Our Leaders: if commonalities

— Cull –●– Bidrose –●– Harland —

triumvirate cullbidroseharland 2

“What I said was, ‘Is anybody at home?'” called out Pooh very loudly.

“No!” said a voice; and then added, “You needn’t shout so loud. I heard you quite well the first time.”

“Bother!” said Pooh. “Isn’t there anybody here at all?”


[with absolutely NO apologies to AA Milne who would deeply sympathise]

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Images redrawn and reworked by whatifdunedin


Filed under Business, Citifleet, DCC, Democracy, Economics, Name, New Zealand, People, Politics, Project management, Property, What stadium

29 responses to “Our Leaders: if commonalities

  1. Mike

    One notes that Harland’s apology about not catching the DCC car rort made the ODT today, sadly the ODT likely anticipated the flood of requests for him to also apologise for his part in the stadium rort and disabled all comments.

    • Elizabeth

      Yes. See comments at other threads here today.

      Needless to say What if? is doing a roaring trade with views. We couldn’t have hoped for a better run to Christmas.

  2. Elizabeth

    Received from Jeff Dickie
    Thu, 25 Dec 2014 at 6.17 p.m.

    A letter to the editor rejected by ODT.

    On Tuesday, 23 December 2014 8:29 AM, Jeff Dickie wrote:

    The Citifleet fraud is really only in the limelight as there has been blatant fraud and the police are now involved. The reality is that the $1.5M of embezzled ratepayers’ funds represents not even the tip of the fiscal iceberg of hijacked local body funds. Former CEO Jim Harland’s rather belated apology for his part in Dunedin’s current fiscal crisis, is far too little and far too late. I attended many public DCC meetings and watched as Harland and CFO Athol Stephens caused a foolish and gullible council to pursue their own agendas with zero regard for the public good. For Harland to challenge ratepayers to judge him on his overall performance, and not just the $1.5M fraud under his watch, invites examination of just how he managed to oversee his major part in an increase in over $600M of ratepayer debt. He cites the Settlers Museum as an example of his good work. This, along with the failed $266M Stadium he pushed so hard for, also the dubious Town Hall upgrade, and Wall Street, the failed DCC dabble into commercial property along with doubtful DCC “investments” in Christchurch, South Auckland etc etc, is indeed his legacy to Dunedin. Harland’s role as CEO saw a culture of incompetent bureaucrats with massive egos experimenting in areas where they had zero expertise, wading in way out of their depth with the comfort of a bottomless pit of ratepayers’ money to fall back on. The chickens have come home to roost as they will with the current administration and its foolish follies.


    • Calvin Oaten

      Needless to say, the ODT is fulfilling its duty of protection to the Town Hall. The public are being short changed again. Why this should be one can only wonder. Strange that a blog site is the only way to get the truth out there. Maybe there is more behind it all that involves people unknown to the motley. Sounds silly I know, but it does make you wonder.

  3. Elizabeth

    If the ODT and the DCC are scared of public scrutiny, then SCRUTINY is what they’ll get.

    Both entities are not adhering to policies of ethics and free speech. That comes at a substantial cost to both (and in DCC’s case, the cost being substantial to ratepayers and residents) further down the track.

    I’m surprised if Sue Bidrose is accepting of, or helping drive, such a paternalistic and patronising regime at Dunedin City Council.

  4. Calvin Oaten

    One could be excused for thinking that Sue Bidrose, after her two major reviews of the Stadium and the Citifleet debacle, would result in a substantial change of operation within the Town Hall. Instead, what we are seeing is the same pattern of denial and shutting down of information pertaining to these reviews. Why? We see a shuffling of the deck chairs around directors tables and a further entrenchment of the same forces which have manipulated the projects directions as per usual. In effect, nothing is changing at all. Is it because forces from without are influencing the Mayor and CEO? Seems unlikely, but then so does the recent actions of these two.

