Editor cites DCC as “open democracy in action”

Sometimes the penny does not drop. In today’s editorial, ‘Cavernous divisions in Christchurch’, the Otago Daily Times has its word on Christchurch City Council and in so doing comes up with this, the first paragraph:

“While no-one would claim they are perfect, and there is room for debate round the edges particularly where meetings closed to the public are concerned, the processes of the Dunedin City Council, as exemplified by this week’s pre-draft budget meetings, are an example of open democracy in action.” Link

A remarkable comment in the face of the rugby scrum that parades as the annual plan / long term council community plan process at Dunedin, a process well tinged with lies, deceit, incompetence and further mismanagement of ratepayer funds by our elected representatives. This after years of council grey papers, staff manipulations, and unholy alliances with gentlefolk in the private sector whose names are well known.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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9 Comments

Filed under #eqnz, DCC, Economics, Media, Politics, Stupidity

9 responses to “Editor cites DCC as “open democracy in action”

  1. Anonymous

    Is there ANY self-respect or integrity left in this paper’s reporting on council affairs? It’s fauning over Mayor Dave Cull and continued soft supporting of stadium councillors is embarrassing.

  2. wirehunt

    “there is room for debate round the edges particularly where meetings closed to the public are concerned………..are an example of open democracy in action.”

    Now how in hell do you get this wording into the same paragraph then say all is good? Things are even worse somehow than they were before. Somehow.

  3. pat adamson

    They are going to get worse I’m afraid, already food prices have risen a lot in the last three years. Many have to watch every penny sorry cent they spend. Severel times I’ve been approached by people asking for money as they can’t make ends meet on their income. Unfortunatley New Zealand no longer resembles a Democracy, more like a manipulated dictatorship in this last Election. We need Politicians both Local and National to clean up their act and look after the residents of this City and the Country as a whole. The City Council made this mess with their eyes wide open, all those Councillors who voted for the stadium should pay a higher Rate towards it than the rest of us. A penalty would stop a lot of them making bad decisions in future.

  4. Russell Garbutt

    I see in today’s Oddity that the financial woes of the ORFU are again the main story. Over the last little while there have been numerous attempts to rewrite history with regard to the sale of Carisbrook and the subsequent on-going unholy mutual suicide pact entered into between the DCC and the ORFU and Highlanders. I’m not going to raise again the fact that the City paid over $7m to the ORFU to purchase the millstone of Carisbrook and only $6m seemed to appear in the ORFU books and this has so far not been explained. I think though it is worth reporting verbatim some of the content of the ORFU’s AGM at the beginning of 2010, found in about 30 seconds on Google – something I’m sure a good reporter could repeat quite easily.

    Firstly, in full, Ron Palenski’s address on 22 February 2010 at the 129th AGM of the ORFU.

    “Amid all the rumours that swirl around Otago rugby, some of them quite fantastic, there was one last week that was entirely accurate. I told the Otago board last month that I would not be seeking re-election as chairman of the union; this came as no surprise to directors because they knew I wanted to stand down last year. Just so the rumours don’t get out of hand, there was nothing sinister in my decision, no ulterior motive and if there was any writing on the wall, I wrote it myself. The simple fact was that I’d been chairman for about seven years and I felt it was time to go. There’s never a right time to go or a right time to stay; just that it’s time.
    Needless to say, but I will say it, I thank the directors with whom I’ve worked since 2003 for their efforts, their commitment and their understanding, and of course those directors who continue on with the noble but often thankless task of administering Otago rugby will have my support and understanding.

    This is not a valedictory address; I don’t have the ego for that. That’s what politicians do. I will say, however, that the role of a director is often misunderstood and we get blamed for all manner of things that we’ve done and plenty that we haven’t done. The board and its chairman are ultimately responsible for the good of Otago rugby and we all understand and accept that. I can say happily that I can’t recall one instance when the board during my time has not acted in what it thought was the best interests of the union – we didn’t always agree of course and it would be an odd board if we had, but we did agree on the paramount importance of Otago rugby. Egos have been left at the door.

