Secret Commissions Act aka ‘Backhanders Law’

Though it is perceived as one of the least corrupt countries in the world, New Zealand is among only a handful of countries including North Korea, Germany and Japan not to ratify the 2003 United Nations Convention on Corruption.

### Last updated 09:58 01/12/2013
Century-old corruption law carries wrist-slap penalties
By Rob Stock – Sunday Star-Times
A private eye who has helped two clients lay bribery charges under the Secret Commissions Act in the past month says the penalties need updating as they haven’t changed in more than a 100 years. Danny Toreson of Thompson and Toreson Investigations would not name the clients, but said: “One is a commercial organisation and the other is a government body”.

“We have had an increase in dealing with matters concerning allegations of corruption and bribery,” Toreson said. Maximum penalties under the act amount to only a $2000 fine for a company and up to two years prison for a person, which Toreson says is a “bit light”. “It needs a massive overhaul.”

The Secret Commissions Act is the main law outlawing staff taking backhanders for awarding work and contracts without their employer’s knowledge. For example, a government worker could give a contract to a company in return for a secret payment or benefit.
But despite a rising tide of secret commissions charges being laid, an update of the act is long overdue.
Read more


bank robber [] 1No-trick Xmas Party Question:
What’s the connection between Dunedin and Hamburg (Germany), and why does it matter?

Published by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, DCC, DCHL, DCTL, Delta, DVL, DVML, Media, New Zealand, ORFU, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Sport, Stadiums

95 responses to “Secret Commissions Act aka ‘Backhanders Law’

  1. Where to file this one… here will do for now.

    ### ODT Online Mon, 2 Dec 2013
    DCC manager’s role focus of inquiry
    By Chris Morris
    A Dunedin City Council manager has apologised, and an investigation has been launched, after an apparently misleading response to an official information request was revealed. Council aquatic services manager Steve Prescott yesterday apologised if an initial response to Otago Daily Times questions about profits from vending machines at Moana Pool last year ”put a wrong slant on it”.
    Read more

    • Wilma says “I lodged an OIA and got an emphatic denial about
      the financials and the fact a staff member relative was involved.”

      • Unfortunately, there is much evidence at Dunedin to the fact people lie in responding to OIA requests. I couldn’t possibly say more.

        • Why not lie, official investigation of any kind stops at northern bank of the Waitaki doesn’t it?

        • Oh no. I think “the whole” of this ridiculous little country (that should know better) is plagued/undermined by a lack of official investigations for the public good. After all, why put yourself out when you’re collecting a bureaucracy-fed high salary and bonuses?? – rest of you lot can rot. We’ll keep on lying, you buggers will never get to the truth.

          …Pike River, Professional rugby, Racing, Licensing Trusts, Gaming Trusts [implicated DIA/OAG/SFO/Ombudsmen/NZ Police/IPCA…], SkyCity Convention Centre, Post-quake Christchurch, ODHB/SDHB/Swann case, Dunedin Sex Ring, Otago stadium [fubar – CSCT, DVML, DVL, DCC, DCHL…], Delta…

  2. Another ‘rotten apple’ in the barrel. This corrupt little city is ripening at last. As we all knew it would. Let’s hope our new CEO Ms Bidrose will put her mark on the cleansing process. Assuming of course, that she is allowed. Paul Orders left when the ‘cleaning of the stables’ was not even half done. The stuff is still piled up deep all round. The Stadium/DVML/DVL is a ‘suppurating sore’ just waiting to be lanced, the debt is out of control and the ‘Emperor’ is in denial. All he can do is get on his bike and ride around flaunting his ‘ermine and baubles’. Merry bloody Xmas folks, and a dangerous New Year.

    • Mike

      What’s weird about this little issue is that it’s not new – I don’t really understand why there’s an OIA request – someone wrote a letter to the editor at the ODT a couple of weeks back, it was published along with an explanation from the DCC – there’s little new in this story above what the ODT itself published back then.

      • Mike, I didn’t see the DCC’s explanation: did they say – sorry we lied to you before?

        • Mike

          I don’t remember the exact details – but I think it just repeated what was said in the article above – my guess is that that letter triggered an investigation within the DCC …. and what we’re seeing here is an attempt by the ODT to dig deeper.

        • Word on the street is… A “local crèche” [name supplied] having been set up to be profitable, had their lease ended when it was up for review. Prescott’s trust then (surprise surprise?) took up the lease. 2 + 2 = ???

          Word on the street is… The person [name supplied] prior to Prescott with the vending machines contract at Moana Pool was having problems. He approached then councillor Maurice Prendergast about it; the matter passed to then CEO Murray Douglas who “took care of it”. Result? Prescott? More information required…

  3. Anonymous

    Prescott’s scheme has been well known for years. I’m sure there’s even been a public article on it before now.

