Talking about signatures . . .

November 1, 2008

Let’s not forget it wasn’t just one painting Helen Clark passed off as her own, she finally admitted to signing “about half a dozen” works of art she hadn’t created.

And it wasn’t just when she was Prime Minister when the demands of office might have explained why she did it, though not excused her for doing it. She admitted she’d done it from the time she was a back bencher.

That’s not a hanging offence, but it’s dishonest and a very bad look, especially for a Minister of Arts, which raises legitimate questions about her character.

Why didn’t she just say she couldn’t paint but offer to help in another way? Why not say she couldn’t paint but would be happy to pay for someone else to do a painting and donate that? Why not just do a painting knowing no one would expect a master piece?

Does it matter?

Yes, because the signature on a work of art deontes its provenance so you need to be able to trust it, and the woman who’s shown we can’t trust her on that reckons the election’s about trust.

Cartoon: Rod Emmerson


But Miss . . .

September 26, 2008

The esteemed poet lauretae Jam Hipkins has lost is heart to the teacher who is moonlighting as a prostitute:

I love your lacy algebra

You ease my present tense

I regard your pleasure’s syntax

As a meagre recompense

For the poetry you’ve taught me

Writ on scented, satin sheet

In our one-on-one night classes

Where we shared our rhyming feet.

If my woodwork is improving

If, perchance, I top your class

It is you, sweet Cupid’s tutor

Who has shown me how to pass

Small wonder, then in Flaxmere

With no teacher of the night

That lonely boys’ testosterone

Can fuel a fiercesome fight.

But do not give them homework

Save love’s lessons just for me

You are the moon’s curriculum

You are my chemistry

If I’m A plus in the boudoir

Then I thank your lesson plan

I went in in short trousers

And I staggered out a man!

“Well, what do you think?” the laureate pleaded. “Will it work?”

“Perhaps,” I said sadly.

“But you may have to pay her to listen.”

You can read the rest of Jim Hopkins’ column here.

For other views on the issue:  Read the rest of this entry »


Please Miss

September 22, 2008

Should a teacher lose her job for moonlighting as a prostitute?

Teachers and their advocates are constantly complaining about teachers’ workloads. The school board could use this to justify concerns that the teacher’s extra-curricular activities would compromise her ability to do her day job properly. But:

The woman reportedly told the principal that her action in her own time was not his concern, and that it was not affecting her ability as a teacher.

Teachers Council director Peter Lind said the most important factor was whether the teacher’s second job was affecting her teaching duties, “and there would have to be actual evidence”.

That’s not easy because there are a whole lot of things which might impinge on a teachers’ performance in the classroom which would not be sackable offences, the demands of looking after young children or elderly relatives, for example.

But prostitution is a wee bit different from these altruisitc activities and that might create difficulties.

It’s a primary school so the board doesn’t need to concern itself over the possibility of pupils hiring the teacher to help them with their homework. But it might worry about problems which could arise if pupils’ fathers – or mothers – were clients.

It might also have concerns about how the teacher’s side-line activities impact on the school’s reputation and that of the teaching profession:

Employment lawyer John Hannan, who knew of the case, said a school could possibly take action even if it didn’t have a policy either preventing teachers taking secondary jobs or ensuring they first seek approval from their board. “It’s a case of whether the outside employment is regarded as incompatible with the role of a teacher in terms of role-modelling and in terms of any policies that the board of trustees might have in place.”

Another employment lawyer, Patrick Walsh, said the council could intervene if the school deemed the teacher’s second job involved “conduct that brings discredit to the profession”.

There is a glimmer of hope then, that the board might be within its rights to tell her she can’t do both jobs. And if it’s not then what does that say about our society?

I don’t know why she needs the extra money and what happens to her two children while she’s earning it. But if she thinks she’s doing it for them she’s got her priorities wrong.

And whatever employment law states, I wouldn’t want my children taught by a prostitute because making something legal doesn’t make it right.


Charity with principles

September 13, 2008

A New York charity turned down a share of a $3m jackpot because it didn’t want to send the wrong message to gambling addicts.

Some New Zealand charities don’t accept the donations from casinos and the proceeds from other gambling for the same reason.

Some New Zealand charities may have accepted money from New Zealand First which ought to have gone to Parliamentary Services, but we have only got Winston Peters’ word for that.


Politics of the absurd

September 12, 2008

The Taranaki Daily News notes that in politics an absurdity isn’t a handicap:

Napoleon Bonaparte said that about 200 years ago . . .Given the political drama that has unfolded in the past few weeks, that statement has an uncanny prescience and the timing of its publication is both poignant and troubling.

But in the context of the turmoil surrounding Winston Peters, Helen Clark and the story behind the grease that smooths the wheels of our democracy, Bonaparte’s offering alludes to a wider truth that we must face in the next few weeks.

If, as Bob Jones points out in his column today, Labour is a real chance to win the General Election tipped to be called for November, does that mean that, finally, we have reluctantly conceded that politicians can and do lie, cheat and steal as part of their job and this affliction must be accepted; like an involuntary muscle reflex that must be accommodated and tolerated?

Is this absurdity of avarice and treachery in public service not a handicap, but more of a default position? And therefore, how much weight do we place on honesty and integrity when standing, marker pen poised, before our voting forms?

. . . Have we just become too accustomed to, too beaten down by, too many lies and falsehoods; an innocence that became a scepticism that mutated into a grudging, resigned cynicism.

. . . Maybe Helen Clark is counting on the same moral blindness from her supporters, her nation; that we will forgive her moment of political madness and impropriety because we are sophisticated enough to know that lying and deceit is as much a part of being a politician as kissing babies and shaking hands.

If that’s the case, then shame on her and shame on us. There should be more to surviving in politics than clinging on to a drowning man and hoping everyone else will look the other way.

Not everyone’s looking the other way but the election will be the only way to know if there’s enough of us who still believe that honesty and integrity matter.


Enough’s enough

September 12, 2008

The Dominion Post has had enough:

Prime Minister Helen Clark’s course of action is now clear. Mr Henry has been invited to reappear before the privileges committee on Tuesday. When he does, he should bring with him two pieces of evidence. The first is telephone records showing when he first called Mr Glenn to ask him to contribute toward Mr Peters’ legal costs, records which, if they exist, will disprove Mr Glenn’s assertion that he has never spoken to Mr Peters’ lawyer.

The second is the name of the “client” who advised him to approach Mr Glenn on Mr Peters’ behalf.

If Mr Henry is unable, or unwilling, to provide either, the prime minister should sack Mr Peters from her ministry.

For too long, he has trifled with the truth and danced on the heads of legal pins. By doing so, he would like his supporters to believe he has simply been refusing to dance to the tune of petty bureaucrats and the news media.

But what he has, in fact, been doing is showing contempt for Parliament, the law and the public. Remember, it was an audience member who asked Mr Peters at a Grey Power meeting in July to explain why NZ First had not declared money received from the Spencer Trust, a shadowy legal entity administered by his brother Wayne.

Mr Peters replied that: “Everything that [NZ First] was required to do within the law has been done,” has now been shown, by the party’s own admission that it broke electoral law, to be false.

Miss Clark should call the election.

Not only will it give her the political benefit of diverting attention from Mr Peters’ evasions, half-truths and falsehoods, it will give the public the opportunity to pass judgment on his shenanigans.

“Contempt for Parliament, the law, and the public …” not to mention his colleagues, his party, its members and the poor deluded souls who’ve believed the populist message he’s spent his political career spreading.


Thanks Owen

September 12, 2008

Some have questioned whether Owen Glenn’s philanthropy was sufficient to earn a New Zealand Honour, but the Herald says  he deserved it before and he’s more than earned it now:

New Zealanders should consider today what a debt we owe Owen Glenn. He cared enough for his good name in this country to come here and clear it. In doing so he will surely rid us of a politician who misused his considerable talent and charm to mislead the public on important policies, sow fear and suspicion of change and survive on a populism that has turned out to be not only destructive but dishonest.

Mr Glenn deserved the high honour bestowed on him at New Year for financial endowments such as that of the Auckland University business school. Scarred by his brush with New Zealand politics, he might not realise that he has earned his honour doubly now.

We would have even more reason to be grateful if, as The Hive requests, he could provide some ammunition to counter the attacks on him from the unholy alliance of Labour and New Zealand First.


%d bloggers like this: