I shared the above post on 3 Facebook groups late last night, Dunedin News, Otago News, and Dunedin News Uncut, and this morning they had all been cut right out, not just the mandatory automatically added ‘f COVID-19 vaccines box’ you see immediately above on my FB page. Somebody has been busy censoring late last night. Makes me wonder who? and why? and who is paying them?
Appointment today of unknown unelected representatives to have voting rights on two Council decision-making Standing Committees!
Democracy denied by Deputy Mayor Garey saying that “Democracy came from a slave state – Greece”, Cr Laufiso saying that she was “a Communist”, and Mayor Hawkins “The interests of minorities are never going to be served by a popular vote”.
The Court case and the Appeal have been necessary to challenge the DCC bureaucracy’s public attack on an elected representative during an election process, to get rulings on unprecedented uses/abuses of Code of Conduct provisions, and to preserve elected representatives’ ability to criticise Council employees and/or management.
It has nothing to do with trying to get off a $12 parking ticket as repeatedly falsely claimed.
The Appeal issues before the Court are:
1. Did the Chief Executive of the Dunedin City Council follow the procedures in the Dunedin City Council Code of Conduct in forwarding the complaint against the Appellant to the 2nd Respondent for investigation;
2. Was the 2nd Respondent validly appointed to investigate complaints under the Dunedin City Council Code of Conduct;
3. Did the 2nd Respondent act contrary to the principles of natural justice and the investigation he carried out pursuant to the Dunedin City Council Code of Conduct;
4. Should the Appellant obtain the declarations sought;
5. Should the decisions of the Dunedin City Council on 11 December 2019 be set aside;
I have personally paid for all my own legal costs to settle these important issues in the public interest, while the DCC Bureaucracy has used public funds via Code of Conduct which influenced the Mayoral election to frustrate my Judicial Review of their actions in their own interests.
A significant confirmation from the Court process so far has been the acknowledgement that ex-CEO Bidrose ‘was concerned that Cr. Vandervis might become Mayor’.
Yesterday’s abusive accusations included Cr. Benson-Pope calling me “crass”, “boorish” and falsely claiming I told untruths with Mayor Hawkins again failing to keep order. By late afternoon there was no point in my subjecting myself to more. See for yourself.
Benson-Pope’s has a long history of doing what he falsely accuses me of, misleading Parliament no less.
“David Benson-Pope was a Labour Member of Parliament for Dunedin South from 1999 to 2008, and a Cabinet Minister from 2005-2008.
May 2005: Benson-Pope steps down as bully inquiry looms
David Benson-Pope stood down from the Cabinet last night until an inquiry decides whether he administered cruel punishment to former pupils and assaulted one of them.
The allegations were raised again last night on TV3 after three of the five accusers identified themselves. One included a man who says that as a 14-year-old he had a tennis ball stuffed in his mouth. They were all students of Bayfield High School in Dunedin, where Mr Benson-Pope taught for 24 years. They say there are other witnesses to some of the alleged incidents.
The accusations against him include throwing tennis balls at students to keep them quiet, striking a pupil with the back of his hand and making the pupil’s nose bleed at a school camp, and caning a student hard enough to draw blood.
Mr Benson-Pope asked to be relieved of his portfolios, the compulsory education sector and fisheries.
Helen Clark referred to the allegations as “the start of what is a rather ugly election campaign, where a desperate and dateless Opposition will drag out whatever it can to smear the character of whoever they can”.
Benson-Pope was reelected in 2005, became a Minister in the next Labour-led government but had more problems, leading to his resignation as a Minister in 2007. From Wikipedia:
After a week of intense pressure focusing not only on the allegation that his staff had acted improperly, but also that he himself had misled Parliament, the media and his Prime Minister about his knowledge and involvement, Benson-Pope offered his resignation from Cabinet at noon on Friday 27 July 2007. Subsequent investigations by the State Services Commissioners Hunn and Prebble make it clear that neither the Minister nor his staff acted in any way inappropriately.
Prime Minister Helen Clark accepted the resignation, saying: “The way in which certain issues have been handled this week has led to a loss of credibility and on that basis I have accepted Mr Benson-Pope’s offer to stand aside”. An editorial commented “Not for the first time, he and the Government have been embarrassed less for what he has done than for his inability to simply say what he has done.”
