In the first of a regular weekly opinion column, we are going to look at the biggest losers and winners of the week in local politics. Shelly Bay has been the topic of the week pushing almost everything else to the side, and it’s giving some Councillors a nudge in the right direction, and other’s a downright drubbing.
The issue of the week has undoubtedly been Shelly Bay, and despite attempts to start some other discussions, earthquake premiums spring to mind, it’s dominated the stage.
The biggest winner of the week is Andy Foster who has managed to keep commenting on Shelly Bay in his style when the Council had tried to shut the conversation down emanating from Councillors.
He continued to lay out his personal views, provide background and facts (that have been in short supply), and talk about possible ways forward. Iona Pannett came a reasonable second again, not bowing to pressure to keep quiet, and again suggesting some ways forward.
Peter Jackson started the week being painted as a villain in the scandal but by week end that has flipped with a lot of people and groups flocking to support him, including Mau Whenua.
By far an away the biggest losers of the week have been the Eastern Suburbs Councillors who have virtually vanished over the Shelly Bay saga, except for Chris Calvi-Freeman who seems confused by it all.
In this Twitter chain, he asserts that the Council is going to “publish all the facts shortly”, but that has not eventuated. He asserts that the Council has “had no role in land sale” then reasserts that the facts are going to be released. He finishes with:
I don’t believe there’s any terms of reference yet for the review, which is completely separate from the commissioners’resource consent task. Until I’ve seen the outcome of both processes I can’t determine my position on Shelly Bay. Anything more at this point w’be conjecture.
It’s a bit messy to be honest. The facts are coming, they are still coming, we had nothing to do with it, and then an obvious dodge on his position on all this. It’s not a great look.
But let’s not forget Simon Marsh and Sarah Free who are completely absent, at least Chris has been attempting to engage, let’s give him that.
Sarah and Simon are nowhere to be seen. Clearly, they are hiding in the nearest Hobbit Hole waiting for the great (media) Eye of Sauron to pass over them and find someone else to focus on.
So, a poor showing from our Eastern Ward Councillors this week. Given they are our elected representatives, we rightfully should expect better, and it leaves them slightly more vulnerable as the elections loom.
Some of Justin Lester’s Mayoral shine got buffed off this week in the fracas. Not overly damaging but it felt as if he reacted rather than responded to the information that was coming out and a little bit of glass jaw was perhaps being demonstrated.
He felt like a man without a plan, and as the week rolled on, he started to vanish from sight as the information pile on happened. Still, unlike previous discussed Councillors, he did front to reporters and answer questions, even if those answers were more in the “he said she said” and “just trust me” vein.
PNBST took a major credibility hit this week, at least their “management” arm did. After getting all self-righteous at the beginning of the week and pointing the finger all over the place, they were shutdown in a complete body slam by the Dominion Post mid-week which revealed some facts around the land sale. It seemed that quite a lot of fingers were being pointed back at themselves.
Continuing our wrestling analogy, Mau Whenua was then tagged in and clotheslined the PNBST “management” in their opinion piece while substantively boosting their support around the land issues and releasing or supporting facts that others have claimed were lies.
Not to be left out of the fight The Wellington Company waded in with an email that could have been considerably shorter than it was. They claimed that they would release facts, didn’t, refuted claims, and then appeared to threaten Peter Jackson.
In the Wednesday rush, they also got pulled into the ring and pummelled, almost by accident. The answer to all of that was to go back to the Dominion Post and try and point off into the distance to other successful conquests in perhaps a poor attempt to try and repair some of the damage. It was an amateur hour at best, and it might be time they hired a “Communications Specialist.”
We hope they don’t; it’s far more entertaining when people jump in boots and all despite the fact the thing that they are jumping into is a pool full of alligators.
The greatest winners of the week by a country-mile must be the myriad of lawyers that are associated with the various parties who have no doubt billed some tens of thousands of dollars.
It’s an overall win for the people and the community though, as they start to activate and get interested in the issue, and despite the actors hiding in various places have found some facts starting to now make their way into the public arena.