Pecuniary interest: Crs Wilson and Thomson in events fund debate

UPDATED 30.1.13

Where is DVML’s report to DCC ? Go to ODT 30.1.13

### ODT Online Tue, 29 Jan 2013
Call for new stadium events fund backed
By Chris Morris
Dunedin city councillors support a new $400,000 annual fighting fund to lure more major concerts, and the millions of dollars of extra spending that comes with them, to Dunedin.
Cr Lee Vandervis questioned whether stadium events delivered additional economic benefits or largely moved money around within Dunedin. [DVML chief executive] Darren Burden disputed the latter, citing an economic impact report on Sir Elton John’s stadium concert, estimated to have contributed $14 million to the city’s economy. The exact figure could be disputed, but with half the 35,000-strong crowd for the show coming into Dunedin from elsewhere, returns for the city were ”in that sort of ballpark”, he said.

Crs Kate Wilson and Richard Thomson agreed, saying their businesses had recorded substantial increases in turnover at the time of Sir Elton’s concert, and other businesses would, too, in future.
Go to ODT 30.1.13

Cr Syd Brown hoped the ”modest” extra investment would allow the stadium, and the city, to ”punch above our weight”. Other councillors also supported the move, including deputy mayor Chris Staynes, who said even if the economic impact of shows like Sir Elton’s was only half what was claimed, it was still ”a pretty good investment”.
Read more

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

133 Comments

Filed under Business, Concerts, DCC, DVML, Economics, Events, Media, Name, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Sport, Stadiums

133 responses to “Pecuniary interest: Crs Wilson and Thomson in events fund debate

  1. Tracey

    Are Wilson & Thomson in breach of the Members’ Interest Act ???????

  2. chirpbird

    General: How to Follow the What if? Dunedin blog

    Go to WordPress.com menu (grey menu bar at top of window), click on your name (at top right), at Settings/Account go to Reader in top blue menu bar > Blogs I Follow > click on ‘Edit List’ > enter Blog url >click on Follow, select/unselect email alerts for posts and comments.

    We’ve added a Follow widget for those unused to WordPress settings.
    See right-side menu on all What if? webpages, below the Search box.

  3. Hank

    Just how incompetent are some of our city councillors. Kate Wilson denied that she voted for the stadium, when the record clearly shows she did. She now states that after speaking with Ms Graham that she received a clearance before taking part in Monday’s debate, even though Ms Graham has no authority to grant such a clearance, only the Auditor General’s office can do that. And finally, in the past she claims to have qualified as a lawyer, but it appears that she knows very little about the law, especially the Local Authorities (Members’ Interests) Act 1968.

    {Link added. -Eds}

  4. Robert Hamlin

    By the looks of this story (link above) it Looks like this thread has got right up McPravda’s nose and has prompted the usual ‘PR burp’ spoiler story. The Mayor and others have ‘dismissed’ the comments. They can dismiss away, but the breach as outlined here seems pretty clear to me. If Wilson went to the Governance Manager BEFORE the debate, and said Governance manager is now going to the relevant quango AFTER the debate, it indicates that the contributors here are not the only ones who thought that it was all a bit dodgy in that regard.

    This website thread seems to have come pretty close to a direct McPravda citation in this article: “Critics posting messages online yesterday suggested both councillors should have withdrawn from the debate and vote because they appeared to have pecuniary interests in the decision.” This is surely a matter for satisfaction. Seems like even they think that ‘What If’ is a useful source of information for what’s really going on in this town. Better than the printed official printed word anyway..

    I really like the following quote in the article regarding Wilson: “However, Cr Wilson told the Otago Daily Times her interest was no greater than a substantial number of other people involved in retail, hospitality or other businesses, and her comments were ”not about whether I would personally benefit””.

    Well yes, that’s true Dearie, but only you and Dickie of this select group actually sit on Council. The others can all make gazillions and not fall foul of this particular section of the Local Government Act – because they ain’t Councillors.

    • Rob, I think What if? people helped the pecuniary interest issue, we also individually commented at ODT Online – MikeStk’s comments are particularly robust. Alistair’s dunedinBlog also carries it, by link. There might be others.

      Councillor-WilsonCouncillor-Thomson

  5. Mike

    As Hank rightly points out only the Act allows the Auditor General to issue dispensations, and explicitly says that the dispensation must be provided ‘BEFORE’ any vote, or even any “discussion” formal or otherwise and that councillors must get such conflicts minuted in the minutes of all council meetings where such a conflict might occur (I think this precludes them from talking about such an issue at any non-minuted meeting, they probably just can’t attend).

    Ms Graham of course isn’t allowed to issue dispensations herself, she’s not the Auditor General. She can’t apply to the Auditor General on someone’s behalf either. The Act says that there must be a “written application made to him or her by the member concerned” – so it’s up to the councillors personally to do the right thing before any debate if they want to partake, or politely step aside until they have received permission and have their conflict minuted.

  6. Mike

    BTW the council’s own code of conflict explains it well, in plain language:

    “Additionally, elected members are prohibited from participating in any local authority discussion or voting on any matter in which they have a pecuniary interest, other than an interest in common with the general public. The same rules also apply where the member’s spouse contracts with the authority or has a pecuniary interest. Members must declare their interests at Council meetings where matters in which the have a pecuniary interest arise.”

    ….

    “Members may also contact the Audit Office for guidance as to whether that member has a pecuniary interest. If there is a pecuniary interest, the member may seek an exemption to allow that member to participate or vote on a particular issue in which they may have a pecuniary interest. The latter must be done before the discussion or vote.”

    {Dunedin City Council – Standing Orders (PDF, 307 KB)
    3 Apr 2012: The Standing Orders set out rules for the conduct meetings of the Dunedin City Council and includes the Code of Conduct for Elected Members, as adopted at the inaugural Council meeting Oct 2010. -Eds}

  7. Mike

    Finally, I should say that I think the two councillors got caught out here, my guess is that it never dawned on them that there could be an issue so, without thinking, they happily explained to the public and the ODT how much Elton John helped their businesses as a justification for their position – if they’d kept their mouths shut no-one would have noticed.

    Of course, the Act requires them to do more than just keeping their mouths shut, they’re supposed to think about their position with respect to every piece of business the council deals with and be proactive and step aside whenever there might be an issue (or send that letter to the Auditor General and present the result to the meeting).

  8. Hype O'Thermia

    It’s not “an interest in common with the general public” even though the general public is made up of people in a wide variety of jobs and businesses, as well as non-earner retired and beneficiaries, because while “a substantial number of other people involved in retail, hospitality or other businesses” may have made extra money from stadium event(s), an even more substantial number didn’t.

  9. Maurice Prendergast

    Case law sets in stone the fact that the Members’ Interest Act was enacted specifically to apply to ‘The Member’. That’s why it’s called the Members’ Interest Act. Sadly, Dunedin City has been responsible for establishing most of the case law surrounding this legislation; the most high profile was the 1992 case against eight (then) City Councillors in relation to their voting in favour of their own appointment to the sundry Council LATES then being established. Essentially, the judgement ruled that (with regard to the Members’ Interest Act) ………….. “that if you have an interest in the proposal that is greater than the interest of the public at large, then the elected member must take no part in the decision making.” Wilson and Thomson’s mistake is they got ‘gobby enough’ to declare that they anticipated to profit from the proposal and stayed in the debate to promote the issue. Wilson is naive if she thinks she can get a clearance from a staff member. Not even the CEO can do that – because no third party can possibly make an informed decision about an individual’s personal circumstances. Wilson and Thomson are in trouble if a complaint is made to the office of the Auditor General. The fine is only $100, but the significant outcome is that if found to be in breach, the Councillor is sacked!! Bring it on!!

