Councillor Sue Wells wants Christchurch ratepayers to pay for her trip to a wine conference in Germany. She should pay for it herself.
Many people are doing it hard in quake-devastated Christchurch which makes it all the more remarkable that Councillor Sue Wells thinks its entirely appropriate to have the under-pressure Christchurch ratepayer pay her bill to attend a wine conference in Europe.
Sue Wells, a loyal Sideshow Bob supporter, thinks this is more important than doing the actual job she gets paid a lot of money to do. If all goes to plan she's off to a five day wine conference in Mainz, Germany in October. The good people of Christchurch, whether they like it or not, will be paying her travel expenses which could be as much as $5000.
Wells is the outgoing president of something called the Great Wine Capital Network . She claims that attending the conference is 'good use of ratepayers money' because its an 'opportunity to get across the message that Christchurch is open for business.'
This is the kind of flannel we've come to expect from Wells. She was, after all, the councillor that said that spending $17 million on five properties owned by the now-bankrupted David Henderson was 'a very good deal'.
Wells is also one of the four councillors who, despite on salary of some $90,000, is also picking up an additional $35,000 a year for being a director of Christchurch City Holdings Ltd (CCHL).
It's estimated that CCHL work - basically attending meetings and reading a few papers - takes no more than 12-15 hours a month. which is about four hours a week. And for that four hours Sue Wells pockets an additional $670 a week.
Jim Anderton had plans to derail the CCHL gravy train and the double dipping but unfortunately he lost the mayoral election last year to an earthquake and a orange safety jacket.
What is all the more galling about double dipper Wells is that she is one of the councillors who has urged economic restraint on everyone else. She, for example, supported cuts to community funding - while defending Sideshow Bob blowing some $5 million on the naming rights to the Ellerslie Garden Show,
Wells says that the wine conference will be 'full on' . 'It's a lot harder than it seems,' she told the Christchurch Mail.
Yes, it'll be very hard work attending the Gala Dinner. The conference website informs us:
The curtain is set to rise for the grand “Best-of Gala” in the Ducal Palace in Mainz: sparkling wine reception with aperitifs in the vaulted hall, selected premium wines from Rheinhessen, an exclusive buffet menu including fine dessert specialities, prepared by the Favorite hotel star chef Tim Meierhans, and a varied evening programe provide the stimulating setting for the International Best of Wine Tourism Awards 2012.
I'm sure it'll also be very arduous attending the wine tasting:
As part of the International Wine Tasting, more than 100 different wines from Rheinhessen and all over the world will be offered for tasting and comparison; the tasting ticket also includes light snacks.
If Sue Wells wants to go on an overseas jaunt she should simply pay for it herself and stop pretending that its somehow beneficial for a city that has got bigger things to be concerned about than wine drinking.