DISTRICT COURT CASE 29.06.15
Finally. We get another day in Court. The case KDC v Bruce and Heather Rogan will be heard in the District Court, Whangarei tomorrow at 10 am before Judge de Ridder. It is scheduled for two days.
It has not been an easy road to get to this stage and there have been all sorts of hurdles put in our way by the KDC. Their wastage of money is quite unbelievable but they are determined to extract the last pound of flesh from ratepayers.
The Rogans have an excellent defence and this will be an interesting test to see if the rule of law is applicable in Kaipara, and perhaps in New Zealand.
It is ironic that the Rogans are in court as the defendants but in fact they are there to represent the rule of law. They refuse to pay illegal rates billed through non-compliant documentation to a local authority that has made an art form of flouting the law.
My apologies for the lack of posts on this site for some time but we have put all our energies into the legal case for the defence. We will know very soon whether those efforts were worthwhile.
A big thanks to all the people who have supported the MRRA in this battle, both morally and financially. You have stuck in there against all odds because you understand how important this battle is. It could not have happened without your support and Bruce and Heather and all the team thank you.
KEITH LADBROOK 10.06.2015
In the Dargaville and District News Keith Ladbrook asks in the letters to the editor what happened to the $178,000 dollars contributed by Te Kopuru ratepayers for the local wastewater scheme. He wants an answer from the Council.
That's an easy one. Along with all the other funds collected for such projects it was stolen by the KDC. It disappeared down the big Kaipara gurgler that consumed tens of millions of dollars. No one knows where it went or what it was used for.
The KDC faced up to this a year or so ago, under pressure from the Minister of Local Government, and decided to write of all such sums of money (because they didn't exist any more!) and acknowledged that communities would be forced to pay again for sevices that they had already collected money for. At the same time they confirmed that all the reserve funds and the Mangawhai Endowment Fund had also disappeared without trace.
In the real world those responsible would be in prison but, in the rarified world of local government where those in charge are free to thumb their nose at the law and financial prudence, such behaviour is allowed. They call it internal borrowing. It has quite strict guidelines which, of course, are ignored by the Council, its auditors and the Auditor-General.
When the Commissioners finally leave there will be nothing in in the cupboard. If ratepayers want to reinstate their funds then they have to borrow them. Imagine if the bank stole your money that you had on deposit and told you that if you wanted it back you would have to get a loan from the bank, repay the loan and pay interest on it.
That's why we have laws, to protect people from such rorts.
WORZEL'S WORLD 10.06.2015
In his article Worzels World - Losing Democracy in the Mangawhai Focus the Prof laments the further loss of democracy in Kaipara.
What happened to "No taxation without representation"?
LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMISSION BACKS DOWN 10.06.2015
Great news for Kaipara. The Local Government Commission is not proceeding with a unitary authority in Northland. See the report here.
We may have lost our democracy for another year but at least the government has backed down on a further act of folly. Amalgamating three bankrupt councils into one and expecting it to function was never going to work.
Well done all of those who raised their voices to object. This outcome shows that we do have a voice and that voice will be heard if enough of us make a stand for what is right.
Basil gets the boot from Kaipara
MUSINGS ON FIFA 09.06.2015
We all knew about the corruption in FIFA. We knew that Qatar and Russia had both secured the World Cup through bribery. But we also knew that FIFA was too big to challenge. Anyone who dared to raise a mere whisper of corruption would be dealt to.
Some rorts in this world are like that. The News of the World with its phone tapping culture was so out of control, and so powerful, that no one dared stop it. Bribery in cricket was the same. The revelations of endemic leaky buildings were stifled for many years by those with vested interests, with whistleblowers being denigrated with slurs and accusations of self interest.
Local government in New Zealand is the same. It is riddled with incompetence, negligence, corruption, cronyism, financial impropriety, legal non-compliance, with abuses of the rule of law and natural justice all thrown in.
Those of us who have fought long and hard against these injustices in Kaipara have realised that the rot goes through to the very heart of our society. Everyway you turn for help you meet the same arrogant disdain for the basic principles of law, justice and fairness.
The governmental institutions that are supposed to protect the rights of the people are in fact complicit in the whole rotten business of local government and actually work to deprive the people of New Zealand of their rights.
There appears to be nothing that we, as mere ratepayers, can do about it. We protest, we go on rate strike. We march. But at the end of the day those in local government know that they are too big too challenge. The DIA and all the others that drive local government know that we cannot resist the Behemoth.
Many ratepayers in the district have realised that and accepted that they cannot beat the system. Big business has completely taken over local government and will do so more and more as Basil Morrison forces his unitary authorities on to the country. Ratepayers will be have no say in anything and will be become nothing more than open wallets with the sole purpose of funding the enrichment of those who are members of the trough-feeders club.
But there is hope. And that hope is going to appear in Whangarei on 30 June, just three weeks away. On that day the KDC is fighting a pitched battle with Bruce and Heather Rogan in the District Court over their failure to pay rates over the last few years.
It is a hugely unfair battle as the KDC has all the resources that we as ratepayers pay for, and it has the backing of the government, Local Government New Zealand, the banks, big business, and the DIA.
It is very one-sided. But the good thing about of all this is that rules of battle are not based on the self-serving travesty of legal compliance that the KDC dishes up but on what the law of New Zealand says. For the second time only, we ratepayers are going to have an opportunity to challenge the KDC on its legal compliance.
In the High Court case, Heath J declared that the EcoCare scheme was illegal and that all the loan agreements were illegal but, unfortunately, they were caught by the protected transaction provisions in the LGA. He also held that the EcoCare rates would have been illegal if it had not been for the Validation Bill.