    I’ve said before and I’ll say again that rugby is an increasingly complex and difficult sport to administer. Some people call it a business but it’s not that; it’s a sport – the primary role of directors or anyone else involved in the game is to get as many people onto the paddock as possible. It is the business aspects of the sport that sometimes get in the way of that fundamental aim.

    And it’s the business aspects that occupy our minds because of the way the game has changed, the way costs rise while income stays pretty much static, or falls. This isn’t an issue just for Otago rugby. It’s an issue for the whole game in New Zealand and it’s an issue with which all provincial unions as well as the New Zealand union grapple.
    As some of you know, I’ve been working away from the union on other aspects of my life and in that, I’ve learnt and come to understand more fully just how important rugby is to New Zealand; how rugby as it developed in New Zealand led to the country being what it is; rugby is part of the psyche of the country, even for those who profess not to be able to stand the game. What concerns me greatly is that’s now under threat and it’s under threat because we are a country of just over four million people competing with countries of many millions more. It is a simple numbers game and you have to ask if a country with the population of Sydney can afford as many professional teams as we have.
    I used to listen to administrators of an earlier generation such as Jack Sullivan and Ces Blazey and Russ Thomas and others as they warned about the dangers of professionalism; and I used to disagree with them because my view was that players of the amateur era should have been rewarded for the commitment and effort they made. I don’t know if any of those administrators could really see into the future, but I do know that their fears are being justified more and more.

    The concerns at the national level are echoed at provincial levels; the smaller the population base of a union, the more difficult it is; the greater the challenges.

    I know it’s been said of this union, “Why don’t they do that?” or “Why haven’t they tried this?” – well, I can tell you there is very little that has not been tried at some stage, that has not been explored for some possible advantage.

    That’s why we sold Carisbrook: there’s no immediate benefit but it will tell in the medium to long term. It was a financial millstone that we simply had to rid ourselves of. Once we’re in the new stadium, we’ll be much better off financially – and Dunedin and Otago will reap benefits as well. In the shorter term, there is some pain and we just have to get through that.
    Test matches for the past three years have been of great benefit to the union and to gain those tests against other competing centres was no easy feat. We won’t have a test next year which is one of the reasons for the prolonged pain – there’ll be World Cup matches of course and there’ll be benefits to the city and its businesses, but they are non-paying tests as far as the union is concerned.

    As always, we rely on the performances of our teams to provide the economic bedrock for the union. When they’re successful, people come and watch; when they’re not, they don’t. Neither Otago nor the Highlanders have performed as well as they should have in the past couple of years and that is reflected in the union’s financial statement. It’s not my job as chairman to analyse on-field performances – at least not publicly – but it is my job to point out that just as directors are accountable, just as the staff is accountable, so are players and coaches. Rugby is the ultimate team effort.

    It’s not just our teams’ success, or lack of it, that has such a large effect on our finances. I’m the last person to make excuses or look to blame others for my own faults, but I’d suggest that the imposition of night games for selfish business reasons has had a marked effect on us and I’d suggest too that the quality of the rugby – the manner of playing forced upon players by the International Rugby Board – has also driven away many followers.

    I take this last opportunity to thank the staff at the union – not just the current staff, but all who have worked there during my tenure, for their drive and passion for Otago rugby. It’s not just a job and they know it. Foremost among them I thank Richard Reid, who has the most difficult job there is in sport south of the Waitaki, and perhaps even further afield. It’s only those close to him who truly understand what the job entails and know that while it’s simple for anyone to pose all the questions, he is the one who has to come up with the answers. The same applied to Russell Gray and John Hornbrook before him; it’s a frustrating, debilitating job and a credit to Richard that he is able to perform it with such equanimity.
    This year we have a new challenge: Otago have to finish seventh or better in the NPC to remain in the top division for next year. To me, there are no ifs or buts. We simply must finish in the top seven; not to do so is too awful to contemplate. As difficult as the times are, I’m confident that we have the staff and the organisation to do what we have to do.

