Democracy, a little strange looking here and there

ODT 12.5.17 (page 16)

Not sure the above is the “nature of democracy”.
Ownership more often than not has rights to what Democracy might be, for better or worse. Democracy is the dull moving target around traction of tolerance and accommodation, alternately characterised by recklessness, drilling, handholding, gutless audacity and full oppositional war. And finally, perhaps, it is Comedy of Errors (the big CE) – to do with pique, vanity, providence, chess-like cunning, ill temper and quarrelsome kicks, artful dodging, strange bed fellows, lousy cracks at definition, ruthless assaults and incursions, “Territory”, chiming disgust, stiff ultimatums, the surrender to power, corruption or fraud…..and all notions, wagons, bonfires that encircle ‘the final word’ and last stands, angry trumpet votes to Brexit, chaste lookalikes, injury, ill health….. Jesus weeps.

### ODT Online Wed, 12 Apr 2017
Hospital rebuild: back off but don’t back down
By Hilary Calvert
OPINION If we asked Otago people what they most want from health services it would likely be health service delivery in the province at least as good as the rest of New Zealand. For example, whatever qualifies for an operation here should be the same that qualifies those up north. The Dunedin School of Medicine is vital to us as well. […] What if harassing of the Government in an imagined party political fashion just makes the Government determined to not give us what we want, since we will likely vote two local Labour people into Parliament this year? If we concentrate on telling the Government what we most want, and stop trying to tell it how it should deliver the services, we have a much better chance of getting the best result.
Read more

Comment to What if? Dunedin:

Diane Yeldon
April 14, 2017 at 11:10 pm
“Harassing of the Government in an imagined party political fashion.” Well said by Hilary Calvert. Spot on!
Here’s the meeting video for 21 Feb. Starting from 1.58.24 into the video, you can watch the discussion on the resolution which authorised the [Dunedin Hospital SOS] campaign. This was the Notice of Motion put forward by Cr Benson-Pope and seconded by Cr Hawkins.
There was no information in the agenda about how much the ‘asking for support’ would cost or how the ‘asking for support’ would be carried out. Nor did any councillors ask questions about this. Their attention was focused solely on discussing the rights and wrongs of the hospital siting (with only a couple of councillors saying they didn’t think it was any of their business.)
I can’t help wondering if many of the councillors did not understood that this ‘asking for support’ would result in unleashing a full-blown advertising campaign with leaflet drop, website and newspaper ads costing so far $12,000! I wonder if the motion had been taken in two parts with the second part only about the campaign and its full extent and costs disclosed the majority would have still voted in favour.

Dunedin City Council Published on Feb 26, 2017
Dunedin City Council – Public Forum + Council Meeting – 21 February 2017
Minutes, agendas and reports related to this meeting can be found at

[] formatted by whatifdunedin

Related Posts and Comments:
● 8.4.17 Questions over Council’s Dunedin Hospital SOS campaign
● 6.4.17 ODT editor comments strongly #tick —Dunedin Hospital rebuild
● 27.3.17 Site Notice #DunedinHospital
● 26.2.17 Dunedin Hospital Redevelopment
● 6.2.17 Let the Ombudsman recommend for democracy at SDHB
● 24.1.17 SDHB/Govt : Physio Pool GRIEF
● 9.1.17 Audit NZ admonishes commissioner Grant and SDHB #Health
● 18.12.16 DCC set to take away CBD car parks without Economic Impact research
20.11.16 Delta at Dunedin Hospital #worseluck
7.11.16 SDHB #FAILS with Healthcare Communication and Governance

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

*Image: batmanrobin by Mike Luckovich 2016 [via] tweaked by whatifdunedin


Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, DCC, Democracy, Design, District Plan, Dunedin, Economics, Education, Finance, Geography, Health, Health & Safety, Heritage, Hospital, Hot air, Infrastructure, LTP/AP, Media, New Zealand, OAG, Ombudsman, People, Perversion, Pet projects, Politics, Project management, Property, Proposed 2GP, Public interest, Resource management, SDHB, Site, Technology, Town planning, Transportation, Travesty, University of Otago, Urban design, What stadium

32 responses to “Democracy, a little strange looking here and there

  1. Elizabeth

    Meanwhile Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) tweets a video, Will Lies Cost Lives?

