The following was received from Russell Garbutt this evening, he says:
Bloggers have been asking how the meeting went with Cr Bill Acklin and it is more than time that I responded.
The meeting was non-confrontational in my view and went over a number of issues. Cr Acklin was anxious to set out the process that was followed in relation to the black penis edifice in the Octagon and essentially outlined the process that was revealed a day later in the ODT. Why a committee has been set up that can outvote elected representatives is an unanswered question. I think it fair to say that the impression I have gained outside this meeting is that it’s clear that Ngai Tahu have had more than a significant amount of say into what the DCC contribution [might be] for what they see is a Ngai Tahu presence at the RWC. Ngai Tahu seems to have made it clear that there would be a downside if the DCC didn’t decide to contribute. None of this came from Cr Acklin, but then again this feeling was not able to be refuted. I sense that this is what the ODT were also saying in their piece. Something just doesn’t smell right with this deal.
The main issue I felt was that Cr Acklin believes that the “private funding” for the stadium has all gone to construction. He has said to me that he will check on my position that the money raised by the sale of product etc will be put into revenue and only after a real profit has been met will anything go into construction. Needless to say, I think it extraordinary that anyone involved in this process has not ensured that what has been presented by staff and the CST was not independently checked out. Cr Acklin’s position was in essence, that the DCC in total was in hock to about $700 million but only about $100 million was due to the stadium. Fair to say that there is a wide gap between what I think is the total stadium debt and what Cr Acklin believes it to be.
I think it fair to say that while I saw that there was huge financial risk if the Highlanders franchise was altered then the City would suffer because purchasers of product at the stadium would not choose to pick up instalments in arrears and hence revenue would be affected in a major way, that Cr Acklin didn’t see this as particularly worrying.
I asked if Cr Acklin would support an independent financial enquiry into the DCC along the lines of the Larsen report. I thought it intriguing that Cr Acklin believed that Larsen was working to a brief and that he was opposed to that. I’m not sure from our conversation whether Cr Acklin didn’t believe that the Board of DCHL had been compromised by conflicts or not, or whether he accepted the main findings of the Larsen report. I still don’t know if Cr Acklin would support an independent enquiry into the DCC finances and what is more concerning is why anyone wouldn’t support that initiative.
I think it also fair to say that some of the comments made on blogs were not surprising to either of us. It is accepted that a person that puts their name up for election does not have to meet any requirements of competence in governance and some that are elected are not qualified to meet the requirements of the job. It is also accepted that some Councillors have personal failings.
Overall, I was impressed that Cr Acklin offered to meet and spent 90 minutes in talking over a range of issues. However, I was not convinced at the end of the meeting that the processes followed and the reasoning followed by Cr Acklin in relation to the stadium could bear any stringent examination. It may be that Cr Acklin would have supported the stadium project no matter what the cost would be, and certainly I never gained the impression at any stage that he would have voted against the proposal.
Quite happy to hear from Cr Acklin of any corrections or other impressions from our meeting which I emphasise again was cordial, constructive and non-confrontational.
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr