Christchurch mayor Sideshow Bob Parker and his merry band of council supporters have plumbed to new depths.
It has been announced that the council have bought five central city properties from failed property developer Dave Henderson. These are Sydenham Square (purchased for $4 million), Penny Cycles ($2.55m), two sites formerly occupied by Para rubber ($1.6m and $3.8m respectively) and Welles Street Electrolux site ($4.9m).
All up, Sideshow Bob has spent some $17 million bailing out his mate and supporter Dave Henderson.
Remember - just three days ago 'Hendo' claimed he had not been approached by the council about any of his properties. But this, of course, is also the man who has constantly claimed he would never accept public money.
This deal was pushed through by Sideshow Bob and his right hand man, council executive Tony Marryatt. Sideshow Bob has laughingly defended the deal as protecting the city from 'poor development' - but Bob has absolutely no evidence to back up this view. This is Sideshow just making it up as he goes along - any excuse will do.
Does this mean the council will be bidding for every inner city property that is up for sale? It's hardly likely.
It's not often that I agree with National MP Gerry Brownlee but he got it right with his observation that 'It would appear as though the council is either going to set itself up as a developer or has become a banking service for Mr Henderson.'
Councillor Yani Johanson said he was outraged by the deal.
'It is absolutely amazing this council can find $17 million to prop up a property developer but cannot find money to prop up rents for our most vulnerable tenants. It is an appalling decision. The reality is it is a bailout for an individual and I do not believe in the council doing that.'
Councillors Helen Broughton and Chrissie Williams also said the deal was a bailout.
Sideshow Bob, in his usual pompous manner, said the accusations of a bailout were 'cynical'.
No Bob - what is 'cynical' is you using ratepayers money to help out your mate. What is cynical is you claiming that the council couldn't afford not to put up council rents. What is cynical is you claiming to be 'fiscally responsisble'. What is cynical is you attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of the Christchurch public.
While this writer knew an announcement was in the wind, I was of the understanding it involved Chancery Lane. But obviously Sideshow Bob has been busy cooking up other property deals.
Which suggests a deal on Chancery Lane is still in pipeline.
Meanwhile a public backlash against this decision can be expected next week.
Interestingly, none of the councillors who supported this bailout have come out in support of Sideshow Bob.
Councillors like Barry Corbett and Susan Wells, so keen to give their opinions on other matters, are remarkably silent.
Perhaps they hope to weather the political storm that is brewing. Fat chance.
Already deeply unpopular with the good people of Christchurch, Sideshow Bob and his council supporters are on a one way trip to political oblivion.
The people of Christchurch should demand an immediate and independent inquiry into this disgraceful property deal.