Mayor Cull ‘handshakes’ Hodgson

Handshake 2

Taxpayers’ Union executive director Jordan Williams questioned whether the Auditor General should be involved. “No wonder this council has a history of financial troubles, they’re running it like a cake stall.”

### Sunday Star-Times Sun, 23 Feb 2014
Mayor Cull defends deal (page A9)
By Hamish Rutherford
Dunedin mayor Dave Cull is defending a “gentleman’s” agreement which saw a former MP paid $3400 for lobbying following a handshake deal. Documents released under the Official Information Act reveal that former Dunedin North MP Pete Hodgson was paid by the council to lobby the Government not to strip core functions of Ag Research Limited from Invermay, near Dunedin.
The council said the main point of contact for the deal with Hodgson was Cull, but could not locate a single email, contract or any other document relating to the agreement. […] “Mr Hodgson did not provide any reports relating to his services,” governance support officer Grace Ockwell said.
See article for more.

SST 23.2.14 Mayor Cull defends deal (page A9)[click to enlarge]

█ The Taxpayers’ Union broke the story, read their media release (24.2.14), and later they blogged it.

Related Post and Comments (today):
12.9.13 Dunedin community v government-led centralisation

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Images: pocketbook.co.uk – handshake; en.wikipedia.org – Dave Cull, Pete Hodgson (re-imaged by whatifdunedin)

33 Comments

Filed under Business, DCC, Economics, Geography, Media, Name, New Zealand, People, Politics

33 responses to “Mayor Cull ‘handshakes’ Hodgson

  1. Robert

    How to stuff up a good argument for $3400. Put it in the hands of Pete Hodgson.

  2. Jacob

    Sounds like Dave has picked up a few tips from the Mosgiel community board, when it comes to greased handshakes.

  3. Peter

    It looks like the ODT was left out of the loop on this. I cannot see anything online on it. Is it in the paper copy?
    I wonder who gave the SST the tip off? Whoever did has twigged you have to go outside the province for some sensitive stories to surface.

  4. Peter

    Something else. Dave Cull refers to this ‘gentleman’s agreement’ as the ‘southern way’ of doing things. I find this kind of mentality disturbing. It has a ‘Farryesque’ dimension.
    We all remember Farry talking along the same lines of how we do it better/different in the South or do things in a southern way.
    It’s as if these guys get together, and start talking like clones, and subsequently get caught up in their own bullshit. Always leads to trouble, in the end, because sound judgement (and proper process) leaves the room.

    • Robert

      Peter the so-called ‘southern way’ is the way when you can’t get your own way by going thru the correct process. It is officially known as the ‘two fingered salute’. In other words, get fucked we will do it our way ’cause there is no way you can stop us.

  5. Anonymous

    There are many ‘vampires’ sucking the life blood out of the Dunedin City Council. Some so evil they have no conscience for the mayhem inflicted, others soulless creatures who follow after their masters. Readers may find the images from the 1979 movie Nosferatu chilling for its depiction of things that lurk in the shadows of this council.

  6. We must all remember just how ‘passionate’ about Dunedin all these people constantly stated they were. I guess that’s why most of them now live in Queenstown and or Wanaka. Funny that?

  7. le duc

    Jordan Williams was on ‘The Panel’, Afternoons With Jim Mora, RNZNat (4.35, 24/02), commenting on this Gentlemens’ Agreement. No contract, no invoice, no record of this use of Ratepayer money.

    • Thanks, Le Duc. Here are the audio links.

      ### radionz.co.nz Monday 24 February 2014
      Afternoons with Jim Mora
      http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons
      The Panel with Finlay MacDonald and Jordan Williams (Part 2)
      Audio | Download: Ogg   MP3 ( 25:02 )

      Interval (MP3):
      4:15 – 9:25 Jordan Williams raises the “gentleman’s way of doing business in the south”… [on the Cull-Hodgson $3400 handshake… the mayor and his mate, the ex minister, “are often seen dining and having beers together in Dunedin”… “making the allegation more serious”…]

  8. The handshake

    Fairfax News lets rip across its newspapers !!!
    Oh. No word from Otago Daily Times, how gentlemanly.

