Dr Smith – It will Simply NOT WORK

Minister eyes 10 per cent cap on Super City rates rises – National – NZ Herald News.

Any feeble attempt at capping rates will be nothing short of an utter failure – ok? You need to address the cause of runaway Council debt and expenditure

 

Local and Central Government need to effectively get rid of the Local Government Act 2002 and restart it with very black and white prescriptions on what Council can and can not do. None of this ‘General Powers of Competence (or rather Incompetence as the late Owen McShane said) which gives councils a free rein (without the money to back it up) seeming the Central Government shirk its responsibilities and plays pass the buck.

If one wants a starting point in some council budget reviews; ask yourself what should be CORE Council responsibilities? Do we include social aspects as outlined in Volume Two of the Draft Long Term Plan? If we were to wipe the Lifestyle and Culture budget line – could the $5.5b saved be of net benefit to the city fiscal and social wise?

 

These are all questions we need think of and answer before taking off on follies such as capping rates.

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History is about to Repeat itself – AGAIN

Housing boom coming, says Key – Property – NZ Herald News.

 

Talk about Clowns here – the Prime Minister says one thing and his Minister of Finance says the exact opposite. Who on Earth are we meant to believe here?

More to the point the apparent housing boom is already here in Auckland – that is The Housing PRICE Boom that is.

 

Cause? Lack of supply from Stalinist Auckland Council Planning Rules to allow the market to meet the demand of where people want to simply live.

Effect: Go search the NZ Herald on rent prices running amok – or simply put housing becomes even more unaffordable.

Solution: Go read my submission on land use. 

 

It seems history is about to repeat itself – again, condemning even more Aucklander‘s out of the housing market and their first or even second choice on where they want to live…

Submission Time

Time to Write my Submission to the Draft Long Term Plan

The end of the business day this Friday (23rd March) is when submission close for the Auckland Draft Long Term Plan. The LTP being the “action-plan” of Auckland Council over the next ten years, it sets how much rates we are charged and where the money goes. This first LTP will (in theory) set in motion phase one of three of the Auckland Plan which has a 30-year life.

So over the next week I will be busy assembling my submission – topics that I will be covering are:

  • Land Allocation/Development/Utilisation in southern Auckland as the 60:40 ratio of Brownfield:Greenfield urban development is carried out
  • Local Board, touching on areas of interest in my local board area – Papakura
  • Transport: Setting out the “Priority One” projects per my submission to the Draft Auckland Plan
  • Rates and debt: scary stuff a 10% rate rise and a $8.4b debt isn’t? Time to get the finances back in order
  • Port of Auckland: I want it moved and so will lobby hard to get that port moved AWAY from the prime waterfront

The list seems long but I have adapted to the art of short, sharp and sweet – of which this submission will be.

VOAKL will be still running limited commentary on issues that come to hand while I am writing the submission.

VOAKL: MY Auckland, MY Rates, MY City, MY Call

Honolulu’s Money Train – Can we See Auckland Here Folks?

Honolulu’s Money Train | Newgeography.com.

Have a read folks – enough to make one cry, and you know what the funny thing is? Auckland is in the exactly same boat!!!

Why is that?

Take a look at each point (started in bold) that Professor Cox has risen. Now apart from a few differences (owing from our legal structure such as pensions and the USA being federal) you could replace Honolulu with the word Auckland. So let’s go through the entire article and try shall we. All references and rights of the original material belong to Professor Cox – I am drawing a comparison here (my points will be inside the [] brackets).

Honolulu’s [Auckland’s] Beleaguered Residents

Critically, there is plenty of competition for the scarce dollars that Honolulu [Auckland] residents have to spare. The city’s basic infrastructure is in bad shape.

(Sewer) Water, Water Everywhere: A consent decree signed between local officials and the Environmental Protection Agency requires major upgrades to the sewer system. Sewer overflows are not unusual. Just a few days ago, 51,000 gallon raw sewage spilled into a local stream. The state issued a brown water alert for the entire island of Oahu (which is also the combined city and county of Honolulu), including Waikiki Beach and all other beaches. As of this writing, the brown water advisory has not been cancelled. Just in the last year, the state has reported 17 sewage spills and four brown water alerts. For this to happen in a highly tourist dependent economy is nothing short of astounding. [Think Mission Bay and Takapuna Beach here]