  4. Comments about this at ODT Online are prohibited, but this is what I would have said –

    Reporter Chris Morris tells the disturbing story of “an apparently misleading response” given by the DCC to the ODT. DCC aquatic services manager Steve Prescott denied having a lucrative back-door deal with the owners of vending machines at Moana Pool, but the Truth was that Mr Prescot was taking a fee for himself of up to $10,000 per year for himself. The ODT started investigating this in February 2012, but sat on it until someone else found out and they published a letter to the editor about the matter, a month ago. The ODT has been very soft in describing this unethical behavior, which is consistent with their own unethical behavior in dealing with news critical of the DCC.
    It is clear to me that the aquatics manager blatantly lied to the ODT, but he has only admitted that he might have “put a wrong slant on it”. He hasn’t admitted lying, taking kickbacks, or contravening the Official Information Act (LGOIMA) or being a slimy-low-life-parasite. Other DCC staff seemed to have collaborated in trying to cover up Mr Prescott’s business arrangements, and normally in a case like this, the main offender would be sacked in the hope that the questions would stop and the other culprits would keep their jobs.
    The DCC’s response to this has been inadequate: the new Chief Executive has said nothing, and Tony Avery said it would be in a report about vending machines. Thanks to Tony Auckram who wrote the letter to the editor. No thanks to the ODT Editor who hasn’t treated this matter seriously, probably because he lacks the courage to offend the DCC. Dunedin needs a better newspaper.

  5. Jock strap

    Well said Jimmy Jones. Dunedin certainly needs a better newspaper.

  6. Phil

    Here’s a thought. When Steve Prescott, the employee of Prescott Enterprises, was filling those vending machines, was he doing so during the same hours in which he was drawing a salary as a DCC employee ? DCC has pretty clear employment rules about double dipping and I would hope that, as a minimum, Steve will be charged for his DCC employment costs incurred over the same time period.

  7. Noting the historical concern.
    In November 2011, Fairfax journalist Wilma McCorkindale (then working for DScene) sought the following information, which is now being sought by ODT reporter Chris Morris.


    —– Original Message —–
    From: Wilma McCorkindale
    To: Elizabeth Kerr
    Sent: Tuesday, December 03, 2013 9:48 AM
    Subject: FYI- Vending machines-note the date of the request

    From: Wilma McCorkindale (STL)
    Date: 30 November 2011 10:46:33 AM NZDT
    To: ‘Sandy Graham’ [DCC]
    Subject: Vending machines Moana Pool

    Hi Sandy LGOIMA request for you :

    1. How many vending machines are located at Moana Pool?
    2. Who owns the vending machines? What is the name of the company?
    3. Does anyone working for that company have any connection or relationship with any DCC pools staff member?
    4. If so, has the DCC investigated any benefit to the staff in question from the vending machines?
    5. What percentage of the profits of the vending machines goes into Moana Pool budgets annually?
    6. How much money, in dollar terms, from the vending machines went to towards the Moana Pool budget in the past financial year?

    Wilma McCorkindale | Senior reporter [DScene]
    A community publication of The Southland Times, a division of Fairfax Media

    Kind Regards

    Wilma McCorkindale

    Dunedin Bureau Journalist

  8. Russell Garbutt

    Not sure where to put this, but this certainly warrants comment.

    While it was as plain as a pikestaff to anyone that paid the slightest attention, it came to a private citizen to bring a private prosecution against that little weasel, John Banks. The dear old NZ Police decided that, once again, there wasn’t enough evidence to bring a prosecution and Crown Law was mixed up in this lack of action as well. But as it happened, a Judge said that there was enough evidence for Banks to stand trial based on the evidence provided by a private citizen. Banks of course appealed, and suddenly everyone is on board. The Appeal Judge concurs with the first Judge and Banks is about to get his comeuppance. The private litigant is put back out of the picture.

    But here is where it gets really tricky.

    Key and his mates can’t afford to lose Banks, or that other dork, Dunne.

    Will they be keen to ensure that either all is delayed? Is this the real reason that Key is suddenly finding that the Conservatives are looking attractive? Could you ever trust this mob to do the right thing by justice and the lack of corruption within the white collar area?

    And if this is the case, then how about the little crims running round in the DIA? How about the lack of Police action re the ORFU? And the IPCA – a branch office of the NZ Police – just the same in my view.

    The real big picture however is bleaker. The Labour Party seem hell-bent on continuing to be run by Obergruppenfuhrer Clark from her base in New York with the main props of their electoral plank being gay acceptance throughout NZ society and representation based upon gender. The next thing will be ethnic quotas. Ooops, we have that already.

    I don’t honestly see a hell of a lot of parties that are determined to run NZ based on accountability, personal responsibility, and a determination to put an end to white collar crime and rorts. Do you?

  9. Rob Hamlin

    Note in the ODT today that another two of the SCF defendants have been freed from legal proceedings due to ‘lack of evidence’ provided by the SFO.

    My reading of this article is that evidence was provided by the SFO all right – but to the defence. This evidence that was apparently not used (considered relevant) by the SFO was then used by the defence (which included an ex senior SFO forensic door revolver) to ‘reconstruct’ the transactions – whatever that means.

