THE VALIDATION BILL
The commissioners at work
LETTER TO YOUR BANK 25.05.13
MISLEADING RATEPAYERS SHOULD BE A CRIME 23.05.13
ANOTHER CON 23.05.13.
Ratepayers in Kaipara should have learnt the lesson by now that financial projections put together by so-called experts are utterly meaningless. Those who wield the power start with the outcome that they want, then get the pundits to hobble together some statistics that superficially appear to justify the outcome.....(more scroll down)
LOCAL BILL IN PARLIAMENT 20.05.13
HAVING YOUR CAKE AND EATING IT 10.05.13
In the face of claims from ratepayers that the 2012/22 LTP was obviously invalid because of several clear instances of non-compliance with legislation, the commissioners maintained that they had a legal opinion confirming that the LTP was valid. But they refused to disclose that opinion.
They then turned full circle by including the LTP in the Validation Bill. This was a clear acknowledgement that the LTP had always been invalid.
However they tried to fudge the issue, and have a bet both ways, by including a provision in the Bill to the effect that the inclusion of the LTP and certain other matters in the Bill was "for the avoidance of doubt". In other words they weren't sure whether it was invalid or not but were throwing it in, just in case.
The folk in Wellington would have none of it and demolished that provision. I presume on the basis that being valid is very much like being a virgin, you either are, or you aren't. There is no half way.
So the Bill now states quite categorically in section 3 that the purpose of the Act is to:
validate the rates and to validate actions or omissions the Council relating to the late adoption of its annual report for the 2011/2012 financial year and its long-term plan for 2012-2022.
That means that the LTP is not valid until the validation takes effect when the Bill is enacted by parliament, which will at best be many months down the track.
The commissioners are therefore faced with the difficult situation of not having an LTP and not being able to set or collect rates or do many of the things that councils need to do.
It is an insurmountable problem that everyone is trying to ignore because quite simply there is no legal solution. Council is effectively in legal limbo and is utterly hog-tied.
The way out for the commissioners is to turn a blind eye to the situation. John Robertson is still insisting that the LTP is legal and that it was only included in the Bill "for the avoidance of doubt", when he knows full well that the Clerk of the House and the Parliamentary Counsel Office have completely rejected that view.
The whole situation is totally farcical and the rule of law is being kicked around like a Machiavellian football. It is time the regulatory authorities - and that includes the Minister - got off their regulatory back-sides and put an end to all this cynical abuse of power by the Kaipara Council.
If they don't, then it may mean another trip to the High Court for an injunction to stop the commissioners operating outside the law.
POLITICAL PRESSURE ON THE MINISTER 10.05.13
Retroactive legislation in the form of a Validation Bill does not sit comfortable with most MPs. In addition, the failure of the Minister and his commissioners to consult with or engage in any way with the community before pursuing the validation process, as required by the terms of reference and the basic rules of good governance, will be frowned upon throughout parliament.
MPs see that the validation process as a last resort and only after there been meaningful, constructive and robust consultation with ratepayers.
The failure to consult or engage with the community becomes far more relevant where there are no elections and when government appointed commissioners are involved with a clearly government-driven agenda. It has all the appearances of democracy and the interests of the community being completely hijacked.
It looks as if David Clendon may be the first of many to go knocking on the Minister's door.
AARON GILMORE - ALL IS FORGIVEN 10.05.13
Remember that the Second Reading of the Plumbers Validation Bill only passed by a majority of one.
Such is politics.
THE SEAT OF POWER? 10.05.13
Four new chairs from Briscoes ($119.99 each) and new air conditioning.
THE WORD IS SPREADING 09.05.13
The MRRA, which has lodged an application for a judicial review with the High Court, has just received a substantial donation from the Russell Ratepayers' Association to help fund their action.
Clearly ratepayers across the country are beginning to realise that what is happening in Kaipara has major significance for all ratepayers. There are some very important legal principles at stake and the feeling is growing that, given the total failure of the regulatory authorities, there is need for a watershed decision of the High Court defining the exact limits of a local authority's powers.
Ratepayers have had enough of their councils running amock and ignoring the law.
OAG INQUIRY 09.05.13
There is no indication of when the report will be available.
The update states:
As with all of our major inquiries, we will now ensure that we comply with our natural justice obligations by giving those affected an opportunity to comment on the draft report before we finalise our views.
+ Ratepayers, the victims in all this, and the ones who are being forced to carry the can for the incompetence of others, are deemed not to be affected persons
+ Natural justice for the perpetrators it seems, but no natural justice for ratepayers. How could the OAG be allowed to carry out this inquiry when many consider that that Office bears a large responsibility for the EcoCare debacle?
RATE STRIKE 09.05.13
Not only is the KDC in a precarious situation financially, it has now acknowledged that it has no valid long term plan (LTP). The LTP is included in the validation bill because Council has finally conceded that it is invalid.
All councils have to have a valid LTP as it is the document that enables a local authority to operate legally, to set and collect rates and make charges for all other matters. Without a valid LTP the KDC is operating outside the law.
It is a bizarre situation having a local authority operating illegally but that is the extent of the Kaipara problem. Rather than resolving the underlying problems, the commissioners have gone for totally ineffective band-aid fixes, and the problems have just got worse and more complicated.
It has now reached the situation where there is no legal fix in anyone's tool-box. No one ever contemplated that a local authority could get itself in such a mess.
To pay rates to an organisation that is effectively insolvent, is operating outside the law, and has gone to parliament in the hope that it will wash away all the illegalities, is not to be recommended.
If you want further encouragement to join the rate strike just consider that all the rates that you pay will go to pay for the costs of the ridiculous validation bill and to fight the MRRA judicial review.
The commissioners are using ratepayers monies to deny ratepayers the right to have their legal case examined by the court. They are also going ahead with an incredibly stupid, confrontational and futile validation bill that will create absolute mayhem in the district,
If they had pursued their obligations in the Minister's terms of reference to consult with the community and to engage with the community, the validation bill would have had the endorsement of the ratepayers, if it was reasonable, and if it included ALL the legal problems that need to be resolved.
Given the total indifference to the illegalities of the Council by the Minister and the OAG - the so-called watchdog - ratepayers have no alternative but to apply to the court for a ruling and to withhold their rates.
The High Court decision is only a few months away. Do not pay your rates. Put them into a separate account. And let's wait for the High Court to tell us one way or another whether the rates are legal.
LEGAL BOOBOO 2 09 05.13
Let me tell you why....(more)
LEGAL BOOBOO 08.05.13
The Bill only goes back six years, presumably because of the Limitation Act. But the six year period in that act can be extended when the problems were unknown.
It is interesting that the Tasman Bill going through parlaiwmtn at the moment goes back further than six years. And, given that Peter Winder has admitted tha ALL rates have been invalid since the Kaipara Council first commenced way back whenever - unbelievable but true - would it not be advisable to include all of the rates ever set by the KDC in the validation bill?
If the Council is going to spend $200,000 on this farce then it may as well get it right.
A BLIGHT ON THE HISTORY OF KAIPARA 08.05.13
Ratepayers have all been sent a notice advising of the proposal and the bill can be viewed at Council offices or here.
The fact that the Kaipara Council has committed this litany of incompetence - which runs to thirty page - is bad enough, but, when you consider .......(more)
FUDGING THE DEBT 05.05.13
Legal Eagle (here) casts some light on the situation and suggests that it reflects a Council that cannot cope with its debt. He calls for government intervention before the commissioners destroy Kaipara trying to impose their will on the people of the district.
VOICES OF KAIPARA 3 05.05.13
VOICES OF KAIPARA 2 04.05.13
Bruce Rogan of Mangawhai points out (here) the arrogance of the commissioners who are doing all they can to block ratepayers from accessing the courts (with ratepayers' money) when in fact they themselves are going to the highest court in the land - parliament - to validate all their rating blunders (with ratepayers money).
VOICES OF KAIPARA 1 04.05 13
We are therefore opening a special page for ratepayers to have their say on these matters.
We need to show the commisioners they they are acting alone, as unelected appointees, and do not represent the people of Kaipara.
Send posts to firstname.lastname@example.org
Doug Bone kicks off here (scroll down).
UNCLE JOE'S POINT OF VIEW 03.05.13
GOVERNANCE FALLS FOUL OF POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY 03.05.13
DESPERATE MEASURES 03.05.13
APPALLING GOVERNANCE/PETTY SPITE 03.05.13
The following resolution is recorded in the minutes of the Council meeting.
Delays the consideration of the application until the outcome of the Statement of Claim seeking Judicial Review taken by the Mangawhai Ratepayers and Residents Association is known;
The monies that had been promised come for the reserves fund which are to be used solely for purposes such as this. They are not there to finance Council's cover up of its own past delinquencies.
All in all it looks like a petty display of spite by the commissioners making the ratepayers of Mangawhai "pay" for having the audacity to challenge the commissioners powers in the High Court.
MORE SEWERAGE WOES 01.05.13
They are worried that the court will lay bare the illegalities and incompetence of the KDC and raise some very serious questions about how local government functions in this country. It might also highlight the abject failure of the regulatory authorities to perform their functions.
Ratepayers across the country are having serious doubts about local authorities running out of control and operating in secret.
Note the comment in the first article from former Mayor Michael Laws about Wanganui's disastrous sewerage system:
"The liability goes back to those engineers and designers and senior council management who informed the governance team that it would work. Just as worrying is the fact those experts had their assumptions peer-reviewed by other experts and they got it wrong too.
A repeat of the Kaipara situtation, except that in Kaipara the decision was made in secret and in defiance of the law.
It is very rare that ratepayers have the money and the cojones (google it if you don't know) to stop local authorities exceeding their statutory powers. Thanks to the MRRA that is now happening in Kaipara.
Those who are part of the the cosy, laissez faire arrangement whereby local authorities operate with impunity outside the law will shudder at the thought of an independent judicary cutting through years of spin and misinformation and simply stating that local authrities MUST comply with the law.
