Serving govt not ratepayers

15/06/2020

Troubles at the Otago Regional Council are coming to a head:

Council chairwoman Marian Hobbs said yesterday that since New Zealand entered a Covid-19 lockdown on March 26 — and seven councillors called for a 12-month re-evaluation of the council’s policy and finances, including the withdrawal and suspension of plan changes in progress and a review of its Regional Policy Statement — the council had been divided.

“It has been war,” Ms Hobbs said yesterday, confirming she believed some councillors wanted her out as chairwoman at the council.

“If I sound angry, I am. And I’m really not speaking as a chair — I’m speaking as a human being. Because watch this space, love, I’m liable to lose my position as the chair,” she said. . . 

The March 26 letter to Ms Hobbs was signed by Crs Michael Laws, Hilary Calvert, Carmen Hope, Gary Kelliher, Kevin Malcolm, Andrew Noone and Kate Wilson.

Several days later Ms Hobbs wrote to Environment Minister David Parker about issues arising from the letter.

When her communication was discovered through an Official Information Act request, what she wrote raised the ire of Federated Farmers, which responded. . . 

I was worried when she was elected chair and my worries have increased since then.

She appears to be acting on behalf of the government rather than ratepayers, many of whom agree with the seven councillors who have called for a 12-month pause.

Federated Farmers’ national body took issue in a statement this week with the council’s consultation process, saying the “actions taken by [the regional council] over the lockdown period were at best an inept attempt to ‘tick off’ to the minister that they had sufficiently completed appropriate public consultation on its proposed plan changes”.

Federated Farmers Otago president Simon Davies expressed “real concern” with the content of the letter and said the organisation was “assessing our options”.

There was a lack of governance at the council at present, he said, which was problematic.

“It’s not the ‘staff’ giving direction or strategy, it’s the governance. And the governance needs to be strong about that, and at the same time that strategy needs to be Otago focused and driven — not other people’s,” he said. . . 

The Council must carry out its statutory roles but councillors are elected to represent the people, not the government.

Cr Calvert yesterday said she was concerned that Ms Hobbs was substituting her interpretation of the views of the Government “for the views of our Otago ratepayers”.

“She is prepared to attempt to overthrow the representation of the people of Otago by asking whether the minister would consider putting in a commissioner if the vote doesn’t go her way.

“Those who elected us deserve better than that.”

Asked to comment on Ms Hobbs’ assertion there were councillors who wanted her out as chairwoman, Cr Calvert said the “crucial question” was how many councillors that was.

“At the end of the day, if you don’t retain the confidence of the majority of your fellow councillors, it’s time for somebody else to take a crack at being the chair.”

Some former MPs can make the transition to local body office and put partisan politics aside.

From what has been reported, Hobbs has not and it would be better for the council, and the region, if councilors succeed in replacing her.

 

 


Gardening advice from experts

28/09/2009

The print edition of the NBR has a weekly In Tray column which this week is devoted to gardening advice from experts.

Among them are:

Graham Henry: Rotate your plants. Plants thrive on never knowing exactly where they are and what their place in the garden will be next week. Keep a few on the bench and bring them on when others wilt. Pack down well and maintain good field position. If plants won’t behave themselves, give them 10 minutes in the compost bin and they’ll come right.

And:

Micael (sic) Laws: Get the labelling right on you plants, otherwise confusion ensures and when things come up, you won’t know what you’ve got . . . For best results, I recommend orcids, dalias, dapnes, ydrangeas and ollyocks. Erb gardens are nice too.


Silent protest

20/09/2009

Bhig News and Nhot PC are making silent protests.

I suppose this blog could become Omepaddock in a gesture of solidarity but I’m more in sympathy with Monkeywith Typewriter who says it’s all in the head.

I also think Kerre Woodham  makes a good point when she says:

The “h” in Michael isn’t pronounced either, but it would look jolly funny spelled Micael.

Language is a fluid thing. Regardless of what is decided officially, time and use will be the ultimate arbiters of whether its Whanganui or Wanganui.

Besides, it’s an h of a thing to be getting het up about when there are so many more important things needing urgent attention.

Update: Scrubone has a poll Wanganui – lend me your H’s (in which a pedant might point out there’s a stray apostrophe).


What the h? – Updated

17/09/2009

What’s in an h?

A name with any other letter would spell as sweet.

To h or not to h, that is the question put to the Geogrpahic Board and it decided unanimously to h Whanganui.

The Minister of Lands, Maurice Williamson has the power to confirm, modify or reject the decision.

Alas poor Wanganui we knew it well . . .

UPDATE:

Quote Unquote has come up with the best reason for inserting the h:

But the basic principle here is that anything which annoys Michael Law must be good.


BSA judgement for free speech

14/01/2009

The Broadcasting Standards Authority has dismissed a complaint  by Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro against talkback host Michael Laws.

