Archives for posts with tag: Jamie Gough

The debate around the council selling assets has largely been framed as the Mayor, Cr Manji and Cr Buck, against a rag-tag bunch of ideologues – aka the Labour-aligned, People’s Choice councillors. Though these 6 councillors publicly stated that they were against asset sales during their election campaign, and are now sticking to their promise, they have been criticised by the Mayor, Gerry Brownlee and the National Party, the Press, talkback hacks etc. But little if no attention has been given to the other 5 councillors who are supporting this plan. So what have they been up to?

Front page of the Press this morning we find Cr David East (Burwood Pegasus). Prior to being on council, he kept himself busy by running the local RSA into the ground:

When businessman Garry House, who is now executive-secretary of the club, was asked to help out the RSA in May 2012, he found: “GST had not been paid for four years. The club eventually had to pay the Inland Revenue Department a $25,000 penalty. Annual returns had not been filed for 2010 or 2011. Rates and power bills were long overdue.”

Clearly these are the appropriate pre-requisites for someone who is chairman of the council’s regulations and consents committee and a director of several council companies.

Cr Jamie Gough was most recently in the headlines for slagging off minorities and people with disabilities. He is a councillor, but is barely, if ever, in the news for actually doing councillor things. You might remember the time he got stupid drunk had a bad curry and forgot to pay for his taxi. Or the time he ranted about bogans for using public spaces. You won’t remember the time he made an impassioned speech about why he believes we should sell council assets – because he’s never made his reasons clear.

A search of the Press website for Cr Ali Jones will bring up a number of stories about her pre-council role as an advocate for people fighting Southern Response, as well as many from when she was a talkback host before that. Her most notable act as a councillor was voting against fixing a community pool. She still finds time to run her PR company though.

The Man Who Could Have Been Mayor, Cr Paul Lonsdale, has also been pretty quiet. He’s keen on carparks in the CBD, and is in favour of the Levis Skatepark. Finally, Cr Tim Scandrett, who’s most notable act since he’s been at Hereford St (and remember, we’re now more than half way through this term) is being heading up a subcommittee to look at council-run events.

These guys may all have their own reasons for voting for the sale of assets – the point is, we don’t know what they are. This isn’t just the Mayor, Cr Manji and Cr Buck voting to partially privatise or strategically refocus or whatever other Crosby-Textor spin they’re putting on this now. They are 3 votes – and they need 8. So if you live in one of these wards, and want to know why your councillor is voting to sell off assets, why don’t you ask them? People can disagree with the People’s Choice councillors position on an issue, but at least you know where they stand. For many of our quieter councillors, we sadly can’t say the same.

The Silent Five councillors, with their contact details (all publicly available on the CCC website)

David East – Burwood Pegasus,

388 1104 david.east@ccc.govt.nz

Ali Jones Shirley-Papanui,

941 7066 ali.jones@ccc.govt.nz

Jamie Gough Fendalton-Waimairi,

027 231 4393 jamie.gough@ccc.govt.nz

Paul Lonsdale Hagley-Ferrymead,

941 7064 paul.lonsdale@ccc.govt.nz

Tim Scandrett Spreydon-Heathcote,

941 7069 tim.scandrett@ccc.govt.nz

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.

The Press reports on the Council’s finances:

Council finance committee chairman Cr Raf Manji said he was adamant that ratepayers would not have to wear any extra financial burden as a result of a forecast increase in the council’s operating deficit. The council was forecasting an operating deficit in the 2013/14 year of $17.5 million but it is now likely to be $26.9m in the red by the end of this financial year.

While the numbers aren’t great, it is so positive to see someone with financial acumen in charge of this. Cr Manji seems to have jumped into the business of the council with energy and intelligence – such a contrast to the last couple of terms. But the best part of this story is the final line:

Cr Jamie Gough said the performance report made depressing reading.

This shouldn’t be so depressing for Cr Gough – he was, after all, part of the council that presided over crisis after crisis. He voted in support of Parker and Marryatt, and somehow, is the only councillor to survive at the ballot box. What should be more depressing for Gough is that in 3 months, Cr Manji has done more than Gough managed to do in a whole 3 year term.

A couple of days ago, the Press reported the story about councillors who voted for Marryatt’s pay rise having their hoardings targeted. Jamie Gough was featured in the story, asking for forgiveness. You would have thought that would have been the end of the story. But remarkably, in yesterday’s paper, he was given pride of place, with the first letter to the editor, which he used to grovel. He’s grown as a person, as a councillor. He’s made mistakes. He deserves a second chance etc. It’s extraordinary that a politician running for re-election would be given such a prominent place to put their views, without any editorial interference. It’s the not the first time in recent months that Gough has been given the run of the letters page to use as a soapbox.

