents ALL of us. His bad example is becoming repetitive (see my Conduct Unbecoming blog). His actions only encourage the growing reputation of Waiheke as Auckland Council's recalcitrant child.
They’re having a junket
You’re paying for it
Have you got your invite?
As a Waiheke ratepayer have you received one of these?
You are invited to ‘Get on Board!’
Are you happy that $15,000 of your rates money is being spent to “grow awareness of key issues and opportunities within the Hauraki Gulf” when another massive chunk (in the millions $$$$$) is already being spent by Auckland Council to do the same thing and much more in developing a Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan.
With the national elections later this year, a captive audience and Green Party agenda, are we hapless ratepayers funding a floating election campaign?
If you haven’t received your invitation yet you should be asking members of the local board or the organiser why you’ve been excluded. Better still why not turn up on the day and go aboard, if you can stomach the propaganda.
After all, you’ve paid for it.
Monday 24 Feb 4pm is the deadline for submissions on the Waiheke Local Board Draft Annual Plan and Local Board Agreement. Make your submission NOW. Here's how.
Even if you've already made a submission you can make more. Feel free to use any of mine.
Step 1. Follow this link
Step 2. Fill in the personal details
Step 3. Tick 'Waiheke Local Board' and a set of questions comes up.
Step 4. Answer the questions. Here's my submission. Feel free to use any or all of it.
I checked the support a community swimming pool option but made the following comment.
I do not support a swimming pool on Ministry of Education land. Such a pool would be a school pool. A community pool would be open to the public at all times.
Questions 3c options 1,2,3, I checked the ‘do not support’ option and made the following comment to all these questions.
I am opposed to all the changes to the budget. The projects outlined were identified as a result of a full community consultation process by the previous Waiheke Local Board. If it continues it will result in over $1.4 million of Waiheke ratepayers money being handed back to Auckland Council. It will not result in a community swimming pool.
Q3c 4 Cut and paste any or all of the following
Submission to Waiheke Local Board Draft Local Board Agreement 2014/15
Only two are new the rest have already been achieved.
Local Recreation Services
Remove the additional $35k additional expenditure on the school gym (Waiheke Recreation Centre). Where’s the value for the ratepayer?
“Provide regular and accessible communication from the Waiheke Local Board to our communities.” How is this to be achieved? The Board Chair has publicly stated he will ONLY communicate through the Gulf News and Facebook. This effectively disenfranchises large segments of the community.
Q5 Cut and paste any or all of the following
Submission to Waiheke Local Board Draft Annual Plan 2014/15
I am opposed to all the changes to the budget. The projects outlined were identified as a result of a full community consultation process. If it continues it will result in over $1.4 million of Waiheke ratepayers money being handed back to Auckland Council. It will not result in a community swimming pool.
Advocacy to the Governing Body
The plan is anti-tourism and economic development.
Remove the “Advocate to the governing body that Council uses its own resources to support economic development on Waiheke.” In other words "let the Governing Body and CCOs pay for economic development, we won't use our local board budget". This contradicts the item under ‘Local Economic Development’ that says there is a key initiative including “Continuing to focus on local economic development including working with local businesses and business association’.
Retain rather than remove the advocacy for a ‘High profile for Waiheke and the Hauraki Gulf Islands within the Auckland Visitor Plan.” This advocacy item was deliberately added by the previous Waiheke Local Board in its 2013/14 Annual Plan to ensure continuing advocacy for Waiheke WITHIN the Auckland Visitor Plan after it was adopted in 2012. Without its inclusion there is no advocacy for the tourism industry within the board’s plan.
The humiliation of Len Brown, and with him Auckland, continues despite his attempt to brazen it out.
The problem he has is that once people have their attention focused on someone’s shortcomings they start taking a closer look at other aspects of their life and work. The focus has switched to his profligacy. Massive rate rises and ballooning debt are bankrupting the city and it's you and I who are paying.
One Waiheke resident, Will Ryan, has had enough. He is so upset by the mayor’s lack of accountability that he’s helping organise today’s ‘Stand Down, Len Brown’ protest in the city. This is why they’re protesting.
Since Mr Brown's first budget in 2011, debt has risen from $3.9 billion and is projected to reach $6.7 billion this financial year. The council borrows $2.5 million and $1 million thrown at interest repayments daily.
There’s a healthy contingent of Waiheke folk going along. Be there at the Square. QE2 Square to Airedale St, noon to 1pm, today.
Instead of birds being decimated to make way for highly inefficient, heavily subsidised wind farms, the red throated diver has struck a blow for birds and bird lovers everywhere.
In doing so it will help hard pressed British householders facing ever steeper power prices because of the hugely expensive ‘renewables’ industry, or should we call them ‘unreliables’.
The Daily Telegraph reports:
Bless the birds, is all I can say. At last the wind is blowing in the right direction against the subsidy-rich, environmentally unfriendly, profiteering of big Green business.
Who are the real fools in the Dotcom saga?
This from the NZ Herald yesterday:
Tycoon says he will pay $500,000 owed but claims lack of funds.
Having financial dealings with people tells you a huge amount about their trustworthiness and integrity. There are plenty of shysters out there who are happy to spend other people’s money and never pay them back. Sometimes they are local politicians who, as the saying goes, ‘can fool some of the people all of the time’. Those that trust such people are the real fools.
When three of our political parties go knocking on Dotcom’s door – the Greens, naturally, NZ First, stupidly, and Labour, unbelievably – you no longer have to wonder who are the real fools.
Yesterday's Herald revealed that "TVNZ unit manager Shane Taurima has resigned from the state broadcaster after revelations he took part in a Labour Party hui and that TVNZ facilities were used to host Labour Party meetings. Taurima has Labour party ambitions. "
3 News further revealed:
Documents obtained by 3 News show the state broadcaster is being used to help Labour’s cause.
As Kiwiblog’s David Farrar comments:
This is appalling and there must be a full independent inquiry into how this happened. Having the resources of the state broadcaster used to help the Labour Party fund raise and campaign plan is not far off political corruption.
He goes on to pose several telling questions including:
How many TVNZ Maori unit staff are Labour Party activists? At least four are known of, which destroys any notion that the TVNZ Maori Unit is delivering politically neutral programmes?
I have long wondered about the neutrality of our State broadcasters on both radio and TV. Although Labour is in the gun over this issue I have been concerned for some time at the increasing sympathy and coverage for hard left causes in the state controlled media.
As we’ve seen, once media stops being balanced and is controlled by a single political party it is all but impossible for any other viewpoint to get widespread attention and that is bad for democracy.
Farrar is right to call for an full external enquiry into this matter by the Auditor General.
600 strong petition ignored by new Waiheke Local Board.
The long campaign to get unique dog access on beaches rules for Waiheke is in danger of falling at the final hurdle if the Waiheke Local Board doesn’t reverse its decision to take no action.
Region-wide rules that would have meant draconian restrictions for dog access on beaches were strongly opposed by a group on Waiheke led by local resident Barbara Wilkinson. She organised a petition signed by 600 Waiheke residents to get the Governing Body to allow exemption for Waiheke. With backing from the previous Board, together they changed the mind of the Governing Body, no mean feat, and won.
All that remains is for the new Board is to allow Council officers to complete the process and Waiheke would then have its own unique time and access rules for dogs on beaches by next summer.
But this new Board don’t want to know. At their December meeting they voted instead to delay the process but tasked BM (Board Member) Treadwell with contacting the Council for further information.
At the January business meeting of the board Barbara Wilkinson made the following plea and again the Board took no action.
On behalf of Waiheke dog owners I ask that the Board do not delay but instead request Council staff to continue with the process to go out for public notification on the summer beach time and season rule for dogs on Waiheke. This will enable the appropriate steps to be followed by the Council cut off time of mid year in order for the new rule to be in place for summer 2014/2015.
Treadwell was asked to report back on her call to Council. After nearly two months the hard worked Treadwell made the pathetic reply that she had made a call but the officer was out. No problem, BM Brown came to the rescue and told her she had another month to talk to the officer. The real reason behind Brown's lack of enthusiasm for this request could be gleaned from her response to Wilkinson that "not all dogs are nice are they."
