In the days that followed the September 4 earthquake last year, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker was lauded by politicians and the media for his 'leadership abilities'
The New Zealand Herald and TVNZ's Paul Henry compared him to New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani. Fellow millionaire and National Party supporter Paul Holmes waxed lyrically about what an outstanding leader Bob was. TV3's John Campbell gushed about our Bob. Everyone loved Bob - except everyone who knew what he was really like.
Facing a severe trouncing from rival Jim Anderton in the mayoral election, all this praise was manna from heaven for a cynical politician, who in three short years, had managed to get offside with most of Christchurch.
But Bob's debacles, like forking out $17 million for the central city properties of now bankrupt property developer Dave Henderson, were forgotten in the aftermath of the quake and Bob squeezed past Anderton and back into the mayor's office
The fact that Bob's so-called 'leadership' mostly consisted of him getting in front of the television cameras at every given opportunity didn't seem to matter.
However in December last year it emerged that Civil Defence didn't share the same opinion of Sideshow Bob as Paul Holmes did.
According to a draft report written by Bob Upton, Environment Canterbury's (ECan) civil defence manager, Bob's hysterical performances in the media distorted the extent of the crisis and helped make returning to some kind of normalcy even more difficult.
The draft report said 'the emphasis on the city mayor appearing in most media opportunities tended to distort the true picture of the extent of the emergency, external perceptions of needs and initial decisions as to appropriate responses'.
It went on to say: "Reliance on mayors as media spokespersons can contribute to an artificial air of crisis that is very difficult to climb down from."
These comments were removed from the final report after Sideshow Bob threw a tantrum.
Six months later Bob is again hogging the media spotlight and is again being praised for his 'leadership abilities'.
On Radio Live John Tamihere and Willie Jackson declared Parker to be one of the country's 'great' leaders.
Meanwhile in the New Zealand Herald Paul Holmes was back in 'Bob, I want to have your children' mode. He wrote last week:
You're got the right man as your mayor though. Bob Parker is a face and voice of reassurance. On Wednesday night I was worried about him, so tired and careworn did he look, and I wished he'd simply head home and get some sleep. But there he was on Thursday, fresh as a daisy, the world's media hanging on his every word, taking up the city he loves, wiling you to survive.
Holmes is well known for his sycophancy towards the rich and powerful but its hard not to reach for the bucket after reading this dross.
'The city he loves?' Really? So why did Parker say that he and his wife would go and live In Italy if he didn't become mayor? Hardly sounds like the comments of a man in love with Christchurch.
And if he does 'love Christchurch' why did he slash funding to already struggling community groups? Why did he attempt to put council rents up a massive 24 percent? Why did he imply that only 'indecent' Christchurch people opposed his recent trip to Nepal?
Despite all the lavish praise heaped on the man in the orange safety jacket, no one has said what he has actually done to deserve such high praise. As far as most us can see, he's done the same thing as he did in September last year - kept his face in front of the cameras.
When did knowing what camera to look at become a mark of great leadership? When did a man talking in sound bites become 'inspirational'?
I live in the badly damaged east side of Christchurch and I have yet to see Bob in my area providing his 'great leadership'.
Neither has Andy Bride, another east side resident. He has written on Facebook:
If Bob's really helping the citizens of Christchurch with the earthquake, I don't see him out on the east side with a shovel helping the farmy army or the student army move the silt from our streets. i guess having regular meals/showers/toilet breaks and standing in front of the camera keeps him so busy.