Tag: Auckland Council

An Investigation

Rates Due to Hike Again – So Time for An Investigation

 

Okay, some idiot in Council mentioned rates and rates rises again giving the hapless ratepayer a sour stomach as we approach Summer and the Silly Season (although for Council, it is always the Silly Season with the Ratepayer Credit Card). Here is a piece from Councillor Cameron Brewer via Facebook with all the comments below (I am pasting this to draw context on where I am going with this):

  • Despite inflation running at just 0.8%, rates keep going up and on the isthmus service levels fall. In the Mayor’s draft 2013/14 budget released today road-side berm mowing will be axed in the old Auckland City area. Wards like Orakei will soon be paying more for even less.

    Another service reduction for old Auckland City area | Voxy.co.nz

    http://www.voxy.co.nz

    Auckland Mayor Len Brown’s draft budget for 2013/14 released today will cut out a long-held lawn mowing service for residents living in the old Auckland City area who are the same ratepayers stung the hardest with ongoing rates increases, says Auckland Councillor for Orakei Cameron Brewer.
    • Andy Cawston and 3 others like this.
    • Lea Worth Really….. why are we not surprised!!
    • Desley Simpson Pay more get less ! So again Orakei gives and doesn’t receive
    • Ben Ross Give the money to Local Boards away from the Governing Body seeming the Mayor and side kicks can’t budget. Bulk funding Local Boards with 33% of the total rates intake any one?
    • Stephen Maire Yes Ben.
    • Lea Worth At least that way Ben we would be protected from being seen as the cash cow to fund Len’s crazy ideas
    • Stephen Maire Yes, its OUR City not his.
    • Desley Simpson Cash cow and like all cows now need to eat ( mow) its own grass!
    • Ben Ross Just a refresher (just in case) Bulk Funding the Local Boards goes like this. Orakei currently pays $106m in rates to the “Council” yet “Council” only gives $10m (about 10%) back to Orakei to run its Local Board and services. The proposal I am running with is Orakei pays $106m to “Council” and Council gives back (and that is a must, no if’s buts or maybes) 25-33% (up to Local Board’s decision on level) back to Orakei so Orakei can run and maintain its Local Community Services, Events plus any CAPEX spending as it sees fit (of course with dialogue with its residents and businesses).

      The Governing Body can not touch the 33% as it is ring fenced to Local Boards. This also includes the Governing Body unable to hike the rates beyond 1.6x the rate of inflation at max with all spending spelled out per the current Better Local Government MK II Bill/Act/Paper
    • Mark Donnelly Desley – isn’t berm mowing in only a few local board areas a LB decision per the Act? ie not “regional” – and you could go to local govt commission for a ruling? This isn’t about a “cost” but about making a cut in just one or two board areas?
    • Cameron Brewer Good work George Wood. The Mayor botched that one – he didn’t even have the numbers to refer his budget to Strategy and Finance committee. He is very poorly supported by his political inner circle who don’t know how to whip or secure the numbers. Beautiful to watch.
    • Andy Cawston (shakes head in disbelief…)

      It would have been reasonable to expect significant cost efficiencies to arise from the Auckland SuperCity merger — reduced duplication of effort and infrastructure being the efficiencies that spring immediately to mind.And it would have been reasonable to expect the rate take to stay stable and/or for services to be improved for the same cost, or more likely to decrease in cost as these efficiencies filtered their way down…

      …but no. Exactly the opposite has happened.

      (Makes marks of the Balanced Scorecard)
    • Tracy Kirkley out west , we have mowed our own berms…forever…its not that hard.
    • Nigel James Turnbull 2.9% is actually pretty good as a rates rise. I wonder how much more could actually be found? And berms are generally mowed by most of us arent they? i mean i do my own berms because council did such a poor job normally…i would be incensed if the whole region got it and only we were getting this cut. I do understand how bearing the brunt of rates increases coupled with the highest rates rises is a bitter pill to swallow.
    • Andy Cawston Service cuts + rates increases + increases in debt burden is not on.
    • Penny Webster A good thing this is ony the beginning Cameron. We look forward to your considerable input and suggestion of further cuts.
    • Cameron Brewer Bernard Orsman covers yesterday meeting in today’s Herald. The good thing about the Mayor’s budget now staying at the Governing Body level is that he has to own it and front the meetings over the next 8 months, and not just kick it to Strat & Finance. This is primarily why a majority of us voted for it not to go to S & F. It was not really about excluding the Maori Statutory Board.http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10842948

