NO SOLUTIONS FROM SMITH

Nick Smith fails to address the real problems facing the Christchurch City Council.

The Minister of Local Government's 'big' idea to sort out the mess at the Christchurch City Council has been to appoint another bureaucrat to oversee its work. That job has gone to former Nelson mayor Kerry Marshall who'll be in the job until possibly as late as July. Apparently he's going to 'nursemaid' the city council and it'll be sweetness and light all round. Yes, it will. Really.

Marshall, of course, is also a member of the National Party so, despite the spin from Smith and Parker, he isn't politically independent. This is about as believable as Sue Wells declaring over the weekend that she isn't 'for' or 'against' Mayor Bob. Wells is clearly more stupid than I thought.

Will Marshall's intervention work? If the autocratic and furtive rule of Parker and Marryatt is brought to an end then perhaps. But if, as I suspect, Marshall's role turns out to be simply to make life easier for 'The Bob and Tony Show' then it won't. If it turns out to be 'business as usual', albeit with Marshall guiding the proceedings, then it won't take long for the whole process to turn to custard. If the Parker-Marryatt cabal is allowed to continued to rule the roost, excluding councillors who dare to disagree with them, then Smith's initiative won't work.

If a 'good working environment' means everyone having to agree with Sideshow Bob, then we should have new elections.

Its been suggested elsewhere that Smith may be setting up the Christchurch City Council for a fall.

The Christchurch City Council's problems are structural and Smith has failed to address that. There needs to be more internal democracy. In that respect Labour's 10 point plan to shine some light on proceedings does have its merits. The plan was drawn up last year shortly after Chrissie Williams resigned as a councillor and has been promoted by Councillor Yani Johanson.

In the current environment it is a positive and thoughtful proposal but the fact that Parker has shown no interest in the plan is hardly cause for optimism. Unfortunately Parker and Marryatt - as well as their supporters on council - behave as if they are working for a private corporation rather than a public body.

But I would like to see Labour's plan expanded to encompass real input from the good people of Christchurch into the decision making processes of the council. And councillors need to be directly accountable to the people who voted them into office. There needs to be a mechanism whereby councillors can be 'recalled' by the community if required. Councillors need to know that they cannot simply do what they like without there being real consequences.

Why should people's only input into local government be confined to voting every three years? (The same argument applies to national politics.)

Instead of political power being concentrated in the hands of the Parker-Marryatt cabal, its time to expand the democratic process to include the wider Christchurch community. This stands in direct contrast to councillors like Sue Wells who would like to see the Christchurch community deprived of any local democracy via the appointment of government commissioners. When the situation cries out for more democracy, she would like to see less.

One of the things that the Occupy movement has taught us that is we don't have to accept being passive citizens who merely vote every few years. We don't have to put our trust in unaccountable 'representatives' who simply ignore our wishes.

Protesting on February 1 is, among other things, a step forward in asserting our rights as active and politically engaged citizens.


Well, well, well.

When the Christchurch City Council 'CEO' was given his $70,000 salary increase, Sideshow Bob claimed it was in recognition of Tony Marryatt's outstanding work.

But now we learn that two in-house reviews, released under the Official Information Act, indicate that Marryatt hasn't been doing outstanding work at all. According to the reviews he has only been moderately successful and that his quality of work has declined since 2009.

So it looks like Bob has been telling porkies again.

CAN SIDESHOW BOB SURVIVE?

In the face of mounting public pressure, Bob is getting desperate...

He's claimed that Christchurch City Council merely has 'communications problems'. He's raised the spectre of government-appointed commissioners taking over at the city council. He's even tried to be humble and admitted that 'mistakes' have been made.

But nothing a desperate Bob has said or done has been able to stem the rising tide of public opposition to his autocratic rule.

So now Bob has had a quiet word with his faithful right hand man and - surprise - Tony Marryatt now says that he has not ruled out turning down his $68,000 salary rise! It's amazing what a little bit of public pressure will do to halt stubborn and arrogant politicians right in their tracks.

This, of course, is a far cry from what Marryatt said just a month ago. He declared "I am not refusing the pay offer and I am not giving it to charity.''

But you have to read the fine print when it comes to despots like Marryatt. He also says that he will be interested in the 'outcome' of the meeting between city councillors and Local Government Minister Nick Smith tomorrow afternoon.

But if Marryatt thinks $68,000 will buy 'The Bob and Tony Show' the freedom to carry on with their secretive and autocratic ways , he'd better think again. And what's more it's completely unacceptable for Sideshow Bob and Marryatt to attempt to hold the good people of Christchurch to ransom - and try to predetermine the outcome of the meeting tomorrow.

Nor will $68,000 'buy off' the protest on February 1.