    “His defence team of leading barrister Jonathan Eaton QC and forensic expert Gib Beattie – a former assistant director of the SFO – were able to reconstruct the transactions with the lawyer for Graeme Brown, another SCF accused whose charge was dropped. They were able to do this with information provided by the SFO under the discovery process, along with other documents which Hutton said had been supplied to investigators but “apparently not considered relevant”.”

    It would be interesting to know if the ex SFO employee had worked directly on the SCF case for the SFO before moving to the other side of the desk. If this is the case, then SFO may have to look at inserting clauses into contracts equivalent to the commonly used ‘restraint of trade’ clauses used in many commercial companies if they have not already done so.

    When billions of dollars are at stake, the possibility that the architecture and key evidence base of the state prosecution’s case might be ‘purchased’ by the defence by the simple expedient of their recruiting its architects for whatever it takes to buy them (and it will be less than billions of dollars) cannot be ignored. A sort of legalistic ‘Team New Zealand/Alinghi’ situation if you will.

    The usefulness of such a purchase involving related knowledge and expertise as well as documentation goes well beyond the value of the discovery-related documents alone. Such an event is not only potentially advantageous to the poacher, it is also potentially very disruptive to the ‘poachee’, and the SFO do seem to have been having issues with staff retention at the top level.

    One learns to look at the exact words used in legal communications and I am not sure that ‘reconstruct’ means quite the same thing as ‘reproduce’. The definitions below are from the Oxford dictionary. Note that the term ‘reconstruct’ has no expectation of accuracy of reproduction.

    Reconstruct – build or form (something) again after it has been damaged or destroyed – reorganize something – form an impression, model, or re-enactment of (a past event or thing) from the available evidence.

    Reproduce – produce a copy – be copied with a specified degree of success:- produce something very similar to (something else) in a different medium or context.

    Said reconstructed transactions were then sent back to the SFO for their consideration and a withdrawal of charges due to lack of evidence by the SFO was the outcome if my reading of this article is correct.

    I would not be in the least surprised to see the remaining three defendants head out into freedom the same way before they come to trial. Meaning that it’s quite likely that no-one will eventually answer for the billions of dollars lost by taxpayers (and presumably gained by somebody else) during the collapse of this company.

    Hubbard himself might have been able to shed some light on any differences between the transactions as they were delivered to the SFO in their reconstructed form, and as he personally was able to reproduce them from his own memory and records – But he’s now dead unfortunately.

  10. Rob, “It would be interesting to know if the ex SFO employee had worked directly on the SCF case for the SFO before moving to the other side of the desk.”
    I’d be concerned about this because a person’s reasons for swapping sides can be “good” or “bad”. Some (e.g. whistleblowers) find that what was common practice in the previous organisation disgusted them.

  11. Exhumation? Now that would be a reconstruction, or reproduction of monumental importance. Unfortunately, the only one who could arrange that happening is struggling after more than two thousand years to get himself back.

    • Calvin: I think he’s changed his mind about coming back, but if He does, AND He can turn the financial-basket-case ForsytheBarr Stadium into a profitable business, then I will be a believer and burn my Led Zeppelin LP’s.

  12. EASY JIMMY! Not your Led Zeppelin LP’s. There must be an easier way.

  13. ### RNZ News Updated about 1 hour ago
    Conflict on interest investigation over pool snack machines
    Dunedin City Council has confirmed an investigation into vending machines at its main swimming pool centres on a potential conflict of interest for the pool’s manager.
    An inquiry began last week into the contracts for snack machines in the lobby of Moana Pool after it was revealed that aquatic services manager, Steve Prescott, is stocking them.
    In response to an Official Information Request, the council has confirmed the four snack machines are stocked by a company of Mr Prescott’s called Prescott Enterprises, and he makes $6000 to $10,000 per year from the contract.
    Infrastructure and networks general manager Tony Avery says an investigation now underway by the council’s auditors will look into whether there is a conflict of interest for Mr Prescott in awarding the machine contracts.
    RNZ Link

  14. Not a secret commission or backhander story, just one of outrage with DCC’s name on it.

    From Dave Cannan at The Wash (ODT 11.12.13):
    “A reader tells me he was quite taken aback when visiting the Green Island landfill recently to be charged $20 to dump two half-filled wool packs of green waste when previously he had paid $2.10 each. The reason for the change, staff told him, was because of the size of his vehicle.
    We sought an explanation from Ian Featherston, the DCC’s solid waste manager, who replied: The Green Island landfill charges are based on vehicle type, with the exception that smaller rubbish bags are charged at $2.10 per bag, up to a max size of 65 litres. A wool pack is 1000 litres, so the person has been undercharged for the previous visits. The correct charges have been applied.”

    How much are we paying Mr Featherston ?

      • As a guide, I imagine his salary is into six figures. We can work backwards from that for the lump of lard.

