Somewhat concerning news recently, that John Morrison is slightly ahead of Wade-Brown in the polls for the upcoming elections. Morrison has said that “it’s either three more years of the ‘green’ mayor going nowhere, or new, strong leadership to get Wellington moving on all fronts.”
The Fish is not really much of a political beast, preferring just to swim in calm waters than to battle upstream against the current. As Martin Luther (or Marvin Gaye) said, “Why can’t we all just get along?” The last election was interesting, not so much because of a huge swell of support for Green Party policies, but because there was more of a feeling that we had 9 years of one leader, and in effect had enough of Kerry Prendergast to last us a lifetime. Time for some fresh blood: and so the blue blood went out, and the green blood came in. Curious that right now, there is no red blood on offer. Kerry had proved to be a strong and capable Mayor, especially considering her experience had been as a midwife, and delivering city results must be very different from delivering babies. The fact that she managed to squeeze in the time to study for and complete an MBA at the same time as her Mayoral duties showed Kerry had a tenacious and ferocious attitude and aptitude for local body politics. Still, after 9 years, it was time to move on.
But with Mayor Celia, it has been only 3 years, not 9 years, and already people are muttering that it’s time for her to move on. Still, at least with a green Mayor, famed for cycling everywhere, the city could count on sensible green policies being brought in while she was in power. She promised to get a proper exhaustive study done on the possibility of Light Rail for Wellington, and that indeed has happened, even if the result, as disputed and potentially bogus as it may be, has come out firmly against Light Rail. I’m not sure if she promised bike lanes for Africa through out the city, but that certainly was expected of a Mayor with Greenish tendencies and a penchant for life in the saddle. I mean, at least after 3 years you would expect to see a well-resolved and completely implemented network of Green cycle ways through out the city, surely? Obviously as the Mayor lives in Island Bay, and that route is one of the most dangerous for cyclists, that route would surely have been tackled first, and a safe and speedy resolution implemented within the last 3 years.
But, no. Whether from wanting not to be seen as a self-serving, Me-First Mayor, or more from a genuine believe that Tawa is more deserving, our Mayor did not install a thick line of green paint all the way from Island Bay to Courtenay Plaice, but instead the Council installed a bike path from Tawa to Porirua. As I’m not a resident from either of those places, I’m not sure how well patronized it is, but I’m willing to bet: sod all.
Wellington is, amazingly, one of the country’s top cities for cycling, despite our penchant for hills and head-winds. There is more $ per person spent here on Lycra and cycles than in any other city in NZ, including the very flat and cycle-friendly Christchurch. It is also the top place for cycle fatalities and injuries caused by collisions with cars. While a lot of that cycle effort is going straight at the weekend warriors of Makara, rather than the weekly migration back and forth along the commuter lanes, there is no doubt that a new solution to the tired and dangerous route along Adelaide Road, up and over the hill to Island Bay is well overdue and strongly needed.
But after 3 years of Celia, we have nothing. Not even many green painted cycle boxes at the intersections, let alone a separated, 3m wide cycling strip from here to kingdom come. Seriously – what IS the point of electing a cycling Mayor from Island Bay unless she is going to sort out the wrought issue of cycling to Island Bay? The Island Bay route is still a death trap.
Perhaps I’m being harsh. Perhaps we have instead got lots of other green policies in fruition, like greener, healthier homes to live in, with better insulation, solar power, wind power, less power consumption, green roofs, pocket parks, less parking, fewer cars, light rail, and no flyover. But no. Have you seen any of those in the last 3 years of Wade-Brown rule?
Generation Zero have taken the bullshit by the horns, and produced a graphic guide to who does what / supports what. While the Auckland GZero crew have gone for school style A+ B- ratings for Auckland (Len comes off with flying colours), in Wellington they have gone for a combination traffic-light / thumbs up/down chart, which is remarkably easy to use. Will they mind if I use their results for the Mayoral candidates in Wellington? Hopefully not:
An alternative proposal for Mayor is Jack Yan, who so far has completely failed to set the electorate alight with his proposals. His one proposal that I have heard of, is unfortunately the most stupid – a proposal to move the airport out to Paraparaumu. So, we go from having the most convenient airport of any capital city in the world, to one that is over an hour away by fast car in good traffic, or about 2 hours away on a Friday night traffic jam. That’s even worse than Dunedin, and that takes some doing. No Jack, there can be no fast train to Paraparaumu, as there is just one track in parts, and it is steep, windy, and uses a single narrow gauge. A fast train will never happen, and cost more than extending the runway. Sorry Jack, you just don’t understand enough of the basics to be Mayor.
