Elections: Local authorities’ representation

This thread has been created to absorb recent off-topic comments occurring in other threads.

The Editors.


An important message just to hand, sent to What if? anonymously, it says:

To Calvin, Peter and Russell

Post by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Economics, Geography, People, Politics

11 responses to “Elections: Local authorities’ representation

  1. Elizabeth

    Transferred comments:

    Peter 2010/09/18 at 11:57 am

    Russell, the other day Bev enquired about getting a copy of the latest DCHL Annual Report which is normally out by now. She was told it will not be available until 8 October, the day before voting closes. Bev informed the public on Channel 9′s local election candidates’ forum that the DCHL and DCC combined debt is over $700 million and that the dividends paid by DCHL to DCC are from debt raising. Cr Hudson said Bev had her facts wrong but “he would leave it there”. In other words he couldn’t defend it as Bev’s figures actually come from the latest Annual Plan and last year’s DCHL Annual Report.


    Russell Garbutt 2010/09/18 at 12:26 pm

    Peter, I didn’t see the Ch9 show as I’ve been out of town, but I can well imagine Cr Hudson’s response.

    Step back a bit and look at the point of the DCHL companies.

    They are there to be profitable trading companies that provide services to the community, employ local people, invest in our region, and return a supportable dividend to the DCC that subsidises rates.

    Under Cr Hudson’s “stewardship” and a very nice fee structure thank you very much, we have seen him quietly go along with every direction from the rugby-mad stadium lot of his fellow Councillors to not only strip DCHL of their capital, but borrow heavily to provide cash to the DCC so they can then tell us that it was someone else that was borrowing the money to build this accursed stadium.

    He is a known fence-sitter, and I suggest that in his position, should have been opposing at every step the directions of the DCC to borrow money to then provide an unsupportable dividend to the DCC. He has acted, in my view, contrary to the interests of DCHL, and only now is he saying behind closed doors – hey, I don’t think that DCHL can provide, or continue to provide endless truckloads of cash.

    It doesn’t surprise me that the DCC and DCHL would like the reports of DCHL to be not available until most have voted.


    Richard 2010/09/18 at 12:33 pm

    Nothing out of the normal. All the reports – DCC and DCHL have to be cleared by the Audit Office and then go to Council in October – usually as I recall after Labour Weekend.

    In an Election Year, it is appropriate for the outgoing Council to sign them off and accordingly this will be done at Council on Monday 4 October.

    As for the generalised comment made by Bev and Paul’s response on Channel 9, well without adding anything, Paul is correct. He is not one to be combative and I thought was gracious in the circumstances given the claim Bev made. What would be the point of adding anything anyway?


    Peter 2010/09/18 at 12:57 pm

    Richard. Bev just raised a point. It was not combative as you can see for yourself on the Channel 9 news item on Tuesday. She was quite happy for Paul to tell her, and the viewers, what his view was and why he thought DCHL and DCC’s combined debt of over $700m was not correct despite what is stated in council papers. The point of ‘adding anything’ is to give yourself a full chance to explain. What could be fairer, and non combative, about that.


    Richard 2010/09/18 at 1:57 pm

    There is a procedure when company reports are ‘in process’ that makes it inappropriate for any director or company employee to comment until their official release. It is certainly a mandatory requirement on SX listed companies and I know there is a similar restriction on those like DCHL but to what extent I am uncertain. You can be sure of one thing, Paul would “not break the rules” to politically point-score, no matter how tempting.


    Peter 2010/09/18 at 2:14 pm

    Richard, you stated in your previous post that Paul was correct. Correct about what? That DCHL debt is not over $400 million? Has the DCHL debt as of 31/12/09 dropped from $445.355 million to less than $400 million?


    Calvin Oaten 2010/09/18 at 4:58 pm

    Peter; again Richard and Paul Hudson are ducking the issue, on the grounds that the DCHL report being under audit is in effect in camera. But the figures you and Bev are citing are those from the DCHL annual accounts Y/E 2009 and half-yearly report 31 Dec 31 2009. In Paul Hudson’s Channel 9 response a clear case of evasion, leaving the public misinformed. I bet he would also do a quick two-step if he were challenged on the $360,000 lease settlement achieved for his daughter from the ‘Hungry Frenchman’ restaurant.


