Archives for category: bad jokes

Documents released today under the Official Information Act (OIA) reveal the size and scale of the CERA’s covert “money pit” operation. Whilst the secret project has been a topic of frequent whispers around Worcester St, these documents are the first hard evidence that has come to light of the scheme. Located between Armagh and Gloucester St, the pit is approximately 12 metres in diameter, with an unknown depth. CERA engineers launched a series of recognisance missions into the pit, but these were abandoned after a 3-man team was lost somewhere between 270 and 280 metres below the surface.

A statement from CERA attempted to deny that the pit existed. “The money pit that you refer to is in fact a metaphorical money pit, not a literal money pit. And I mean “literal” in the “literal” sense of the word “literal”, not in the “figurative” sense of the word “literal”. This is literally a metaphorical money pit. A figurative money pit. No actual pit exists.”

However, documents released under the OIA to Rebuilding Christchurch today clearly indicate that the money pit has been included in plans for the central city since as far back as 2011, when a number of prominent Christchurch property developers started lobbying for the inclusion of the money pit in the Blueprint. When a black circle first started appearing in planning documents, it was initially believed that this was because part of the map had been redacted. However, we now believe that this black hole is in fact the symbol for the money pit.

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Business advocate and legendary rock guitarist Pete Townsend was enthusiastic about the money pit project. “This is good news for the rebuild, good news for Christchurch, good news for New Zealand taxpayers. This will create jobs, with up to 15 people required to shovel money into the pit, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. For every 100 dollars hurled into the pit, 1 dollar will go into the wider Canterbury economy. This is a good deal for Christchurch.”

When asked about whether a money pit was part of National’s “Brighter Future” campaign, Prime Minister John Key responded that it was the ultimate realisation of his vision. “What we have here, actually, is a future that has shined so bright that it has collapsed in on itself, creating a black vortex that will suck in money and ultimately end all of life on earth. We’re pretty relaxed about it.”

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee assured the residents of Christchurch that the money pit is safe, although it should not be approached without the appropriate hi-vis safety equipment. He said that the current plan was to continue throwing money into the pit, and added that they are also investigating the practicalities of trying to house some of CERA’s expanding communications department in the entrance to the depression.

Image of one of the new car-parking megastructures planned for Christchurch’s CBD (image source: CRUDE)

In a move that has been welcomed by the frequently ignored property developer class, the Finance Minister is expected to outline plans for a new focus on housing for cars in the Christchurch CBD as he delivers his 7th budget tomorrow. The plan will finally address the dire need for more carparks in the central city, a housing crisis which the government has repeatedly denied was an issue.

While the details have yet to be announced, Rebuilding Christchurch understands that the initiative, known as the Central Road Users and Developers Entity (CRUDE), will be focused on the East Frame. Stage One will see all remaining buildings in the government-owned East Frame demolished and replaced with car parking. Stage Two will involve a state-of-the-art, 4,500-berth facility built for the protection and security of cars. Stage Three of CRUDE will involve the repurposing of “people parks”, such as Latimer Square and the Margaret Mahy Playground, into parks for cars.

After years of being ignored, central city property developers are delighted with CRUDE. “We’re finally being listened to”, says developer Tony Trough. “We’ve been telling the government for years: you can’t have a successful city without cars. Just look at some of the great cities of the world: Los Angeles, Swindon, Los Angeles, Birmingham. They all have spectacular spaghetti junctions. With CRUDE, Christchurch finally has a chance to compete on the world stage.” Trough went on to say that the rights of cars have been ignored in the rebuild. “On any given day, there will be more cars in the CBD than people. Yet what are we doing for those cars? Nothing. They have no voice. Unless you have a late-model European car like I do, which tells you to put your seatbelt on. But apart from that, they’re silent.”

People living in the quake-damaged Eastern suburbs of the city who spoke with Rebuilding Christchurch on the condition of anonymity were supportive of the idea. Shoshanna, not her real name, lives with her 3 daughters, 2 sons, husband, de-facto partner, de facto partner’s ex, de facto partner’s ex’s nephew, de facto partner’s ex’s nephew’s wife and twin daughters, a wolfhound, two cats, a guinea pig and Jason Gunn in a 3-bedroom house in the suburb of Dallington. “After the quake, my whanau had nothing. No water, no power, no place to go. So I just opened the doors and let them all come here. It was a tight fit, so some of us had to sleep in the garage. Of course, that meant that the car had to go out on the street. We just never thought about the car. It’s been out there on the street for the best part of five years now. It can’t go on. So I’m grateful that the government is finally doing something [to house the cars].”

Rebuilding Christchurch understands that CRUDE will be partially funded by a series of toll-gates for pedestrians along the perimeter of the Four Avenues. Developer Trough thinks this is only fair. “For too long, people have just been walking along the streets without paying anything at all. They walk into shops, they walk up to the windows, but they don’t pay for anything. Foot traffic is welcome, but it needs to start paying its way, like real traffic does.” When asked about cyclists, Trough was less charitable. “Everyone knows you can’t ride a bike to go shopping. It’s political correctness gone stark raving mad. There is no place for them in this city.”