This time, in the District Court, the issue is whether the KDC rates assessment notices and rates invoices are compliant with the strict requirements of the LGRA. They are the documents that create the legal liability to pay the rates.
Those documents, under close scrutiny, are beginning to look rather shonky, and with only a few weeks to go it is too late for the commissioners to call upon their mates in Parliament to rush through another validation bill.
In any case, the current local MP, Winston Peters, is not going to be as accommodating as the well-known New Zealander whose name we're not allowed to mention.
This simple debt-collecting case could well be the turning point for local government in New Zealand. It will tell us once and for all whether local authorities in New Zealand are free to flout the law, ignore their legal obligations, and effectively do as they please without any reference to legal compliance, or whether they have an obligation to comply with the law of the land, to the letter.
It will be a big day for the ratepayers of Kaipara. It will be a big day for the people of New Zealand. And it will be a big day for the rule of law in this country.
The hearing is scheduled at the District Court, Whangarei (the same building as the High Court) for 30 June and 1 July. More details will be provided closer to the day.
CAN WE HAVE RECEIVERS PLEASE 09.06.2015
When I explain to people why we are battling the KDC and fighting to ensure that ratepayers do not have to pay the illegal debt, the inevitable question is : Well if ratepayers don't pay the debt then who is going to?
It comes from the brainwashing that we are subjected to, that ratepayers alone have to foot the bill for the incompetence of local authorities.
It doesn't happen elsewhere. Out there in the real world those who are incompetent and negligent are pursued in the courts. Directors who misrepresent the financial situation of companies can end up in jail.
The Financial Markets Authority is now, according to today's Herald, flexing its regulatory muscle and keeping those in the financial markets on the straight and narrow.
But none of that applies to local government. Councillors and commissioners are free to make any promises they wish and come up with any baseless financial assumptions and remain confident that they are never going to be charged with misleading ratepayers.
Auditors have a set of rules that allow local authorities to do things that would result in company directors facing the courts.
The so-called regulator of local government - the Auditor-General - slept through the Kaipara debacle, woke up to hold her own independent inquiry into her own incompetence, and then fell into another slumber that rivals that of the Sleeping Beauty.
In the real world, when a company goes into receivership or liquidation the receivers or liquidators get stuck in. They work out who was responsible for the failures of the company and they pursue them mercilessly. In the past I have quoted examples but the Herald reports today on the directors of Dominion Finance and North South Finance being pressured to cough up over $10 million.
That is what should have happened with Kaipara. Contributions from Councillors, the Chief Executive, Beca, the KDC lawyers, the OAG and Audit New Zealand, with a chip-in from the banks, would have achieved a very acceptable outcome.
But there were no receivers and the commissioners appear to have let all those responsible off the hook. The Councillors have gone, Beca has gone, we have heard nothing about Bell Gully. And no news on Jack McKerchar and the OAG.
Good on yer, ratepayers.
Kaipara, it's your turn soon
PROMINENT NEW ZEALANDER 08.05.2015
Stuff reports as follows (here):
A prominent New Zealander facing 12 charges of indecent assault will stand trial in April next year.The man appeared in the High Court on Thursday, where Justice Paul Heath confirmed the man's continued interim name suppression through to trial. A trial date of April 4, 2016, was set.The man has pleaded not guilty to all charges and was excused from attending a trial call over in June.Most details of the case are suppressed to protect the identity of the alleged victims....
WINSTON PETERS AND LOUISE UPSTON 29.04.2015
Winston Peters' questioning of Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston about the reappointment of the commissioners can be seen here.
THE GOLF COURSE AND THE ADVISORY PANEL 27.04.2015
All this hoo-ha with the advisory panel is a "pre-consultation". It seems the commissioners have such a poor relationship with ratepayers that they have appointed the advisory panel to act as intermediaries to assess the feelings of the ratepayers.
The problem is that, as usual, the commissioners have stuffed up again.
Instead of fronting the issue openly, they brought out the good old smoke and mirrors, and once again got offside with the people.
We all want a solution to the sewerage problems, but handpicking a bunch of yes men (and woman) who will do the commissioners bidding, was not a good start. Most of them have no sewerage experience, and boy does it show.
At the meeting at the Golf Club on Sunday everyone was begging for local John Dickie, a qualified, and internationally experienced water engineer, to be part of the action. He is not on the commissioners' list of favourites and did not make the panel cut.
Ian Greenwood, the spokesperson, has softened his views. The vow of silence on the past and the cost of the proposals is now more gently enforced. He even acknowledged the massive outstanding debt and expressed the wish that some kind person should get rid of it.
Even the top secret words - Harrison Grierson - were mentioned a few times. The cat is now out of the bag. But why on earth did they have to shroud all this in so much secrecy. Why not lay the cards on the table and open up a discussion about all options for the future.
And while they are at it, why avoid the elephant in the room, the debt, and why shun away from any talk of future costs like startled rabbits.
Questions about costs were parried away. "The commissioners want to know what option you want. The cost comes later."
What arrant nonsense. This is a bankrupt Council with ratepayers who are hocked to the eyeballs for generations and they are being hard-talked into another scheme where costs are not mentioned and which sounds remarkably like the last Ponzi scheme they got sucked into.
Using the golf course as a disposal field for the treated effluent appears to make good sense, just as it did back in 2005. It didn't happen then because the KDC opted for the Brown's Road farm which appears to have offered some fine rewards for those involved.
