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« Council Meeting 26 June 2013 | Main | Pre-election Communications »
Thursday
Jun272013

Pre-election Report (Manifesto!)

As part of the Local Government reforms enacted at the end of 2011, the Government required a Pre-election Report to be produced by each council chief executive for distribution to ratepayers prior to the election. It is supposed to be an independent ‘tell-all’ that together with important factual and governance information, alerts ratepayers to deficiencies or risks that may face any incoming council.

It was not meant to be a panegyric.

That is what will be distributed to our ratepayers following final tweaking by members at the 26 June Council meeting. Our Chief Executive has gone over and beyond the call of duty to write a glossy, highly biased document that will serve admirably as a pre-election manifesto for the incumbent Mayor and councillors.

As with a number of other well-meant measures instituted by then Local Government Minister Nick Smith, this has the unintended consequence of simply helping to ensure the continuation of the status quo throughout the country – after all, what chief executive has the balls to point the finger at governance deficiencies of incumbents – particularly if contract negotiations are in the offing!

The document that Hammond has produced along with his expanded PR unit is “over the top” in every respect – he claims to have been the “first off the block” – hardly surprising when he has chosen to have it approved on 26 June, before the Annual Report has even been produced. There are end of year figures that he cannot possibly have access to at this point, the financial derivative valuation for one.

The exact shortfall on Capex is not be known until all the bills are in – it is currently expected to be $9m under budget – you won’t find any mention of that in the glossy, nor any reference to increased debt other than “external debt remains under active review” – whew! – that is a relief. Claims that they remain “well below the self-imposed debt limit is not reassuring in view of the casual manner in which this new limit was established – not by a motion of council, but by simply being incorporated into the Revenue and Finance policy adopted in early 2011. There is not one recorded word of debate in Council minutes over the establishment of this new limit.

Overall, if you read this document you can only come to one conclusion – this Council has succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams in bringing our District out of oblivion into the Promised Land. This Council is God’s gift to ratepayers, and any suggestion of change come October should be resisted at all costs.

On the other hand, it is puke-making, and the perfect example of public relations in full flight.

Ratepayers should treat is with kid gloves, and adopt a “show me the proof” attitude before accepting any of Hammond’s statements at face value.  

 

 

 

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