Copy of Stop The Stadium group email as received:
From: Stop the Stadium Announcement list
Date: 11 October 2009 4:55:45 PM NZDT
To: sts mailout
Subject: [sts] Notice of special meeting, to be held at Pioneer Women’s Hall, 362, Moray Place. (near Dick Smith’s), on Sunday, 18th October, at 3:00 pm.
Notice of special meeting, to be held at Pioneer Women’s Hall, 362, Moray Place. (near Dick Smith’s), on Sunday, 18th October, at 3:00 pm.
As you will be aware, STS has lost its recent appeal on the High Court decision concerning the legality of the DCC’s handling of its stadium activities. The point of our legal action, you may remember, hinged upon whether or not the stadium proposal had changed “significantly” in the year preceding the Council’s signing of the final contracts. If these changes were genuinely significant then the council was legally obligated to take account of submissions to its 2009 city plan – which the council refused to do, despite intense public interest and a very large volume of submissions.
The facts were not really obscure: between 2008 and 2009 the stadium cost had gone up by more than $10million; the private funding had all disappeared, and the risk to the ratepayers had increased exponentially – significant changes by any measure.
The High Court hearing was a farce. The DCC misled (in other words lied to) the judge, thereby papering-over a gap of some $15million, and the judge, after admitting that he had not actually understood the evidence in front of him, sided with the Council. Score one for New Zealand “justice”!
At the subsequent appeal the same dismal standards applied. The Appeal Court judges – all three of them – simply rubber-stamped the decision of the High Court – even while acknowledging that the DCC had misled the judge at the earlier hearing. This was perfectly acceptable, apparently, because, having realized that its first story was no longer believable, the DCC had cooked up a new one, and was now pretending that, although the up-front expenditure on the stadium had greatly increased, the long-term cost remained the same.
“We are satisfied”, concluded the learned justices, “that the capital contribution to be made by the Council to the stadium is greater than that projected in the 2008 long-term plan”. (In other words there had, as STS had argued, been significant changes) “But we are also satisfied that the total cost to the Council is not significantly increased from that projected in the 2008 long-term plan, nor is the average cost per ratepayer”. (Translation: “never mind the Council’s previous lies – we’re willing to swallow its new ones”).
No-one, having followed the stadium saga, would accept this cock-and-bull story. But the judges did. They accepted, as gospel, the DCC’s prediction that interest rates in the month of April, 2015, would be exactly 7.47% – and would remain so, without change, till April 2030. (7.47% being the minimum figure required for the DCC’s bogus projections to work).
Interest rates, as everyone knows, are notoriously fickle – even six months ahead, never mind twenty years. They have ranged from 2.5% to 20% within the past two decades – and these swings were never predicted. Yet the gentlemen of the bench saw fit to base their judgment on the DCC’s assurance that, twenty years from now, the prevailing interest rate would be 7.47%, no more, no less. And the people of Dunedin were denied their rights on this contemptible fiction.
We no longer have a justice system. We have an injustice system, rotten at every level, in which incompetent judges back each other up irrespective of the evidence. Honesty and morality have become irrelevant – a circumstance now locally embellished by the reinstatement of the disgraced lawyer, Michael Guest, on the astonishing basis that an even more culpable crook was allowed back on board some years earlier!
The justice system is dead, and so, it seems, is normal democratic practice. Real-estate agents are now permitted to sit on our Regional Council, making decisions on the future of communal land that their private firms are engaged in selling. The DCC staggers from blunder to blunder, and ever deeper into debt, as it squeezes our publicly-owned enterprises closer and closer to bankruptcy. The “international” airport – promoted and lauded by Cr Richard Walls – has become an economic black hole. And now the council is squandering further millions in barricading itself from an irate public it is nominally supposed to serve.
The stadium, of course, remains in its own league of stratospheric imbecility. It has all the attributes of a primitive cargo cult – an infallible totem to be invested with the pathetic hopes of its dwindling band of believers. The ORFU, its original “anchor tenant” (alas, an anchor tenant no longer) may not be in business a season or so from now – it may not even need Carisbrook. But that’s just a minor setback, because the Otago Boys High School might use the stadium in 2013 for its 150thReunion (with a re-booking, possibly, in 2163). Then we have the bright new idea – the Dunedin Tattoo, which is going to rival Edinburgh’s, and fill the rugby pitch to the rafters every couple of weeks or so. And if all else fails we can send for Elton John.
We live in a time of ignominy – or, to use Auden’s perfect phrase “a low, dishonest decade”. And the temptation, as always in such times, is to walk away, to pronounce a curse upon this clique of parasites and all their shoddy houses, and to retreat into the satisfactions of our own private lives. That is the choice that faces us now, individually and together.
The Courts, in their malevolence, have awarded costs of almost $10,000 against STS. We need hardly repeat the injustice of this, but we must address the issue and decide where we are to go from now. There are really only two alternatives: we can fold up (as we are obviously expected to), or we can refuse to be put out of action by this legal intimidation.
The STS committee, having considered the options carefully, is strongly of the view that quitting now would be a dereliction of our duty as citizens. Together we have done our best to bring our City and Regional councillors to their senses, yet all our submissions, demonstrations, and protests have been ignored, and the DCC/ORC continue to behave as though immune from the voice of the electorate. For the future good of our city we must rid ourselves of these puppets. If they, or any substantial proportion of them, survive the next elections, this city will be bankrupt. Your committee recommends, therefore, that STS remain in being, with a new mission statement (and possibly a change of title) reflecting the reality of what we now need to do.
You, the members, have supported us throughout this long and disillusioning struggle. We cannot blame you in the least if you now decide that further sacrifice and effort are too much. Our future course is in your hands, and will be decided at a special meeting, to be held at Pioneer Women’s Hall, 362, Moray Place, on Sunday, 18th October, at 3:00pm.
More than three-quarters of Dunedin people have repudiated the burden of this stadium. Their submissions and reasoned arguments have been brushed aside, and their legal rights extinguished. But people have the ultimate sanction: they still have votes – and an urgent need to be honestly informed as we approach the next elections. You, as the fifteen hundred members of STS, are at present the most potent force to do this, and to ensure the return of integrity to our once well-governed city. Please attend the meeting.
Dave Witherow (President). Pat Johnston (Treasurer). Carol Sawyer (Secretary). Rolf Feitscher, Gavin MacDonald. Darryl Ostrer. Lyndon Weggery (Committee).
Post by Elizabeth Kerr