The farm was never suitable and $11.5 million was spent on a lemon of a disposal field.
The other problem is that we still do not know whether the processing plant is up to scratch. There are all sorts of vague ideas floating about and the advisory panel seem to think that the comments of the Auditor-General that it is "running well" is all the confirmation that is needed. In this neck of the woods a commendation from the Auditor-General almost certainly means that it must be shonky.
Sooner or later the commissioners and the panel will have to answer the big question. Is it a lemon or not?
NO DOUBTING THOMAS 27.04.2015
Ted Thomas, a retired judge of the Court of Appeal and a former acting judge of the Supreme Court, has contributed an article to the NZ Herald leaving no doubt as to where he stands on the wharf extensions in Auckland.
Judges do not and cannot give any opinions on legal matters, but retirement loosens the constraints somewhat.
Ted Thomas says that he was appalled that consents were given for the wharf extensions without public notification. In language that will be familiar with the readers of this website, he says:
The council has permitted the pillage of open harbour space under a planning regime which effectively gives the company carte blanche to do what it feels commercially driven to do within the port precincts.
The fact the port is at the doorstep of the city seems to have been the mouse in the room.
I guess that mice are more easily overlooked than elephants.
He also alludes to the Holcim white storage dome that received a a non-notified resource consent last year. It is as high as a nine to ten storey building and dominates the harbour landscape.
He has some interesting remarks about the legal process, especially as they come from a retired judge
The current legal proceedings are but the skirmish before the battle. Ports of Auckland will spare neither resources nor money in fighting its case. It will be represented by the best lawyers money can buy. Economists, planners, port administrators and other purported experts, some no doubt from overseas, will be called as witnesses. Port users will be organised to support the application with all the vigour that short-term profit-driven thinking can generate.
He sounds almost as cynical about the legal system as some of us are. He concedes that council juggernauts are almost impossible to stop. They have a bottomless pit of money, usually supplied by taxpayers or ratepayers, and are well placed to win any legal war of attrition.
It is good to see the judiciary getting stirred up about the inequities in the application of our laws and the lack of level playing-field in having access to the courts.
Let us hope the judiciary listens hard when the MRRA cases come before the District Court and the Court of Appeal in the next few months.
A VICTORY IN THE HIGH COURT 27.04.2015
The Northern Action Group in Rodney has won its first battle in respect of secession from Auckland City. See here.
The group wants Northern Rodney, which runs from Puhoi to Wellsford and Warkworth, to break away from Auckland City and set up its own local authority.
To quote the notice sent out:
The High Court has upheld the Northern Action Group’s appeal against a Local Government Commission decision refusing to assess an application to de-amalgamate North Rodney from Auckland Council. Justice David Collins has found that the Local Government Commission acted unlawfully in rejecting the application. It turned what should have been a simple filtering exercise into a mini-inquiry and irrelevantly took into account submissions by the Auckland Council.
The group now has to produce evidence of community support throughout the Auckland City area and then the matter is to be referred back to the Local Government Commission to assess the merits of the application.
The important thing is the warning shot that it fires across the bows of local government.
It is an unwritten rule that local authorities can do anything they like, legal or not, until a court declares the action or decision to be unlawful. But, of course, legal action is outside the pocket and stomach of most people so local government has free rein to flout the law.
A case like this send tremors through the local government establishment because it is a reminder that the rule of law, although a shy and timid creature and expensive to coax out of hiding, does have some real teeth when it is let loose.
THOUGHTS ON THE TARNISHED GONG 27.04.2015
The plaudits heaped on the commissioners by the local newspapers for the gong the Council received (see A NOT SO SHINY GONG below) highlights the fundamental problem facing Kaipara.
The Lifestyler lauded the Council for its "top recognition" and the Mangawhai Focus praised the commissioners for their "prestigious award".
The problem is that all the information printed was lifted directly from a press release put out by the commissioners and carefully crafted to mislead readers.
The "propaganda" had its effect. Almost all readers would have been impressed and convinced that Honest John and his mates were doing a top job, and that those who criticised them did not know what they were talking about.
That's what good propaganda does. It sucks you in and once you are sucked in it is extremely hard to concede that you were duped.
There is also a fundamental need to believe that those who run central government or local government are driven by honourable motives, are competent, fair and transparent and operate in accordance with the rule of law.
We would hate to think that those in whom we invest our trust are as corrupt and incompetent as those in the third world countries that we look down on.
There is a fundamental yearning in New Zealand to believe that our government is good, and there is a massive reluctance within us to believe otherwise.
We are a fertile ground for propaganda to take root.
Those who read this website know that the reality is different.
What the propaganda about the gong did not tell you is:
1. The commissioners were so incompetent that in January 2014 they came within a whisker of losing accreditation for issuing building consents. That is in spite of Peter Winder being the go-to expert in New Zealand on accreditation. He was appointed as a commissioner in October 2012 and had almost a year and a half to recognise and fix the problem. He completely missed it, yet at the same time earned himself $50,000 for doing an independent report on the same problems for the Christchurch City Council.
2. The Christchurch problem was all over the news. The commissioners managed to keep the Kaipara debacle completely secret. The Christchurch chief executive resigned following the publication of the Winder report which held him personally responsible. In Kaipara, those responsible, chief executive or commissioners, were not censured in any way.
3. The story of the award is quite incredible. Peter Winder applying for an award, that was sponsored by Peter Winder's firm and for which Peter Winder was a judge.
It is even better that the farce of the Auditor-General doing an 'independent" inquiry into her own incompetence in respect of the KDC auditing.
