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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, 19 November 2010

BIG BUSINESS NOT THE COMMUNITY

Jim Hannan said that the majority on the Waiheke Local Board installed Jo Holmes as Deputy Chair because she is a businesswoman.

And when she was sworn in, she swore, as everyone elected to a local-government position must, to act in the best interests of the Waiheke Community. But the heavy-duty item in her business record belies her promise.

Several years ago she founded a newspaper on the island, Waiheke Marketplace, which did well, deservedly, and went from being just a wrapper round a lot of real-estate advertising to being a community newspaper worthy of the name.

But then, for private gain, she sold it to big business, to a multinational, to the Fairfax empire, an outfit alien to a village-rural community and alien to Waiheke. The paper is now just another of Fairfax's vast empire of suburban newspapers.

That was certainly not a deal that was in the best interests of the Waiheke Community.

It is just as well that we also have a real community newspaper: Gulf News. It is owned and run by an islander for islanders, its roots are deep in the island's bedrock, and it is deep in the hearts of all Waihekeans worthy of the name.

'Marketplace' turns out to have been the right name, and harbinger of its ultimate fate; for its fundamental concern was the eye-for-the-main-chance market not the caring community.

SWEARING-IN MOVIE

The movie version of the swearing-in meeting on the 6th of November is now in pre-production.

It is to be called Saturday Afternoon in Dodgy City.

;-)

Thursday, 11 November 2010

SUPERSILLY BOARD NUMERO UNO

So now we have our first Supersilly Board.

And what a fun show it was! The in-crowd was sworn in to much swearing from the memorable crowd that crowded in to the Memorial Hall. And crowded round the much-applauded. And crowded out the doors to the much-less-applauded.

So now, as that old cartoon show used to say at the end of each programme: 'Listen next week for the next exciting episode of Felix the Cat.' On the island famous for being full of cats who refuse to be herded. Because they want to be heard.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

POWER-HUNGRY SPIN IS NOT DEMOCRACY

In letters to Waiheke Marketplace (whose editor has unfortunately decided to be strongly partisan towards her former boss) Faye Storer, Jo Holmes, Don McKenzie and Jim Hannan attempted to justify appointing Faye as chair of the Waiheke Local Board rather than Denise Roche, whose 2239 votes were far ahead of Faye's 1849. Their spin ignores the facts and the law, and therefore abdicates their duty to the community.

In Faye's letter she claimed that the 4:1 vote to install her as chair was 'democracy.' Bunkum! 'Democracy' comes from 'demos', which means 'people'. A 4:1 vote is not the voice of the people, it is just a majority amongst five individuals.

The democratic point is heavily underlined in law by section 14 of the Local
Government Act 2002 (LGA2002), which lays down the principles by which local government must be conducted. Section 14 opens with: '(1) In performing its
role, a local authority must act in accordance with the following principles: (a) a local authority should--(i) conduct its business in an open, transparent, and democratically accountable manner;' and '(b) a local authority should make itself aware of, and should have regard to, the views
of all of its communities.'

'Open, transparent and democratically accountable' means accountable to the
community--and nothing else. It does not mean 'accountable' to the mutual back-slapping of a cabal. It means true democracy, the democracy of the electorate--not just getting the numbers amongst those elected then sticking on a 'democracy' label to make it look kosher.

Board members are not there to express their opinions, especially partisan ones. They are there to represent the community, to re-present its will within the context of democratic statute. If they fail to uphold 'democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, the community'--underline 'the community' in red--they can be haled into court under the LGA2002 and fined up to $5000.

Decisions on the Board should be made according to the community and democratic statute, not dogmatic, self-serving opinion driven by a lust for power. 'Robust' party dogma does not establish democratic facts. The will of the people does.

Jim's claim to have the support of the centre-right for the 4:1 vote by The Four, and his obvious notion that the island wants a centre-right board, is so much self-serving assertive garbage. If he researched and analysed the election result instead of thinking that he can create facts with 'robust' assertions he would see that the centre-left vote comfortably exceeds the centre-right total. By about 8%.

On top of that if you add Denise's vote to Faye's, then reckon Denise's margin of that total, it comes out at just under 10%. That is about 25% more than the margin of left over right across the whole community, which shows that the extra strength of Denise's support is personal not political.

The vote at the election was split and dispersed by a large field of candidates, which was overwhelmingly dominated by the centre-left. The centre-right cannily concentrated on a few candidates, mostly under one banner. Clever, but they cannot claim a mandate. Waiheke is a predominantly a people-place not a power-place.

The specious arguments by The Four are also contradictory. They said they voted for Faye because of her experience as a councillor and Board member, although Denise also has both. Then they voted for Jo as Deputy, who has no experience at all. Convenient arguments to try to justify the unjustifiable.

But even if Jim were right about a shift to centre-right on Waiheke it is a great pity that the left-right tribal argument has sullied the island's local government. The only party that counts is the community. Candidates, successful and unsuccessful, should be not be right-wing, left-wing, tail-feathers or beak. Just Waihekeans. Anything else is dishonest and grossly anti-community. If you love wings stay off the Board. Go to MacDonalds.

Being impartial is not only good morally, and best for the community. It is also the law, because it is the oath of office in all local-government elected positions.

The 4:1-elect do not get it. You are not elected to positions of power. You are elected to positions of representation, bounded by statute. You are there to re-present the will of the local community in accordance with the will of the national community expressed in the heart of democratic statute. That is your job. Get it! And do it.

Two candidates put themselves forward for the position of chair. One has the
confidence of 2239 people in the Waiheke community, the other has the confidence of 1845. It is glaringly obvious, under the democratic principle, who should be the chair and the deputy.

To the Gang of Four: ignore the community at your peril!