Dr Kiro had complained to the BSA the Laws’ remarks on the programme were unbalanced and unfair to her.

She argued that the programme “often cast aspersions on (her) competence” and that she was personally mentioned more than 50 times during the three-hour talkback programme.

But the BSA said listeners would not expect a range of balanced views from Laws’ talkback.

It said the host’s criticisms were not unfair in the robust talkback environment.

“Indeed, it is an essential element of free speech that even the most trenchant criticism of public figures be allowed,” the authority said. “As an appointed official carrying out a public function, Dr Kiro’s work and her conduct were appropriately the subject of scrutiny, comment and criticism.”

The authority agreed with the broadcaster that talkback was a means for the public to express their views on a range of issues. There was no requirement for those views to be well-informed, balanced or considered.

Radio Live, which broadcasts Laws’ show is claiming this judgement as a victory for free speech, as it is.

Like it or not talkback is full of ill-informed, unbalanced and ill considered rants and while it might not seem fair the public, which includes talkback hosts, has the right to criticise people in public positions.


Safety First Can Be Dangerous Practice

15/06/2008

When our baby stopped breathing in the middle of the night we dialled 111. The call was answered at our local hospital by a man who’d shorn our sheep. As soon as he ascertained what was needed he cleared our line, so we could phone our GP and then a neighbour who was a nurse, while he directed the ambulance to us.

 

That was 21 years ago. If we made an emergency call now it would be answered in a distant city. The chances of getting someone at the other end with any local knowledge are remote so we’d spend much longer on the phone describing where we live; and may well not then get the line freed so we could phone neighbours.

 

The knowledge that professional help is further away and less reliable than it was in the past has concerned rural communities for some time. But the case a couple of years ago of the woman who was prevented from calling her neighbours after dialling 111 and then had to wait an hour for police has strengthened the belief we’d be better calling a neighbour first and the authorities second.

 

The first response by professionals to an emergency is usually and quite properly to ensure the situation doesn’t deteriorate so police must be wary of endangering neighbours or unleashing a posse of vigilantes, especially if fire arms are involved. But sadly this policy is another example of modern life which requires everyone to follow set procedure, so they can’t be held responsible if something goes amiss; and leaves no room for local knowledge or initiative.

The police have been accused of this safety at all costs approach over the delay in an ambulance reaching Navtej Singh after he was shot.

Jim Hopkins said:

You need to understand, Sir, we want the police – we need the police – to be as willing to put themselves in harm’s ways as those who can’t do without their Saturday six-pack. We don’t want your officers outside, behind the line, while Mr X is inside, leaving money on the counter to pay for his RTDs.

This isn’t how it’s supposed to be, Mr Broad. This isn’t what we expect of the police and neither, we suspect, is it what they expect of themselves.

Something’s happened, Mr Broad. Some OSH-ish fretfulness has crept into your operations that is tainting your purpose and tarnishing the reputation of your force.

 

And Michael Laws asks if the thin blue line has gone yellow:

 

In the immediate wake of the shooting of Navtej Singh one might reasonably believe so. Because the initial police response after receiving their emergency summons seems to condemn the police as institutional cowards.

There can be no excuse that “standard operating procedure” negates the required Good Samaritan duty. We would condemn a stranger for not immediately offering assistance. How much worse is it then, that those we pay to protect the public essentially refuse to do so. At least, until they’re ready.

Indeed there was an element of not simply the PC, but OSH, in the Manurewa police’s studied inertia last Saturday night. They first wanted to ensure that they were not in personal danger before Navtej Singh was attended. That the gunman was no longer in the vicinity. That they were armed. And that they had a strategy.

While they went through this process, they ensured that an available ambulance similarly did not attend Singh. They played the incident by the rules. Their own.

However, Kerre Woodham says we should give police a break:

Gotcha! Perfect headline to lead with the next morning. Police not human, says dead man’s mate. But to label the police as inhuman?

Dear God. How about the youths who shot Navtej Singh in the chest, scooped up boxes of liquor and left laughing as their victim lay bleeding on the floor? How about the man who came in and took advantage of the armed robbery to steal a box of RTDs?

How about the teenage boy who said he knew who the killers were but didn’t want to say because he wasn’t a snitch? Any of these low-life scum would warrant the term “inhuman” before the attending officers.

But no. The coppers get it, yet again.

She is right – of course the police aren’t inhuman. They do a difficult job in often awful circumstances, dealing with people who have no respect for the law, the people who enforce it or anyone else – but know all their rights.

However, a man died and there is a question over whether he might have survived had the ambulance got to him sooner. Because of that there must be an investigation – not to persecute the police and make their job more difficult, but to find answers that will help next time there is a conflict between ensuring the saftey of emergency crews and assisting victims.  


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