REASONS FOR DELAYING THE VALIDATION BILL 30.04.13
These reasons were presented to the commissioners by the MRRA to try and get them to be fair and reasonable and to consult with ratepayers before taking this unilateral action.
The MRRA has impressd on the commissioners that the issue of legal liability for the illegal debts must be decided either by agreement or by the court. Indications are that a court hearing could be held as early as June or July.
To have the High Court rule on this matter, independently, fairly and in accordance with the law, would bring some finality to this long festering dispute.
After years of being told repeatedly by Council that issues of legality could only be decided by the courts, it would be a denial of ratepayers' rights if the Council and parliament united to deny them access to the court.
The MRRA has also made it clear that it would take all reasonable steps to help put Kaipara back on its feet again. If agreement could be reached on legal issues then ratepayers would support the validation of all matters in the validation bill except for penalties on unpaid rates by rate strikers, EcoCare annual rates for one year when there was no service, and the charges on untis of demand and SUIPs which were totally outside the law.
Validation bills are having a rocky passage through parliament at the moment and the Sabin bill will push parliament's tolerance to the limit. How preferable it would be if it were delayed until all the problems of Council are identified by the court and the OAG report (which should be out soon) so that All the problems facing Council are included in the bill. Not only that, it would have the support of ratepayers as part of a negotiated settlement.
COUNCIL ENDORSES VALIDATION BILL 30.04.13
RICHARD BOOTH 30.04.13
The other three commissioners are dyed in the wool political animals well versed in the mysterious arts of local government in New Zealand and have very definite views about the role of ratepayers in the local government system.
Commissioner Booth is a local resident with a well-earned reputation and one wonders how he copes with the appalling governance of the commissioners and the denial of basic consultation over such a major issue as this.
VALIDATION BILL STEAMROLLERS ON 28.04.13
The draft bill is Attachment A at page 15.
The bill that will go before parliament is version 2. This has never been made available to ratepayers. However, in a surprise move it was made available to the executive of the MRRA on the basis that it was not shown to anyone else. The MRRA was asked if it wished to make any comments on the content of the draft bill.
The MRRA suspected, rightly as it turned out, that this was a ruse by the commissioners so that they could claim to parliament that they had "consulted" on the bill.
The MRRA declined to comment on the content of the bill for that reason, but did respond with a list of reasons why the validation bill should not proceed at this stage.
Like most ratepayers, the MRRA acknowledges that the KDC has got itself in such a legal mess that a validation bill will be necessary to put it back on a legal footing, However, it is pointless for a validation bill to proceed until ALL problems have been identified and consulted with ratepayers.
All ratepayers should read the MRRA's submissions - Attachment B at page 46 - as these are the sorts of issues that will become very relevant if the bill gets to parliament.
KAIPARA KONNECTION 28.04.13
STEVE RURU'S SPIN 23.04.13
“........given that ultimately they are the ‘owners’ of the council and would need to fund the costs of any relief granted."
It is interesting that when it comes to paying all the debts then ratepayers are conveniently considered to be the actual owners of Council and therefore totally responsible for all the years of incompetence.
But, if they are owners, they are owners who have absolutely no rights. The ratepayers appointed Councillors as trustees to act for them and to run Council professionally and competently, and in the best interests of the owners.
That trust was betrayed time and time again, and that betrayal has been acknowledged by the Councillors themselves and the Chief Executive.
But rather than recognise the concerns and claims of the ratepayers/owners, all of which have been accepted, and take some remedial steps, the government has stepped in and appointed commissioners, who, without any democratic mandate, are now sweeping all the errors of the past under the carpet by forcing a validation bill through parliament.
And, to addd insult to injury, they are forcing the ratepayers to foot the massive legal bill for doing so.
No other sector in New Zealand would put up with such arrogant and tyrannical behaviour by those who are supposed to be trustees.
And why is the government acting as the "enforcer" for such autocratic and unconscionable behaviour?
No wonder the ratepayers are asking the High Court to bring some sanity, and the rule of law, back to Kaipara.
COMMISSIONER'S CROCODILE TEARS 23.04.13
WE ARE NOT ALONE 23.04.13
Flashbacks to the previous Kaipara Council.
That's not a problem with the commissioners. They are well and truly driving the steamroller.
INTRANSIGENCE OR NEGOTIATION? 22.04.13
He comments about the commissioners mock indignation at the MRRA having the temerity to issue legal proceedings.:
Clearly it has come as something of a shock to the Commissioners to discover that we actually live in a supposed democracy here in the Kaipara.
Very true. We were promised collaborative commissioners who would regain the trust of the community and work transparently and cooperatively in the best interests of the ratepayers.
We have seen little of that.
Sadly the commissioners have adopted a secret and dictatorial approach. They have reneged on agreements to consult, have been arrogant and authoritarian, and the unilateral and draconian validation bill was the last straw for ratepayers.
The MRRA has made a mark in the sand. It refuses to let the commissioners - who are imposed not elected - to continue to deny ratepayers of all their democratic and legal rights. For years now Council has ducked and dived and avoided accountability and dumped all liability for its appalling incompetence on innocent ratepayers. The MRRA has said "Enough".
Ratepayers should be elated that after years of being bullied and denied their rights, the High Court will be making a decision, within a few months, on liability for the debt and the legality of rates. That decision will be honest, fair, independent and binding. Qualities that have been remarkably absent in Kaipara for many years.
John MacDonald expresses concerns about the costs of litigation and no one would disagree with him. But resorting to the court is always a last resort that sometimes is unavoidable. The commissioner have shown that they will not modify their approach in any way through consultation, so ratepayers have little alternative but to take more extreme action.
Ratepayers across the district need to get behind the MRRA. Express their support for their legal action and tell the commissioners to listen to what is being said.
If we can make them do that then they might abandon their intransigence and, rather than go head-to head with ratepayers in court, sit down at the table with them and actually respond to their concerns.
A negotiated settlement is far preferable to a war of attrition in the courts, but that can only eventuate if the commissioners decide, or are forced, to come to the negotiating table.
SUBMISSONS TOTHE DAP 20.04.13
KCRA FIRES BROADSIDE 20.04.13
In what looks like another case of cynical manipulation, the press release (here) was issued the day before submisions on the DAP closed, so ratepayers have yet again been denied the opportunity to make submissions, not only on the cost but on whether the proceedings should be defended.
Ron Manderson pulls no punches:
This is surely grossly overstated unacceptable deceptive scaremongering
He looks at the logic behind the commissioners' approach:
Council has admitted many illegalities, so why should they spend ratepayers money to defend what should have been rectified already? Commissioners credibility and integrity becomes most questionable when they admit illegalities exist to the extent they seek Parliament to legislate the illegal to become in effect legal, yet oppose the ratepayers taking Court action to seek the required corrections legally.
He throws his whole support behind the MRRA:
This has gone too far, Ratepayers should Take Back Kaipara by withholding rates until this is sorted by out of Court negotiations with Ratepayer groups, including MRRA, and Commissioners.
It is heartening to see another ratepayer group endorsing the MRRA's stance. Ratepayers have the law, equity and fairness on their side but they need to be united and support each other and not allow the commissioners to drive wedges between them.
KDC IN SCHTOOK 19.04.13
He highlights the deceptiveness of local authorities' financial practices.......More here.
MAI CHEN 19.04.13
Any quality audit, finding errors of this kind, would conjecture that they are just the tip of the iceberg and as the government is 40 per cent of the economy, that should worry the rest of us who pay for that government. What other breaches are occurring that we never hear about?
Kaipara ratepayers know the answer to that. They have suffered years of the same sort of incompetence. Mai Chen should read up on Kaipara and scratch the surface a little. That would be a reality check.
Alarming signs of state incompetence
Pike River, Kim Dot Com, EQC, David Bain, GCSB
SELECTIVE NATURAL JUSTICE 19.04,13
A notice on the Council website would have dispelled the accusation of arrogance. Or perhaps even an announcement from the OAG, heaven forbid!
It appears that the report following the inquiry has been sent to affected parties so that they have the opportunity to respond. Affected parties are those who may have some negative comments made about them.
This is all part of the OAG's adherence to the principles of Natural Justice which seem to apply only when ratepayers are not involved. Thus we do not get a copy of the report because we are deemed not to be affected.
The fact that the OAG has breached a whole swag of principles of Natural Justice by holding an inquiry into a matter in which that Office was deeply involved (and widely peceived to have been negligent), does not appear to matter because that involves ratepayers and in the scheme of local government in New Zealand ratepayers do not matter.
It's a topsy-turvy world out there. Oh for some straight shooting from the High Court.
LAST DAY FOR SUBMISSIONS 19.04.13
Legal Eagle has done his bit and his submissions can be seen here.
It is all a farce really because Council has stated in its draft validation bill that its current LTP is invalid. That means that it is in breach of the LGA because it has to have a valid LTP at all times.
The effect is that the draft annual plan is invalid and also the amendments to the LTP because they are both based on an invalid LTP. Council therefore cannot set rates and is operating outside the law.
That has not troubled Council in the past when the regulatory authorities were asleep but it is going to be very hard for the OAG to turn a blind eye to the latest digression from the path of legal compliance.
The problem that the Council faces is that the LTP remains invalid until the validation bill is enacted by parliament and that is several months at least down the track.
This may be the first instance in New Zealand history where a local authority has stepped totally outside the law into uncharted territory. It is the Armageddon that Greg Gent warned of last year.
MRRA MEETING 19.04.13
I am sure that everyone left the meeting assured that the legal action was necessary and in very competent hands. They would have also been assured that the aim was to resolve all concerns with Council cooperatively for the benefit of the whole of Kaipara without fighting the matter out in court.
COMMISSIONERS PANIC 19.04.13
PLUMBERS BILL SECOND READING. 17.04.13
Comments made by speakers are very relevant ot the Kaipara Validation Bill.
PLUMBERS BILL READING ADJOURNED 12.14.13
Kaipara ratepayers should listen to the speech by Ruth Dyson explaining some of the principles that are very relevant to the Kaipara validation.
