finally admitted in ODT after my questioning, after years of refusing to print the renewals underspend graphs that I presented repeatedly. RENEWALS is what we should have been spending on, and should be spending on now instead of $60 million George st/Exchange pedestrianisation, $20 varsity ‘surface treatments’, and $53 million transportation ‘mode change’ projects. https://www.odt.co.nz/…/water-repairs-backlog-needs…
The Hitch-hiker’s Guide is an invaluable aid for understanding our Local Government, and for reading between the lines of the ODT.
VOGONS RUN THE UNIVERSE:
Our George Street is about to be demolished for a planned cycleway, with just One Way 10kph traffic necessary for emergency vehicle access. Nobody will be there to lie down in front of the diggers to protest, because Dunedinites have learned that resistance is futile. ‘Their’ Council will go ahead regardless because THEY KNOW BEST, despite all consultation, surveys and a 6,500 person signed petition.
Councillors are egged on by the booming number of DCC bureaucrats known elsewhere in the Universe as Vogons, an alien species whose public cost grows cumulatively at an unsustainable rate of 8% per year, and who are intent on destroying City Life as we know it. For the greater good. The greater bureaucracy! The greater planet! The only limiting influences on Vogon power and cost in theory are the Elected Representatives, but in practice only the Mayor can do much, and he is usually codependent with the Vogons anyway. The Councillors appear to be just pimples on the bum of Bureaucracy, and much more despised if they insist on being scratched occasionally. Decisions are pre-arranged on agendas, agenda items only can be discussed, and voting is almost always a rubber stamp inked by the Mayor’s A-team and other Team Players.
There is a rumour, quietly whispered, that some Elected Representatives are in fact interbreeds with the Vogon species, and have never done real work, never made any real money, and never produced anything other than screeds of words which they hold to be modern poetry.
Vogon poetry has evolved to its ideal in the DCC Fifty-Page-Plus-Report, where nothing is allowed to rhyme and where cut-and-paste-repetition is considered a high art form. A Vogon sub-species known as Consultants are routinely contracted to produce such Reports, which are given colour and variety with poetic devices like Light-Grey-Tiny-Fine-Print to add mystery, Rainbow-Coloured Pie-Charts for snap-shot diversions, and Coloured Graphs which must conform to the complying deep-state format.
DCC graph format excludes any long-term X-axis time-line which might reveal how badly debt, costs, productivity, or dividends have performed over time, and also requires a compressed Y-axis to flatten all peaks into reassuring steady-state leveled lines. In this way the Annual Plan Debt Graph for instance, which over time has risen up like the Himalayas to BILLION$ heights, can be made to look like the shallow reassuring undulations of Hobbiton.
THE MAYOR REPRESENTS THE PEOPLE, but which ones? =================================
There are The People, and then there are the Political Party People, Big Money People and their Hangers-on. Party People and Big Money People need the status quo and narrowly achieved it again with the 2019 election. Media manipulation, smear campaigns and funding spliter candidates’ campaigns have been useful in keeping out Independent Mayoral candidates.
The newly-minted Dunedin Mayor has forged ahead, buoyed up by his own sharp-witted put-downs and interjections, powerful delusions of adequacy, and the grooming by his mentor all-mouth-and-no-trousers Cr. Benson-Pope. Together they have plotted a new Central City without cars, so that Mayor Hawkins does not have a panic attack when looking out of his Mayoral office window and seeing a moving car. Cars are the kind of vehicle that almost killed him once in an accident leaving him so traumatised that he can not bear the responsibility of driving. Even non-moving cars are unsettling, which explains the stealthy removal of car-parks. The Mayor’s enormously expensive Octagon Experience trial removing cars from the Octagon was supposed to show how car-removal would benefit public health and businesses. Following his patron ex-Mayor Cull who said that “Council should set a goal of reducing car parks each year because of the benefits to public health and local businesses a move away from cars would deliver.” [ODT 31 October 2018], Mayor Hawkins has ignored resulting Octagon Experience businesses losses of over 20% and clung harder to the anti-car ideology. Some simply refuse to learn from Experience.
Problematic Hitch-hiking from Port Chalmers has seen Mayor Hawkins buy a house close to the Town Hall off Arthur street instead, so that for him walking to work is a practical option. Sadly this does not work for most commuters like nurses and secretaries who can not afford Inner City housing that the DCC 2nd Generation Plan makes even more expensive. The fact that walking is not an option for most Dunedin residents who need more car-parking has not prevented the recent Mayoral push for $53 million for traffic ‘safety’ and ‘mode-shift’, none of which involves more car parking, but does promote cycling which is a far more dangerous ‘mode’ of transport than the car.
Mayor Hawkins puts his faith in his Improbability Drive called “Mode Change”. He believes Mode Change will Save the Planet by getting all of us to traverse Dunedin Central on bicycles, buses, or sustainable flax sandals.
Mayor Hawkins has said he wants to make it “more attractive not to drive”, when instead he has pushed through many changes making it much less attractive to drive or park in our central retail area, driving people on-line instead. His car-phobia has resulted in a budgeted $10.25 million to “encourage” drivers to leave their cars at new carparks in Mosgiel and Burnside and then use public transport to get into Dunedin Central. Another $7.75 million for more “Central Cycle and Pedestrian Improvements” has been added to the $60 million ‘surface treatments’ budgeted for the George-St-to-the-Exchange pedestrianisation. $9.5 million of this borrowed $53 million budget is for a Parking Management Software Project that will tell drivers where available parks are via an app and signage. This $9.5 million could have built 271 new carparks at $35,000 each, but instead drivers will be “guided” to the decreasing number of existing parks — if there are any.
A Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to what Mayor Hawkins words actually mean would require a book, but a brief list of his common words and phrases follows:
Piece of work = Staff report = Consultant report+staff template = Vogon poetry
Guided = given no choice
Consult = ask loaded questions of select groups
Engage with the public = avoid all but contrived ODT photo-opportunities
It’s all about Community = it is all about lots of public money
DCC Company oversight = see no evil, hear no evil, expect no profits
Hei konā mai me ngā mihi = Cheers
Useful medium = un-recorded non-public meeting with no accountability
Carbon Zero = ever-increasing carbon emissions plus talkfest
Sustainable = hopelessly impractical proposal for talk-fest
Diversity = the inclusion of different types of people except Cr. Vandervis
Communications and Marketing leader = a piece of work
VOGON KEY APPOINTMENTS
Mayor Hawkins has created a new position of Mayoral Strategic Advisor [for his other ear that Cr. Benson-Pope does not have], in order to translate perfectly understandable howls of public protest into the soothing sounds of affirming popular engagement.
The Guide also notes that a former fiction writer for the Otago Denies Truth, a Mr Chris Morris, has been elevated post-election to the top DCC Marketing and Communications job. Pre-election, Mr Morris’ ODT smear campaign against Cr. Vandervis combined with Green/Labour Party voting machinery, resulted in Cr. Aaron Hawkins becoming Dunedin’s Mayor with a slim majority of second-preference STV votes. Only on the day after the election did the ODT belatedly let the public know that their new Mayor hitch-hiked because he was fearful of driving a car himself and does not have a driver’s license. It was confirmed that he had no business or private-sector experience, going from Otago University to OUSA Radio One Disk Jockey, to Green Party City Councillor, and now Dunedin Mayor.
Against DCC Code of Conduct Objectivity Values, “members will make decisions on merit; including appointments, awarding contracts, and recommending individuals for rewards or benefits”, Mayor Hawkins followed ex-Mayor Cull’s lead in refusing any Standing Committee Chairmanships for Cr. Vandervis [who had almost twice the votes of any other Councillor in both 2016 and 2019], awarded $14,000+ per year extra paid chairmanships to promising follow-the-leader Councillors, and $19,000+ extra to Deputy Mayor Garey who he chose ‘because she shares my values’. Deputy Garey, also got Chair of Community and Culture, Chair of the Grants subcommittee, and LGNZ Zone 6 Committee. Cr. Benson-Pope of tennis-ball-bully and Southern Kinks fame, got Chair of Planning and Environment, Chair of Consents, and Acting Deputy Mayor.
WHERE’S THE MAYOR?
As the new triennium began last year both Mayor Hawkins and Deputy Mayor Garey were reported to be unavailable to attend Civic Events, including the traditional Octagon to Brighton fossil-fueled Vintage Car Rally, and the Chinese New Year celebrations and fireworks. There have been many fossil-fueled Mayoral appearances in Auckland and Wellington, but many Dunedin events have been avoided. The Guide notes that the only businessman brave enough to publicly voice criticism of Mayoral neglect of Dunedin events was Sir Ian Taylor.
VOGON VEHICLE PHOBIA
Many anti-car policies and actions have followed the election of new Mayor Hawkins, most slithering through the DCC without being put to a vote or debate by the elected Councillors.
George St and the Octagon became “trial” pedestrianising areas with removal of parking spaces for parklets, flower-box seats, a block of ‘Glow Experience’ plastic lanterns, and $34,000 worth of large plastic flowers. Three stages of vehicle bans in the Octagon Experience cost retailers a fifth of their earnings. “Traffic-calming’ blue and red tennis balls were painted on roads. A 10kph George St speed limit was largely ignored with the average speed still recorded as 28kph. The DCC lost a $1Million of parking income as free parking was ‘trialed’ to soften George St retailers’ resistance to pedestrianising changes, and to address the Covid retail downturn…but only in the George Street retail area.
All of these trails finally led to a 9-5 Council decision to turn George St into a one-way 10kph speed limit pedestrianised area. Deputy Mayor Garey disclosed her personal motivation for expelling cars from George Street, confirming her values as being close to the Mayor’s car phobia – Carey’s mother was once hit by a car in George Street.
The vast majority of consultation and submissions against the move-away-from-cars proposal were ignored. They included 172 Annual Plan submissions including all-but-one Community Board calling for a halt to Central City changes, over 6,500 signatures on a petition to retain traffic in George St, contrary advice from Council staff, and similar advice against from an independent consultant.
Mayoral/Deputy Mayoral traffic phobia became contagious as the Hawkins Council hiked parking charges and reduced many parking options including further extensions of metered parking, which badly effects central city commuters.
But Mayoral car phobia did not stop at the Central City. $700,000 was spent making a cycleway through St Andrew St commuter carpark with the temporary loss of all 300 carparks and a permanent loss of 75. In North Dunedin, 150 commuter parks were reassigned to paid parking. Scores more car parks were lost to expensive unnecessary kerb-protrusions on which safety signage was erected, but which could have been mounted from the pavement at a fraction of the cost. South of Dunedin Central, 125 parking spaces will be lost as the Dowling St parking area has been sold to a 600+ staff office development with no car parks. Further south, millions has been spent swapping car parks for under-used cycleways, speed bumps and kerb protrusions. There are still hopes to flog off the previously attempted sales of the Filleul st car park and the Frederick st car park.
VOGON TREACHERY =================
The Guide records how Mayor Hawkins leaked confidential motions and information about Head Vogon CEO Bidrose’s performance from a non-public, staff-excluded meeting, leaking directly to CEO Bidrose. She in turn re-leaked this information to other Vogons at her Communication and Marketing Department. A Code of Conduct Complaint against Mayor Hawkins for this was upheld, but deemed to be both material and non-material by the Vogon Investigator, so able to be ignored in the confusion. The investigator recommended that Mayor Hawkins apologise to Cr. Vandervis for this breach, which Mayor Hawkins failed to do.
