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Sunday, 31 October 2010

COMMUNITY DEMOCRACY OR PARTY-POLITICS?

On the 6th of November the newly-elected members of the Waiheke Local Board will be sworn in. Before the whole of the Waiheke Community they will make a promise, a morally- and legally-binding promise. Each will promise 'faithfully and impartially, and according to the best of my skill and judgement, to execute and perform, in the best interests of Waiheke, the powers, authorities, and duties vested in, or imposed upon, me member of the Waiheke Local Board by virtue of the Local Government Act 2002, the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, or any other Act.'

First up is 'faithfully and impartially'--two words bound together by 'and', which means they operate together, so the faithfulness of Members must be impartial and their impartiality must be faithful. 'Impartial' means, amongst other things, that they must never operate in any way that has any allegiance and owes any obedience' to any party. In that job there is only one party: the Waiheke Community. One party, the community; one friend, the community. And count no one as an enemy. Impartial.

The Local Government Act 2002 (LGA2002) is a huge Act, with hundreds of sections, but it is perfectly summed up in the forty words of section 10: '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.'

*Community* democracy and the four well-beings. That is every Board Member's
job-description, that is what they must, above all, be faithful and impartial to.

If they are faithful to their oath of office, faithful to section 10 of the LGA2002, and faithful to the truth, they cannot fail to be faithful to the Waiheke Community. If they fail in any of those they will fail it.

They should start being faithful and impartial by voting in Denise Roche as Chair of the Board. The strong whisper is that because most the Board are National supporters they will be voting along party lines, and therefore that she will not get the nod. She should. She has been a hard-working, vigilant Councillor. She has proved herself. She has the experience. And she won far more votes from the community that anyone else--her 2239 is well ahead of the others on their 1845, 1646, 1378 and 1361. For the rest of the Board to vote anyone else into that position will be an abject failure of impartiality and an abject failure of democracy. They will have listened to the will of a political party over the will of the people in the Waiheke
Community.

Thus, only minutes after promising to be faithful and impartial, and to operate according to the LGA2002, which means section 10, they will have failed to keep their promise.

Like everyone in local government they should always remember that failure to comply with the LGA2002 is defined by it as an offence, and that if they commit that offence anyone can hale them into the District Court. If found guilty they will be fined up to $5000.

--

Nobilangelo Ceramalus,
Member of the Waiheke Community Board.

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

Postscripts (not part of the letter).

I am told, although I have not checked it, that the new super-shiny WLB will not have a budget. Unlike the departing WCB, which had, over the three years, about half the million within its decision-making powers, the new thingy will have nothing, not even a SLIPs budget. Worth doing some meaty investigative journalism on... I'd like to see Len Brown's and Doug McKay's comments on that. If the WLB has no money under its decision-making powers, what power will it have?

They should have had that joint WCB-WLB meeting open to the community. It was a very good meeting, which the community would have benefitted by seeing. Too much of what we do is invisible. Then when it comes to an election people vote without having much idea of what we do, and vote in people who are not suitable. Even handicapped to the point where they cannot do the job.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

WAIHEKE'S CRIPPLED LOCAL BOARD

Please! A Board of only three!

One of the two men elected to the Waiheke Community's Local Board, Jim Hannan, Fullers' man, is dogmatically adamant that he can work fulltime for Fullers and also be a Member of the Board. Rubbish! Being a Board Member is a fulltime job. If he actually tries to do both jobs, conscientiously, he will kill himself. Otherwise he will be cheating the community.'No man can serve two masters.' His poor judgement is evidenced by his being so adamant that he can--regardless of fact and reason.

Just wading through the email from council officers can take all day. His poor judgement is also evidenced by his electioneering promise of jobs. He will be a Member of the Local Board, an enitity that in law is not allowed to employ people, and does not have the power to create employment. His promise is all sizzle and no steak.

The other man elected, Don McKenzie, is a very nice man, and very able to the extent that his blindness allows, but it is impossible to do that job without eyes, whatever he and his friends might claim.

Site-visits, for example, are impossible without sight. Just in the recent weeks I have done on three on behalf of the community. One was to see whether the community had got value for money in the restoration of the Pioneer Cemetery. Was it a job well done, or not? That was the last of three visits to it to oversee and discuss the project. A blind man could have done none of them. Nor could he judged and voted from the photos shown to other Board Members.

Another site-visit meant going to evaluate 8 hectares of forest and bush that the Council was considering buying. Getting there meant going along tracks, some too narrow for a man and a guide-dog, and crossing a small swamp on narrow, loose boards. Seeing it and judging it, seeing the magnificent 270-degree view, and arriving at a decision would all be impossible without eyes. The effect on me would have been no different to walking down my front path.

The job needs eyes in many necessary aspects of the job--studying charts, graphs, diagrams, drawings, slides and videos, reading and comparing many thousands of pages of written material on paper and on the Net, including hand-written material, and closely following what is on screen during Board meetings. Anyone who cannot see any of that has to rely on the skill and judgement of others, which means it is impossible for him to be true to the oath of office he must make on the 6th of November--his statutory promise to do the job to the best of his own skill and judgement. For him, in all the places where eyes are needed, he will have rely completely on the skill and judgement of the others, which makes them de facto Board
Members, unelected.

A guide-dog is useless in the labyrinth of local-government decision-making. A dog cannot read.

And software that can turn computer text into speech is useless in the face of handwritten material and any words that are not in text format. If the format is a scan or a photo that software is helpless.

Congratulations to the three. But you will have to work even harder than you should have to, to compensate for two handicapped men, one handicapped by a chronic lack of time and demonstrably poor judgement, the other by a very restrictive disability.

The 1300-odd people who voted for the two men obviously do not know, or do not care, what that job is.

Party-voting for local-government positions is very stupid. It is also way out of kilter with the law, because successful candidates must at their swearing-in promise to be impartial. Party-politics do not belong in local government. 'Vision Waiheke', the ticket the two men stood on, was just a National Party front; their claim to be independent was flim-flam. The Waiheke Community must now live for the three years with the consequences.


----

Footnote: Waiheke Marketplace claimed in a front-page story by the editor, George Gardner, that the new Board is centre-right, a swing from the far left of the existing Board. Where did George get that nonsense? Three members are right-wing: Tony Sears, Herb Romaniuk and Ray Ericson. Denise Roche is on the left. Eileen Evans would be centre-left. I, as I said in my election leaflet in 2007 am not left-wing, right-wing, tail-feathers or beak. I make decisions on the facts, not on some party-ideology. Only fools do that. So on balance, if you want to put a stupid wing-label on the present Board, it would be centre-right. Certainly not far left. Not left at all. And a much better Board than the new one.