PLUMBERS ETC AGAIN 12.04.13
It shows how parliament is being used as a rubber stamp to validate all sorts of jiggery-pokery, but only for those entities like local authoities and regulatory boards that are deemed to to have a special status that places them above the law and in need of special protection.
THE BELLIGERENCE CONTINUES 11.04.13
Legal Eagle expresses the view (here) that this is deplorable given that Council has acknowledged that the rates are illegal and that it is operating without a valid LTP.
Ratepayers are advised to withhold paying any further rates until either the court or parliament makes a ruling on the legality of the rates.
THE LOCAL MP AND VALIDATION 11.04.13
He also suggests that the bulldozer approach by the local MP and the commissioners is not appropriate.
SELECT COMMITTEE WARNING TO COMMISSIONERS 10.04.13
Legal Eagle reports here on the progress of the Plumbers. Gasfitters, and Drainlayers bill and some of the comments made by the select committee.
Legal Eagle suggests that the commissioners are heading for two major battles, in court and in parliament, and it may be time for a third party, such as local MP Mike Sabin, to step in and broker an accord between the parties.
COMMISSIONERS STUFF UP AGAIN 08.04.13
He also asks if it is time for the Minister and the commissioners to reassess their approach and actually listen to ratepayers' concerns. If they do that then they may be able to reach some accord to resolve the current impasse.
MRRA MEDIA RELEASE 08.04.13
ROOM FOR AGREEMENT? 08.04.13
VALIDITY OF DAP 06.04.13
However, he suggests that there is an opportunity for a change of direction by the commissioners. An agreed independent assessment of the legal problems, and an agreed independent scrutiny of Council's financial situation, could see ratepayers and commissioners heading in the same direction.
"CONNECTABLE" AGAIN 05.04.13
MORE "CONNECTABLE" ISSUES 05.04.13
"CONNECTABLE ISSUES" 05.04.12
Legal Eagle looks at the details and asks if this is fair (here).
COUNCIL AND MANGAWHAI COME TOGETHER 04.04.13
The Lifestyler article can be seen here.
IS THE PLAN A SUCCESS? 04.04.13
WATER RATE INCREASES 04.04.13
Council was clever enough to introduce this increase a few months ago to get some degree of separation from the increases in the property rates in the DAP.
Water rates are rates and should be included in with property rates when calculating the affordability of rates.
It would be worthwhile to see the sort of water rate increase that people are having to pay.
Examples please. Before and after. Then add the water rates to the proposed property rates and see if you still come with the 5% affordability threshold.
A CAPITAL OFFENCE? 04.04.13
AFFORDABLE RATES? 04.04.13
Q & A ON JUDICIAL REVIEW 03.04.13
MANGAWHAI WASTEWATER (ECOCARE) CAPITAL CHARGE 01.04.13
It looks promising initially but he suspects that it is a trap to lure ratepayers in and get over the current hurdles facing the commissioners, then they can be socked with the big bills later.
All part of the Ponzi plan.
Note that this is simply an application to review the decisions. Council is not being sued for damges or anything like that.
At his stage it is unknown whether Council intends to defend the application. It is a little hamstrung in that it has already acknowledged the illegality of most decisions in the claim by including them in the draft validation bill. The court will be simply confirming what Council already publicly acknowledges.
In the next day or so we will also include a full guide to the proceedings, the background, the reasons, and the effect that they will have.
LIES, DAMNED LIES AND STATISTICS 31.03.13
SUBMISSIONS TO THE DAP 31.03.13
Ratepayers should be careful if they are using the submission form attached to the Annual Plan Summary headed the "Big Picture". It is full of leading questions that are designed to limit the responses that you can give...(continued here.)
WAIT BEFORE YOU SUBMIT 31.03.13
Legal Eagle and the MRRA are combining to produce a summary of what they believe to be the defects in the DAP. It should be out later this week.
All comments from ratepayers gratefully received for publication. Send to: email@example.com
When sending them in please advise the name (real or pseudonym) the post is to appear under.
Ratepayers are advised to hold back on their submissions until they have read all the different views expressed.
EASTER FOLLY? 31.03.13
The NZ Herald reports here that:
Labour inspectors from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment were checking in on retailers today to monitor compliance with a law prohibiting them from opening on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
It is ironic that the inspectors actually work on the prohibited days to stop others working on those days.
The law is described as archaic and yet is being vigorously enforced by the government.
It is a great pity that the government does not apply the same enthusiasm to law enforcement in local government where it allows errant councils total freedom to flout the law and act outside their legal powers.
Having the government watchdogs trying to stop people buying a few plants over Easter seems ludicrous when the same government's local government watchdogs have sat by and watched the Kaipara Council pilfer tens of millions of dollars illegally from its ratepayers.
Judge Neave is quoted as saying the breaking of the law by the shop owners is "cynical". I am sure he is right. The rule of law must prevail and rules must be obeyed.
But if selling a few plants in breach of the law is regarded by the judge as cynical then one wonders what will be the reaction of the courts when they are presented with the total abuse of power by the Kaipara Council when it secretly, and in breach of the law, doubled the size of the EcoCare scheme, and the debt, and. effectively destroyed the financial base of the whole Kaipara district..
The well-being of all the people of Kaipara is more important than a few plants, isn't it?
RATES FOR 2013/14 30.03.13
VALIDATION BILL - STANDING ORDERS 30.03.13
Parliament's Standing Orders set out the very detailed and precise procedure that have to be followed before a bill enters parliament and then during the parliamentary process.
This Council, in all its different guises, is not too sharp when it comes to compliance with rules and regulations (which the Validation Bill itself proves) and I suspect that it will come a cropper again in spite of $150,000 dollars of legal advice.
One bright suggestion is that the Validation Bill itself is actually included in the Validation Bill so that the inevitable defects in the Bill can then be validated.
"Put it on the tab"
WHAT PLAN? 29.03.13
Legal Eagle wonders if it is a conspiracy so that ratepayers can only have access to the plan through the highly biased and spin-laden supplement in the Kaipara Lifestyler.
Read the full article here.
"THE COUNCIL IS NEITHER INSOLVENT NOR BANKRUPT" 27.03.13
Is Council insolvent or bankrupt? Legal Eagle looks (here) at the facts and the financial fantasyland that passes for accounts in the DAP.
JUDICIAL REVIEW 27.03.13
It is interesting that commisioner John Roberston has slated the move and argued that ratepayers will have to pay the bill for both sides.
As usual with John Roberston's comments, not quite correct. The legal costs of the MRRA are being met by those who have personally contributed monies to fight the illegal activities of the Council. There is no bill for ratepayers.
It is true that ratepayers will have to pay the legal costs of Council, if Council decides to defend the action.
However, such costs should be put in context. Ratepayers have been denied justice for many years under a corrupt and incompetent Council. Commisioners have taken over but have indicated with the validation bill that they shun consultation with the community and intend to force all the past illegalities on to unwilling ratepayers. They have given ratepayers little option.
The validation bill is going to cost probably in the region of $200,000. That is the cost of the sheer incompetence of the Council staff and Councillors. The innocent ratepayers are being forced to foot that bill rather than Council seeking it from those legally responsible under the provisions of the LGA.
Over the past few years council has wasted over $100,000 on legal opinions to counter allegaltions of illegalities. It also handed $240,000 on a platter to the previous Chief Executive without any legal obligation to do so.
Paying a few thousand dollars to front up in court to face, for the first time, a truly indepndent appraisal of its actions is small beer compared to the tens of millions that it has squandered in the last few years and worth every penny .
LARRY MITCHELL IN NZ TRUTH 27.03.13
His article, published in this week's NZ Truth can be seen here.
KAIPARA'S PLACE IN HISTORY 25.03.13
Kaipara is vying for its place in history with financial and legal bungles stretching over many years, costing the ratepayers enormous sums of money, and effectively destroying the financial fabric of the district.
No single regime is responsible. Several mayors have been involved but the eminence grise was Jack McKerchar the Chief Executive who controlled the Council like a mediaeval despot for eighteen years. But even on his forced departure the illegalities and the bungles have continued, even under the government appointed commissioners.
There appears to be no end to the incompetence, the illegalities, the misrepresentations and the lies.
In years to come, in hindsight, this disgraceful period in Kaipara's history may be seen as the Reign of Error.
CYPRUS AND KAIPARA 24.03.13
There has been some conjecture that New Zealand is heading in the same direction with the OBR (open bank resolution) being proposed by the government, whereby bank depositors would lose some of their monies deposited with a bank if there was a financial crisis.
Kiwis are affronted to think that something like Cyprus could happen here and that their savings could be "taxed" by the banks with government approval.
But what people do not realise is that we already have a situation far worse than what is happening in Cyprus.
MRRA FILES LEGAL PROCEEDINGS 22.03.13
The Association has applied for a judicial review of many of the decisions made by Council.
Both Bruce Rogan of the MRRA and chief commissioner John Robertson comment about the proceedings.
The MRRA is being represented by barristers Doctor Matthew Palmer and Kitt Littlejohn.
ECOCARE - THE CHEAPER OPTION
VALIDATION AND THE GOVERNMENT 22.03.13
Minister Maurice Williamson is railroading through parliament a validation bill to legalise monies that were collected illegally by the Plumbers and Gasfitters Board.
The Ombudsman's Office recommended that the monies should be repaid. But that did not sit too well with the Minister:
"I think the Ombudsman's Office is wrong. The board would be technically insolvent if they had to pay this money back".
That raises a couple of points.
What relevance does insolvency have? If an organisation acts outside the law and as a result it becomes insolvent then that is a fact that has to be accepted. It happens to individuals and businesses throughout the world all the time.
Why then are some organisations - including the Kaipara Council - afforded special treatment and government protection from their own incompetence?
The other point is the attitude of this Minister to the recommendations of the Ombudsman. We have already seen the same dismissive comments from fellow Minister Judith Collins in respect of an independent review, and the Prime Minister dismissed the criticism of the Sky City proposals in the OAG report, saying that "he would lose no sleep over it".
