Thought we’d seen the last, but WAIT – StS committee suddenly thinks to communicate with subscription members, and donors…
From: Stop the Stadium Announcement list
Date: 20 May 2009 3:37:33 PM
To: sts mailout
Subject: [SPAM] [sts] Stadium Update”
We have now arrived at the final round in our battle against the stadium ratepayer swindle. By any normal democratic standards and under any decent Council this proposition would long ago have been aborted. But these are apparently not normal times, and we are burdened by city and regional councils of unprecedented ignorance and myopia.
Central government and the Opposition have proved no more upright or enlightened than our local crew, with our three Labour MP’s shamefully silent, and Mr Woodhouse, the sole National representative, acting as a mere apologist for a government that has aided and abetted the abuse of due process and the extortion of Dunedin’s ratepayers. Only Metiria Turia, of the Green Party, has behaved with integrity and courage.
At every stage of this saga the interests and opinions of the public have been ignored, with the final insult being the DCC’s recent corruption of its own planning process, whereby hundreds of submissions, made in good faith, have been rendered void. Consideration of these submissions, insofar as they concerned the stadium, was legally mandatory if, to quote the relevant statute, the project had changed “significantly” within the last twelve months. The project, of course, has changed out of all recognition – both physically, in terms of the number of permanent seats and quality of fitout – and financially, where not only has the price-tag gone up by ten million dollars, but the promised “private funding” has all disappeared, to be replaced by ratepayer’s money. (The DCC, true to form, pretends that these enormous changes are insignificant, and that they will cause no increase in cost to the ratepayers. The DCC is lying.)
It was upon this question of vastly increased liability, of course, that STS last month sought a legal injunction aimed at compelling the Council, before making any irrevocable decisions, to adhere to its own planning rules and take note of public submissions. Yet the Council, despite its pretence of “consulting, as a moral imperative, whether legally required to or not”, decided to squander even more money in order to deny the public its rights. And, even more remarkably, a judge in Christchurch managed to support the council by concurring that “there was no significant change” from what had been presented a year ago. (The learned judge, incidentally, came to this considered conclusion after admitting that “he was unable to follow the argument” presented by STS lawyers.)
Clearly the legal system is in bad shape, and while the chances of obtaining ultimate justice from this quarter do not seem particularly auspicious, we have decided to appeal this contemptible decision. There remains the possibility, we would like to think, that at some level within the judiciary there survives a commitment to upholding the law – or at the very least to understanding the substance of a case before proceeding to issue judgment. In any event our appeal has been lodged, and in due course we shall see.
We have been enormously heartened by the quite astonishing response to our appeal for funds to pay our legal costs. Given the gloomy fact that our injunction was dismissed there seemed little likelihood that very much money would be forthcoming – yet you, the membership, have once again demonstrated your unwavering support and generosity. We have received many hundreds of donations, large and small, and all exceedingly welcome. Our admiration is boundless, and everyone on the STS committee would like to thank you most sincerely.
The rates protest remains very important. It will not, of course, derail the stadium, but it will keep this whole disaster alive and topical – both in the media and in the consciousness of the general public. Those who have so wilfully misled and impoverished this city must, quite soon, be held to account for their folly. The rates protest, by keeping the issue permanently in focus, will help secure the electoral defeat of the incompetents responsible. To participate in this vital action it is first necessary to cancel your direct debit – if you use this method of payment – and then to pay your rates less $66 per annum (or $16:50 per quarter). The DCC will be forced to write to you, demanding the balance, but you can safely ignore this until the end of the rating year, which falls each June. If you pay up within four months of this date there is nothing to fear – although it might be worth considering not paying at all, thereby forcing the council to take court proceedings for the recovery of a mere $66. If enough people did this the media coverage would be wonderful, with the stadium issue continually to the fore and the council portrayed as extortionists.
GETTING IN BEHIND?
There have been suggestions from various quarters that, now that the stadium is a “done deal”, we should somehow forget our opposition and “get in behind” the project. Everyone will have to make up their own minds about this, but our opinion is that if the stadium was a dumb idea a month ago it remains a dumb idea. Trying to make it “work” can only be achieved by turning a blind eye to endless ratepayer subsidies and personally paying excessive sums to attend events we would not otherwise be interested in. Why do this – merely in order to bale out the contemptible clowns responsible? We believe, to the contrary, that if this oversized tomb is actually completed it should be left to stand on the tidal flats, rotting slowly, like the statue of Ozymandias, as a monument to hick-town stupidity, arrogance, and greed.
Let us not forget the events of these past three years. Our elected Councils have betrayed our interests, foreclosed the real options for our city, and burdened ourselves and our children with a legacy of debt that will increase indefinitely. Let us remember the names of these people, and dismiss them – every one of them – in October, 2010.
President and STS committee
No worries, more invective. They take the liberty of defying the High Court decision by calling it “contemptible” – they’ll need to do considerably better than this in applying legal argument at the Court of Appeal. What hope.
We fear disconnection between left and right sides of the StS brain.
Indeed, what brain.