DCC Community Boards

MOSGIEL-TAIERI COMMUNITY BOARD
Discretionary funds: Conflicts of interest? Accountability? Rort?

”They provided no quotes for what they say they need funding for, and other applications, like the BMX track at Outram, we asked them to go away and come back to us with quotes before we could grant them the funds.”
–Brian Miller

### ODT Online Sun, 23 Jun 2013
Member calls his board a shambles
By Tim Miller – The Star
A member of the Mosgiel-Taieri Community Board says the board is a shambles and has abdicated its responsibilities in giving money to a community group last week. Brian Miller believes the granting of $4500 to the Taieri Community Wellbeing Strategy Group, which aims to promote the Mosgiel and Taieri community, meant the board was handing over its responsibilities to an unelected group. Other community board members spoken to by The Star said the board had done nothing wrong and worked well. Mr Miller said the group would overlap the responsibilities of the board and its funding application did not face the same scrutiny other applications did.

”This would be the worst board I have been on. It’s a shambles.” The group had an unfair advantage because chairman Bill Feather and board member Teresa Christie had been working with it behind the scenes, Mr Miller said.

Board member Martin Dillon also voted against the funding. Mr Dillon said he had issues with the way the funding application had been made, but had no problems with Mr Feather and Mrs Christie being part of the group asking for funding.
Read more

*Teresa Christie is the wife of Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

30 Comments

Filed under Business, DCC, Economics, Media, Name, People, Politics, Project management

30 responses to “DCC Community Boards

  1. Judy

    Is this the same board that syd is on?

    • Judy – yes he is, by appointment.

      Elected board members:
      Bill Feather – Chair
      Barry Barbour – Deputy Chair
      Teresa Christie
      Martin Dillon
      Brian Miller
      Sandra Wilson

      Council appointee:
      Cr Syd Brown

      Check out their details and photos here:
      http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/your-council/community-boards/mosgiel-taieri

    • Brian Miller

      As you will note in this story above, the group calling itself the ‘Taieri Community Wellbeing Strategy Group’ started in June 2013, getting a $4500 grant from the Mosgiel Taieri Community Board.
      Twelve months later this group has done nothing. See story in The Star, July 10 2014 (page 29), ‘Trust’s slow spending criticised’. The original application from this group stated that they intended to spend the funds in the year July 2013 – June 2014.
      They have spent $143 of the $4500 that they received from the Mosgiel Taieri Community Board.
      One of the conditions of the grant was that they were to work towards charitable status. This has never been done.
      They have been such a failure that they now want to join another trust that has nothing in common with what the wellbeing group was setup to do, and of course they will take the grant money with them, to be used no doubt on everything but what they made the application for.
      Interestingly, the Community Board Chair Mr Bill Feather has plenty to say in defending this group.
      One thing that he does not tell you is that he is a foundation member of this group, The Taieri Wellbeing Strategy Group.
      The board’s discretionary funds that this grant was made from, come from the ratepayers. If this Taieri Community Wellbeing Group cannot meet the conditions of the grant as per the application that they presented then the funds should be returned to council.
      This group and Bill Feather should hang their heads in shame after making an application for the board’s limited funds, and it now appears that they had no intention of meeting their conditions that they made in their application. It appears that they think they can now spend the grant money however they please.
      I said at the time that the board was a shambles. It appears that nothing has changed.

      • Elizabeth

        Brian – thanks for this update on the group’s potential misuse of funds.

        This matter should be brought to DCC chief Executive Sue Bidrose’s attention asap. But in the meantime news media exposure would be appropriate since it is public funding, given by DCC, that’s going west without the proper checks and balances.

        I thought Sandy Graham, DCC ‎Group Manager Corporate Services, was in charge of knocking Community Boards into shape governance-wise.

        I hear Mosgiel Taieri Community Board, which must surely stand alone in terms of failed governance under Bill Feather’s chairship, is experiencing ‘old problems’ still. Mr Feather is denying community board members the right to have items tabled for discussion at formal meetings. This too should be brought to Sue Bidrose’s attention.

  2. Interesting to see where the DCC recreation and whatever team leader is investigating the possibility of establishing a ‘wilderness’ camping ground somewhere on the Peninsula. DOC are supposedly liasing, and Community Board member Ms Geary is enthusiastically in support. She says it is great that this should be considered. But then there is the privately owned Portobello camping ground which was fully funded by the owners, who, when seeking permission were told in no uncertain terms that it had to be located with access to both power, water and sewerage. Now we see authority prepared to flout their own rules and ride roughshod over the place and to hell with the existing. Where ‘s the Community Board’s official stance on this issue? Where indeed is its support for local business? Isn’t that what they are there for? Watch this space.