What hope do we have of the OAG report into EcoCare and its recommendations making the slightest impact on this government?
WATCHDOG CRISIS 22.03.13
"It is a paralysis of democracy."
An article by David Fisher in the NZ Herald (here) reports on the decision of the Ombudsman's Office to begin its own investigation into the way the public service is responding to the Official Information Act.
The Office is bogged down with complaints as government agencies delay or refuse requests under the Act.
Constitutional lawyer Mai Chen is reported as saying that the government expected citizens to comply with laws and it should do so with the Act.
"If they don't mean to do it, they should repeal it."
Ratepayers in Kaipara would endorse those sentiments. They are expected to comply with legal requirements and pay their rates whilst the government and all its watchdogs allow the Council itself to completely ignore the requirements of the law.
Why have rules in the LGA and the LGRA if local authorities can ignore them at will and, if anyone complains, they can always get parliament to validate the illegalities?
MORNING REPORT 22.03.13
Steve Ruru does little for his credibility when he says that most Mangawhai ratepayers will get a reduction of $100 in their sewerage charges. Absolutely untrue. The annual sewerage charge itself may decrease slightly but the general rate is being increased substantially to incorporate charges for the Mangawhai sewerage system.
Not only that but ratepayers will have to pay massive new capital charges for the sewerage system that are being introduced this year.
This is one of the crafty tricks that Council uses each year to misrepresent the percentage increase in rates. It treats what it calls "capital charges" as separate to rates. The truth is that there is no such thing as capital charges as such. They are targeted rates like all the others and should be treated the same as the others.
That is unless you want to pull the wool over ratepayers' eyes.
BANKS MUST BEAR LOSS 22.03.13
State owned enterprise Sold Energy is in financial difficulties and owes $390 million.
Mr Key is reported as saying that commercial banks making loans to SOEs must realise that there is no government guarantee.
It will be interesting to see if the Prime Minister will extend the same logic to local authorities. There is little doubt that banks are sucked in to lending to local authorities because they are part of local government, and, although it is clear that there is no government guarantee, the government does promote local authorities as cast-iron securities.
It looks pretty clear that when advancing funds to the KDC to finance the EcoCare scheme the bank involved (ABN Amro) was very cavalier in its approach. It failed to do due diligence, and completely ignored the clear requirements of the Local Government Act.
The original bank, and the banks that subsequently bought the debts (BNZ and ANZ), will find it difficult to argue that they acted in good faith.
If the original bank had applied the same sort of scrutiny to the KDC's proposal as it affords to most loan applications by ratepayers then the KDC might never have been able to launch its EcoCare Ponzi scheme.
The banks involved gambled, and lost. It is perhaps time for them to take a hair cut.
AMALGAMATION AND RATEPAYERS 20.03.13
The Local Government Commission is taking the proposal seriously and has called for alternative proposals. The deadline date for proposals is 15 April (here).
Farmers of New Zealand has come out strongly in favour of Kaipara keeping its own separate identity. That appears unlikely given the failure of the democratic process in the district, and the push from government for unitary authorities.
There will either be one unitary authority for the Far North, or perhaps two with the western part of Kaipara joining the FNDC, and the eastern part of Kaipara joining Whangarei.
There is also the remote possibility that the eastern side of Kaipara could be annexed to Auckland. That would make some sense given that the supply towns of Wellsford and Warkworth are both in Auckland and most absentee owners in the area live in Auckland.
The choice is not inspiring. Whichever is chosen it's a matter of out of the frying pan and into the fire.
DRAFT ANNUAL PLAN 20.03.13
We are looking for comments from ratepayers on the DAP and also for specialists who can offer some special insights into the hidden "treasures" within the plan. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Although the plan indicates an overall increase of 9.3% that is simply the percentage increase in the total rate take and is completely misleading when it comes to calculating individual rates asessments. The method of calcualting the increase for Mangawhai ratepayers is based on a fundamental flaw which one suspects is deliberate. More of that later.
There will be several articles on the DAP and the first, dealing with the treatment of the EcoCare debt, can be seen here. It appears that the Council is up to its old tricks and basing the whole plan on a financial fantasy with the sole intention of covering up the fact that it is insolvent, and so that it can continue to plunder ratepayers for year after year to pay for the illegal debt.
MINISTER REFUSES HELP 20.03.13
The Minister dismissed both approaches with the same short letter.
It is also understood that the MRRA made a last minute appeal to the Minister to meet with his officials to try and achieve some common ground. The Minister declined again and referred the Association to the commissioners.
The matter is reported here in the Northern Advocate by Mike Barrington.
THERE'S TASMAN, AND CANTERBURY, AND KAIPARA, AND PLUMBERS, AND UNCLE TOM COBLEY AND ALL..... 18.03.13
Adam Bennett's NZ Herald article can be seen here.
No doubt many of us will be reflecting on our own personal stuff-ups through life and wondering if we couldn't apply to parliament, cap in hand, with a bit of mea culpa, and have all our errors rectified.
Mind you, MPs are quickly going to get tired of playing the Fairy Godmother and making everything better for all the clueless incompetents who can't do their jobs properly, and I suspect that very soon there will be an almighty backlash. One unlucky application for validation is going to get an absolute drubbing
Let's hope that it is the Kaipara validation bill that gets the drubbing. It certainly deserves to. It is an affront to every principle in the manual on democracy and natural justice, and a total abuse of the validation process. MPs will pick that very quickly.
The word "Kaipara" is beginning to become synonymous with "incompetence", and I suspect that MPs will decide that validating the Kaipara shambles is a bridge too far even for an accommodating parliament. Turning water into wine is one thing, but turning fetid wastewater into wine may be beyond parliament's inclination.
TASMAN VALIDATION BILL 18.O3.13
The full post can be viewed here.
I have transferred all posts relating to the validation bill to the new Validation Bill page which can be viewed here.
Any comments from ratepayers welcome. Email to: email@example.com
At 358 pages it is a big read and will be largely incomprehensible to most ratepayers. That, of course, is one of the main aims of the document.
I have yet to delve into the smoke and mirrors that I expect to find, but a quick squiz at the first few lines show that this is definitely the work of the commissioners.
Remember that transparency and consultation are the pillars on which local government in New Zealand is supposedly built - according to the Local Government Act - and compare with that the total disdain for those principles that the commissioners have shown in the last six months.
Remember how they reneged on the commitment to consult with ratepayers and form a focus group to consider the options for resolving the illegal rates problem?
They shunned that commitment and the views of ratepayers and proceeded with the draconian validation bill without any consultation.
At the same time they breached the clear terms of reference set by the Minister of Local Government requiring them to consult with ratepayers.
Or did they?
In the Foreword to the AP (on the first page) the commissioners set out the tasks they were required to perform under the Ministerial terms of reference. One of them is:
Address the problems created by invalidly set rates and other legal compliance issues
Most people would accept that statement at its face value. However it is totally incorrect. It is a lie.
As in many other cases the commissioners have misrepresented the situation by telling only half truths and missing out vital information.
The exact wording of the Terms of Reference (here) is:Work with the Kaipara community and ratepayers and the Department of Internal Affairs to identify options for dealing with invalidly set rates and other legal compliance matters;
Note how the obligation to work with the community (highlighted in yellow) has been unilaterally removed from the terms of reference by the commissioners. which means that the commissioners can bury and ignore their blatant failure to comply with the Minister's clear requirements.
That is fundamental dishonesty.
A big lie in the first few lines does not bode well for the rest of the 358 pages..
IMMUNITY FOR PUBLIC SERVANTS 17.03.13
The ratepayers of Kaipara were the victims of a rort to the tune of tens of millions of dollars in a Ponzi-type scheme hatched by a deceitful Council that had no regard for legal requirements; a rort that was assisted by contractors, lawyers and auditors who failed dismally in their obligations, by government watchdogs that were asleep on the job, and by a government that delegated its power to local authorities but failed to comply with the attendant obligations to provide the machinery of government and competent regulatory authorities to protect the best interests of the people against the abuse of power by local authorities..
The ratepayers in Kaipara have learnt - and all ratepayers in NZ should take note - that ratepayers are the dumping ground for all the incompetence, negligence and even deliberate deception in local government in New Zealand.
That is the de facto situation as it stands, but the government is planning to legislate to enshrine immunity in the law. In a NZ Herald article Audrey Young reports on a proposed new lew law that would shield lax and incompetent officials:
But the Government, on the advice of the State Services Commission, wants to put public servants beyond the reach of the ordinary civil law that applies to everyone else.
The article goes on to say that Law Commission President and Court of Appeal judge, Justice Sir Grant Hammond, pleaded with a parliamentary select committee to scrap the proposal. He added that it was a matter of "grave and even constitutional importance".
For further comment on this article read John MacDonald's incisive comments in the Kaipara Konnection (here) and the post from Aardvark that he refers to.
Many believe that the Kaipara problem centres around the liability for rates. The truth is that this is a showdown about the Rule of Law and whether a determined government can run roughshod over one of the basic principles that underlies our democracy. It is one of the many matters that are causing huge concern amongst academics and those interested in protecting the freedoms that our fathers and grandfathers fought for.
The recent article by Professor Dame Anne Salmond in the NZ Herald, Time to defend democratic rights, sounds a very loud warning bell about the direction taken by John Key's government.
The people of New Zealand are waiting to see if the the Key government can force the ratepayers of Kaipara to bear the responsibiltity for an illegal debt for which they are not responsible, which they had no knowledge of, and where the Council (which supposedly represented them) totally misled them as to the nature and extent of the debt, whilst the of true culprits, including the government itself and its supposed watchdogs, get off scot free.
MISLEADING INFORMATION - THE ANSWER 11.03.13
No one claimed the prize offered.
THE VALIDATION RORT 10.03.13
CAN YOU SPOT THE MISLEADING INFORMATION? 10.03.13
FLOUTING LEGAL REQUIREMENTS 10.03.13
Further, the cynical legalisation of all the illegalities underlines a total lack of principles within the government.
