The Minister of Local Government's 'big' idea to sort out the mess at the Christchurch City Council has been to appoint another bureaucrat to oversee its work. That job has gone to former Nelson mayor Kerry Marshall who'll be in the job until possibly as late as July. Apparently he's going to 'nursemaid' the city council and it'll be sweetness and light all round. Yes, it will. Really.
Marshall, of course, is also a member of the National Party so, despite the spin from Smith and Parker, he isn't politically independent. This is about as believable as Sue Wells declaring over the weekend that she isn't 'for' or 'against' Mayor Bob. Wells is clearly more stupid than I thought.
Will Marshall's intervention work? If the autocratic and furtive rule of Parker and Marryatt is brought to an end then perhaps. But if, as I suspect, Marshall's role turns out to be simply to make life easier for 'The Bob and Tony Show' then it won't. If it turns out to be 'business as usual', albeit with Marshall guiding the proceedings, then it won't take long for the whole process to turn to custard. If the Parker-Marryatt cabal is allowed to continued to rule the roost, excluding councillors who dare to disagree with them, then Smith's initiative won't work.
If a 'good working environment' means everyone having to agree with Sideshow Bob, then we should have new elections.
Its been suggested elsewhere that Smith may be setting up the Christchurch City Council for a fall.
The Christchurch City Council's problems are structural and Smith has failed to address that. There needs to be more internal democracy. In that respect Labour's 10 point plan to shine some light on proceedings does have its merits. The plan was drawn up last year shortly after Chrissie Williams resigned as a councillor and has been promoted by Councillor Yani Johanson.
In the current environment it is a positive and thoughtful proposal but the fact that Parker has shown no interest in the plan is hardly cause for optimism. Unfortunately Parker and Marryatt - as well as their supporters on council - behave as if they are working for a private corporation rather than a public body.
But I would like to see Labour's plan expanded to encompass real input from the good people of Christchurch into the decision making processes of the council. And councillors need to be directly accountable to the people who voted them into office. There needs to be a mechanism whereby councillors can be 'recalled' by the community if required. Councillors need to know that they cannot simply do what they like without there being real consequences.
Why should people's only input into local government be confined to voting every three years? (The same argument applies to national politics.)
Instead of political power being concentrated in the hands of the Parker-Marryatt cabal, its time to expand the democratic process to include the wider Christchurch community. This stands in direct contrast to councillors like Sue Wells who would like to see the Christchurch community deprived of any local democracy via the appointment of government commissioners. When the situation cries out for more democracy, she would like to see less.
One of the things that the Occupy movement has taught us that is we don't have to accept being passive citizens who merely vote every few years. We don't have to put our trust in unaccountable 'representatives' who simply ignore our wishes.
Protesting on February 1 is, among other things, a step forward in asserting our rights as active and politically engaged citizens.
Well, well, well.
When the Christchurch City Council 'CEO' was given his $70,000 salary increase, Sideshow Bob claimed it was in recognition of Tony Marryatt's outstanding work.
But now we learn that two in-house reviews, released under the Official Information Act, indicate that Marryatt hasn't been doing outstanding work at all. According to the reviews he has only been moderately successful and that his quality of work has declined since 2009.
So it looks like Bob has been telling porkies again.