Mayoral breaches and abuses of position continued with regular interrupting and shutting down of critical speeches and questions, refusing valid motions, deciding favourably on points of order against himself, and refusing to allow discussion or debate on uncomfortable topics like the DCC failing Council Companies. An recent example of question suppression was Mayoral refusal of the one question Cr. Vandervis attempted to put to the short-list of CEO applicants: “What CEO experience do you bring to manage the restructuring required to deal with DCC Council Controlled Organisation’s that have failed to perform for so many years despite some management changes?” Mayor Hawkins on the other hand allowed all other Councillors to ask a softer question of applicants, and asked two soft questions himself. The Mayoral groupthink A-team also suppress criticism and debate with Tone Arguments, defined by Wikipedia as ‘a personal attack and anti-debate tactic based on criticizing a person for expressing emotion. Tone argument detracts from the validity of a statement by attacking the tone in which it was presented rather than the message itself.’ Other diverting accusations included loudness, tallness and redness. Otago Truth Denied headlines quoting A-team claims of ‘Screaming and Yelling’ have been widely reported and the Independent Councillor expensively censured, despite the ODT reporter who was less than 10 meters away hearing nothing.
An unprecedented splurge of new pointless reporting and monitoring and submissions to Central Government has resulted in many 50+ page reports. These include DCC energy use, DCC CO2 emissions, requirements for contractors to monitor their CO2 outputs, Zero Carbon by 2030 strategies, and extended submissions to the Otago Regional Council for being insufficiently zealous in frustrating farming and increasing compliance costs. None of these massive mountains of environmental paperwork have had any effect on Dunedin’s ever-increasing CO2 output and energy use.
The takeaway message from a recent Zero Carbon Guidance Report was that “It makes little sense for all Councils to individually consider how to improve their reporting on climate-change issues”, which is why the make-work Vogons continue to do it.
The DCC has become a rate-paid Dunedin Climate Change talkfest.
Meanwhile skeletons continue to fall out of DCC Infrastructure departments, with worsening roads, footpaths and weed-control, and the Council-owned Companies continue to increase debt, fines and losses instead of profits.
VOGON DEEP PLAYBOOK
The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide also summarises some of the many personal attributes that are helpful in finding one’s way to the Mayoralty, once the necessary Political Party Machinery and Media have been aligned.
One needs a consistent flow of smiling head shot photos and positive headlines, which can be complemented by the avoidance of specifying any particular intentions.
Preferably, avoid being publicly specific on anything, using statements that begin with ‘To be perfectly clear…’ and then being perfectly unclear. Awkward questions about anything can be answered by saying that one is committed to “sustainability” on the that thing, and then adding the ‘diversity/inclusivity’ catch-all, which usually reassures any number of minority groups. ‘From existing budgets…’ is a good introduction to questionable new spending, or even better ‘Likely to attract Government/NZTA funding…’, as these arguments suggest that the spending can be done without raising local rates and the hackles of voting Dunedinites.
A history of candidate personal immorality is useful as it allows the Big Money Boys and Political Party Back-roomers to blackmail/control the Front-men they put in to power. Any recognisable opponent characteristics can be harnessed to create voter doubts that are especially important in STV elections:
Loud = bully
Tall = overbearing
Male = threatening
Ruddy = angry
Businessman = corrupt male exploiter
Politically active = attention seeking
Voting against spending = not a team player
‘Bullying defenseless staff’, ‘Not team players’, ‘Blind to the benefits’, or ‘Grand-standing’ can be labels attached to any Councillor who questions or criticises.
VOGON ADMIN – UNBALANCED BIG BUREAUCRACY, JOBS FOR THE BIG BOYS
Mayor Hawkins’ unshakeable belief in the value of increasing Vogon Big Bureaucracy saw staff costs increase by 8% again this year, as it has cumulatively year on year for 3 years. Vogons KNOW BEST how to spend your money, and how to keep taking more of it.
Mayor Hawkins also had no problem with CEO Bidrose having been unavailable in her DCC office for 150 of the previous 365 days.
Overseas travel pre-Covid was often called ‘professional development’ with the costs spread across Sister City Relations, business development, and salary add-ons, so that the true costs are difficult to discover.
The Hawkins’ Council response to budgeted DCC Group Debt approaching a $1 BILLION and a predicted further blow-out has been to double the debt ceiling of the DCC-only component and to push the DCC Group debt budget past the $1 BILLION level. A 4.1% rates increase was fantastically “achieved” by pushing through Dunedin’s first ever UNBALANCED BUDGET, where an extra $7.5 million was borrowed for the year to make ends not even meet. Most DCC fees and charges were again increased cumulatively at double the rate of inflation.
Contracting incompetence has long been a DCC weakness, a source of embarrassment and enormously wasteful for Dunedin Ratepayers. The contracting problems have been non-solved by abandoning standard competitive tendering for major DCC infrastructure contracts. Instead, the big boys Fulton Hogan and Downer have been handed the biggest-yet contracts uncontested for 10 years. The Hitch-hiker’s Guide shows this is being achieved by ‘contracted-out contracting’, where all bureaucratic responsibility is effectively removed by ensuring that the contracting-out contractor gets enormous sums of public money for doing no work except for sub-sub-contracting the contracts so that the inevitable non-performance by the sub-sub-contractors gets safely swept under the carpet. Where non-performance becomes too publicly obvious despite duck-shoving, the Vogons can simply change to the alternate contracting-out contractor, and back again as required. Under this sub-sub-contracting system, time cures everything, and what time does not cure, the alternate contracting-out contractor surely will.