        • Today at The Wash, Dave says: “It has been pointed out by a couple of readers that Woolpack’s are not 1000 litres, as stated by the DCC’s Ian [Featherston] in yesterday’s item about Green Island landfill charges, but are about half that capacity, an error Ian acknowledges but which I should have prevented. I’m also told the transfer station in Alexandra allows customers to dump up to half a cubic metre of green waste for nothing – that’s roughly a woolpack filled to the top.”

          Difference? DCC has a stadium to pay for thus the ridiculous tip charges.

        • ODT letters to the editor today.
          More justifiable outrage over obscene charges at Green Island landfill for miniscule amounts of green waste in woolpacks – the contractor has been reminded by DCC to charge according to vehicle size. Three letters, including John Sutton’s tale of the Undercover Boss.

        • ### ODT Online Mon, 6 Jan 2014
          Concern at high landfill costs
          By Chris Morris
          Strict enforcement of charges at Dunedin’s Green Island landfill is nearly doubling the bill for some fuming tip-goers. The change, after the contractor running the facility was instructed to charge full prices without discretion, has left some visitors to the landfill warning of an increase in illegal dumping as a result. The Otago Daily Times visited yesterday and talked to a steady stream of disgruntled motorists leaving the facility.
          Read more


          Comment from another thread:

          Submitted on 2014/01/02 at 6:20 pm | In reply to Alistair.


          “Quite a few” landlords emptied out flats on to the footpath, in the hope the council would clean it up. “They don’t want to pay the tip fee so they leave it on the street.” –Ian Featherston, DCC solid waste manager

          ### ODT Online Mon, 6 Jan 2014
          Student quarter rubbish ‘recipe for disaster’
          By Vaughan Elder
          The trail of rubbish left left on the streets by students and landlords in North Dunedin is a ”recipe for disaster”, a senior Dunedin firefighter says.
          Read more

  15. Tony Avery can’t see the conflict of interest between Prescott Enterprises and Mr Prescott who “manages contractual arrangements with the vending machines’ suppliers” and has given the contract to his own company, Prescott Enterprises. It doesn’t look hard to spot, but Tony Avery is going to have an investigation. Tony’s inability to spot the conflict of interest and the dishonest Official Information replies reminds me of the TV cartoon character, Mr Magoo, who also couldn’t see things in front of his face.

    • Semper Fidelis

      Tony Avery is the last person to be trusted to competently manage such an inquiry. Whoever investigates needs to reach back to the start of this bullying exercise when a ‘good guy’ battler from struggle street occupied the confectionary vending site(s) was ‘muscled’ off the site by an individual who had the power to do so and who immediately set up his own ‘backhand-based’ gravy train. They also need to take a look back into the 1990s at how a lady named Little who ran an enterprise on a site at the pool was mercilessly treated and had to walk away from her investment. Can anybody guess who took over that woman’s enterprising venture?

  16. Pedant

    This is the same Mr Avery who, this time last year, suggested that the DCC would make a small profit on the sale of Carisbrook.

  17. Mr Avery isn’t justifying his salary.

  18. Anonymous

    Can we get the Auditor’s office to investigate Avery while they are here?

  19. If past efforts of the Auditor is anything to go by, it will come up with the Moana Pool contract conclusion that it doesn’t hold water.

  20. Anyone else feeling a bit embarrassed that almost the only times Dunedin is mentioned in the radio news it’s because of cockups, probable rorts, debt blowouts and other features under the general heading of “Dysfunctionality”?
    Perhaps that could be the new city slogan – Dunedin, the Heart & Soul of Dysfunction. They are still looking for a new slogan, for new banners and more expenditure from the spin / PR / Communications budget aren’t they, or was the previous call for suggestions embarrassing enough to give that sector of empire-building a swerve?

  21. Calvin: It’s worse than you think – this time it isn’t The Auditor General that’s doing the whitewashing job for Tony Avery & Steve Prescott. The DCC have given the job to the Dunedin office of Crowe Horwath who are long standing business associates of the DCC. Their website boasts that they are “the relationship you can count on”. They probably do a good job of providing accounting information and financial advice to businesses, but they don’t claim to be “auditors” and they seem to be unqualified to deal with the Moana Pool Double-dipping Coverup which needs legal skills, not financial skills.

    • JimmyJones, on the basis of the DCC decision to use Crowe Horwath – clearly, the new DCC CEO should prepare for quite a few OIA requests that may implicate her general manager (Avery) and his sidekick (Prescott). Let’s check her resolve to sift out the bad ‘uns from the council payroll. Poor Avery is yet to stand account for the SH88 realignment (illegal road) disaster, alongside persons of the CSCT persuasion. 2014 is going to be a tumultous and expensive year for DCC, if Mr Avery has anything to do with it. Alas.

      • Yes, Elizabeth, it could be tumultous and expensive, but potentially beneficial if enough of the bad apples get booted out. My guess is that over time there have been a number of senior staff fully aware of the alleged corrupt behavior, and more recently, some that were responsible for the misleading official information responses. And even right now senior staff are allowing the double-dipper, Mr Prescott, to continue his filthy business practices.
        Of course most of the guilty will keep their jobs as long as the chosen few, the martyrs, like Mr Prescott, keep their mouth shut as they are relieved of their jobs. Mr Prescott, however, doesn’t seem the type to go quietly.

