Questions For Candidates

Reader Chris Walker has suggested these questions which he feels sure voters would be interested in( the Independent agrees):

1. Do you support the use of public binding referendums for all major council projects?

2. Do you believe that public speaking time should be restored to the beginning of all public meetings and be restored to the original five minutes timeframe?

3. Which is more important to you personally: 
A. Representing the will of ratepayers? Or B. Representing the will of the council?

@Chris Walker “We should make a valiant attempt to reinstate the 5 (five) minutes speaking time to the beginning of all public meetings” – I fully agree with that. Ultimately the Councillors are our representatives and so if they cannot give up a little of their time to care about the community than we need new people in Council.

I believe this is an issue someone should take to the mayoral candidates and force them to answer.

@Joanne Birch – You are absolutely correct. Myself and mayoral candidate who will remain un-named had a interesting email discussion but as soon as I started asking tough questions they stopped responding. Many politicians would rather hide than face the issues.

I have been following this thread and it seems to me that most of those running for council are too timid to come on this publication and answer these three rather simple questions. Kudos to those who have already shown the courage to do so.

I may be proved wrong but it seems to me that the wannabe council candidates are too scared to engage with this publication like they always have with the two outdated tree consuming local printed papers. Obviously they prefer to deal with the other two outlets because they are only too happy to give the Rimu Road gang a bit of a free pass coverage wise which is down to the power of advertising revenues we pay for.

Am I the only one who can see this?

@ Henry Tilney – Thanks for your wise words and yes I to agree with everything you have said. Unfortunately you are oh so very right about it all. These ‘people’ cannot be trusted to carry out a fair and binding referendum. I don’t know how else to go about getting them to clean up their act if that could ever be done at all.

At least though while it means very little in the long run, we should make a valiant attempt to reinstate the 5 (five) minutes speaking time to the beginning of all public meetings. That way the public, if they bother to go at all won’t have to waste 3 (three) hours of their lives waiting to speak to those who aren’t going to bother to listen. Bottom line is that these folks are hardly worth the time or effort but then I’ve always been a fool who wished that real democracy might brake out someday…

@Chris Walker – Thank you for the response Chris.

I quite agree with your assessment of the situation. But as I mentioned in my previous message, you are suggesting that the Council which has done so terrible in the past (and by your measure is guaranteed to do so again) is actually trust worthy enough to instigate referendums for anything of real consequence. The majority of the issues which you yourself listed, would be unlikely to fall to referendum.

So instead of voting for the politician who pretends to support referenda (a empty statement which anyone can make), vote for the person which you believe is actually is going to represent our community.

“It is all our money after all and if the public overwhelmingly want this who are you or I to deny them? We have a council who are quite good at denying us representation as it is.” – Exactly my point. We have a Council which is good at denying representation. If you don’t trust them to support your interests, why do you believe they will keep their promises? The problem with referendums is the fact that it is too easy for the Council to misuse its time and money (the money which we so often complain the Council wasting). Whether it comes in the form of a non-binding referendum, or a referendum on an issue no one cares about, while the Council passes other sly legislation under the table, or just a failure to agree to do a referendum when people actually want one. And of course the majority of Council needs to support referenda to get them to happen. All this clearly illustrates that referendum’s still leave to much to the original assumption and need for our representatives to actually care about us

For a person who confesses having little confidence in the system, all of those unlikelihoods present a shaky foundation on which to base hopes of a change in local government.

Restoration of public speaking time at the start of council meetings was about the only election promise that Guru actually kept, but it waned in popularity when it was realised that 1. It wasn’t being streamed over the Internet, 2. No minutes were being kept. 3. No council staff were present. 4. The existing councilors rarely showed notable interest in what speakers had to say.
Referenda are desirable if Ratepayers are going to be expected to pay an extra tax (extra Rates component) for proposed major works that will cost over a certain amount — say $2 miilion. They could be held cheaply with quarterly Rates demands. Elected members are there to represent those who elected them, not be apologists for senior staff.

Hi Henry, yeah I hear what you’re saying about referendums but Councillors do not represent the public at large although they pretend to. I have to say it that sports clubs have done rather well out of the ratepayers wallets. Many millions for these over the years.

” However, for all but paramount decisions this measure should be accurately represented by the Councillors whose title itself indicates they are our “representatives. If it is not we have a more serious issue that needs to be addressed.” – We do have a serious problem with these ‘representative’s’ who do not represent us in any real fashion. That’s what this is all about with the Waikanae library being only the latest in a very long line of them. Refurbishment at $10,000,000 , water meters forced down our throats, Waikanae sewerage fiasco, Otaki Tech Park fiasco ring some bells? I could go on but we ain’t got the space. I’m 61 and have watched this expensive crazy show for a long time now. As they say ‘only the faces have changed’ and now it’s time for another installment. Will the new crop do any better? They never have before.

As to costing money, they send out paper bills four times a year at least so what’s one or two more bits. It is all our money after all and if the public overwhelmingly want this who are you or I to deny them? We have a council who are quite good at denying us representation as it is. If this bloated institution was doing a good job I would never need to ask these questions in the first place.

To Mr. Burns, question 3 is a knotty one but enlightening as well…

1. Do you support the use of public binding referendums for all major council projects?
Yes, but only for very major decisions where significant sums of money and resources are involved, or of a constitutional nature. This would have to be set/defined by consultation.

2. Do you believe that public speaking time should be restored to the public beginning of meetings and be restored to the original five minutes timeframe?
Yes

3. Which is more important to you personally:
A. Representing the will of ratepayers? Or B. Representing the will of the council?
Is this a trick question Mr Walker? Tthe Council should be and represent the will of the ratepayers….

1. I support the use of public binding referendums for all major council projects.

2. Yes – five minutes of public speaking time at the beginning of meetings should be restored.

3. Representing the will of the ratepayers is of paramount importance.

Thank you Chris for facilitating this discussion. I personally (and I may be wrong) do not believe referenda would be a good idea.

Using a referendum is an attempt to gain an accurate measurement of popular opinion. However, for all but paramount decisions this measure should be accurately represented by the Councillors whose title itself indicates they are our “representatives”. If it is not we have a more serious issue that needs to be addressed.

What logically follows is that using a referendum would be an attempt for Councillors to compensate for any lack of engagement or transparency with their community – through an expensive and lengthy process – offsetting the burden of responsibility and instead placing multi-million dollar decisions on the community.

Besides fundamentally undermining the role of our Councillors, costing ratepayer money, delaying important decisions, arbitrarily assigning the community with the obligation of governance, and proclaiming to the community that the Councillors don’t take the time to actually talk with the people they represent – what makes Councillors think that even half of the 45% of voters who turnout in local elections would vote in referenda? What makes them think that even a quarter would have read the Council report and weighed the pros and cons? What makes us believe they would have called referendum’s on any of the important decisions which we have been left out of in the past year?

I say this to every candidate running: the community needs to be consistently represented, engaged with, and confident that you are making informed decisions for their best interests. They do not need you to delegate your statutory authority onto them.

(apologies editor for going over the word limit)

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