    ### Stuff (Last updated 05:00 24/02/2014)
    Link to original story by Hamish Ruthorford appearing at Sunday Star-Times
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/9756443/Dunedin-mayor-defends-MP-deal

    ****

    ### The Press (Last updated 08:44 25/02/2014)
    Editorial: Gentlemen sign contracts too
    The “gentlemen’s agreement” is an old-fashioned notion, almost to the point of quaintness. It suggests that a gentleman’s word is as good as his bond, and a handshake as binding as a written contract. Of course, it belonged to a time when women were not expected to worry themselves with business matters, avoiding the possibility that one of the gentlemen involved might actually be a lady. But there are better reasons than that for not relying on such handshake deals in the modern age, particularly for the spending of public money.
    In matters involving public money, it is absolutely essential that the principles of transparency and accountability are upheld. There are sometimes good commercial reasons for withholding some information, but they don’t apply here. Cull has done Dunedin ratepayers a disservice with this handshake deal and his cavalier attempt to explain it.
    Read more

    ****

    ### Southland Times (Last updated 05:00 25/02/2014)
    Time, gentlemen, please . . .
    Could you smell the port and stale cigar smoke on Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull’s breath as he defended the “gentleman’s agreement” under which his council paid former MP Pete Hodgson for lobbying?
    Much as Mr Cull may apply a rosily nostalgic gloss to this as a gentleman’s way of doing business in the south, it isn’t.
    It may come as disappointing news to the council, but in these unmannerly times legal enforceability is not regarded as a tiresome detail, let alone a damned impertinence.
    Things are so vague that though his council says Mr Cull was the main point of contact with Hodgson, the mayor says he wasn’t. Almost a shame, then, that somebody didn’t think to keep notes on a file, or something.
    The Taxpayers’ Union, while acknowledging that it isn’t an eye-watering amount, detects that the council isn’t applying the most basic internal controls. Exactly. On this evidence, alone, the Auditor General should get involved. The very real public concern has to be wider than this single, inglorious, incident. Because Dunedin doesn’t lack for gentlemen. What else has been happening down there in that stale old club of theirs?
    Read more

    ****

    See previous comment for audio (so the mayor and the grateful recipient are “mates”, they’re often seen dining and having beers together in Dunedin…)
    Jordan Williams, executive director of the Taxpayers’ Union, intends to do more investigation!

  9. Peter

    Also may help to understand why this kind of backdoor behaviour sees Labour still floundering in the polls. People still find it difficult to see how Labour will be any different to the National Party crowd…one of the nastiest governments we have seen in a while. The party talks tough in opposition, but we know is much like the Nats in how they use their power once they are in the driver’s seat.

    It saddens we that we still see National riding high after five plus years. David Cunliffe has made no real impact in his first five months in office….a honeymoon time when you’d think any leader would be making a mark.

    Disgraceful that the ODT has done nothing on this. All par for the course because they are part of the problem. A ‘stale old club’ indeed.

  10. Anonymous

    Also, there can be darker shades to gentlemen’s agreements. Historically, they have been used to maintain the privileges of old boys’ networks[…]

    Historically? There’s nothing historical about the rat’s nest of Good Old Boys who have been pocketing millions through the creation of mountainous public debt. They’re a pack of greedy, selfish bastards who use wannabes on the ground to siphon off money through backdoor schemes and grey-area interpretation of rules and regulations.

    And now they’re waiting to steal the assets, all made possible by the corrupt and incompetent in positions of power, and the clueless who can’t see the true game for their rugby.

  11. Nicely summarised, Anonymous.
    Now is not the time to be complacent with respect to Dunedin City Council.

    Legal action is past due.

  12. amanda

    Wakey wakey ODT. Wonder why they are so very quiet on Cull and Hodgson’s ‘understanding’. Business as usual at the at the local rag, of course. Head in the sand when local corruption is happening so long as it involves ‘Important Stakeholders’.

  13. amanda

    Oh no question. without the collusion of the ODT the stadium con could not have occurred.

  14. amanda

    The Big Boys aren’t done with Dunedin yet, as you say Anonymous. With the successful pilfering of rates via the stadium rort, they will be indeed eyeing up those lovely assets. Just waiting for the taking with the council asleep.

  15. The Twitter network went ‘twitterific’ yesterday when Whatifdunedin tweeted on the Sunday Star-Times Cull-Hodgson handshake story (by Hamish Rutherford, Timaru Herald) – accordingly, SST put up a link to the story and Fairfax newspapers have since given it a good editorial poke.

    Other mentions:

    Homepaddock: Where’s the paper trail?
    By Ele Ludemann on February 24, 2014
    http://homepaddock.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/wheres-the-paper-trail/

    Whaleoil: The Press on Dunedin City Council’s backhanders to Labour man
    By Cameron Slater on February 25, 2014 at 1:30pm
    http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2014/02/press-dunedin-city-councils-backhanders-labour-man/

    Your New Zealand: Dave Cull lacks transparency in secret deal
    By Pete George on February 25, 2014
    http://yournz.org/2014/02/25/dave-cull-lacks-transparency-in-secret-deal/

  16. amanda

    And of course those assets are so much easier to quietly reach down and take with a sleepy, gormless, grovelling to the Great and the Good local rag standing silently on the sidelines. Lol. Amost as gripping as Game of Thrones. How a city is Brought Low by greed and cowardly local politicians and Business Geniuses.

  17. I laughed with Gravedodger (Homepaddock, February 24, 2014 at 8:44 pm):

    I have suggested before, jam a swede on a manuka stick hang a red rosette on it and it will be elected to anything in Dunedin.