As organiser Peter Lynch has said : "We have much bigger issues to address, such as the dysfunctionality of the council, and the poor decisions it has been making,"

Something is rotten at the heart of the Christchurch City Council and cosmetic surgery won't solve the problem.

HAIKU TIME!

Clare Curran is making a stand for the working class!

I don't read Labour's Red Alert much and a reader has just reminded me why.

The Labour Party is going nowhere fast and despite leader David Shearer's call for 'new ideas' there is nothing to suggest that Labour is going to break with neoliberalism. Indeed, if Trevor Mallard has his way, a new Labour Government would be launching its own attack on what remains of the welfare state. The brave Mallard wants to take the big stick to the 'undeserving' poor. What a guy.

But its good to see Clare Curran getting to the crux of the matter. The Dunedin MP isn't mucking about.

Last year she got all hot and bothered about Otago rugby jerseys - even getting herself of thrown out of Parliament. At the time she said : ' 'I was taking a wee stand (as we say in the South) on something I thought was important. Though I know taking direct action has its responsibilities. And consequences.'

Yes Clare knows what's important and this year she's writing....haiku's.

Curran's attempt at a haiku appeared on Red Alert a couple of days ago.

Though our aim divine/
The delivery human/
A labour of love

She says its a response to a critical piece that journalist John Hartevelt wrote on 17 January.

He made some justified criticisms of Red Alert which included:

'Trevor Mallard and Clare Curran do most of the writing. Mallard posts short, sometimes cryptic missives and has been responsible for some ill-judged if not downright juvenile efforts in the past. Curran's posts appear mostly on issues of special interest to her. Both Curran and Mallard have developed a strange habit for writing some of their posts as if they were poetry.'

Hence Curran's haiku.

Given the current dire condition of the Labour Party you would of thought Curran would be able to find some better things to do with her time. Here's a hint. Why not use Red Alert to start mapping out a true Labour alternative to National rather than just continuing to spout the same old neoliberal drivel? Just a thought.

Some Red Alert readers fired back some none too subtle haiku's back at Curran including this one from our old mate Chris Trotter:

The summer rains fall,
Hopes for better weather fade,
Shearer says nothing.

Curran hasn't responded to this.

THE BIZARRE ADVENTURES OF COUNCILLOR WELLS

WELLS SHOOTS HERSELF IN THE FOOT

Councillor Sue Wells has lost the plot.

Mayor Sideshow Bob's and Tony Marryatt's decision to spend $80,000 of ratepayers money on an 'inquiry' into the Christchurch City Council's so-called 'communication issues' is a feeble and badly conceived attempt to halt the growing public opposition to Sideshow Bob's autocratic regime.

Predictably (except to Bob and Tony) it has just inflamed the situation. In quake-wrecked Christchurch no one is impressed that ratepayers money is being spent on a pointless inquiry about the city council's PR operations.

As well Marryatt's claim he is now going to talk with community groups has been met with derision. If he's expecting a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit out in the eastern suburbs then he's going to be disappointed.

With a significant public protest scheduled for February 1, Sideshow Bob and his council flunkeys are scrambling to save themselves. The squeeze is on - and Bob doesn't like it at all. His calls for 'unity' and for councillors to rise above 'pettiness' are rich coming from a mayor who has been mostly responsible for the disunity and pettiness in the first place.

But the most bizarre 'solution' to the Christchurch City Council's woes has come from Councillor Sue Wells who says that the Government should replace the city council with commissioners. You may recall that Wells is the same councillor who had a holiday in Germany last year - and got the ratepayer to pay for it.

Wells treats local democracy like a doormat to wipe her dirty feet on but she doesn't really want to put herself out of a job that pays so well. She is on a salary of around $110,000 and also picks up another $30,000 for being a director of Christchurch City Council Holdings.

In 2010 mayoral candidate Jim Anderton said that if he became mayor he would request all councillors to forgo directorship fees for sitting on council-controlled organisations because they were already well paid. The money saved would then be diverted to struggling community groups.

Wells said she would refuse to give back her director fees. This is the true ugly face of Sue Wells.

There's always an 'angle' when Wells is concerned.

She doesn't want to lose her financially job lucrative job but calling for the sacking of council (which she knows won't happen) is designed to give the impression that she is prepared to sacrifice her own job for the sake of Christchurch. We voters are supposed to be impressed!

Buts it's all sound and fury, told by an idiot. And its a giant miscalculation by Ms Wells. Her self-serving attack on local democracy has just left her looking foolish.

There's nothing, of course, preventing Wells resigning as a councillor herself. But we all know that she won't.

IT'S DR EVIL!

Why is Kim Dotcom guilty until proven innocent and why is the New Zealand media acting as a cheerleader for the American authorities?