No wonder Wilkinson and dog owners are outraged. The contempt shown by this Board to 600 resident dog owners may well come back to bite them.
Undemocratic processes, suspect 'projects', behind closed door meetings, accusations of wasting ratepayers money are becoming the norm for Waiheke Local Board. They may be skating on thin ice
At its December meeting, the new Waiheke Local Board allocated $20,000 of its discretionary SLIPs (small local improvements projects) money for planting fruit trees. While this might seem a laudable thing to do, it was done without a request from the public, without an officers scoping report (as is usual practice under Council’s SLIPs process) and without a formal recommendation from a Board workshop.
Now this might seem like small bikkies, but it highlights the lack of process the new Board is slipping into and the slippery slope that can happen when transparency goes out the window. It can lead to accusations of favouritism when ratepayers money finds its way into the pockets of their supporters.
In January, a Notice of Motion (NOM) saw $25,000 of ratepayer’s hard earned money given to two schools to employ a consultant to write them a report on how to run a community swimming pool on school land.
The proper place to debate and fund SLIPs projects is through the SLIPs officer’s report – first requesting ‘scoping’ to determine whether or not ‘value for money’ can be achieved and whether, in the officer’s professional opinion the proposal is a goer and secondly – a formal Board resolution to ‘approve’ the necessary funding.
It’s a slippery slope Board members – today $20,000, tomorrow who knows … the entire SLIPs budget to fund a school swimming pool?
Recent media reports say the Health Police have targeted ‘sugary drinks’ as the 'next big thing' to ban/tax/make you feel guilty about.
Who are these ‘professors’ who regularly come out with ‘research’ that concludes we must stop eating this fatty food or stop dinking that calorie-rich drink. They’re academics who, lets face it, don’t live in the real world but know how to manipulate the system to get funding.
Their reports invariable tell us so many extra deaths occur because of over-consumption of whatever is today’s pet hate (it's imperative you must be made to feel guilty). The next thing is off they go to some world-wide conference overseas at taxpayers expense, out of which comes a ‘international’ movement to ‘fight obesity’ imploring governments to act now to fight the war on diabetes or whatever.
He’s the truth - we’re war weary, we’re taxed out, we’ve lived long enough to know we’ve got to die of something. We’re sceptical about everything you say, because the message is the same every time, and we HATE being told how we MUST live our lives.
An additional Waiheke Local Board target rate is the likely outcome to pay for a swimming pool on school grounds.
A stony silence from Waiheke Local Board members greeted a presentation from the public at last night’s local board meeting that the Oneroa Bowling Club site at Alison Park would be best for a community pool. The presenter was concerned that access for the community would not be a reality if the pool was built on Ministry of Education land.
Certainly the bowling club site at Alison Park has merit. It’s a recreation reserve, is large enough to accommodate the necessary disposal fields, has a bore and was one of 5 potential sites listed in the $30k Feasibility Study completed only last July and approved in September 2013. It’s handy to bus routes and accessible to all.
But why the stony silence? Maybe it’s because a deal has already been done behind closed doors with the schools. The Board has signalled loud and clear it is only willing to consider a pool on school grounds. It has done so by gifting a further $25,000 of ratepayers money to the schools (see schools win rates budget) to progress a school pool. This despite the fact that the Local Board is supposed to be getting feedback from the public during its public submissions period for the Draft Annual Plan before a decision is made.
It’s not like we haven’t been here before. Waiheke Island Indoor Swimming Pool Committee and Auckland City Council formed a Facilities Partnership in 2005 for a pool sited at Waiheke High School with confirmed funding of $1.6 million towards development of an indoor swimming pool complex at the High School. An indoor pool was identified as the only option for community use such as aquarobics, lap swimming and relaxation. However, the money was dependent on financial support from the Ministry of Education. This was not forthcoming, the project was not progressed, and the $1.6 million went back into Council coffers.
It looks like the Board has decided to go it alone. The proposed ‘model’ doing the rounds is little more than a rebuild of the Te Huruhi open-air facility. The $30k Feasibility Study identified Te Huruhi School as a site with significant drawbacks for public use. There are wastewater disposal concerns at any site within the High School because of the nearby 50 year coastal erosion zone.
