Never a dull moment at this point in the election race as candidates rush for press face-time and commentators start to get on board. News aplenty across the city with competitors banging into each other left, right, and center.
Getting his hands dirty this week was Chris Calvi-Freeman who, armed with a roll of duct tape, put Metlink Wellington out of a job by fixing a bus stop in Strathmore.
Civic Square was next on the agenda for the week with our “leaders” coming up with a range of ideas for the empty, languishing, space. Many ideas were laid out in this article.
Despite the Wellington Central Library, Civic Administration Building, and Town Hall being closed due to seismic issues, city leaders say there’s still hope for Civic Square.Leaders share creative ideas to revive Wellington’s Civic Square
A lot of the ideas were already on the plans and missed the fact that at risk quake buildings loomed large over a lot of the space. There is also a rumour that the underground carparks themselves, and their earthquake risk profile, may see a lot of Civic Square cordoned off in future.
Rather than putting up a giant plastic hand that looks suspiciously like Donald Trump, leering over the broken heart of the city, perhaps the WCC could get on with doing something, anything, to get it revived.
Wellington needs somewhere new to store their rubbish within the next four years with the landfill reaching peak capacity. Now, we all know what is going to happen here. Despite the WCC putting the usual spin on how fabulous everything is along with the promise of public consultation, they’re just going to extend it.
The Council is recommending extending the landfill as the best way forward, but would like to test this assumption by looking at what alternatives are around.
The alternatives that will be looked at include closing the Southern Landfill; building a waste-to-energy plant; or using biological processes.
Waste Operations Manager Emily Taylor Hall is looking forward to engaging with the community and stakeholders to consider the proposal and options.Room for rubbish is running out
What a load of rubbish. This giant stinking heap has pretty much destroyed “happy” valley and will cause pollution and contamination issues for decades. However, you can see straight away that any other options will be too expensive in the eyes of the WCC and just too hard.
Reducing the amount of rubbish that ends up there makes sense, but it is not the sole responsibility of the residents to do that, and it’s particular hard to do that when options available to us are minimal, unimaginative, and amateur. As costs increase we’ll see the rise of the backyard incinerator again no doubt.
Ray Wallace, Mayor of Hutt City, had a crack at candidates standing under a central political party banner.
As Mayor of Hutt City, I feel compelled to speak out about the consequences of political party involvement in local government.
We live in a democracy and people have the right to join a political party. However, I am fundamentally against councillors deciding issues under instructions from a party.
We can look to what has happened recently in Wellington City Council as covered by this publication, where councillors both on and off the record claimed that they were told by a Labour-endorsed colleague that the Green Party confidence and supply agreement would be jeopardised ‘if a watered down Let’s Get Wellington Moving wasn’t accepted’.Opinion: Should party politics be involved in local government ?
I agree with Ray, there is no room for Councillors holding a central party candidacy or membership within local politics. You’re just voting for a puppet that will not put your interests first unless those interests are also that of the party.
However, people may not be aware that under, for example, the Labour Party Constitution, any person accepting nomination as a Party candidate contesting a Local Body election must individually sign a pledge to abide by the Party Rules and Principles.
What’s worse, is that the party faithful candidates tend to be really boring. They can’t answer questions for themselves, they have no views for themselves, their words are run through communications machines, can’t make a decision without instruction, and just end up looking like Monty Python characters with mouths that move up and done, spouting party swill.
Vote independent. It makes for a far more interesting and balanced council.
Dave Armstrong covers off a look at some of the Mayoral candidates running.
Welcome to the Wellington mayoral election campaign, where none of the main contenders is truly Left-wing, and none is truly Right-wing. Instead, the capital’s citizens can punish themselves with 50 shades of centre.Fifty shades of centre in the race to be Wellington mayor
They’re all jumbled up, the candidates that is, and it’s hard to really group any of them into political blocks, though Dave does identify some.
Foster and Lester were sparring again over Let’s Get Wellington (not) Moving and if it was even affordable for the city.
Wellington City Council would need to cut about $300 million from its budget in order to fund its share of the capital’s $6.4 billion transport plan, a councillor claims.Councillor questions city council’s funding streams for $6.4 billion transport programme `
Lester disagreed, said Foster was playing politics, and said the money was there.
But Foster seems to be right, because in the pre-election report the Chief Executive of the WCC agreed.
Lester said there was no problem with the council’s budget. “I tend to rely on trained professionals and our financial team and public servants who don’t have a vested interest and can provide accurate and impartial advice.”
The only thing that could hold the project up was “political shenanigans”, Lester said. “I’m going to make sure the project’s delivered, and that it’s affordable. And we’ve got the budget to do it.”
Let’s unpack that.
Lester says there is no problem with the budget, but the CEO says changes will need to be made to get it across the line.
Foster has same access to those trained professionals, financial team, and public servants.
As for a vested interest, Lester has several himself, as he is also running for mayor and no doubt wanting to keep the Labour Party sweet at the same time.
As to political shenanigans, who leaked the early version of LGWN do we know? Why has JAG’s letter not been released? What actually happened to the now mutant spawn of the original LGWN?
In one of the Labour Government’s favourite activities, a insurance “taskforce” has been setup to answer a whole bunch of questions for the Minister of Finance, not the WCC or other Councils, but central government.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson has asked that the Taskforce consider the following:
· What changes to property insurance pricing and availability have occurred in Wellington for residential, commercial and multi-unit buildings.
· The current uptake of property insurance in Wellington for residential, commercial and multi-unit buildings, and how common it is for property owners to be unable to secure full replacement or indemnity cover.
· The main hazard and vulnerability factors driving rising property insurance premiums.
· Other problems contribution to insurance affordability of access issues.Mayor chairs first Wellington insurance taskforce meeting
Do we need a taskforce for this? It’s called an earthquake and since the Wellington quake insurance comes have got scared and started to analyse the landscape of the city with far more rigour. A quick bit of research will tell you that insurance is not increasing for properties that are at low risk from a quake, are well above sea-level, and are of robust construction.
But. If you have a property that falls into any of those categories, you are going to pay a lot more.
The first Taskforce meeting heard presentations from Kelvin Berryman of GNS Science on the latest science on the Wellington fault line and Terry Jordan of the Insurance Council on the structure of the New Zealand insurance sector.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to get transcripts of those presentations?
In other news, it’s definitely heading toward silly season as unsolicited allegations against candidates are being leveled around the place via anonymous tips, comments, and feedback. It’s Wellington’s little version of “Dirty Politics” and thankfully it never usually comes to much.
It’s always a good barometer that the season is underway.