  10. amanda

    Mike makes a good point on the ODT site that Acklin performs at the stadium too, how much as he made off the back of his stadium support? Can he not also be seen to have a conflict of interest in the discussion around the ‘events fund’ (AKA ‘money to prop up a failing entity’)? And Weatherall has links with the ORFU for ten years (Mike says) so why was he able to be in decision making meetings around the funds to prop up the ORFU months ago?

  11. Anonymous

    Many of the council directors and councillors have abused the grey area for years, even noting if a legal loophole exists it is acceptable to abuse it (some may recall that recent episode). But then with that corrupted and self-interested thinking comes those tentative steps over the line and finally finding yourself on its opposite side. By this time you are too far across and unable to turn back, digging in deeper and obfuscating at every turn (most will recognise it throughout this council). Of course the corruption is so bad they need a million dollar communications department (often referred to as the Spooks) to manage it. There are levels of naughtiness involved here but I believe a lot of them have their hands heat welded to a very hot pan.

  12. Mike

    I think that it’s important not to just let this sort of thing slide you have to make examples of people who go too far – Walls and Chin were sacked. If examples are not made others will do the same (“Mu-ummy, you let Tommy do it! why ca-an’t I-i”)

    This sort of declaration and standing back from working in the council when there’s a conflict should be standard operating practice, it shouldn’t be a surprise, nor is there anything wrong with it – if you actually do it. The real surprise is that it isn’t happening much.

    Amanda: I’m not so worried about Acklin – after his second drunk driving conviction and his company going under with a huge tax debt – I think he’s the Michael Guest of this upcoming election

  13. amanda

    Did the ODT have information about Acklin’s second drunk driving conviction in it? I recall that they they forgot to inform voters about his first drunk driving conviction on the run up to the election. Pity, we might not have had to endure his brain burps for the last few years, things like ‘…the Chinese Gardens were never meant to make a profit…’. Well, he sure succeeded on that…and suceeding even better with the stadium, if not making profit is what you want… and if his company is going under then I guess that means that every single ‘music’ related event the DCC arranges will have Acklin as the entertainment. Yay.

  14. Mike

    It was a different company, he was in the conference business. I assume he didn’t vote or enter discussions and had his conflict of interest minuted whenever the council has considered issues in and around its own conference facilities: the stadium and the town hall.

  15. Anonymous

    Some might wonder why a person with two drink driving charges to their name could remain on council in a position to influence decisions that affect a city… some would say the bar is just set low for a Dunedin City Councillor… I would be inclined to suggest Stakeholders need Seven Stadium Councillors to rule, not six. That would be too close for some decisions. This possibility might explain a variety of brain burps that have done little to serve Dunedin over recent terms, particularly those that have not inspired accountability and or the interest of the O.D.T. For those who care – or believe their decision won’t count – please try anyway, take a chance on somebody new and leave blank this guy, Syd Brown, and Andrew Noone. Get rid of those last two and you’ll be causing headaches for the Stakeholders and Allied Press.

  16. Anonymous

    Amanda, I wonder if that pecuniary position involving Crs Kate Wilson and Richard Thomson would have survived sub-editing if it had involved one of the “Senior Councillors”? Not that those individuals would have been caught making such statement – they would have ensured one of their lower rank Stadium Councillors represented their interests.

  17. amanda

    Yes. Senior Councillor Hudson make such a statement? Far, far too cunning and smart for that. He keeps in the background and even lets old Syd take the second top position under Cull. How many directorships does Hudson chair now? He was on five? six? Is he still chairing groups and pulling down multi salaries? Local government seems to pay. What was the DCC payout to Hudson’s daughter for her restaurant? $300,000?

  18. amanda

    Actually it was $360,000 acccording to Al’s blog http://dunedinblog.co.nz/al/?p=147

  19. amanda

    So there’s a solution to any business problems you may be having, just make damn sure that your father (or mother) is a city councillor and everything will be hunky dory!

  20. Rob Hamlin

    A great quote from ‘Max Power’ in McPravda today:
    “Why would you call the stadium a lemon? In terms of the venue itself it is one of the best in the world. It is a world class arena that is the furture of medium sized venues.” Link

    I guess that’s why The Chills and 3,000 other people were in the Botanic Gardens less than a mile from this empty World class medium concert venue last weekend. Can’t see why the stadium wouldn’t have been free to them if it could have been demonstrated that 50+ people would have shot through from Central and bought a teacake on the way in and a useless ‘wotsit’ while they were here. It seems to be free for everybody else who can demonstrate similar crowd behaviour patterns.

    Thinking about it, best be careful here. We wouldn’t want the Botanic Gardens, which genuinely is a World class facility, receiving management input from Burden’s mob now would we?

  21. Mike

    Acklin’s company “Dunedin Convention Centre” was put into liquidation, according to the liquidator’s report it paid a pittance to creditors – $224 – the ODT article said he owed the IRD $190,000.

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/188583/acklin-working-190000-tax-debt

    How can you owe the IRD that much money? If your company isn’t making a profit it’s not because of tax you owe on the profit. It’s not GST he didn’t pay, most of the money left over in the liquidation was GST refunds.

    The only thing I can think of is it would happen if you didn’t pass on PAYE for money paid to employees or yourself – I run a small business that’s not something that sneaks up on you, you know how much you owe the IRD each and every pay day, so you put it aside in the bank to pay the IRD at the end of the month – it’s that easy. I can’t see how you could get that wrong on accident if you’re doing that simple sane thing.

    The article above quotes Sue Bidrose as saying “the Local Government Act required councillors to resign only if convicted of a crime that carried a possible prison sentence of two years or more.” – of course she’s wrong – you’re also required to resign if you’re found to have contracts with the council totalling more than $25,000 – for example, I suspect this might apply if they appointed you as a director of one or more council companies.

    Ms Bidrose has probably not read the Council’s own Code of Conduct which says [section J3.9 Declaration of Bankruptcy]: “Under the Local Government Act 2002, local authorities, when adopting a code of conduct, must consider whether or not they will require members to declare whether they are an undischarged bankrupt. This Council believes that bankruptcy does raise questions about the soundness of a person’s financial management skills and their judgment in general. The Council therefore requires elected members who are declared bankrupt to notify the Chief Executive as soon as practicable after being declared bankrupt.”

    Now whether being personally bankrupt is the same as a company you wholly own being liquidated, the Code of Conduct points out they both “raise questions about the soundness of a person’s financial management skills and their judgment in general”.

    {Link and reference added. -Eds}

  22. Mike

    Interestingly, while researching the above I see that Acklin is also a director and shareholder in “Destination Dunedin” ….. now where have I heard of that before …..

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/243937/restructuring-marketing-single-agency-recommended

    I wonder if he voted on that one.

    He also owns a quite new corporate shell “B A Entertainment Ltd”, less than a year old, I’m guessing he’s starting to appreciate the value of that Ltd.

    • Mike, we’ll have to dig into “Destination Dunedin” – we have no choice but to do so if what you’ve found for Acklin is the same as the ‘pencilled name’ for DCC’s new marketing agency. And even if it’s just a happy coincidence.

      Destination Dunedin Limited (1792884) via NZ Companies Office

      Interesting choice of co-directors: William Fraser and Lindsay McKinney. And the three have equal shares.

  23. Rob Hamlin

    How interesting. I suppose that if one happened to be sitting on the rights to the use of a specific name that the DCC suddently decided that they reeeeeelly wanted right now, the DCC might just decide to shell out to you big time. A bit like if you owned the rights to the use of a specific restaurant site ditto.

  24. Anonymous

    Of course no daddy wants to give his little girl advice… “Yes, honey, I know your business isn’t going well… yes, but just hang in there another month or so… yes, just trust me… just turn off the oven and lights to save money…” Of course no parent discusses their day with family. Both of these things are just completely unlikely. Therefore that massive buyout was just some flukey coincidence. My dad’s not on council but I’m sure they would have offered the same to me…?

  25. Anonymous

    Mike, the $190K to IRD will be the result of penalties and interest. If you miss payments (and PAYE is the most likely one), then penalties and interest are applied and these will add up to more than the original debt very quickly if not attended to.

  26. Mike

    I agree but you should never do that, never put yourself in a position to allow that to happen, when making a commitment to pay someone something you should have the money in hand to do it – and if you plan on not paying your PAYE you had better plan on having money to cover the fees and interest …. the IRD isn’t exactly known for their forgiving nature.

    The real issue though is that, as the council’s Code of Conduct points out, it shows character flaws that might make someone an inappropriate candidate for managing the city’s millions.

    Just blindly spending money you don’t have with the expectation that it will all just somehow come right is how we got into the stadium mess …. disqualifying people who participate in that sort of magical thinking from being on the council seems a reasonable thing.

  27. Hype O'Thermia

    If I’d ever been in the financial poo I’d have relied on a family member to help me out. The trouble with doing that is I might have ended up middle-aged without learning how to manage my business and personal finances, I’d probably get them muddled up, and at an age when people would have been expecting me to have learned from my early mismanagement, I’d still be carrying on the same way. Just thinking aloud…… about myself, you know. Not anyone else.

  28. Calvin Oaten

    Mike, I like where you say “when making a commitment to pay someone something you should have the money in hand to do it”. Well, wouldn’t that apply equally to DCHL when it allows the DCC to incorporate into its forward planning, provision for dividends and interest from it, as an integral part of its budget? Just because it is demanded, as opposed to being offered, makes no difference in my book.

  29. Mike

    I think that committing to pay money you don’t have you’re taking an explicit risk that you should be responsible for – liquidating and walking away is IMHO wrong – but really you should be prudent with your money and never get into this position – of course you should be extra prudent with other people’s money.

    By paying an employee or yourself you take on the commitment to pay the associated PAYE – if you can’t afford to pay either you need to let them go, you can’t just stop paying the tax. That way lies nasty IRD letters, penalties, lawyers letters and eventually court.

  30. Walrus

    Could any body out there enlighten me as to who are the members of the Southern District Health Board, that is presently trying to shaft the P.S.O ?

  31. Hype O'Thermia

    I googled Southern District Health Board nz members –
    http://www.southerndhb.govt.nz/index.php?pageLoad=618.

    It’s That Man Again – “Stuart McLauchlan (Crown Monitor)”

  32. Walrus

    Richard Thomson. Isn’t he the city councillor that spoke out in support of more ratepayer funding for the stadium concerts etc, which helped boost local business (his) yet as a S.D.H.B. member has remained very quite on this P.S.O. controversy, cannot be any substantial increase in turnover in this one for him. Maybe that’s why he has remained silent on this one ?

  33. Calvin Oaten

    Walrus; Richard Thomson is the master of “run with the hare, hunt with the hounds”. It works all the time, except when he got caught out over the ‘the big Swan swindle’ when he was in the DHB chair. Cost him the chair, but is he downhearted? Not a bit, still as confident as ever. Watches for the trend on any subject then kicks in with his pontifical manner. A ‘hirsute wonder’.

    • I do hope someone (plural) forwarded complaints against the councillors Wilson and Thomson to the Office of the Auditor-general (OAG). Would be awful if the DCC’s light query to the OAG wasn’t backed by some muscle from the public.

    • Maurice Prendergast

      Yep – as Charles Darwin once said, “Ignorance begets confidence more frequently than does knowledge”.
      They (Thomson, Wilson, Acklin et al) encapsulate the Darwin theory – that is – ignorant people are too stupid to understand that they are stupid, and in consequence their confidence is never undermined. They continue to make tits of themselves without a trace of shame (like voting to support a stadium – then shamelessly denying this in the face of recorded evidence). A more talented (but perhaps more humble person) will tend to drift into the shadows when they make a mistake. That’s why we have halfwits in positions of leadership, and talented people in secondary and tertiary roles. Makes me harbour thoughts about about remedial options that might lie outside the law!!

      • You’re not the only one harbouring those thoughts. Vigilante action has huge appeal. And seems to work in lots of places round the world. Easy access to social media is supposed to give us all sorts of action-packed ideas! Could we fix DCC with some good fistfights and hijackings. Faster than all this PC bureaucratic meandering……

  34. Hype O'Thermia

    DCC’s light query – nicely put, Elizabeth. “If you’re not bus,y but don’t worry, just when you run out of everything else to do, no truly we don’t want to see you breaking a sweat to get this weeny teeny matter sorted, actually we wonder if it wouldn’t be rather better if we hadn’t mentioned it at all….”

  35. Hype O'Thermia

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/8262157/Official-Information-Act-cover-extended
    “…There would also be new protections for commercial information and moves to clarify how the legislation applied to commercially sensitive information.
    The Law Commission recommended a new withholding ground to protect competitive positions and financial interests in addition to the existing commercial withholding ground…..”

  36. Calvin Oaten

    Maurice; “They (Thomson, Wilson, Acklin et al) encapsulate the Darwin Theory”. Strange, I thought the theory of evolution brought about the improvement of a species, otherwise it died out. The above-mentioned (along with many of their compatriots) are the antithesis of that. An aberration perhaps?

    • Maurice Prendergast

      Yeah – but Darwin’s focus was not limited to his pursuit of understanding of evolution. Sure his theory on evolution is probably the most commonly known, but as I’ve stated he was also an incisive thinker on influences that drive human behaviour. And he had this issue of the social advantages of being stupid well sorted – that is, ‘ignorance begets confidence more frequently than does knowledge’. He identified that it pays to be dumb because if you’re dumb you never suffer the embarrassment of being dumb – because you don’t have the wit to acknowledge your stupidity and thus continue to be unfettered by ‘self doubt’. That’s precisely what this ‘Greater Dunedin mob’ have going for them. It seems they have been selectively chosen for their intrinsic stupidity. Their witlessness allows them to be ‘unfazed’ by their shameless behaviour – so their confidence is never undermined. Perversely – rather than being embarrassed by their foolishness, they are in fact buoyed by their foolishness. What say you?

  37. Calvin Oaten

    Touché. But conversely, by all the rules of Darwin’s “selective evolution of species” then the “Greater Dunedin mob” ought to have disappeared long ago. Perhaps October will be its demise. Unless of course, foolishness is a survival trait. What say you?

  38. JimmyJones

    The cesspit of ignorance and misinformation created by the ODT and their associates (Ch9 & Radio Dunedin) is not the place where democracy flourishes. Natural selection in this environment encourages the type of low-life creatures that infest our council chambers. Some have battled against this environment and survived – let’s hope more will try.
    Come back Maurice.

    • Maurice Prendergast

      You bet it’s a cesspit. Thanks for the compliment but if you’re not well trained in the art of corruption and shabby betrayal you’ll get crushed. You either get on the bandwagon (witness that clean cut country boy Noone who climbed aboard) or get run over by it. An analysis of my departure from Council can be established by observing the following facts. I and Lee Vandervis had the balls to tell the truth about the sinister elements of the Stadium proposal – the incestuous double dealing with the University, for instance, where they factored into the budget this ‘cute’ line item ‘Synergies with University $10M’.

      The dull witted majority thought the University was contributing $10M. They were contributing nothing – just a condescending, arrogant figure of speech with no purpose other than to betray.

      Now let’s do a retrospective analysis as to why the truths that Lee and I were peddling could not compete with ratepayer-funded propaganda machine. Please witness this. NZ has not lived within its means since 1972. Yep – the last time NZ earned more than it spent was 40 years ago. So take a look at my ‘voter audience’ which contains two generations of voters who for the whole of their lives had always had what they wanted – and here’s Maurice daring to tell them that they can’t (both) have a Stadium and feed their kids. Their body language (as their eyes glazed over) when told the truth about the Stadium cost was one of defiant denial. I was verbally abused for telling the truth and subjected to all those marginalising comments – the most common being ‘they’ll find the money somewhere’.