      www.nzherald.co.nz

      Auckland Mayor Len Brown is proposing a rates rise of between 1.9 per cent and 2.9 per cent in next year’s election-year budget.
    • Andy Cawston I’d quite like to see Brown strive for a 5% rates DECREASE. It’s time we saw some Efficiencies of Scale arising from the merger of the Auckland-based councils. Any competent business would have found such efficiencies within weeks of a merger, yet the exercise appears not to have happened yet with Council.

      A 2% increase, within that context, is utterly unnecessary and obscene.
    • Ben Ross I have a debt and spending policy I might go pitch to voters when I run for Papakura Local Board next year. Fiscal Conservatism (hey Andy I am a conservative after all 😛:P ) is the name of the game and something those serious about fiscal prudence need to adhere too. The idea was in my submission to the (now failed) Long Term Plan. Busy writing post now on this

Okay so that is the discussion as of when I was writing this post. But the situation that I think is worth investigating is bulk funding Local Boards as I have suggested above:

Just a refresher (just in case) Bulk Funding the Local Boards goes like this. Orakei currently pays $106m in rates to the “Council” yet “Council” only gives $10m (about 10%) back to Orakei to run its Local Board and services. The proposal I am running with is Orakei pays $106m to “Council” and Council gives back (and that is a must, no if’s buts or maybes) 25-33% (up to Local Board’s decision on level) back to Orakei so Orakei can run and maintain its Local Community Services, Events plus any CAPEX spending as it sees fit (of course with dialogue with its residents and businesses).

The Governing Body can not touch the 33% as it is ring fenced to Local Boards. This also includes the Governing Body unable to hike the rates beyond 1.6x the rate of inflation at max with all spending spelled out per the current Better Local Government MK II Bill/Act/Paper

 

That policy piece stems from at least half of my What I Believe In for a Better Auckland fundamentals which I am going to pitch to voters at next year’s Local Government Elections (running for Papakura Local Board). The fundamentals being applied here are:

  1. Strong but no interfering Governance: Meaning Council  shows active and real leadership but does not interfere with the daily lives of residents and businesses
  2. Finances: If my family has to live within its means then so does the civic institutions that impact on us greatly (that being Council and Government). You work out your income, then what you can spend on – NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND as with Auckland Council
  3. Keeping It Local: Large centralised civic institutions seem impersonal (if not frightening) to most us. So how about keeping it Local and allow our Local Boards to be resourced properly so they can execute their true functions of local advocacy and providing our local community parks and services for us.
  4. Basics first: One thing I learnt when I moved out from the parents’ home and struck it out in the real world (including getting married and owning our first house) is that with the limited resources you have got, you did the basics first then with anything left over you just might be able to afford a luxury. Same applies to our civic institutions; they have limited resources so get the basics right first then “treat yourself or others” to a luxury if you are able to do so once the basics are taken care of.
  5. Listen and Engage: God gave us two ears and one mouth. In my line of work you actively listen with both ears THEN engage in dialogue with your one mouth. Not the other way around as that is usually monologue and the fastest way to get your ears clipped. Same applies to civic institutions:  you actively listen with both ears THEN engage in dialogue with your one mouth unless you like getting your ears clipped… Oh and remember some days all the person wants you to do is JUST LISTEN to their little piece – as all we want some days is just to get it off our chests.
  6. Stay out of my way: I believe in the following strongly “Individual Freedom -> Individual Choice -> Individual Responsibility (oh and do not forget the consequences)”   I am an adult who can make choices for myself (whether it was right or wrong), treat me as such rather than a child.

Actually that is 3/4 of my fundamentals being applied from the bulk funding of Local Boards proposal.

