While Sideshow Bob talks about 'all the progress that has been made' in Christchurch, in the eastern suburbs folk are still living in damaged houses and paying exorbitant rents. The level of poverty has increased dramatically but Parker continues to say nothing.
Last week marked 1000 days since Christchurch's quake nightmare began. I know this because the media thought it was significant but for many folk I know, it meant nothing. They are still living in damaged houses, they are still engaged in hand to hand combat with the Earthquake Commission and the insurance companies.
But the occasion allowed Sideshow Bob to wax lyrical about all the 'good things' that have been happening in the city since then. I can exclusively reveal that there is a cord attached to Sideshow's back and if you pull it he instantly starts talking in banal soundbites.
I think Radio Live's Marcus Lush pulled that cord last week because Bob started talking about 'all the progress that has been made' and 'better times ahead' and ' there are good things happening' and 'I love Gerry Brownlee' (I made that one up.)
The interview wrapped up with Sideshow announcing that he was going to the Canterbury - New South Wales rugby game that night and then having a lie in on Saturday. Bob is not living in a damaged house or having trouble paying the rent.
I don't blame Sideshow entirely for his banal platitudes because the corporate media largely allowed him to get away with it. Lush, for example, seemed to forget the eastern suburbs of Christchurch. He didn't seem to think it relevant to ask why, after 1000 days, people are still living in damaged homes, in overcrowded conditions, in garages.
There also hasn't been a whole lot said about the grinding poverty many people are facing in Christchurch, driven by such factors as the extortionate rents that the vampires are demanding. And they have been allowed to exploit the situation by a government that has refused to intervene and left people vulnerable to the monsters of the market.
The Christchurch Budget Service has seen a 20 percent increase in clients since last year alone. It says it rarely sees a client who is renting for less than $350 a week.
The Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network (WeCan) have pointed out again that the recovery has not been concerned about restoring the wider Christchurch community but has been focused on the priorities of the corporate sector. It has pointed out that IAG, which has 75% of the insurance market in the city, has 6000 homes to rebuild. But it will have only completed 4.5% of their rebuilds by July. WeCan thinks that even this abysmal target may not be reached.
“WeCan believes this is totally unacceptable and people in the worst affected TC3 homes are being left in appalling conditions and it looks like they will have many winters before their homes and lives will be seen to,” said WeCan spokesman Mike Coleman. “It is just not enough to talk timeframes and possibilities anymore. Words are meaningless without real desire to sort the most vulnerable homes out.”
EQC certainly doesn't show any desire to quickly address the situation. It now says that it hopes to complete 'all serious structural repairs and the most vulnerable cases by Christmas. ' This is a retreat from its previous goal to have all over-$50,000 repairs completed by Christmas.
WeCan is right when it says that 'the Earthquake Commission is also running a highly inefficient and unacceptable operation.'
While WeCan is giving voice to the concerns of the eastern suburbs, Sideshow Bob remains mute because his loyalties lie elsewhere - namely with the Key Government. He's certainly come a long way from when he first stood for mayor and not only declared himself to be politically 'independent' but derided his opponents for 'playing party politics'.
But the light at the end of the tunnel is that we only have a few months left of Sideshow Bob to endure - and I can stop writing about him. Labour MP Lianne Dalziell is almost certain to announce her bid for the mayoralty in the next few weeks. She is likely to defeat the unpopular Bob. Only a major earthquake and a orange safety jacket can save him now...