  22. The cycle lanes will make it easier for the folk to get to the ‘food plots’ that Dunedin’s ‘Mother Teresa’ alias Jinty MacTavish is busy setting up to feed the poor, so Elizabeth don’t criticise. Face it there are a lot of poor. Could that have anything to do with the costs added to living by the DCC?

  23. Today’s ODT article draws our attention to the possibility that the tendering process was not competitive and hints that Tony Avery is not being truthful (as I read it). Reporter Chris Morris writes: “Coca-Cola’s contract followed a ”competitive tender process”, but details of the deal with MultiSnack Ltd were less clear, Mr Avery said. The council held no record of how the contract had been agreed, but ”we understand” it was also awarded following a competitive tender process, Mr Avery said.”.

    It is disappointing that the ODT didn’t investigate the “competitive tender process” and tell us how the process resulted in Steve Prescott awarding his own business the contract for the last 12 years. We have read earlier (ODT) that Mr Prescott “rebuffed a Dunedin aquatic club that asked to take over the contract and use the proceeds as a fundraiser”. The process doesn’t look competitive to me, it looks more like corruption.

  24. If it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck then the odds are that it is a duck. Ducks being of the avian species go well in the protection of an Av-ia-ery.

  25. Lou Vorgers was right: “Dunedin is rrrrrrotten to the core!”. He rolls his arrrrrs like that; I think he was a pirate in a previous life. Great chap though :)

  26. The left hand doesn’t know —–

    “…The sudden cancellation of Mr Prescott’s contract with Vending Direct took place last Friday, with immediate effect, but only came to light yesterday.
    Information released by council infrastructure and networks general manager Tony Avery on Wednesday had stated Mr Prescott still held the contract….”

    ——an arse from an elbow.

  27. Tidy Tom

    Concern at high landfill costs? That is not unreasonable considering that council has to retrieve the costs of all the free rubbish collections for students. Increase the tip charges for those that do the right thing, so that council can subsidise the lazy dirty students who cannot be bothered. The ones that will become the future pillars of our society.

    • Tidy Tom, having surveyed the Campus Area at this time of year previously, I note that a visible proportion of current landlords are ex-students and may be easily observed… to this day… throwing all manner of seedy stuff, broken furniture and demo-building materials from their run-down properties (the cash cows) onto the pavements for council collections what happen “next day” in the area.

      It’s not hard to identify the culprits should DCC bother to monitor post Xmas/early New Year on just those days/evenings immediately prior to normal rubbish collections. Very easy camera material too. Been there.

  28. Whippet

    Good one Tom. Why don’t we all do what the students do to beat the tip charges, and just throw it out on the road. Wait 15 minutes ring council and they will be there the same day to take it away, and you didn’t have to leave home, and it is all free.

  29. Inquiry over manager continues
    The Dunedin City Council expects an investigation into a possible conflict of interest involving one of its managers [Steve Prescott] to take another couple of weeks.

  30. ### ODT Online Wed, 26 Mar 2014
    Moana Pool manager resigns
    By Chris Morris
    The Dunedin City Council’s aquatic services manager, Steve Prescott, has resigned after apologising for “misleading” statements about money from Moana Pool’s vending machines. Mr Prescott’s resignation – health reasons were cited – was confirmed at a media conference this afternoon. His final day will be on Friday, bringing to an end a 17-year council career.
    Read more


    [What if?’s square brackets]

    Dunedin City Council – Media Release
    Aquatic Services Manager Resigns

    This item was published on 26 Mar 2014

    Steve Prescott has resigned from his role of Aquatic Services Manager with effect from 28 March 2014 for health reasons. This brings to an end 17 years of service with the Dunedin City Council and we wish him well for the future. [Yes, DCC actually said this.]
    There has been an ongoing investigation into the vending machine arrangements at Moana Pool conducted for the Council by independent auditors Crowe Horwath. That investigation is now complete and is publicly available. The findings from that investigation are that:
    1. The Council knew of and approved Mr Prescott’s contractual arrangements to stock the vending machines at Moana Pool
    2. The Council was aware that the contracts had been rolled over by Mr Prescott
    3. Two media LGOIMA responses provided by Mr Prescott about the vending machine arrangements gave a misleading impression.
    It has always been acknowledged that Mr Prescott had an arrangement to stock the food vending machines, which had been approved by the Council. [Incredible, eh]
    Steve Prescott said that he realises he made a mistake in the way that he responded to the two information requests two years ago, and has apologised. “I have learned that I needed to be much more rigorous in my approach to answering these questions,” Mr Prescott said. As a result of the investigation, the Council has reviewed its processes around managing conflicts of interest and responses to LGOIMA requests and is continuing to work on strengthening those processes.