John Key's government is developing a reputation for an arrogant disregard for the rule of law. But it is widespread throughout he community. Take a look a the NZ Herald article by John Armstrong on Mighty River Power's refusal to respond to nearly 100 of the 133 written questions submitted by the very parliamentary committee to which those running the power generator are supposedly accountable.
Thumbing one's nose at legal requirements, and getting away with it, is becoming a national pastime.
BREACH OF BANKING COVENANTS 08.03.13
The banks, which almost foreclosed on the Council last August when the commissioners were appointed, will be very nervous. Council has clearly breached its banking convenants and the banks are entitled to call up the loans.
It will be interesting to see whether the banks will take action or whether the government will step in again and give reassurances to the banks behind the scenes.
But whatever happens now the KDC is teetering towards self-destruction.
CAN YOU SPOT THE MISLEADING INFORMATION? 08.03.13
Can you see the errors in the sequence of events, and suggest a reason why the commissioners have done that?
The best response gets a parking ticket included in the validation bill.
Entries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
COMMISSIONERS SLEIGHT OF HAND 08.03.13
True or not?
Legal Eagle suggests here - scroll down, that with some clever drafting the validation bill makes a clear statement to the world that the EcoCare debt is valid and enforceable.
LOCAL BILL PROCEDURE 06.03.13
A BRIDGE TOO FAR 06.03.13
We all suspect that they are in power for one purpose only and that is to extract the last cent out of the people of Kaipara for the benefit of the banks and to protect at all costs the crumbling local government fantasy of John Key and his government.
Our worst fears have now been confirmed. The draft validation bill, which is designed to validate all the wrongs and illegalities committed by this utterly incompetent Council, has been released and can be viewed here.
For the ratepayers of Kaipara this is a bridge too far.(continued here - scroll down)
ILLEGAL RATES - OZ STYLE 02.03.13
Note how the Australians do it correctly. The rates are deemed to be invalid and repaid. Once they are set correctly they are then collected again, but without penalties.
This means that Council is not operating under a valid LTP and is effectively functioning outside the law.
It also means that the rates for the current year are invalid.
This is the Armageddon promised by Greg Gent when last August he pressured the previous Councillors to adopt the LTP before the commissioners took over.
Legal Eagle's comments can be seen here - scroll down.
NO HONEST SHOVEL FOR KAIPARA 28.02.13
He quotes Warren Berryman the American editor of the old Independent Business Weekly as saying:
"This is one of the most corrupt countries I've ever lived in. It's everywhere you look - but you Kiwis just don't see it. New Zealand tops all these surveys not because it's corruption-free, but because New Zealanders have become experts at looking at corruption and calling it something else."
Trotter cites recent examples, including the latest report from the OAG, and suggests that we Kiwis dig for the truth with ornamental teaspoons rather than a shovel.
How much longer, I wonder, is the rest of the world going to be hoodwinked by Kiwis' perverse willingness to substitute an ornamental teaspoon for a spade?
He finishes with the comment:
And once the tradition of digging with teaspoons becomes established, the use of a spade becomes even more dangerous. Who knows what dirty deals, sleazy quid-pro-quos and ghastly miscarriages of justice might be uncovered if an honest shovel was ever allowed to turn over the topsoil of "corruption-free" New Zealand?
It is as if Chris Trotter is talking directly about Kaipara - one of the biggest rorts in recent history - but which still lies beneath the soil undisturbed by an honest shovel
And that is exactly why there is no independent inquiry into the Kaipara District Council, because all the "dirty deals, sleazy quid-pro-quos and ghastly miscarriages of justice" might be revealed to the embarrassment of people who are far more important than the ratepayers.
You can guarantee that there will no honest shovel in Kaipara unless ratepayers see the reality of the situation, stop allowing themselves to be victims, and stand up to those who are intent on destroying them.
MORE WISDOM FROM THE TOP 28.02.13
ATTACK ON RATE STRIKE SIGNS 27.02.13
Note the somewhat equivocal response from commissioner John Robertson:
While we don't condone the "bludger" stickers, the commissioners also don't condone the non payment of rates.
The implication is there that he feels there was some justification for the vandalism.
He also takes advantage of the opportunity to make the Council sound squeaky clean. He takes the high moral ground, and, in true Roberston style, he chooses to overlook all the relevant facts. The reason that ratepayers are not paying the rates is because THEY DO NOT CONDONE:
*The negligent rates process over 6 years at least, with twenty pages of errors that John Robrtson himself calls "a dog's breakfast", and $17.3 million dollars of illegal rates collected and not refunded.
*The repudiation of a clear undertaking (and the breach of terms of reference) to consult with ratepayers about options to fix the problems.
*The failure to comply with the LGA before signing both the first EcoCare contract and the second EcoCare contract with the result that the contracts and the debts incurred are illegal and ultra vires.
*Deliberately misleading the ratepayers as to the cost of the EcoCare scheme for 5 years, the amount of the debt incurred, and the cost to ratepayers in annual rates and capital rates. This was one of the biggest rorts perpetrated on ratepayers in New Zealand local government history.
*Fudging the financial accounts for 6 years to totally misrepresent the true financial status of the Council and still continuing to do so.
*Continuing to operate as a going concern when it is absolutely clear that the KDC is no longer financially viable. This would be a criminal offence if it was in the public arena.
*Failing to get independent forensic experts in to follow up all the improprieties and "irregularities" that are clearly evident and which the commissioners continue to ignore.
*Operating under an LTP that is clearly invalid, and continuing to charge illegal rates.
*Inflicting rate rises that will effectively destroy the individuals, families, businesses and communities within the Kaipara district, all in breach of the basic principles underlying the LGA, and in breach of the fiduciary obligations that are owed to ratepayers under the common law.
I won't go on to mention the shame of the Hakaru landfill (which the commissioners have never heard of), the Dargaville Pool, the monies paid to Jack McKerchar, and all the other massive blunders that the KDC has made in its reign of ineptness.
And, John Robertson, don't tell us that you are not responsible. Don't tell us that you inherited the mess. Legally the KDC continues as the same Council as it always was. It is still the same legal entity. It is irrelevant who is at the helm. So when the KDC finally becomes before the court to front up to its shameful litany of illegalities, it is John Robertson and his commissioners who willl have to front those charges.
KAIPARA COMMISSIONERS - THE ONLY SHOW IN TOWN 25.02.13
A VIEW FROM THE WEST 24.02.13
He also mentions the A word - amalgamation. There is absolutely no doubt that the task of the commisioners is to get the rates paid, the illegal debt firmly sheeted home to the ratepayers, and then Kaipara can be carved up and allocated to whatever unitary authority/authorities emerge from the jungle of the Far North.
But John MacDonald's comments suggest a swing in sentiment across the district.
The tipping point has almost been reached. More and more ratepayers are beginning to wake up to the fact that the illegal debt is not theirs and they have to reject all attempts to inflict it on them. They are the only really innocent parties in this whole fiasco.
Those truly responsible are skulking in the shadows hoping and praying that the ratepayers will succumb to the pressure and blandishments of the government and the commissioners and will "take the rap". If that happens the prime-movers in this rort will be laughing all the way to the bank.
More and more ratepayers are also beginning to see that the unctuous utterings of the commissioners are totally hollow and false. The meeting in Mangawhai illustrated the level of superficiality and incompetence of the commissioners and their complete failure to grasp the essence of Kaipara's problems.
They have no idea where they are going. The only clear message that they have is that the debt belongs to the ratepayers. Full stop. Nothing else. They have no understanding or knowledge of the dreadful things that have gone on in Kaipara, and it is patently obvious that they do not care.
It is also absolutely clear that Kaipara cannot continue to function as a local authority under the Local Government Act. It is not a "going concern" and cannot meet its day to day debts out of income.
The commissioners are fudging the figures. Note the acknowledgement that the figure the commissioners bandy about for "total debt" is not total at all. It only includes external debt owed to third parties. It completely overlooks the monies that have been filched from the Reserve funds and the Mangawhai Endowment fund, which have been used for other purposes and have to be repaid. They have also ignored the $20 million or so that they owe ratepayers for the illegal rates and development contributions that have been charged.
Ratepayers at the Mangawhai meeting will have been horrified to hear that only ten per cent of the interest on the debt was actually being paid each year. The rest was being capitalised. In other words they are borrowing to cover 90% of interest repayments. Steve Ruru corrected this and said that it only applied to the proportion of the debt (just under 50%) which is allocated to development contributions.
That in itself reflects a council that cannot meet its commitments out of income. But worse is to come. The commissioners indicated that in future ALL interest on the whole debt is to be paid out of income.
If Council cannot balance its books now, how is going to find the monies to meet the annual interest bill?
Development contributions have reduced to a dribble, and they are more than likely going to dry up completely in the future following the government inquiry into the affordability of land. So who is going to pay the interest on the part of the debt allocated to development contributions?
The answer is quite obvious. The ratepayers will now be billed for the interest on that part of the debt. And ......it will not be long before ratepayers will be obliged to pay the capital as well, because there will be no development contributions.
A massive rate hike for the next rating year (from 1 July 2013) is waiting just around the corner. Just like last year. And just like the year after next.
The choice for ratepayers is simple.
If you believe that you should pay for the illegal acts of others, and that they should get off scot free, then continue paying your rates.
If you believe that the commissioners are competent and in control, and will look after your best interests and Kaipara's best interests, then continue paying your rates.
If you believe that ratepayers are not responsible for the illegal debt, that those responsible should pay, that Kaipara is a financial cot-case, and that rates will continue to rise dramatically every year, then stop paying rates now and let the commissioners and the government know how you feel.
They will only listen if we all make a stand.
BLUDGER STICKERS 23.02.13
Some of the stickers have been taken away for fingerprinting.
There is a feeling of fear and apprehension in the village given that in some cases the offenders entered some distance on to private property in the dead of night to carry out their attack.
If they are prepared to do that, then what else are they prepared to do?
Joel Cayford's post on the matter can be seen here.