More than Leaky Pipes: The city’s water system is in need of major upgrades. From 2004 to 2009, water main breaks were virtually a daily occurrence. In an effort to solve the problem, the city has raised water rates 60 percent in the last five years and plans another 70 percent increase over the next five years. How much more will be required after that is anyone’s guess. “How are people going to make it? I just don’t know” reacted City council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi. [Well we are not that bad with fresh water – as with storm water that is a different matter entirely]

High Cost of Housing, High Cost of Living: Honolulu [Auckland] residents already endure the most unaffordable housing  in the nation, with median house prices 8.7 [6.4] times median household incomes. That is three times Dallas-Fort Worth.  Honolulu’s [Auckland’s] overall cost of living is also the highest in the nation, outside six metropolitan areas in the greater New York and San Francisco Bay Areas. Honolulu residents pay $1.41 to buy what $1.00 buys in St. Louis, 1.24 for each $1.00 in Austin and $1.21 for each $1.00 in Phoenix [go to qv.co.nz is to NZ comparable values]

Choices: This is not about easy choices. The sewer remediation, water system maintenance, government employee pension and government employee retiree health care benefits are mandatory. The rail expenditures are not [Rates, Roads, Rubbish and Libraries anyone?]

The Rickety Rail Project

Yet the city of Honolulu [Auckland] would tax its residents even more to pay for a 20 mile [3.4km] rail line [tunnel] to empty farmland well beyond the urban fringe [under the CBD]. This is a project not unlike the early 1900s land speculation schemes of Henry Huntington in Los Angeles and the Sweringens of Shaker Heights (Cleveland). There is, however, one important difference. The Huntington and the Swearingens bet their own money. Honolulu is betting the money of its taxpayers. The city hopes to receive $1.55 billion from the federal government[50% from Central Government in Wellington], with local residents [ratepayers] left to pay a hefty 70 [50] percent of the cost. This $3.575 billion local [$3.6b TOTAL (after the rail fallacy is taken into account)] share would create the highest tax burden for any urban rail line ever built-in the nation, at more than $10,000 per household[$857 for every man, women and child in NEW ZEALAND]. But residents should “thank their lucky stars” if that’s all they have to pay, given the history of cost overruns on such projects around the world. [Manukau Line having cost 1.6x more than budget, over a year late and still 110 metres short to where the station should be]

Stacking the Deck: The Federal Court Challenge: The planning process is being challenged in federal court. The plaintiffs argue that the rail selection process eliminated more cost effective options with biased analysis. This would not be the first time.

Annie Weinstock, Walter Hook, Michael Replogle, and Ramon Cruz of the Institute for Transportation Development and Policy (with a foreword by Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenaur),  cited circuitous routing of a busway that biased ridership forecasts in favor of light rail for the suburban Washington Purple Line. Weinstock, Hook, Repogle and Cruz refer to a similar “deck stacking technique” that favored an expensive rail project over a busway in the suburban Washington Dulles corridor. They fault local officials more than federal:

While there is no outright pro-rail bias at the FTA, there is indeed FTA complicity in the rail bias of city and state level mass transit project sponsors. The FTA, when evaluating New Starts and Small Starts project applications, tends to bow to political pressure to favor locally preferred alternatives and ignore certain forms of rail bias by the project sponsors

[Think John Key vs Len Brown on that one]

Pulling the Plug on Rail? Former Governor Ben Cayatano has filed to run against Mayor Carlisle in the August 2012 election. In announcing his entry, Governor Cayatano said “I will pull the plug on rail.” Polls show Mr. Cayetano ahead of both Mayor Carlisle and a third candidate. [Have not seen anyone yet willing to do that and run for mayor – but elections are next year anyway]

Capital Cost Escalation: state report indicated that construction costs could rise well above forecast. Every penny above the $5.125 billion capital cost will be the responsibility of local taxpayers. Based upon the international experience, this could easily raise the per household cost from $15,000 to $20,000. [Original cost of the CRL, $1.4b, then $2.4b, then $2.8b and my bets are $3.6b after the Rail Fallacy applies and the first sod of soil has not been even turned yet.]

Ridership Optimism Bias: Echoing general concerns raised by Weinstock, Hook, Repogle and Cruz (above), the state report indicated concern over an optimism bias in the ridership projections. For example, the city expects 60 percent of rail riders to use the bus to get to the train.  This is four times the rate of the largest new rail system built in the nation (Washington’s Metro).  Using the bus to connect to the train makes travel much slower and this factor has often been over-estimated by rail planners. This unrealistic assumption alone could qualify the Honolulu ridership forecast as among the most inaccurate in history.  Fewer riders. more money out of residents pockets. [That is an issue and post in its own right – something I would leave Auckland Transport Blog to cover.]