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/261972/doc-style-plan-peninsula-campsite (via The Star)

    {Link added. -Eds}

  3. Lance

    Why would the Mosgiel Taieri community board chairman and his offsider want to be involved in starting up another group to do what the board members were elected to do.? Unless of course this new group that is answerable to no one can now spend the board discretionary fund any way it likes, and still be answerable to no one. Something that the chairman and his offsider would not be able to get away with on the board. What are the city councilors and staff doing about this. Turning a blind eye?

  4. daseditor

    Calvin I don’t always agree with some of your comments but in this instance I couldn’t agree with you more. Here is a couple that has used their own capital and hard work to build a business to cater for the market and they’re going to be bankrupted by the Board and the DCC. The DCC will utilise public reserve land (no rates or mortgage) and fund any upgrades for facilities from the ratepayer to create a subsidised camping ground. How is that fair on the private sector? What was equally poor in the report is why the DCC will not provide to the community the names of the land that they are looking at using. Where is the transparency of process here? No doubt it will be presented to the community as a “fait accompli”. Presumably this edifice will be built on a reserve site which means that the community will lose it’s use and still have to pay for their upkeep through their rates.

  5. John Boy

    I don’t know what is wrong with you lot. Just because somebody is sucking on the back tit, all you do is grizzle. It has been going on forever in this city, especially down the peninsula where some have been hooked on to the city water, and never paid a water rate. What happens when they got caught. They were let off, but rules were made that if anybody else did it they would be done. Then we had the public kicked out of Pilots Beach so that someone could make some dosh out of it by restricting access (what happened to our rights to the foreshore and seabed Mr. Key? ) Now the ratepayers have to fund the peninsula road upgrade. Rumor has it that it is to be renamed Mayoral Drive, but that will have to change after the next election. Don’t grizzle. Get on the bandwagon. Who said there was no such thing as a free lunch.

    • John Boy, so many free lunches, hot ‘turkey’ dinners, and the great ORFU prat party at the stadium that ratepayers were forced to pay over $25,000 for, thanks to Liability Cull and Co.

      Amazing what Cull on his ‘one-time free water supply’ can dream up as council spend for his patch, the Peninsula – against the sustainability (city wide) of private enterprise, care with rating, and more.

  6. dasededitor and John Boy, my point exactly. Where is the Community Board when needed? Don’t remember hearing them on the Pilots Beach episode, nor do I expect we will on the camping ground. Aren’t they instituted to look out for local issues and take up the people’s cause? I guess the money is OK but don’t expect us to get our hands dirty as well is their motto. Look for a camping ground coming to a place near you, like the Harbour Cone property. Be company for the ‘jeweled geckos’.

  7. Semper Fidelis

    The history of this fund is that it represented a ‘hush money’ fund to appease the Boards – remember there was never an identifiable need for Community Boards. They are a product of Vicky Buck who was specifically chosen by the then 1989 Minister of Local Government to ‘sell the concept of amalgamation’.

    Central Government knew they had a huge mountain to climb to get the rural County Councils and Boroughs to surrender their identity to big brother Cities. These rural authorities were largely peopled by elected grey-haired males who were quite insular in their ‘modus operandi’. Vicki Buck was an attractive Christchurch City Councillor with ambition and it was widely rumoured that she was specifically chosen by the Commissioner to sell the deal.

    Central Government had no intention of giving Community Boards any decision-making powers and they knew that it would be a hard sell to get agreement from these grey-haired elected members to surrender their Local Body identity – so they offered them Community Boards (which was a pathetic sop) but they appointed Vicki Buck as their crusader to get the elderly male councillors on board.

    History shows that it worked. By majority, these grey-haired decision makers were so besotted by being addressed by such an articulate young woman that they ‘hung on’ every piece of rationale that she offered. Not only was Viki Buck resoundingly successful in selling the proposition that they surrender their century-old identity to this ‘nebulolus concept’ of Community Boards, but the grey-haired decision makers were so besotted that they failed to notice that the deal did not include any decision-making powers.

    Fast forward to the mid-nineties and it began to dawn on the elected members of the sundry Community Boards that they had no status at all. Their purpose was reduced to agitating for the provision of toilet paper in country halls and and the replacement of light bulbs etc. This is where this discretionary fund was founded.