Business oversight of the profitless DCC-owned companies was again absent last year. Aurora has again continued to gobble more debt having been fined $5 million by the Commerce Commission for repeatedly failing to supply a safe reliable electricity network. There were again no dividends from the Companies, and reputational harm, financial debt harm and Aurora black-outs all continued to increase.
VOGON CONNECTIONS – IDEOLOGIES FOR YOUR INDOCTRINATION
The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide shows how easy it is for organised media and political parties to manufacture convenient realities and public consent. DCC reassurance publications like FYI compliment the soft-pedalling of DCC issues in the monopoly print publications of Allied Press. There are close links between DCC Company Vogons and those at Deloitte Dunedin Accountants and Auditors, and between DCC Vogons and those running the ODT.
With not much happening apart from stealthy carpark removal, Dunedin commentators abroad have suggested that the population is dead and closed for business, but most are just waiting until the economy improves. It could be a long wait. Dunedinites will soon discover a second billion dollars of debt has been planned on their behalf and is being doled out for ‘environmental’ projects to the well-connected.
The ‘two-wheels-good four-wheels-bad’ ideology is supplemented by the ‘public transport’ ideal where mostly empty big buses are somehow good for the environment. The DCC used to run buses worse than the ORC, but the Hawkins Council wants them back and wants to run more buses to keep CO2 polluting cars out of the City.
All these ideologies are inspired by the GREEN PARTY ORACLE. Our leaders therefore know for certain that South Dunedin is going to be reclaimed by the sea, and that we are all going to fry unless we give up our cars and businesses and turn farms into mud-free wetlands with no hoofed animals…
Finally a Poem that defies all Vogon poetry requirements: it rhymes, is less than 50 pages, nothing is cut and repasted, it has no coloured diverting images, and it is devoid of Vogon praise or sympathy.
Beware beware the mongrel Mayor And the Councillors driven like sheep, It’s not good enough to pretend we don’t care Look aside as the bureaucrats creep
They have crawled from the Mall right through the Town Hall Bought traded trashed trounced our trust, All accounting in ledgers with dishonest pledges We are taken for every last crust
The good with the bad we are all being had Narrow gains are just petty revenge, A Town that had beauty become bender’s booty Meek thugs mugs inherit how strange
And how have they done it rip rape rob and run it? By playing the system and luck, With media boredom keep new out ignore them And the rest of you don’t give a damn
The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Mayoralty PART 1 details how the DCC has become a debt-doomed, booming bureaucracy and Climate Change talkfest, as skeletons continue to fall out of DCC departments, and Council-owned Companies continue to post losses and failures instead of profits.
Next year PART 2 of the Guide will update the far-reaching effects of the new Mayoralty, the imported ideologies, the growth of rates, fees and charges, staff costs, and the second BILLION$ of DCC GROUP DEBT.
In an extraordinary series of High Court decisions Judge Gendall has legitimised new extensions of the DCC internal Code of Conduct process to now allow any member of the public or Council staff to take a Code of Conduct action against an Elected Representative that was previously limited only to Elected Representatives and the CEO.
Any extended Code of Conduct complaint claims, whether true or false, can now be anonymously leaked by any DCC staff member as a smear campaign during an election run-up with the Elected Representative having no opportunity of defence against such Code of Conduct leaks or to know who has made them. The Bureaucratic Power imbalance has further shifted against vulnerable Elected Representatives.
The judgement means that any member of the public or any DCC employee may now make anonymous allegations against a Councillor via the CEO and have that Councillor tried in an alternative quasi-Court process where the anonymous complaint against an Elected Representative does not need to be shown to them, where evidence of anonymous bystanders can be accepted by a CEO’s investigator without this evidence being shown to the Elected Representative and without any opportunity to question or examine such evidence.
The investigator can now be anyone that the DCC CEO decides, and well paid for carrying out this Code of Conduct process facilitated by the CEO.
This now extended Code of Conduct Process against an Elected Representative, plus any legal supporting opinions for it, are completely publicly funded, with the accused Elected Representative having to personally fund any legal action in defence.
In this newly legitimised quasi court Code of Conduct process, normal natural justice requirements have been quashed, so that the accused Representative may never see the actual detailed complaints made against them, or see and respond to any other anonymous evidence prior to an Investigator’s decision and report being finalised. What the accused Elected Representative has actually said now never needs be stated in any Code of Conduct complaint, and the complaint may be upheld purely on ‘tone’ arguments.
Judge Gendall’s series of decisions now makes it dangerous for any Elected Representative to complain of any Council staff member not doing their job, as this complaint can be ignored by staff and replaced with an anonymous Code of Complaint against the Representative instead.
Judge Gendall’s decision also opens the door for any member of the public to anonymously attack an Elected Representative and have a publicly funded Code of Conduct action taken against them via the CEO for any comment made by the elected member; publicly, in a personal email, or on social media.
These new Code of Conduct dangers for Elected Representatives make it very unwise for Elected Representatives to criticise or complain of any Council staff member not doing their job, or to be a whistle-blower in the public interest if Council staff are found to be negligent or acting fraudulently, or to speak in a ‘tone’ that somebody may find offensive.
The already constrained job of being an active Elected Representative has now become more restricted and open to anonymous attack.
It is becoming fruitless to try and fight or complain of City Hall.
I am considering an Appeal of these decisions with my Legal Counsel because they impact on my ability to Represent, and on Local Government Elected Representatives in general.
My personal view for many years now is that all our publicly-funded Museums, the Chinese Garden and the Art Gallery should all be run and efficiently marketed as an integrated group of Dunedin attractions and facilities preferably with a single director and management.