    What is “cognitive bias”? Incorporating Mr Trump, lemon juice for invisibility & much, much more:

    Pindex Published on May 7, 2017
    Will Trump’s lies cost lives? Can we break his spell? Killer cognitive bias.
    Strange illusions shape Trumps views. In trying to protect America, he may unleash a killer that already claims 200,000 lives each year.
    Voiced by Stephen Fry.
    Why do people believe Trump? And why is he so confident, even when demonstrably wrong?

    Cognitive biases:
    The Dunning-Kruger effect: 00.00
    Salience bias (1.01):
    The mere exposure effect (2.36):

    Health and economic benefits of reduced air pollution (the EPA Clean Air Act):

    MIT study on the impact of air pollution:

    Jonathan Levy, a professor of environmental health at Boston University:
    “A public-health burden of this magnitude clearly requires significant policy attention… We have certainly invested significant societal resources to address far smaller impacts on public health.”

    Music by Hugh Mitchell: is a pinboard for learning. If you’re a teacher, there are many engaging Science, History and English boards ready to assign, with quizzes and rewards.

    • A

      A site called ‘Better humans help me’ ! describes cognitive bias as subjective social reality’. I think this means individual unreality (delusion?). Does this mean, Reality is what the majority believe?

      I don’t know, my head hurts. Very fine near impressionist writing by whatif? under ‘nature of democracy’, above.

  2. About ‘local democracy’, Dunedin City Council website states the following about ‘rules’ for booking to speak at a council public forum:
    A public forum will be available at the beginning of each Council agenda
    Those wishing to speak should advise the Governance Support Officer (phone 477 4000), by 4.00 pm on the Thursday prior to the meeting.

    Meetings of the full Council are on Tuesdays – so that’s 3 working days.

    But Agendas are made public only 2 working days before the meeting. So if you want to speak to an Agenda item, you would be stuffed.

    However, there’s a discrepancy with DCC Standing Orders which require only 24 hours which WOULD give you time to peak to an Agenda item.

    See below:

    Public forums are a defined period of time, usually at the start of a meeting, which, at the discretion of a meeting, is put aside for the purpose of public input. Public Standing Orders (Adopted by Council on 25 October 2016) 24 forums are designed to enable members of the public to bring matters to the attention of the local authority. In the case of a committee, subcommittee, local or community board, any issue, idea or matter raised in a public forum must also fall within the terms of reference of that meeting.

    14.1 Time limits
    A period of up to 30 minutes, or such longer time as the meeting may determine, will be available for the public forum at each scheduled local authority meeting. Requests must be made to the meeting secretary at least one clear day before the meeting; however this requirement may be waived by the Chairperson. Speakers can speak for up to 5 minutes. No more than two speakers can speak on behalf of an organisation during a public forum. Where the number of speakers presenting in the public forum exceeds 6 in total, the Chairperson has discretion to restrict the speaking time permitted for all presenters. (ends)

    Click to access DCC-Standing-Orders.pdf

    Anyone would think that the DCC doesn’t want members of the public to speak at their public forums, especially not about Agenda items, despite the fact that the DCC Code of Conduct has the purpose (among other things) to
    • promote effective decision-making and community engagement;
    • enhance the credibility and accountability of the local authority to its communities …

    Click to access DCC-Code-of-Conduct.pdf

    When there are more speakers than will fit into the standard time allocation of 30 minutes, at other councils, the Chair (for full council meetings, usually the mayor) generally moves that public forum be extended and the Meeting agrees.

    However, Mayor Cull hasn’t seen fit to do this. I wonder why not. Would an extra five minutes or so require too much exertion and concentration from the councillors? I would have thought a Council would have been delighted with a high degree of community engagement.

    I note that there are public forums before all DCC Committee meetings as well and it’s a pity that these are not so much used – for matters within the particular Committee’s subject area. Committee meetings usually have shorter Agendas. So there may well be more time and energy for councillors to focus on what submitters are saying. And all council Committees are ‘committees of the whole’, which means all councillors are members.

    • Sue

      Diane. What is the point of speaking at a public forum ? Unless it is to speak in support of councillors’ pet projects. Having watched from the sidelines at public forums, it is very obvious that councillors would rather play with their phones or check their payslip, rather than listen to what a forum speaker has to offer.

  3. Sue: I think some Councillors do listen to some public forum submissions. Certainly, there are regularly plenty of individuals and community groups taking advantage of the opportunity to address the Council and, to a lesser extent, the Council Committees.

  4. Calvin Oaten

    Sorry, but I disagree. I have on a few occasions been prepared to submit to the DCC at public meetings. The response has been to say the least muted to downright rudely disinterested. I now know that any visits would be a waste of time. The people are fixated on their own inflated impressions of importance and way ahead of the agenda as they contemplate their next great moves of community importance. In a word, a waste of time to even go there.

  5. russandbev

    My experience with the DCC reflects that of Sue. Councillors busy with phones, other pieces of paper, picking their noses, looking aimlessly into space, wandering off to get cups of tea. All the outwards signs of not being at all interested. With the DCC I suggest that submitting or appearing in a public forum is a complete waste of time because the Councillors have no interest at all in listening. They have made up their minds already.

  6. Elizabeth

    Speaking in generalities after getting the Council behind the (now highly successful) Otago Farmers Market proposal. It took two years of discussion with DCC and our small team (while we got on to the bones of making it happen ‘regardless’).

    You have to hope that people realise they need to do a lot of preparation with Councils before they ever appear to speak at Public Forums to push the councillors’ vote their way.

    Nothing changes unless you get people on side to change their thinking – and you need to go Some Way to note the community or other benefits accruing as a result of this ‘change’ (the ol’ law and accountancy method).

    And everything has to carefully be made to fit with LTP/AP timelines.

    You don’t line up to a private business and crash everything they do…. only then to stick your hand out wanting their co-operation or snatch their resources at short notice. [An entrepreneur might try that if very clever.] Persuasion and diplomacy also applies to councils.

    To change things you need to get council General Managers on side.
    That then means Mayor and Councillors will likely come on side.

    Small bites, believability, advocacy and diplomacy yield desired results – eventually.

    [Golden rule: the best things take longer – when councils are involved].

    If you’re in protest mode for whatever reason…. just take councils to court and be done with it. Bleat at the same time if you want to.

    • Sue

      Is that how we got the Stadium ?

      • Elizabeth

        Yes + Malcolm Farry, Eion Edgar, and other assorted rubbish.

        PS. OFM Trust only asked for a $10k matched startup from DCC.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      But that’s over and above what council puts forward as the way victims, I mean ratepayers and other Dunedin residents, are invited to participate.
      IOW the recommended procedure, make a submission, is a time-wasting charade.

  7. At the Council meeting today, I was certainly shocked by Mayor Cull’s behaviour when he referred, in a very disparaging way, to a public forum submitter, old and showing the worst for wear on account of that, as ‘rambling’. In the person’s presence.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      That “rambling old person” has more smarts in his little finger than Meercat Cull (I can see China from here) has had in his lifetime.

  8. russandbev

    Why does that not surprise me at all?

  9. Calvin Oaten

    Mayor Dave Cull has a manner which doesn’t really fit a Mayor, who is supposed to be everybody’s friend. Just ask Cr Vandervis.

  10. Especially considering it was ex-Councillor Maurice Prendergast, a former Dunedin City Councillor for 18 years.

  11. At the meeting, Council resolved to get a report on the benefit to the city of having the hospital in the city centre next to the medical school. In other words, AFTER beginning their campaigning rather than before.

    • Elizabeth

      Ridiculous. More wasted time and money.

      • Hype O'Thermia

        Holy effluent ponds, can’t they get ANYTHING done in logical order, with thinking-gear in roadworthy condition? It’s time for mandatory drug testing to spread beyond the low-wage sector.

    • Wingatui Flyer

      “Maurice Prendergast, a former Dunedin City Councillor for 18 years.”
      He can hold his head high. Knowing that he never had his property illegally connected to, and not paying the water rate for the city’s water supply, while serving the city.

      • Hype O'Thermia

        List the rorts, shabby deals, freebies, two-facedness, dopey blurts, irrationality, bandwagons and other follies with which Maurice Prendergast’s name is linked. When you’ve remembered all of them get in touch with me, I have a marker pen and a used postage stamp on the back of which you can write them.
        Second thoughts, half a postage stamp would be more than enough.

        Step 2, compare and contrast…….