But the point I am going to pitch strongly to Papakura (in fact most likely to be the strongest as all other fundamentals technically stem from it) is Point Three (in bold):

Keeping It Local: Large centralised civic institutions seem impersonal (if not frightening) to most us. So how about keeping it Local and allow our Local Boards to be resourced properly so they can execute their true functions of local advocacy and providing our local community parks and services for us.

It is of my strongest belief that the Local Boards are in a better position than the main council and bureaucracy to deliver your local community services as well as being the main calling point from local residents (so you) in advocacy issues. And none more so with being the main calling point for advocacy that urban development within their jurisdictions.

 

In my submission to the Auckland Plan, and in my pitching to the Civic Forum of the Unitary Plan; I pushed for Local Boards working with planners in delivering the urban development outcomes in Auckland. An excerpt from my submission:

The main crux of the SLPD would come from the: decentralised, semi-regulated, collaborative, efficient, simplistic and affordable approach to LADU. This is how the crux or ideal would be achieved:

  • Under SLPD’s the decisions and/or oversight would be with the Local Community Board rather than the centralised Council
  • Council provides  a statement of intent (The Auckland Plan) and action plan for Auckland (Auckland Long Term Plan) over the next period of time
  • Council provides a mediation service when there is a dispute with an SLPD
  • Council assists Local Community Boards with resources required when an SLPD is being carried out
  • SLPD follows the Philosophies of Land Allocation/Development/Utilisation (mentioned page 14)
  • Simplified Zoning
  • Collaboration between the Local Board, Community and Developer (allowing greater flexibility and response to community concerns and needs/desires)

As well as

So in the end the SLPD-LADU model follows a hybrid of Houston’s method of urban planning and (to a limited extent) the (although simplistic and maybe crude compared to reality) techniques used in Sim City Four!

In short this is how the SLPD-LADU would work:

  • Council provides its goal/vision for the wider city over a period of time
  • Council provides a framework on how it would like to reach that goal
  • Council and the Local Community Boards begin the SLPD-LADU Process by:
    • Created a SLPD which “maps out” the local area’s intentions
    • Zoning or rezoning begins
    • Memorandum of Understanding between Council (if required), the Local Community Board and developers in developing the land (but complies with the Region LADU Philosophies previously mentioned)
    • Development begins
  • Development is then underway with the developer having to provide these basic provisions inside the zoning area – effectively zone or zoned district or districts:
    • Water infrastructure for the district
    • Electricity infrastructure (in coordination with the local lines company)
    • Telecommunications infrastructure (in coordination with whoever is contracted to provide phone/broadband cabling
    • Basic park/recreation facilities (set a minimum percentage of total developed area within the zoned district (except for “pure” industrial land)(percentage to be determined at a later date))
    • Basic street network (that can be readily connectable to the main transit system)
    • Allow for provision of a mass transit system if one is required (often in medium and higher density zoning districts)
  • After completion, the corresponding infrastructure of the zoned district would be allowed and capable of connecting to the existing city infrastructure

You can see the rest of the Submission that covers Land Use (urban development) in the embed below.

 

But as you can see I am pushing for democracy to return to the Local Boards and costs to be brought back under control. I will run further commentary in my Civic Forum update but in regards to Council finances and debt, check my submission to the LTP via the link below as both submissions are interlinked.

2013 you will need to decide how you want your Local Board(s) to work for you (and how it should be resourced). We all have a long road ahead but I advocate for local (community) democracy and basics first in regards to finances for you the Papakura ratepayer. Yes we all need to work together for a better Auckland, but also we need to work and focus closer to home – a better Papakura. Because a Better Papakura that you love and enjoy to live in contributes to a better healthier Auckland!

Check my commentary on the Unitary Plan and the pitch for local democracy and moving away from big stick regulation in building outcomes for housing, transport and the (physical and human) environment!

 

Submission to LTP where I mention a Debt and Finance Policy for Council

 

Submission to Auckland Plan

The Civic Forum

Civic Forum – Round One, and I am still awake

 

Tonight I attended the introductory session on the Civic Forum for the Unitary Plan, hosted by Te Radar and Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse.