Given some of the recent bad publicity about the delays to key anchor projects, the government is very keen to see CRUDE up and running as soon as possible. Stage One is expected to be complete by the time the Finance Minister has finished delivering his speech; construction companies are working double-over-time to have Stage Two completed by Queen’s Birthday, when the Queen herself is expected to open the building by ceremonially driving her Bentley through a cavalcade of homeless people. Stage Three has no concrete completion date, as the repurposing of “people parks” is an ongoing project which the government is looking to roll out across the country.

So the World Cup has started! I jumped out of bed for the first time in a while, put on my All Whites shirt (never stop believing) and settled in for what was a pretty good game. Sure, dodgy decisions, bad keeping, but there was an comedy own goal from Brazil’s pantomime villain, and that fancy spray paint. Aside from when New Zealand flukes an appearance, I support France. I don’t really know why. They’re either amazing, or amazingly terrible. Their implosion in 2010 was almost as good as Zidane’s fantastic headbutt in 2006.

One of the leaders of the 2010 mutiny, wannabe Bond villain Franck Ribery, has been ruled out with injury, which is a massive plus. The Ribery-less Les Bleus demolished Jamaica 8-0 earlier in the week, and looked much better without him. I don’t think they will win it, but maybe leave after a comical on-field dustup between team mates in the quarter final.

Speaking of the French … the Press’s Cecile Meier has a column today which suggests some French fixes for our broken rental housing market:

Now let’s look at Billye Jean Rangihuna’s French double, Jeanne-Billois Roquefort. Her rent could only be increased once a year and the raise would be capped to a government-issued index (usually under 3 per cent) based on inflation.

At the end of her three-year rental contract, Roquefort’s landlord could hike the rent more, but only if it was significantly undervalued compared to market rates. To do so, they would have to give six months’ notice. Even then Roquefort could refuse the increase, in which case the landlord would have to go to a conciliation commission.

The French system arguably puts lots of pressure on landlords. But tenants are usually the more vulnerable party in the tenancy relationship and therefore need protection.

There is plenty of evidence that tenants in Christchurch are being exploited by the invisible hand of the market, and it has to stop. And speaking of French socialism:

A stunning finding of the report is that no one actually knows who holds the French debt. To finance its debt, the French state, like any other state, issues bonds, which are bought by a set of authorised banks. These banks then sell the bonds on the global financial markets. Who owns these titles is one of the world’s best kept secrets. The state pays interests to the holders, so technically it could know who owns them. Yet a legally organised ignorance forbids the disclosure of the identity of the bond holders.

Hence, the audit on the debt concludes, some 60% of the French public debt is illegitimate.

The author tracks a story of French debt that looks very similar to what has happened in New Zealand over the last generation. He posits an internationalism in which the working classes free themselves from the financialism that has obsessed Western governments for the last 30 years:

The nascent global movement for debt audits may well contain the seeds of a new internationalism – an internationalism for today – in the working classes throughout the world. This is, among other things, a consequence of financialisation. Thus debt audits might provide a fertile ground for renewed forms of international mobilisations and solidarity.

There have been some interesting developments around housing in the last few days, which I will sum up in a future blog post. However, I did like this quote from Cr Jamie Gough, in a story about development contributions:

Gough, who in July successfully got a 100 per cent rebate on development contributions for those building within the four avenues, said a “rethink” was required.

“These are the sort of stories we don’t want to be hearing in our rebuild of the city.

We should be rolling out the red carpet and not the red tape for developers,” he said.

Yup, that is the same Jamie Gough who is the nephew of rich-lister developer Antony Gough. Good to see the Goughs working so hard to fight for those poor, downtrodden developers.

CTV will always be in the news around February 22nd, and appropriately so. However, their new current affairs show, which aired for the first time last night, might be making the news, rather than reporting it. The name of the show is “Lynched”, which is a play on the name of the host, Chris Lynch. I get that – but I’m not sure that “Lynched” is an appropriate name – especially given some of the opinions that Lynch has been known to spout. I’d call them “classic talk-back” opinions. I recall having an interaction with him on twitter a while ago, after he said “good riddance” to a homeless man who died in a house-fire. Should a talkback host with views like this have a show called Lynched? Really?

I thought all of this before I had actually watched the show. I still haven’t – I only got as far as the opening titles. I’ve screen capped them here so you don’t have to give it the pleasure of a view. Wow. Just wow.

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I know that CTV is not a big network, and that probably, the credits were done by a student at broadcasting school who was happy for the experience. But did no-one in management at the station watch this and think “um, this crosses a line”? I don’t have any problem with a talkback host expressing opinions, but I think they could do so without such an offensive name and opening sequence. Before I get accused of being “PC gone mad”, here’s a story from today’s paper about mental health issues in Canterbury after the quakes. This is not a joke.

Psychiatric presentations to the CDHB were at an all-time high, with emergency services fielding a 35 per cent increase of new patients over the past two years. Each month, more than 400 people access the psychiatric emergency service suffering from acute mental distress, delusions, hallucinations or self-harm.

Update: thanks to Mike, who took this screenshot from Lynch’s twitter, where he refers to his listeners as “the Lynch Mob”

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Glenn Conway has the breakdown on the costs of running CERA, which provide some interesting figures:

It spent $647,571 on public information campaigns.