    CEO of the day Murray Douglas became so pissed off by these irritable Community Boards that he initiated a resolution at Council to annually fund each Community Board a sum of $2000. When the committee secretary asked how the fund should be described, Douglas suggested it be called the ‘Drop Dead’ fund – a reference to the outcome he sought in getting the Community Boards off his back.

    A few years passed and (I believe during Sukhi Turner’s reign) there was further agitation, and a ‘committee’ was appointed to study the ‘adequacy’ of this ‘Drop Dead’ fund. By some dodgy move the committee was loaded with Community Board members. That’s where this scandalous $10,000 pa funding was born, but the perverse outcome of it was Community Boards were awash with funds, and having no decision-making authority, didn’t know what to do with it. So a plan was conceived to draw up guidelines for the distribution of this slush fund. They were careful not to establish rules, because rules would imply that they had authority to make decisions, so rules were no use to them.

    So the whole thing was ‘fudged’ by building some guidelines around the distribution of the funds – thus allowing vague and nebulous entities to lie in wait for the eagle to shit each year.

    Because this slush money had no tangible purpose it was hard to find a worthy cause for it and so (commonly) as the end of financial year approached there was a risk that the funds would have to be returned to the general account if they remained unused.

    Worthy groups who applied for grants early in the year were commonly denied on often spurious grounds that they had not met this or that guideline. So, in consequence the fund would often be intact as the year drew to a close, but inside information often allowed ‘select groups’ to be alerted to this and in a panic – rather than allow the slush fund to be returned to Council, an ‘unworthy’ cause that often did not meet any guidelines would receive a ‘dump’ of money – on marginal grounds – often much more marginal than that of those who might have been denied earlier in the year.

    The current issue now being debated is not new and I suspect is an exercise in the type of corruption for which poor legislation/structure will always provide a wide open door.

    [Abridged.]

  8. Semper Fidelis? With all this information you have obviously been in the ‘loop’ for a very long time. Question; where the hell have you been up to now?

  9. Hype O'Thermia

    Additional to Calvin’s comment – stick around and share your memories of how things got to the state they’re in now – please, Semper Fidelis.

  10. John Boy

    Semper Fidelis. It would appear that history is repeating itself again on the board in question. A certain grey headed decision maker appears to have become besotted and assisted a selected group with certain information that now appears to have got up Mr Miller’s nose. Long may Mr Miller remain to keep the besotted on the straight and narrow.

  11. Peter

    It sounds like it might be a good time for the DCC to do a review of the place/relevance of Community Boards in local government. Also how effective are they, in reality? Are they just Talk Shops? I wonder if any reviews have been done on them since they first came on the scene.

  12. Semper Fidelis

    Hype O’Thermia

    Sure I’d like to share some more detailed memories with you. Tried that but the editor’s clobbering machine ‘stiff arm’ tackled me. My ‘earthy’ description of the ‘modus operandi’ of Viki Buck must have breached the rules. That’s OK I suppose – Have to respect that the editor must guard against any challenge from the PC brigade, but it’s nonetheless sad that a blow by blow account of such event is prohibited.
    But reference to the grey haired councillors of the late 1980s brought me sharply into focus tonight when watching a programme on Aussie Rugby League and I spotted a man of ‘elevated status’ in Rugby League coaching circles who was caught back in the 1980s burgling the property of an elderly reigning County Councillor of the day. The unbridled charity of that grey haired Councillor is etched in my memory; as he went to court and argued with the judiciary that the burglar was a talented young sportsman from an impoverished background and that he should be given a chance to redeem himself. As I recall he might have offered to employ him. I don’t think that I could have been so charitable. As I saw him ‘waxing lyrical’ on TV tonight I could not help but wonder where he would be today if he had not enjoyed the absolution of his victim that day. I wonder if there is a Councillor amongst today’s mob who would exibit such care. But I digress – I think I was talking about Vicki Buck who of course built her profile as the Government’s ‘poster girl’ for the promotion of Local Body reorganisation. Mustn’t call it amalgamation – amalgamation had been tried unsuccessfully earlier so they re-branded it ‘reorganisation’ and threw in a bimbo to take the breath away from the elderly decision makers. It worked – she had them panting on their zimmer frames. Of course it did Vicki Buck no harm at all – it built her the perfect political profile which she successfully used to secure the Mayoralty of the City of Christchurch.

    {We appreciate the careful terminology of this comment, Semper. Sex on the brain may well be the province of current and ex local body politicians. -Eds}

  13. Hype O'Thermia

    Semper, I’ve found even with McPravda you can communicate “a lot” if you phrase it carefully…. Never accuse. Say “I’ve sometimes wondered if — —– could be possible” and “It’s probably a coincidence that — —” and so on, it means the publisher isn’t going to be hit by lawyers, and the readers will join the dots for themselves.
    Most of all, don’t give up. PLEASE don’t give up.