      My standard response was ‘Yep they’ll find it at your place and that’s when you will discover that there’s no food for your kids’.

      So that’s a thumbnail sketch of why there’s no room for those with principles on DCC. I could have remained silent and told nothing of what I knew the truth to be – and still be warming a seat at Council. I could have told the electors what they wanted to hear, but I’m pleased I didn’t. I can only imagine how very difficult it must be to be living with self betrayal. My compliments to Lee – he lived to fight another day and he does it with pluck – and (importantly) with honour.

  39. Hype O'Thermia

    Calvin, I think what Maurice points out is that stupidity has advantages for the individual, though not for society. Skeptics re-examine their beliefs when new information comes to hand and are hampered by the need to change their minds when new evidence shows they were wrong. This conveys unreliability to stupid people, who like certainty in their leaders. Leaders who have no idea that they are wrong thus see no need to upgrade their knowledge are better not worse adapted to thrive and continue in high-status leadership roles. Where ignorance is bliss…….

  40. Hype O'Thermia

    Further, from http://www.worldwidewords.org/topicalwords/tw-rev1.htm about the splendid term “reverse ferret”:
    “…Journalists, more even than the populace at large, are sceptical of public figures who have the strength of character to decide they were wrong about something. Politicians run scared of changing policy and so being thought to be indecisive. Margaret Thatcher, at her party conference in Brighton in 1980, gave her view of such changes of direction, “To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the U-turn, I have only one thing to say: you turn if you want to — the lady’s not for turning”, a witty bit of scriptwriting that, lacking a sense of humour (and possibly knowledge of the play by Christopher Fry), she had to be convinced was worth including. Tony Blair famously told his party conference in 2003 that he had “not got a reverse gear” over his decision to invade Iraq….”

  41. Peter

    Yet Thatcher and Blair were tremendously successful politicians. Thankfully, they had their day… like they all do in the end. Their undoing was not knowing the right time to bow out and go on their terms. Such is the lure of holding power.
    Dare I say it, for our local fiefdom, Neil Collins has been smart, this time, and picked a good time to go. Even if he has hung on for far too long for many of us. Hopefully, some of our other long time servers have the good grace to go. (I bet Richard Walls would have preferred not to have been so unceremoniously dumped.)
    The stupidity referred to above is often a case of misplaced ‘pride’.

  42. Peter

    No, I missed it Elizabeth. Any good?

  43. JimmyJones

    It seems to me, Hype O’Thermia, that policy U-turns are only needed when the policy is wrong and that wasn’t the case for your Thatcher example. As far as I can tell her party were happy with the policy at the time and because she remained PM for another 10 years after that speech, then I guess most of Britain was also.
    On the other hand Dave Cull’s steely determination to minimize stadium-related costs to the City did a sharp policy U-turn just after the election. It is now hard to keep track of all the money-go-rounds and various hidden subsidies paid to DVL/DVML. Sticking to your policy can be a good thing.

  44. Peter

    Maurice. It is you and Lee as councillors who can hold your heads up high, till you draw your final breath, because you told the truth. As is evidenced by the utter failure of the stadium, with its inability to keep its head above financial water, as well as the filth that just keeps coming, revealing the dirty deals done to get it built.
    The continued rorting of the city for this stadium reminds me of the Novopay debacle. Like with that issue, the fools keep going in propping up the stadium in the vain hope that The Big Lie can make a buck after all. It never will and, if they had any sense, they would see this. You can never make something, built on false premises, a success.

  45. JimmyJones

    Maurice, I think honour comes from being honest.
    Dunedin deserves an honest Council, so voters should not lower their standards when it comes time to elect the Mayor and Councillors.

  46. JimmyJones

    Elizabeth, I missed it too, but I’m sure that I would have liked it. In 1980 Maggie Thatcher’s insight into the mistakes of previous governments seems very applicable to Dunedin in 2013. This is what she said at Brighton:
    “If spending money like water was the answer to our country’s problems, we would have no problems now. If ever a nation has spent, spent, spent and spent again, ours has. Today that dream is over. All of that money has got us nowhere but it still has to come from somewhere. Those who urge us to relax the squeeze, to spend yet more money indiscriminately in the belief that it will help the unemployed and the small businessman are not being kind or compassionate or caring. ~”

  47. Peter

    The fact that a minority of well-heeled people, particularly in the South East of England, certainly prospered under her government….. and spent oodles of money on the share market and on private consumption… while folk, particularly up north, suffered is not a testament to greatness in my book. Did Margaret Thatcher put ‘Great’ back into Great Britain? I don’t think so. Unless you count her ‘victory’ of seizing back the little Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic from incompetent Argentinian generals.

  48. JimmyJones

    Peter, I think that her greatness wasn’t universally appreciated throughout the UK. I think that the best way to judge her is not by looking at a few aspects of her performance, but from how the voters judged her performance. Getting elected is the job of a politician and she was more successful at this than any other British Prime Minister (about 11 years).

    Do you think that she should have surrendered the Falklands just in case people might think she was trying to get re-elected? Anyway, I don’t know about the competence of the Argentinian generals, but I know that those French anti-ship missiles cost the UK a lot of blood and money.

  49. JimmyJones

    A correction: Maggie Thatcher was the longest serving British PM for that century, but not necessarily the longest ever. While she made good decisions, Peter Chin and his staff did not – here is a piece from the Horwath HTL Financial Feasibility Study, February 2007 (paragraph 2.4) which shows that Chin and Harland knew that their stadium was unaffordable, but they went ahead anyway, demonstrating their reckless decision-making:

    “Preliminary consultation with the Mayor and CEO of Dunedin City Council indicated that, if funding is not an issue, they personally support the Trust’s vision for a new Stadium in Dunedin. However, they both noted that there is uncertainty, at this stage in the process, as Dunedin City Council has a significant number of projects before it and will need to review it’s priorities before committing funding for the stadium.”

    To me it seems like the councillors at the time were completely clueless about the cost (and existence?) of those other projects, nor were they able to judge the affordability based on the fake estimated cost of the new stadium ($65 million from the DCC + $30 million from the ORC).

    {We note the Horwath Report at the DCC website still contains blacked out sections! -Eds}

  50. Calvin Oaten

    An interesting day. The contributions of Maurice was not only a breath of fresh air, it is vindication of a lot of what we outsiders have been arguing the toss over for what seems forever. I am not sure about Thatcher’s ‘greatness’, other than the fact that she together with Reagan introduced a lot of draconian policies, picked up by our Roger Douglas here in NZ. In hindsight it is very difficult to argue that society generally benefited. Certainly, many made fortunes (our own Prime Minister for one) but almost always at the expense of a lot of poor ‘buggers’ at the bottom of the food chain. It fostered the ‘greed’ factor and a ‘stuff you I am all right’ attitude to people in general. The Stadium is a gross manifestation of this sense of ‘entitlement’ shown by all involved in promoting it. It led on to other projects hopelessly uneconomic and frankly unaffordable, but it was a case of full steam ahead, we will build this into the ‘greatest small city in the world’ even if we die in the attempt. What we have built is a very unfair society, run by the ‘thieves, scallywags, improvers and thugs’ we have in city hall as of the last decade. A total clean out is the minimum requirement if the likes of Lee Vandervis and CEO Orders are to have any hope of unshackling the likes of the ORFU from the city’s ‘hind teat’ so the bleeding can be staunched. Too big an ask? Probably.

  51. Anonymous

    Maurice, there’s the problem. Good people are needed but they will need to wade through some very thick crap thrown at them by Allied Press and its various guises. If they survive that and get elected, they will then need to climb down into a large, stinking bog created by around twenty self-serving individuals and their weak-minded puppets, the remaining Stadium Councillors. There is also the extra film of sludge added to by many of the Greater Dunedin.

