She will get all or most of it for two reasons. She is the mouthpiece for Paul Walden, Chair of the Waiheke Local board (WLB) on Waiheke social media where she attacks any opposition like a rabid Rottweiler, metaphorically tearing their throats out. Ironically, her bid is for money for Living Without Violence, a group she manages. She is backed in her bid by Harriet Crampton, whose former partner was of local board member Beatle Treadwell's brother, Greg. Greg Treadwell was for many years the lead journalist at the Gulf News. The result is a foregone conclusion.
What is emerging in a new and very worrying trend. Some community groups are receiving preferential treatment in their bids for ratepayer funding by by-passing the system.
Community groups go cap in hand to the Waiheke Local Board to get a share of the $40,000 available from the local grants budget or $20,000 from the Events Budget. They go to great trouble to prepare their applications. Most community organisations rely heavily on community volunteers and fundraising to survive and the few extra dollars they receive from the ratepayer go a long way to helping them achieve their modest goals.
The last Grant funding round before Christmas had 16 funding applications totalling $222,691. Of the $8425 granted only three Waiheke Groups got funding.
Citizens Advice Bureau - $1500
Waiheke Working Sail Charitable Trust - $2000 (What? Who?)
Living Without Violence (LWV) – $1925
Merran Lawler is the manager LWV so she was already one of only four applicatants to receive ratepayer largesse ($3000 went to a Rakino group). LWV is a regular recipient of ratepayer funding. Yet within weeks she is back asking for another $8000 ‘as a matter of urgency’ according to this week’s local board agenda.
She threatens that if the Board isn’t forthcoming with the money LWV might have to close (blackmail). The money is for ‘staff’ costs in the next couple of months to tide Lawler over until an anticipated ‘cheque in the mail’ for $45000 arrives in April. It is already the end of March. What happens if the cheque in the mail doesn’t arrive? Need you ask? It is you dear ratepayer who will pay Ms Lawler’s handsome wages.
This is becoming a farce.
Forget those arduous grant applications. Simply apply for funding as a matter of ‘emergency’ from the Local Board. It has a mountain of cash in its Locally Driven Initiatives Fund. This is new name for the old SLIPs budget (Small Local Improvements), the main source of discretionary money available to the Board totalling nearly $3 million over its three year term. It is supposed to be for new infrastructure projects of long term benefit to the island. There have been none from this funding source in three years.
Where has the $3 million gone? Good question, but that’s for answering in a later blog. However, you can surmise the answer from this article.
Another group granted funding under ‘urgency’ is Seaweek, a favourite of Paul Walden, who didn't manage to get their application in on time. No problem if you're one of the Board's favourites.
Or why not queue jump. ‘Once Upon An Island’, a private business, and regular recipient of ratepayer money has been allowed to jump the queue on the next round of Events Funding. The owner is a keen supporter of this Board and so gets $2000 to add the $3000 she has already received from this Board recently without the tedious business of having to compete with other community groups. The Board has specified that most of the money be spent on ads in the Gulf News, thereby propping up its ailing propaganda sheet with ratepayers money.
And so the merry-go-round of cronyism, favouritism and nepotism spins ever wilder.
And who is tipped to replace Shirin Brown as the Board’s preferred candidate in the October elections? Merran Lawler of course.