  5. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Mon, 29 Dec 2014
    Council gift policy – ‘Not everyone likes it’
    By Debbie Porteous
    A new gift and hospitality policy at the Dunedin City Council has had a mixed reaction among staff. […] The policy, reviewed this year, now says staff cannot accept or keep any gift, though there are some exemptions. […] Earlier this year, current chief executive Dr Sue Bidrose said the policy was being reviewed as part of a process to “tighten up” council methods since the Citifleet fraud was uncovered.
    Read more

    New guidelines (via ODT)
    Dunedin City Council’s new gift and hospitality policy:
    ● Accept no gifts, although exemptions apply.
    ● “Gifts” include, but are not limited to, bottles of wine, flowers, tickets to events, prizes won in business card draws at council-funded conferences, and free or discounted home maintenance work.
    ● Any gifts accepted must be handed immediately to the chief executive’s PA and declared on a register.
    ● PA uses discretion on what to do with perishable items, such as flowers or food.
    ● Tokens of thanks worth under $50 may be accepted by staff who do DCC-related work outside of work hours, such as public speaking.
    ● Some event tickets may be accepted, with the chief executive’s permission, where events must be attended for work-related reasons.
    ● Hospitality can be accepted where it is required in a role and must be declared.

    Comment at ODT Online:

    Broken wing
    Submitted by ej kerr on Mon, 29/12/2014 – 12:56pm.

    Dunedin City Council. The gift that keeps on taking.

    • There are far too many policy analysts in the DCC. They have policies coming out of their fundamental orifices. These examples prove Elizabeth’s point except that she surely meant ‘the gifts that keep on taking the piss out of us – the ratepayers’. These policies are absurd. The policy should be simply no gifts given to staff. Not this daft set of stupid rules – gifts to be handed to the chief executive’s personal assistant – auctioned for charity – some given as rewards (by whom) to staff – perishable gifts distributed by the PA.

      I wonder how much time was put into devising that set of twaddle.

      • Hype O'Thermia

        It’s not that simple, Mick. Somebody goes the extra mile to be helpful, it’s normal human behaviour to thank them. Some non-corrupt people are involved in projects where there are an assortment of rules and regulations and District Plan not always obvious, that have to be negotiated. One deskie could have the attitude, I’ll tell you nothing unless you ask: work to rule. The helpful one would point out what you didn’t know about so didn’t ask about. He’d tell you, if you don’t get this signed off first you’ll strike problems when it comes to step 18. It’s not necessarily about bending rules, it’s about having a can-do approach and helping people to reach their goals.
        Then there is the cultural thing, that giving gifts is so ingrained that turning them down would be a slap in the face. And saying “policy” probably wouldn’t help, it would be like saying we despise you and your culture.
        I am personally affected. I had a couple of chocolate fish in the glovebox of my Ferrari-substitute for Sue Bidrose who had done something particularly pleasing, and Lee Vandervis who deserves cartons of them. But the weather had been warm, they went out of shape a bit, I was hungry. Now it’s too late. They’d have to go to all the bother of distributing them to the poor, or Neil Collins.

      • Calvin Oaten

        Mick, if we didn’t have policy analysts then how would we be able to analyze the policies that the ‘planners’ plan? We need the policies in the first place to provide the policy analysts’ fuel for producing the policies so that the planners can then make their deliberations on how and where to spend the budgets that are presented to the Mayor and Councillors at Annual Plan time. If all this sounds like a statement from Dave Cull then rest assured he is not the only one who can create verbiage out of thin air.

        • Calvin I know that you are having a bit of fun – but (for the sake of argument) it’s like I said, ‘They have policies coming out of their fundamental orifices’ – all of them – from the mayor down – including the so called planners. The council seems to have forgotten that it only exists to provide essential infrastructure such as roads, water and drains that needed some overarching community control and management. It would be rather good if they focused upon those for a change. But they seem to imagine that they need to pontificate about and play a role in all aspects of human activity. As for the staff, it seems that the chief executive seems to feel the need to micromanage all aspects of its behaviour and social intercourse. Even down to accepting a cup of coffee or not. I ask you? For Christ’s sake these people need to get a life.

          Hype O’Thermia nailed it when they observed “what used to be our culture’s ethical norms before being replaced by “don’t get caught” throughout all strata of society”.

  6. Anonymous

    “free or discounted home maintenance work”

    What sort of ethical noob do you have to be to realize that isn’t acceptable, without needing a policy?

  7. Hype O'Thermia

    But without a policy you may get away with saying it never crossed your mind that there was a problem, and it’s hard to prove you aren’t genuinely that far absent from our culture’s ethical norms. Or, what used to be our culture’s ethical norms before being replaced by “don’t get caught” throughout all strata of society.

    • I don’t see much connection of this ‘gift policy’ to the Citifleet fraud issue other than it being a diversionary tactic to deflect attention away from the problems that Jeff Dickie highlighted in his excellent unpublished letter to the ODT (above). But my point is that the DCC is sinking under the weight of infinite and quite unnecessary policy development. With this crap regarding ‘gifts’ it has reached the level of such absurdity that recently a staff member advised me that I couldn’t buy her a cup of coffee during a business discussion because of this ‘policy’. Therein lies madness.

      Or as Hype O’Thermia puts it “what used to be our culture’s ethical norms before being replaced by “don’t get caught” throughout all strata of society”.

  8. Elizabeth

    Or, Mick, think of the Citifleet/Citypark fraud and associated SCREWY insurance claim being the ultimate type council executive-set policy breakdown involving mass fraud (many individuals inside and outside, who gifted themselves publicly funded vehicles, car parts and tyres, car service discounts, cash and kickbacks ad infinitum). The dishonour and recriminations are set to flame early 2015.

    • Well ‘gnat and camels’ come to mind. That is the level that this quality of leadership seems to have reached. However, I would be very interested in learning of the re-insurance deals that the DCC negotiates in the future on its plant.

  9. Calvin Oaten

    All this smacks of the “There but for the grace of God go I” syndrome.

  10. Phil

    Terribly unfair. How will current Assistant department managers be able to get cheap maintenance from DCC contractors on their home air conditioning systems cheaply installed by DCC contractors now ? Or get their kitchen remodelled for half of the market rate ? How are these highly valued public servants supposed to survive if they have to live like normal people ?

    I remember a few years ago when a (former) department manager telephoned all the contractors and asked them not to send Christmas gifts into the DCC offices. He offered instead to drive out to each contractor (presumably in a DCC fleet car) and collect the gifts himself. That’s going the extra mile.

  11. Kirsten

    As we all know any tightened up gifts policy is only as good as the consequences for those who transgress it. Given the propensity of the council to run away on this kind of thing, what confidence do we have in the policy?

  12. Hype O'Thermia

    Precisely, Kirsten. Show us the enforcers.

  13. Phil

    Mick, the investigation brief to Deloitte, as weak as it was, was not limited to Citifleet. Of course Citifleet was the main focus, but the opportunity was given to carry out a general stocktake of DCC internal practices. Many of the internal interviews conducted had no relationship to Citifleet. Bad practices within other departments were identified with the help of staff, and recommendations given. As you say, the value of the report will be in how effectively the recommendations are enforced.

  14. Calvin Oaten

    Quite right Mick, the function of council as originally intended was not to intrude so blatantly into the lives of the people and business in the way that it now does. Economic development for instance is the province of business, not a bunch of bureaucrats, most of a whom wouldn’t have even run a corner dairy. This leads of course to the emergence of the consultants ‘industry which is nothing but a grab bag of opportunities to raid the citizen’s treasure for no other reason than to hive off the responsibilties of staff when things don’t work out according to plan. The result of all this is more and more overheads, increases in departments, more restrictions on the actions of the citizens and businesses and a stagnating effect all round. We have it here in spades in Dunedin. Policies galore, analysts and planners galore, and a burgeoning debt which the ‘do gooders’ don’t even comprehend. It’s the do holders and meddlers that seek to get elected, and staff who seek to enrich be it in higher salaries or more power. The circle is squared on this one and it is not likely to change any time soon unless an outside influence like a massive currency upheaval that blows all the bull dust away. That of course will be very painful all round.

    • cinimodjunior

      You are right. I was told long ago that the ‘concept of consultancy’ as a professional career, was conceived as a means of making weather forecasters look good.

      • Calvin Oaten

        The first action of a consultant on being briefed is to define what it is that the client wants to hear. That clears the way for a report that will be favourably received, thus ensuring further business from that client. There is no better example than the recent report on the matter of the effects on Dunedin with the projected “sea rise”. That has opened up the opportunity for any amount of mitigation design work for that same firm of consultants. Don’t you just love it?

        • cinimodjunior

          You are so wise Calvin. Wisdom is a strength that is exhibited only by those who live outside the bubble. Problem is that those who liveith outsideith the bubble getith no payith.

  15. Peter

    With Dave Cull writing off what was owed to the council from the Black Tie dinner….that went into the pot for the ORFU, plus the gift of $70k for the ODT’s 150th birthday bash I’d take this new gifting policy with a grain of salt.

  16. Calvin Oaten

    Today I was in the Richmond Nelson Pak’nSave and who should I see pushing a trolley around with a young girl (daughter?) but Tony Avery. Dressed in holiday mode, shorts etc. Didn’t look a $250K man in any shape or form. But then he never did.

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