    Contact General Manager Infrastructure and Networks on 03 477 4000.
    [Guilty: Tony Avery]

      [These are DCC’s exclamation marks]

    DCC Link

  31. Steve Prescott is in some ways the “fall guy” in this. Sure, he exerted influence in his own favour, taking over the vending machine contracts from a previous operator trying to make a living. He saw that it was ‘money for old rope’ in his position as manager of the Pool complex. But the other big head which should have rolled at the same time is Tony Avery’s. What’s the bet there was a ‘kickback’ there for him to turn a blind eye to what was going on for so long. The place is corrupt, no doubt.

  32. Whippet

    Steve Prescott the ‘fall guy’. Come on Calvin.

  33. Phil

    Naturally people resign all the time after 17 years, because of “misleading statements”. Yep, we all buy that.

  34. Anonymous

    Logically, the person within DCC who signed off on the approval should also resign. But maybe that person just “paused to think” as the Auditor-General might have put it…

  35. ### March 26, 2014 – 5:42pm
    Pool manager resigns
    The manager of Moana Pool and Dunedin’s other swimming pools has resigned for health reasons, following an investigation into vending machine contracts.

  36. Hype O'Thermia

    What happened to “the buck stops here” (on President Harry D Truman’s desk) from a more honourable time? Now the lowest person on the ladder gets kicked, while his superior officer goes on blithely being “superior”.
    “The Council knew of and approved Mr Prescott’s contractual arrangements to stock the vending machines at Moana Pool.”

    Yeah, nothing stinks there, right?

  37. Russell Garbutt

    If so many Managers knew of the arrangement that was in place at Moana Pool, and had approved the arrangement, then why aren’t those Managers being held to account for their approvals of that arrangement? It sounds like the arrangement was not a healthy one in that there was seen to be a conflict of interest, but it also seems that there is something else going on here. Past Managers refused to cooperate with the enquiry, and so their views don’t form part of it and all we are left with is the impression that if Prescott had simply said to any LGOIMA enquiry that his Managers would be responding and not him, then all would have been OK. I don’t think we are seeing transparency in this matter at all.

  38. YUK!! Who the hell would buy any of that ‘carrion’?

  39. Peter

    It looks increasingly like the DCC operates like the Auditor-General. They ‘manage’ the situation for themselves to create the least fuss.

    Simple question. WHO approved Prescott’s little sideline business?
    OK, Prescott has been made accountable, by obviously being forced out for ‘health reasons’, which is good,but who else shares the blame?

    On another matter, we now see duckshoving with Guy Hedderwick’s scandalous spending, which the ODT studiously avoided detailing in their ‘report’ so it didn’t look quite so bad. ‘Oh… we’ll leave it to the new boy, Terry Davies, to look at… and do ‘something’ about..if indeed there are any problems.’ Yeah, right.

    I am increasingly getting the impression that those private citizens, keeping track on the council, are being ‘managed’ by the DCC.Those looking on are increasingly left with the impression not enough has changed.

    Time for real accountability against the crooks in our midst.

    Fed up and angry.

  40. Does anyone remember what Dave Cull campaigned on? I seem to remember it was on transparency and an opening of the books so all would know the facts of our democracy. What he was/is presiding over is the most secretive, obfuscated administration this city has ever seen. Even this new council and CEO (which promised so much) has not delivered any sign of change. These latest moves (since October last) have only confirmed that it is business as usual.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      Transparent as an oak door?

      No, it was a figure of speech, using a concept from the past to refer to today’s technology that can “see” through solids of many kinds. X-rays, thermal imaging, MRI scans, the various technologies employed in the last week or so in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane MH370……….

  41. This paragraph says it all really.

    The investigators’ report found the council knew of Mr Prescott’s contractual arrangements, which had been authorised by now-former council managers Graeme Hall and John Brimble, to whom Mr Prescott used to report.

    ### ODT Online Thu, 27 Mar 2014
    Prescott sorry for ‘misleading’ statements
    By Chris Morris
    Steve Prescott has resigned after apologising for ”misleading” statements about the money he made from vending machines at Moana Pool. Mr Prescott’s decision to quit – citing health reasons – was confirmed in a council statement yesterday afternoon.
    Read more

    Let’s hope Brimble gives him a new job. Not sure NZTA’s new recruit (Jan 2014) Graeme Hall would have a suitable job available. Tony Avery should be in the gun.

  42. Hype O'Thermia

    And so it was that on this day a new simile was born : “misleading like a flat-fish”.

  43. DCC doesn’t reveal the full payment made to Steve Prescott – the whole affair sounds screwy given DCC’s lack of oversight of both the vending machine contracts and the enterprise of their pool manager.

    ### ODT Online Sat, 29 Mar 2014
    Departing manager gets $7000 towards legal expenses
    By Chris Morris
    Dunedin City Council aquatic services manager Steve Prescott has walked away with a $7000 payment towards his legal costs after resigning earlier this week. Council infrastructure and services general manager Tony Avery confirmed yesterday Mr Prescott had received the money as a ”contribution” towards legal fees. Mr Prescott also received an undisclosed sum for contractual entitlements, in lieu of notice and accrued holidays, but had not received any additional payment, Mr Avery said but would not disclose the entitlement sums, citing privacy.
    Read more

    • Anonymous

      Hi Steve, here’s some money. Thanks. Here’s some more money. Thanks. Can’t have some of that stuff though, sorry about that. Okay, but thanks.