Despite the fact that the owners of the filesharing site MegaUpload have yet to appear in court to answer the many charges laid against them, the US authorities have still pulled down a site that receives around 50 million hits a day and accounts for four percent of all Internet traffic. If you are one of the many millions of users who have paid to use MegaUpload for legitimate purposes - well, thanks to the good old boys at the FBI, you can no longer access a service you have paid for. You have also lost access to all the files that you might have had stored on MegaUpload. What can you do about it? Nothing.

As well, with the obliging assistance of the New Zealand authorities - who even called out the armed offenders unit - we have seen the US authorities seize property and cash and freeze bank accounts.

All this has been dutifully recorded by our media. The mainstream media seems completely unconcerned that Kim Dotcom (Kim Schmitz). and co have yet to be found guilty of anything. It seems that the New Zealand authorities are quite happy to suspend the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty' and be the foot soldiers for the American entertainment industry.

Just to rub it in, a campaign of character assassination is underway. While many of us won't care for the opulent lifestyle of Dotcom, the fact that he lives in a mansion, throws lavish parties and is a rich git with a shady past isn't a crime. If that was the case the likes of Mark Hotchin would of been thrown in the clink years ago. The media though have gleefully reported all the comings and goings at Dotcom HQ as if it was more proof that Dotcom and his mates were up to no good.

Dotcom, thanks to our gormless media, has been transformed into Dr Evil bent on world domination.

No one seems interested that MegaUpload are saying that the charges against it are 'completely overblown'

Said a lawyer for the site: 'Our initial impression is that the allegations are without merit and MegaUpload is going to vigorously contest them. We have deep concerns over due process and assets being taken without the opportunity for a hearing."

And while the US authorities have denied it, the FBI raid on MegaUpload seems to have been specifically timed. It came just a day after the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act—that would, if enacted, vastly expand the control of the US government over the Internet - lost significant political support in the face of massive public opposition.

The raid on MegaUpload is a demonstration that the United States Government will continue to take action against websites despite the widespread opposition to attacks on internet freedom.

WASTING MORE MONEY

There's been a communications breakdown at the Christchurch City Council, claims Sideshow Bob. But we've all heard this excuse before.

Mayor Sideshow Bob never seems to tire of wasting other people's money and he's at it again. This time Sideshow and his faithful right hand man Tony Marryatt have decided to waste $80,000 of ratepayers money on an 'independent' review of the Christchurch City Council's 'communication issues'.

We've been down this road before. At the last election, when he was being pummelled in the polls by Jim Anderton, Sideshow explained his unpopularity on the basis that council decisions had been poorly communicated to the people of Christchurch.

In August 2010 Bob said that '“People need to know that I get it. I get that we have not taken everyone with us on important issues and at times people have felt that their input did not carry much weight. I acknowledge that on some issues I have not explained well enough the reason behind our decisions.'

But since then Bob has proved again and again that he actually doesn't get it. He is still running a secretive and autocratic council that is simply out of touch with the community it purports to represent.

It doesn't register with Sideshow that you might get away with running roughshod over the wishes of the community once or twice but if it becomes the norm, then expect the full weight of public opprobrium to descend on you. And that's what has happened to Sideshow Bob and his council flunkeys.

Councillor Yani Johanson is absolutely correct when he says that '"People are quite unhappy with the way things are being done; it's not just about communication,"

Ironically, despite chairing the council's communications committee, Johanson only learnt of the $ 80,000 review twenty minutes before a statement was sent to the media late yesterday. Once again this has been a decision hatched in secret by Parker and Marryatt and it has completely undermined Johanson's position on the communications committee.

Meanwhile Marryatt is trying to earn some brownie points by claiming that he accepts criticism of his lack of involvement in the local community. What he means by this, of course, is that he admits he has completely shunned the quake devastated eastern suburbs. Fifteen months after the first major quake it's a bit late in the day to claim that he now wants to talk to community groups and stakeholders.

This is political cynicism at its very worse compounded by the fact that that Marryatt still refuses to give back his massive and completely unjustified $70,000 salary increase.

Don't forget the protest outside the Christchurch City Council offices on Wednesday 1 February at midday.

A WORLD TO WIN

"More than any other time in my life, and the lives of many others, the world is filled with energy. And it should be our goal to harness that energy and turn it into revolutionary possibility." There is no place for cynicism when there is still a world to win, writes Trish Kahle.

I am not going to claim to be at peace, nor will I charge myself with being serene. I am neither of those things. I am angry. I am sick and tired. I am a fighter. I can be argumentative.

But I am hopeful.