So when the truth is known, what do we have? We have commissioners who are not only incompetent but who cover up their incompetence and then promoted themselves as being highly competent by securing a 'prestigious" gong.
What does that add up to? Incompetence, dishonesty. lack of integrity? It sounds very much like a third world country to me.
But, those people who have not read this website remain convinced that the commissioners are totally competent, that their competence has been recognised by an independent award, and that they are the best thing since sliced bread.
That is the fundamental problem in Kaipara.
DEMOCRACY DOWN THE DUNNY 25.04.2015
As expected, Associate Minister of Local government announced yesterday that the commissioners' appointment will be extended for another year until October 2016.
She states that it was clear to her on her visit to Kaipara that there was widespread support for the commissioners.
It is all rubbish, of course. As we know, on her visit she refused to meet with opponents and only met with handpicked invitees who supported the commissioners.
Louise Upston carries the can because Minister Paula Bennett does not want to mar her CV and her no-nonsense "Westie" image with the crushing of democracy in Kaipara.
But, those two are just pawns in the whole game. The responsibility for the decision lies with John Key.
The commissioners were put in to bring the rebel ratepayers to heel, to ensure that the ratepayers were dumped with all of the illegal debt, and to ensure that John Key's mates in the banks can get their full pound of flesh out of the Kaipara ratepayers.
John Key is personally petrified that if justice and the rule of law prevails in Kaipara then it will be the first domino to fall and his new feudal system, that he has surreptitiously imposed on the people of New Zealand, will start crumbling around him.
The date for the announcement was carefully calculated. it was withheld during the By election. Denying democracy is not a vote winner, especially with Winston lurking. But time was running out with only 6 months to go before the scheduled return of democracy. The decision had to be made. And what better time than a Friday before a long weekend when everyone would be caught up in the Gallipoli 100th anniversary.
No doubt it was lost on John Key that he was again denying democracy and the rule of law to the people of Kaipara, while, at the same time, he was in Turkey celebrating the Anzacs who gave their lives in defence of the same democracy that he is now denying us.
It will be interesting to see how the people of Kaipara will react. Will they take it lying down or will they send a message to John Key that he cannot ignore.
Note: In his speech at the Istanbul Peace summit yesterday John Key, spoke of the threat of ISIS, and added:
We are also a small country with a fundamental interest in supporting stability and the rule of law internationally.
How about supporting the rule of law at home, John? And why not start with Kaipara?
A NOT SO SHINY GONG 24.04.2015
Far be it from me to want to take the gloss of the achievements of Honest John and his crew. However, the report in the Kaipara Lifestyler advising that the KDC receiving a gong for its high performance, raised some doubts.
Fran Mikulicic, general manager regulatory and acting chief executive Jill McPherson at the Society of Local Government Managers Awards
Those of us who know the KDC know that "high performance" only exists in the rhetoric of Honest John.
So, dig a bit deeper.
The Lifestyler article reported that the KDC was Highly Commended for its entry in a prestigious Society of Local Government Managers Awards in Wellington. Note the name.
As usual, the Lifestyler article was taken almost verbatim from a press release from the Commissioners.
In that press release Honest John is reported as follows:
John Robertson, Chair of Commissioners, on hearing of Council’s success said “The Commissioners are delighted to see the hard work of the staff being acknowledged in this way”.
So, dig a bit deeper behind the smoke and mirrors.
If you look on the SOLGM website you will find that the awards are not just the SOLGM awards, but.....wait for it...........
The 2015 McGredy Winder SOLGM Local Government Excellence Awards®
No doubt you will recognise the Winder name, and it belongs to Peter Winder, one of the three Commissioners.
This is what it has to say about McGredy Winder:
McGredy Winder & Co
Founded by Peter Winder, we offer tailored services in strategic planning, policy, advocacy, facilitation, issues management, economic development, communication, management, business improvement, and governance.
But there's more. Wait for it.................
The judging panel consisted of 5 judges. One of whom was:
Director of McGredy Winder & Co
Incidentally, One of the other judges was someone well-known to Kaipara ratepayers:
Controller and Auditor-General of the Office of the Auditor-General
To summarise, the KDC under the stewardship of Peter Winder (and two other commissioners) won a gong for its high performance in awards sponsored by Peter Winder's firm, with Peter Winder as judge.
And yet if you look at all the publicity about it you would never know that Peter Winder had any involvement.
That pretty well sums up what the commissioners' regime is all about. They are about as transparent as 2 metre-thick concrete.
THAT WINDER NAME AGAIN 24.04.2015
Peter Winder's name rang a very big bell.
Do you recall in 2013 there was a crisis in respect of the accreditation for issuing building consents in respect of the Christchurch City Council? The chief executive, Tony Marryatt, was stood down, a crown manager was appointed, and your very own commissioner Peter Winder was appointed to conduct an independent investigation into the matter.
The investigation found that the problems with accreditation rested with the chief executive, and soon afterwards the chief executive resigned with a very handsome payout. (What's new?).
So while Peter Winder was acting as the independent expert in Christchurch, what was brewing in Kaipara?
We don't know the details because, unlike the Christchurch fiasco, the Kaipara fiasco was kept top secret by Honest John and his mates. But what we have now discovered is that while Peter Winder was busy sorting Christchurch out, his own bailiwick in Kaipara was having exactly the same problems with its own accreditiation.
It all culminated in the KDC receiving an IANZ report dated 6 January 2014 highlighting 13 CARs (corrective action requests), 15 strong recommendations, and 6 recommendations. The KDC was given a three month timeframe to clear the CARs and an early audit was imposed requiring 3 months of clear records by the last week of July 2014.
