Archives for posts with tag: Lianne Dalziel

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

This is a cross-post of my most recent piece, which went up at the Daily Blog on Saturday.

A change of seasons, and a mysterious smell hangs in the air over Christchurch. No-one quite knows what it is. Could it be the change of council, alongside the change in the seasons? Is this the Canterbury Spring? In one of the least surprising elections of all time, Lianne Dalziel coasted into the mayoral chambers without even breaking a sweat; along with her came a swag of new councillors, many from the left, many with some innovative new ideas. It wasn’t just talk though – one of her first actions was to put a stop to some of the excessive spending that seems to have characterised the arrogant, out-of-touch attitude of the Parker-led administration. Just this week, the first council meeting was opened up to the sunlight of the livestream. Not much happened, but it was the principle of the thing. We could watch nothing happen, from the comfort of our own homes. We could watch it later, if we had something else to do, like, say, work.

The council isn’t the only thing that is showing signs of changing – the big man may be for turning. Incoming councillor Raf Manji is leading the voices questioning the wisdom of the “green frame”. I’ve written about it before, but this is the large amount of land that was going to be bought up and converted into green space on the centre-east part of the CBD. Except now the green elements are being watered down, with buildings and projects being added. The grand artifice of the blueprint, with it’s digital flyovers and shiny brochures, is starting to crumble. The revelations about EQC intentionally excluding people from it’s surveys was not taken well by Gerry, who has been less than supportive of his chief executive, Ian Simpson. Even the recovery’s most vocal cheerleader, Peter Townsend from the chamber of commerce, has admitted that we are only 3-5% of the way through the rebuild. Coming up to 3 years after the February quake, that simply isn’t good enough.

In the middle of this dynamic time, the Labour party made the bold choice to have it’s annual conference in Christchurch. I was on the organising committee for the conference, and it certainly wasn’t easy to hold it here. We could have done it somewhere else, and it would have been much, much easier for everybody. But we stuck with it, and made sure it happened here – because it meant something to the party, to give something back to the city. The organising committee was then rewarded by the party for their work hosting, with some bold policy announcements which will help the city get out of this rut.

The announcements at conference – KiwiAssure, plus extra Kiwibuild in the east, red zone temporary accommodation and the New Brighton revivatlistation – are all designed to benefit Christchurch East, but the also single the end of the phoney war that has been going on over the rebuild. “Don’t politicise the rebuild” has been the catch-cry since February. These announcements show that Labour isn’t afraid to make some bold decisions. The Christchurch East by-election is high stakes, for both Poto Williams and David Cunliffe. A win onNovember 30 wont just be a vindication of the change of leadership; it will be the next step towards winning back Christchurch, and ultimately the Treasury benches, in 2014.

The red tide is sweeping Christchurch; barricades are going up in Hereford St, the hammer and sickle has been raised above the council chambers. Or has it? Without wanting to down-play the success of the left in the local body elections, I think it’s worth tempering the enthusiasm. Somewhat.

So what happened? Well, Lianne Dalziel won the mayoralty with a commanding majority and a good return. It is a strong mandate (I’m not going to say “awesome” as I think she’s said that enough already). There was a worry that the non-contest for the mayoralty would lead to a low turnout; I think it was important that Dalziel got a good number of votes, and she did. It was just a shame that she didn’t get to go up against Bob Parker – with the backlash against the Marryatt-team, he would have got his ass handed to him on a plate. While some will eulogise his two terms in charge, I would hope that history remembers him for more than just the Orange Parka. He showed media savvy and leadership for about 3 months in September 2010; the mood was already turning against him in early 2011 before the February quake. He led well in the wake of that disaster; there might have been 12-15 months of his two terms in which he performed competently, the remainder was pock-marked with poor decisions – the Henderson deal, the Ellerslie deal, the Marryatt saga and the building consents debacle, to mention but a few.

At the council level, there will be 9 new faces – six of them from the People’s Choice team. I don’t want to detract from the result, but need to put a few caveats on it. Firstly, the Banks Peninsula result is at this point to close to call – with Andrew Turner ahead by just 5 votes. Once special votes have come in, I’d expect it will still be close, and that it will proceed to a recount. So let’s say there are 5 PC councillors. It’s worth remembering that in 2010, we had 4 PC councillors – Yani Johanson, Glenn Livingstone, Jimmy Chen and Chrissie Williams, who resigned mid-term. Johanson, Livingstone and Chen have retained their seats, as well as Phil Clearwater in Spreydon-Heathcote and Pauline Cotter in Shirley-Papanui. Clearwater did well, but was helped by the two long-serving incumbents stepping down. Cotter was assisted by the voters of Shirley-Papanui punishing Ngaire Button and Aaron Keown for their abysmal record at council.

So while I’m not trying to detract from the result – which is fantastic – I think suggestions that Christchurch has “gone left” and is punishing the government are premature. This was an extraordinary election, in which the electorate has punished Parker’s so-called “A Team”; Keown, Button, Claudia Reid and Helen Broughton were thrown out at the ballot box, whilst Sue Wells and Barry Corbett had the political nous to see the writing was on the wall months ago, and chose not to stand. Jamie Gough is the only councillor to survive this ballot, which shows just how bleak the Fendalton-Waimairi ward is.