Benson Pope sought the Labour nomination for Dunedin South for the 2008 election but was replaced by Clare Curran.”
My name is Lee Vandervis and as one of your DUNEDIN CITY COUNCIL elected Councillors I am honoured to address you on this ANZAC DAY MEMORIAL 2021, organised by the Brighton Club Incorporated. My thanks to Colin and Bob and all those others that have allowed us to mark this important ANZAC DAY event.
‘Lest We Forget’ seems to be a simple reminder to acknowledge our current freedoms and to acknowledge those New Zealanders that fought alongside the Australians in the First World War to protect our way of life.
‘Lest We Forget’ also contains the strong suggestion that we need to remember what happened then, to ensure that such horrific History never repeats.
ANZAC DAY was originally intended to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, their first and disastrous engagement against the Turks in the First World War. At the time, George Orwell called the Great War ‘the War to end all Wars’ but less than a generation later the ‘Great War’ was followed by the Second World War.
ANZAC DAY has since come to commemorate all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.”
My personal view is that we should also recognise the contributions and suffering of all those who served indirectly at home.
– The wives that kept the farms going while worrying about their husbands overseas.
– Those that slogged long hours in munitions factories, in uniform and supplies manufacture, and those that met the demand for wool and machines and raw materials.
There were heroic efforts at home as well with relatives taking in children whose parents were caught up in the war effort, and the children themselves who suffered dislocation and privation, some permanently, when parents never returned.
Heroism at home came in many forms, not least being the strength to carry on when faced with the War-torn fabric of fate, or the fateful news of a dear lost life.
There are many ways to lose a life: physically with sudden death, disability, or mentally with the erosion of the will to live, the loss of life’s joys, or not knowing what we are here for.
‘What are You here for?’ I ask. Not just, ‘What are you here at this Memorial Service for?” but what are you here on this earth for in general? What do you really value? What do really want? And what do you have to offer? are all important questions that should be asked.
The suggestion that ‘There are no great causes left to fight for’ given our unprecedented extended peacetime is a suggestion that I do not accept.
Our forbears fought for their beliefs, for their values and for their families.
I believe that we have daily opportunities to do the same on the battlefield of everyday life. As Jordan Peterson has said ‘Everybody’s Life is a tragedy’. We all face hurdles some of which can be overcome.
If you have not already done so, I urge you to engage with your Grandparents or anyone who lived through either World War and try to get a sense of what it was really like for them. Many coped, and still cope by pushing the horrors of War experiences to the back of their mind. Yet valuable insights into the many varied experiences of War are most telling for us when coming from those we know.
Reliance on older memories may not be enough however, as remembering tends to focus on a limited slice of events, on what has not been blanked out as too awful… Or too shameful.
Of the thousands of books that have been written about War, two have stood out for me as particularly telling:
The first is ‘War and Peace’, a big volume by Leo Tolstoy which contrasts the expedient horrors of War and the indulgent fickleness of Peace, and both the heroic and the shameful excesses of people caught up in War and in Peace, as Western Europe fell to Napoleon, followed by Napoleon’s 1812 fateful drive to Moscow.
Tolstoy’s heroes, scoundrels and cowards are what they are, in War and in Peace, but it is in War where necessity brings individual characters into sharpest relief. Not all soldiers were heroes, few Generals were competent leave alone brilliant, and it was the character and motivations of individuals under fire that decided battle outcomes, rather than the strategising or the politicking of their leaders.
Tolstoy paints a picture of many different drivers for War, from protecting the fatherland and culture, to personal ambition, material gain or sometimes just despairing of Life.
We prefer to remember those idealists who were fighting for our freedom, but there were also those who were motivated by escape from boredom, wanting travel and wanting adventure, innate savagery, or simple personal gain.
It’s said that the History of Wars is always written by the winners, but on both sides there are always individual winners and losers. At the front-lines there are mostly losers.
Tolstoy describes the grinding boredom of marches and privations and digging trenches between the rare flurries of actual battle, and shows how front-line miseries are compounded by the plunder and ruination of ordinary people to feed the ravenous moving War machines.
In the second book, ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, author E M Remarque describes German soldiers’ extreme physical and mental stresses during WW1, the horrors of trench warfare and also the separation from civilian life felt by many soldiers lucky enough to return home from the front. Extreme noise from shelling, bodies, horses and machines blown to bits in a sea of filthy trenches, the choking mustard gas and rats gorging on the victims, made for terror unimaginable for us.
