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ROCKY BAY NEVER WAS OMIHA

A Waiheke Island Myth Part 1 On Waiheke Island, New Zealand, a myth has grown up among a handful of people in the Rocky Bay Village th...

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Friday, 30 April 2010

AUCKLAND LOGOS UNREAL AND REAL

Sssst! We have all been told that the wunnerful new Auckland Empire wants a new logo, a new symbol with which it can sell itself--it's 'world-class' self--to the world. But what we have not all been told (please stick your tongue in your cheek) is that the symbol has already been chosen.

Yes, they hired a team of two hundred Abyssinian consultants (there were none left in Australia or anywhere else who would work for them), allocated half a billion dollars of budget, gave each of them a yellow jacket, and locked them up in a secret hide-away for a whole year.

And after working like over-the-top Trojans every single nanosecond of that time (please stick your tongue even further into your cheek) they at last came up with the perfect symbol. It is brilliant, a masterpiece, an incredible stroke of collective genius. Ain't it amazing what you can get for half a billion nowadays!? It is so brilliant that it must be introduced with a triple blaze of trumpets! Tirrah! Tirrah! Tirrah! Thank you.

Wow! Behold! The new symbol for Auckland: a small spherical object, about the size of yer average marble, coloured orange on the outside and brown on the inside. It is rumoured that it will be popularised by being sold (only to suckers) in dark blue packets garnished with orange here and there.

......................

The piece above was conceived long ago, shared with a number of people privately, and written and published elsewhere before the winning logo in the real(?) world was announced. My reaction when I saw it was a howl of delight:

O goody! Seven jaffas on sticks.

......................

On second and third thoughts, in August 2011, perhaps they are not jaffas. Perhaps they are all-day-suckers, which is what we are in falling for Rodney Hide's blather (not that we had much choice). Or gob-stoppers, to shut us up, on the principle that, to quote Hide, 'putting local back into local government' actually means shutting up the locals and letting the mainland Sir Humphreys rule. Das Mainland Uber Alles...

Thursday, 22 April 2010

SIR HUMPHREY RULES THE ROAD--OK?

The Waiheke Transport Forum is a community body set up to advise the Waiheke Community Board on transport matters. At the April meeting, during yet another vigorous debate on The Esplanade (whether it should be closed to all but emergency traffic and reserved for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians), a council officer became so angry that he blurted out the blunt truth.

That Yes Minister television series, in which the bureaucrat Sir Humphrey rules, with democracy always a distant second (unlike public servants, who really do serve the people faithfully and well), is a penetrating portrayal of real life. But it is still a shock to be bluntly told the same thing out in the real world. The Sir Humphreys are not normally purveyors of the crystal-clear truth.

The issue of The Esplanade issue is controversial, so the Transport Forum at its previous meeting in March had spent a long time thrashing out the wording of a survey to be sent out to the community so that the Community Board would know what most Waihekeans want. Arriving at the final text took a long time because there are many different views, but in the end we saw the miracle of a unanimous vote of approval. On Waiheke!

At the next meeting of the Community Board that wording was endorsed.

Then Sir Humphrey struck. Council officers wanted changes and additions; they wanted what they consider to be a survey that obeys what they have decided is the Auckland City Council standard for surveys (which of course includes irrelevant stuff with which they can fine-tune the vote--i.e., our votes are weighed on their scales instead of just being counted; then they can interpret the vote to their liking). But they were bluntly told to accept our democratic will.

That is why The Esplanade Survey was back Transport Forum's agenda in April, and why the council officer, the traffic engineer, ultimately blew a fuse when he was told that that was the wording that had been democratically agreed to, so that is to be the wording that goes out to the community.

He bluntly told us that if that was to be the wording the survey would NOT be going out. He also bluntly told us that the decision about The Esplanade would not be made by us. It would be made by 'the officer with the delegation--Andrew Allen' (the senior traffic engineer over in the city, and his boss).

Section 10 of the Local Government Act 2002, which is very the heart of local-government law in New Zealand, says 'The purpose of local government is (a) to enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities; and (b) to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities in the present and for the future.'

All the Sir Humphreys should read that, learn that, get that nailed into their skulls and predicate every decision on that--on that and nothing else. (Copy it out and put it on the wall by your phone, and quote it every time you are getting the run-around from a Sir Humphrey--tell him plainly that his job exists first and foremost to fulfil that law.)

But what they actually do is to be Sir Humphreys. In that they are supported by a professional trade association called the Society of Local Government Managers (www.solgm.org.nz), a kind of Protect Sir Humphrey Society. Its view of how things should be run in local government is officer-centered, and is spelt out in black and white in the 2010 version of the diary it issued to bods in local government.

The preface, jointly written by SOLGM and the law-firm Simpson Grierson (which happens also to be Auckland City Council's external legal adviser), quotes section 12 of the Local Government Act 2002 virtually word for word--but then it tacks on an extra bit: ''For the purpose of carrying out its role a local authority has full capacity to carry on or undertake any activity or business, do any act, or enter into any transaction, and for these purposes has full rights, power and privileges (referred to as the power of general competence)'.