Needless to say I got; juice, food and parking paid for so I shall be back Saturday for the workshops on The Unitary Plan.

 

However the hour long session I realised two things:

  1. Te Radar talked for 2/3 of the session tonight
  2. What the hell have I walked into with this Unitary Plan and Civic Forum

 

For starters me being there (along with two others of similar age including a fellow blogger), I lowered the average age of Civic Forum participants by a third – I kid you not. I think I was the youngest there and I am 27 for heaven’s sake. The other thing I realised was this:

[Quoting from my Facebook status]

So I sat through the Unitary Plan introduction session hosted by Te Radar and the Deputy Mayor. First of all I got food, juice and parking paid for so that means I come back Saturday 😀

Seriously though in regards to the Unitary Plan, I feel like standing in front of an impassable mountain that is blocking my path, so I have some options:
1) Just sit in front of it and go no where
2) Try and tunnel through it

3) Go around
4) Go over it
5) Stick the largest bloody hydrogen bomb underneath it and detonate it

Options chosen? You figure it out which one I would choose

 

The Auckland and Long Term Plans were straight forward to do submissions on. This Unitary Plan (The Planning Rule Book) is quite the something else to get my head around. None the less I shall endeavour to do my absolute best (using material from my previous submissions) plug away at the Saturday Civic Forum for the Unitary Plan, remembering the simpler it is, the better for Auckland it shall be (following the liberal dogma here).

 

So Saturday 10-4 at Town Hall. Lets see what I can converse about for the Rule Book that effectively rules us all 😛

 

As for that mountain, now where did I place that big red button!

Time to Take Out the Trash

Waste to Energy for Auckland?

 

Auckland currently sends to the landfill (according to the last lot of statistics) 1.1 MILLION tonnes of trash. That is a crap-load of trash being buried into our grounds. Councillor George Wood has just returned from Taipei where he (and the Mayor) checked out a municipal incinerator that burns Taipei City’s refuse (industrial, residential and commercial). Here is a translated version from George Wood on the Taipei City Incinerator:

 

It has been proposed by Councillor Wood that Auckland should investigate and if deemed feasible (a plant of the size of Taipei City costs $400m estimate) build such an incinerator for Auckland. I propose one better and go the full hog in building a Waste to Energy Incinerator to take care of our trashy trash! Basically that means the trash is burnt at extremely high heat (1000-1200C), the waste heat is then either used to boil water (good cooling circuit for a furnace burning at 1000c) to produce steam and crank that turbine for electricity generation or sent to heavy industry nearby for use, and the ash used to make bricks or roads.

To get more of an idea from WtE, check my previous article on the matter:

From “WHAT A LOAD OF RUBBISH:”

 

Council Continues to Debate Rubbish

 

HOW TO “TAKE CARE” OF THE TRASH

Strangely enough how to deal with waste that makes it to the landfills is very easy and the First World have mastered it quite well. Its called incineration folks and we already have a mothballed power plant ready to rock and roll. Yep you heard me right; what does not get recycled, composted or used as fill can be burnt with the ashes used as bricks or other materials as pointed out in the accompanying Wiki article. The wiki article along with its references, burning the rubbish – waste to energy seems to have quite few spin offs including being better for the environment gas emission wise:

Carbon dioxide emissions

In thermal WtE technologies, nearly all of the carbon content in the waste is emitted as carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere (when including final combustion of the products from pyrolysis and gasification; except when producing bio-char for fertilizer). Municipal solid waste (MSW) contain approximately the same mass fraction of carbon as CO2 itself (27%), so treatment of 1 metric ton (1.1 short tons) of MSW produce approximately 1 metric ton (1.1 short tons) of CO2.

