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Serial Skullduggery


The Rotorua Daily Post’s banner headline “Council’s Lakefront plans proceed despite petition’ (14 Dec) and article ‘Full steam on Lakefront’ (p.2) made no mention of the serial skullduggery used by the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Crs Sturt and Maxwell, and senior officials, to prevent elected representatives on Council discussing why petitioners opposed it.

The point of order by the Deputy Mayor at Council’s November meeting, objecting to the use of the word ‘iwitocracy’, was made before it occurred in my presentation. The Mayor’s ruling in favour of his point of order was also preplanned and scripted. It was also dead wrong because the term is a proper noun found in the Oxford Dictionary of New Zealandisms (2014).

Her ruling that it also justified stopping councillors asking questions about RDRR’s petition to stop the Lakefront Redevelopment was outrageously wrong. It denied councillors’ rights to represent the interests of their constituents; a point raised in a question by Cr Bentley at yesterday’s Council meeting but rejected by the Mayor.

The staff report on the petition yesterday was politically biased. It targeted the validity of the petition instead of summarizing its content and my presentation. It did not give numbers of alleged duplicated signatures, alleged that some signatories gave no address (when addresses are not mandatory), and made a sin of 54 international and 71 non-district signatures (bizarrely in a tourist city).

Worse, officials failed to report my report that 24 of 25 citizens that were asked agreed to sign the petition, and the main reasons they gave for signing; $40 million was exorbitant, the Museum and Civic Centre should be higher priorities, the lakefront only needed cleaning not redevelopment, and it was immoral for council’s co-governance partners (an iwitocracy) to co-plan expenditure of public monies principally to their private benefit (via lakebed rents, arts and crafts contracts, franchise control, and improved sight lines from their hotels).

In effect, the skullduggery prevented councillors from raising questions about these issues. Even worse, two councillors were then permitted to attack the petition, both obviously orchestrated by the Mayor.

Cr Sturt dismissed the petitioners’ views because they differed from those heard at the Mayor’s BA5 re-election campaign rally on the previous Friday; patently fatuous. He also dismissed the petition because of the sample size – displaying his ignorance of sampling error. His claim that some signatories signed “under the wrong pretences” appeared to be fictional, as was the Deputy Mayor’s corroboration, also without evidence. The intent of the petition could not have been plainer; it was “to stop the Lakefront Redevelopment”. Cr Maxwell’s dismissal of tourist petitioners’ views was bizarre in a city that thrives on tourism.

Citizens need to know the quality of governance involved. Serial skullduggery was used to suppress opposition and the decision to proceed was rammed through on the numbers.

Reynold Macpherson