We also have Nicola Young, Rob Goulden, and Karunanidhi Muthu, who has the unfortunate record of having an somewhat unpronounceable first name, and who is polling last at under 1% support, along with Rob Goulden who everybody hates for the simple reason that he comes across as such a irritating prat. The leader in the electoral stakes at the moment is of course John Morrison, and the reasons for this are obvious. He is presenting himself, along with the Dom Post (which he has firmly in his pocket), as the Man Who Gets Things Done. The Man With the Big White Moustache. The Man, ie, not a Woman, for the diehard old sexists, but an actual Man. A Man with Balls.
Let’s see: he is billed as The Man who announced the Lord of the Rings Museum will be coming to Wellington. He is billed as The Man who got the NZTA to stump up for a new pavilion for the Basin Reserve, and who delivered the flyover as well, to get the city’s traffic flowing smoothly again. He is billed as The Man who got the big sports codes to come and play in Wellington at the Stadium. He bills himself as the new, strong leader of the city, and someone who is to be trusted, and hence he is out in front in the polls, and will probably win this election out of pure voter apathy and ignorance, seeing as 47% of people are still undecided. Morrison has not got anything as modern as a website, but does have strikingly clear and bold adverts in the DomPost stating:
“John Morrison for MAYOR”
with large ticks beside the words “Leadership, Decisiveness, Integrity, and Action.”
“A true Wellingtonian who cares about Our City, Our People and Our Future.”
And blow me down, he has a facebook page as well. Indeed – who needs a web page when you have facebook? (but for facebook, of course, you also need “Friends”).
Except that most of what he has said so far are marginal untruths, and decidedly lacking in integrity. Claiming responsibility for things that are not his. Releasing information that was meant to be confidential. Jokingly volunteering to shower with painted body models, much to their evident discomfort (in your dreams John, only in your dreams…). Blaming the city’s mayor for things “going nowhere” when in fact he was one of the biggest reasons for lack of progress, by stalling and playing politics. He proudly announced the Lord of the Rings Museum, discussions on which have been going on since Kerry was the mayor, and on which nothing has yet been resolved according to all the parties in play. This is just grandstanding, if not outright lying. It’s just a premature ejaculation of words all over a subject on which he is not the person doing the negotiation. Wellington Scoop noted that the Dom Post article announcing this at the end of August had no connection with the facts.
So, we are left with a choice of – what, exactly? I’m certainly not going to vote for Yan, Morrison, or Goulden, for the reasons noted above, and probably not for Muthu either, as I don’t really think his heart is in it. That leaves, for this Fish at least, a toss up between Wade-Brown as a second (and last) chance, or Nicola Young. She is untested politically, and the Wellington City Council is evidently enough to drive anyone mad, although that could just be blamed on Morrison and Ritchie. But does she have enough to boss it out as Mayor? The good thing is that Morrison, as he is only standing for Mayor, and not for Council as well, will either be fully in as Mayor, or out on his ear, never to be heard from again. I know what I’d prefer…
Councillors are a different matter, and as we are all in different wards, there’s is no point me discussing them. Suffice it to say that I am going to miss Ian MacKinnon, who is principled, logical, hard-working, but at least he knew when it was time to go. There are a few of ye olde stalwarts who don’t seem to know when their time is up – Helene Ritchie is arguably completely bonkers, and should not be anywhere near public office, judging by her actions and mutterings in public, and who is the wrinkly old woman who is always nipping out for a quick fag? Sorry, but you’ve got to go. Time to move on. Time to let some new blood into the Coliseum. There are other Councilors that should know better and need to find new careers as well, and they will know who they are. Some – a very few – are worth keeping.
The area I have most trouble with though, is the Greater Wellington Regional Council, and the Kapiti and Coast District Health Board. This is not democracy, this is not rock and roll, this is genocide! How are we meant to get a good Health Board from a range of people, none of whom I have heard of in my life before? (except Nick Leggett, who is already Mayor of Porirua, and so therefore should not have any time for further responsibilities). On GWRC there is one name I recognize, Chris Laidlaw, mainly because he soothes me to sleep on the radio every Sunday. Is this the same person? Are the talents required the same for both jobs? Someone said that he used to be an All-Black too – is that even possible? Should I vote for him just because his name is recognizable? Is that fair? Is that democracy?
How DO we get the best team for the job?
As I honestly haven’t got a clue who is worthwhile having on the GWRC and KCDHB, I think I will just scribble all over my paper, and perhaps draw a picture of a Fish.
And in case you are interested to find out more about Generation Zero’s evaluation on your candidates for local Council, click here for Southern ward, and click here for Eastern ward, or here for Onslow-Western ward, and here for Lambton ward. I’m sure their website will get updated more often, so it is worth clicking those links and linking through there, but in the mean time, cos I want to, I’m posting up their local body candidates as well: