The first year of the second Waiheke Local Board saw unprecedented loss of previously gained budgets and such heel dragging over the first Local Board’s previously approved and budgeted projects that eventually resulted in this money being lost. This coupled with the lack of delivery of long established community events; a clear focus on rewarding one’s supporters; the loss of long-term budgets and foolish trickling of ratepayers’ hard earned money on endless plans and pipe dreams, should mean the writings on the wall for Walden.
So, let’s look at the alternatives:
Ousted Deputy Chair Shirin Brown. While Brown entered the race all guns blazing and hitched her so-called independent wagon to the EW ticket prior to the election, she quickly got off-side with her cohorts by daring to have a different view. She now claims that she was opposed to the Board’s failed attempts to divert their windfall budgets (gained by the first Board) and stash these in a ‘school swimming pool account’. Then she lost her head by supporting the Artworks tenants’ bid to make the old library space into the community activities space it was always intended to be. The irony is, that if Council community development officers had moved at less than glacial pace, all the collaboration with these and other interested groups and individuals would have occurred well before the 2013 elections and the ring fenced budget (at least $250,000) would have ensured this space was up and running shortly after the library’s move into its brand new building. Speaking of which, putting one’s name on the plaque of a civic building that one has had almost zero input into has got to be the height of arrogance – shame on you, Paul Walden for attempting to rewrite local history!
Shirin for Chair? She had the potential and went through the motions of doing the job far better than her colleagues, but for now her goose is probably cooked.
Current Deputy Chair, midwife Beatle Treadwell. Newer residents of the island, and even some older ones, might not be aware of the Treadwell connection with the local rag Gulf News. Liz Waters, long-time owner, publisher and editor of the Gulf News has acted as king-maker (and queen-maker in the case of her unashamed promotion of far left Green Party list MP Denise Roche) for Waiheke politics for many a long year now. Liz has presented the ‘news’ to support her far left political leanings and woe betide the political candidates or local politicians who have a mind of their own and don’t toe the Green line.
Gulf News once employed a journalist named Greg Treadwell. Greg was Liz’s right-hand man for many years. They saw the world the same way through ‘green tinted’ spectacles. He left the paper in 2005 for the more lucrative and influential post as lecturer in journalism at AUT. He is a judge at the NZ Community Newspapers Awards. The Gulf News regularly wins awards from that organisation. Beatle Treadwell is Greg Treadwell’s sister.
Because Treadwell is a commuter and works across the water, her time on Waiheke to minister to the community’s needs is strictly limited. This is as basic as making it to the Board meetings on time or at all. Firstly the Board meeting time was changed to 4.15pm because she was always late. She failed to make the new time so it has been changed again. Maybe she can now find the hours to put in the hard graft to earn her new position. Will the temptation of an additional $33,000 (ie. up to the Chair’s $56,000 salary) be sufficient for her to give Walden a nudge? If so Walden will have to watch his back. Treadwell has already demonstrated a ruthless streak in getting rid of Brown. She will have the influential backing of the Gulf News if she decides to make a power grab.
This leaves Becs Ballard and John Meeuwsen as the only other contenders. Bec's main claim to fame seems to be her childhood friendship with Paul and their shared church connection. With only two years on Waiheke under her belt, she’s also a commuter with two small children and a husband making further demands on her time. Her Board input to date puts her charge-out rate at $1,000 an hour. She hasn’t yet fathomed the importance of Board workshop attendance and community involvement. Surely the privilege of representing Waiheke is all hers.
So what of Meeuwsen. A fellow traveller of Walden and Ballard, he hitched his wagon to the EW team very late in the piece and based his appeal on his years of experience in non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This should have been a red flag to a community but once again Waiheke walked right into it. He promises he’ll be there and then finds he’s busy. How much longer he can keep this up is up to the people who supported him remains to be seen, especially as he's setting himself up as the new Nobilangelo. He’s already failed to step up to the plate for the Deputy Chair position by deciding ‘he didn’t need the experience’, so apart from the salary enticement we can assume he’s happy to sit back and accept the many delegations that his boss has lumped onto him. Disappointing, because his grey hairs might have suggested a more mature approach to the job and a return to the semblance of a dignified, more rational and responsible Local Board. It seems the opposite is true but more of that in another blog.
The ‘rotation’ ploy was a total success in the removal of Brown and I don’t see why it wouldn’t be employed again when the time comes, a year from now, when Treadwell is due to be rotated out of her Deputy Chair position. Or perhaps Brown should now be looking for the backing of Treadwell. At least Brown might put in the hours the Chair is substantially rewarded for and alleviate the burden of the Deputy Chair’s position from an already over-committed Treadwell - because it was always the intention to rotate the Chair’s position wasn’t it?
Oh I just can’t wait to see the next episode of the Waiheke Local Board drama unfold. It’s better than a having a box seat at that original Game of Thrones drama Macbeth.