  14. Whippet

    There is something strange going on in Mosgiel, and it has a nasty smell about it.
    It appears from articles in The Star, and on this site that two Mosgiel Taieri board members have quietly been involved in forming a group to represent the public out there without the knowledge of other board members.
    This group appears to have been privy through those two board members of a fund that the board has at its disposal.
    Could it be that those two board members saw an opportunity to push their own political agenda (elections coming up) with the assistance of being ratepayer funded through this board’s slush fund?
    Is the council aware of what is going on, and if so what are they doing about it? Or is it another case of leave well alone and the issue will disappear over time? Problem solved.
    Come on council, a public inquiry is needed to justify these goings on, to assure the ratepayers that their funds are not being spent on a front for the next election. The initial amount may be small, but if they get away with this one, what’s next?

  15. Where is the Chalmers Community Board when you need it?

    ### ODT Online Wed, 26 Jun 2013
    Dismay as properties remain under water
    By Vaughan Elder
    Aramoana residents are fed up as about a dozen properties remain under water and the Dunedin City Council is not stepping in to help, Aramoana League member Vicki Wilson says. Ms Wilson said about a dozen properties remained under water yesterday. The flooding was caused by a combination of high rainfalls and very high tides. The community was fed up with still having to deal with flooding and, while the Fire Service had been in over the weekend and drained sections, many had since re-flooded, she said. ”We just don’t seem to be able to move this water,” Ms Wilson said. Residents felt as though they had been abandoned by the council and it had instead been up to volunteer firefighters and locals to pump out the water themselves, she said. ”It’s like no-one wants to help us. They [the council] just don’t want to know.”
    Read more

    Further, Waikouaiti Coast/Chalmers ward councillor Andrew Noone is the chairman of DCC’s infrastructure services committee. Where is he?

  16. Hype O'Thermia

    Perhaps he’s been busy and doesn’t know about it. It would be a kindness if people in the community used a bit of initiative themselves – email Mr Noone, send him the article. The Aramoana people are probably busy enough dealing with their troubles so maybe the rest of us could do that for them.

    • The Chalmers Community Board is there to represent its local residents. Cr Noone will be aware of the flood potential of the area, it’s not a first – technically, he is astute.

  17. Semper Fidelis

    Now settle down guys. A requirement to [assist] property owners who have made injudicious decisions to buy properties that are vulnerable to the destructive forces of nature is not part of the responsibilities of other ratepayers ie the DCC has absolutely no obligation to get involved, unless (say) their infrastructural activities have contributed to the problems.
    Almost always (when an analysis of these kind of problems is done) it will be found that the property/s have been purchased cheaply because of a known ‘negative history. A more prudent person would not buy in this location, but prefer to instead pay a higher price at another location. Why then should that prudent person (as a fellow ratepayer) be forced to contribute their DCC rating investment to the mitigation of a problem on a property belonging to someone who chose to ‘take the risk’ of owning a property in a dodgy location. Listen guys – do your buying at the Warehouse, and expect the performance of a Warehouse purchase. If you think that your fellow ratepayer (via the DCC) has an obligation to remedy a problem that is not the responsibility of your fellow ratepayer then we have entered some dangerous territory. It’s no different to expecting the DCC to remedy a faulty appliance that you have bought cheaply. I should know. In April 2006 my property was inundated by floodwaters at North Taieri – caused not by buying cheaply but by a neighbour’s hay bale that had rolled into an ORC scheduled drain. We were forced to live in a hut for 12 weeks through the winter of 2006 and were only able to return to our property after the expenditure of over $50,000. We didn’t enjoy any of that, but not at any stage did we ever consider that our problems were the responsibility of the ratepayer funded DCC. So leave Andrew Noone alone – he in my view has been part of some pretty foolish decisions at Council, but that does not oblige him to repeat foolish decisions – such as getting involved as a Councillor in domestic issues that have no revelence to his role as a Councillor.

    • Humanitarian grounds, human welfare. If the county/council has gear to assist mop up (including emergency relief, temporary drainage), along with fire brigade or private operators, then I bloody well expect everyone to help. And. If the council allowed residential development in flood prone areas then sure as hell the DCC needs to ACT via rezoning. Capiche.