    Assuming they survive all of that, they then have to dodge the traps laid down by the Stakeholders and their puppets, the company directors – some of which are more dangerous than the previous ones and you have to wonder who and why they were put there. Then down and down to a useless Mayor – god help us if Dave Cull wins again – while being shut down by the likes of Syd Brown.

    Any genuine person intent on working in the best interests of the city will be dismissed by the ODT, ridiculed by the Stadium Councillors and ignored by the corrupt bureaucrats in council intent on ensuring their guilt never reaches the media outside of this city.

    So why would someone good want to stand for this council now?

    How can we help those people?

    How can we protect them?

  52. Anonymous

    (Of course if you’re a Golden Boy who is being nurtured in the Otago Daily Times and sport a name in common with a certain Stakeholder’s, you might find it easy to win bought votes and usurp the mayor. Or a dim-witted and self-important Chief Executive Officer with access to a sizable membership that could be whipped into a bit of excitable voting. Either way, it would be keeping up appearances while ensuring the ratepayers’ tap isn’t turned off too soon.)

  53. amanda

    That’s pretty much it isn’t it, Anonymous? The ODT is a devoted to the stadium and will not hear or abide any person who dares try and suggest those who built the fiscal blackhole are culpable (because then the ODT is culpable too); how can we support people who are not corrupt or weak (like greater Dunedin) getting on the DCC? I’m not sure how to circumscribe the stranglehold the ODT has on this city and keeping the corrupt in power; but one thing is certain, smiling, shutting up and paying more money for Farry’s Failure to fail some more ain’t an option.

    • Maurice Prendergast

      Amanda – you and Anonymous are asking a common question. Essentially how can we break that stranglehold that these gangsters have on the defenceless ratepayers of the wider City?. I believe that Wilson and Thomson – in their puerile (and shamelessly public) decision to taunt us with their power to make us pay to promote their businesses have really given us a window of opportunity to wield a dagger that will serve notice to their fellow predators.

      I have this day lodged a complaint with the Office of the Auditor General that they be investigated under the Members’ Interest Act for breaches of that Act – that they engaged in decision making on an issue where they (by their stated admission) have an interest that is greater than the interest of the public at large .But we have to saturate OAG with multiple complaints.. Lone complaints are commonly brushed aside, but it’s much more difficult for them to brush aside multiple complaints.

      So please ALL of YOU – join me by lodging your complaint to the Office of the Auditor General and focus on the great strength that is available to us – the fact that these two Councillors have publicly stated (and supported a resolution) on the stated basis of their expectation that their respective businesses will prosper from a ratepayer funded subsidy. Do it now – no real need for detail (unless you want) because I’ve done all the foreplay. Simply make reference to the Members’ Interest Act and how you believe that it has been breached by the public admissions of two Councillors (ODT 29/01/2013 Page 6) who ‘rationalised’ during a debate that a ratepayer funded subsidy should be pursued because there was tangible evidence that their respective businesses would be advantaged.

      If we seriously want to purge the corruption and give strength to those honourable people who might be in the wings waiting for the gangsters to be taken out, now is our chance to strike.. Remove the easily removed self-confessed nincompoops and scare the bejesus out of the rest.. But do it now while the issue has currency/momentum, and do it by force of numbers – because united we stand; divided we fall. It is our turn to turn the screws! What say you all?

      {Emphasis added by blockquote. -Eds}

  54. amanda

    And I’m not placing all my hope on Vandervis, the ODT will bring him down.

  55. Calvin Oaten

    Amanda; don’t you mean ‘circumcise’?

  56. amanda

    ah you speak of Mr ‘Couldn’t give a toss about water assets’. Yes, that will a hoot to observe too!

  57. Peter

    No quibble about The Falklands, Jimmy. The Brits were challenged and they fought back like true imperialists. It’s just that the ‘glorious battle’ was no Dunkirk.
    Longevity in office isn’t always a sign of greatness in a leader. Just that such a politician knows how to play the crowd.
    Talking about the ODT, read the Listener of last week Feb 2-8, ‘Surprising Secrets to Selling Yourself’. Really interesting three page article by Karl du Fresne who, as an outsider, gives his views on the paper. Best summed up as, ‘Damns with feint praise’. Basically tells us that the paper is still in the dark ages, run largely by older men who know what loyalty means.

  58. Mike

    Today’s court news contains a case of a company sole director/sole shareholder whose company was in liquidation, it owed the IRD a bit over $160,000 – he had avoided passing on PAYE and the penalties and interested had mounted. He was convicted of 21 charges of “aiding and abetting” his company’s tax avoidance.

    This is an example of the state “breaking the corporate veil” so that that magic “Ltd” doesn’t protect company officers who do bad stuff, that some of us were talking about off-line recently.

    What’s very interesting is that the numbers and some of the details here are very similar to Acklin’s company’s tax situation, I wonder what differences there were in circumstances that resulted in this guy being prosecuted but Acklin not.

    And of course I still don’t understand why the council has not invoked its Code of Conduct item that says that a bankruptcy would tend to indicate that the fitness of a councilor’s financial judgement was impaired and they should be removed from the council.

  59. Anonymous

    Oil. The remaining Seven Stadium Councillors have signed their names to it. National loves it. The ultra-rich want more. See the chain of influence there? Six might complicate that voting.

  60. Calvin Oaten

    I have submitted my complaint to the OAG. I trust others will follow suit in deference to Maurice.

  61. Judith

    Maurice Prendergast was of immense value to both his ward and the city constituents during his term in office. It is good to see that he still has that same ethos out of office. To serve those whom other councillors ignore while in pursuit of personal gain.

    • 1. Neil Collins [gone/goner/not standing]
      2. Kate Wilson
      3. Richard Thomson
      4. Bill Acklin
      5. Dave Cull

      A further mission for 2013:

      6. If the good citizens of Mosgiel Taieri Ward could concentrate on removing the slipslidy mongoose Syd Brown from council office at the October 2013 elections the whole city would be in their debt – on condition no clone or like-minded sod gets voted in as replacement.

      Then there’s Paul Hudson, Chris Staynes, Andrew Noone (being groomed for mayor?), and the rest.
      But let’s get No.6 right.

      DCC Councillor Profile – Syd Brown is serving his fifth term on the Dunedin City Council. He is currently Chair of Finance, Strategy and Development Committee, and has previously held positions of Deputy Mayor and Chair of Finance & Strategy and Planning & Environment. He has been a Board Member of the Otago Museum for nine years.
      Business interests include involvement in Property Investment and Development, the Agriculture and Retailing industries.
      He has a keen interest in all Sports and Outdoor activities with a particular passion for Harness Racing. He is married to Shona with a family of three adult children and four grandchildren. Link

      [He must have liked Shamwrath a lot.]

      Councillor-Brown

  62. amanda

    Maurice. Done that and emailed my complaint to the OAG. Thank you for making it so easy to do.

  63. Rob Hamlin

    I just LOVE McPravda’s choice of bible reading to follow up these two letters!!!!

  64. Calvin Oaten

    Thank you Jimmy! It has been a constant source of concern to me that there does not seem to be any innate ability around that table to understand the consequences of the stadium to this city. That Cr Thomson so readily leapt out of the trenches to fight for the cause suggests to me, if that is the best that they can do, then God help us. I am not sure whether he is simply obtuse, or whether his ego is such that he couldn’t help himself. I think that all he demonstrated was how little his understanding of the situation really is. For what it is worth, I have responded, point by point, and it remains to be seen if the ODT will publish.

  65. Hype O'Thermia

    You can see why that lowlife Swann had such an easy ride to riches.

  66. Anonymous

    It would be impossible not to suspect certain understandings existed between persons of that period. Some would have pretended not to have seen. At the very least many would have been privy to social events made possible by his ill-begotten gains. Snorting from the same bowl of blow so to speak. I am sure a number of wealthy individuals are pleased to have him ensconced in a dank, dark cell for reasons other than accountabilty for his criminal activities.

  67. Rob Hamlin

    Some of Thomson’s comments converted to a human scale.