The NZ Sports Hall of Fame should be fully DCC funded as part of this more cost-effectively organised group of Dunedin attractions especially given its relatively low cost and high interest for the general public as well as for sports people and organisations. The extraordinary efforts of Ron Palenski and family in keeping the NZ Sports Hall operational have been taken for granted for too long and we need to own this public-good facility, perhaps by integrating it with a Museum, and not let it be lost unnecessarily as we did with the Fortune Theatre.
Today some Councillors appeared surprised that the extremely expensive UNBALANCED ANNUAL PLAN BUDGET that they [except me] voted for in June has resulted in a $45 million increase in DCC debt that would next year breach our DCC-only $350 million debt limit legislated in the current 10 year Plan. DCC COMPANY DEBT for which we are all liable is additional. Rather than limit unsustainable spending increases such as the year on year 8% cumulative increases in staff costs, all except Cr. Radich and me voted to massively increase the DCC debt limit to 250% of annual revenue, more than doubling the DCC-only fixed debt limit to $698 million. Extraordinary justifications for this rate and pillage of the next generation decision included:
Mayor Hawkins – “we are borrowing for intergenerational investment”.
Cr. Staynes – “we have to do infrastructure projects and we have no choice”.
Cr. Lord – “I don’t feel super-alarmed by increases in debt”.
Cr. Houlahan – “if we double the debt, does that mean we have to double rates?”.
Cr. Whiley – “this is not an open-cheque-book going forward”.
Crs. Whiley and Walker joined the staff chorus of “this proposal is for a debt limit, not a debt target”. Note – the current debt limit was already 98.9% taken up.
Staff claimed not to know if there had ever been a debt-limit reduction in the last 20 years.
Mayor Hawkins and Cr. Walker claimed the increase was in response to a “much demanded spend program” when in fact the vast majority of Annual Plan submissions  wanted a zero rates rise, and the second most submitted on item [172 submitters including almost all Community Boards] wanted the planned $60 million ‘surface treatments’ of the Central City upgrade to be shelved.
The yellow bar in the graph shows the debt extent of the June UNBALANCED BUDGET that now forces the massive increase of the the previous $350 million debt limit, which the Cull Council already increased by $65 million in 2018.
ODT still refuses to report on the FIRST EVER DCC UNBALANCED ANNUAL PLAN BUDGET, and the exceptional circumstances claimed for the extra borrowings. Note – my mistake. The words ‘unbalanced budget’ do appear in an ODT article text that I had missed seeing, but a report on this unprecedented decision has still not appeared.
From: Lee Vandervis <email@example.com> Date: Wednesday, 15 July 2020 at 5:35 PM To: Hamish MacLean <firstname.lastname@example.org> Cc: Grant McKenzie <email@example.com>, “Nicholas. Smith” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, EditorODT <email@example.com> Subject: Public interest
I also find it incredible that your monopoly print media seem not to have reported the first ever DCC UNBALANCED BUDGET and much of what that involves including borrowing $7.5 million to pay for ever increasing operational costs. Or have I missed a major article on this?
You have real stories here, with factual documentation, yet these stories are only available on social media.
I look forward to some indication that further supply of information to you will be treated in the Public Interest.
Today’s ODT ‘Firebrand Councillor’ article falsely claims that I accepted my loudness crossed the line. “Even Cr. Vandervis accepted his loudness crossed the line”. Not true – I never accepted crossing any line. It was falsely accusing Councillors that crossed many lines, I was merely loud when falsely accused of ‘just having a go’. The article also claims that in my defence to Councillors I “used up my time flinging insults”. Again not true. My response transcript below shows that I rejected an incompetent report, false accusations, insults and sexist accusations, and that I did not fling insults. The ODT claims the investigator “believed witnesses did not exaggerate the severity of the incident”, yet the investigator’s report notes elsewhere that Cr. Radich [and the ODT reporter who were less than 10 metres away] “noticed nothing” of the claimed ‘screaming and yelling’.
The ODT have repeatedly published ‘Screaming’ and ‘Yelling’ claims last week that they know to be false because their own DCC reporter was talking with Cr. Radich less than 10 meters away, and the investigator’s report confirms they heard nothing.
I have considered the resolution of the Council and decided that I cannot in good conscience deliver the apology insisted on as it would be dishonest and insincere.
I am disappointed that this means that I need to resign from the positions that I volunteered for as Councillor on the Otago Museum Trust and the Dunedin Licensing Committee. I have enjoyed the contribution that I have made to each organisation and I hope that the Councillor who replaces me will be able to contribute as I have in the interests of those organisations and Dunedin City ratepayers. I will not be making any further comment on this matter.
From: Lee Vandervis <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Tuesday, 27 October 2020 at 1:23 PM To: Emma Perry <email@example.com> Cc: Hamish MacLean <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: FW: Alleged breach of Code of Conduct Final
Ta for your interest in this issue Emma,
The response I hope to have the opportunity to deliver is as below.
Dunedin City Council decisions and reports should be evidence-based and balanced. In my experience they are increasingly not evidence-based, and this latest Code of Conduct report shows how evidence can be suppressed or simply ignored.
This Code of Conduct report has been written by an investigator whose previous DCC Code of Conduct report was so deficient that she omitted to interview or communicate in any way with the complainant, completely contradicted herself on the fundamental issue of materiality, and ignored written first-person email evidence. I have complained about this investigator [which the ODT falsely reported as having found FOR my Code of Conduct complaint against Mayor Hawkins] to our Acting Chief Executive. I have also made a formal complaint to the NZ Law Society about this investigator, and was amazed that she was again chosen to investigate the current Code of Conduct complaint against me. Last year’s DCC Code of Conduct process created a storm of negative publicity against me in the run-up to last year’s Mayoral election which came from a leak within the Council. The Code of Conduct was a diversion response to a complaint I made about a Council employee and a faulty parking machine. My complaint about the employee not doing her job was ignored. I have personally financed Court Action against the DCC and the investigator of these abuses of bureaucratic process that is set down for a Judicial Review to be heard in the High Court on the 19th of November next month.