The application for the gong says that Kaipara, like Christchurch, was on the cusp of losing its accreditation for issuing building consents. The application calls it a "Burning Platform". Kaipara as an operational council was in severe jeopardy.
So who was responsible for this shameful state of affairs? The chief executive Steve Ruru? If so, why was he not held to account for his failures, as Tony Marryatt was in Christchurch. He was effectively forced to resign for similar failures.
Or was it the commissioners who had been appointed in October 2012 specifically to fix the problems of Kaipara, and by January 2014 had had ample time to identify the problems facing the KDC?
The commissioners were appointed for their individual expertise, and one has to ask why Peter Winder, the acknowledged expert in this field, who was busy earning money pointing out defects in Christchurch in 2013, completely overlooked the same problems under his own watch in Kaipara.
The non-compliance was huge and must have been startlingly obvious, but our much vaunted in-house expert failed to pick it up.
But what is worse, the commissioners, including Peter Winder, decided to keep mum about the whole thing. While publicly boasting of their competence and expertise and the new excellence that they were imposing on the KDC, they performed like a bunch of charlatans, and hid their incompetence behind a wall of smoke and mirrors.
So, going back to the gong, we need to look at the real facts.
Peter Winder, the expert in accreditation, failed to pick up the dire accreditation problems in Kaipara. Peter Winder and the other commissioners hid the problems from the ratepayers. When the problems were fixed, Peter Winder, with his fellow commissioners applied for a gong for excellence in fixing the secret problem. The gong was sponsored by Peter Winder and Peter Winder was one of the judges.
NAME SUPPRESSION 23.04.2015
The Northern Advocate and the Bay of Plenty Times reported this week that a person appeared in court on Monday on 12 charges of sexual assault against two complainants. He was remanded on bail to appear in the High Court next week.
All details of the case were suppressed.
The case was not included in either of the papers' on-line editions.
PIGTAILS AND DIRTY POLITICS 23.04.2015
Things get worse for John Key. The Daily Blog, which broke the story on the waitress and the pigtail, has now suggested that the story in today's NZ Herald was obtained by "dirty tricks". See the Daily Blog article here.
See the historic pigtail pulling on Campbell Live here.
WHERE WAS THE AUDITOR? 22.04.2015
The interesting thing about Alex Swney's fraud is not that he did it but that the auditor did not pick it up. He ripped off $2.5 million from Heart of the City without the auditors spotting anything untoward. It sounds all too familiar.
INTERESTING SNIPPETS 22.04.2015
Just a couple of things that caught my eye.
In his cosy letter accompanying the latest rates invoice, Honest John makes the following comment:
As you plan ahead, you will be interested to know what your rates will be in the next finacial year. I cannot advise these yet, but I can provide you with background on the process as we consider priorities for council expenditure.
The comment is, of course, meaningless. The Plan has told us what the percentage increase is, so it should be an easy matter to calculate the rates that each of us will have to pay. So why does considering "priorities for council expenditure" delay calculating the rates?
Surely if the rate increase is already fixed and is being consulted on, then it is a simple matter to equate the expenditure with the income from the rates?
And how can ratepayers be consulted on the Plan and rate increases when there is no accurate information on what those increases will be?
Things are never what they seem with Honest John and his crew.
There appears that there will be some serious changes in the rating proposals that ratepayers will not be advised of until much later. By that stage the Commisoners will have already gone through the consultation process, so they can tick that box and simply adopt the changes.
They can't go through the consultation process again as there will not be time. The Plan has to be adopted and rates set before the end of June.
The other matter that drew my attention was a comment in one of the local rags that the Council meeting in June, when the Plan is adopted and the rates set, is being put back a week to 30 June. This is, so we are told, to allow more time for the audit of the Plan to be completed.
Interesting. One would have though that there was tons of time between now and June for the auditor to ink his rubber stamp and endorse the Commissoners' financial fantasies.
Or could it be that the auditor, like many of us, has finally cottoned on to the fact that the KDC is in dire straits financially. For starters, It is apparent that the Council does not meet the Auditor-General's test for a "going concern", which is the test that is applied to local authorities. It must be able to meet its commitments out of income for the foreseeale future, without government assistance.
Quite simply, the KDC cannot meet its current debt repayments and has parked $26.2 million, on which it can't even pay the full interest, at the bottom of the garden in Never Never Land. It has stripped the cupboard bare of all the reserve funds held for other purposes. As for government assistance, it would have gone down in a screaming financial heap if the government had not come to its rescue and validated six years of persistent illegalities.
Something is cooking, but at this stage we don't know what.
SABIN CLOCK KEEPS TICKING FOR KEY 22.04.2015
If you are quick enough you can catch Matthew Hooton's article Sabin clock keeps ticking for Key in the NBR. It may be padlocked soon behind a paywall.
The article raises the spectre of the Sabin allegations being known before the 2011 election. (No misprint in the date)
The article states:
But Mr Key’s government stands accused of somehow covering up after Mr Sabin, with Labour leader Andrew Little going so far as to say he believes Mr Key is lying.
John Keys handling of the situation is severly criticised and tha article ends with the comment:
The risk for Mr Key is that if the full Sabin story becomes known in a week, a month, six months or a year, it will look as if his government covered it up not just through a general election campaign but then again through the by-election as well. The clock keeps ticking.
MORE ON THE LEMON 22.04.2015
The EcoCare Mark 2 proposals have proved to be ridiculous.