    Thomson’s replies to Calvin Oaten are interesting. It is sometimes hard to get one’s head around these things when considering the DCC’s byzantine financial affairs. Here I apply his replies to finance on a more domestic scale via just two examples, to give a better understanding of Thomson’s financial logic if it was applied to YOU!

    Article quote:

    ”The decision by council to purchase shares in DVML for an amount of $3.381 million … is a cost to the ratepayer”. I’m sorry Calvin, but it isn’t. The council paid this money several years ago. Converting it to shares has no cash flow impact (which is what ratepayers fund).”

    Let’s just imagine that you had paid $10,000 dollars into South Fantasy Finance five years ago as a fixed term investment. This would be a loan by you to the company and the agreement indicated that you would receive back both the principal and interest, but at a minimum the principal. South Fantasy Finance then write to you informing you that your $10,000 loan has been converted into South Fantasy Finance shares which are non-tradable, worthless and carry with them no obligation to repay a cent of your $10,000 to you at any time in the future.

    South Fantasy Finance’s letter goes on to say that this is a fiscally neutral arrangement from your point of view as you had already given them the money some time ago and they were not actually asking you for any more cash – Would you agree? No, I didn’t think that you would!

    Article quote:
    ”The stadium’s rated value is $1.8 million and only $134,000 is being charged. A subsidy of $1.66 million.” Well, he is correct that the stadium, if rated as a normal commercial activity, would have generated a rate of $1.8 million. But he is incorrect to imply that somehow ratepayers are worse off by $1.66 million. Council decided to rate the stadium based on the rates it received from the properties that previously occupied the site.”

    I pay around $2,000 a year in rates for my house. Before my house was built the site consisted of 500 square metres of agricultural land. It therefore seems only right and proper that Thomson’s logic should be consistently applied to all residential ratepayers, and that rates on houses should be reduced to reflect the rates paid before the use was changed from rural to residential and any major on-site capital investments in structures/improvements made. This abrogates the idea that rates are a tax on capital value = land plus improvements, but what the hell.

    This reduces my rates to around $12 a year. I cannot see how other ratepayers will be any worse off for this. In fact reducing all residential rates to this level will make us all much richer – Just think of the economic impact of all that extra dosh in our pockets – But the DCC’s books will go to hell in a handbasket? Shhhhhhhhhhhh! – No ‘til after the elections!

    • Maurice Prendergast

      Yep -Hey we can see how easy it was for Swann to pick off this cretin! So Dickie – can I too have one of these rating differentials that ‘holds’ the rating impost post development to the level it was ‘pre development’? Coz I’ve got a residential dwelling on a 1 acre (R1) allotment.. R1 zoning allows subdivision down to min 500 sq metres. So I’ve got 1 acre (4000sq m) to play with and currently only one dwelling – on the whole of which I currently pay $2102 pa. So I can (as of right – without the need for resource consent) put up to 5 more residential dwellings on that allotment and based on ‘tricky Dick’s’ standard of reason the City coffers would be no worse off if they allowed me a differential common with that which the Stadium enjoys – because they would continue to enjoy the benefit of the $2102 pa rates revenue that it yielded ‘pre redevelopment’. Cr Richard Cranium would argue that under this scenario I am not being subsidised and my redevelopment of the allotment without the City fielding (say) a 5 times hike in my rates bill to reflect the enhanced total value of the allotment – is not an opportunity cost to the City. I’m happy to tell you for nothing………..’the inmates are in charge of the asylum; the fox is guarding the hen house, and the race to the bottom is on. To make matters worse, I now can’t find my tranquilisers.

  68. Rob Hamlin

    One more quote from Cr Thomson:
    “What the ratepayer needs to be concerned about is that the cash coming in is sufficient to pay the interest and loans going out.”

    As a ratepayer who is the source of the ‘coming in’ bit of this sum, I am also concerned about the absolute as well as the relative size of these sums. Balancing the books is only part of the issue – value for what’s paid in is another – Swann is an example of issues with the latter.

  69. Hype O'Thermia

    “I saw no evil” pre Swann’s weights being put up past the limits of deniability.. Not knowing enabled not being in charge of a major catastrophe. Like in the Navy Lark, oops, the Isle of Wight Ferry, but till we hit it our navigation was perfect, right?
    I think what we saw in the opinion piece was ego-protection by minimising involvement, somewhat like this:
    “I admit I damaged the window frame, but despite my fingerprints being all over the house and my DNA recovered from the victim’s clothing I know nothing about the burglary and the attack on the couple who were asleep when the house was entered. I’m actually a really nice trustworthy person. See – I’m owning up to damaging the window frame.”
    Self-image now enhanced by this “frank” if minuscule mea culpa. The need to feel good about oneself is a powerful driver.

  70. JimmyJones

    Hi Calvin. I think that for Cr Thomson, it was a case of “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. The ODT says that “Cr Richard Thomson, explains the official council view ~” but it isn’t the official council view, it’s just Richard using figures taken from the ODT. The Mayor and Staff have been too scared to make any statement about the total ratepayer impact because telling the truth would cause widespread political destruction.
    The ODT Online Team have been very fair: farsighted makes some good points.
    Jinty has been gulping down the Cool-aid; she says (FaceBook):
    “If you’ve ever wondered whether if would be cheaper just to close the stadium, I recommend reading this article. I’d asked that staff consider a short paragraph as part of the Annual Plan with a similar explanation and am still hopeful this will be included but I think Cr. Thomson has done a good job.” Jinty should see the real numbers before opening her mouth.

  71. Calvin Oaten

    Maurice; Try ‘Auchentoshan’ 12 yr single malt. It works wonders for me. Just be cautious with the measure. Can be habit forming.

  72. Rob Hamlin

    Re my earlier appeal for help about facebook logos appearing all over the input sheet for this website and the input sheet jiggering around wildly as you type.

    My appeal was answered by an expert. The problem appears to be solvable via the ‘compatibility view’ button. This is a button with two small green christmas tree like things on it, which appears on the top Internet Explorer menu bar immediately to the left of the ‘refresh view’ button which has two little green ‘up and down’ arrows on it.

    Pressing this ‘compatibility view’ button seems to cure the problem, but you seem to need to press it every time that you come on to the website – Also, be aware that if you press it in mid composition, you will lose all that you have entered up to that point!

    {Thanks for the advice Rob, none of us here use IE (heaven forbid!). Mozilla Firefox has no problems, therefore this hadn’t come to our attention before your mention. Owner of the site was alerted. -Eds}

  73. Peter

    The capacity of people to play games with the figures, when runaway debt is involved, simply amazes me. We are in a situation where Peter robs Paul and Paul robs Peter and the council is too scared, I think, to face the reality of this financially disastrous stadium.
    The DCC will still not commission an independent cost/benefit analysis on the stadium-done by PWC, for example. Both the administrative and political wings of the DCC are at fault here. To top it off we still have Athol Stephens in there, as CFO, managing the council’s finances. Why? He is responsible for so much that has happened, to bring this city to its financial knees. I deeply suspect real reform in the DCC has stalled. I am losing confidence.

  74. Phil Cole

    Rob…I tend to type my worthless nonsense in ‘Word’ and then cut and paste it into the reply box…save a hassle or two!

  75. Hype O'Thermia

    Rob, Phil … save even more hassles, install Linux!

  76. Hype O'Thermia

    I received notification of a comment on a topic I’d written about. Checked the online comments more recent than the last update of Comments I had seen to see what else was new, didn’t find that new one, no, it had been slotted in a couple of pages back. There was other material scattered through, that I hadn’t seen before though I check the new ones every day. The whole of the most recent page, the one that opens when you click on Opinion > Comments, is free of all Thomson-associated comments which start after 15 on other topics.