  18. Semper Fidelis

    The whole of the Taieri is a flood plain with all the inherent risks that living on a flood plain brings. We made a conscious decision to own a property on a flood plain, and we paid the price, that’s why I’m not prepared to play the ‘blame game’. That flood of 2006 received national and international coverage. We received no help from any services, and nor did we expect any because others had their own problems, charity begins at home and clearly the people of Aramoana share that view – as evidenced by their collective silence during the devastating Taieri floods of 2006. I’m unsure of the relevance of the reference to ‘Council allowing residential development in flood prone areas’. Are you referring to the site where we were flooded? That area has been developed for about 120 years but in spite of its labyrinth of protective scheduled drains it’s still a flood plain and we took a risk (by moving to that location) that not everyone would have taken – and we paid the price. But at no stage did we expect to be [assisted] by other ratepayers. The ‘Nanny State’ has delivered a generation that has an expectation that their hands be held at all times by others. My simple point is that I do not share that expectation, and in consequence have no expectation that others will give my problems priority over their own. As I have said – charity begins at home.

  19. Hype O'Thermia

    ‘Zactly, Elizabeth. Council zones it, council “owns” it. I.e. the responsibility for it being [already by nature, or made OK by council-approved or even DCC or ORC-built drainage, floodbanks etc] fit for the purpose.

    • If my neighbours and friends need help, I help. That’s what being a member of this community means. The council is part of the community. Not everyone can afford insurance, sandbagging, dehumidifiers, salvage, machinery, labour costs, anything beyond their subsistence costs (if that!) when floods or natural disasters strike. God forbid families, seniors or the vulnerable are left without any help. As it turns out, locals got into gear at Aramoana to help each other rather than wait for the council to make its belated appearance – it was serious enough to make it to national television. Perhaps Semper has no compassion for constituents be they from Aramoana, Henley or wherever. That tells us a lot about failure and non egalitarian ethics. And zoning.

      I’ve been brought up to believe that people should not be allowed to build on major flood plains. If you don’t know what I mean – speak to the people of greater Brisbane. I come from a family of local body politicians, farmers and senior fire fighters – you don’t do anything except forget your own backyard (farm property being relatively low risk and well-managed at all times) and race to help others. Social responsibility 24/7.

  20. Semper Fidelis

    Stick to the issue. Your comment “if my neighbours need help, I help…”. I share that view, but personal voluntary instincts are remote from an argument that we be compelled to help – regardless of our own immediate needs. Don’t say that is not your position, because we are all compelled to pay rates, and the presumption that the ratepayer funded DCC is obliged to help some but not others is perverse. If you support the view that the DCC has an obligation to assist all, then you would have to agree that we all contribute rates to the DCC equally. That means fixed charges to all if all are to be served equally – just like we all pay the same for a litre of fuel. So in summary and with respect, you are mixing the concept of individual choice to assist a neighbour, with a totally separate concept that everybody fund the (in this case) DCC , but the mandarins of the DCC choose who they help – dependant upon who bleats the loudest. Your words “God forbid those left without help” – well that’s exactly the ‘character building’ path that I have come down – raised in a family of 8 in a 2 bedroomed house where we drew our water with a horse and sledge from the river – a labouring family without a farming background, So on the face of it I should be a sniveling socialist. I have instead chosen not (as the Romans would say) to adopt the modus operandi of ‘O me miserum’ and instead have chosen the pursuit of self reliance. All I ask is for others to to understand that the practice of self reliance can be an extremely fulfilling experience. I commend it to those others who live in the predatory world of expectation that life’s priority is about the receipt of alms rather than embracing the concept of self reliance.

  21. Anyone stopped to think that just maybe the Aramoana flooding was brought about by the convergence of constant heavy rainfall with an unusually high ‘King tide’ sequence? This, together with the fact that Aramoana sits so close to sea level that these two factors put the position beyond help. Pumping seemed the only solution, but the question was, to where? It looked awfully like an unsolvable situation which only time would help. As SF suggests, if one chooses to put oneself into these known hazardous situations it is a case of ‘caveat emptor’.

    • ### ODT Online Sat, 29 Jun 2013
      Aramoana drainage considered
      By Vaughan Elder
      The Dunedin City Council is investigating possible solutions after Aramoana residents voiced concern over the length of time parts of the community remained flooded after last week’s heavy rain. This comes after about a dozen properties in the community remained under water on Tuesday this week, despite residents’ efforts to pump away water. Flooding was caused by a combination of heavy rain and high tides. Council building services manager Neil McLeod said that in response to the residents’ concerns, the council was looking at ways it could ensure water drained away from properties in future.
      Read more

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