    Richard 2010/09/18 at 7:33 pm

    Peter, I am not getting on the silly season ‘merry-go-round’. I made it clear some time I ago, I would not abuse the privilege of being a guest on this site as some have and using it to campaign but I was quite relaxed in clarifying the question you asked about the Annual Report. If you don’t accept it, fine.

    Now here’s what actually went down on Ch9 in regard to the point at issue.

    Bev: “.. all these dividends are actually borrowed money. It’s not money the companies have actually made”.

    Paul’s polite response was “that is not correct. I’ll leave it that”. Bev got on with her points in her time when David G was obviously prepared for some crossfire, indeed he almost invited it. So what’s the ‘beef’?

    Calvin, I see is out with another of his red herrings, sorry old mate, I prefer sardines.
    I am always willing to answer reasonable questions, if I can. Otherwise why don’t you guys get your own site? Easy as pisy. But would anyone read it? I suspect, we all know the answer to that! And that’s the way it is tonight!



    Richard 2010/09/18 at 7:52 pm

    Addendum: Meant to say that I believe this is the point Kate was making in her post of yesterday.


    Calvin Oaten 2010/09/18 at 11:34 pm

    Richard, A red herring? More like ‘Holy Mackerel’. The reason I raised the ‘Hungry Frenchman’ settlement was to demonstrate the casual manner in which large sums of citizens’ treasure are bandied about. As you know the Town Hall/Conference Centre upgrade is to be debt funded to the tune of $45.76m plus borrowing costs (capitalised interest etc) for a total of $50.18m. There is a sum of $600,000 set off as the cost of relocating the Property Department and the securing of the lease of the ‘Hungry Frenchman’. On enquiring through the LGOIMA, as to what proportion was allocated for the lease, I was informed that the settlement price of $360,000 was agreed upon. Now I have enquired from a registered valuer as to whether he knew of any restaurant that had changed hands as a going concern, or a surrendering of a lease in recent times in Dunedin in excess of $300,000. He said, not even for a third of that. When I said the HF had surrendered its lease for $360,000 he was ‘gob smacked’. And that Richard, is what I mean by casual treatment of citizens’ funds. Sure it could be said a red herring to raise it, but it is election time and people have a right to know how the current mayor and council look after their treasure. And that is only one item. We won’t even talk about the Mahinerangi land/water deal to allow Trustpower to generate and sell electricity for profit and pay the DCC just $1 per year. The city, by any logical commercial arrangement should be receiving a royalty per Kw/hr in perpetuity which would amount to many millions of dollars over the 99 years. It was very nearly 999 years. This deal was set up by DCC staff, okayed by Mr Harland and the contract signed off by Mayor Chin as one of the first things he did on assuming the mayoralty. Interestingly, the royalties could have paid for the stadium. So there you are Richard. Not a red herring, more like a ‘whale’.


    Peter 2010/09/18 at 11:43 pm

    I find it amazing that you and Paul talk about the present debt as being ‘manageable’ when it has increased ten fold over ten years and is set to go even higher. I can understand why you would both say this – downplaying the debt crisis – at election time. I would if I was in your shoes. The council has been been on a debt bender for far too long.
    I hope June doesn’t allow you to go to the shops with a credit card with that attitude.
    Answer reasonable questions? Sometimes you do, Richard. Other times you do some fancy footwork to avoid answering questions. Like talking about red herrings and sardines. Have our own websites? Why should we bother? How many read your website by the way?


    Calvin Oaten 2010/09/19 at 10:48 am

    Richard; while we are on the fishy subject of fiscal responsibility, let’s go back to early 2005. Mayor Chin and council gathered to deliberate on the draft plan, which showed an average residential rates rise of 9.3%. Cr Michael Guest said he was there to “slash and burn” and to prove it, “this was not a banana in my hand but a big red pen”. You Richard, said it was “time to stop mucking around with cheap solutions”. So, did council diligently go through the plan and cull (no pun intended) out all unnecessary expenditure in order to minimise the rate increase? No it did not. Instead Mr Harland came back saying that there would be available a one off, special dividend from DCHL of $10m. This was on top of a $9m dividend already budgeted. Bingo! the rate increase is now 5.7% before going out to public consultation. So how did DCHL manage to come up with this bonus? I asked Athol Stephens did DCHL borrow the money? His reply was that they had reviewed the asset schedule of the group and decided that some aspects were undervalued. So in order to strengthen the group balance sheet certain assets were reassessed, increased in value and the $10m was borrowed against that increase. Sure enough, in the accounts Y/E June 2006 we see that the plantations of City Forest had been increased in value by $13.96m. This, for a company which that year had revenue of $19.459m and a surplus of just $660,000. No matter that it has just been served with the obligation to service a further debt of $13.96m without having the money.

