Mayor Cull leaves the planet

ORFU now had a new board, and council did not see any further issue with the ORFU, Cull said.

Cull believed the ORFU was now not at risk of future financial collapse.

### D Scene 20 June 2012
ORFU $480k debt deal stays (page 3)
Concerns about possible splashback from pokies allayed
By Wilma McCorkindale
Mayor Dave Cull says Dunedin City Council is unlikely to consider changes to its decision to forgive a $480,000 Otago Rugby Football Union debt in the light of investigations around its pokie grant processes. The Department of Internal Affairs confirmed on Monday it is investigating new information received from Dunedin man Russell Garbutt, a former chairman of Sport Otago.

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

On Monday the department’s general manager of regulatory and compliance operations, Maarten Quivooy, released a response to questions about a possible new investigation which said: “The Department is considering new information supplied by Mr Garbutt.” Garbutt said the department had not indicated to him which issue it was following up. Cull said Dunedin City Council processes for wiping a $480,000 ORFU debt, part of a bigger bailout package to avoid bankruptcy for the 130-year-old organisation, were now complete. The council had concerns, he said, but the deal was now “all settled”.
{continues} #bookmark

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

46 Comments

Filed under Business, DCC, Economics, Media, Name, ORFU, People, Politics, Sport, Stadiums

46 responses to “Mayor Cull leaves the planet

  1. Peter

    An alarm bell here? The DCC seeks assurances from the DIA and ORFU that ‘nothing will blow up in their face two weeks after’. This comes across to me as ‘managing’ whatever information Russell has passed on to the DIA to ‘investigate’. The ORFU deal is effectively done without any further embarrassment to the council later on. Is it proper for the council to get this kind of assurance from a supposedly ‘independent’ investigation by a government department? Shouldn’t they just wait for an outcome and then make decisions re the ORFU?
    The DCC is foolish to accept the word of an organisation with a ‘new’ Board when it is in their interests to serve their own interests. ORFU and the concept of transparency is an oxymoron. Nothing has changed.
    Cull is probably right, in one sense, that the ORFU was now ‘not at risk of future financial collapse’. Like with the private sector funding, the ORFU can also rely on the DCC as ultimate guarantor for its survival.

    • Elizabeth

      Peter, because ORFU’s misused sums of pokie money-derived charity are so large, given TTCF Inc and TTCF Ltd were the vehicle – and more – I simply think Mayor Cull’s mind has boggled powerlessly…he ‘forgot’ to not trust ORFU or NZFU. Since he is sold on making the stadium work (Stakeholders’ hands up his back, makes it darn uncomfortable to sit down). Only DIA can sort this one, but will it. If it doesn’t there will have to be a higher investigation. Mayor Cull is a laughing stock. Understatement.

  2. Hype O'Thermia

    I thought the ORFU was in a state of permanent collapse, not unlike the current condition of Egypt’s ex-president Mubarak who, depending on news bulletin, is close to collapse or clinically dead on life support.

  3. anon

    The new Our Stadium Mayor has transitioned from Peter Chin with equisite planning. The Stadium Dept of the Otago Stakeholders’ Times will be pleased to see their strategising come to fruition.

  4. Rob Hamlin

    There is an interesting article in the ODT today about DCTL issuing private loans to staff around the DCC DCHL conurbation. This story may well have its origins in a visit that I made to an open home last year. A property belonging to a DCC employee. The title deeds were pressed into my hands by the enthusiastic agent of the vendor and there, glory be, if there wasn’t a DCTL mortgage issued on the property.

    The staffer concerned was not senior, so after goggling my way through the documents, I made some discreet inquiries to see just how big this scheme was. These did confirm that DCTL were issuing loans in some quantity, but that very few people outside the charmed circle, even within the DCC, knew about it. Certainly many who were well connected in the property scene in Dunedin appeared to be astonished, and far from pleased, when they were made aware of this scheme. The ODT’s figures, published today, confirm that information.