The so-called members of the advisory panel (who know diddly-squat about sewerage, so how can they "advise"?) have shown themselves to be autocratic, arrogant, and uninformed, and voluntarily hog-tied by their ridiculous terms of reference.
Remember that the panel members were handpicked by John Robertson and Jill McPherson, and anyone who had voiced any comment about EcoCare - effectively the experts - were excluded from selection. And no peeking into the past was allowed.
No one has been impressed with the blinkered approach, and the sense of predetermination exhibited by the panel, and the air of "we know best". Their autocratic approach was best shown by the requirement to lodge feedback forms within a few days of the open day held on Easter Saturday.
They came across as salespeople selling a product with all the appropriate spiel and sales pitch, without revealing who was driving the whole thing behind the scenes.
How can you have any proposal when the three elephants in the sewerage system are completely ignored.
The whole thing is a masterminded by Harrison Grierson, and the proposals have nothing to do with the purity of the harbour or the safety of future generations. That is simply sales spiel to suck ratepayers into another Ponzi scheme.
Why did Honest John not reveal that Harrison Grierson were wheeling this wheelbarrow?
Why did Honest John cover up, yet again?
If Harrison Grierson have something important to say, why did they tell it to inexperienced intermediaries and then get them to front it? Why did they not tell the ratepayers directly?
Christian Simon has shown the way with alternative systems. His attendance at the open day, which brought out the worst in the advisory panel, and his stall at the Village market, have stirred considerable interest in the problems of sewerage, and the alternatives for dealing with those problems.
The word around town is that the Commissioners have yet again overstepped the mark, as they did with their shifty proposal to sell Sellars Reserve and other crucial land in Alamar Crescent.
As usual, the Commissioners talk of transparency and consultation, and then, behind the smoke and mirrors, they head off on their pre-determined course.
The online feedback form is a bit like the application form for a free holiday anywhere in the world offered to Russian dissidents. Just two questions:
Would you prefer 3 years in the gulag? or
Would you like 36 months in the gulag?
This whole thing is a scam. It is trying to suck ratepayers into selecting an option so that the advisory committee can report back to the Commissioners that that is what the people want. That is your consultation. And you will get it at a massive price. Just like Ecocare Mark 2.
The best approach is to write to the advisory panel and tell them in no uncertain terms what you think of them and their pathetic game. That the KDC cannot contemplate any more capital expenses until there is an independent audit of its finances to see if it is effectively insolvent.
And tell them that no money should be spent on EcoCare until an independent engineering assessment is done to see if it is a lemon.
Don't let them tell you that the Auditor-General said that it's OK in her report. She is supposedly the auditing expert in New Zealand and yet she failed to pick up any of the rorts that hallmarked EcoCare. Would you trust her expertise in sewerage systems?
DON'T TRUST A WORD THEY SAY 22.04.2015
The Commissioners make out that if the ratepayers are consulted, and agree to something, then that is what they get. It's all rubbish. In local government the council can tell any lies it likes, mislead the ratepayers in the most criminal way, and those who are responsible for the lies and misleading information suffer no consequences.
In the commercial world any such dishonesty would end up in court with perhaps a gaol sentence to boot. But in local government it is the unwritten rule that councils can fib their way through any project and when the world comes crashing down, the council gets off scot free and the ratepayers carry the can.
When you hear promises from the Commissioners and representations about the financial soundness of the KDC remember your history lessons.
The original EcoCare scheme was supposed to cost only $35 odd million, all up with everything, and service 3,500 sections. Any cost overruns were to be carried by the contractor. The debt was to be segmented which means it would be ring-fenced to those who were connected to it.
All lies. The representations had no basis when they were made. They were lies then and they are lies now.
Double the cost, overruns paid by ratepayers, only 1600 connection capacity, and a large part of the debt is being carried by ratepayers across the whole district.
Don't listen to the silky-soft words of Honest John when he says things are different now. This is the game of local government. It is a rort from start to finish where ratepayers are sucked dry and the big boys have carte blanche to tell any porkies they want. If you have any doubt, then look at Auckland. Totally out of control and heading for disaster, where the big boys are free to do what they want, and the ratepayers simply sign the cheques.
LAST RESORT FOR SABIN 21.04.2015
Mike Sabin has found that there is life after Parliament and has scored himself a nice little number that seems bizarrely unsuited to his qualifications, experience and personality. See the NZ Herald for details here.
Is it coincidental that he is working for a Chinese company when there are all sorts of Chinese whispers going on about his past activities?
Surely, by this stage, everybody knows what he is charged with.
The only people who do not know are John Key and all the members of the National caucus.
ECOCARE MARK 2
"It's your turn now!"
ADVISORY PANEL EXPOSED 14 04.2015
Local authorities have an obligation to consult with ratepayers on all options. This is what the Local Government Act says,with highlight added:
77 Requirements in relation to decisions
(1) A local authority must, in the course of the decision-making process,—
(a) seek to identify all reasonably practicable options for the achievement of the objective of a decision; and
(b) assess the options in terms of their advantages and disadvantages; and
(c) if any of the options identified under paragraph (a) involves a significant decision in relation to land or a body of water, take into account the relationship of Māori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral land, water, sites, waahi tapu, valued flora and fauna, and other taonga.
Someone forgot to tell Ian Greenwood and his fellow advisory panel members at the sewerage open day at the Mangawhai Domain. Architect and alternative sewerage systems expert Christian Simon tried to offer an alternative option to the extension of the EcoCare lemon. He got the boot. Scroll down to AN ALTERNATIVE GETS THE BOOT 08.04.2015.