    The times are difficult, but those with vision and commitment can see that there are better times ahead. On behalf of my fellow directors, and those directors you elect tonight, I ask for your patience and understanding. The fact you are here tonight shows we have your commitment to the good of Otago rugby. ”

    The financial report showing a $764,000 loss was spoken to by Richard Reid, who, amongst other things, said the following.

    “Mr Reid went on to say that the next two years will be tough. Steps have already been taken to further reduce expenses; however, it is not about expense reduction it is more about income generation. The ORFU’s income, for a variety of reasons, has lessened by $1.1m over the last four years, but one cannot keep dropping expense. In any business there is a number which you need to operate within. Over the last two years this number has been taken out of the expense line. Mr Reid said that getting through 2010 and 2011 will be hard work as we transition to the new stadium, where the initial forecasts appear to make a significant difference.

    He went on to speak of the sale of Carisbrook and said that this was a long exhaustive process where ORFU was not bargaining from a position of strength. The outcome was not perfect but probably the best we could have done.

    Mr Reid wished to publicly acknowledge Mr Ross Laidlaw and Mr Neville Frost for the work they did on the sale of Carisbrook.”

    So there you have it. I’m not going to highlight any particular passage above, but I think that it is quite plain and has been for absolutely years that the most stupid thing that could ever happen was for the DCC in any form, to get involved in rugby. Only the truly incompetent or stupid or worse Councillor could not see the writing on the wall. And the last Council voted, along with the ORC and the CTO, to get into bed with this cabal.

    {ORFU Annual Report and Statement of Accounts
    see 7.1 Annual Report – Mr Ron Palenski’s address, at the 129th AGM on 22 February 2010. [DOC] http://www.orfu.co.nz/uploadGallery/March%20Circular%202010%203.doc -Eds}

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Sat, 28 Jan 2012
      ORFU bailed out of financial crisis
      By Steve Hepburn
      The Otago Rugby Football Union has been bailed out of its financial crisis by the New Zealand Rugby Union, with a loan and the appointment of a change manager. The NZRU revealed yesterday it had appointed former Bay of Plenty chief executive Jeremy Curragh as a change manager to help the union with a recovery plan. The ORFU has recorded losses of nearly $4 million in the past five years and is likely to report another significant loss next month. It was forced to turn to the national body for assistance.
      Read more

      Bugger!
      “There have been no forensic auditors or accountants. The NZRU has provided personnel support to Otago to help them assess their current situation and to look for viable solutions for the future.” -Brent Anderson, NZRU

  5. Hype O'Thermia

    Reading that, I feel deeply compassionate towards those like Mr Palenski who had the wisdom to see the flaws in the course that was determinedly headed down. He is in the same position as we who carefully assessed the facts available to all and then opposed the folly of building the public-funded stadium. We both are stuck with the damage inflicted by those who were able to force it on us. “We told you so” is no consolation.

  6. Russell Garbutt

    No, it is no consolation, but what in the hell are we doing rewarding those like Farry that forced this mess upon us? Him and those shadowy figures that surround the whole mess should all be in stocks in the Octagon. It would be a nice attraction for the cruise ship passengers….

  7. Calvin Oaten

    The ORFU need not worry too much. It just has to clarify the situation sufficiently to inform the DCC via the DVML CEO and “Bobs your uncle” all will be solved. And we ratepayers will find that we now have a rugby business added to our group of CCOs. Neat eh?

  8. Peter

    If they were savvy, they’d appoint Malcolm Farry to the ORFU Board. He’ll sort things out. Look at what he achieved when he was on the Highlanders’ Board. Whatever Malcolm turns his hand to, turns to gold. Our wise and esteemed councillors believed every word he spoke in convincing them as to the viability of having a new stadium. They didn’t even have to read the peer reviews themselves because Malcolm knew better. He was able to interpret the information for them. What a guy! Such a top bloke to work for too. Ask the folks at DVML.

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