I do not recognise this current investigator, her report, or the current Code of Conduct process for these and other reasons, but I wish to speak to what has been alleged now as my only opportunity to publicly provide my evidence regarding my latest alleged Code of Conduct breach.
WHAT DID I ACTUALLY SAY and why is what I said never mentioned?
In many pages of evidence from Mayoral A-team Councillors Garey, Walker and Laufiso, the only words of mine recorded are my parting ‘I will point at whoever I like’, which was in response to Deputy Garey’s demand ‘Don’t you dare point at me!’. My raised voice was in response to Garey’s false accusation that I “was just having a go”, cutting across my complaint of her not doing her job as Deputy Mayor.
The meeting video evidence shows Deputy Garey ruling without establishing what my Point of Order was. Garey simply parroted Mayor Hawkins’ inappropriate defence of himself on the Point of Order, absurdly claiming that “I didn’t mention you Cr Vandervis”, while at the same time admitting that it was inappropriate to rule on a Point of Order against himself. Deputy Garey was not doing her job as she had an obligation to consider and rule on my point of order and not simply regurgitate what the Mayor claimed.
There is a history of my being critical of Deputy Garey’s actions as a Councillor, going back to her being the Councillor representative for over a year on the board of the Fortune Theatre, and not telling Council that the Fortune was in dire straits until the situation could not be saved and the decision was already made to close and sell-up all Fortune assets. This Code of Conduct arose because I again criticised Deputy Garey for not doing her job, that she was instead parroting Mayor Hawkins’ ‘I didn’t mention you Cr. Vandervis’ absurdity, and was promoting Cr Benson-Pope to yet another 2GP paid position of power despite perceived conflicts of interest as highlighted by myself and others like Cr. Houlahan.
In the Code of Conduct against me, I am falsely accused by Cr Walker of Screaming and Yelling, which has made damaging ODT Headlines, but which was untrue and not even possible given the evidence of others in the room like Cr. Radich who is recorded as having heard nothing at all less than 10 meters away while talking with the ODT reporter. The reason I raised my voice to Deputy Garey was that she refused to listen to my description of what my point of order actually was and she cut across my initially conversational tone with the false accusation that I was “just having a go”, which was untrue but exactly what Mayor Hawkins did, resulting in my Point of Order. Overnight I recognised that it was a mistake to raise my voice even when provoked, and I sent an apology to all within earshot next morning for that and for not putting my complaints of Deputy Garey in writing. I also resolved in my apology to ensure that I make all such future complaints in writing. That should have been the end of it, but an opportunity was then seized on by Mayor Hawkins’ A-team, now an attack team, to publicly discredit the only serious challenger to their Mayoralty. Also untrue is the claim that our faces were only 20cm apart. I am insufficiently fond of Deputy Mayor of Dunedin City Garey to have been anywhere near that close to her. Deputy Garey and Cr Walker have accused me in this Code of Conduct of being excessively tall, male and red in the face. As Cr. O’Malley noted, I have a ruddy complexion anyway. Regarding the other accusations, I refuse to have height-corrective or transgender surgery, or to employ make-up like Deputy Garey to hide my true face. The accusation is true that I pointed at Deputy Garey to emphasise that it was her rather than those crowding around that I was addressing, but the accusation of ‘repeated stabbing motions to her face’ is untrue. Another accusation from Cr Walker is that I was “almost spitting”. Like being ‘almost elected’, this confirms that I was not spitting at all, and again confirms Cr. Waker’s bias as he will clutch at ‘almosts’ in an attempt to discredit me and to make damaging headlines.
As with previous Code of Conduct arguments against me, this one is entirely a ‘tone argument’ defined in Wikipedia as “a personal attack and anti-debate tactic based on criticizing a person for expressing emotion. Tone argument detracts from the validity of a statement by attacking the tone in which it was presented rather than the message itself.”
While I reject all the Code of Conduct claims from Garey, Walker and Laufiso, and the one-sided investigator, I do admit that it was my mistake to complain to her verbally, and also my mistake to have raised my voice. I sincerely apologised for both of these mistakes in my email to her and others within earshot the following morning. My undertaking in that apology to make all my future non-public complaints in writing should ensure that there is no further opportunity for such unpleasantness.
To: Grant Miller <email@example.com>, Hamish McNeilly <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Latest CoC
Like all previous Code of Conduct complaints against me, this Mayoral A-team loudness complaint serves to smother my initial complaints of Mayoral and Deputy abuses of position and of proper process.
Calling out people who are not doing their job including the ODT who have still not reported on Council’s first ever UNBALANCED Annual Plan Budget, is the long evident pattern of my behaviour in the public interest.
I have served on the DHF for many years, and it has been my favourite subcommittee in the days when our Heritage Planner Glen Hazelton worked cooperatively and effectively with property owners and developers to secure many threatened Dunedin Heritage Buildings, and who was able to persuade our Planning and Consents departments to ignore the ‘big box retail’ requirement for the Vogel st area, and allow successful private sector development and restoration of this superb Vogel st. Heritage Precinct. All of this was achieved with pitifully small DHF funding, which we were able to leverage effectively as tokens of encouragement and positive publicity heightened by the Annual Heritage Awards, for which I routinely donated the sound systems. Unfortunately The Heritage Awards later altered from a Heritage preservation/celebration focus to becoming a platform for political grandstanding, in particular by Mayor Cull and Cr. Benson-Pope, so I withdrew from the Awards but continued on the DHF subcommittee. Cr. Benson-Pope’s increasing influence in the DHF had the welcome effect of significantly increasing the amount of annual DCC grants able to be dispensed, but his ‘rich-applicant bad, poor applicant good’ ideology, and his personal antipathy toward me as chair has made being on the DHF much less enjoyable. An example was the DHF agreeing to fully fund a complete residential slate roof replacement because the owner was hopelessly unable to afford any building maintenance.