    Now right here and now we see the totally irresponsible approach to financial management by council. Cr Paul Hudson is a director of City Forests, Citibus, Aurora Energy, Delta Utility Services and chairman of the parent company DCHL (for which he receives fees in excess of $120,000 per annum). He as the group chairman should have opposed the special dividend, and if overruled should have resigned on principle. We are joking of course. Give up that income for a principle? Don’t be daft. It gets worse than that, because in that year DCHL’s total ‘Term Borrowings’ amounted to $226.452m. As at 31 December 2009 they stood at $445.355m.

    If a different council had taken a different course then, we probably would not be burdened with the stadium nor would the Town Hall/Conference Centre be proceeded with. Both arguably unaffordable. Now we see mayoral candidate Dave Cull saying that if the stadium requires more money to complete then he would be inclined to deliver. He understandably is not able to quantify the amount. So where will that money come from? DCHL’s cupboard is bare, and anyway it is committed to pay down the stadium capital debt at the rate of $5m per annum. The asset revaluation trick has been used and they even pinched City Forests carbon credits to fund the $250,000 salaried Welshman’s DVML. No, the only source is more debt and the funding of that can only be by the ratepayer. So watch this space for horrendous increases in the near future. But not until after the election.

    Reading the platitudes of all the incumbents, it is obvious that they either have no idea of the financial black hole they have created for Dunedin, or that they just don’t care. We have from Fliss Butcher the K.I.S.S. principle – Keep it Simply Sustainable (whatever that means). Then we had the unedifying experience of witnessing our ‘dishonest lawyer’ Michael Guest on Channel 9 telling us that if they hadn’t done what they had, and don’t keep doing it then Dunedin will die. You Richard, want to keep working hard on our behalf progressing sustainable economic development while reinforcing the city’s distinctive identity. After thirty odd years you have no more tricks and should retire. The rest are barely worth comment.

    Between the parking fiasco, the rubbish collection rort, the heritage destruction, the stadium, the Town Hall/Conference Centre and the horrendous debt created by it all, this mayor and council will go down as the city’s as the most destructively profligate in its history.

    Verdict: They surely must go!


    Peter 2010/09/19 at 11:48 am

    Calvin. Telling it like it is with no varnished bullshit.
    What we seem to be witnessing on our council is panic. The stadium is a prime example. Greater Dunedin are making a fatal mistake. Spend $500,000 here to make $5m there? What scenario do they base this projection on? It seems to be a hope- based on a wing and a prayer – when nothing else seems certain. What do they do when the CST/ DVML roll up to the council – again – for another handout? Do they say, ‘We said yes to the request before, but no to this one?’ How do they react, as a group, if they try to say no and then they are accused of sabotaging the stadium? Roll over? They are trapped.
    The debt crisis is now. It is simply not credible to ask the ratepayers for more money. They have paid enough. It has to come from elsewhere. Private funding has to come forward – not be left till 2021 for it to all come in. If it does. In the year of the RWC, the time is ripe to press central government for more stadium handouts beyond the measly $15m to cover the shortfall in private funding. It will be too late to ask after the event has come and gone. There will be no impetus for the government to save face to the rest of the world. All other sources of funding need to be explored. It is not time to hoist up the white flag and dump extra spending back on the ratepayers.
    Look at what happened with the neurosurgery issue. The ODT got behind it. They can do it again by taking around the collection plate to Otago’s hugely wealthy, and others like the ORFU, who wanted the stadium. If these people love Dunedin and their stadium they will surely give. Won’t they? If they don’t want to contribute, Dave Cull, if he is elected Mayor, has his answer. He doesn’t have to wait for his suggested two to three years to reassess the stadium’s viability with more ratepayer money wasted in the meantime. He and his team acknowledge we have reached the limit in debt spending. To pay more for the stadium extras – or embellishments as Malcolm Farry likes to call them – means less elsewhere.
    What a mess.