Possibly the biggest casualty has been the centre-right “independent” groupings. While People’s Choice is openly Labour, in Christchurch the “National-in-drag” grouping was Independent Citizens. That was then rebranded as “iCitz”. Then there was the split, with Ngaire Button leaving to form her own independent non-political political party City First with Aaron Keown. Gough was the only councillor to return on the iCitz tag; Claudia Reid and Helen Broughton both lost their seats, and as mentioned before, but I will gleefully mention it again, City First got precisely zero (0) councillors. I assume that the right will try and rebuild their presence at the local body level; they may want to look at what Labour has done with the People’s Choice.

That said, I’m not convinced that the People’s Choice did that well. In two wards where I thought they could or would pick up a second council seat (Burwood-Pegasus and Hagley-Ferrymead), they didn’t. In each of these wards, People’s Choice had a high-profile councillor seeking re-election (Livingstone and Johanson) along with a council vacancy (Peter Beck and Tim Carter). A strong Labour presence on the ground in these wards sadly didn’t translate to a win for either Robyn Nuthall or Tracey McLellan, who would have been bold, female voices on Council (only 3 of the 13 councillors are women; time to talk about man-ban again?) So while the People’s Choice team should be satisfied with the effort, they should be wary of getting too carried away with the results.

To build on them in 2016, it will be critical that our councillors perform well. Given their 5, maybe 6, seats, People’s Choice should be able to lay claim to the deputy mayoralty. While Johanson and Livingstone are the most senior of the team, I would suggest that maybe Clearwater is the best choice. Though he will be learning on the job about being a councillor, he has a long history of representation at the community board level. On top of this, he has been instrumental in leading the People’s Choice organisation for quite some time, alongside Community Board member Paul McMahon. They have been a superb job to keep the organisation running, rebuilding it from the ashes of the old Christchurch 2021 group – which almost fell apart on a couple of occasions. He knows how to manage people and egos, and would be a calm, sensible voice in what will be a very challenging transitional period.

The only other option I can see for deputy would be Vicki Buck, who won a council seat with the largest return of any candidate. However, there is some animosity between her and the People’s Choice camp, so while I’m sure she would bring a wealth of experience as a former mayor, it might be a bit “back to the future” for a supposedly forward-looking council. The Press’s favourite, Raf Manji took the second Fendalton-Waimairi seat, and will be interesting to see how he performs this term. I will be watching closely to see how Dalziel goes in working with the fresh faces like Manji, Ali Jones and Tim Scandrett. Given that the disunity of the last council was one of the nails in Bob’s coffin, how she pulls this team together will be one of her most important tests.

This was a remarkable election for Christchurch, and while I don’t want to detract from the individual campaigns of the various candidates – successful or otherwise – they need to realise that they are there mostly because of who they are not. Hopefully by 2016, we’ll be re-electing them because of who they are, and what they stand for.

Since Bob decided to step down slash chose to leave the building rather than being hung, there has been speculation as to who will run against Lianne Dalziel. The Herald has linked obvious joke candidates, such as a dog, a “superhero” and Aaron Gilmore to the job. The Press is perhaps more realistic, with Ngaire Button, Tim Carter, Sue Wells and Peter Townsend in the mix. This morning’s editorial also calls for a strong candidate to run, but perhaps misses some of the point.

Apparently Parker was made aware of the polling data that showed Dalziel was the overwhelming favourite for the mayoralty before he made the decision to step down. He pulled the plug because he’s an egotist, a showman, and he didn’t want to go out after have being trounced at the polls. Some have said that he decision to quit is brave; I’d say the opposite. It’s cowardly. He could see the writing on the wall, and jumped before he got what would have been a humiliating fall for Christchurch’s “hero”.

This might come across as gloating, and … well – it is. For critics and opponents of the Parker-led council, this is a vindication. We’ve rallied against Marryatt, the culture of secrecy, the lack of accountability – all of which have been instrumental in the downfall of the two men. But these two aren’t the only culpable. Button, Wells, Gough, Keown – the rest of the “A team” who supported this destructive culture are similarly tainted. The idea that anyone of them could hope to pull the mayoralty is laughable – all the ideas and baggage of Parker, without the constant media coverage that won him the last election. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these guys lost their council seats – if they don’t follow Bob in reading the writing on the wall and going first.

Tim Carter and Peter Townsend were both at Dalziel’s campaign launch, which was considered a soft endorsement (which showed just how low Parker’s stock had dropped in the right-wing business community.) They may be rethinking a run now – but their backing of Dalziel suggests that she has the endorsement of the business community, so even if they did declare, it’s not a given that the business community would follow them.

For someone to have a realistic crack at it, they’d have to have a comparable profile to Dalziel, and some big (presumably right-wing) backers. The Nats could try drop an MP into the mix, but they’re a bit thin on the ground here. Brownlee already rules the council. Wagner is a nobody. Wilkinson is a fading star, but from Waimak rather than Christchurch, and hardly charismatic enough to pull large numbers of people. David Carter is technically a Christchurch MP, and while I’d quite like the idea of him being in any other role than speaker of the house, he has lost Port Hills a number of times, and famously called Woolston a shit-hole. That said, he’s well connected, and would have the money for a big campaign. Aaron Gilmore would be hilarious if he ran, but nothing more than a joke.

Beyond the smug satisfaction of vindication, we need to come up with policies to put in place post-election. Much of this will be limited by the CCDU. However, Parker and Marryatt have done a huge amount of damage, and some of it needs to be undone. The article in the Press on the council’s debt track over the next 30 years is truly frightening, and I’d like to see constructive debate on this in the election campaign – thou at this rate, it could just be Dalziel grilling herself.