MCKERCHAR SETTLEMENT 23.02.13
According to the article both the Council and the Chief Executive had the right to terminate the contract on the giving of three months notice, with Council having the right to pay the Chief Executive instead of him working out his notice.
If that was the case (see* comment below) then there was no need legally for the Council to agree to any payment to the Chief Executive, except for the three months notice period.
Which means that Council paid to the Chief Executive a considerable sum of money that he was not entitled to receive and which Council was not entitled to pay.
Under sec 44 LGA the Auditor-General has the power to take action where:
"money belonging to, or administrable by, a local authority has been unlawfully expended."
And can then recover the monies from the individual Councillors who voted to support the signing of the deed of settlement (sec 46).
It will be interesting to see if the Auditor-General will act to protect the best interests of ratepayers.
* These comments are made based on the employment contract being in the form indicated in the Advocate article. It is hard to believe that the Council had the right to terminate the contract on the giving of three months notice.
WHO PAYS FOR VALIDATION? 23.02.13
He believes that the commissioners have no choice but to issue legal proceedings against the two auditors for negligence and breach of their duty of care.
See the full post here.
RATE STRIKERS' PROPERTIES ATTACKED 22.02.13
Ratepayers, or more correctly rate strikers, are incensed, especially as the offenders had to go to some trouble to enter on properties and reach the rate striker signs.
Most of the affected property owners suspect that private individuals were responsible but some do not dispel the Council having a hand in it. At the meeting with the commissioners on Monday it became apparent that the commissioners are rapidly losing control of the situation and are using every trick that they can to force ratepayers to pay the illegal debts of Council.
Many suspect that the commissioners' meetings across the district were stacked with National Party supporters who did all they could to persuade ratepayers to pay their rates and trust the commissioners.
There are also stories of Council staff putting undue pressure on elderly and disadvantaged rate strikers to get them to pay their arrears.
The commissioners and Steve Ruru need to respond immediately and assure ratepayers that they were not involved either directly or indirectly in the attack.
Rate strikers are concerned that this type of attack could escalate.
The police have been inundated with complaints and are investigating.
If you have any information in helping the police track down the offenders then please contact the Mangawhai station on 4231060.
One eye witness reports that the offenders were in a dark coloured Japanese saloon car, possibly a Mitsubishi.
Someone might have a lead as to the source of the stickers which clearly are professionally made.
Set out below are the possible criminal charges that the offenders may face.
Summary Offences Act 1981
11A Graffiti vandalism, tagging, defacing, etc
(a) without lawful authority; and
(b) without the consent of the occupier or owner or other person in lawful control
(a) affixes any placard, banner, poster, or other material bearing any writing or pictorial representation to any structure, or to or from any tree;
Crimes Act 1961
269 Intentional damage
(2) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who—
(a) intentionally or recklessly, and without claim of right, destroys or damages any property in which that person has no interest; or
(3) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who intentionally destroys or damages any property with reckless disregard for the safety of any other property.
A REWARD OF $100 HAS BEEN OFFERED TO THE PERSON WHO IDENTIFIES THE CULPRIT/S
That may not happen. Most pundits seem to agree that Kaipara has little chance of surviving until next year. The commissioners clearly do not have the competence or the right approach to deal with the financial problems and the complex legal situation that the Council has landed itself in. Kaipara can only be saved by the ruthless intervention of experts, a change in thinking and direction, and major surgery. The tinkering of amateurs, slapping on bandaids, fudging figures, avoiding legal problems, and mouthing meaningless mantras, will only prolong the inevitable.
The full article of Larry Mitchell can be seen here
TWO-FACED JOHN? 19.02.13
At both Maungaturoto and Mangawhai John Robertson made similar comments. He emphasised that any outstanding issues had to be addressed at speed, they had to be resolved, and remedies had to be put in place. He acknowledged that there was so much anger and grievance and added:
"Until you have this satisfied, you really cannot move forward."
I am sure that these comments struck a chord with everyone in the room. For a moment we all thought that the commissioners had suddenly grasped the essence of the problem and were going to announce immediate independent inquiries.
But that was not the case. The financial fiasco is going to drift on in the same way with no independent analysts, with the lumps in Steve Ruru's carpets getting bigger, and the gaps between reality and the fudged figures in the Council plans getting bigger as well.
As for the legal problems being addressed at speed, the commissioners have, not surprisingly, thrown their hats in with the OAG inquiry. Almost a year and no sign of any outcome. Not quite the high speed decision-making that John Robertson says is necessary.
The question remains: why did he make such statements if he had no intention of following through on them?
All it did was show him up to be a man who says one thing and does another.
One ratepayer had it off pat. She had met with him over her problems, received assurances and was let down. "A man with two faces", she called him, and she told him to his two faces as well.
RICHARD BOOTH EARNS HIS KEEP 19.02.13
He is reported as saying that the commissioners had to work on the basis that debt had to be met by ratepayers, which sounds like direct instruction from the Minister.
He also added that while another increase was in the pipeline for this year, rates would stabilise for the next ten years.
Which means that ratepayers are in for a massive rise this year and after that no one has a clue. Remember that only a couple of years ago Council was promising that the debt was under control and the capital costs of EcoCare had already been paid.
He finished off his comments with this pearler:
"(The commissioners) believe that even with recent increases, Kaipara rates were not above average for other areas."
No facts no figures, just a vague unfounded "belief" that would not be difficult to disprove. The very stuff of the smart salesman selling a dud car and the sort of comment that destroys the credibility of a man who should know better.
JOEL CAYFORD ON MEETING WITH COMMISSIONERS 19.02.13
ENDOWMENT FUND 19.02.13
Unfortunately that was all words and lather. There is absolutely no evidence that they have been effective in any way at all.
Perhaps the crunch was the management of the Endowment Fund. There are a lot of rumours circulating about this Fund and suggestions that it has inappropriately been acquired by Council for its general purposes. That is fine provided that the correct procedure is used, that it is documented, and that appropriate interest is paid to the Fund.
Several relevant questions were asked by ratepayers at the meeting. The commissioners were like a squirming bunch of schoolboys, caught red-handed and trying to put the blame on each other. None of them had any idea about the whereabouts of the monies from the Fund, or what interest was being paid. They were clearly embarrassed.
These are monies held by Council on trust for ratepayers. It is absolutely clear that they have breached that trust because quite simply they do not know what has happened to the fund.
These are the financial gurus who want us to believe that they can manage the Council and resolve the problems of a $100 million debt, and yet they are totally incapable of managing a fund of a mere $5 million on behalf of the ratepayers. Trust and accountability clearly have no relevance in their operations.
There is absolutely no future with these four guys handling the finances of Council. The only "way forward" is to get independent forensic experts in to do an independent examination. Until that happens they will simply fudge the situation and paper over the cracks, minimise liabilities and the debt and exaggerate the income from development contributions.
The new plan will be a financial charade that would be ripped apart by forensic accountants if they were ever allowed the opportunity to get near it.
And it is perfectly clear from their demeanour that the commissioners are very aware of that.
DISPARITY IN RATES 19.02.13
The commissioners struggled to explain the situation except to say that the previous rates were complicated and not applied appropriately. Perhaps another insignificant error.
They went on to assure ratepayers that the whole rating system will be revamped in the draft annual plan which will include substantial amendments to the LTP and the rating system.
Prepare for the worst. They are going to eke out every last cent from ratepayers and everyone is going to be hit with massive rises. This time no one will escape through the cracks.
The draft annual plan is in its last stages and yet when asked to put a figure on the proposed average rate rise all the commissioners became surprisingly shy, shuffled, and looked at each other uncomfortably. Collectively they could not even hazard a guess. When asked, Steve Ruru said he did not carry the figure in his head.
They knew, of course, but did not want to introduce any negative figures to destroy their sales spiel. A bit like those TV ads where they hook you into the product with superlatives but only reveal the price when you are hooked and ring up.
LIMITATION ACT AND VALIDATION 19.02.13
Peter Winder acknowledged somewhat surprisingly that the rates assessments across the whole district were all invalid for the past six years and that probably they had always been defective. He seemed to think that this was one of those cute, little idiosyncrasies of the old Council. No doubt, just another minor technical irregularity.
He also let it slip that the draft validation bill, "which is well under way", lists twenty pages of errors for the past six years. All minor technical irregularities, no doubt.
The problem with his comments about the six year limitation period is that it is not correct. That rule does not apply if the act or omission giving rise to the liability has been kept secret from the claimant.
One suspects that Peter Winder knows a lot about the law relating to local bodies, but, sadly for his own credibility, he only discloses what best serves the strategy of the commissioners, the government and the banks. Anything that could favour the ratepayers he leaves hidden away in the bottom drawer.
I bet that after the pasting that he received at the meeting he will be running back to Council's lawyers to reassess the validation process and will take a greater look at the 20 pages of errors that he believes he can validate.
He had better do his job thoroughly because if he proceeds with his ad hoc, misguided attempt to sweep incompetence and dishonesty under the carpet, and minimise the utter incompetence and dishonesty of the Council, he will be met with a barrage of evidence that will make a mockery of his validation proceedings.
And that will be another $150,000 down the tubes.
RING-FENCING THE ILLEGAL DEBT 19.02.13
The debt would be isolated and no interest paid on it in the interim. This would allow the commissioners to get on with what they profess to be good at, getting the Council back on track without the problem of THE DEBT.
Such an approach would need to be driven by the government and while ratepayers continue to pay rates and meekly submit to their own financial destruction the government is unlikely to intervene. But if ratepayers showed a little more spunk and fought for their rights it could be a very different sorry.
If ratepayers accept the debt they will be done like a dog's dinner. If they stand up and fight then they have a chance to ring-fence the debt, get Council back on foot and also shaft home responsibility for the debt where it belongs.
OAG INQUIRY 19.02.13
If the report and its inevitable criticism were available at the consultation stage of the draft plan then ratepayers could become a bit bolshie, and, heavens forbid, refuse to pay their rates.
