Speech Sunday 05/09/2010 final STS meeting

Dear All,

I want to thank all of you present today, for caring. For taking the time and for trying to make a positive difference for Dunedin.
Our City, the City we Love.
Sir Winston Churchill once said that “Success – is going from one failure to the next without losing enthusiasm”.
Hope springs eternal.
Your enthusiasm and your hopes for Dunedin are a credit to you, but also a great credit to Dunedin itself – the Dunedin most of us were born into, or were drawn towards because of its beauty, cradled in the ancient volcanic crater by the sea, and flanked by the varied landscapes of Otago’s hinterland.
Dunedin had so much already before any of us set foot here. The University, the Med School, the Gardens, the roads and infrastructure, the Town Hall, Dunedin’s Churches and all its other beautiful buildings…
We walked into all this without any City debts to be paid, without any suggestion of ‘intergenerational equity’ or any other proposed theft from our future.
Dunedin’s forefathers worked hard to create this wonderful City and they left it to us unencumbered, as our great gift.

  Times have changed, and today Dunedin is divided by powerful self-interest groups who have grown over years to be greedy, short-sighted, and vain. The supposed Tartan Mafia is actually a number of groups and individuals who have found ways and connections to further their narrow agendas by bleeding Dunedin Citizens through the centralised rating system of Local Government.
Today, we see the rise of projects unlike any before in Dunedin’s history.
Projects that are not built with vision and hard work as Dunedin’s founders did, but built with vanity and with debt. This new century in Dunedin has seen DCC debt increase more than ten times, from $32.5m in 1999, to $360m now. These ODT printed and uncontested figures disguise an even bigger debt hiding behind it in the DCC owned Council companies which now have a debt of some $445m. These debts total $805m, and the Town Hall and Stadium blowout costs are yet to come. Another billion in drainage maintenance awaits us in the coming decades as the old debt free city pipes infrastructure ends its lifespan. In the face of all this debt, we are now faced with Dunedin’s biggest ever debt project, the Stadium – almost all imported and the biggest exporter of Dunedin $ in our history.

I salute Stop the Stadium, Bev Butler, and all those who have attempted to achieve majority public say on whether the Stadium should proceed funded by rates.
We have been denied a Stadium referendum, denied a say in whether we finance this biggest ever vanity project, and denied true information on costs, uses, and what kind of Stadium we are being forced to pay for. We have also been forced to buy a second Stadium – Carisbrook, in secret, above market value, to bailout our Stadium ‘anchor tenants’ (who are now not tenants at all), and as an unadmitted backstop venue for the Rugby World Cup.

The Stadium is being built however, and we must not deny that the Stadium has some very ardent supporters nationwide who honestly believe that it will be good for all of Dunedin.
I believe that we must end the divisiveness and harness this support for the Stadium, as Sydney residents harnessed support for the controversial Sydney Opera House with their 14-year-long Lottery.
We must set up a Nationwide Stadium Lottery here to fund the Stadium’s inevitable cost and interest blowouts.
No amount of wishing the Stadium away will change its reality, and the reality is that there is support for the Stadium other than rates that must be achieved if Dunedin is to prosper. Those wealthy groups and individuals who promise to rent corporate boxes will also contribute in other ways if they see it realising their dream Stadium. A Stadium with seating, scoreboards, parking and toilets.
Dunedin’s economic base is too small to finance it all, so we need the proposed Nationwide Stadium Lottery.  As well as cash prizes, we can provide many other prizes for a Stadium Lottery such as Highlanders signed tops, rugby balls, and Carisbrook seats to be used as garden furniture, perhaps even living room furniture for the real fans.
There are no legal impediments to running a Nationwide Lottery for the Stadium and there is also the opportunity of applying to the Lotteries Commission for a “Lottery Significant Projects Fund” which “provides grants large enough to enable the completion of community projects with a total value of at least $1 million”. The non-profit requirement of the applying organisation is easily met by the DCC, but could also be met by a separate fund-raising organisation.

Looking at the bigger picture, there are ways of healing the divisions and debt created by misinformation and unequal privilege in Dunedin.

The Nationwide Stadium Lottery will help heal Stadium divisions and will stem the tide of Stadium debt.
I have proposed other solutions which address the deeper causes of debt and division in Dunedin. My business experience in the real world has given me the experience to undertake the following:
We must absorb the Otago Redundant Council. The most obvious Dunedin division is having two Councils instead of one Unitary Council for Local Government.  Many millions can be saved here.
We slim down the DCC as well, because it has too many managers, too much self-serving bureaucracy, and too little ratepayer focus.
We must learn to ‘Buy Local’, to give local businesses precedence in order to keep Dunedin$ circulating in Dunedin. The DCC must lead the charge and give local business a 10% quoting advantage against out-of-town businesses. This has been successfully done in Cities like Wellington. Eg Printing quotation ex Dunedin printing co. for the Wellington City Council. The Dunedin co. won on price, but still lost to a local supplier.
We must also stop the DCC indulgence in overseas travel, conferences and junkets, which mostly serve just to export more Dunedin $. I am told Mayor Chin has been in China with CEO Harland again this last week, for the umteenth time.
In my time as a Dunedin City Councillor, I was the only one who refused all rate-paid travel and conferences. If elected Mayor I would move to rapidly cut these unnecessary travel budgets, saving one % on our rates each year. Many other such savings and improvements in Local Government are available.

Our enemy then, is not the Stadium, but the corruption of process that has forced us to pay for it.
This corruption of process is one which I can effectively fight if elected, and which I promise to fight on behalf of all Dunedin Citizens, not just some group or groups.
I owe nobody anything, but I owe Dunedin everything as my home, and the home of my family and family to come.
If the public of Dunedin give me the mandate to to do all that I have clearly said I hope to do, we can all look forward to a united prosperous Dunedin, and in time, a paid-for Stadium.
Our success then, requires our unending enthusiasm.
Dunedin deserves our unending enthusiasm.

Thank you for the opportunity of speaking here today.
Lee Vandervis

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About Lee Vandervis

My name is Lee Vandervis and I was born in Balclutha 60 years ago to Dutch immigrant parents who ran a successful building contractor business. I have been passing Dad nails since I can remember and I learned to swing a hammer usefully early in life. My parents always pushed the values of thrift and a broad education. At Otago University I gained a BA in Philosophy before going to London for 5 years overseas experience, working in electronics manufacturing and rising to Production Manager of Midas Audio UK, building mixing consoles for musicians like Stevie Wonder, Supertramp and Pink Floyd. I returned to Dunedin in 1981 to have a family and set up Vandervision Lighting Audio and Video, making it Dunedin’s largest lighting hire business, and restoring heritage buildings like Dundas st Church and 401 Moray Place along the way. I sold most of my business interests when first elected to the DCC in 2004. Dunedin City Councillor profile: http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/your-council/councillors/cr-lee-vandervis
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