Daily Archives: October 11, 2009

STS meanders to justify calling special meeting

Copy of Stop The Stadium group email as received:

From: Stop the Stadium Announcement list
Date: 11 October 2009 4:55:45 PM NZDT
To: sts mailout
Subject: [sts] Notice of special meeting, to be held at Pioneer Women’s Hall, 362, Moray Place. (near Dick Smith’s), on Sunday, 18th October, at 3:00 pm.
Reply-To: bevkiwi@hotmail.com

Notice of special meeting, to be held at Pioneer Women’s Hall, 362, Moray Place. (near Dick Smith’s), on Sunday, 18th October, at 3:00 pm.

Dear Members,

As you will be aware, STS has lost its recent appeal on the High Court decision concerning the legality of the DCC’s handling of its stadium activities. The point of our legal action, you may remember, hinged upon whether or not the stadium proposal had changed “significantly” in the year preceding the Council’s signing of the final contracts. If these changes were genuinely significant then the council was legally obligated to take account of submissions to its 2009 city plan – which the council refused to do, despite intense public interest and a very large volume of submissions.
The facts were not really obscure: between 2008 and 2009 the stadium cost had gone up by more than $10million; the private funding had all disappeared, and the risk to the ratepayers had increased exponentially – significant changes by any measure.

The High Court hearing was a farce. The DCC misled (in other words lied to) the judge, thereby papering-over a gap of some $15million, and the judge, after admitting that he had not actually understood the evidence in front of him, sided with the Council. Score one for New Zealand “justice”!

At the subsequent appeal the same dismal standards applied. The Appeal Court judges – all three of them – simply rubber-stamped the decision of the High Court – even while acknowledging that the DCC had misled the judge at the earlier hearing. This was perfectly acceptable, apparently, because, having realized that its first story was no longer believable, the DCC had cooked up a new one, and was now pretending that, although the up-front expenditure on the stadium had greatly increased, the long-term cost remained the same.

“We are satisfied”, concluded the learned justices, “that the capital contribution to be made by the Council to the stadium is greater than that projected in the 2008 long-term plan”. (In other words there had, as STS had argued, been significant changes) “But we are also satisfied that the total cost to the Council is not significantly increased from that projected in the 2008 long-term plan, nor is the average cost per ratepayer”. (Translation: “never mind the Council’s previous lies – we’re willing to swallow its new ones”).

No-one, having followed the stadium saga, would accept this cock-and-bull story. But the judges did. They accepted, as gospel, the DCC’s prediction that interest rates in the month of April, 2015, would be exactly 7.47% – and would remain so, without change, till April 2030. (7.47% being the minimum figure required for the DCC’s bogus projections to work).

Interest rates, as everyone knows, are notoriously fickle – even six months ahead, never mind twenty years. They have ranged from 2.5% to 20% within the past two decades – and these swings were never predicted. Yet the gentlemen of the bench saw fit to base their judgment on the DCC’s assurance that, twenty years from now, the prevailing interest rate would be 7.47%, no more, no less. And the people of Dunedin were denied their rights on this contemptible fiction.

We no longer have a justice system. We have an injustice system, rotten at every level, in which incompetent judges back each other up irrespective of the evidence. Honesty and morality have become irrelevant – a circumstance now locally embellished by the reinstatement of the disgraced lawyer, Michael Guest, on the astonishing basis that an even more culpable crook was allowed back on board some years earlier!

The justice system is dead, and so, it seems, is normal democratic practice. Real-estate agents are now permitted to sit on our Regional Council, making decisions on the future of communal land that their private firms are engaged in selling. The DCC staggers from blunder to blunder, and ever deeper into debt, as it squeezes our publicly-owned enterprises closer and closer to bankruptcy. The “international” airport – promoted and lauded by Cr Richard Walls – has become an economic black hole. And now the council is squandering further millions in barricading itself from an irate public it is nominally supposed to serve.

The stadium, of course, remains in its own league of stratospheric imbecility. It has all the attributes of a primitive cargo cult – an infallible totem to be invested with the pathetic hopes of its dwindling band of believers. The ORFU, its original “anchor tenant” (alas, an anchor tenant no longer) may not be in business a season or so from now – it may not even need Carisbrook. But that’s just a minor setback, because the Otago Boys High School might use the stadium in 2013 for its 150thReunion (with a re-booking, possibly, in 2163). Then we have the bright new idea – the Dunedin Tattoo, which is going to rival Edinburgh’s, and fill the rugby pitch to the rafters every couple of weeks or so. And if all else fails we can send for Elton John.

We live in a time of ignominy – or, to use Auden’s perfect phrase “a low, dishonest decade”. And the temptation, as always in such times, is to walk away, to pronounce a curse upon this clique of parasites and all their shoddy houses, and to retreat into the satisfactions of our own private lives. That is the choice that faces us now, individually and together.

The Courts, in their malevolence, have awarded costs of almost $10,000 against STS. We need hardly repeat the injustice of this, but we must address the issue and decide where we are to go from now. There are really only two alternatives: we can fold up (as we are obviously expected to), or we can refuse to be put out of action by this legal intimidation.

The STS committee, having considered the options carefully, is strongly of the view that quitting now would be a dereliction of our duty as citizens. Together we have done our best to bring our City and Regional councillors to their senses, yet all our submissions, demonstrations, and protests have been ignored, and the DCC/ORC continue to behave as though immune from the voice of the electorate. For the future good of our city we must rid ourselves of these puppets. If they, or any substantial proportion of them, survive the next elections, this city will be bankrupt. Your committee recommends, therefore, that STS remain in being, with a new mission statement (and possibly a change of title) reflecting the reality of what we now need to do.

You, the members, have supported us throughout this long and disillusioning struggle. We cannot blame you in the least if you now decide that further sacrifice and effort are too much. Our future course is in your hands, and will be decided at a special meeting, to be held at Pioneer Women’s Hall, 362, Moray Place, on Sunday, 18th October, at 3:00pm.

More than three-quarters of Dunedin people have repudiated the burden of this stadium. Their submissions and reasoned arguments have been brushed aside, and their legal rights extinguished. But people have the ultimate sanction: they still have votes – and an urgent need to be honestly informed as we approach the next elections. You, as the fifteen hundred members of STS, are at present the most potent force to do this, and to ensure the return of integrity to our once well-governed city. Please attend the meeting.

Dave Witherow (President). Pat Johnston (Treasurer). Carol Sawyer (Secretary). Rolf Feitscher, Gavin MacDonald. Darryl Ostrer. Lyndon Weggery (Committee).

Post by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Hot air, Politics, STS

Media exposure: New Zealand not smart enough in the globe

This isn’t about Rugby World Cup 2011, a mere blip.

### Sunday Star Times Last updated 05:00 11/10/2009
Rod Oram: Key’s mixed messages abroad don’t do us any favours

Audiences around the world have picked up a little bit more than usual about New Zealand in recent weeks. All three stories – involving hoki fishing, climate change and tourism – are problematic for us. It matters what the world sees, hears about New Zealand. One-third of our economic activity is generated by exports, almost all ultimately involving consumers. Yet, we control few of the messages they receive about us.

Worse, the messages are swamped by bits of New Zealand news picked up by international media. Since 2002, World Television, a global video production company and consultant, has tracked television stories about us. Its eight reports so far are alarming, particularly the latest tracking coverage from March 2006 to December 2008.
Read more


Oram from last week…

### Sunday Star Times Last updated 05:00 04/10/2009
Rod Oram: Clean tech key factor in future NZ growth

As the world begins a tentative recovery from its worst recession in 80 years, it’s very clear what will lead the next wave of innovation and growth – clean technology.

While the near-collapse of the global financial system triggered the recession, the crisis went far deeper. Quite simply, current technology couldn’t cope with brisk economic activity over the past decade. As a result, the prices of energy, raw materials and food soared, and pollution proliferated.

So, if we want sustainable growth we need new sources of energy, far more efficient use of resources and a lot less pollution. Clean technology delivers them. Potentially, New Zealand could play an important role in this broad, booming sector, thereby accelerating its economic development.
Read more

Post by Elizabeth Kerr

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Filed under Design, Economics, Inspiration, Politics, Project management

Money for jam at local government

### ODT Online Mon, 5 Oct 2009
Local government expansion could be over
By Dene Mackenzie
The strong expansion in New Zealand’s local government sector looks to be over, according to BNZ Capital senior economist Craig Ebert. “Despite sustained strong growth in revenue, local councils have run themselves into sizeable deficits as expenditure has ballooned that much faster.”
Read more

Mr Ebert says that unless there are some major revisions to the various statistics, he’ll be left with the impression New Zealand’s local councils had, despite the broader recession, expanded themselves into a jam.

The article discusses Dunedin City Treasury having reported its annual results on Friday. The notes to the accounts showed short-term borrowing had fallen to $6.6 million this year from $13.7 million last year. However, long-term borrowing had increased 23% in the June year to $361.9 million from $292.7 million.

• Total borrowing increased 20% in the period to $368.5 million.
• Dunedin City Holdings reported a profit before tax of $13.9 million in the period from revenue of $214.4 million, a 6.5% return.


Dunedin City Holdings Ltd: “19.8 million reasons to smile”
According to the half-pager (ODT 3.10.09, page 15), “Each year the results have been consistently spectacular, and this year – despite the doom and gloom of recession – the good news continues with the best ever company revenues and a group payment of $19.8 million to Dunedin City Council.”

Really? The following ODT news item rallies the same spin.

