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:
Thanks Maximus for your thoughts on the election. On cycling the reason we went with Tawa is that it was a community initiative, analysed by Council (benefit : cost ratios and all that necessary stuff) and it was ready to go. Island Bay wasn’t. That crucially meant that we could apply for and after some lengthy process – get – NZTA funding support (and that is half the cost) for Tawa – where at the time we couldn’t get it for any other route.
Secondly at the time (2009 so the last year of Kerry’s mayoralty) our budget for cycling stood at a whacking $70,000 a year.I decided that having recently guided through the City’s first ever cycling policy we needed some resources to get some action. Politics is always the art of the possible. In the 2009 Annual Plan I proposed two separate increases lifting that $70,000 to just over $700,000 and subsequently $1,300,000. Specifying that Tawa was in the mix was I am sure pivotal to securing the support of all three Northern Ward Councillors and getting the budget increase. The vote was just 9 – 6.
Final comment to make – we are ready to go to consultation on Island Bay to the City now. That consultation will begin shortly post election. Opus have done work on routes and benefit cost ratios, and we’ve also had excellent work from Vic Uni architecture students. So watch this space – there are a lot of other cycling projects on the go – so you can expect a quantum change over the next three years (assuming Council is keen to progress them and has the intestinal fortitude to make some calls)
Wellington City Council
An excellent reply Andy, thank you. Some really good background info there, which explains a lot. I’m looking forward to seeing the proposals for the Island Bay phase. Sounds like it might be well worth retaining the cycling Mayor for another 3 years then!
Anyone but Morrison so I guess it’s Celia again
have a good rundown on candidates by ward – fisking, after the eponymous journalist
Agreed Helene Ritchie is a total nutter
Ritchie’s billboards this year have been just “Helene Ritchie – 1”.
She is that confident that people will forget that she is as mad as a sack of crack-addled badgers and vote her in.
I will probably go for a mix of Sparrow, Lester and Toner,then Gilberd. And just to be spiteful, a final vote for Reagan Cutting and a blank box next to Ritchie.
And agreed – better the mayor you know than the sexist, misogynistic, sports-sports-sports mayor you don’t.
Chris Laidlaw is on the radio on Sunday mornings. While I don’t want to know what time you get soothed to sleep, it indicates you have very good Saturdays.
I’m voting for you Andy. But it would be nice if the Council didn’t get Opus, etc, to decide on things it really should have the expertise to work out for itself. I expect (and I don’t think unreasonably) that once an issue is identified (eg. cycling from Island Bay is pants) there are very few sensible options, given cost and Wellington’s topography, and with the amount of work that should be going into cycling over the next few years the Council should have inhouse expertise to deal with this. On the upside, the Council’s outsourced streetlight people fixed our streetlight. I only had to ask 3 times.
As a regular commuter cyclist, I’d just like to say that the council has adopted several simple measures that have made my commute much safer. The simple addition of a clearway along the angle parks on Thorndon Quay until 9am lead to a drastic improvement in the safety of that route – which is used by pretty much anyone cycling into the CBD from the north. Ditto the cycle lane markings along Old Hutt Road. These went in, what, two years or so ago? Both initiatives were relatively simple and cost-effective and made me a lot less nervous playing in traffic on my way in in the morning.
I’m going to post up here the entire article from DomPost today, as the Stuff website back catalogue means it is really hard to ever find things again. Here goes: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/local-elections-2013/9224507/Candidates-thoughts-on-infrastructure
OPINION: This week we put the spotlight on Wellington’s mayoral candidates to find out their views on the big issues facing the capital – and what they will do to get the city moving.
TODAY’S issue: Infrastructure
It’s often said that the sign of a growing city is cranes on the skyline, and in Wellington lately they’ve been a rare sight. But it’s not for lack of options. The Basin flyover and Transmission Gully have both been tagged for Government funding while other projects, including the airport runway extension, improved cruise ship terminals and a convention centre, are often touted as must- haves for our city.
After a lot of talk, it’s time to get some of these projects going. The question is, how do we get them off the drawing board, and into reality?
We asked: What is the one major infrastructure project Wellington needs? What will you do to make it happen, and how will you fund it?
Age: 47. Profession: Barrister. Affiliation: Independent. Also standing for council, Eastern ward.
Ports are one major infrastructure requirement for Wellington. Our city needs to have world-class sea and air ports.
Let us face it; most tourists and businesses pass our city by because we are not on the international air map.
We also need to improve the seaport to attract the export traffic from the region that now goes to other ports.
I support the southern extension of the runway and attract major airlines such as Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific to partner with us, so we can have a direct connection to Asia and beyond to bring the much-needed economic boost to the city.
I will begin the revitalisation of our city’s port, including building an inviting cruise ship terminal, and connecting this to the Westpac Stadium and make this the sports, art and culture, entertainment and shopping hub for the locals and the international passengers.
We may explore various funding options.
We can, for example, create an infrastructure bond (or other financial instrument) to enable council to part-fund the development of the ports.
I will work with central Government and the private sector to bring the investment required, and see to it that the ratepayer contribution is minimal.
Age: 56. Profession: Businessman and security expert. Affiliation: Independent. Also standing for council, Eastern ward.
This infrastructure project is about a strategic decision and value for money that is critical to Wellington’s success and future as a city.
We need a central road that extends past the Basin Reserve through the Mt Victoria Tunnel to connect with Cobham Drive.
Central Government has identified this as a road of national significance. The road serves a region of 750,000 people and connects to the airport which has plans for further expansion and growth (subject to a sound business case). The road is also critical for the planned expansion of the Rapid Bus Transport project (RBT) which I support.
The RBT system costs around $56 million, the roading projects around $200m-$300m.
Light rail is costed at $938m, which we simply can’t afford at present. Funding for the roading projects comes from central Government and the RBT by the regional council, so there is little or no cost to the city. We need leadership in Wellington to claim our share of funding or we will become a backwater to Auckland and Christchurch. It is still possible to consider light rail later as an additional mode of transport but not instead of the roading projects.
Age: 66. Profession: NZ cricketer, commentator and sports marketer. Affiliation: Independent. Only standing for mayor.
The Ngauranga to Wellington Airport roading project is sitting waiting to happen.
I not only support it, but I would fast-track the planning process.
Because this road is part of State Highway 1, it will not require ratepayer funding. The Government has already earmarked $800m and it will provide 2000 much-needed jobs during its construction.
Age: 40. Profession: Company director. Affiliation: Independent. Only standing for mayor.
Wellington needs New Zealand to be connected to a second submarine fibre-optic broadband cable for international traffic. If we are really serious about growing this part of our economy, because it presents high-value jobs, then it needs to be built.
It’s a medium-term project which requires greater advocacy from council and possibly some investment too, in a public-private partnership.
There are two options here. We can get our economy right with the plan I have for building our high-value firms with Victoria University’s and Grow Wellington’s help, and approach central Government to help us out.
This would have an immediate benefit nationally (they know this, too) and Wellington would rightly own this project.
Alternatively, if Wellingtonians believe that our third-share in the airport is of little use, since even having a seat on the board couldn’t stop the Miramar cutting sign, it might be time to cash up something from the 20th century and invest it in the 21st. I doubt the latter would fly with citizens, so the first option is more likely.
Age: 57. Profession: Programmer, teacher and politician. Affiliation: Independent. Only standing for mayor.
The airport extension is a critical piece of infrastructure we need for economic growth in international students ($70m p.a. and 1200 jobs), high-value exports, business connections, tourism ($40m p.a. and 300 jobs) and to be a truly international capital. I led the charge on using part of our surplus to co-fund the resource consent process. This research and the business case are in progress and will inform the costs and how they should be shared. The airport should pay a significant portion and will need to secure investment. Increased landing fees and retail alone won’t justify $200m expenditure by WIAL and the economic and time- saving benefits are to the wider region. Benefits to the political status of the capital and public service potential imply a national benefit. I’ve already raised the funding issue with Wellington councils and beyond to the top of the North Island and with the prime minister. Both public and private funding are necessary.
Cities are complex and no single piece of infrastructure is sufficient for our wellbeing. Equally important to the airport are affordable housing, better public transport, community infrastructure of community centres, libraries and sports facilities, performance arts venues plus a resilient water network.
Age: 58. Profession: Writer and political strategist. Affiliation: Independent. Also standing for council, Lambton ward.
The airport extension.
The airport owners (Infratil and the WCC) need to make a compelling business case for the extension, as Auckland Council did for its City Rail Link – despite initial opposition, the Government agreed to fund 50 per cent of the $2.86 billion cost. Constructive talks with the Government will be important, as the extension needs to be designated a project of national significance and have Government financial support. The balance of its costs should be funded by intergenerational debt across the region – roll on amalgamation.
Tomorrow we ask: The council has been criticised for lack of unity and lack of a relationship with central Government. How would you improve those two areas?