      As odd as Tony saying: ”I’m not sure if it’s usual or not.”

      Maybe Mr Avery is in the wrong position or should have sought opinion up the line if he’s not sure if it’s standard practice to give money to a leaving staff member under these circumstances.

      So, in summary. Money for ORFU when they go broke and no responsibility to pay it back. Rates reduction for the stadium and money for stadium executives when they leave. Bonuses for council staff under questionable circumstances.

      Is anyone else getting a hand out from Dave’s council? I pay rates too but damned if I haven’t had the money thrown at me yet. Time to form a company called Professional Rugby Trust.

      That will have them dumping millions on my front door, gold plating the outdoor furniture and cocooning the bird bath in a glass box.

      Millionaire by Wednesday!

  44. Anon; you know it’s not real money. It’s OPM (other people’s money) and the Town Hall is loaded with it. Dave Cull has his discretionary Mayoral fund which he can use for all sorts of things. Leg irons come to mind. The question arises? Did council debate and approve this latest hand out for Prescott? Indeed , Is council privy to most of these cosy little arrangements? Or is it only for the “BIG” ones like the ORFU? Makes Cull’s claim of prudence and debt reduction a huge, sick joke.

  45. Good questions Calvin. Don’t forget that he is being paid the so-called $7000 to keep his mouth shut. The chief executive, Tony Avery and other senior staff are using our money to protect their slimy arses from public scrutiny and possibly legal action (offenses against the Secret Commissions Act). The DCC tells us that the Prescott Report is available to the public: has anyone seen it yet?
    Elizabeth wisely observes (above) that the ODT has used deceptive language to avoid telling us the total payment and the total exit package. You would hope that the up to $100,000 from the scam would be enough for Mr Prescott, without fleecing the Citizens of Dunedin as well.

  46. Former City Property Manager Dave McKenzie’s letter to the editor today in regards to Steve Prescott’s resignation and the evident lack of accountability shown by his superiors, strikes home but not in all ways. We do recognise though that justice isn’t quite seen to be done. The CE seems loath to shake this last GM – that’s her prerogative. Let’s hope no bonuses for a few years in that direction. Now. Where are we with the plan change for the realignment of SH88 ? Given the Delta whitewash, will the same-named 88 Boys and Co. get just desserts ? I believe in the Easter Bunny too – so many of them around these days. As letter writer Brian Robertson of Mosgiel points out. Something about “between the eyes”.

    ODT 2.4.14 Letters to the editor DM BR (page 14)ODT 2.4.14 Letters to the editor (page 14)

  47. Dave McKenzie ought to keep his head down in Alexandra after the botch ups he committed in the DCC Property dept. When he purchased for $3.6m three adjoining warehouse properties in Hornby CHCH I challenged that as being outside the function of the DCC Property dept. His response was that it was good business and by way of the rentals we were importing money into the Dunedin economy from the CHCH economy. When I pointed out that he had just borrowed a large amount of money on Dunedin’s behalf and exported it into the CHCH economy to maybe get it back at 10% over ten years he couldn’t understand my attitude. Then there is the Moray Place baths site carpark building with surplus discounted rental office space never explained. It was a known fact that he literally bought tenants for that. Another of the long list of DCC plonkers.

    • Dear Dave, one of the likely lads.
      He and architect John Gray (fishing buddies and ‘DCC carpark developers’…) have thankfully moved on from Dunners.

      [BUT sadly DCC in their lack of wisdom still haul in Gray as a ‘heritage architect’ consulting on resource consent applications. He has no formal accreditation to justify that informal title – a title not recognised by the NZ Registered Architects Board (NZRAB).]

    • Calvin
      What Dave said regarding Steve Prestcott, the pool and the accountability or lack of it by the DCC is true. The DCC by its own admission made appalling decisions and let Steve carry the can. The performance of Tony Avery and his response in the paper is pathetic. Shifting your argument to Dave McKenzie’s economic performance is entirely beside the point whether that be true or otherwise.

  48. Anonymous

    DM, the “brains” behind the Wall St project? Who was employed by Property Dept, then during the project went out freelance and got hired back at times his previous salary?

  49. For what it’s worth, the Prescott Report is now available. Get yours here:
    The report isn’t really “public” as claimed, because many parts of it have been deleted and because it is unlikely anyone would find it without the URL (you can find it if you search for “moana”).

    The DCC want to call it the “Moana Pool Vending Machines Review Report”, but I suggest that we called it the “Prescott Report”. The report purports to answer these things:
    # what dodgy deals were in place involving Steve Prescott and how much money did he make from them?
    # who else at the DCC knew about these double-dipping arrangements, and when did they find out?
    # did he lie through his teeth like a slimy slug when he responded to the LGOIMA requests?

    The report has, no interpretation of what happened and no conclusion and no recommendations. In particular, it doesn’t determine if Mr Prescott and his collaborators broke the law. We can assume that Sue Bidrose’s Letter Of Engagement was carefully written to limit the scope of the investigation as a way to protect herself and other staff from blame. With the amount of the report that is blacked-out, probably we should call this a black-wash instead of a white-wash.

    • JimmyJones, when you show up it’s always an education. Well critiqued. Thanks.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      JimmyJones – beige-wash, I think, beige being close to neutral. Neutral, neuter, neutered. No balls. Questions and answers evidence of beigest blandness, and the surgical precision employed to avoid implicting any or all of a bunch of… of… cunliffes, excuse my French.

  50. Phil

    The Dave and Steve double act have been playing for more than a decade. The Moana Pool upgrade (paid for by CP) threw out all the requests from user groups and gave Steve exactly what he asked for. Not that Honest Dave needed Steve to build his empire. As Calvin said, the Lower Moray Place car park offices ended up being given away to Dept of Education (?), just to show a full tenancy. The Townleys Road properties in Christchurch were absolute dogs which cost more to repair and maintain than what they drew in. Dave could have at least taken a drive up there first, before buying. The great Wall Street/Zelko rip off was a set-up from the word go. It was never intended that the manager of CP was going to be the PM for the project, stated by the manager of CP at the time the project was being planned. Suddenly, when the contract was let, there was only one person capable of managing the project, and that was an unqualified PM. Of course we now all know why. You have one Jim Harland to thank for personally endorsing that move. There were written complaints received by Jim with regard to preferential supplier treatment by the PM, all of which were promptly ignored. Abercrombie and Associates did rather well out of the Wall Street project, again no surprises. I read that Dave is still continuing his merry dance in Central Otago. He and his wife have started a commercial cleaning company to service all the Council owned properties who have a maintenance contract with, wait for it, DM Property Solutions. Anyone think he’s going to have a problem with anyone taking the money for vending machines ?

    CP – City Property | PM – Project Manager –Eds.

  51. The DCC is far from purged of its corrupted ways instituted by the CEO of the decade. Single-handedly, he dismantled all the qualified engineering expertise from the building, put the city in the hands of freeloading consultants. Meanwhile there is now no in-house expertise able to vet any or all proposals. Result, cost over-runs in all directions, disasters like the St Clair seawall, the Stadium, the Town Hall Conference Centre, the Otago Settlers Museum, and it will continue. The two most pressing city needs are a fully qualified civil/structural engineer and a property and contracts lawyer. Get rid of propaganda, economic development, tourism and other lightweights. We neither need nor can afford them. Concentrate on the strategic infrastructure, get costs under control and generally tailor our economy to fit the reality of Dunedin. Face it, it is a small town with a great heart being slowly but remorselessly strangled by unbelievably stupid decisions by unbelievably stupid people.

    • Another very clear and precise pronouncement from Calvin Oaten on kicking DCC back into shape to be Servant of The People, not of the criminal, negligent, inexperienced and corrupt. We wish.

      • Hype O'Thermia

        Elizabeth, you’ve said what I was thinking when I read it. How come Calvin has such clear sight of priorities –
        “The two most pressing city needs are a fully qualified civil/structural engineer and a property and contracts lawyer. Get rid of propaganda, economic development, tourism and other lightweights.”
        – and the people with the duty to make prudent decisions for the good of the city can only see the second sentence so they waste time and money on fluffy stuff.

        From the time-shift themed dramatised documentary “Eden, Done Over” –
        Young Daaave, smiling proudly to the TV camera: “Yes, the giant mutant flatworms squished my family and squashed our house just like everyone else’s but it could be worse. They were squirming away just as I arrived home from the street carnival. And look! I saved my candyfloss!”

        And it was this formative experience that molded the man who was, some decades later, to become Leader.

        Bring on the carnival co-ordinators, the team in charge of Candyfloss Machine permits, the middle-managers of the above, and their manager … whose photos have to be carefully “managed” to avoid uncanny resemblance to a flatworm….

  52. Anonymous

    It’s not just Dunedin. White-collar fraud and conflict of interest are absolutely endemic in New Zealand.

    Deal not good look, city boss admits
    Contractor who sells fitness packages to gyms run by council – for which he works – says he declared interest.

  53. Mick Reece provided a reference – just as well, DCC managers got him into that mess initially and didn’t haul him out.

    ### ODT Online Fri, 23 May 2014
    Ex-Moana Pool manager takes role in Ashburton
    By Chris Morris
    The former manager of Dunedin’s Moana Pool, Steve Prescott, is remaining tight-lipped about a new role running Ashburton’s $34 million aquatic and recreation centre. The appointment comes less than two months after Mr Prescott resigned from the Dunedin City Council amid controversy over his handling of Moana Pool vending machine contracts and media requests for information.
    Read more

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