In the event that the waste was landfilled, 1 metric ton (1.1 short tons) of MSW would produce approximately 62 cubic metres (2,200 cu ft) methane via the anaerobic decomposition of the biodegradable part of the waste. This amount of methane has more than twice the global warming potential than the 1 metric ton (1.1 short tons) of CO2, which would have been produced by combustion. In some countries, large amounts of landfill gas are collected, but still the global warming potential of the landfill gas emitted to atmosphere in e.g. the US in 1999 was approximately 32 % higher than the amount of CO2 that would have been emitted by combustion.[15]

In addition, nearly all biodegradable waste is biomass. That is, it has biological origin. This material has been formed by plants using atmospheric CO2 typically within the last growing season. If these plants are regrown the CO2 emitted from their combustion will be taken out from the atmosphere once more.

Such considerations are the main reason why several countries administrate WtE of the biomass part of waste as renewable energy.[16] The rest—mainly plastics and other oil and gas derived products—is generally treated as non-renewables.

Go figure

 

LOCATION FOR SUCH A PLANT

Meremere which was designed to become a Waste to Energy Plant until the Greens stopped it (idiots) would be a good site with road, transport and power grid links all within easy reach. Basically trash goes by road or rail to Meremere, burnt, and the juice sent via the National Grid straight back up to Auckland. Simple

Southdown/Penrose has a gas fired co-generation power station (so produces power and steam for industrial use) already there connected to the National Grid and disused meat works site next door that needs major urban redevelopment. Like Meremere, Southdown sites with extremely easy reach of road, rail and power grid links but with the added bonus of having industry near by that would use the waste heat for their usage (ACI Glass being one example and only just down the road). The extra spin-off with Southdown is it is right in the middle of Auckland so no need for excessive waste transportation for incineration.

If you are concerned about the emissions from a waste to energy plant, then go read the wiki article and more to the point its references attached. It seems the developed world can handle it so we should be able to as well, because we are First or Third World folks?

Landfills = third world

Recycling, Composting and Waste to Energy = First World.

Zero Waste = near impossible as even Earth and the Sun produces some rather nasty waste from time to time (although the Universe has a knack at recycling too)

 

So Auckland Council, lets keep it simple please.

 

The Penrose site I have here below in this graphic:

 

 

Click for full resolution

The site highlighted is around 7.5 hectares, similar size to the 7.2ha site in Taipei City. The area I am proposing in Southdown is the old freezing works site long abandoned (since 1980) and burnt to the ground twice already. The area is in heavy industrial land (so no residential) right next to the North Auckland Line (rail), Southdown Co-generation Power Station, and the North Auckland transmission line (part of the National Grid). So with the right scrubbers and pollution control measures in place, this site at Southdown would be perfect for Auckland’s first Waste to Energy Plant with full road and rail access. And with the site right next to the power station and National Grid, the power produced from the WtE plant can be fed directly to Auckland and Northland with waste heat also able to be fed along the pipeline from the power station next door to industry. So cleaner for the environment, we get some juice, industry gets heat and the Roads of National Significance gets some ash for road building . I’d say that is a win-win-win for the city 😀

 

Now then, to get that investigation and plant building going so Auckland can take care of her trash!

 

 

Unitary Plan as Thick as a Brick

Unitary Plan On the Path to Already Fail

 

To quote me from Facebook:

“When the Unitary Plan appears to be thicker than your average Bible at home, you know there is something VERY wrong here – with our planners and planning process…”

 

Now hopefully that is not true; but after I asked this morning in Facebook to those who have seen the Unitary Plan in its preliminary stages, I am rather not looking forward to seeing the Unitary Plan thus far hopefully next week. The actual answer to my question on the thickness was this: “it’s so thick it’s stupid,” so confidence in the Unitary Plan has already gone down the toilet – cute…

 

Yesterday in my K.I.S.S post I said this in regards on the Unitary Plan and simplicity:

The Late Owen McShane taught me that any “plan” over a thumbnail in thickness (on A4 paper – no cheating with A3) is a: dead weight, too complex, and albatross around the city and ratepayers neck. I would be a case of Gin that the Unitary Plan is going to be thicker than my thumbnail to the point it is going to be thick as my fist (yes that means the plan makes a fist of things). The K.I.S.S rule needs applied to the unitary plan, but to do that in benefit of the city, 3/4 of our bureaucratic and Stalinist Planning Department in Council would be all out of a job. Maybe that might be a good thing?

