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Archive for July, 2011

One way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

Kapiti Coast District Council has told an elderly Mazengarb Rd man it is his responsibility to maintain the 900-square-metre road berm outside his home.

This week the council confirmed to the Kapiti Observer that residents are expected to mow berms, with no limit on how big that obligation could be.

Lou Groeneweg has mowed his berm for 22 years but now, nearing his 80th birthday, he can’t manage to mow the 900sqm – almost a quarter of an acre – of grass.

When Mr Groeneweg and his wife Vicky approached the council with their problem, they were told it was their responsibility, and if they were unable to mow it themselves, the council could supply a list of contractors whom they could pay to do it for them. More.

Every so often, those in authority lose touch with reality.

And every so often, we have to remind those in authority about reality.

Making authority look utterly feeble-minded is certainly one way to accomplish that. Top marks for Lou and Vicky Groeneweg for achieving that feat, and showing their local Council that being made to look like prize prats in the national media is not something to be proud of..

Kapiti Coast Council… *sighs*

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Sean Plunkett’s parking tickets…

23 July 2011 1 comment

That is hardly surprising given that Edwards and Callingham have a rather last-century view of the media interview as a battle of egos rather than a forum for the extraction and dissemination of information important to the public. Their approach seems to be that it doesn’t matter if you answer the questions as long as you win the interview.

If you are happy for your rates to pay for our mayor to take that approach then the four grand has been well spent. I am not, but am even more disturbed that our mayor burned precious fossil fuel flying to another city for the training when any number of media trainers here could have done the job as well if not better.

Still, the non-rates dollar from parking fines might have paid for the trip if this correspondence between a friend and CitiOperations manager Stavros Michael is anything to go by:

“Dear Stavros, I would be grateful for your advice. I parked outside Parliament today to go to a good friend’s funeral at Old St Paul’s. The funeral was packed and overran as there was 12 speeches. On returning to the car I see two parking tickets. These are still joined together, are for apparently the same offence as per the writing on the ticket. Printed 2mins apart. How can this be? Kind regards

“Ticket One: time 13.49; Offence: Displaying a pay and display receipt ticket indicating time expired for more than 1 hour but less than 2 hrs

“Ticket Two: time 13.51; Parking in excess of the maximum meter time indicated on the meter for more than 1 hour but not more than 2 hours.”

A reasonable and respectful letter I thought. It wasn’t long before my friend got a reply from the champion of Wellington’s parking wardens, Mr Michael.

“Thanks for your inquiry. The parking regulations of the city specify parking time limits (ie P30 or P60 or P120) in order to engineer an appropriate turnover of vehicles per parking space which in turn aids the various economic and accessibility objectives of our Parking Policy. In addition the parking regulations specify the value of the car parking space through a set of fees per hour etc. Revenue from this area offsets the level of funding required to maintain a transport network and lessens the burden on ratepayers.
“So in effect your tickets were for:

“Breaching the time limits (ie denied other potential users the space) and,

“Breaching your obligation to pay for the space occupation.

“The level of fines is defined through national legislation and our parking enforcement policy works within those penalty grades.

“I am sure that the overstay on the car park was caused by the funeral process. However, a parking warden would have no way of knowing that and they must apply the remedies required by the regulations consistently and within the rules of the policy. I trust that this clarifies the matter for you.”

I don’t think my friend was overly impressed by this, which is why he sent the correspondence to me. Perhaps the council needs a new bylaw to specify how long a funeral should be or, heaven forbid, make consideration for mourners who travel by car by designating more parking near to churches and other venues where such events are held.

I wonder how Brian Edwards would spin that one.

What – another Dom Post piece having a go at Celia Wade-Brown?! Say it ain’t so…!

So basically, Mr Plunket, what you’re telling us is that for the FIRST TIME EVER, a politician has recieved media training?!

And it’s never, ever happened in the past?!

Because if that is true, then everything we’ve heard about MPs and other elected representatives receiving media training must, ipso facto, be false?!

That, in itself, would be a nationwide story!!

Or, the simpler explanation is that this is yet another Dominion Post beat-up on Ms Wade-Brown?

And an even simpler explanation? That Mr Plunkett is pissed off with his parking fines, and has decided to exploit column-space in the Dom Post to vent his spleen.

Bad form, Sean.

To be honest, Plunkett’s piece is not all that well written. It comes across as a bit of a whinge that he’s been ticketed by the Council. He’s made passing reference to Ms Wade-Brown receiving media training – *yawn* – which in itself is pretty pointless. Every other politician since Satan said “vote for me and you’ll ALL get an apple!” has used media training at one time or another. It’s not much different to managers receiving management training; retail staff receiving retail training; waiting and bar staff receiving hospitality training; etc, etc.

Plunkett’s column in this instance is fairly amateurish stuff.

The only reason that the Post published this, I suspect, is because it targets Celia Wade-Brown.

Just remember, Dominion Post,  that this is the age of the internet. This little campaign-thing that you folks have going will become obvious for what it is – a vendetta.

And Sean – just pay your bloody tickets, mate. It’s not the Mayor’s fault where you parked your car.
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Update:

Brian Edwards responds.

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End of Empire?

23 July 2011 1 comment

Not for a long time have we seen a better example of that old adage,

“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

We might reflect that whilst this is an apallingly outrageous case of corruption – that the system is actually working to bring the rats out into the open.  Eventually people get tired of this sort of abuse of power; lose their fear; and announce, “enough is enough”.

And with the power of the internet, corporate bosses are learning what politicians have known for the last decade; it is no longer possible to keep secrets.

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The Americans Are Coming! The Americans Are Coming!