In just the last year, we–ordinary people–have overthrown dictators. We have sent politicians running. We have changed the direction of discourse, and we now fully intend to change the courses of action. In Egypt, the struggle has taken over everything–from the squares to the factories. Even Western leaders have resigned because they can sense their time has passed, and ours has come. The victories may have been few, but they have been critical. Attacks and repression have not weakened us, but instead tightened our lines and increased our numbers.

So how, in this context, can people say things like “I’m just impotent to fix the suffering around me, like everyone else?” In the same year that workers took over the Wisconsin capitol, how can one say, “I see no struggles of the working class here in America?” That someone can watch a world in revolt and come to these conclusions is astounding enough. That they try to win others to these strange concepts and attempt to discourage activists in the fight and revolutionaries attempting to increase the level of mass political consciousness through agitation is despicable.

Certainly, reforms will not get rid of capitalism, but the struggles to achieve them can be fundamental in forming people’s political consciousness. It is where we learn important lessons that will be used again. And of course, even a reform-oriented movement can evolve into something much greater. After all, who thought when a group of people in New York decided to Occupy Wall Street that it would set the spark on the first mass movement in the US in over a generation? Who thought that the removal of Ben Ali in Tunisia through a massive revolt would lead to a worldwide uprising? To this we received a reply that “I cannot make this movement revolutionary, for men make history, but not as they please.” When Marx said the second half of that sentence, he was not suggesting inaction, but rather perpetual action for the relationship between humans and their conditions is a dialectical one. We are influenced by our conditions but also have the power to alter them through struggle. That is why Frederick Douglass said, “Without struggle, there is no progress.” Progress comes when we are willing to upset the equilibrium of social conditions that capital imposes on us–or when we are ready to dismantle it entirely. But to suggest that Marx was arguing for inaction until the revolutionary moment occurs is a perversion of the materialist method.

How will workers and oppressed people come to understand that not only should the system be overthrown, but that they are the agents of this revolution if they are not educated through the process of struggle to fight and to win? Political consciousness is not spontaneous. To assume it is–and to assume a socialist revolution is inevitable or a foregone conclusion–is hardly scientific. It is a utopian fantasy not supported by the history of struggle and revolution at all.

This is hardly a time to be cynical or nihilistic! More than any other time in my life, and the lives of many others, the world is filled with energy. And it should be our goal to harness that energy and turn it into revolutionary possibility. Marxism is not only the study of theory, but its implementation. As Marx wrote, “Practice without theory is rudderless, and theory without practice merely academics.” But taken together, they are the driving material force of history.

I am so incredibly hopeful, because I believe with all my heart that there is a persistence of song, that struggle is not fruitless, that victory is possible. A coach of mine told me once, “I never started a race I didn’t believe I had a chance of winning.” I didn’t take up this struggle because I thought I would lose. I took it up because every fibre of my being believes that we can win a world without racism, without sexism, homophobia, transphobia. I believe another world, where people are put first, is not only possible…it’s worth fighting for.

This article was first published on I Can't Believe We Still Have To Protest This Shit.

SURE TO RISE

24 OVER PAR!

Christchurch's most unpopular man was out on the golf course again on Sunday (15 January).

Tony was again playing at the Christchurch Golf Course (Shirley) which, of course, is on the eastern side of the city. This is probably the only time that Marryatt ventures into the eastern suburbs. Perhaps he thinks no one will recognise him out 'in the sticks'. Fat chance.

This time he was 24 over par, which included eleven bogeys, four double bogeys and three uncompleted holes. He is truly awful.

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW

CERA chief Roger Sutton says Christchurch has a bright future - but that's cold comfort for people struggling today.

Roger Sutton, the chief of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) writes a weekly column in the Christchurch Star.

Generally its a unrelenting optimistic column. Not only is Sutton in charge of the rebuilding of Christchurch, he also seems to have adopted the role of chief motivator; the man always on hand with a few breezy words of encouragement. Judging by the many derisory comments made about him on the web, not everyone appreciates being told that 'the glass is half full' again and again.

So in his January 13 column Sutton, against a backdrop of more morale-sapping quakes over Christmas-New Year, is keen to again stress that, while it may be on its knees now, Christchurch has a bright future ahead of it. It lies somewhere over the rainbow. Yes, it does.

Sutton name checks the American magazine Foreign Policy which has, in a somewhat glib photo essay, labelled Christchurch as one of the sixteen world cities to watch.

He then references a Lonely Planet article that claims that Christchurch is 'one of New Zealand's most exciting cities'.

Sutton writes that 'history backs such optimistic views. San Francisco for example suffered a 7.1 earthquake in 1989 causing more than $6 billion of property loss but is now one of top tourist destinations in the world.'