  77. JimmyJones

    Hype O’Thermia, perhaps there has been some unusual delay at the ODT, but it could be that there have been no new comments about Cr Thomson’s ability to do maths. Either way, the decision to feed the monster forever, or kill it dead is an important one and I think is worthy of many more comments. I hope Cr Thomson has more to say also.

  78. Hype O'Thermia

    JimmyJones, the new comment I looked for was about gifted children. Only after I failed to find it ahead of comments I had read the day before did I check back till I found it. Then I checked through the other comments and found ones I had not seen before scattered among ones that had been available earlier.
    That is why I thought it was worth mentioning here.

    • This one sent to http://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/opinion/244913/do-maths-stadium-costs hasn’t aired, thrown into the ghost bucket, I guess:

      Public accountability, arithmetic
      Submitted by ej kerr on Sat, 09/02/2013 – 6:49pm

      There’s reason to be grateful to members of the public quickly leaping on superficialities put out by the councillor, as ‘spokesman’ for the DCC on the loss making stadium.

      The city council in its wisdom formed a series of shells to ‘see through’ the stadium project; these have resulted in a lack of transparency in governance, a resounding loss of accountability, and multiple opportunities for potential misrepresentation to citizens and ratepayers.

      The cumulative bid to foster acceptance in the community for ‘intergenerational debt’ being loaded on citizen ratepayers – as if ‘sustainable’, as if ‘logical’, for future fortunes to be made and shared – was/is a highly immoral behaviour that council politicians are ultimately responsible for.

      At the Milton Hilton rests a flag-waver to a board’s lack of diligence and knowledge of its own accounting systems. We don’t need another flag waver, councillor…. not in apology to the city council’s callous disregard for financial prudence.

  79. Walrus

    I see from today’s letter to the Ed, that Thomo still hasn’t got a glue about the Members’ Interest Act. I would presume the ODT abridged his letter to save him further embarrassment.

  80. Hype O'Thermia

    If being clueless always worked just dandy why would anyone choose to abandon it now?

  81. amanda

    Good point, why isn’t Syd the Man fronting up about his stadium fiasco? Why leave it to Cr “the stadium’s not my fault, I didn’t do it’ Thomson to try and shutdown anyone who dares challenge the stadium status quo on ‘the council’? The status quo that says we must all pay and pay so that the stadium ‘works’ and ‘business leaders’ do not get egg on their faces for not being quite the business leaders the ODT likes to portray them as. Oh that’s right, Old Syd is too afraid to remind voters that he was one of the main men all for the stadium ‘intergenerational debt’. Well he might be. Keep it up Syd, let’s see how long you can hide behind Thomson’s skirts!

  82. Whippet

    A little bird tells me that part of Syd’s development project may have been council owned land. Question is did council do a deal that allowed him to purchase it and incorporate it into his development. Are there any other little birds out there that can shed any light on this.

    • Interesting. Only requires a title search, or an OIA request.

    • Maurice Prendergast

      Yes true. As I recall, a proposal put to Council some 10-12 years ago by then Property Manager Dave McKenzie was that the sundry parcels of land that the City owned for sundry historic reasons (and leased to sundry tenants) were not ‘revenue performing’ in a strictly commercial sense and proposed that they be better sold and the sale revenue be invested in more rewarding projects. The existing tenants (as I recall) were to be given first ‘dibs;, and my memory was that the price was fixed but the tenants had some years to exercise their purchase option. As always it was a convoluted /unorthodox proposal that produced more questions than answers, but as always those who doubted the wisdom of the proposal were quickly dealt to by ‘force of numbers’ – a majority vote in favour of the proposal. I know nothing of what those sale values were, but the Council owned allotment that I believe Syd tenanted was flanked by Syd’s own property and that whole catchment was contained in the rezoning from rural to residential.
      I assume that Syd along with all others holding leases on Council land that were subject to this ‘sale resolution’ exercised his right to buy,. Anecdotal information in relation to the sale of another Council owned (formerly tenanted and subsequently purchased) Mosgiel properrty suggested that the sale price was (to say the least) modest. My view is that whatever subsequent transaction took place, Syd is clean. Syd is much smarter than some of these ‘latter day’ Councillors. My recollection is that Syd took no part in the debate and consequential resolution to off-load these sundry Council properties to the tenants. Of course there could have been some ‘fireside meetings’ in relation to this matter that I and others were not privy to – but that is of course pure conjecture.

  83. ### ch9.co.nz February 15, 2013 – 6:49pm
    Auditor General advises councillors they can participate
    The Auditor General has advised two DCC councillors they can participate in decisions on an Events Attraction Fund. Richard Thomson and Kate Wilson declared their business interests at an Annual Plan Meeting in January. Both said their businesses benefited from the Elton John Concert. They were excluded from participating and voting on proposed events. The Office of the Auditor General says while they were affected in a similar way to the public they would not be prohibited in participating.
    Ch9 Link

    • Wait for the crap to appear in ODT about this tomorrow.

      • The limp-wristed OAG rides again. The complaints laid were justified, if only to make the two councillors aware of the repercussions of shooting off their smarmy mouths in debate.

        ### ODT Online Sat, 16 Feb 2013
        Cleared for events fund deliberations
        By Chris Morris
        The Office of the Auditor-general has cleared two Dunedin city councillors to take part in deliberations over a proposed $400,000 events attraction fund.[…]Yesterday, the council released a OAG letter which backed the councillors’ right to participate. The letter from assistant Auditor-general Nicola White, dated February 12, confirmed several complaints about the councillors’ involvement in last month’s debate and vote had been received. Both councillors had declared their interests while participating in the vote to include the fund in the draft budget, she noted. However, the budget was yet to go through public consultation, and no final decisions had yet been made, meaning the councillors ”could not have a reasonable expectation of loss or gain of money at that stage”, she said.
        Read more

        • Dunedin City Council
          Media Release

          Office of the Auditor-General Clears Councillors for Voting on Events Attraction Fund

          This item was published on 15 Feb 2013.

          Dunedin City Councillors Richard Thomson and Kate Wilson will be able to discuss and vote on the proposed Events Attraction Fund as part of upcoming 2013/14 Draft Annual Plan decisions.

          The Office of the Auditor-General has advised that the Councillors can take part in those decisions. The advice follows a request from the Councillors to clarify the position.

          The issue surfaced at a Pre-Draft Annual Plan meeting in January when Councillors were discussing a proposal to include a $400,000 Events Attraction Fund in the Draft Annual Plan for consultation. The fund would be used to help attract major events to the Forsyth Barr Stadium.

          During the debate, Crs Thomson and Wilson declared an interest as their businesses had benefited from the first major event that was held at the Stadium – the Elton John concert in November 2011.

          The Office of the Auditor-General was responding to a request made on behalf of the Councillors by DCC Governance Manager Sandy Graham. That request was for advice on whether Councillors who have business interests (retail and hospitality) in Dunedin were precluded from participating and voting on the creation of an Events Attraction Fund.

          In a letter, Assistant Auditor-General, Legal, Nicola White says while Councillors Thomson and Wilson acknowledged receiving an indirect financial benefit from the concert, they are affected in a similar way to the public in Dunedin.

          “On those grounds it is our view that they are not prohibited from participating in the decisions or voting on the creation of an Events Attraction Fund.”

          An economic impact study on the economic effect of the Elton John concert estimated an economic benefit to Dunedin of about $14.9 million. The study recognised a large group of people who derived an economic benefit, whether direct or indirect, from the concert.

          Office of the Auditor-General Letter of Response (PDF, 816.3 KB)

          Contact Governance Manager on 477 4000.

          DCC Link

        • The Office of the Auditor-General takes as gospel the findings of the economic impact study that DVML commissioned for the Elton John concert (November 2011): “The study estimated an economic benefit to Dunedin of $14.9 million.” Yeah right.

          The spelling of Cr Thomson’s surname is incorrect throughout the OAG letter – “Thompson”.

          Where is the education ?

