Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rimmington & Rates Control interview dreams & come out with "facts"!

  In an astounding claim in the Waikato Times today, former Mare Russ ('Russ-Russ') Rimmington claimed he had met Roger and Jane Hennebry on "fight against the Hamilton Casino" - a claim that is impossible, unless he had invented a time travel machine.
  While Rimmington (nicknamed 'Russ-Russ' after flirting with the idea of importing pandas from China at the cost to ratepayers of several million dollars) did indeed himself jump on the 1998 anti-casino bandwagon after he saw the huge public opposition being organised against it, Roger & Jane were never seen in that campaign.
  As the publicity officer, and a founding member of the Casino Opposition Action Committee, I never even met the pair until mid-2001, when Roger decided he could save the city by being elected to Council, and by which time the Casino was already a reality.
  Of course, Russ-Russ has often been economical with the facts, or conveniently overlooked the inconvenient ones; in fact the very same Hennebrys that he is now so enamoured of were great supporters of his nemesis, the chaotic Mayor David Braithwaite, after Braithwaite dumped Rimmington in the 2001 elections.
  Whether Russ-Russ sticks with the Rates Control group if he is elected to EW is also another matter - as was put to him a couple of months ago, he is likely to quickly distance himself from that negative mob if his dream of a Chairmanship at EW requires the support of the majority of more normal members.
  Ah well, we all know politics makes strange bedfellows, and while talking about beds, it would be nice if the Times checked they were getting facts, not dreams, in their interviews!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Greypower apologists for 'Rates Control'?

  A letter appeared in today's Waikato Times pointing out that the 'non-political' local Greypower organisation was actually very political - in favour of the negative whingers and moaners in the 'Rates Control' group. I've written to the Times with my own views on this....
  B M Crawforth’s letter (23 September) criticising the “non-aligned” Hamilton Greypower for its blatant support for the political group ‘Rates Control’ strikes a chord.
  Recently that group held what purported to be a public ‘election meeting’ (6th September) to which it did not invite any candidates other than “Rates Control” ones.
  A few other candidates heard about this meeting one day in advance and were able to attend, but most others did not.
  As someone who helped organise six meetings in the West Ward – to which every single city council candidate was invited and given equal opportunity to speak – I am appalled at the lack of democracy of Greypower and their ‘Rates Control’ mates.
  If that is an example of the open-ness and transparency these groups carry on about, then heaven help the city if these backroom types actually get elected.
  Fortunately, that is a very unlikely occurrence.
  Unfortunately for a once proud and independent organisation, Greypower’s credibility has gone down the tubes, and it will be some time before they recover it.

For the record, I have been predicting for some time that this Rates Control crowd will only get between one and three Councillors elected to Hamilton City Council, and will lose Environment Waikato seats. I have also long predicted that their 'leader' (now there's a misnomer if ever there was one), Roger Hennebry, will come 3rd in the Mayoral race - as another, unkind, Councillor said "Rates Control's biggest problem is their leader!"

Monday, September 13, 2010

Eastgate legal opinion vindicates community stand

  A high-powered legal opinion received by the Hamilton City Council has shown staff should NOT have issued a 'Certificate of Compliance' (resource consent) for the Eastgate development on the corner of Clyde and Grey Sts in Hamilton East.
  The opinion - by Paul Cavanagh QC - also states that a 'consent notice' preventing access by the Eastgate developers onto the busy Grey St should not have been removed by Council staff.
  Both actions by Council planning staff - supported by well-paid lawyers - were strongly opposed by the Hamilton East Community Trust, who were at a total financial disadvantage throughout the battle, with both the millionaire applicant, and the Council opposing them at every stage. HECT's 'expert' witnesses in the end refused to attend the Environment Court on behalf of HECT, when HECT ran out of cash to pay their appearance costs, thuse severely damaging the community's case. Both Council and the Ministry of the Environment had earlier refused to fund any of the community's legal costs.
  The opinion is a complete vindication of the community's stand, as represented by the HECT.
  This whole case is a sad and unfortunate indictment of the way in which a number of planning consent issues have been handled in Council (and probably not just in Hamilton). Developers - with every advantage of funds, experience, access to decision-makers, and familiarity with the legal/planning fraternity - are often on a different (and vastly superior) playing field to the community.
  Councils and their staff must change the way they look at planning consent issues when there is a strongly-expressed community viewpoint - they may not be required to take into account the community's interests, but if they are doing their jobs they damn well ought to, in my humble opinion!
  Recent concerns expressed by the Templeview community over the proposed demolition of Church College buildings by the US-based Church hierarchy were another case in point. It was extremely difficult to get Council staff to agree to seriously consult with the local community over these plans.
  The fact that two Hamilton City Councillors had to pay towards the legal costs of the HECT, just to ensure a genuinely independent legal opinion was accessed, is not good enough - I hope everyone has learnt a lesson from this.