  2. Russell Garbutt

    Fairly typical that a person who wishes to post anonymously reverts to childish nonsense instead of addressing any of the myriad of issues confronting our city.

    Getting a life in Dunedin is quite simple – getting rid of the old or useless has-beens is quite a good start in doing just that. Should we go through them? Those that don’t seem to know the difference between dishonesty and honesty? Those that desperately need to have the job as Councillor as they have no chance of gainful employment anywhere else? Those who have come to believe that they have a right to spend our money on their own personal crusades? Yes, getting a collective life by getting rid of this lot will be a good start.

  3. Peter

    Richard seems to have disappeared again. Maybe Jonathon Usher, the magician and council candidate, has made him go into the ether. We appreciate the sentiment, but we want Richard back – not on council – but to come in for questioning.

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Sat, 18 Sep 2010
      Editorial: Civic connection
      If ever the voter “turnout” at local government elections is going to be high, it should be this year. In Dunedin, the stadium controversy has stirred passions well beyond the usual concerns of rates, sewage, roads and other issues. Either councillors were progressive and looking to the future over the stadium and other projects and spending, or they were irresponsibly spendthrift and driving up costs, rates and building a mountain of crippling debt. The stadium is now a fait accompli and Dunedin must make the most of it, but the underlying matter of council attitudes to city facilities and services and spending remains.
      Read more

  4. Calvin Oaten

    ARE YOU THERE RICHARD AND PAUL? Please respond so that any voters who happen to be reading this thread can know your thoughts and defenses of the above allegations. As the last five years have all been downhill under the care of you both, together with your compatriots, not to mention the appalling performances of the administration, you both owe us at least an explanation. We don’t expect councillors so inept to have the audacity to offer themselves for re-election for any other reason than the income and perks. Most certainly not for results.

    {To avoid confusion, the “Paul” Calvin refers to is not Paul Le Comte, the owner and co-author of the What if? blog. -Eds}

  5. Elizabeth

    ### ch9.co.nz August 30, 2010 – 7:49pm
    LOCAL BODY 2010

    Channel 9 – Dunedin Television brings you extensive coverage of the Dunedin 2010 Local Body Elections.

    10 x episodes covering the election processes, the wards, the Mayoral candidates, the ORC and the SDHB candidates. Coverage started Monday 13th September and plays nightly at 7.30pm through to 9th October.


  6. Calvin Oaten

    Elizabeth, you are absolutely right, it was Paul Hudson I was referring to when I asked ‘ARE YOU THERE RICHARD AND PAUL’? I wanted them to come forward and defend their positions over my comments. There are a couple of other points of interest that Paul might care to comment on. There was the sale of Waipori at the Governments’ behest, in which Paul had a major part. This was achieved at a fire sale price to a party, which, before the ink on the sale agreement had dried, on sold to Trustpower at a vastly increased price. Then there is the small matter of the purchase, by DCHL for over $700,000, an interest in the start up IT company ‘The Street’ which never left first base. These matters are of interest to voters and should be addressed. Paul, if you are out there, comments please. Then there is our friend the ‘dishonest lawyer’ Michael Guest who at a council meeting on 17 September 2007, stated that in six to eight weeks it would be announced that “the stadium will be built and that it will require no ratepayer input”. That was when he said he “would stake his career on the confirmation of non-ratepayer funding of the stadium”. I challenged him over this in a letter to the ODT, and in response Michael said, “It will be Mr Oaten who has a rude awakening when he finally realises that a stadium at low cost to the ratepayers will be able to be delivered because of the tireless energy of the trust and a majority of energetic, positive councillors. I stand by my assurance that an exciting financing package can be delivered”. So Michael, if you are out there, comments for the voters please.

  7. Calvin Oaten

    I see Richard has brought out the “own facts” weapon, this time for Hilary Calvert. But when I challenged him on the council’s fiscal responsibility, going back to 2005, and inviting him to comment with his “own facts”, he disappears. This, to me demonstrates a bully boy attitude. All ‘hat and no cattle’.

  8. Peter

    Yes, Calvin, some things never change.

  9. Calvin – glasshouses, I remember your ‘facts’ as regard the stadium figures were found to be less than 100% accurate when challenge around GST or something.

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