Why do I get nervous whenever our Dear Leader scoots off to America on one of his pilgrimages to the Mecca of the Holy Dollar?!

Now we hear he’s coming home – and bringing mates with him? I just hope that our American cuzzies know that it’s just a visit. Read my lips, fellas: We Do Not Have Any Oil!

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Categories: Global Tags: ,

We Are Not Amused.

The Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act says names can be declined for causing offence, being over-long or “without adequate justification” resembling an official title or rank. 

Other names that were queried but later accepted included Fanny, Jnr, Shady and Nevaeh (heaven backwards, which, curiously, was the 31st most popular girl’s name in the United States in 2007). 

Though Lucifer and Messiah were rejected on taste grounds, the Sunday Star-Times struggled to find anyone offended by the names. 

Judy de Leeuwe, an atheist at the Rationalists and Humanists Association, said she was not offended and she did not know why Births, Deaths and Marriages would reject them. 

Lyndsay Freer, spokeswoman for the Catholic Church in Auckland, said some Christians could object to the name Lucifer, but since millions of Spanish speakers called their children Jesus, she did not see how the name Messiah could be offensive. 

Lucifer comes from a Latin expression meaning “light-bearer” and was the name given to the dawn appearance of the planet Venus, which heralds daylight. There was originally no connection to the devil.

What I find sad is that there has been no reported comment on the effects of bizarre names on children in the above article. No comment whatsoever (unless the journo involved, Ian Steward, decided to omit any such references in his article.)

Call me “old fashioned (actually, don’t) but I tend to believe that lumbering children with weird names is not conducive to their mental and emotional wellbeing. We all know (or, should know by now) how nasty children can be to each other. Giving our little darlings “extra ammo” to use in harassing each other does not seem sensible or desirable.

I’m reminded of this similar instance,

Embarrassed’ girl, 9, gets court protection in New Zealand to change her name from ‘Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii
24th July 2008. What’s in a name? Quite a lot if you’re called Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii.

That’s the unfortunate appellation a girl was given by her parents  –  but now a New Zealand judge has ordered that the nine-year-old, who is at the centre of a custody battle, should become a ward of court until she can choose a name she really likes.
The girl’s lawyer said she told people her name was ‘K’ because she feared being mocked and teased.
Family Court Judge Rob Murfitt said: ‘The court is profoundly concerned about the very poor judgment which this child’s parents have shown in choosing this name. It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap, unnecessarily.’ More.

I can’t get into the minds of parents who would do this to their children. It is as if they have taken all leave of their sense, and decided to use their children to “make a statement” or “thumb their noses”.

Children. They are not our chattels. They are not to be used in regards to any “issues” we might have with society.

With children, such parents should consider their obligations, rather than any perceived “property rights”.

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A Tale of Two Polls

It’s intriguing that a recent Roy Morgan poll has achieved none of the headline-status that another recent Colmar-Brunton Poll got.

In the more recent Morgan Poll, the results appeared more positive for Labour, and troublesome for National;

  • National 55% (-5%)
  • Labour 33.5% (+3%)

In the Colmar Brunton Poll, the results were shocking for Labour;

  • National 53% (+1%)
  • Labour 27% (-7%)

Is this a case of sloppy journalism? Was the Colmar Brunton Poll more “news worthy” because it contained a greater “shock” factor?

Or is this a case of media companies giving subtle encouragement/support for the incumbent, and attempting to paint Labour as lacking public support?

Cock-up or Conspiracy? The eternal question…

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A hole they all dug?

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‘Obvious’ lack of safety measures

Friday Jul 22, 2011. While Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall doesn’t think his company had been in tarnished by the Royal Commission of Inquiry, the spokesman for the victims’ families said it was obvious there was a lack of safety measures for even small emergencies in the mine.

Bernie Monk said the first phase of the inquiry – which has wrapped up today after two weeks – had got a lot more information out into the public arena than the families had expected. “I think we are going to get to the truth. There’s no two ways about that,” he said outside court.

Tears had often been shed by family members attending the inquiry. “We’ve been dragged through this for going on nine months now and it opens up wounds every time we come to do something like this. “But we will be tough, we are supporting each other and we’ll get there.”

Responding to inquiry evidence about possible escape routes from the mine, Mr Monk said it was obvious there was a lack of safety measures for even small emergencies in the mine.

Continued.
To be fair, it’s difficult to comment as the Commission is yet to hear all witnesses and consider all evidence. Going purely by an incomplete perception alone, I offer these observations;

  • The changes to legislation in the early 1990s by a reform-obsessed National Government  seems to have created the proverbial ticking time bomb. As with the leaky/rotting homes syndrome, the de-regulation of mining and safety has resulted in inevitable disaster.
  • The Pike River Mine company seems to have operated using short cuts, taking advantage of the de-regulation of the 1990s. And like other hostile environments such as the sea and outer space, mining is an unforgiving activity where  eventually good luck will run out.
  • Whilst National may have facilitated the environment where all the elements came together for an eventual catastrophe – it shouldn’t be forgotten that Labour had nine years to address this problem and re-instate mines inspectors. They obviously did not.
  • And lastly, where was the miners’ union? Why did the remaining safety inspector(s) not blow the whistle? (I’m not even going to ask about the media, which seems to have fallen asleep-at-the-wheel, only to awaken when there are suitable crime stories to report, or stranded penguins that go off the Cuteness Scale…)  And Bernie Monk stated that the mine was “obviously unsafe”.

Yet, no one spoke up.

I have this nagging feeling that society (via a Facebook village mob, again?) and a headline-hungry media will look toward a scapegoat.  The truth, though, is that complicity may spread far and wide on this matter.

 

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