Both books are anti-War masterpieces highlighting the complexities, tribalism and human failings that have made War such a transformative part of our human past.
My Dutch maternal Grandfather’s experience of both WW1 and WW2 was one of having to make extraordinary efforts almost every hour of most days just to survive and to keep his family and close community alive. His long investment in Social Capital – his wide range of friends and acquaintances with tradeable skills – were what saw most of them through both Wars.
My paternal Grandfather was a wealthy builder before WW2 whose first reaction to war being declared on Holland was to buy a whole trailer-load of his favourite Havana cigars, saying he did not want to sit out the war without a good supply. He was so miserable however under German Occupation that he smoked very few of them, and they were so hungry a few years into the war, that he traded the whole trailer-load of cigars on the black-market for a pan of fat.
‘Tulip-muncher’ comes from that time when there was no food and bitter tulip bulbs were all that kept many Dutch stomach walls apart. Audrey Hepburn was just one of many who survived starvation during the German invasion of Holland in WW 2 by eating tulip bulbs.
My father was an older teenager in Zeist in WW2 and his challenges apart from hunger were mostly psychological: He had to be hidden from the Germans to avoid being taken into battle, or to work in German munitions factories. To do this his father had built a large bookcase that could rotate if you ran against one side of it to hide somebody quickly in a space behind the bookcase.
Dawn raids by the Germans looking for hidden able-bodied males involved rushing upstairs and checking how many warm beds there were, and if there were more warm beds than females in the house, they would do an exhaustive search to find the hidden male. Consequently my father had to share a bed with one of his sisters for a good part of the war, and he had to stay out of sight. Staying out of sight, or at least staying in the background became a way of life for him, even after he escaped destroyed Europe and emigrated to New Zealand on his honeymoon with my mother.
Dad did not like talking about the War, but sometimes he let his guard down and gave us snippets: the taking turns pedalling a suspended bike with a light dynamo so that others could read at night, going into the woods with his sledge in winter to find fallen dry branches that they could burn to keep warm – and one night coming back with his English Teacher on his sledge. She had died of exposure while also trying to find firewood.
But my most surprising realisation from my forbears’ War experiences was that, despite the extreme physical privations, for many the War years in Holland have been remembered as the best years of their lives. They were years when people had to be real, when everybody in their Community looked out for each other, leaned heavily on each other, and did whatever they could for their common good. Their lives then had INTENSITY and PURPOSE.
It was only by working together and being committed to frustrating the Germans and outlasting the Occupation that they were able to survive.
United by a common enemy they found new strengths within themselves, new inventiveness and imagination to optimise what scarce resources they could muster.
We, all of us, have our challenges which we can confront and hopefully engage with others to overcome, or, too easily in peacetime, we can push these challenges into the background and pretend they are not important or don’t even exist.
My mother’s father once said, when no doubt we boys were being spoiled snots, that ‘it is a shame that we had never known war’. My view is that we don’t have to experience War to learn lessons from it, that by remembering and realising what our forebears went through we can learn some of the lessons that War has taught.
Following our tribal history of thousands of years of almost continuous Warfare we now enjoy an unprecedented reduction in war and murder, with most people experiencing a longer period of peace than any of their forebears.
My suggestion for today’s ANZAC service, is that we use this occasion to reflect and learn from our collective past.
I hope that with the mechanisation of warfare and its increasing reliance on economic power, that future Wars will stay at the level of economic contest rather than revert to traditional tribal slaughter.
I believe that our growing personal awareness and technological advances will reduce want and insecurity to the extent that War will soon become a thing of the past.
‘Lest we forget’, – we must remember that we owe the best living conditions in human History to those that went before us.
Thank you for the opportunity of sharing my thoughts with you on this sombre commemorative ANZAC DAY.
Flagging away Brian Stewart’s immaculate Ford GT40 Replica which he built himself over many years, having been inspired at the age of 14 in 1966 when the GT40 trounced the Ferraris at Le Mans, using 3 NZ drivers – Denny Hulme, Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon.
Unfortunately Brian can no longer drive his magnificent machine around many Dunedin streets because of the growth of new DCC low-body damaging speed-humps, for example near his home around Rattray st and Maori rd, with new humps threatening to block off his access to Arthur st from Russell street where the Mayor has recently bought a house…
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.