If the plan is a done deal it also allows the OAG to say that although there were some dreadful acts of incompetence it will not recommend any action as the commissioners now have the situation "under control".
Note that Council is an "affected" party and will be allowed access to the report before it is published to comment on any criticism contained in the report. The OAG does this, according to its website, to comply with the requirements of natural justice. However, it does not give ratepayers the same opportunity, and that Office clearly turned a blind eye to the requirements of natural justice when it undertook an inquiry to investigate its own incompetence.
It seems that in New Zealand the principles of natural justice do not apply to ratepayers.
So, even in the highly unlikely event that the report was completed prior to the adoption of the plan, Council, as an affected party, could delay its publication, by dithering and objecting, until the ratepayers are all shackled and chained.
Are we not pawns in some great conspiracy?*
*I do not believe in conspiracy theories, however,,,,,,,
MANGAWHAI MEETS THE COMMISSIONERS 18.02.13
The draft annual plan - due out next month - looks as if it will be the final cruncher that destroys Kaipara. And it became clear at the meeting that the commissioners do not give a damn about that, or the suffering of the ratepayers. Payment of the debt is their sole priority.
The full post can be seen here.
Ratepayers need to consider very carefully whether they are prepared to pour more monies into a Council that is on its last legs.
The full post can be seen here.
THE HUMAN COST OF FRAUD 12.02.13
He quotes Harry Markopolos, the fraud investigator who uncovered the infamous Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme in the United States, who points to stress and sometimes suicide. He adds:
"So we do have a body count from white collar fraud but it is overlooked and hidden. The damage to society and the loss of trust is incalculable."
There are many people in Kaipara who will who will have been affected in a similar way by the KDC's onslaught on the community.
The final comment in the article about large Ponzi schemes is very interesting and relates directly to the Kaipara situation:
"Everyone has to have failed to [do] their job - the bankers, the accountants and the due diligence professionals. Everyone has to have failed before they get that big," he said.
"That seems to be the commonality," he said. "And of course the regulators have to miss it all as well."
Amen to that. But why in the Kaipara situation are all those who failed to do the job let off whilst the innocent party and the victim - the ratepayer - has to bear responsibility for all the losses?
AND NOW ITS THE TURN OF THE WATER... 12.02.13
This pressure to connect to the system is ironic given the Council warning on the back of the Mangawhai Focus that there is an extreme water shortage and conservation measures are encouraged.
I would have thought that not connecting to the system would be the best conservation measure.
MISINFORMATION FROM THE TOP 10.02.13
Legal Eagle comments (here - scroll down) on some of the inaccurate information in the letter.
STEVEN JOYCE, WE NEED YOU 09.02.13
Compare that to the Kaipara Council which illegally contracted to build a sewerage scheme, and raised monies to do so, in clear breach of legislation, and without consulting ratepayers. It also set rates for six years that flouted the law and in some cases were little more than an extortion racket. Not only that, some monies have clearly not been accounted for, and there are serious questions about how the contractual side of the sewerage scheme was handled.
All of that, and yet no independent inquiry has been held. The Council first, and then the commissioners, both with the blessings of the government, have swept all problems, concerns and illegalities under the carpet and refused to bring in independent experts.
Take a look also at the Novopay fiasco where the government finally awoke from its slumbers and appointed Mr Fixit - Minister Steven Joyce - to unravel that particular Gordian knot.
According to John Armstrong in the NZ Herald (here) things are happening quickly. The Minister has personally taken control and in a few days isolated the major issues. He has to decide whether to ditch Novopay and start again or whether it is salvageable. He has therefore instituted a technical audit to see if Novopay can be "stabilised" or whether it is past saving. That will take three to four weeks.
At the same time he has instigated another inquiry to assess all aspects of the Novopay project from go to whoa. That will also take a few weeks, unlike the OAG's EcoCare inquiry which has taken almost a year so far. The Joyce inquiry will, I bet, be totally independent, and pull no punches. Again that will be in stark contrast to the type of report that we expect from the OAG.
Steven Joyce, Kaipara needs you. Compared to Novopay this is a cakewalk. A couple of months and you would have the whole debacle well and truly sorted and Kaipara well on its way to normality.
MAINZEAL TODAY, KAIPARA TOMORROW 09.02.13
The income from fair and reasonable rates is simply insufficient to meet its liabilities.
Everyone in the country seems to acknowledge the situation, except of course the government and its agents, the commissioners.
In the normal world, when such circumstances apply then receivership is the only real option. Local government, however, has its own rules. The government believes that ratepayers who are totally innocent of any blame, should bear full responsibility for the illegal debts and be forced to repay the banks, irrespective of the inequity and financial ruin that such an outcome would result in.
It is like the government insisting that investors in South Canterbury Finance who have already lost all their own monies, be obliged to repay SCF's debts to the banks.
No one would tolerate such a thing. No one would tolerate it if the same thing was happening to a council in Auckland. But Kaipara is a backwater and unimportant, and the government can dump on the Kaipara people as effectively as the Kaipara Council has done over the last six years.
Well at least it thinks it can. The problem is that unless radical action is taken very soon Kaipara is going to descend into financial chaos, and that will happen in the next few months.
The new Minister, Chris Tremain, has inherited a poisoned chalice. If he heads down the commissioners' present route then he and Kaipara are both custard. He needs to act now to salvage the situation. And, this time, let us hope that the Minister takes on board the views of the community. There are some wise heads here who believe that Kaipara can be a viable entity. Far better to ditch the failed dictatorial approach and make the future of the district a cooperative venture between the ratepayers and government.
SOME FRANK COMMENTS 09.02.13
The first article here starts with the dramatic statement:
The Kaipara District Council (KDC) is a shambles.
He then explains how it got into a financial mess and how the commissioners are effectively acting as receivers. He quotes the concerns of the auditors about the Council's financial viability and doubts whether Kaipara will be able to survive:
The figures are ugly, and unsustainable.
In the second article here he emphasises that ratepayers are the innocent parties and yet they are getting dumped with all the debt:
There is no doubt gross negligence has occurred, and not corrected by the councils statutory regulators. There is also no doubt ratepayers had no part in the debacle – they are the innocent party. Ratepayers were not even consulted about the fateful decision to expand the Mangawhai sewerage scheme – yet it is ratepayers who are being asked to pick up 100% of the cost - it seems for no other reason than ratepayers are an easy target! It’s an injustice and ratepayers are correct to protest.
He also sets out a list of those that he considers could bear the liability for what he calls "gross negligence". This includes the Councillors, the former Chief Executive, the banks, Central Government, and the Auditor-General.
In respect of Central Government he says:
Central government, on the grounds that the Minister of Local Government is the regulator who failed to adequately monitor the council’s performance;
In respect of the Auditor-General he says:
The Council’s auditor (Audit NZ) is a government agency who act for the Auditor General. The Auditor-General’s role is to give Parliament independent assurance over the performance and accountability of public sector organisations. Is Audit NZs role any different to the role of an auditor in the case of a finance company collapse and are they any less accountable?
He then considers an independent inquiry:
It would be totally appropriate for central government to initiate an independent enquiry into liability (independent because it may be that the government itself is found to be liable in full or part).
Unfortunately central government and its agencies do not have clean hands on this issue. They would probably like to take a do-nothing approach and let the cost fall upon ratepayers. The last thing they would want to do is admit liability lest Kaipara opens up a raft of claims from other negligent councils. That enquiry should also look into the possibility that some actions may have been fraudulent and may give rise to criminal prosecution.
Having stated that Kaipara's massive debt is unsustainable, he ends with the following comment:
.There are lots of unknowns in all of this but one thing is for sure – it is absolutely and totally unfair that ratepayers are being hit with 100% of the liability for fault which they can’t be blamed for. If there was ever an issue that justified ratepayers marching on Town Hall, this is it.
A final article, What's in store for Kaipara, will appear soon.
What can ratepayers take from this? The fact that the truth about Kaipara is finally emerging. What the commissioners are doing, as agents for the government and for the banks whose monies are at risk, is unlawful, inequitable and unfair. Ratepayers are being victimised for a debt that is not theirs whilst the real culprits are allowed to escape liability.
Starving the commisioners of money is a simple way in which ratepayers can force the government to reconsider is options and hold independent inquiries into the financial and legal mess that has been created.
Kaipara can only survive if the real problems can be tackled by independent experts and proper long term procedures put in place.
Putting one's head in the sand, denying realities, and slapping on Band-aids will only court financial disaster.
Those are pretty good reasons to stop paying rates if you have not joined the rate strike already.
WHY IS VALIDATION NEEDED? 04.02.13
But, if that is the case, why is there any necessity to go through the validation procedure at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars? Why validate something that Council says is already valid?
I find the argument hard to follow.
And if the rates need validating then surely that means that they must be invalid to start with. And if they are invalid then it means that ratepayers have no obligation to pay them.
Am I missing something?
It doesn't make sense.
John Robertson needs to step up here and offer and explanation for a further waste of ratepayers' monies.
According to our MP Mike Sabin, parliament, as the highest court in the land, is going to make a ruling on the matter after considering evidence from Council, ratepayers and himself. Given the confusion, it therefore makes sense for all ratepayers to stop paying rates until parliament decides which rates are legal and which are not, and ratepayers know exactly where they stand legally.
MIKE SABIN STICKS OUT HIS NECK 03.02.13
The commissioners have ignored their obligations under the Minister's terms of reference and at the same time reneged on Council's commitment to ratepayers, both of which required them to consult with ratepayers on options for the illegal rates. They have stated that consultation with ratepayers does not not "add value to the governance process", and have unilaterally decided to pursue the validation option.
Mike Sabin has ignored this blatant breach of the terms of reference and the repudiation of the agreement with ratepayers - and the affront to good governance - and has surprisingly endorsed the commissioners' approach.
In an article headed MP's Corner in the Dargaville & District News of 23 January 2013 (here) he regurgitates much of the spin about validation that he has taken directly from the commissioners' propaganda releases. For instance he emphasises that the bill is to remedy "largely technical deficiencies". He also emphasises that "services have been provided" which suggests that the rates were justified.