A Billion Here, A Billion There: As if all of this were not enough, a report for the Federal Transit Administration, obtained by the Star Advertiser through a freedom of information request, indicates that the operating costs of the transit system may be understated by as much as $1 billion over the next 20 years. That’s $3,000 per Honolulu household (Note 1). [Remember the Rail Fallacy: always 1.5x the original cost and deadline for a rail project]

Federal [Wellington] Doubts: Federal Transit Administration Regional Administrator Leslie Rogers [Prime Minister John Key] expressed concern about Honolulu’s [Auckland’s] ability to afford the project in a letter to local officials, noting that the funding program is insufficient. Local taxpayers likely will need to pony up more.

Debt Limit Suspended: After having claimed it could afford the rail debt, the city suspended its debt limit — a fact discovered four months after the fact by the Star Advertiser.  Usually, breaches of trust like this become evident only much later in the rail construction process. A suspended debt limit means more money out of taxpayer pockets, or worse. Jefferson County, Alabama filed bankruptcy after not being able to afford payments on its sewer debt. [Our debt is forecasted to be at $8.4 BILLION by 2021 with the CRL making upwards of $3.6b of that debt. 25% of your rates people will be paying the $521 MILLION of interest on that $8.4b debt in 2021. Financial illiteracy much here?]

How Would Rail Change Honolulu [Auckland]

With rail, Honolulu [Auckland] there are two [well one as ours is underground] ways that Honolulu will be changed:

No Traffic Relief: Despite being only the 52nd largest metropolitan area in the nation, Honolulu has the second worst traffic congestion in the nation (see figure), according to INRIX, the leading international reporting source. Honolulu and Los Angeles are the only US metropolitan areas ranked in the worst 25 out of 200 in Western Europe and the United States. Even with the rail system, local plans call for traffic congestion to get worse. 

[I bet Queen Street will still be choked with cars as ever after the CRL]

Getting the Choices Right

Incumbent Mayor Peter Carlisle recently returned from a Potemkin Village tour of Manila, raving about that city’s rail system. Governor Cayateno, whose familiarity with Manila extends well beyond a scripted tour, called Mayor Carlisle’s comparison with Manila “comedic,” noting that most residents cannot afford a car or that Manila has more than 10 times as many people.  [Go read the actual article from Professor Cox as you need to see the pictures to understand the point. Basically rail’s reach in Auckland is limited, without feeder systems such as park and rides or feeder buses, our rail system could never achieve the numbers it needs to free up Auckland. Catch is how much are we willing to spend to do so. The idea is not to bankrupt the city on the way out folks…]

The article was an eye opener while making one cry on the way out. Auckland has a chance to NOT go down the Honolulu path but on current paths we ARE!

Auckland Council – think carefully here before you spend our money on potential follies – we are watching – so PLEASE LISTEN!

VOAKL: MY Auckland – MY Money – MY CALL


NBR has something to say on the Government

Key follows failed Blairite formula | The National Business Review.

 

Rather interesting article from Matthew Hooton who is a Centre-Right supporter. I am mentioning this article here at VOAKL as this comment struck a point – it was:

John Key was the best thing that happened to NZ politics in a 100 years – we voted him in and we watched him run a great PR programme for the first term – but little else.

He was the one guy who could transform NZ with new innovative world leading legacy policy. By the beginning of last year pre the last election it was evident that he had the intellect but not the balls to deliver.

He scraped in at the last elections but very nearly got the old proverbial caning from a group of opposition party lightweights.

Now we are well into his second term and still waiting for his legacy policy. The new Ministry is a lame aggregation of numerous lame ministries who never deliver and never will until they have a clear direction and focus.

Nick Smith restructuring Local Councils is another joke. Local Councils have only accumulated such large debt because successive Governments have transferred responsibility and costs for infrastructure like roading and social responsibility to the Councils – reduce Government debt increase local body debt ( net benefit nil to the taxpayer/ratepayer ). Now that lunatic Nick Smith is endeavouring to be the saviour to ratepayers by restructuring inept councils – give us a break Nick – you are an idiot.

So we all ask ” when is John key going to transfer his energy from good guy/great public speaker at business functions ( which by the way isn’t representative of the majority in the street who don’t get free corporate functions to listen to John ) into the “REAL DEAL” – we want and deserve a period where NZ Inc has once again led the world with legacy policy – once again in the upper levels of the OECD wealth tables.

We need a number of new ” Fisher & Paykel“s ” ( which once had world leading technology and all production was based here ) – Rakon’s etc etc. We need exports full stop. That is the only way to get this country forward.

So things like Nick Smith juggling money between local councils and central government and creating a new Ministry are pathetic examples of what little this National Government is achieving so far – absolutely no innovation or visionary thinking

The Doctor | Saturday, March 17, 2012 – 8:45am

 

The comment is worth its weight in gold – but it was the bits I have put in bold that are worth their weight in platinum! Why? Because what this person said is beyond 110% true in regards to Central Government reforming in a meaningful manner Local Government. Look Auckland alone is facing some nasty rate rises pushing 10% and debt blowing out to $8.4b by 2021. Effectively (according to Cllr Cameron Brewer) in the year 2021 $521m of our ratepayer’s money is going to pay JUST the interest of $8.4b debt – or 25% of my rates bill for that year. Central Government needs to reform Local Government  to get costs and debt under control.

Black and white prescriptions need to be set out on what councils can and can not do: starting with an extremely close look on “social” aspects of council responsibility and doing away with this ‘Powers of General Competence (or rather Incompetence as the late Owen McShane would say) crap. Look if the Rates, Road and Rubbish philosophy (and battle cry of the Centre-Right) was ever carried out – automatically $5.5b of expenditure (from the Culture and Lifestyle budget line) would be wiped off the Auckland Council main budget. The savings could be used for that City Rail Link or giving us a rates decrease.

However I seriously doubt we will get any meaningful reform so issues such as: rates, road, rubbish and even urban/transport planning are still going to earn the ire of Auckland.

VOAKL does push for meaningful reform to local government powers and responsibilities – as we do seem to have the Power of General Incompetence at the top.

We have Already LOST? – The Port of Auckland Debate

The Insider: The real storm in Auckland ports – Politics – NZ Herald News

 

Reading across The Herald this morning while having morning tea and saw this:

THE REAL STORM

The Ports of Auckland dispute with the Maritime Union is a sideshow compared with the looming battle over the port’s container business and expansion plans.

Last week’s Auckland Council decision to review the port’s future only postpones the big fight, and the powerbrokers are arming themselves with lobbyists, PR companies, law firms and economists.

Backing the port is Wellington-based multinational SweeneyVesty and former Act press secretary Trish Sherson.

At Waterfront Auckland, which backs the port and its growth plans, is former National Party president Sue Wood and media supremo Bill Ralston.

Against the port is Heart of the City’s Alex Swney, supported by Auckland marketing gurus Pead PR.

So far, Wellington lobbyists Saunders Unsworth have remained on the sidelines, given their long association with the 14-member port company CEO group

While I have already foresaw this after the MUNZ vs. POAL issue finally subsides, this is still not the news myself and ratepayers want to exactly here. Effectively in the big guns are already squaring up then we as the little people – the individual ratepayers who OWN Port of Auckland have already lost.

It is sad but true – we of Auckland will lose out to the money and PR machine of the big guns and most likely have an outcome lugged upon us that is of no benefit to the city nor us (however I can stand to be corrected at the end of this). I shall tell you why we have already lost in the Our Port, Our Call debate that is Port of Auckland’s location.

One reason is the big money that is about to be thrown in this three-way debate that does not even cover the entire scope of the question that needs to be asked. The question being and that I (and another person) asked (well five actually):

1) Is the Ports of Auckland investment achieving approx 6% ROI, or isn’t it? And if not, what is its ROI?; and

2) Were there any significant work performance issues at the Ports of Auckland that would justify the Board of Directors and its Chairman contemplating a move to contract out the stevedoring function? And if so, what were those performance issues?; and

3) Is what McCarten claims true, about the current Board of Directors having a relatively-thin level of experience in operating a Port? And if so, why are they on the Board, and what possible value do they hope to bring to our valuable Public Asset?

4) For the sake of optimal Return on Investment and Productivity in benefit to the wider economy and social environment: Which ownership model would be considered best for Port of Auckland Limited.