  12. Kleinefeldmaus

    Diane Yeldon’s observations are at once revealing and disappointing.

    Kleinefeldmaus 31.5.17 [moderated by whatifdunedin -Eds]

    • Hype O'Thermia

      I see what you’ve done, you took out the other word and the challenge is for anyone to think of a substitute that is (a) apposite and (b) not actionable.
      Good luck folks.

  13. Sue

    What a gutless city council. That allows its leader to sit on the throne and abuse people as being old and rambling.

    {Moderated within an inch if its life. This occurred during the public forum and was directed at Maurice Prendergast. Public domain. -Eds}

  14. russandbev

    It has been said before that those who sit and watch bullying are as guilty as those that do the bullying.

    • Yes, any councillor can bring a Code of Conduct complaint against the mayor (or any other councillor). In the case of an alleged breach by the mayor, the complaint would have to be addressed to the deputy mayor. And s/he would have to decide whether there were any sound reasons why the matter should be progressed and brought to the attention of the other councillors for their decision. In the new Standing Orders, it’s made clear that members of the public cannot bring breach of the Code of Conduct complaints. It supposed to be a kind of ‘peer self-policing’.
      I would be stating the case mildly to say that this system does not work well.

      • And any councillor can make a Point of Order on the grounds of the use of ‘disrespectful, offensive or malicious language.’ They don’t seem to me to do this very often, except with respect to Cr Vandervis. The ODT reporting of this is likely to lead readers to think that Cr Vandervis is habitually especially offensive, when in my opinion this is not the case. On the contrary, it’s my opinion that another elected member is habitually especially offensive but I have NEVER seen them subject to a Point of Order on the grounds of ‘disrespectful, offensive or malicious language’.

  15. Peter

    It is the duty of the Mayor and councillors to listen to speakers at public forums. Even odd and eccentric people, completely unaware of their sometimes odd comments, deserve a hearing. It is what democracy is all about.
    Such people sometimes stand for council and the convention is to be polite and hear them out. If anything, such people can add colour to elections, though they do take up oxygen for real debate. Mind you even ostensibly sane people who become councillors utter nonsense at times in the heat of a campaign. We bear with them because that is democracy.
    Rudeness by sitting councillors is out of order. Hard to enforce if [there] is a frequent culprit.
    Dignity, please.

    {Moderated. -Eds}

  16. The Council’s Code of Conduct [says]: “Respect for others: (members) will treat people, including other members, with respect and courtesy, regardless of their race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. Members will respect the impartiality and integrity of officials.”

    Click to access DCC-Code-of-Conduct.pdf

    And then there is this prohibition in Standing Orders against criticising staff (and councillors) at public forums, which is really weird because anyone can criticise them publicly anywhere else since criticism is not defamation but an essential part of public political discourse.

    Maurice Prendergast was criticising the staff decision to recommend (or designate?) a certain local spot of high amenity value as a freedom camping site and saying that he thought as a result the site would be ruined to the considerable loss of locals. Which seems to me to be talking to the point and critiquing (rather than gratuitously criticising) staff …. Which all seems to me to be fair public discourse.

    From Standing Orders
    Public Forum 14.2 Restrictions
    The Chairperson has the discretion to decline to hear a speaker or to terminate a presentation at any time where: (among other things)
    • the speaker is criticising elected members and/or staff;
    • the speaker is being repetitious, disrespectful or offensive;

    Click to access DCC-Standing-Orders.pdf

    I think I really should follow up whether that ‘no criticism’ rule in Standing Orders conflicts with civil liberties in the Bill of Rights Act. I am pretty sure these Standing Orders are used by all LTAs in New Zealand so the DCC is not to blame for writing them. But they certainly chose to adopt them and the mayor seems very keen to stringently uphold the ‘no criticism’ rule.

    {Moderated. Thanks for transcription of a section of the public forum on Tuesday. Let’s wait for the video to find out if DCC decides on redaction – this to avoid any rough stuff directed at this website. A tightrope, which is not free expression promoted by the New Zealand Bill of Rights. Exercising caution. -Eds}

  17. I suppose What if?’s astute readers will notice that the Code of Conduct ASSUMES the ‘impartiality and integrity of officials’. This makes ‘whistle-blowing’ on staff regarding any improper behaviour impossible to do without breaching the Code of Conduct. (!)

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