DScene: Delta, STS, DCC larks

### DScene 26-8-09
Suite for some (page 1)
Stop The Stadium has lost another legal fight, but it’s still throwing punches. One target of the-cash strapped group is Delta Utilities spending on a corporate suite. See page 5.

Thank you (page 3)
By Dave Wood, acting editor
Dunedin councillor Richard Walls was heard to ask at a recent council meeting if D Scene was still going. The question illustrates the soundness of the move by the former mayor to immerse himself in a community blog to help his understanding of what is happening in Dunedin.

Register to read DScene online at http://fairfaxmedia.newspaperdirect.com/

New board appointed (page 4)
By Wilma McCorkindale
The new board of Dunedin Venues Management Ltd has been appointed by the Dunedin City Council and it’s top heavy with out-of-towners.

STS gunning for Delta (page 5)
By Michelle Sutton
The cash-strapped Stop The Stadium group has hit out at Dunedin City Council-owned Delta Utilities having a $500,000 corporate suite in the new stadium.

Counting the cost (page 5)
Construction costs for Dunedin’s new stadium are out, but court costs haven’t been tallied yet. The council and the Stop The Stadium group say they will release how much they spent fighting each other about the stadium in court.

Saying bye to the ‘Brook (page 6)
ORFU chief executive Richard Reid hopes to learn this week that Carisbrook has been given a Welsh farewell next year by hosting an All Blacks v Wales test. He talks to Michelle Sutton about saying goodbye to The House of Pain and most – but not all – of the union’s multi-million dollar debt.

Offices may move (page 8)
By Wilma McCorkindale
The word on George Street is Dunedin City Council offices might join the city’s library in the former Chief Post Office building.

(page 8)
Dunedin City Council property boss Robert Clark is declining to release the cost of a study into re-development of the Dunedin library into the Chief Post Office building.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Economics, Hot air, Media, Politics, Stadiums, STS

22 responses to “DScene: Delta, STS, DCC larks

  1. Phil

    Wow !!! Excellent work on the conspiracy theory front(s). That’s impressive for one week.

    God bless those community blogs.

  2. Elizabeth

    Of course Richard does partake of more than one online opportunity in the city!

  3. Richard

    ‘D-Scene’ is is not delivered in our street so I only know whether it is still going if I check in on this website and Elizabeth has made a post.

  4. meg55

    We certainly learn more on D Scene than from the ODT. What about the museum controversy? The ODT isn’t doing much to foster debate about that.
    Fifty-plus disgruntled former staff members can’t be wrong.

    As for STS, it was interesting to hear Bev’s latest, targetting Delta for outrage because of its corporate box. All well and good, but the sole aim of Stop the Stadium as outlined in the constitution is to stop the stadium. I have fully supported STS’s activities which singly or collectively could have brought about this result.

    My guess is that now it appears the stadium can’t be stopped, the executive will push for STS to survive as a general council watchdog. The subheading on the STS website, ‘saving Dunedin from uncontrolled spending’, suggests as much. There is a need for such a group, but Stop the Stadium is not it. The group should pay its dues and unless it can come up with feasible plans to not only protest the stadium but stop it, should wind itself up and any remaining funds be given to the food bank.

    This is bound to cause a bit of debate at the AGM on Sunday.

  5. David

    So Delta not only pays a fortune to have a corporate box (with no obvious benefit to its shareholders), but it is also seems to be the main named sponsor of the Otago NPC team.

    How much does this cost?

    What are the financial benefits to Delta shareholders?

    Is this any different to stealing money off ratepayers for the ORFU?

    Considering Deltas pitiful profit (50% down on last year – just 2% of turnover), can it afford to give away money it should be giving back to council and ratepayers?

  6. “with no obvious benefit to it’s shareholders”

    You have obviously never been privy to a corporate box deal, or schmoozing. Numerous deals and appetites are wet over good nibbles and drinks at a sports event. It’s actually MASSIVE money in so many western parts of the world. I could also imagine that they are going to hire it out from time to time – return on investment.

    Who cares who or what is named the sponsor of the Otago NPC team, this is all very disingenuous pithy stuff really?

    Stop the stealing line, or if we are to take the reductionist line, all rates and tax is stealing, but that sort of argument is best reserved for the rabid right Neo-Cons (as in con-men) of ACT (and don’t ask me what that stands for).

    David, who wasn’t down last year, Air New Zealand – Telecom, at least it didn’t need bailing out by governments.

    • Elizabeth

      David’s questions are the sort to put to the Delta directors in writing.

      With Delta a council owned company, there are some professional ethics to plough through here – connecting to how the various (independent??) directorships are appointed and what the (independent??) appointees decide is the company’s business.