### ODT Online Sat, 3 Oct 2009
DCC firms report 7% revenue rise
By David Loughrey
Dunedin City Council-owned trading companies have emerged from a tough year of recession with a 7.6% increase in revenue, and a modest increase in profit.
Read more

• Aurora Energy’s $15.4 million profit made it the leading money-maker of the group.
• Delta made the most of opportunities to expand business in the Wakatipu Basin.
• Dunedin International Airport Ltd struggled with a decrease in international passengers.
• The languishing export sector created a less than ideal environment for City Forests.
• Citibus improved its fleet, and the Taieri Gorge Railway invested heavily in its future.


### ODT Online Tue, 6 Oct 2009
Airport revenue down nearly $900,000
By Dene Mackenzie
Dunedin International Airport yesterday reported a more than $900,000 loss for the year ended June, but chairman Richard Walls is optimistic the worst is behind the company.
Read more

• Revenue: $7.55 million, down 1.4%
• Loss: $907,842 ($324,236 previous corresponding period)
• Domestic passenger numbers: Up 12.8%
• International passenger numbers: Down 28.3%

Correction: (ODT 7.10.09, page 3) The headline of the report should have read that the loss was more than $900,000, rather than revenue down nearly $900,000. Revenue fell 1.4%, or nearly $105,000, and the after-tax loss was $907,842 compared with a loss of $324,236 for 2008.


The sobering figures and the management behind them receive harsh criticism from Ian Pillans, of Dunedin, in a letter to the editor (ODT 9.10.09, page 10) – available in print and digital editions of the newspaper:

[credited subtitle]
Unbelievable nonsense from council

“The contempt with which the Dunedin City Council treats the intelligence of its citizens really beggars belief. This almost unbelievable nonsense describes the latest $19.8 million group payment to the DCC by its subsidiary, Dunedin City Holdings Ltd, following consistently spectacular results and best-ever revenues, as though the latter had anything to do with profit.

The problem is that DCHL made only $8.7 million for the year and so we are absurdly entreated to smile at borrowing $11 million to satisfy the DCC dividend requirement. This is like being asked to cheer when someone adds $11 million to your mortgage. DCHL companies are clearly unable, now and in the future, to satisfy the voracious spending machine that is the council. Last year, they borrowed $9 million to satisfy the demand and next year’s bill has already been quantified at $23 million, so on current performance trends DCHL (read ratepayers) will have to borrow a further $14 million to settle the account. Hardly a spectacular result.”


Published the same day, a letter (ODT, page 10) by Lindsay Smith, of Challis, also voices concern saying the figures given in the DCHL half-page advertisement do not add up:

“If you total the results of the individual companies, they do not add up to the group results. The individual results show a combined profit of over $18.7 million but the group’s results show a profit of $8.7 million. Losing an unexplained $10 million somewhere does not make me smile.”

Post by Elizabeth Kerr

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Filed under Economics, Hot air, Media, Politics, Project management, Stadiums

Can we do the main span like Auckland Harbour Bridge?

At Former Logan Park Art Gallery talks James mentions Denmark’s Aalborg Tower (54.9 m), a fantastic structure…

Aalborg Tower

Originally uploaded by flower_man

Looking up

Originally uploaded by cats_in_blue

View other photosharing files to see the full height of the observation tower.

Reminds me of simple things NOT to do… like not scrapping the Port Otago mobile cranes that used to ‘inhabit’ the Dunedin wharves (sob, too late) – if ever we needed structural-sculptural expressions of working port history at the Steamer Basin, to make a contemporary edge-place for public gladness and wonder.

Copy of Stothert and Pitt 5 ton crane, Dunedin. Fig 20 9-7-01 1.12am KERR

This secondhand from notes scribbled on the history of Otago Harbour Board achievements at the Dunedin wharves:

“Major improvements were made to the wharves in the 1960s, including the replacement of wooden decking to take forklift and articulated truck operations, construction of a new oil jetty (the first cargo was delivered on 18 January 1963), new wharf sheds at the X & Y berth – these came into service in 1964, to enable contractors to start on the T & U berth and two sheds almost immediately. T & U received a much more extensive reconstruction than X & Y, with the old wharf giving way to a wide, modern, steel sheet-piled concrete-decked structure, two new sheds and four very futuristic looking Stothert and Pitt 5 ton cranes. The contractors handed the berth over to the board in December 1966.”

Great engineering workhorses are NOT to be confused with that vertical element planned for the Otago Settlers Museum.

How to decorate around utilitarian architecture. Now, about the stadium and its immediate deathly surrounds.

How for it not to look like an impoverished aircraft hangar on the tarmac – can we walk over the main span like Auckland Harbour Bridge for new vantage points? We’re talking leisure and recreation over the dead duck…aka Dunedin adventure sport, a spot of goodwill hunting and DESPERATION to make it pay.


AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand
Auckland information and videos:
Auckland Bridge Bungy
Auckland Bridge Climb
Auckland Ultimate Bungy Spectator

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Adventure sport, Architecture, Construction, Design, Economics, Fun, Inspiration, Politics, Project management, Site, Stadiums, Town planning