This, of course, is absolute rubbish. The reality is that there was a total abuse of the rating process by the Council and every step of the process was littered with utter incompetence and meaningless provisions that made a mockery of legal compliance. Many of the rates were completely ultra vires, which means that Council had no right in law to levy the rates.
When the true facts are revealed, along with the incompetence and dishonesty of those involved in setting the original rates, the application to validate will be laughed out of parliament. MPs are not fools. When they are made aware of the true situation they will not only reject any validation application but they will be less than pleased with a Council and sponsoring MP that have wasted parliament's time and ratepayers monies by misleading parliament as to the background to the illegalities.
Mike Sabin is an ex policeman and it is disappointing that he did not examine the evidence before throwing his hat into the ring and endorsing the commissioners misleading propaganda.
Ratepayer Pete Grierson is less than impressed with Mike Sabin's comments and his response can be seen here in Ratepayer's Forum.
Mike Sabin can avail himself of this column if he wishes to respond.
RATE STRIKE A GREAT SUCCESS 30.01.13
There have been headlines in a few papers in the last few days about how more ratepayers are paying their rates. This is clearly the latest propaganda move by the commissioners to try and downplay the success of the rate strike.
I have yet to see any accurate figures come out of the KDC. If its figures for the rate strike are as reliable as its financial models for virtually anything it does then we can give them wide berth.
In spite of that, Council's figures state that 21,2 per cent of Mangawhai properties have not paid any rates for the current year and a further 16.4 per cent have only made part payments. That adds up to 37.6 per cent who are on a rate strike of some kind.
In my book that is a resounding success for the rate strike. Well over a third of people in Mangawhai are withholding rates. And that is in spite of all the pressure that has been exerted on them by the commissioners.
Ratepayers are sending a message loud and clear to the government that what is happening in Kaipara is totally unacceptable, that the commissioners are not doing their job, and that there has to be proper dialogue with ratepayers if Kaipara is going to survive.
In the next couple of months the draft annual plan will be out and ratepayers will see for themselves the full horror of the new Rates Bomb. Most households in Mangawhai in particular will have at least $2,000 added to their rates for the next rating year starting on 1 July. It will be beyond the pocket of many to pay.
John Robertson may be the master of spin, and able to convince many that black is actually white, but there is nothing he can do to disguise the reality of a massive and unsustainable rates rise arriving in the letter box.
Another run of Rate Strike notices is being ordered ready for the rush when the new Rates Bomb hits.
According to an article by Mike Barrington in the Northern Advocate, commissioner Colin Dale is now known as the "Community Champion" because of all his great work on community issues. Does the name reflect the regard of an appreciative community? Scarcely. According to the story, the name was bestowed on him by his fellow commissioners.
While he was working on commmunity issues he could have taken the time to consult with ratepayers about the options for dealing with the illegal rates, as was promised. He might then have earned the title of Champ.
AUDIT NZ GIVEN THE BOOT 30.01.13
It is interesting that calls to replace Audit NZ have been ignored, but now the OAG inquiry is well under way action has finally been taken.
Has the inquiry discovered something that we should know about?
AUDITOR GENERAL INQUIRY 30.01.13
Originally, it had been anticipated that the report from the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) into its Inquiry into the Mangawhai Community Wastewater Scheme might be able to be released by the end of the 2012 calendar year. This has not been achieved and it is understood that there is still a reasonable level of work to be completed before the Inquiry process will be completed and the report is able to be released.
The inquiry was announced on 28 Februrary 2012, so it is almost a year old. The rumour mill suggests that the report is being delayed to give the commissioners a chance to beat the Kaipara ratepayers into submision. When the report does emerge it will tell a sorry story of incompetence, but no action will be taken because of the need to "move on". But no doubt the experience will provide valuable lessons for the future.
In short those responsible for the Kaipara rort will get off scot free and the poor ratepayers will have their role as the scapegoats for local government incompetence reconfirmed.
ROBERTSON REPLIES 30.01.13
Mr Robertson is proving to be the match of ex Mayor Tiller when it comes to fancy footwork and deflecting questions.
In response to the claim that the commissioners breached the requirement in the Minister's terms of reference that they work with the Kaipara community and ratepayers to identify the options, he advises:
"We have considered these options in depth, including with members of the community and representatives of ratepayer groups".
Sounds good but I have yet to find anyone that has been consulted. Perhaps John Robertson would like to enlighten us and let us have a list of those he consulted.
In respect of the commitment to set up focus groups with ratepayers to discuss the options, he advised that it had been rescinded by the commissioners because he did not believe that it would "add value to the governance process".
Those are the words of the man entrusted with getting Kaipara back on the road and mending relations with ratepayers.
We are learning about this man very quickly. Any problem is not the commissioners' problem, but the responsibility of the previous Council. And now commitments to consult with ratepayers do not "add value to the governance process".
Can you feel the hairs standing out on the back of your neck?
WHY WAS JACK PUSHED? 25.01.13
ROBERTSON RUNS FOR COVER 25.01.13
This side-stepping of the commissioners' clear responsibilities does not sit well with Legal Eagle and he calls for the Minister to replace the commissioners. He suggests that if the commisioners remain in office then they will continue to alienate ratepayers and the financial situation will get worse. Sooner or later the banks will be forced to pull the plug on the KDC.
PETER BULL AGAIN 25.01.13
MORE ON MCKERCHAR 25.01.13
SUE THE AUDITOR, THE COUNCILLORS, THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE, THE CONSULTANTS AND THE LAWYERS ? 25.01.13
The full article can be seen here.
A BAD SMELL COMING FROM KAIPARA 23.01.13
CHRIS TREMAIN THE NEW MINISTER 23.01.12
EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT 23.01.12
If he terminated the agreement himself then he was not entitled to any monetary settlement. It therefore appears that Council wanted him to go and negotiated a settlement figure to persuade him to quit.
The questions therefore follow:
Why did Council want Jack to go?
Why did Council not terminate his employment without a monetary settlement, if they had just cause?
Why did Council allow Jack to work out his notice when he could have required to leave immediately?
ADVOCATE'S COMMENTS 23.01.13
One also wonders what happened to Jack McKerchar's stated reasons for quitting, namely health reasons. Not a dicky bird about that in the agreement. That suggest that it played no part in the resignation and was just another smokescreen created by the parties to hide the truth.
But what is the truth? The disclosure of the details of the Deed raises more questions than it answers. Jack McKerchar ended his letter to accompany the release of the Deed with the words:
"I trust this will be the end of the matter."
Jack must be very naive or have his head in the clouds if he thinks that his letter will draw down a veil on this matter. This is a veritable can of worms and the worms are going to squirm for a long time until the truth comes out.
In a way it epitomises everything that has gone wrong in Kaipara over the years. Total incompetence, an arrogant attitude towards legal compliance, and covering up all the defects.and problems with lies and smokescreens.
MCKERCHAR DEED 23.01.13
MCKERCHAR DOCUMENTS RELEASED 22.01.13
Any comments to:email@example.com
A VIEW FROM THE WEST 21.01.13
The issues raised are important because they reflect the views of many ratepayers west of State Highway 1. They consider that ratepayers in Mangawhai should bear the cost of their inflated sewerage scheme and have little sympathy for the rate strike.
Legal Eagle comments on the issues here.
DEAR MINISTER 20.01.13
JACK'S BIG SECRET 17.01.13
There was a lot of drama just before Christmas. It was like the final episode of Shortland Street at the end of a season with everything up in the air. Would Steve decide to reveal the document? Would Jack's threat to injunct be carried out? Would Steve and the commissioners call his bluff? Would the injunction go before the tribunal, and, if so, what would it decide? And, finally, what would the dastardly document reveal?
So far in the new year there have been no further developments, at least that we know about.
Looking back on it all I get the distinct impression that this whole drama has been orchestrated by the Council to achieve an outcome that I find hard to fathom.........(continued here - scroll down)
MISLEADING RATEPAYERS 16.01.13
Legal Eagle asks these questions (here -scroll down) and wonders why the SFO failed to investigate the Kaipara District Council when it was presented with clear evidence of irregularities that could indicate fraud.
He also questions, yet again, the role of the Auditor-General in the whole Kaipara debacle The Auditor-General was the auditor for the Council yet failed to pick up any of the procedural, legal and financial irregularities that have cost the ratepayers of the District so dearly. And yet it is the same Auditor-General that is holding an inquiry into the fiasco and at the same time investigating the competence of its own audit.
But has he got it completely wrong and is he simply regurgitating the spin of the commissioners? Is it Peter Bull who has been "sucked in"?
Legal Eagle (here) counters Peter Bull's claims and introduces some facts to dispel all the spin.
HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING 09.01.13
The first mention of the K word was in yesterday's Herald in the summer quiz. Let's see how good you are:
5. John Robertson, Richard Booth, Colin Dale and Peter Winder run which local body?
Ten out of ten if you guesssed Kaipara. And eleven out of ten if you queried the word "run"and asked if that word is appropriate, especially as the commissioners are now operating outside their terms of reference imposed pursuant to the LGA and refusing to consult with the natives.
The second mention is in today's Sideswipe and relates to to three poles that were erected to display flags for the Rugby World Cup by the Whangarei Council at Langs Beach at a cost of $39,000, but sadly the work was not completed until after the World Cup finished. Over a year later the poles are still there. A protest banner is now flying from the poles with the following message:
RATEPAYERS' FORUM 04.01.13
FIRST TERM REPORT CARD 03.01.13
The commissioners have been given a dismal 0/10 which reflects their failure to comply with the terms of reference, and especially their failure to engage with and consult with the community. In failing to consult with ratepayers on options to resolve the illegal rates debacle the commissioners have not only broken trust with ratepayers but have also breached their terms of reference.
Legal Eagle's posts are on a separate page here.
In other words, the consultants, the contractors and the lawyers make all the money and the ratepayers pay all the costs, bear all the risks, and fund all the losses.