    Without warning, I announced the existence of this scheme to the full council as part of my verbal submission to the draft annual plan in May this year. I attempted to ask the councillors how many of them knew about the existence of the scheme, but was instantly closed down by Cull who announced, rather pompously, that the councillors not the submitters were there to ask the questions. This may be the point “earlier in the year” when Councillor Brown became aware of the scheme – it also marks the latest point of deniability for any Councillor that was present at that meeting.

    Later that day I made the documentation that I had in my possession available to D Scene – despite professing enthusiasm at the time, they subsequently did nothing with it.

    This thus appears to be a big secret perk scheme. There are two issues with big secret perk schemes. Firstly, they have a nasty habit of rapidly getting bigger, and secondly far more insidiously and far more importantly, they have the potential to act as a secret network of control and influence that exists outside the public chain of command within the organisation concerned if their terms and conditions are so engineered.

    For this reason, the following questions need to be asked and answered by Mr Knight regardless of whether or not the scheme continues to operate.

    1) How much capital does DCTL have on issue to individuals for domestic (primary residence) residential mortgages?
    2) What are the terms of such mortgages?
    3) For what purpose and on what authority were they issued?
    4) Who is eligible and what are the criteria for eligibility?
    5) Who decides on the issue/withdrawal/changes of terms of these mortgages?
    6) Do the terms have to be periodically renewed (if they do, then this system may be used as a stick as well as a carrot)
    7) Does DCTL have any mortgages on issue to non DCC staff? (This could include DCTL, DCHL staff, ex DCC employees and well connected ‘friends’ – don’t forget Councillors!)
    8) Does DCTL have mortgages on issue to third party individuals (DCC employees, ex DCC employees or otherwise for commercial/speculative property – not primary residence)

    These are the eight questions that I supplied to D Scene on the day of my submission to the DCC. To these can now be added one more in light of the ODT article:

    9) If these were residential mortgages – why have so many of them been paid off in such a short period of time?

    These questions are still relevant as this secret perk scheme was in ‘full swing’ when the Stadium was going through its approval process. Some of the information supplied to Councillors at the time was eyebrow raising – some more details of this scheme and exactly who within the DCC/DCHL setup was empowered by it and subservient to it at the time may help to provide some interesting context to this process.

    It has been suggested that these loans were issued at market rates and under market terms and conditions – this invites the immediate question – in that case, why would anybody bother to take out such a loan if they were as hard to get as is claimed?

    It appears that the loan scheme departed pretty much as soon as Mr Orders arrived. This may be an encouraging sign.

    {The story appeared yesterday in ODT – with accompanying What if? link here. -Eds}

  5. Mike Houlahan

    Further to Rob’s comments… D Scene did make further inquiries about this, including requests for further information from council. We are still waiting for a reply to those requests.

  6. Phil

    From memory, DCTL reserved the right to call in those mortgages at any time, and that mortages could be called in when staff members left the DCC. So I would suspect that, once DCTL realised that they were about to be rumbled by the media, a very quick switch around was done with all existing mortages being called in and refinanced by private lending institutions. “What loans ? I don’t see any loans.”

  7. Mike

    And of course right now is a great time to do a refi – I wonder if they got hit with that giant penalty for early payment the rest of us have to live with?

  8. Anonymous

    The Dunedin City Council and Otago Regional Council have frequently taken advantage of grey area accounting. Their actions might not be illegal but then they’re not legal either. Too often the existence of a loophole has been justification enough for stakeholders to take advantage of it.

    As hard as the media attempt to intervene, I hope the public good becomes so great it will be politically necessary for leaders to be seen to take action against the corruption instead of pretending there isn’t a problem while it leaves them alone.

    Until then I suspect guilt is catching up with some of the Stakeholders and their Stadium Councillors. Some of them do look a little tired? At least there is still something the corporate lawyers can’t defend them against.