      Sorry Paul, schmoozing is one thing; business ethics and social responsibility are another.

      But wait, D Scene tells us that anti-stadium people are tracking the Delta corporate box issue. We can only wonder how this, ah, tracking goes, given the people involved.

      Other citizens (quite aside from the anti-stadium brigade and all its colour…) need to be putting queries to the Delta board about now, to give the queries credibility.

      • Elizabeth

        Earlier this year ODT (see below) ran a story about graduates of the Harvard Business School (HBS) taking a Master of Business Administration (MBA) oath.

        Here’s an article about it by Tom Morris, one of America’s most active public philosophers:

        ### Huffington Post Published: June 5, 2009 11:09 AM
        The Oath: An Ethics Promise at the Harvard Business School
        By Tom Morris

        Is it a great development in contemporary business for freshly minted MBAs in the hundreds to voluntarily take a personal Ethics Oath prior to entering the workforce? Or is such a thing, like many critics declare, an empty gesture and a waste of time, or even an additional opportunity for cynical manipulation of fragile public confidence?
        Read more

        Morris provides a short version of the MBA Oath in his column.
        You can download a PDF of the short and full versions here.

        To read more about the MBA Oath go to: http://mbaoath.org/about/the-mba-oath/

        I agree with Tom Morris when he says: “I personally applaud [Maxwell] Anderson and the signatories who took this oath out of personal conviction. They are taking a stand and drawing the attention of a much broader public to what matters most in business and in life. Integrity doesn’t just make for good press. It makes for deeply satisfying and sustainable success. Ethics isn’t just a way of staying out of trouble, or of reducing criminal fines and other sanctions under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Ethics is way of creating strength. It’s a distinctive and unique path to relationships of trust, accomplishments of value, and a legacy of long-lasting meaning.”


        ### New York Times Published: May 29, 2009
        A Promise to Be Ethical in an Era of Immorality
        By Leslie Wayne

        When a new crop of future business leaders graduates from the Harvard Business School next week, many of them will be taking a new oath that says, in effect, greed is not good. Nearly 20 percent of the graduating class have signed “The MBA Oath,” a voluntary student-led pledge that the goal of a business manager is to “serve the greater good.” It promises that Harvard MBA’s will act responsibly, ethically and refrain from advancing their “own narrow ambitions” at the expense of others.
        What happened to making money?
        Read more


        ### ODT Online Fri, 10 Jul 2009
        Harvard graduates respond to wave of financial depredation
        By Ian Harris

        Can any good thing come out of the current financial turmoil? The tsunami has destroyed many leading companies around the world, battered confidence in financial institutions, unsettled governments, shattered retirement nest-eggs and, thankfully, toppled some of the greed-driven elite who caused the crisis.
        Read more

        • Elizabeth


          Homepage says:

          Delta is a dynamic, high-growth, asset management and infrastructure contracting company. Delta provides strategically oriented services focused on optimising the long-term performance of your assets. Delta has many years of practical experience managing and constructing electricity, roading, water, waste and environmental utility assets. Whether roading infrastructure, factory plant, or a major utilities network, Delta specialises in providing effective maintenance, renewal and construction services.

          Delta’s fundamental approach to business relies on building and maintaining constructive relationships. This is achieved through understanding our customer’s requirements and delivering exceptional service. Our commitment to excellence and on-going performance has proved to be the founding stone of our success and that of our clients.

          See About Us for statements on Resources, Quality, Health & Safety and Environmental.

          At Quality, Delta says:

          Delta recognises that both quality and value for money are of paramount importance. Delta has established quality procedures and standards designed to deliver consistent service quality. A continual focus on quality is maintained through ISO 9001:2000 Telarc certification.

          Striving for continuous improvement through improving processes and systems, as well as investing in new technology, innovation, training, and the upkeep of tools and equipment ensures high availability, reliability, and safety. This means that all Delta’s qualified and experienced staff can promise and deliver an exceptionally high level of safety and services every time.


          None of which will explain its role in rugby sponsorship, or a corporate box at the new stadium.

        • Elizabeth

          [from New Zealand Companies Register]
          Delta Utility Services Ltd Board of Directors:

          Name (Date Appointed) – all of Dunedin

          COBURN, Michael Owen (08-OCT-2003)
          EVANS, Norman Gilbert (13-JUL-2005)
          HUDSON, Paul Richard (30-NOV-1999)
          LIDDELL, Ross Douglas (24-JUN-1998)
          MCLAUCHLAN, Stuart James (01-JUN-2007)
          POLSON, Raymond Stuart (21-DEC-1994)

  7. David

    Paul – you seem happy to use any old reason to defend vast wastes of public money.

    Schmoozing – yeah right. If you want to clinch a big business deal there are a lot better places to go than a corporate box full of drunk workers.

    Your defence of this waste of money is so incredibly weak, it only reinforces how appalling the situation is.

    If Delta directors can’t clearly identify a financial benefit from the corporate box and sponsorship that is far in excess of the cost, then the sponsorship should be stopped, and the directors replaced.

    But I’m sure our representatives are doing their job and councillors are getting directors to show them the cost/benefit of corporate boxes and sponsorship.

    • Elizabeth

      If we were thinking about Delta Utility Services Ltd, what do we know at all???

      ### Management Logs Friday, March 02, 2007
      Business Ethics Forum
      Interview with Professor Gardner on the Ethical Mind
      Post by MLOGS

      The Harvard Business Review of March 2007* contains an interview worth reading with Harvard Graduate School Professor of Cognition and Education Howard Gardner.

      Gardner thinks that it is more difficult for businesspeople to adhere to an ethical mind than it is for other professionals, because business is strictly not a profession, has no guild-structure, no professional model, no standards and no penalties for bad behaviour. The only requirement is to make money and not run afoul of the law.

      In order to stay on the right track, Gardner advises business leaders to:

      1. Believe doing so is essential for the good of the organisation, especially during difficult times.
      2. Take the time to step back and reflect about the nature of their work.
      3. Undergo “positive periodic inoculations”, being forced to rethink what you’re doing.
      4. Use consultants, which should include a trusted advisor within the organisation, the counsel of someone completely outside the organisation (an old friend), a genuine independent board.
      Read more


      ### Management Logs Tuesday, September 12, 2006
      Business Ethics Forum
      Create and evaluate a Code of Conduct
      Posted by MLOGS

      A corporate Code of Conduct, sometimes also referred to as Code of Ethics, helps a company to show to all involved parties, internal and external, the standards that govern its conduct, thereby conveying its commitment to responsible practice wherever it operates.

      A useful article in the Harvard Business Review of December 2005* by Professors Lynn Paine, Rohit Deshpandé, Joshua D. Margolis, and Kim Eric Bettcher provides a useful overview of all (?) things that should be considered in any Corporate Code of Conduct.

      The authors suggest 8 governing ethical principles which taken together they call: The Global Business Standards Codex (GBS Codex). These 8 principles to create or evaluate a Code of Conduct and their most important aspects are:

      1. The Fiduciary Principle (Diligence, Loyalty).
      2. The Property Principle (Protection, Theft).
      3. The Reliability Principle (Contracts, Premises, Commitments).
      4. The Transparency Principle (Truthfulness, Deception, Disclosure, Candour, Objectivity).
      5. The Dignity Principle (Respect for the Individual, Health and Safety, Privacy and Confidentiality, Use of Force, Association & Expression, Learning & Development, Employment Security).
      6. The Fairness Principle (Fair Dealing, Fair Treatment, Fair Competition, Fair Process).
      7. The Citizenship Principle (Law & Regulation, Public Goods, Cooperation with Authorities, Political Noninvolvement, Civic Contribution).
      8. The Responsiveness Principle (Addressing Concerns, Public Involvement).
      Read more

      *Out of print issues of HBR are available online by subscription, or for free via Ebook Chm and 4 Shared (file sharing network).

  8. David

    Elizabeth – am I right in thinking we have former and current directors and chair of the Highlanders and Otago Rugby Union who are on the Delta Board, handing over large sums of what is effectively ratepayers money, to the rugby interests they formerly and currently represent?

    • Elizabeth

      David – if you were to ask me if the directorships of Delta, Highlanders, DVML, DCHL et al are too close – or, as many have observed, if the pool of potential directors is too small then my answer would most likely be yes.

      Corporate structures are such that the money is not immediately regarded as that of the ratepayers… but all this runs extremely close to the bone (of contention). Philosophically, would love to send in a Harvard Business School business ethicist to mine the steaming pile. When is New Zealand too small for its own good?


      The Highlanders Board of Directors has been restructured as follows:

      Independent members: Stuart McLauchlan, Angus Bradshaw, NZRU appointment.
      Provincial union members: Michael de Buyzer (North Otago), Adrian Read (Otago), Murray Acker (Southland).
      DCC member: Appointment yet to be made.*
      Departing board members: Malcolm Farry (independent, did not seek re-election), Steve Thompson (Otago, resigned for business reasons), Gary Muir (Southland, resigned).
      (ODT Link)

      *Dunedin City Council has extended the delegation of the Dunedin Venues Management Ltd (Directors) Subcommittee to include the power to identify a suitable director for the Highlanders Board, to be recommended to the Council for appointment following consultation with the New Zealand Rugby Union.