He was forced to leave the Domain, owned by the people of Mangawhai and not the Council, and, when he set up his display outside, a wall of advisory panel sympathisers formed a wall around him and visitors were ushered away from him.
Ian Greenwood was seriously miffed and complained about Christian Simon interfering with this team's right to display their options without any opposition.
I wonder what right that is. Perhaps it is the long standing right in Kaipara, established as de facto law by long usage, for the Council and its supporters to pull the wool over the eyes of ratepayers, to mislead them and lead them up the garden path with fanciful schemes that have nothing to do with the best interests of the community but incidentally result in the enrichment of those involved with them.
TIME TO 'FESS UP 14.04.2015
Now that Harrison Grierson has been exposed as the eminence grise behind the proposed extensions to the EcoCare sewerage scheme, it is about time that the advisory team members, including the Commissioners and the, chief executive, Jill McPherson, came clean and revealed their connections with that firm.
Who is the project manager? He is not on the advisory panel. Is he an employee of Harrison Grierson?
Answers please! Transparency and all that.
IT'S NOT BECA 13.04.201
Legal Eagle got it wrong. He thought he could smell Beca as the driving force behind the EcoCare extension scheme. In fact the whole propoal is being engineered by one of the other monotithic enterprises, Harrison Grierson.
Not that the Commissioners would reveal that to you. The thick veil of secrecy is cast over everything that they do and the ratepayers of the district are being manipulated again to suck more money out of them in the latest version of the KDC Ponzi scheme.
Harrison Grierson are well entrenched. This project is well under way, and, in true KDC style, the cake is baked and out of the oven, and the consultation with the ratepayers is simply a formality, a marketing ploy, that will put the icing on the cake and dress it up so that Louise Upston can wax eloquent on how wetll "her boys" in Dargaville consult with the community.
On 25 March 2015 the New Zealand Land Treatment Collective held its annual conference and discussed “Seasonal Impacts of Wastewater Management”. One of the speakers was Angeli Paglinawan from Harrison Grierson and her topic was:
Potential effluent disposal options to cater for growth at Mangawhai
You can see the overall strategy. Suck them in with the absolute necessity of keeping the harbour pristine. Don't digress one inch into lateral considerations of whether it may be cows and run-off, not humans, creating the problems. Create the need. Then create fanciful arguments about population growth and the other need.
Don't let them sidetrack you with "the past". That is gone, dead and buried and the fact that the ratepayers have already paid an extortionate price for an expansion that was promised to provide 4,500 connections, must be buried at all costs.
Block any talk of options like small self-contained sewerage systems. This is all about EcoCare, the giant lemon. EcoCare has to be extended. Any other option wouldnot meet the primary target of the whole proposal, and that is to enrich the trough-feeders.
And, what ever you do, don't mention the cost of all this. Suck them in first, and then hit them with the cost later. It worked last time.
ADVISORY PANEL BACK-TRACK 11.04.2015
The EcoCare advisory panel have responded to harsh criticism of their unreasonable, autocratic actions by extending the date for submisssions on the proposed extension of EcoCare, slated by some as the new Ponzi scheme.
Here is the announcement on the KDC website:
Thank you to all those that attended the Open Day, Easter Saturday. Due to public demand for more time to consider all the questions and give them full consideration, the Advisory Panel have extended the reponse date to 24 April 2015.
Ratepayers should take note that their complaints about the panel's behaviour had an immediate response. There is a lesson to be learned. If enough of us get off our butts and challenge the autocratic actions of the Commissioners and their acolytes we can make a difference.
BECA'S TRACK RECORD 11.04.2015
Ratepayers in Kaipara will be very aware of the role that Beca played in the EcoCare fiasco. Beca was not only the adviser and consultant to the KDC but the EcoCare joint project manager. If you read the harsh criticism of the management of the project in the OAG's report, you will wonder if in fact there was any management at all.
The project was ill-planned, the KDC and its planners and advisers out of their depth, with the project simply being out of control. No one really knew what was going on and the contractors were virtually free to charge what they liked.
It is frightening for those of us who believe that contractors on the international stage must have some basic competence in their area of expertise, to find out that they were out of their depth.
EcoCare was not a one-off. Bernard Oarsman reported on a similar blow out in a sewerage scheme in Masterton in 2011, and guess what? Beca's name crops up again. This is what the writer said about Beca:
Rates are expected to rise a cumulative 19 per cent in the next two years after it was revealed last week that Beca Carter Hollings & Ferner underestimated the cost of the wastewater project by at least $5.1 million.
At Monday's meeting, before a gallery of about 50 spectators, Masterton District councillors moved to explore legal action against Beca and to look for savings in the $30 million project by an independent scrutiniser at the consultancy firm's expense.
Explore legal action? That certainly rings a bell. But I imagine that nothing came of it, just as nothing came of the hollow promises of the Commissioners to pursue Beca in the courts. Beca is too big and too important a cog in the local government machine to sue. And, remember, the first rule in local government is that you never do the dirty on your fellow feeders at the trough.
Local government is an unregulated, frenzied feeding ground for all the corporate piranhas because it creates wealth for those who matter in our community, and the prey that they feed on, the ratepayers, seem to be quite content to be the victims of such mayhem.
Is Beca doing a reprise of its EcoCare role? Is it behind the advisory panel's clumsy thrust to force EcoCare Mark 2 on to the hapless ratapayers of Kaipara? Is it coming back for a second bite of the very juicy cherry?