  9. Calvin Oaten

    If early calling of these mortgages cause serious embarrassment to any of the mortgagees then I am sure Mr Clark, DCC Property Manager could put them up temporarily in the apartments in his new Dowling St hotel pending sale of same.

  10. Rob Hamlin

    If Phil’s memory does serve him right, then acquiring the answers to questions 4 & 5 above are of critical importance – even if they are historical. The right to instantly (and secretly) call a mortgage on a person who may not be in a position to repay it would amount to complete covert control of that individual’s behaviour.

  11. Phil

    Gosh, it’s going back a bit now. I should have paid more attention at the time. I wonder if there is any current (anonymous) DCC employee here brave enough to publish the terms from the DCC internal network site. The more I think about it, the more I remember an option listed where, if you left the employment of the DCC, you could still retain your mortgage with them (if they agreed), but your interest rate would be raised to the current market rate. Which means that staff mortgages were being offered at a rate below the market rate. There would have to be some incentive, otherwise there would be no advantage to taking a DCC mortgage (unless your credit history was a bit too shaky for mainstream lenders).

    Staff mortgages were certainly available in the last 10 years, that much I can say. It’s unlikely that anyone who took out a staff mortgage 10 years ago would have repaid that mortgage by now, which suggests some “encouragement” recently to refinance with private lenders.

    • Elizabeth

      Naturally, we can accept the terms and conditions of the DCC mortgages here at Comments, or by contacting What if? by DM on Twitter to @whatifdunedin to arrange confidential exchange of the information by email or in print form.

      Or we can make an LGOIMA request direct to DCC.

  12. Anonymous

    Mike, if there is an issue with printing the above information in the D Scene, or because of a lack of response, then maybe the story could be about the above concern being discussed on public forum. This might inspire the Dunedin City Council to respond or be faced with another public relations headache for their multi-million dollar communications department.

    (For those unfamiliar with this development, the DCC has created a department of communications spooks working to improve its public image. That department has you and me five million bucks.)

  13. Calvin Oaten

    Rob, having already broached the subject to council and being closed down by Mayor Cull, it seems that opens the way for you to slap in a request under the LGOIMA posing those same questions via Sandy Graham. I am sure they will be obliged to disclose.

  14. Martin Legge

    What is going on within DIA? They fly Mr Garbutt to Wellington (at tax payer expense) for a visit and now they are considering fresh information. I am the person who blew the whistle on all of this, still hold all the correspondence relating to the ORFU deal and am aware of personnel that can verify the documents and what went on between TTCF, ORFU and The Centre of Excellence and yet I have not been spoken to – I only live one hour up the road from Mr Quivooy’s office!

    Your readers may recall that SST and the ODT both referred to the handwritten budget supplied to me by TTCF trustee Murray Acklin that essentially divvied up every cent of pokie money from the South Auckland Jokers Bars to ORFU and Harness Racing (who had entered into a deal with ORFU). Mr Acklin told both SST and ODT “he doesn’t recall the budget document” – which begs the question of DIA – has he or the other trustees ever been shown this significant piece of evidence as part of DIA’s inquiry? I suspect not because there is one other thing that I do know and that will concern readers – 4 of the 5 TTCF trustees refused interviews with DIA into this and other serious matters back in 2010 and DIA have been satisfied with that ever since!

    Funding office staff were required to work exclusively off that budget and there is a clear paper trail of it being met. All TTCF trustees were complicit to it and approved all the grants to ORFU and COE as they came in and even after 2006, TTCF Inc and Ltd continued to approve large grants to ORFU interests while ORFU still had a stake in the Jokers Bars. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

    Be aware Mr Garbutt, I was told 2 years ago that DIA were all over this and they were preparing matters to put before the Gambling Commission. None of that happened and no action was taken.

    In fairness to Mr Quivooy he wasn’t in the job back then but he was given the opportunity to review the ORFU/TTCF investigation file in March of this year but he advised at that time the investigation and report were robust and he was satisfied with it. I suspect he has been ill advised and is in damage control as his recent comments and meeting with Mr Garbutt suggest that his previous sentiments were wrong.