We can argue the validity of Sutton's PR-massaged optimism (and I have real problems with his rose-tinted views, especially with Gerry Brownlee lurking in the background) but there is no disputing that his vision of a safe, environmentally-friendly and exciting Christchurch is a long way from fruition. It will take decades.

But for people who have been hit hardest by a succession of quakes it is cold comfort to be told that a new and better Christchurch will rise from the rubble eventually. People are, of course, having to live their lives now. They can't live on promises of a better tomorrow.

I live on the east side of Christchurch so I've had the opportunity to travel around the quake-wrecked suburbs and I have to say that not a lot has changed. The scenes of quake devastation remain. But the Eastside has largely been forgotten. 6500 houses have basically been wiped off the map. Another 3000 remain in limbo, still awaiting their fate.

How long are people expected to put up with this situation?

And you cannot help but feel the growing sense of anger.

This sense of anger was articulated in a letter in The Press on Saturday.

It was written by Darren Aitken, a fire officer based in New Brighton. He lambasts the Christchurch City Council. insurers , banks and the EQC as 'heartless organisations' who instead of helping people, are simply increasing their levels of stress. He writes:

'I now work a New Brighton Fire Station, and I still see people breaking under the stress - stressed caused by organisations that are meant to be helping. We no longer ask 'how's your day going?' because the answer is that they having a crappy one. 'Just look what I'm living with or in,' they say. My heart breaks again and again for all these people.'

There are numerous horror stories of people getting short shrift from the likes of EQC and CERA.

Similarly the eastern suburbs have been abandoned by a mayor who won't defend the interests and concerns of residents who pay his inflated salary. He has become the tame lapdog of a government that has allowed a social crisis to develop.

This is a council that allows councillors like the self-serving Sue Wells to take holidays in Germany at the expense of the ratepayer. This is a council that gives its CEO a salary increase of $70,000. This is a council whose deputy mayor thinks 'God' will save the city. This is a council totally out of touch with a city it pretends to serve.

On February 1 at midday there will be a protest at the Christchurch City Council offices. It is a ostensibly a protest about Tony Marryatt's salary increase. But it'll also be an opportunity for people to say that they are not going to put up with being kicked around by organisations so clearly out of touch with the immediate needs of people struggling to cope with the impact of the quakes.

Not satisfied with the way things are going in Christchurch? Be at the protest. Be heard.

MALLARD PROPOSES WAR ON THE POOR

Trevor Mallard wants Labour to 'rethink' the welfare state.

Liam Byrne, British Labour's spokesperson on welfare, has been attacking 'welfare scroungers'. No, he hasn't been attacking the bankers and the stockmarket clowns who have been the beneficiaries of massive financial bailouts. Hey, Byrne's got friends in the City of London - its far easier to attack the weak and the poor, the victims of a capitalist crisis that Byrne's mates provoked in the first place.

In an article in The Guardian Byrne declares that many beneficiaries receive support that is 'unearned'. This is a declaration of war on the so-called 'undeserving' poor. Liam Byrne himself , despite being on a generous MP's salary, receives over 2000 pounds a month in benefits. The British taxpayer is paying his mortgage, his rates. and his power and phone bills.

This round of beneficiary bashing by Byrne has also 'inspired' the Dominion Post to do its own bit of beneficiary bashing here. Instead of exposing this Government's abject failure to provide sufficient employment, it prefers to bash beneficiaries with a big stick. This is 'because the aim of welfare policy must always be to help those without work secure a foothold in the employment market. Schools, hospitals and roads are not built with welfare cheques.'

The Dominion Post would rather just ignore that there are few jobs available in a 'employment market' plagued by increasing casualisation. While it pontificates about 'welfare reform' jobs continue to disappear down the black hole of the capitalist crisis. And, lets face it, the few jobs that are available are mostly minimum-wage and insecure jobs. Crap jobs.

According to the Dominion Post, which has shown little interest in the concerns of the working class in the past, the job of new Labour leader David Shearer is to 'reconnect' Labour 'with the working man, and woman.'

The newspaper though warns Shearer against extending to beneficiaries the “in work tax credit”, intended to compensate low-income workers for the extra costs associated with working.

It would simply prefer to see the iron heel pushed harder down on the throats of the poor. Then 'we' can all sleep easily in our beds, safe in the knowledge that 'the undeserving poor' are being well and truly sorted out.

But its not only the Dominion Post that wants Labour to declare war on the poor. On Labour's website Red Alert, Trevor Mallard declares that Liam Byrne wants to 'slay some sacred cows'. According to Mallard, Byrne isn't attacking the welfare state - he's 'rethinking' it.

Mallard ran out of steam years ago and his only solution to Labour's sinking popularity is to kick the crap out of the poor and hope like hell that a good dose of right wing populism will resonate with Labour's lost supporters.