Thumbnail in thickness being the absolute maximum that ANY operating plan should be! Well it seems the Unitary Plan is going to fail that little test so I devised some crude measurements here.

I measured the thickness of thickest and largest Bible in the house; the NIV Life Application Bible standing at 48mm (4.8cm) and some 2385 pages in thickness. I also measured the thickness of my thumbnail which stood at 18mm (1.8cm) which means in theory the Unitary Plan using A4 paper (A3 for any maps – I’ll be generous there) should not be thicker than 20mm (2.0cm) at the absolute maximum. However again that does not seem likely.

So lets take a look at some pictures (and yes they are crude) for reference to thicknesses here folks:

 

 

9mm (94 pages) in thickness (or half a thumbnail) when both my submissions to the Auckland and Long Term Plans are combined. With 18mm being the thickness of my thumbnail (make it 20mm for a tolerance factor) and applying the K.I.S.S rule quoted above, the Unitary Plan should not be longer than 200 pages or both my submissions doubled up in thickness. But no we are seriously looking at a massive behemoth that is looking to be as thick as our largest Bible at home.

Heavens sake what is wrong with our planners – do they not understand thrift and simplicity? Obviously not or I would not be writing this post.

 

However I have some good news folks for all those who like simplicity, efficiency and wanting Council and planners to get the heck out of the our lives (and the road too). I am off to the “Civic Forum to discuss the Auckland Unitary Plan” on Tuesday 23 October and Saturday 27 October at Auckland Town Hall. So ideas abound once I get my first glimpse of this Unitary Plan. And yes I shall endeavour to “shrink” the Unitary Plan so it is no thicker than one’s thumbnail in the line of two of my eight fundamentals for a Better Auckland:

  • Strong but no interfering Governance: Meaning Council  shows active and real leadership but does not interfere with the daily lives of residents and businesses
  • Stay out of my way: I believe in the following strongly “Individual Freedom -> Individual Choice -> Individual Responsibility (oh and do not forget the consequences)”   I am an adult who can make choices for myself (whether it was right or wrong), treat me as such rather than a child.

 

So lets hope that at this Civic Forum this crucial fundamental will apply:

  • Listen and Engage: God gave us two ears and one mouth. In my line of work you actively listen with both ears THEN engage in dialogue with your one mouth. Not the other way around as that is usually monologue and the fastest way to get your ears clipped. Same applies to civic institutions:  you actively listen with both ears THEN engage in dialogue with your one mouth unless you like getting your ears clipped… Oh and remember some days all the person wants you to do is JUST LISTEN to their little piece – as all we want some days is just to get it off our chests.

 

Dialogue not monologue (from the bureaucrats and Councillors)!

BR:AKL will run commentary as I attend this Civic Forum on the Unitary Plan and the outcomes from it.

 

Stay tuned as I strive for you a Better Auckland – and hoping like anything the Unitary Plan does not become as thick or thicker than my Bible as that would be really thick!

 

BEN ROSS : AUCKLAND

Shining The Light –
To a Better Auckland

Auckland 2013: YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL

 

Our Council Controlled Organisations

How Well do Our CCOs Rate?

 

Bernard Orsman of the NZ Herald wrote a two part series about Auckland‘s Council Controlled Organisations – a.k.a The Auckland Bureaucracy.

You can read the respective articles in the list below:

 

 

What was interesting first up was the fact that the some of the CCO‘s could be up for a merge, or downsizing. That is fine with me to get some savings back to the ratepayer so long as our services are not affected.

 

Although what was more “interesting” is what Orakei Local Board Chair Desley Simpson had to say on the Herald’s series about our errant CCOs:

 Saving $ is great but what I am interested in is the improvement in communication and interaction with local boards Hope this will be reviewed at the same time Happy to input!

That prompted this remark from me:

  • Ben Ross Might be finding both Local Boards and normal ratepayers wanting to give input to OUR errant CCOs. But the CCO that needs the largest kick up the backside can not be touched due to the law…
  • Desley Simpson No guesses needed as to what you are referring to there Ben!

