It's that time when billboards appear on city streets, featuring the photo-shopped faces of local body politicians and Christchurch is no exception.

The right-wing National Business Review once dubbed Christchurch the 'People's Republic Of Christchurch', a reference to the Christchurch City Council's refusal to truck on down the free market, privatise-everything road.

The NBR is probably happier with the present council though, which has predominance of so-called 'independent' (i.e. right wing) councillors.

Among other things, this council has tried to sell the operational arm of the Lyttelton Port Company to off-shore interests and remove the Red Bus Company and City Care from the list of protected assets - in clear preparation to sell them off.

There was no mandate to do this - none of the councillors who supported selling these council assets told voters this prior to being elected

It was public pressure and protest that stopped these sales going ahead.

As well, the council has set up several 'shelf companies' which has allowed several trading and operational arms of the CCC to operate without accountability to the citizens of Christchurch.

The twelve councillors, who clearly, haven't got much time for the democratic process also voted for various committees of the council to meet behind closed doors. Such is the secrecy that it is even difficult to find out how individual councillors voted - the information is no longer readily available.

The council also voted for a rates increase of 7.35 percent- up 3.49 percent from last year. The latest projections have rates increasing 8.77 percent and 9 percent in the next two years. This would bring the increase between 2006-2010 to 33.34 percent. That's a staggering ten times the rate of inflation!

Why such rates increases? Well, it doesn't help when the councillors voted to spend some $100 million on new offices for themselves and council staff.

Not surprisingly, this present council is considerably unpopular with the good citizens of Christchurch and many of them, if not all of them, will not be re-elected.

Councillor Susan Wells is already looking beyond the election.

For some years, despite being paid some $60,000 per year, she has been moonlighting for both The Warehouse and Supervalue - she's being doing the in-house commercials for these two outfits.

There has been some local unhappiness about this as well - and rightly so. If you are being paid a lot of public money to do a job then the least you can do is devote yourself to that job.


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