As Chair of this triennium’s DHF, I have instigated a review of the Heritage Fund original Deed which is outdated and no longer reflects the workings of the Fund, and I have proposed a new more independent structure for the Heritage Fund that would encourage donations and bequests, and free the Fund from possible conflicts with the DCC, especially from its regulatory departments. Increasing DCC regulatory requirements have become a major impediment to restoring Heritage Buildings, and as Chair of the Fund I have had to front several complaints from long-established Heritage developers who are now so frustrated by detailed bureaucratic impediments that they will no longer attempt Heritage restoration in Dunedin. I have had similar complaints as a Councillor from large and small Commercial Property developers [often not Heritage] that the DCC now makes things just too hard and frustrating and that they now only do development outside of Dunedin. I note that this has been a problem for some time, highlighted perhaps by the DCC developing its wood processing facility out of the Dunedin area, partly because of easier regulatory restrictions in Milton.
My hopes for an updated legal deed basis for the DHF, and the development of the Fund as a more separate entity capable of attracting external funding appears to have been mired in the kind of low prioritisation that finally saw Cr. Benson-Pope sink my motion for a Unitary Council report after two years of inaction.
Most recently, I have been saddened by the increasingly proscriptive and punitive effects on DHF processes by Heritage NZ, who have long history of positive membership on the subcommittee. The recent forcing of a developer with conditions including requiring the use of poisonous expensive sheet lead over more modern materials, and the court order sought by HNZ forcing us to spend an additional $400,000 plus ongoing maintenance on a set of manuka sticks is detailed in my email to HNZ as below.
My role on the Dunedin Heritage Fund has now become so compromised that I feel I can no longer act effectively in the interests of Dunedin Heritage. I believe that silver lining to the cloud of Dunedin’s long lack of development, its Heritage Buildings, are essential to our future development and branding. Hopefully some new Chair and Heritage Fund member will be better positioned to take the Fund forward more effectively.
Please accept this email as my resignation from the DCC Heritage Fund.
I have had the pleasure of meeting Jane briefly at our last DCC Heritage Fund meeting, but hope you will both excuse me for providing an introduction of my heritage activities and description of issues I have experienced involving HNZ.
Following some limited restoration work on 2 buildings in London in the 1970’s, I have spent the last 40 years doing full restoration personally of a number of private and commercial buildings in Dunedin. These include: 50 Dundas st. Methodist church, Sunday School and Manse 1860s+
401 Moray place. 2 storey commercial building c 1920s
31 Elgin road. 3 story villa residence 1890s
45 Garfield Avenue. 2 storey cottage 1880s
47 Garfield Avenue. 2 storey villa 1880s. ODT cover story at beginning of blog leevandervis.com 69 O’Connell road. 2 x 2 storey villas conjoined, one 1850s and the other 1910ish.
My builder father taught me much of the trade informally in NZ from a young age despite my clear intention to have a career in electronics which I pursued successfully in London and Australia before setting up Vandervision Audio and Lighting in Dunedin in 1982. Since coming back to Dunedin, I have mixed my Vandervision electronics career with restoring Heritage buildings including those above, in any spare time I have had. Restoration of all of these buildings involved removal of later abominations, some asbestos, and many required removal of: lead-head nails, lead paint, pipes, valleys and flashings to make possible use of roof-supply water.
A fervent admirer of the work of the NZ Historic Places Trust in the 80s saw me working toward the saving of several Dunedin Heritage buildings and later the successful detailed application to the HPT to get Dunedin’s famous Carisbrook listed as a Category One site. My first HPT shock came when the Category One protection listing for Carisbrook suddenly counted for almost nothing, as the HPT buckled to wanton mindless destruction of all but the old brick turnstiles to make way for a steel-supply shed and a wasteland. I was a City Councillor by this time, and had good information on the extraordinary losses incurred by the people of Dunedin, not just in the loss of their iconic rugby ground but the millions lost in the purchase and subsequent half cost sale of Carisbrook to ensure its erasure.
More recently his year, your HNZ advocate on the DCC Heritage Fund [which I chair] Andrew Barsby, has displayed worrying ideology with respect to only original materials to be used as conditions of Heritage Fund grants, in particular sheet lead which I have been in the business of removing for decades from all my Heritage restorations because of its toxicity. I have gone along with some unnecessarily expensive requirements for e.g. the original slate type to be conditional for some Heritage Fund Grants, but I am not prepared to be personally associated with any requirement to forcibly introduce lead into our environment. HNZ seems to have buckled in this case to the absurd and contradictory claims of the NZ Sheet Lead Association, rather than making evidence-based decisions on lead for which there is no safe level in the environment. I can forward a number of emails I have already sent to Andrew explaining some this evidence if required.
Most recently, I was appalled to discover that HNZ has gone to the trouble and expense of obtaining a Court Order to force the DCC to spend some $400,000 on the further preservation and display of a quantity of decayed manuka sticks that were unearthed in the ‘too hurried’ excavation of the Wall st shopping mall by the DCC over a decade ago. This new spend is now to come on top of the extraordinary sums already spent on a court case, photographic atrium display in Wall st, the environmentally controlled preservation of approximately a hundred manuka sticks, and the public display and preservation of sample manuka sticks at Toitu. I am aware of a 2008 DCC legal undertaking to display not just a photo of the manuka mud-sticks [elevated by ideologs to the status of ‘causeway’], but the sticks themselves, but wonder why this absurd spend is being legally enforced by HNZ after all these years. My personal view is that uncarved manuka sticks of whatever age used to suppress mud are scarcely worthy of mention, leave alone expensive preservation and display, as I have about 10 acres of them on our farm as do thousands of other rural property owners.