The Press seems to be quite a fan of the Gough family. Jamie’s uncle is Anthony Gough, the flamboyant property developer. Because of his prominence, Gough senior features readily in the paper. That’s fine, he’s a big part of the rebuild and thus very newsworthy. But that doesn’t mean they should be giving Gough junior such a soft run. A couple of months ago, I outlined what I believed were conflicts of interest. Before I blogged it here, I talked to a couple of reporters at the Press. They seemed interested, and thought there was a story. However, it was quashed by the senior news team, who didn’t think it was important. I obviously think there is a story there, and while the Press don’t think it’s an issue, would it hurt to run it, then let Gough respond to it? If there is no issue, he could put our minds at ease. That’s what the new, mature Jamie Gough, who believes in transparency and openness would do, right?

Far be it from me to level claims of bias at Christchurch’s only daily newspaper, but it does somewhat mirror a situation unfolding at the Press’s sister paper, the Dominion Post. High profile mayoral candidate and sexist dinosaur John Morrison has made what could politely be described as a series of gaffes, which seem to have been reported by anyone but the Dom. Interestingly, the WCC Watch blog links to a report in the Herald. The two stories I blogged about yesterday – Bob Parker’s bubbly spend up and Marryatt quietly taking the money he said he’d turned down – also came from the Herald. The story about the bubbly doesn’t it make this morning’s Press. I can understand if the newsroom at the Press is stretched, but it does seem odd that wouldn’t even bother to run a story about the Mayor of the city putting booze on the ratepayer’s tab, then obfuscating for over a year to prevent the information getting out.

As I said before, I understand that newsrooms are under a lot of pressure at the moment; I just hope that that is their reason ignoring certain issues, rather than laziness, or worse, taking an editorial line in favour of certain candidates.

The Press reports that stickers saying “Voted for $67k pay rise” have appeared on the billboards of councillors who voted for Tony Marryatt. I dunno who did this, but good on them. Those councillors should be reminded of their decision each and every time they turn up at a campaign meeting.
I haven’t seen any of Gough’s billboards myself, so I was amused that in the picture of one, he’s used a quote from the Press as his slogan. It’s like a terrible movie that has found the only nice words in a review and used them as the pull quote. Maybe he should have gone with this gem from the article above: “I guess everyone deserves a second chance.”

I’ve posted a blog over at the Daily Blog, just thought I’d link to it here as some folk might not know about it. Jamie Gough, and the question of pecuniary interests at the Christchurch City Council:

On Monday, Gough could justify rebates for developers. On Tuesday, he couldn’t find anything for social housing. Does this have anything to do with him coming from a prominent property developing family?

Same shit, different day. Jamie Gough wants rates relief for central city developers. While I think this is an idea that is worth discussing, it should be discussed by someone other than Gough. I don’t want to be a stuck record, but once again: Gough’s family are major property developers in the central city; this is legislation that would directly benefit Gough and his family; this is a conflict of interest, pure and simple.

As one of the developers in the story mentions, rates relief wouldn’t be needed if the land prices weren’t so high. The taxpayer spend up on land has kept those prices far higher than can be justified for a patch of gravel – and now this councillor is advocating another form of subsidy for property developers. Screw over the taxpayer, then screw over the ratepayer.

The youngest councillor, Jamie Gough, has gone in to bat for the youth of Christchurch, fighting against alcohol restrictions in the CBD. A valiant effort, but one that he should have nothing to say about due to his family conflict of interest. Just last week, big Uncle Tony, aka Jamie’s uncle Antony Gough, said that this policy would impact negatively on his new bar development.

‘‘The 1am door policy is totally unacceptable to us,’’ said Gough, who owns the portion of Oxford Terrace called The Strip.

He went as far as saying that if this was passed, some of the bar spaces would not be filled, and this threatened the viability of the whole project. So, less than a week later, little Jamie is faithfully defending his family’s economic interests.

The Press story says that Gough “hails from the same family as property magnate and Strip developer Antony Gough”; the story should stop here. A councillor is lobbying for a change in policy that will directly benefit his family interests. There could be no clearer example of a conflict of interest. For the Press to think this sentence somehow clears them from any accusations of a conflict of interest is laughable, but at least they vaguely mentioned the conflict, unlike the last time they covered Tim Carter’s opinion on convention centres, which his father might be building.

He should not be able to vote on this bill, and he should not be able to lobby support for it in the run up to the vote. The rebuild is already cloaked in secrecy and tied up in back-room deals; we do not need to tolerate such blatant conflicts of interest.

(For what it’s worth, I think the restrictions on bars are too restrictive, which I will blog about some other time)

Some interesting points have been raised here by Peter Taylor, who is a council candidate in the Hagley-Ferrymead ward. Peter is raising concern about property developer Tim Carter’s run for council, and outlines many of the concerns that I share. Carter was running for council before the earthquake, and I had concerns about him then; now, with so much of the city up for grabs, I am very wary about having a councillors who have significant property interests. Another such council candidate is Jamie Gough. Do we want a city run by property developers, for property developers, or a city run by the people, for the people?