Sunday, June 14, 2009

Beware Auckland City

Auckland City Council is dominated by free-market and neoliberal proponents. There is an almost desperate need amongst the Citizens & Ratepayers councilors, who constitute a majority on most city boards, to promote maximization of performance and financial productivity as the sole motivating factor behind almost all of decision making. And there is constant rhetorical recourse to making these financial savings for the sake of all ratepayers among this group. The overwhelming problem with this is that by only focusing on a single bottom-line the C & R are selling a short term Auckland to residents at the expense of long term sustainability and the development of a truly world class city. And, lets be frank, C&R are not working for the average ratepayers interests, they're working for the interests of developers, and multinational corporate and business interests. If you look at just who they are and where they come from , you'll quickly see that thats who they are as well; and it's not ratepayers interests, it's their interests that will ultimately gain from the injustices that they're dealing out upon the rest of Auckland's ratepayers.

For example:

David Hay is the son of Keith Hay, a former Mayor of Mt Roskill Borough Council, and is a director of the company founded by his father, Keith Hay Homes, a prominent New Zealand home construction company. Hay is known for the advocacy of Christian conservative values and is one of the founding members of the socially and economically conservative Maxim Institute think tank in Auckland. I also understand from an acquaintance on the Waiheke ferry that at one point in the 1970's he had yoga banned from Mt. Roskill!!!

Aaron Bhatnagar former member of the ACT party and now National party supporter ( he thought it was better for his political career) was reportedly a boy-racer of some repute in his St Kentigern College days in 1990's, seen on numerous occasions speeding down Remuera road in his yellow ... Ferrari! His dad Sir Rajeshewar Sarup (Roger) Bhatnagar was owner of the Sound Plus chain that became Noel Leeming when he and associate Greg Lancaster bought the Leeming business. He was the owner of a number of exotic cars as well as a 50ft launch, Enigma, and a fast catamaran-style launch called FU2, which is used to commute from Auckland to a property on Kawau Island in the Hauraki Gulf.

These two guys run the City Development Committee along with the support of David Rafkin, of whom the Auckland City website says is involved in the "... endless search for productivity and efficiency gains", and John Duthie a career bureaucrat supporting C&R policies and with a pro-development agenda.

Waiheke Waste Debacle

Lets make no mistake on this issue; it was the Citizens and Ratepayers councillors on the City Development Committee, David Rankin the Chief Executive, and John Duthie who sold out an internationally recognized, locally revered, and innovative community based organisation dealing more than effectively with waste issues on Waiheke Island (43% diverted from landfill compared to Auckland's 16%) to an Australian multinational corporation, Transpacific Industries. This is a company that is $2.1 Billion in debt and who's owner, Terry Peabody, threatened shareholders of NZ company Waste Management in 2006 that if his take over bid was not successful he would move in and compete with them anyways. Peabody has other interests in New Zealand, his family owns a number of wineries, the most well known being Craggy Range.

The tender process was skewed from the start towards a change of service provider by undervaluing and under-representing the social and educational processes and value that the current provider has increasingly shown are a significant part of the recycling and recovery process, and by continuously undermining the right of Waiheke residents to speak during the tender process. An email from late 2008 from a employee of Auckland City Council to the consultant writing the initial report on waste on Waiheke was uncovered and widely circulated around Waiheke and showed clearly that there was intent to change service providers and suggested to the consultant that the report need to present a watertight business case for such change. It also acknowledged that this would be a controversial issue on the island. Some dirty tactics by C&R appointed lawyers to eventually disqualify the local company and a glut of misinformation on the waste figures for Waiheke finally cemented the contract towards the outcome that appeared in many eyes to be likely predetermined or at least highly preferred by C&R.


Last weekend a community meeting on Waiheke about what can be done now drew nearly 200 people to discuss a way forward through this injustice. There is a mixture of feeling on the issue, from welcoming in Transpacific Industries and presenting them with a charter of conditions that our community expects them to live up to if they are to provide a waste service on the island, to direct action and civil disobedience upon the new contractors arrival. There is a substantial legal challenge that is developing and either way the issue is not going to lay down and it will quite possibly expand to become a sore thumb in the upcoming process of Auckland Supercity-dom and demonstrate how incompetent (and possibly corrupt) the current C&R cabal of Auckland City really are at creating a future vision for the city and its residents.

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