  18. Philip

    In a nutshell, this sorry tale explains why Dave Cull is not super keen on accountability. Nor the likes of the Tartan Mafia and the ODT (owners and hacks).
    I hear the ODT doesn’t like to report fully on anything ‘negative’ about the university. Told to an academic by a senior ODT person. He saw this as something of merit quite obviously. Forgot his mission is to report the news rather than filter it.

  19. amanda

    I like how the Southland TImes journalist spoofs gormless Cull’s “gentlemen’s agreement’, because ‘…after all, not all men are gentlemen…’. Amazing to have a newspaper with a bit of irreverence for local puffery.

    • But wait, imagine Dave Cannan having a go at ODT’s The Wash… (thereby shipping the main news content) — or the misguided Civis of a Saturday, whoever writes that column nowadays.

  20. Anonymous

    This is why a Commissioner should be appointed and Council dissolved, to remove the potential influence of the Old Boys in the necessary asset sales.
    In fact, we need two Commissioners. One for DCC and one for SDHB. Both are long past due.

  21. {Moved here from another thread. Relevance. -Eds}

    le duc
    Submitted on 2014/02/25 at 9:34 pm | In reply to Elizabeth.

    Fiasco d’invoice: Pete H supplied it on Radio this afternoon, reminding me of my least successful show ‘Radio Origami’. duc de Patrick Magee (eye patched).

    [Reply]

    ### radionz.co.nz Tuesday 25 February 2014
    Afternoons
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons
    The Panel with Rosemary McLeod and Jeremy Hansen (Part 2)
    Yesterday, on The Panel, the Executive Director of the New Zealand Taxpayers Union, Jordan Williams, discussed what the Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull has called a “gentleman’s” agreement, under which the former Labour MP Pete Hodgson was paid to lobby the Government not to strip core functions of Ag Research Limited from Invermay, near Dunedin.
    Audio | Download: Ogg MP3 ( 25:35)

    Intervals (MP3):
    4:37 – 4:54 Promo for the topic.
    6:50 – 14:54 Jordan Williams updates: “to my great relief Mr Hodgson has provided an email from last year showing in fact there was an invoice”. Pete Hodgson is interviewed.

    ****

    ODT 28.8.13 South enlists former MPs
    Southern councils have reached across the political divide by recruiting former Dunedin MPs Pete Hodgson and Katherine Rich to the fight to save 85 jobs at Invermay. […] The recruitment of Mr Hodgson and Mrs Rich brought ”valuable experience” to the working party, Mr Cull said. […]
    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/270656/south-enlists-former-mps

    ODT 13.11.13 Govt queries on Invermay
    The Government is beginning to question its support for AgResearch’s plan to slash jobs at Invermay, former Dunedin North MP Pete Hodgson says. […] Mr Hodgson, who prepared the Dunedin City Council’s submission on the AgResearch restructuring […]
    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/281134/govt-queries-invermay

  22. Cull clarifies comments on payments to Hodgson
    Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull has backed down from comments that $3400 worth of payments to former Dunedin North MP Pete Hodgson were part of a gentlemen’s agreement.
    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/293103/cull-clarifies-comments-payments-hodgson

  23. Anonymous

    Oh, so they found the invoices?
    Wonder when they were printed, submitted, entered and paid…?
    Yesterday…?

  24. Peter

    This doesn’t really clarify things to me. It just seems murkier. Hopefully the media follows this up with the evidence of WHEN they were submitted and what was in the detail.

  25. AgResearch plays silly buggers with its report. Are they worth keeping at all? What is the real industry benefit – given their shabby work record in recent years?

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/294423/agresearch-hid-risks-proposal-cull

  26. Useful comparison at ODT Online !!

    Cull’s comments ironic
    Submitted by Sitivi on Sat, 08/03/2014 – 9:16am.
    Cull say’s AgResearch is guilty of only releasing the good bits and keeping the risks hidden…so what’s his problem? Sounds just like the way his council and predecessors have gone about business. You can’t have it both ways Cull…if you are going to criticise the way others go about their business then you better raise your own standards. I had high hopes when you were first elected (a bit like when Obama got in), but you have turned out just like all the rest. 
    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/294423/agresearch-hid-risks-proposal-cull#comment-54234

  27. Cull’s “flippant remark” only goes to show what sort of person is running this city council – said in ignorance. Another Cull embarrassment.

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/297287/all-clear-dcc-payments

  28. Hype O'Thermia

    ‘ Mr Cull had told Fairfax in February the arrangement with Mr Hodgson was ”a gentlemen’s way of doing business in the South”.’
    Ok, I’ll accept that. But what relevance has that to people who are not gentlemen but politicians whose modus opperandi clearly, habitually, ain’t gentlemanly?

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