The bloated carcass of Mallard will be crawling around Parliament for the next three years, occasionally stirring to vomit up crapola like this.

What will new Labour leader David Shearer do? Will he take the party even further to the right? Shearer has said he wants the party to have 'new ideas' but it may well be that, under the guise of adopting 'new ideas' Labour will finally drop even any nominal commitment to the concerns of ordinary New Zealanders.

26 OVER PAR!

We'll keep you right up to date with Tony Marryatt's golf game!

Tony was playing golf and 'clearing his head' at the Christchurch Golf Club (Shirley) on Wednesday Jan 11.

The half a million dollar man, despite the fact he plays a lot of golf, can't be described as a good golfer. In fact, he's crap. He was 26 over par after he completed his latest 18 holes. This included four double-bogeys and two holes he never managed to complete! Jeez..

WORKING ON HIS GOLF GAME

On two of the nine weekends that Christchurch City Council CEO Tony Marryatt said he was working, he was actually playing golf.

Thanks to a tip-off, the Christchurch Press has revealed that on two of the weekends that Tony Marryatt said he was working, he was actually out on the golf course. Link
His golfing records on the golf.co.nz website reveal that he played golf at Clearwater Golf course on April 2 and 9.

This revelation about his weekend activities has seen Marryatt backpedaling at a rapid rate of knots.

He says that when he said he was working weekends it didn't mean that 'I was working 10 hours for each day.' and that he played golf to 'clear my head'.

On April 2, while Marryatt was clearing his head. council staff were fighting to prevent the city's sewerage system collapsing.

Marryatt has also resorted to one of Sideshow Bob's favourite ploys, namely blame everything on some shadowy conspiracy to undermine him.

He wants us to believe that the poking around in his golfing records, is all part of a 'smear campaign' which is part of a wider campaign to have the entire council sacked and replaced by commissioners.

He doesn't actually produce any evidence to back up his claim though. In fact the only person who has publicly hinted at sacking councillors is Quake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee. Its hardly credible that one of Sideshow Bob's closest political allies is conducting a smear campaign against Marryatt.

Marryatt is simply blowing smoke and everyone knows it.

GREED IS GOOD!

An OECD report issued in December last year showed that New Zealand has one of the fastest growing income gaps in the OECD. The gap between wage and salary earners and the top CEO executives has grown ever wider. And we tax the rich less and tax the poor more. Christchurch City Council CEO Tony Marryatt is doing his bit to expand that income gap.

If Christchurch City Council CEO Tony Marryatt wants to be greedy than, at least, he should not insult us all by trying to justify his venal and grasping philosophy. If he wants to be a greedy then he should have the decency to own up to it. If he wants to stick his nose in the trough and chow down at our expense please don't tell us that he's doing it for us. 'I'll have another two dozen cream cakes,' says Tony. 'But I'm only going to eat them because I'm committed to Christchurch'. Yeah, right.

'Greed is good' said Wall Street shark Gordon Gekko. Come on, Tony - stop bullshitting us and admit you've got a poster of Gordon Gekko on your bedroom wall.

Marryatt must have the same gormless media advisor as Mayor Sideshow Bob or Councillor Sue Wells because he has tried to defend the indefensible. And its like watching a car crash in slow motion.

He says he's worth another $68,000 because 'he's never worked so hard in his life'. He then goes on to bemoan that he hasn't a weekend off in nine weeks.

These remarks have only served to further infuriate the good people of Christchurch and you don't need to be a genius to work out why.

For a start workers in New Zealand are being screwed to work harder for less. Workers are being given wage increases that don't even compensate for the rise in the cost of living.

Indeed in 2010 Christchurch City Council own workforce received a derisory low wage increase of 2.75 percent. I would expect most of these workers are working harder now than at any stage in their council careers - will they be getting a 14.5 percent salary increase like Marryatt's? I don't think so.

So its another $68,000 for Marryatt and peanuts for the workforce he presides over.

Marryatt's self-serving justification for his greed is a smack in the face of the good people of Christchurch, many of whom are struggling to simply survive after a series of devastating earthquakes. So Marryatt has had to work nine weekends in a row. Does he really think this will garner public sympathy?

A wealthy CEO crying about life being a bitch is not about to resonate with people struggling to make ends meet.

He should get out into the quake wrecked eastern suburbs and see what people are going through everyday. There's no pot of cash at the end of their rainbows. There isn't even a rainbow. Just destroyed houses, empty and damaged streets and uncertain futures.

I doubt though that Marryatt has any real comprehension of what people are going through - a far as I'm aware, he's never even been seen in the Eastside.

Indeed if Marryatt is doing such a fantastic job, as his political allies claim, then why - after nearly 15 months - are the eastern suburbs still a place of devastation and where people are still being treated as second class citizens and are now being fobbed off with picnics and egg and spoon races?

WHY WON'T THE MEDIA CALL OUT RON PAUL?

The corporate media have portrayed Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul as a 'maverick'. Liberals have been seduced by his so=called 'independent' stance on American foreign policy. What goes largely unmentioned is his desire to take the axe to welfare services, his racism and his homophobia. He has also associated with neo-Nazi groups and the Ku Klux Klan. Trish Kahle writes that its time to stop giving Ron Paul an armchair ride.

Ron Paul is not very different from the other GOP candidates. He’s a racist, sexist, homophobic radical free-marketist. And he should never be allowed to set foot in the halls of power. But that’s not the Ron Paul being portrayed by mainstream media sources. NPR called him a “maverick” (not again!). Pundits left and right will jabber on about his “controversial” stances on foreign policy. They mention his “libertarian values” every chance they get. He seems to have escaped the media scrutiny he deserves. For every Rick Perry racist family campsite, there’s a photo of Ron Paul like this one:

This is Ron Paul with former American Nazi Party member and current KKK Grand Wizard and Stormfront.org webmaster, Don Black. Ron Paul also distributed racist newsletters that his campaign has tried to distance himself from–but there’s a snag: Paul’s name was in the newsletter title, which makes it somewhat implausible that he didn’t know about the content of the letter. He also voted against renewing the 1965 Voting Rights Act and he claimed the Civil Rights Act violated the Constitution and undermined personal liberty. Obviously, this doesn’t make any sense unless you’re a racist. However, there’s an easy solution. Anytime Ron Paul says “personal freedom” or “individual liberty” add on “of white people.” That’s where he’s coming from.

Paul also has a long history of homophobia. In 1994, he wrote: “[Gay] men don’t really see a reason to live past their fifties. They are not married, they have no children, and their lives are centred on new sexual partners…they enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick.” He’s tried to skirt around the question this election–knowing that Americans’ views on LGBT rights have dramatically shifted over recent years, but the record speaks for itself. In 2004, he spoke in defence of the homophobic DOMA. He then co-sponsored the so-called “Marriage Protection Act” which would have prevented legal challenges to DOMA. In a 2007 article, he wrote that recognizing same-sex marriage at the federal level would be “an act of social engineering profoundly hostile to liberty.” (The liberty he’s referring to is the liberty of the states.) If you’re confused about how he’s managed to sell this as “individual liberty,” you’re not alone.

Because in Ron Paul world, not only are corporations people, so are the states. In Ron Paul world, corporations and states have more rights than you–unless you happen to be a rich, white, heterosexual cis man. In 2005, Paul introduced the “We the People Act,” which would have removed from the jurisdiction of federal courts “any claim based upon the right of privacy, including any such claim related to any issue of sexual practices, orientation, or reproduction” and “any claim based upon equal protection of the laws to the extent such claim is based upon the right to marry without regard to sex or sexual orientation.” If you’re not sure how Ron Paul claims to be a strict constitutionalist while arguing that the Fourth Amendment is invalid, you’re not alone.

To continue the bizarro-states-rights line of bullshit, Paul has said of the death penalty, “Over the years I’ve held pretty rigid to all my beliefs, but I’ve changed my opinion of the death penalty. For federal purposes I no longer believe in the death penalty. I believe it has been issued unjustly. If you’re rich, you get away with it; if you’re poor and you’re from the inner city you’re more likely to be prosecuted and convicted, and today, with the DNA evidence, there’ve been too many mistakes, and I am now opposed to the federal death penalty.” So basically, Ron Paul thinks it’s not racist if the state carries out an execution of a poor, Black man. If you’re wondering if there is a planet where that train of thought actually holds any logic, you’re not alone.

But all this is sort of moot. We already know Ron Paul’s a bigoted asshole. What I think is worth noting is how much of this shit he gets away with.

Even though I’m of the opinion that every GOP candidate should be charged with hate speech, and the media clearly aren’t interested in that level of scrutiny, most of the other candidates have had to endure some fire over their bigotry. So why does Ron Paul get a free pass?

The only reason I can think of is that he calls himself a libertarian, but no one will interrogate that. As I’ve shown, Paul is for pretty much everything except personal liberty. Did it never occur to any of the mainstream media dimwits to consider how someone who claims government should get out of everyone’s business also claims that the government belongs in a woman’s uterus? Somehow, Paul has managed to evade any real inquisition of his policies regarding same-sex marriage by shouting “STATES’ RIGHTS” at every available moment. Some disillusioned liberals seem to have taken this as a sign of progressivism. Nothing could be further from the truth. States’ Rights are slavery. States’ rights are Jim Crow. Calling states’ rights is a tactic for stifling social movements from being able to demand national change and for preventing courts from issuing nationwide class action rulings like Brown v. Board of Education.