It seconded 12 communication staff for various periods at a total cost of $1.1m.

It awarded 13 $1m-plus contracts, the biggest being a $10.5m deal with Opus International Consultants and the second largest involving a $6.4m contract with Hawkins Construction.

Twenty staff resigned, a turnover of just over 10 per cent.

The highest paid staff member, apart from chief executive Roger Sutton, was paid between $360,001 and $370,000. The lowest 21 paid staff were each paid between $40,001 and $50,000.

Two staff have credit cards that each have a $10,000 limit

Cera’s lease of the HSBC Tower cost $1.4m, up about $500,000 on the previous year. Catering costs were $390,000.

Gerry doesn’t make it easy to avoid the obvious punchline.

Poor Matthew Doocey. While David Cunliffe, David Parker, and a large number of Labour MPs and local councillors joined Poto Williams to celebrate her “stonking” win in Christchurch East, Doocey cut a rather solitary figure at his election night do, his party leader no-where to be seen. John Key can try and distance himself from this failure, but he did spend quite a lot of time down here in the East, campaigning with the Dooce. It felt appropriate to celebrate their short-lived but passionate bromance.

The first flowerings of a relationship:

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Just hanging with the boys:

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More boys (and Nicky Wagner):

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Looking at the plans for the expansion of our dream home:

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On our first trip abroad together, Matthew got a little sunburnt:

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Matthew plays look-out for our first (unsuccessful) attempt to steal a child:

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Our second attempt worked better:

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Look all good venture capitalists, we successfully expanded our baby-acquiring business with the help of Judith Collins. Franchise opportunities in an area near you!

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Always the party-pooper, Bill crashed one of our dates, and stopped us from ordering lunch. We were so hungry! Matthew gets cranky when he hasn’t had his lunch.

BZpNgTXCIAAug2l.jpg-largeI started to get worried that Matthew was seeing other men. Men that looked like him. I think he has a type.

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So yesterday, I got my hands on one of the Conservatives pamphlets that are being used in Christchurch East. I know I shouldn’t spend so much time on these crazy people, but they’re just so damn funny. At least three people responded to my tweet by asking whether the guy on the left was Bashir Al-Assad (it’s the candidate, Leighton Baker, but he might well appreciate being compared to a hard-line religious crackpot). My main reason for tweeting the picture was to ask whether they had got some new stock photos for their flyers. In the general election two years ago, someone pointed out that this was the case with their advertising. It turns out that some of them aren’t even new:

Conservative party 2011

Grunt to rodzina, whatever that means:

As The Egonomist pointed out, these Conservative Party followers are all over the internet:

Unlike in 2011, when they at least bothered to pretend that they had some non-white members, this time they’ve gone with the “it’s all white here” vision for the East – which is sure to appeal to the large Maori, Pacific Island and Chinese populations in the electorate.

Eric Crampton took a picture of one of the other stupid Conservative billboards doing the rounds:

As he pointed out in his tweet, it’s a misleading set-up. Another academic? None of the main contenders are academics; Poto Williams works in the community sector, whilst Doocey is in health management. There is another, more bizarre variation on this theme, which has the legs of three people, all clad in suit trousers, and then (presumably) Leighton Baker’s legs, in shorts and steel cap boots – and asks which legs you’d rather vote for?

Obviously, I think the Conservatives are a joke, but worryingly, they are a joke with a lot of money and not much sense. They will be a real threat at the general election next year.

 

 

Hey, if you’re looking for entertainment, and of course you are, coming and listen to me spin records (I believe the correct term is an “eclectic selection”) at the following places and times. Entry is free, yo:

dance-armstrong-summer-jamzSmash Palace – November 23rd, 9pm till late

Darkroom, November 30th, midnight till close.

 

Summer_Catalog_Page_9This was doing the rounds on Twitter last night, and was pointed out by someone on Facebook apparently – so I can’t claim credit. But it’s worth re-posting for those who might not have seen it. The map above is from a catalogue used in the show Parks and Recreation, and is quite clearly based on a map of pre-quake Christchurch. The episode in question (Summer Catalogue; Season 2, episode 20) aired in March 2010, almost a year before the February quake. Who knows why they chose Christchurch? Maybe cos we are “the Garden City”, and they needed somewhere with a bunch of green? Maybe they thought we were so small and far away that no-one would ever notice?

Now that we’ve found out, the council should be capitalizing on our vicarious fame. Lianne Dalziel could start dressing as Lesley Knope. Since we’re still paying Tony Marryatt $10k a week, the least he could do is pretend to be Ron Swanson for us. Who will be our April Ludgate? Maybe we could make the fictional town of Pawnee an honorary sister city, and see if we can get them to come and film an episode here?

UPDATE: Just went through the episode, and it does actually appear during the show (though you would have to have an HD tv and a magnifying glass to pick it out.) It’s the page at the bottom middle, above the data projector. The image at the top is from the Parks and Recs wiki,  which the show’s creators use to put quite a bit of extra info from the show onto the net for super-fan type people.

Parks Chch Map