In the midst of the city's affordable housing crisis, what does the Auckland Council do? It bends all the rules to fast-track the erection of a mock ye olde state house, complete with a $705,000 Venetian crystal chandelier. Where? On Queens Wharf, the nation's most expensive piece of real estate.
This is the wharf liberated for "public use" in 2009 at a cost to you and me of $40 million. But in the future, when we promenade down it to enjoy the priceless harbour panorama, the view will be dominated by a two thirds-sized model of a 1960s, "nappy valley" special.
Throughout the process, the council has ignored all its commitments to producing integrated plans for the waterfront, the CBD and Queens Wharf, some of which will be open to public consultation. Instead, the whole process has been fuelled by the promise of the million-dollar gift.
In the latest report, we're told: "Auckland Council pledged support for the project including making a commitment to the location of the art work at Queens Wharf, timely delivery, financial support for consents and assistance with securing additional funding if necessary."
I challenge anyone to produce an agenda or a report recording any such vote. None took place.
It suits undemocratic politicians like those we have on the Waiheke Local Board to have Council officials who have the bureaucratic freedom to ride roughshod over due process and accountability. It means they can get away with wasting our money with ease. $25,000 to John Stansfield for the school pool project without any accountability, a $15,000 junket, a $10,000 slush fund for the Chair and Deputy and a mindblowing $80,000 on fruit tress.
They're already swinging from the branches. There'll be a chandelier over the school pool next, you mark my words.