So, everywhere Ron Paul goes? Call him out. Call him out and shut him down.

MIC CHECK!

This article was first published at I Can't Believe We Still Have To Protest This Shit

CHRISTCHURCH NEEDS GOD!



Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button thinks the good people of Christchurch need to be 'saved'.

In these days of trouble, what do the good people of quake-stricken Christchurch need? Jobs? Financial security? An affordable place to live?

It is, of course, all these things and more. But Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button has other ideas about what the people of Christchurch are in search of. She says we need 'to know who God is'.

The loyal Sideshow Bob supporter told a Spreydon Baptist Church service that 'The biggest need for the city is salvation. People need hope. They need to see the world from the right perspective.'

Presumably 'seeing the word from the right perspective' also includes supporting the National Party like Button.

Button also describes the media as 'a negative influence' on Christchurch which certainly won't help her when she next tries to get some 'good news' story into The Press.

It's also interesting to note that while she expresses concern about the dire housing situation she is also the same Ngaire Button who voted to put council rents up a massive 24 percent in 2010. Council flats are home to some of Christchurch's most disadvantaged people.

But, at the same time, she voted to give failed property developer Dave Henderson a $17 million bailout.

She also voted to cut council funding to struggling community groups.

Indeed Button's motto seems to be 'take from the poor and give to the rich' because she also voted to boost Tony Marryatt's salary to over half a million dollars a year.

POP-UP REBUILD TIME!

Families enjoyed some classic Kiwi fun during a pop-up picnic in Scarborough Park in Sumner on New Year's Day.

The picnic was sponsored by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) and featured egg-and-spoon races, sack races and a lolly scramble.

The event is part of Cera's series of pop-up picnics and movie screenings, which will show New Zealand classic films on inflatable screens, including Under the Mountain and Boy.

The picnics will be held in parks in suburbs such as Aranui, Dallington and Brooklands from January 1 to 15.

"We want it to be sort of informal, a bit of fun in the local park with a picnic, tug-of-war contests and face painting," said Cera chief executive Roger Sutton.- Fairfax NZ News

Photo: Assorted Goodies

REPORT BLASTS COUNCIL

Mayor Sideshow Bob claims Tony Marryatt is a fantastic CEO. Apparently the Christchurch City Council is 'lucky to have him'. A council internal report suggests otherwise.

A Christchurch City Council internal report has, among other things, raised more questions as to why Tony Marryatt was reappointed CEO and why he is worth a salary of more than half a million dollars.

Despite promising at the last mayoral election that he would be more 'transparent' and 'accountable', Sideshow Bob and the Christchurch City Council have been sitting on this report since January last year. It has emerged in the public arena only after the Canterbury earthquakes royal commission demanded it be submitted as evidence.

Its hardly surprising that Sideshow Bob wasn't keen to release it. It reveals that the Christchurch City Council shockingly didn't recognise the seriousness of the September 2010 quake and responded in a haphazard and ab hoc manner.

Indeed the report basically blasts the council as incompetent. It says council relied on a new overworked and under-resourced team, called the building evaluation transition (BET) team, to evaluate dangerous buildings.

The BET team made the Keystone Cops look professional. It communicated poorly with the council and the public, losing files and sometimes giving conflicting and "embarrassing" advice. There is no evidence that Tony Marryatt intervened to address the situation.

The team also exceeded its original mandate, operating for 12 weeks instead of three and costing ratepayers $50,000 a week. Again, where was Tony Marryatt? Where was Sideshow Bob? Was everyone simply asleep at the wheel?

The report is very critical of the council's response to the 2010 Boxing Day quake commenting that it seemed more concerned about opening the central city bars and restaurants. Meanwhile those of us living in the hard-hit eastern suburbs were deemed to be of secondary importance. But at the time Sideshow Bob denied that people in the Eastside were being treated as second class citizens.

There was no attempt to secure dangerous buildings or even clear fresh rubble from the streets, the report also says.

It points out that buildings that were classified as 'safe' later collapsed in the February quake. it has already been revealed the council incorrectly cleared a green-stickered part of a building after September 4 that collapsed in the February 22 quake, killing one of the occupants.

Sideshow Bob's response has been laughable. He insists that this wasn't a fiasco - just part of 'a learning curve' for the Christchurch City Council. Yes, council officers losing files and a CEO seemingly missing in action can all be chalked down to the vagaries of Bob's nonsensical 'learning experience'.

Despite this damning report, its a fair bet that no one will be held accountable. Sideshow Bob will look after his council chums and Quake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee will protect Sideshow Bob. The stench of cronyism is all pervasive.

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