 

Upon reflection of that comment, ATEED is the CCO that needs the biggest kick up the backside for the amount of grief that CCO has put Auckland through. From the Rugby World Cup to the V8 Pukekohe saga, ATEED seems to have the knack in really annoying Auckland ratepayers from either daft decisions or being all Secret Squirrel with Councillors and the public over some of its decision-making processes (The V8s being the most recent). So using Desley’s remark on interaction and communication, ATEED fails badly there.

As for that other CCO that we shall not name and I was initially commenting about, well I can not exactly give it a kick up the backside for interaction and communication as that CCO which we shall not name has actually improved, especially if their Twitter communication and interactions are anything to go by as that has gone for strength to strength. So thumbs up there. As for a few other things, well we shall say that is a work in progress folks and leave it that.

 

But at the end of the day it is the communication and interaction that the CCOs really need to work on. While at arm’s length from Council Governing Body, having a healthy and open relationship with the GB, Local Boards and the ratepayers would be a wise idea unless the CCOs want open hostility from the ratepayers on a really good day.

So I recommend to the CCO’s if they want to help boost their “street-cred” with the Local Boards and ratepayers adopt these simple philosophies and stick to them:

 

  1. Open Governance: I believe in open governance where the public can sit in, listen and where possible discuss “matters-of-state” as much as possible with their representatives. None of this hiding behind closed doors (except for commercially sensitive material that does come up from time to time), and fessing up when you know you have stuffed up. You might find the public are more sympathetic you one acknowledges and apologies for a legitimate mistake
  2. Basics first: One thing I learnt when I moved out from the parents’ home and struck it out in the real world (including getting married and owning our first house) is that with the limited resources you have got, you did the basics first then with anything left over you just might be able to afford a luxury. Same applies to our civic institutions; they have limited resources so get the basics right first then “treat yourself or others” to a luxury if you are able to do so once the basics are taken care of.
  3. Listen and Engage: God gave us two ears and one mouth. In my line of work you actively listen with both ears THEN engage IN DAILOUGE with your one mouth. Not the other way around as that is usually monologue and the fastest way to get your ears clipped. Same applies to civic institutions:  you actively listen with both ears THEN engage IN DAILOUGE with your one mouth unless you like getting your ears clipped… Oh and remember some days all the person wants you to do is JUST LISTEN to their little piece – as all we want some days is just to get it off our chests.

 

That was from my What Do I Stand For and Believe In – For a Better Auckland. Something I will be using as benchmarks if elected to Papakura Local Board next year to see how our CCO’s are  treating the ratepayers and their money. But if the Herald article from yesterday was anything to go by, all three points above need some serious working on from ALL our CCOs.

 

In the meantime back to submission writing!

 

In Brief

A Brief View of Auckland

 

 

Was a busy day in the NZ Herald today with two different articles on Auckland’s Transport, and another two on our Council Control Organisations.

 

The two transport articles were:

 

In both these cases I have run commentary on these and are giving specific mention in my submission to Auckland Transport‘s Regional Public Transport Plan. Further commentary will be at hand as the week advances and I continue my RPTP submission.

 

As for the other two articles covering our CCO‘s, they were:

 

In regards to these issues, I have run commentary on this before and it seems I will be doing so again here at BR:AKL again this week if not next week. CCO’s being secretive is one of my pet hates and a campaign plank as I run for Papakura Local Board in next year’s Local Government 2013 Elections.

 

So yes today was a very busy day in the NZ Herald, with plenty more to campaign on for a Better Auckland here at BR:AKL!

 

BEN ROSS : AUCKLAND

Shining The Light –
To a Better Auckland

Auckland 2013: YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL

 

Dodgy Governance

White Water Rafting in Manukau or White Water Shafting in Auckland?

 

It seems Dodgy Governance at Auckland Council continues, again around the White Water Rafting Shafting facility that was “approved” (subject to public “consultation”) by – oh look the Auckland Council Strategy and Finance Committee. The very same committee blasted over The Long Term Plan and the V8 saga down in Pukekohe!