The issue now then, is one of the credibility of HNZ, its priorities [allow Cat 1 Carisbrook demolition, but must spend half a million dollars preserving muddy sticks] and what appears to be absurd materials ideology that is not in the public interest but is at great public expense. Decades of valuable HPT/HNZ work has created a remarkable sympathy and compliance by developers and the public at large with real Heritage values in NZ, but this most valuable awareness is now at risk because of new ideologies, wasteful legal processes, and some failures to preserve what is of real Heritage value.
The burgeoning compliance disease that keeps growing in Planning and Consents is now infecting HNZ, and avoidance and non-compliance will inevitably result as the high-regard which HPT/HNZ had earned becomes eroded. You are losing me as an advocate, and other important developers and industry professionals besides because of unreasonable priorities and overweening controls.
I write this in the hope that you may moderate your enforcement extremes and focus again on fostering Heritage goodwill and love of Heritage [rather than legislated power]
That, in my view, is the only way to ensure widespread Heritage appreciation and survival.
I have asked one question following a process inviting Councillor questions for CEO candidates to answer, as my only opportunity as a Councillor in this whole CEO appointment process to get a considered response from only the final cut of applicants.
This question was first left off the CEO applicant’s question list altogether, with a staff apology for somehow missing it, and now is still left off the list with your absurd suggestion below that “There was never an expectation that everything raised would be included verbatim.”.
When I ask a formal question for due consideration it is my express expectation that my question will be asked as I wrote it, and not some other related question.
My question which I insist you forward as written to the short list candidates for consideration is:
“What CEO experience do you bring to manage the restructuring required to deal with DCC CCO’s that have failed to perform for so many years despite some management changes?”
My question is precisely worded to flush out what experience of dealing with Council Companies the CEO applicant has, and what their awareness is of the state of our Council Controlled Organisations. In your brief reign as Mayor, you have already excluded me from any Committee Chairmanship roles and from any other extra paid positions, as well as exclusion from the CEO appointment subcommittee. Excluding my one question of only the final cut of applicants is not acceptable.
so they intend to build our Hospital with this pre-election confirmation, but the detailed business case is further delayed, even the concept design remains unfinished and it does not get sign off until February next year.
The unsuitability of the site’s poor ground conditions has confirmed that due diligence was not done prior to site purchase, and now will involve extraordinary extra foundation costs, and the anticipation of site flooding will force further extra costs with having to raise the height of lower facilities.
“the ground floors of the hospital buildings would need to be much higher so they would remain operational in case of flooding.”
The problem of the new building lacking functional integration by being split across St Andrew st because of cost has been ‘solved’ by claiming that a stronger separation of services with connecting bridges is a positive.
Still no published plan for parking, but acknowledgement that Pete Hodgson’s suggestion of an underground car-park is not possible because of ‘unsuitable ground conditions…
ODT failed to report the budgeted DCC BILLION$ group debt all of last year until after the October election, and has this year failed to report the first ever DCC Annual Plan Unbalanced Budget, where we are borrowing to finance swollen operational budgets..
Richard Healey There are many people here who seem to believe the maxim “no smoke without fire”. I suggest they follow the link below and view staff comments on the culture of the organisation presided over by Bidrose – the maker of the list of “complaints” against Lee Vandervis.
Its not pretty reading, here is a small selection from among the many comments made by staff at DCC about their managers and their toxic workplace – managers and a workplace that Bidrose is responsible for.
“A job that would be good if it weren’t for the petty management. Bullying and harassment, lazy coworkers and pathetic management. The DCC is known for all of this but the higher ups don’t care, they are content with the cesspool of a work environment they have created and encourage.”
” The DCC is a place where some managers are able to yell and swear at staff, and bully people. Some of the managers are never there. When you try and raise a concern you just get told your concern isn’t relevant. I am trying to find a new job now because it’s so horrible coming to work each day.”
” If you want to be bullied, DCC is the place to go Administration (Current Employee) – Dunedin New Zealand – 2 October 2018 If you want to be the bully, DCC is also the place to go as noone will stop you. They do have a whistle blower policy, but who is brave enough to use it. Cons Inappropriate behaviour from the top down”
“The negatives outweigh the positives I’m afraid. The leadership is dysfunctional. Some of the senior managers threaten and intimidate to get their way. Unprofessional leaders.”
“There is so much bullying and a lot of it starts with the managers and senior leaders. There is a lack of transparency and recruitment to positions is on a ‘who you know’ basis. Depending on who you are, there might not even be a recruitment process!! I have witnessed bullying from very senior people but people are too scared to say anything and if they do they ‘disappear’.”
Bureaucratic intransigent unprofessional full of gossip and lack of respect Manager (Former Employee) – Dunedin, Otago – 16 July 2017 Chaotic and unsupported Learned not to trust anyone in organisation. Top down micro management, poor leadership skills Lazy employees, supported non performers and didn’t support leaders and innovators. Not interested in new work methods.
A Complaint at the DCC needs to be logged as such, properly investigated, and the person complained of specifically advised of the Complaint and outcome.
None of this happened with the “11 Complaints” claimed for the 2016-2019 triennium by Mayor Cull and the ODT in the run-up to the 2019 election.
I own being loud going about it, but this is what you get for whistle-blowing: DCC Company subdivision scandals, Citifleet frauds, mud-tank contractors paid for cleaning zero mudtanks, unanimous Council report buried for years, confidential motions leaked, attempted burial of evidence with false claims of confidentiality, and many other DCC issues.