Nothing public has yet been heard from either the School Boards or the Ministry of Education.
But the real elephant in the room is who is going to pay for the ongoing maintenance and operating costs? Other Local Boards have target rated their ratepayers.
Is this what over-burdened Waiheke ratepayer can expect from this local board for a SCHOOL pool the majority of ratepayers will never use?
Submit for a community pool and against a swimming pool on Ministry of Education land now by following this link submit against this proposal
This timely article by Rebecca Quilliam in the Herald on Tuesday adds weight to the argument put forward by Ken Edwards in Monday’s blog Muddy Waters 4 that cell phone towers are safe. Refussal to print Ken’s letters on this topic of continuing international and local interest reflect badly on Gulf News. It’s worth reading the comment on the blog by Liffey. It underlines why accusations that the paper is biased persist.
Cellphone cancer fear quashed - report
And that’s the point about catastrophising isn’t it. It preys on people’s lack of scientific knowledge, reinforces fears and prejudices, feeds passive aggressive behaviour, and gives people a sense of moral righteousness, even when they are faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
The final arbiter on this matter is not what people say but what they do. Try removing the erstwhile doubters from their tablets and smartphones and watch the peace, love and tie-dyed passive person turn into a very aggressive war, hate and bandoliered insurgent.
MTHR chairman Professor David Coggon said when the programme was set up there were many "scientific uncertainties" about the possible health risks from cellphone use.
So can someone tell me why Gulf News didn’t want to publish Ken Edward’s letter?
Almost $50,000 left in the pot for environmental projects has been frittered away by the new, so-called ‘Green’ Board. Instead, the money will be spent on a junket for Board members and mates and for commissioning a private consultant’s report for Waiheke High School (isn’t that a Ministry of Education responsibility, I hear you say?).
As of last October, over $50,000 SLIPs (small local improvement projects) operational (OPEX) funding was still sitting in the Local Board budget. Traditionally, successive Waiheke Community and Local Boards have allocated any residual OPEX funds to environmental projects and particularly weed control. The previous Local Board initiated an ambitious on-going restoration of the regionally significant Rangihoua and nationally significant Te Matuku wetlands, the biggest community restoration projects in the Auckland region. The left over budget was intended to further progress these projects.
This is a so-called Green Board with close Green Party connections. Claiming to be Green means putting your money where your mouth is. Right now, Board members are showing themselves to be anything but environmental and sustainable. Wasteful is the word that best comes to mind.
Let’s be quite clear. The Green Party is no longer a niche ‘environmental’ party. They are a hard left socialist (some might say Communist) political movement. True environmentalists like well respected founding member Jeanette Fitzsimons have been replaced by neo-communists like Russell Norman and hard left unionists like Denise Roche. As Ms Roche once pontificated at the Local Board table, “It’s not about the environment”.
Seriously, is this duplicity what the nation can expect from a ruling Labour/Green party government?
Let’s face it, Green is main stream thinking now. Labour should stand on their own two feet, keep their own identity, build up their own support and distance themselves from this toxic brand.
I love contrarian stories, especially when they challenge the health, food, drink and drugs police, or anything PC for that matter. Thanks to the Paul Henry show for alerting me to this gem from the Daily Mail.
Half of donor lungs come from smokers: Fifth are from people with 20-a-day habits
Just a reminder to be open minded when it comes to anti-smoking propaganda. Whilst there may be good reason to make people aware of the health risks of smoking it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad news for everyone.
I see the Brits are happily indulging in one of their favourite pastimes – self mortification.
The Daily Telegraph is running a series on Britain’s ‘Crap’ Towns in the Travel section of all places.
One comment struck me as particularly true – “The one thing that seems to be universally agreed is that 'planned' towns are almost always grim and dismal places. Those that happen by chance are generally not.” Agreed!
I scrolled through the picks, readers picks and comments and was truly astonished not to see my birthplace feature AT ALL.
The east end of Manchester is classed as the 11th most deprived area in Britain and is currently getting a make-over called the Urban Regeneration Scheme.
I am aware there are many Whinging Poms who love to run down the old country. Now’s your chance.
I’ll be first cab off the and will nominate Openshaw
What are your picks?