That bit in brackets is not part of the law, it is only an antiquated lawyers' paraphrase of it, but as you can see it means something very different in everyday speech. And if it is taken in isolation, any officers bent on getting their own way will arrive at a very different conclusion than if they were aiming 'to enable local democratic decision-making and action'.

It should be noted that 'local authority' in section 12 means the elected council, not the employed one, because the employed are legally defined as employed by the local authority--which is a fact usually denied by the CEO, who claims, contrary to law, that he employs them, and that he is the only employee of the council.

The phrase 'general competence' is deep in council officers' mythology; they are led to believe that it is in the Local Government Act 2002. It is not. Nowhere.

Using it as it is understood in everyday speech is a gross misinterpretation of section 12, which is just saying that councils have the legal power to make legal decisions, which is obviously needed, otherwise their decisions would neither be valid nor enforceable. But to paraphrase section 12 in a way which in effect says that council officers have the power to make decisions regardless of what the people want, and that they somehow have a superior level of competence, is somewhere between blatant arrogance and bureaucratic dictatorship.

Thus does Sir Humphrey, as always, run things by the mythical laws in his head instead of the ones printed in the lawbooks. The Esplanade, and everything else on Waiheke, have to take the consequences. OK?

Friday, 16 April 2010

COSTLY PIPERS AND SUGAR-DADDIES

Those who lust after millions of dollars from Auckland--far above the $16-million-plus that is collected on the island, are overlooking the simple arithmetic of a big, nasty problem.

A couple of years ago the Waiheke Community Board was briefed by a senior bean-counter in Auckland City Council who laid out the plain facts--every dollar spent on capital works here adds 14 cents to the operating expenditure every year, forever afterwards.

That means that for every $7 million pumped in by Auckland there has to be an extra $1 million added to the rates forever (plus inflation).

Obviously the only way that iniquitous situation can be sustained is by being increasingly dependent on Auckland's handouts. Thus we fall into the aid-dependency trap. And the loss-of-local-democracy trap, because he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Greed for someone else's money destroys self-determination. It cripples local decision-making and action. When we accept Auckland's money we also must accept its control of our community.

The problem with a Sugar-daddy is that sooner or later he wants his pound of sweetened flesh. He is like the wicked witch in Hansel and Gretel. He is not feeding us for our best nourishment, he is bent on making us tasty for his own dinner-table.

The argument by those who lust for Auckland's dollars--that we deserve Auckland's money because Aucklanders come here on holiday--is specious claptrap. First the ones with baches here are paying rates here--which is a third of ratepayers--so there is a solid contribution, but from insiders not outsiders, people who have a true commitment here. Second, it is nonsense to expect a portion of Auckland's rates to follow Aucklanders wherever they go on holiday. Tell that to Ruapehu, to Whangamata, to Bali, to Fiji, to Surfer's Paradise, to London, to Timbuktu. We no more deserve a portion of Auckland's rates than we do of Shanghai's, on the grounds that many Chinese come here.

A tourist destination that does that not stand on its own two feet, instead choosing to stand on someone else's, cannot complain when the other feet take it where it does not want to go.

On top of all that is what should be obvious, that using the rates collected from one group of ratepayers to better the lot of other ratepayers, above or far above what the others could afford to do for themselves, or in natural justice justify, is also a breach of the Bill of Rights Act, especially when you do not have a mandate from the group that was robbed. But never let good law get in the way of yet another example of brain-damaged ideological 'policy'.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

WAIHEKE COUNCIL NOT BOARD

An island is a place apart in body and mind. Islanders are people who choose to separate themselves from the madding crowd and live apart. And they want to be masters and mistresses of their own fate. Waihekeans do not want to be dictated to by It That Must Be Obeyed--The Empire Over The Water. We could live harmoniously with a community like ours, but Mr Yellowjacket has stomped mercilessly on that. We have been lumped in with the CBD. It has been the 1989 takeover all over again, this time with hobnailed, steel-toed boots, and Kalashnikovs at the ready. The city-siders, the bods who can never get into their heads and hearts what the island is all about, have cemented in their takeover.

But there is a candle at the end of Hide Tunnel. His legislation makes a division between regional and local decisions, and says that the only decisions that are not to be made locally are regional ones. And when John Carter etc., talk about regional it is plain that what they mean is Bombay to Wellsford. So for us there is nothing regional. EVERYTHING is local--the island, and its setting, which is the Hauraki Gulf, not Bombay to Wellsford. So ALL decision-making should be in our hands. Nothing should be decided by the Super-silly.

Therefore the Waiheke Local Board, which under the new regime replaces the Waiheke Community Board in October, should be where the democratic buck rests. Not on some bureaucratic city desk where democracy gets slaughtered and diced.

So we must fight tooth and nail to turn that candle into a bonfire. Which means that to get what we want--Waiheke deciding for Waiheke--we must do everything we can to make the Waiheke Local Board, in effect, the Waiheke Council. Anything less must be resisted to the hilt. Therefore anyone who stands for the Local Board who does not want that, and who will not say so explicitly, will really be saying that we should be under the Super-silly boot--and therefore should be ignored on the ballot-paper.