PLEASE READ THIS
This is an important time for Kaipara ratepayers. You may not know it but you are being consulted on the future of the EcoCare sewerage scheme and the proposals put forward by the Commissioners' advisory panel.
Those proposals entail very expensive extensions to EcoCare, that are not based on a rigorous assessment of the sewerage system, and are going to create massive more debt for ratepayers.
You are being asked to complete a questionnaire and return it by this Friday 10 April 2015. Like all questionnaires that emanate from the KDC, it is carefully designed to lead you into selecting the proposals that they are promoting.
Ratepayers are encouraged to read the following posts and then let the advisory panel know if you do no accept their proposals and that you insist on a fundamental and rigorous assessment of the current sewerage system and a cost analysis of all options, including stand-alone-options, being undertaken before any further steps are contemplated.
MEETING WITH THE ECOCARE PANEL 08.04.2015
Last week several groups were invited along to view a presentation by the KDC advisory panel on the proposals for the extension of the EcoCare scheme, now dubbed the Mangawhai Wastewater Scheme (MWWS).
I have in the past been extremely critical of the panel, its selection, its terms of reference and of the propaganda-laden articles that it has published, courtesy of the Mangawhai Focus.
I was interested to see how the panel would measure up in real life.
The members of the panel are very sincere and clearly very talented, qualified and experienced. They have enough letters after their names to make up a complete alphabet.
BUT.......there appeared to be a lack of intellectual rigour and simple down-to-earth nous, which one would expect from such a band of highly qualified people. They seemed more like members of a religious sect with esoteric ideals and principles that are untouched by facts and common-sense.
They appear to have taken on board the ridiculous terms of reference set by the Commissioners without any objections; they refuse to look into the past, which, in a case like this, is the key to the future; and they have embraced a slick marketing campaign with expensive props for the EcoCare proposals that raise serious questions about their integrity and their motivation.
Clearly the strategy is to promote the purity of the harbour as the main goal, which is what the proponents of the original EcoCare rort did. The main goal then was, in reality, for those involved to make money out of the wretched ratepayers, and the purity of the harbour was the catch-phrase for sucking everyone in.
That appears to be the modus operandi again, even though there is evidence that the purity of the harbour has not improved because of EcoCare, and that the biggest danger to the harbour is from cows and not humans.
But the advisory panel is not going to let facts get in the way of a good marketing strategy and the profits that will be available to those unknown personages who are promoting the proposals.
There are indications that some large eminence grise is behind these extension proposals. In the previous scheme, that proved to be such a debacle, Beca was the brains and the driving force that led us down the path to ruin. Now that the Commissioners have pulled the plug on taking legal action against Beca, has it re-entered the fray to have another bite at the golden cherry?
The panel members had everything off pat. They all made a point of saying that they applied for the positions on the panel. They were not tapped on the shoulder because they are mates of the Commissioners, as many have suggested.
The protestations sounded contrived and unbelievable. They are the mates of the Commissioners and are at one with their strategies. Is it not true that those who had voiced any concerns about EcoCare were barred from the panel?
They are adamant that the plant is capable of untold connections and disingenuously quote the report of the OAG as its source. They know as well as all of us that the report was a whitewash of what took place in Kaipara and any comments in the report on the viability of EcoCare are vague and have no engineering merit whatsoever.
My suggestion that there should be an independent engineering assessment of the whole of scheme - plant, reticulation and disposal - before making any decisions about dealing with sewage, was treated as bordering on heresy. The project director blustered that it would be too expensive and would I be willing to pay for it personally?
He didn't seem to get it, that they were investing a small fortune in marketing their vastly expensive proposals to build on the EcoCare lemon without even checking to see if the foundations were safe.
Another of their mantras is that they are promoting the proposals for the good of the people, but they shun any knowledge of the massive existing debt and the cost of their proposals is a no go area. They squirm when costs are mentioned and when asked how ratepayers can afford to meet the current EcoCare debt AND the new debt to fund their proposals
They say, as one, that the cost of the proposals would be too expensive to cost at this stage. They just want ratepayers to tell them which option they prefer.
Like all good salesman, they lure you in without telling you the cost. Once they have got you on the hook they can reel you in. Worry about the cost later. That can be fudged and hidden. Just like with EcoCare Mark 1.
CONSULTATION - YEAH, RIGHT 08.04.2015
Believe it or not, you have had you consultation and now you have to give the panel your feedback by this Friday 10 April 2015.
The public demonstration of the proposals was last Saturday at the Domain and you are given only a week in which to make your views known. This has come as a surprise to everyone and the suspicion is that the panel wishes to close down consultation before ratepayers have the opportunity to voice their concerns.
The questionnaire can be viewed here.
The whole of the questionnaire is geared to the EcoCare scheme being extended and asks carefully constructed leading questions with that outcome clearly targeted.
The whole of this consultation is a farce and ratepayers need to let the advisory panel know that.
What to do with our sewerage system is an important issue but such serious issues are never going to be resolved under John Robertson and his Commissioners because of their total lack of transparency, their disdain for genuine consultation, and the fact that his strings are being pulled by others who do not give a proverbial about the best interests of ratepayers .
The viability of EcoCare, the viability of the KDC itself, are vital issues that must be answered honestly before Kaipara can go anywhere. That means getting advice from genuine independent experts who can tell us the truth about the financial viability of both the KDC and EcoCare.
We need to send a clear message to the advisory panel that we do not want any part of their nonsense. We refuse to consult on their preposterous proposals and will not join in their games.
But don't just think it. Do something about it. Send them an email and tell them what you think, and do it by Friday at the latest.