 

A press release from Councillor Cameron Brewer – Orakei

 

Rafting’s compelling economic story news to economists

Tuesday, 9 October 2012, 6:44 pmPress Release: Cameron Brewer

Whitewater rafting’s compelling economic story news to Council’s economists

Today’s revelation that neither Auckland Council’s own economic development unit nor Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) were asked to have input or to review last week’s proposal to support a $20m – $30m ratepayer investment into a whitewater rafting facility in Manukau, shows the poor process surrounding the project going from bad to worse, say Auckland councillor Cameron Brewer, who chaired today’s Economic Forum.

“At today’s forum some councillors were genuinely surprised to hear from representatives of ATEED and council’s own EDU that neither were involved in the Counties Manukau Pacific Trust and Regional Facilities Auckland’s proposal for proceeds of a council land sale to go into converting a South Auckland paddock into a whitewater rafting facility.”

Mr Brewer says that’s concerning given the controversial proposal narrowly got through last week largely off the back of all the economic development promises sold to councillors.

The report circulated to the 4 October 2012 Strategy & Finance Committee promised that the project would create 110 full-time equivalent jobs, attract 31% of its visitors from outside the Auckland region and New Zealand, act as a catalyst to attracting quality development within the surrounding area, and contribute an additional $7.4m annually to Manukau’s GDP.

“Now we learn that the compelling economic story that helped to successfully sell this project was never audited or even inputted by council’s own economic team or ATEED which employs 60 people in its economic development operations alone. That’s not good enough, particularly when you consider the proponent’s business case for this facility was completed in July last year. As councillors we need to be confident that what is promised can stand up to scrutiny and that should start with internal reviews of such big economic promises at the very least.

“I support those councillors who now want to see this project’s economic feasibility and business case peer reviewed by either council’s own economic development unit or ATEED. That needs to be done before this project becomes part of council’s draft annual plan for 2013/14.”

“This project was rejected outright by the former Manukau City Council three years ago. It then somehow escaped this council’s proper 10-year Long Term Plan budgetary process, and now we learn it has also avoided the scrutiny of council’s two economic development teams despite it being sold as an economic development project. Ratepayers should be even more worried,” says Mr Brewer.

ENDS

 

Well this sorry saga flies in direction contravention to just about every fundamental I stand for – for a better Auckland, specifically these points:

  1. Basics first: One thing I learnt when I moved out from the parents’ home and struck it out in the real world (including getting married and owning our first house) is that with the limited resources you have got, you did the basics first then with anything left over you just might be able to afford a luxury. Same applies to our civic institutions; they have limited resources so get the basics right first then “treat yourself or others” to a luxury if you are able to do so once the basics are taken care of.
  2. Listen and Engage: God gave us two ears and one mouth. In my line of work you actively listen with both ears THEN engage IN DAILOUGE with your one mouth. Not the other way around as that is usually monologue and the fastest way to get your ears clipped. Same applies to civic institutions:  you actively listen with both ears THEN engage IN DAILOUGE with your one mouth unless you like getting your ears clipped… Oh and remember some days all the person wants you to do is JUST LISTEN to their little piece – as all we want some days is just to get it off our chests.

 

Council is not getting its basics right if it splashes out on this rather large-scale luxury item. Council is also not listening nor even consulting those who should be auditing this facility proposed in Manukau City so how the hell are we meant to display the remotest of confidence in our civic leaders which Councillors and the Mayor are.

The answer is we can NOT!

Council has infringed on my fundamentals with this White Water Shafting deal and I am not very happy about it – in fact I am disgusted by those Councillors who voted for the proposal…

 

Can I spin a positive out of this? Well apart from standing for Papakura Local Board next year the answer in short is sadly NO!

 

Although I have to ask this question: Do I continue to stand for Local Board, or try my hand at Council itself and try to tip out a centre-left sitting Councillor north of me (in other words NOT contesting Papakura as the current councillor centre-right and it is pointless trying to tip out one of your own). It is a question that I will need to think long and hard over as the elections draw near.

In the mean time it is back to submission and speech writing – before Council does anything else rather daft!