  • 100% Council Owned
  • 75% Council Owned, 25% Private owned
  • Mixed Model: 51% Council Owned, 49% Private Owned
  • Minority Holding: 75% Private, 25% Council Owned
  • Full Privatisation

 

5) For the sake of optimal Return on Investment and Productivity in benefit to the wider economy and social environment: What location would be most suited for Port of Auckland:

  • Port stays where it is and infrastructure upgrades are committed
  • Port gets relocated to somewhere INSIDE Auckland, example south east Auckland
  • Port is relocated somewhere OUTSIDE Auckland. That would mean Port of Tauranga, and Marsden Point in Northland – which would also give way to subsequent infrastructure upgrades as well.

 

These five above questions need to be answered sooner rather than later – especially as these questions and possible outcomes would have major bearing on The Draft Auckland Spatial Plan and The Draft Long Term Plan. Enough of a major bearing that no matter which way the enquiry recommends in questions four and five – it could basically force a total re-write of both draft plans.

 

As for who would conduct this enquiry and the time frame needed, the enquiry board would consist of up to seven people drawing on from: business, industry, engineers and academics to give as broad-range yet expert research advice as possible. The time frame for such an enquiry would be around six to nine months, be fully autonomous from Auckland Council but funded by the Council. The enquiry would be allowed to draw on lobby and public input if deemed required and the final research report plus recommendations should be made public from the onset – as this is of high interest to the wider city and economy.

So big money will be able to lobby, campaign and frame the opinion on Port of Auckland to Auckland Council, we the little people – the individuals, families and local communities will simple get drowned out. Drowned out (and the second reason) as all we can do: is either write a letter to our Councillors, maybe a letter to the editor, hold a Facebook conversation or write a submission to the Draft Long Term Plan. We just simply do not have the measured resources to go up against big money.

By the way as a side note (and a rather massive one at that) – why is the Council Controlled Organisation – Waterfront Auckland partaking in this debate siding with THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL OPTION OF THE ENTIRE LOT? That CCO should be dead-set neutral and facilitating the debate – not participating in it by being on one of the three sides. Conflict of Interest MUCH with the CCO, Auckland Council and Aucklanders who OWN THAT WATERFRONT. By owning it means Waterfront Auckland follows OUR WISHES – not their own.

With big money and big resources being summoned in this Port of Auckland container debate, we effectively get three pre-determined outcomes of which one will be chosen. There will be no debate, no discussion – just a monologue from the PR firms and a token sham of consultation where we might have a “say.” With the three pre-determined outcomes there is no chance of bringing in new ideas for a robust debate – an idea that could be the best idea of the lot for all of Auckland. So in that regard are we stuck with a second or even third-grade choice with POAL.

The funny thing is all this could have been avoided if Auckland Council held that independent enquiry I asked for – to which all I got was this from ACIL.

So time to square myself up for a good old fashion fight. Time to sharpen that pencil and get cracking with my submission on Port of Auckland in the Draft Long Term Plan. Time to get VOAKL ready for being the portal of alternative commentary in the POAL debate:

VOAKL:  MY Voice – OUR Auckland – OUR Port – OUR Call.

Auckland Council does have Leadership – unlike CTU

Auckland Council lacking leadership to help resolve Ports | Scoop News.

 

I was going to comment of this yesterday but ran out of time. However Cameron Slater at Whale Oil did manage to pick up on the matter this morning in his Blog.

 

However reading the Council of Trade Union’s press release I noticed some misinformation from its President – Helen Kelly.

Ports of Auckland workers are disappointed that the Auckland Council has lacked the necessary leadership to help resolve the current employment negotiations at the Ports.

Today the Auckland Council voted down motions from Cr Richard Northey calling for resumption of collective bargaining, and from Cr Cathy Casey calling for a review of the Ports’ requirement for a 12% return on equity.

 

I was reassured by two councillors yesterday that Cllr Northey’s motion was WITHDRAWN not voted down. As for Cllr Casey’s motion – that did get voted down although a shame it was (something I might be changing after seeing the Official Minutes of that Meeting) my letter which ACIL replied to did want to look at the 12% Return on Investment from Council.

 

I have also noticed this:

Bit inappropriate for Councillors to be having a scrap on Facebook. I see it as Conduct Unbecoming and Bringing a Company or Institution into Disrepute. Of which earns a Warning or Dismissal in the Private Sector. For the Public Sector time for a Censure of the wayward Councillors (some be their third one in three weeks)?

 

Look, Council and Mayor Len Brown have done the right thing in the POAL industrial relations saga to which I applaud them for. The one thing maybe Council should have done is seek advice and services of the Minister of Labour and Department of Labour to help resolve the dispute. Sadly we do not have something like Fair Work Australia that settled the QANTAS industrial relations dispute.

However we have a bigger fight coming up with POAL. Something I will be covering soon at POAL.

 

 

Councillor Brewer Sounds Out the CRL

Govt buy-in on City Rail Link needed | Scoop News.

This press release was brought to my attention through the former admin of AKT Blog site Jon C. You can read the press release for yourself and make what you will of it. 

This press release was brought to my attention this morning AFTER I had given my presentation yesterday on the City Centre Master Plan to the Auckland Plan Committee.

Clock Tower building, University of Auckland

Coincidence or strange sense of irony – but what Cllr Cameron Brewer has mentioned hear is what I touched on in my presentation yesterday (as well as Wynyard Quarter). In brief I said this about the City Rail Link:

  1. I support it
  2. Using the Rail Fallacy the actual cost will be near $3.6 billion and be completed around 2025-ish
  3. A Priority Two Project per my original submission with completion around the 2022-2032 mark. In other words the middle 10 years of The Auckland Plan
  4. Need to get Wellington on board
  5. Need to step back, have a proper debate and get some savings done first (that part was not mentioned)

Back to release again and agreeing with Jon, I also believe the CRL has gone super quiet. This is especially while the Draft Auckland Plan is being finalised, AND the Draft Long Term Plan (that would fund this mega-project) is calling for submissions. Time to re-kick a ever-more expensive project back into the spot light for another look? VOAKL thinks so.

Further more I do not personally agree with $8 million been spent on consultants when the University of Auckland – our flagship university is more than able to do the task better in: research, results and price.

So is the blind leading the blind here on the City Rail Link and lumbering the city an enormous cost that we are simply not ready for yet? I say so. So lets all step back, pause, and breath and come to the CRL question again with clear minds.

As I do not look forward to paying 25% of my rates in 2021 on $520m worth of interest on an $8.4b DEBT!!!

Thank You

A Thank You to the Auckland Plan Committee.

 

Just would like to extend a thank you to Councillors and Officers (Mr Campbell-Read and his assistants) for hearing my presentation on the City Centre Master Plan.

Short sharp and sweet was the key to this one with focus on the City Rail Link and Wynyard Quarter.

A thank you to Chairman Councillor George Wood on the complement of the work and presentations I have produced – to which YES: I will be back for the Draft Long Term Plan when hearings are up for that.

 

And yes Cllr Brewer is right you can follow me on Facebook – or this blog 😀

It is also good to hear other submitters as well – great to know what they are thinking and positions are.

Again thank you folks for your time and appreciation

And to answer Cllr Casey’s question – make an offer 😛 😀

The Office – Should I or Not?

VOAKL Takes a Look Forward to the 2013 Local Government Elections and Why I give a Damn about Auckland.

 

In October 2013, we get to go to the polls to elect our: Mayor, Councillors, Local Board members, and a few others such as District Health Boards and maybe the odd Trust floating around. For Auckland that means voting in our second Super City Mayor and Council after the establishment of Auckland Council in 2009. The “terms” in which the 2013 election will be fought will be probably nothing short of an utter bloodbath with five potential major issues that will shape the campaign:

  1. Rates – will the 10% proposed rate rises in some area’s fly while others (myself included) get a Rates reduction. Is there smarter ways to raise revenue for Auckland, and can we avoid $8.4 BILLION of debt that would mean ratepayers would be forking out $504-odd-million in debt interest payments (some 25% of one’s rates) in the year 2021. 
  2. Port of Auckland. With the Left members of Council about to lob a nuke on the 16th and really make the mayor look silly (although done right and the mayor will really come out with integrity intact and look like a statesman) and the Maritime Union continuing its immolation of itself, Aucklander‘s will side with either one that is Pro-MUNZ; or one that is not so Pro-MUNZ, has the respect of the word of law, is pragmatic, and some sense of intelligence on what they can or can not do as an elected official of Auckland. With Port of Auckland, there will be debate and some blood letting around the port in its current location and whether it expands in its current spot of gets the literal heave-ho to another spot in Auckland.
  3. The City Rail Link. Some say $2.4 billion and completed by 2021, I say $3.6b and completed by 2025-2032. The CRL will act as a lightning rod on large scale projects and whether huge amounts of capital (that would ultimately borrowed) should be on rail, roads or buses.
  4. Rates, Roads and Rubbish. I have been trotting the battle cry of the centre-right Citizens and Ratepayers group (CnR) as some are alarmed at the incoming rates rises. With the Minister of Local Government, Dr Nick Smith about to launch some “reforms” on Local Government, I have been rather noisy on getting savings on ratings if the Local Government Act 2002 was thrown out and a new piece of legislation was put in place that reflected more on core council operations. The catch is one has to define “core operations” first – for example if we removed the “Social” aspect from Council, then $5.5b from the Lifestyle and Cultural “division” would be saved from the Council budget. So there could be very well at battle here – but it needs to be done properly otherwise just focusing on capping rates without dumping the legislation that causes the original issue is rather dumb.
  5. The Auckland Draft Plan and The Draft Long Term Plan. Both set out Auckland for the next while with the LTP setting out council revenue (rates) and expenditure over the next ten years. Now both plans have been (or currently are) through the submission process with the public, businesses and interest groups having a say (I did that was for sure). The Council is about to finalise and set these two plans into motion to which will influence or dictate what happens to the city over a period of time. However 2013 could be seen as a ratification exercise to both sets of plans and whether Auckland accepts or rejects them. How so? I was advised that The Auckland Plan can be altered on the election of a new council and that the LTP can modified through the introduction of the Long Term Plan 2015-2025 by the new council as well. So if there is major opposition to the Auckland and Long Term Plan (2012-2022) a new council could under take a rewriting exercise.

 

So those five outlooks could be what the Auckland Council election fought on and who gets elected depending on the mood (and intelligence) of Auckland voters. Who would be mayor and the make up of councillors from 2013 – I would say despite the Left’s immolation, Len would be in for a second term with a centre-right/centre dominated council – in other words the Left gets decimated hard. Numbers wise I would say out of 20 councillors 7 would be CnR, 5 from Labour/Greens and 8 independents plus Len as mayor. And if those numbers became actual in 2013 – that would make it a very interesting Council for the next three years.

 

So Why Do I Give a Damn About Auckland

 

Because Auckland is my home, always has been and she always will be – through the good, bad and down right ugly. I have been in Australia previous for two years working but always found Auckland was home. Also through my upbringing I have been taught to look out for others before you and that The Best of Both Worlds will often be the best solution to a tricky problem with “the sides” entrenched in their bunkers and not willing to move. I am an idealist but that is tempered by my realism side as well (The CRL is proof of that) and have a knack of running head long into a crisis when others run the other way. And with that running headlong into a crisis comes leadership, diplomacy, courage and determination to stick it out often with the troops and see through the crisis to its end.

I have been keeping a tabs on politics since I was small and remember the 1993 MMP referendum, The Employment Contracts Act 1991, National’s dark days from 1998-2004 and through later years the Clark regime that led to the Key regime from 2008 (oh by the way I am 27 in May). City, urban and transport planning wise, been doing that since I could play Simcity 2000 way back in the 90s (and continued to do so through to SC4 and soon SC5 (2013). So through politics and Sim City my interest in those realms has always been high – and now translated into literal form as I actively lobby and participate in politics. Starting with being a Nat since 2003 to my very first submission on Auckland, I care about this city my home and therefore participate in the processes that have the potential to make this city a better place. My About page has a little bit more about me.

So I started View of Auckland – my own blog after some inspiration from a few other blogs (you can find those on the right hand side in the Blogroll). VOAKL is my portal in voicing my opinion on Auckland issues and often putting forward alternatives to what is out there. VOAKL builds on work I do when I write submissions to Council (or central government) or runs commentary on topical issues of the day. While I voice opinions and alternatives at other blogs, VOAKL is my home and voice on issues that affect Aucklanders. VOAKL gives an insight to why I give a damn about Auckland.

 

So then do I put my money where my mouth is?

I care about this city and want to see if grow and do well, I also lobby and put in submissions to Auckland Council in doing my part in participating in democracy to make Auckland a better place. But do I put money where my mouth is and go that one step further? Should I have a crack at local politics itself and try to work things from the inside OR continue to work things from the outside via lobbying and submissions?

All questions that need to thought over very carefully before ANY decision is made next year.

 

But always – I give a damn about this city and is the reason why I do what do – in my part in making Auckland a better place for all