      Dunedin Venues Management Ltd (DVML) Board of Directors:

      Sir John Hansen (chair)
      Peter Stubbs (deputy)
      Stewart Barnett
      Bill Baylis
      Peter Brown
      Malcolm Farry
      Peter Hutchison
      Jennifer Rolfe
      Kereyn Smith


      Carisbrook Stadium Trust Board of Trustees:

      Malcolm Farry (chair)
      Ron Anderson
      Stewart Barnett
      Bill Baylis
      Eion Edgar
      Kereyn Smith
      John Ward


      Dunedin City Holdings Ltd (DCHL) Board of Directors:

      Name (Date Appointed)

      COBURN, Michael Owen (08-OCT-2003)
      EVANS, Norman Gilbert (13-JUL-2005)
      HUDSON, Paul Richard (19-MAY-1993)
      LIDDELL, Ross Douglas (30-NOV-1999)
      MCLAUCHLAN, Stuart James (01-JUN-2007)


      Otago Rugby (ORFU) Board of Directors:

      John Hunter (president)
      Bill Beatty (vice-president)
      Ron Palenski (chair)
      Adrian Read (deputy chair)
      Tony Chave
      Wayne Graham
      Ross Laidlaw
      Brent Rodger
      Trevor Stark
      Steve Thompson
      John Walker

  9. mouse

    I also note there are no women on the board…

  10. James

    It’s an interesting sort of contradiction really. In a private company, directors are appointed by the shareholders, largely to do the shareholders’ bidding, and act in their interests.

    However, it seems that both State Owned Enterprises, and Council Controlled Trading Organisations have their directors appointed by elected representatives of the shareholders BUT the lines of accountability are different for fear of political interference. You then end up in the strange position of these entities doing things contrary to the will of the people who ultimately have ownership. However, obviously it’s a great model, having been widely adopted because it’s more umm efficient.

  11. Richard

    I am following these posts with interest.

    Applications for directorships are regularly sought by DCHL for the council group and CCMAU for Crown-owned companies.

    James’ post is interesting but not strictly correct.

    The legal owner of DCHL (and the beneficial owner of its subsidiaries) is the Dunedin City Council, not the ratepayer or the citizens.

    That having been said, the council can be seen as the ‘trustee’ for ratepayers and citizens but in law, it is the Council who is the shareholder.

    As with any company, the directors of council-owned companies are responsible to the shareholder (in this case, Council) for the governance of their companies under The Companies Act with all the fiduciary responsibilities that imposes.

    Council influence is principally exercised through the annual Statements of Intent and consideration of the six monthly and Annual Reports.

    In regard to other posts and gender representation, I can say from personal involvement on appointments, that there have been very few qualified women prepared to put forward their name for board appointments either on DCC owned or Crown Boards in the region.

    The main deterrent seems to be the commitment required in time. This is also being seen in the list of applicants from men.

    I trust this assists a fuller understanding of the matter.

    {Further to Richard’s post, CCMAU stands for the Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit, an agency of the New Zealand Government that monitors the Government’s investment in companies owned by the Crown; assists with the appointment of directors to Crown company boards; and provides performance and governance advice to shareholding Ministers. CCMAU monitors state-owned enterprises; Crown research institutes; other Crown entity companies; some statutory entities; and, the Crown’s shareholding in a shipping line and three airports. These are collectively referred to as ‘Crown companies’. They provide important products and services for New Zealanders and make a significant contribution to the national economy and well-being. http://www.ccmau.govt.nz/ EK}

  12. Richard

    I should add that when it comes to Annual or Community Plans, hardly anyone makes a submission in regard to the companies within the Council Group despite the fact that they form part of the drafts.

    Indeed, I cannot recall any specific instance in recent years of any submission seeking to comment!

    I accept that may say something about the formal process that council has to undertake under law.

    And, I think I know what the answer is!

  13. David

    If Delta can categorically show there is a financial return from all the money they give to Otago Rugby, that exceeds the cost, then there’s no problem.

    However if they can’t show this, then there is a very serious problem. It would then look like they are making decisions that are beneficial to their outside interests, but detrimental to both their company they are paid by and its shareholders.

  14. James

    Hi Richard. Sorry. My mistake. At one point I was trying to avoid calling ratepayers/citizens ‘shareholders’, but I clearly gave up. I guess a good analogy would be a business person who owns a company via a trust or other entity is still in all likelihood more able to exert some control over the company, but there is an unwillingness in the case of these publicly owned companies for there to be too much perceived influence. If I recall correctly, under the previous Labour government there were some concerns about some of Solid Energy’s business decisions running counter to government policy…

  15. Richard

    No need to apologise, James. It is easy for those of us close to it to ‘understand’ all the ins and outs. The opportunity to clarify was very welcome. Thanks.

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