  15. Hype O'Thermia

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/214037/disclosure-be-norm-dcc
    Looks good. Any guesses on how much info will be now disclosed that currently requires thumbscrews and a request to LGOIMA?

  16. Hype O'Thermia

    Martin Legge, could you scan the “handwritten budget supplied to me by TTCF trustee Murray Acklin” and put it up here on What if? Would that be OK with you and the moderators?
    The difficulty with doing things the “proper” way, dealing with the “proper” authorities, is that when they decide to do nothing there’s nobody except oneself to say “Hey, this is important, how come you’re ignoring it?”
    Their actions – and inactions – need many watchful eyes.

  17. Mike

    The stake for race meetings come from pokie money – how is that supporting amateur sport?

    I wonder what happened to that quarter million spent on Carisbrook equipment did they give it back when it was sold?

    • Elizabeth

      OK. Sometimes search engine terms are leading questions or jokes. What about this one, today?

      westfield shopping mall going into carisbrook

      Or this:

      “no more than minor” dunedin

      Or:

      dunedin “new zealand” stadium property tax

      What if? receives between 60 and 100+ search engine terms daily.

  18. Phil

    A Free for Hire flea market. That’s $300 million well spent.

  19. Anonymous

    Going to be awkward when someone asks directions to the White Elephant stall…

  20. Hype O'Thermia

    Sure will be. Commercial confidentiality will prevent a straight answer.

    • Elizabeth

      Remember Farry wanted Otago Farmers Market to shift into the stadium ‘zone’… to provide some vitality.

      Despite, um, the lack of affinity to some degree between farmers market supporters and stadium supporters, apparently Farry was extraordinarily rude to OFM officials (who know their business and their customers well), at the time. Now he’s sending in the Rotary friends?

      What we know about Riccarton from produce vendors who sell there and at OFM is that Riccarton has an enormous amount of window shopping and tyre kicking without corresponding sales – a well organised vendor with quality produce can achieve higher sales at Dunedin. There are likely to be some food/produce vendors who wish to try their luck at the stadium. That’s their prerogative – they have a right to earn their living.

      I note ODT has a role in this, free advertising? No competition?

      No further comment from me.

  21. Amanda

    Oh lordy just read the ORT site and someone on there actually posts that tourists from the cruise ships would want to go to the stadium market! Either a muppet or someone from the new five million dollar marketing department of the DCC trying to make us ‘believe’.

  22. Amanda

    Seriously this is starting to be really entertaining; how much more rubbish can the DCC, ORT and stakeholders throw at us to try and hide the fact that the stadium is not a disgraceful con and economically unsustainable? It is all just to save the face of the stakeholders until we all forget their connection with the stadium, and then the stadium will be declared a dodo, and lo! no-one will be held accountable for the con.

  23. Anonymous

    My favourite lately is the “I didn’t support the stadium before but now I want to make it work” script. The council’s new communications department must have been busy brainstorming that one up. The lucky Spook probably got a bonus* coffee and cake voucher at Syd’s Café.

    * Bonus excludes cream and icing as these are only available to Stakeholders.

  24. Peter

    I can’t see how it is going to be a ‘serendipitous’ market ‘where you find unexpected things in unexpected places’ if it is all stuck together in the ODT stand. What is this? Marrakech?

    • Elizabeth

      Nick and Julian will be selling old copies of your favourite rag with stories, letters, calculations and endless screaming from Calvin Oaten and MikeStk ;)

  25. Calvin Oaten

    Elizabeth; wrong! Can’t speak for MikeStk, but my endless screams are under copyright. It is only the intermittent ones that are for sale. ‘Velly cheep’, I am taking orders now.

  26. Mike

    Everything I write is creative commons they can have at it

    I haven’t decided if the white elephant stall is a good idea – even if the city loses $1000 a pop if it displaces just one rugby game losing $60,000 we’re better off (as if)

  27. Hype O'Thermia

    The car boot sale is $5 a car for sellers. The farmers market was around $35 I think, could be more now. Don’t know what the nic-nac stalls in the Octagon cost (they’re Fridays only, I think) – so how many stalls costing how much each would it take to make a less than gigantic loss – as usual? It’s a big risk. As for paying for parking too – that’s straight out of the handbook on “How to Stymie a Fairly Stoopid Enterprise (before it gets started)”.

  28. Peter

    To further top off the lack of atmosphere for this market venue some idiot in DVML will probably, in the name of marketing, blast the market with either Heavy Rock….. or Enya, maybe.

  29. Calvin Oaten

    Enya dreams Peter.

    • Elizabeth

      Brian Miller – your comment submitted to this thread at 1:37pm has been pulled.

      I have a conflict of interest due to being a founder of Otago Farmers Market and having worked on the market project from 2001, including having been a Deputy Chair. I support the current trust and management of Otago Farmers Market Trust and their vendors. Any business issues you have will need to be discussed in terms of your standard contract with the General Manager and Market Manager; and governance issues can be addressed to the chairman of the trust, and other vendors.

      Elizabeth, Site Admin

  30. Peter

    Good one, Calvin! I wonder if Malc’s got a band to play there? His fingers seem to have their imprint everywhere else there.

  31. Brian Miller

    And I thought this blog was all about transparency and accountability. I wonder if you are any better than the DCC.

  32. Hype O'Thermia

    A band needed? Well look no further – DCC things never need to, they’ve got Bill Acklin! Is he [still?] bankrupt from his recent business venture? He’ll be needing some extra spending money for taxis these days.

  33. Calvin Oaten

    I wonder if some of us are missing the point here. I don’t see this idea of a market in the stadium (dopey as I personally think it is) is in conflict with the Otago Farmers Market. Surely, in a free market society it is a case of the best man wins. The OFM should have nothing to fear if it is meeting the public’s aspirations, it should not need protection from competition, but rather meet the challenge and the winner will be the public. The Co-Admins at this site should be able to set any conflict of interest aside, else the whole site becomes censorable. The lack of that ‘big brother’ element is what makes this site so interesting and enjoyable.

    • Elizabeth

      A conflict of interest has been declared. That stands.

      The Owner and Co-Admins of What if? Dunedin… don’t accept comments that have potential for legal comeback to this site.

    • Elizabeth

      Calvin, I agree that competition is healthy. I doubt very much if other markets care one way or the other about Rotary’s market.

      It’s all about, in Dunedin, how far the discretionary dollar stretches. With that you might consider what is essential shopping – which could be Pak’nSave, or the new Countdown, as well as buying from growers and producers according to your whim. Or it could be the occasional gift to self or friends of a craft, design or art object, secondhand goods, and a hot snack and coffee on a Sunday. People will flock there to see what gives. See comments that follow recent annual Thieves Alley market days.

      Rotary might have a business plan that turns successful trading across one or more years sustainably. I don’t attend any events at the stadium on principle, so I’ll never know.

  34. Brian Miller

    Forgive me for asking Elizabeth, but did you do your training at the ODT? As they appear to have plenty of conflicts of interest as well.

  35. Peter

    If the stadium market is going to be like Thieves Alley, I don’t think it will work. I like the bustling atmosphere of the Thieves Market, but I wonder how much the vendors sell. A lot of it seems to be superfluous nic nac stuff-all very pretty, but useless. I know we are all capable of buying junk, but there are limits, especially with the discretionary dollar Elizabeth refers to.
    Personally, I don’t go to the Thieves Market every year because I know what to expect. The same goes for the Friday Octagon Market.I suspect this market must struggle gauging by the paucity of foot traffic.
    Not meaning to be ‘negative’ about the stadium market, but the organisers will need to be realistic. Hope I’m proved wrong.

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