        • Maurice Prendergast

          My background in livestock farming has underpinned the logic that if you have an animal that is a poor performer or has behavioural issues you don’t perpetuate the problem by breeding from it.

          Nicola White’s standard of reasoning demonstrates that she has absolutely no knowledge that the rate-paying catchment of Dunedin represents an area of approx 3600 sq km. The majority of that catchment (by far) is farmland and in consequence the majority of the total valuation of rateable property in Dunedin is farmland. Having established that the majority of the rating catchment which (by compulsion) will yield the revenue to fund this proposed indulgence, is sourced from ‘victims’ who are remote from Metropolitan Dunedin.

          Try telling the ratepayer who farms the land I previously farmed (approx 1.5 hours from the Octagon) that his price per kg of wool or meat will be enhanced in the same way as by this indulgence as would Thomson’s retail shop. Yet the OAG determines that all those people from the hinterland who pay huge ‘valuation based’ rates have an opportunity to prosper from this fund – an opportunity (they say) that is in common with Metro Dunedin retailers whose contribution on the overall scale of the 3600 sq km catchment of ratepayers is minuscule.

          This is not an attempt by me to create a divide between town and country, but the ‘valuation based’ rating system (whose charges are not remotely associated with the services provided) is so perverse that the use of revenue thus harvested to indulge a select segment of minority retailers is at least a stiff arm tackle and probably constitutes extortion.

          And where does the problem lie? It lies primarily with the sheer ignorance/ incompetence of these nincompoops who occupy the halls of DVML who by means of nothing short of hocus pocus plus a measure of voodoo hatch a ridiculous calculation that the Elton John concert generated a benefit to Dunedin of some $14.9 million. There is absolutely no tangible evidence that there is a hint of veracity to this bullshit. Yet the people buy it and the OAG wholeheartedly buy it.

          Why is this behaviour not challenged? Henry Ford knew about this. Ford once said… “thinking is one of the hardest things that we do; maybe that’s why so few of us engage in the practice”. What Ford was saying is that the most comfortable option for us all is to believe what we are told. It takes a little mental effort and some motivation to question what we are told and engage in any kind of rational critique and we also risk being demonised by the bullies that perpetrate these scams. That is why the majority is silent in relation to the DVML’s $14.9 million bullshit offering, and as a consequence of that silence the bullshit takes root and in no time is being masqueraded as the Truth. That is precisely why we have this albatross of a stadium.

          We see this at work with the OAG. This Nicola White has accepted what she’s been told – as Henry Ford has said she’s taken the comfortable option of believing what she’s been told. Nowhere in her response is there any evidence that she has checked for confirmation that the information she has been given is true. Equally, nowhere is there evidence that she understands that of the 3600 sq km Dunedin City rating catchment, any ratepayer trades beyond Metro Dunedin.

          Why do I say that? Because of her claim that the subject retail businesses have an opportunity to benefit from this proposed fund; in common with others. Try telling that to the Dunedin rate-paying cockie who lives at 2000ft and 2 hours from the Octagon – in the middle of winter and freezing his tits off trying to get food to his stock. So what to do? Well for starters, acknowledge the truth that you cannot put in what God left out. So with this in mind perhaps we crusade the merits of resisting the temptation of breeding from stock with either behavioural or performance traits that are undesirable – the products of which are imposing such bizarre problems for us all…

          We the ratepayers are being exposed to proposals and decision making by individuals who simply lack the behavioural strength of character to hold positions of Trust. In my livestock farming years I never had this problem with badly behaved/ poor performing individual units of stock because any breeding decision that yielded the perpetuation of faulty bloodlines was not good for survival. Our practice of the principles of Democracy certainly does have its shortcomings…

          {Since the lawyer is one, we removed your first sentence; although we support selective breeding in livestock. -Eds}

  84. Anonymous

    Regarding the post above referring to Lindsay McKinney, his name pops up in this Stuff story regarding Palmerston North RSA now in debt for $2M. Like our current Mayor and a number of individuals haunting Dunedin City Council it seems accounting and accountability are tasks these so-called executives are unable to accommodate. How do these people achieve positions of influence, allow all manner of financial mayhem to occur and then seem unable to address the consequences? It seems madness that firms employ people of certain calibre if they’re unable to respond to threats to the business.

    ### Stuff Online Last updated 12:22 16/02/2013
    Palmerston North RSA in debt to tune of $2m
    By Jono Galuszka
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/8313262/Palmerston-North-RSA-in-debt-to-tune-of-2m

    • Lindsay McKinney’s name has been searched at this site across the last two years. Same McKinney as used to lease the ground floor cafe and functions venue (formerly Valentines) at Dunedin Railway Station from DCC ?

  85. Mike

    The law’s test is “he has, directly or indirectly, any pecuniary interest, other than an interest in common with the public”

    I’m still at a loss to understand how they can have the same interest as the general public here, surely we do not all run shops that make money from tourists? After all they publicly admitted that they made money from the Elton John concert, my business didn’t, neither did I personally – in fact I lost money because my rates went up to subsidise the concert – I would venture that the majority of the Dunedin public did not make money from the concert and have more in common with my experience than the councilors’.

  86. Calvin Oaten

    But what else could the OAG say? Was it to depart from well established practice? Think about it. Think again, what if it had found against Thomson and Wilson. Turmoil in the building. Never a likely outcome.

    • I note “Nicola” is “Assistant Auditor-General, Legal”. I wonder what a lawyer in private practice (with no connection to DCC) would say if presented with the same information as supplied to the OAG.

  87. Walrus

    Well put Maurice.

  88. Conflicts of interest, DCC makes a mental note?
    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/252041/conflict-interest-warning

    This won’t deter:

    3 DECLARATION OF INTEREST
    Members are reminded of the need to stand aside from decision making when a conflict arises between their role as an elected representative and any private or other external interest they might have.

    http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/__data/assets/minutes_agenda/0010/316675/ma_council_a_2013_04_08.pdf

  89. Jacob

    I cannot believe Cr Kate Wilson’s statement in the oddity today in trying to make passengers in the tragic accident on the Taieri over the weekend being some how responsible. (“She emphasised that by getting in the car passengers were responsible. “What I don’t want to see is one boy taking the rap.” “There were actually five kids that chose to do something they all knew was wrong.””) Just how far is this woman prepared to go to lay the responsibility for this tragic accident. Does she hold the petrol station responsible, where the car was last fueled for supplying petrol. What about the person that issued the license to the driver, is she to hold them responsible as well. Me thinks that she should actually engage her brain before opening her mouth.

    {Link http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/300511/terrible-terrible-mistake -Eds}

  90. Hype O'Thermia

    I think Kate Wilson’s got a good, if exaggerated, point. Peer approval or disapproval affects us more strongly than any amount of “education”. If friends said “No, I’m not into this, you’ve been drinking too much” or “Stop, I want to get out, I don’t feel safe the way you’re driving” it would be a real personal message at the very time when alcohol or other substances have wiped out memory of all the TV messages. But it’s hard to be the first killjoy, nervous-nellie wowser in a group, it takes a special kind of strength, independence and ownership of one’s own standards. And we expect this from people happy, laughing, young people at a stage when being 8ft tall and bulletproof is natural, when thrill-seeking and going to the limit of one’s “courage” is fostered in other areas. “Get out of your comfort zone” and Outward Bound and adventure tourism all emphasise this positively, they are the way to personal growth. DIY risks on the other hand……

    The messages are a jumble. Try untangling them when you’re young and pissed, eh.

  91. Jacob

    Hype: compare this, she is implying that the five in involved in this tragedy are somehow in some way responsible because of association. If we look at her argument over the stadium issue in which not only was she one of the passengers to that decision, she has always tried to distance herself and Dave as well, from the resultant failure, both financially, and as a venue, she ain’t claiming responsibility over that. Yet she expects others in other circumstances to except responsibility. As I said, I think she needs to put her brain into gear before opening her mouth…

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