CHRISTCHURCH MAYOR LIANNE DALZIEL promised a new era of accountability and transparency at the Christchurch City Council. But like her promise that the quake hit eastern suburbs would finally receive some attention, her promise has proved worthless.
Perhaps the most glaring example of the lack of accountability and transparency has been the secrecy in which negotiations have been held to sell off the Christchurch City Council's maintenance and construction division, City Care. Despite the fact this is a publicly funded asset the public (the good people of Christchurch) have been denied any details about what is going on.
Last month Christchurch City Holdings Ltd chief executive Bob Lineham told The Press that the "process is underway and proceeding as expected". Thanks for that, Bob. Very informative. Not.
The Christchurch City Council will bleat 'commercial sensitivity' ' (always a favourite excuse of former mayor Bob Parker) ) but the real reason is political sensitivity. The proponents of asset sales, such as Mayor Dalziel, deputy mayor Vicki Buck and Finance chairperson Raf Manji, know too well that asset sales do not have the support of the majority of the community. So best try to shove through the sale of City Care as speedily as possible with a minimum of fuss.
For Finance committee chairperson Raf Manji the looming sale should be the source of much embarrassment. Manji once wrote that the idea of representative democracy had been tainted by the fact that representative democracy never actually obeyed the wishes of those it was supposed to be representing.
Manji's dismissal of the widespread opposition to asset sales has been arrogant and high handed. As far as Manji is concerned, it is clearly a case of 'do what I say, not what I do.'
The Christchurch City Council instructed its holding company, Christchurch City Holdings Ltd, that the sale process had to be concluded by the end of the financial year - June 29.
And, as Sherlock Holmes used to say, 'the game is afoot'. This Monday (June 27) the Christchurch City Council will hold an Extraordinary Meeting. In Lianne Dalziel's new era of democracy and accountability, the public has not been invited to attend this meeting.
The only topic on the agenda is likely to be the sale of City Care.
The six People's Choice councillors last month again reiterated their opposition to asset sales, but Dalziel has the numbers to push through the sale.
People's Choice's opposition to asset sales has been undermined by their support for Dalziel's bid for another three years as mayor. People's Choice, in its failure to put an alternative mayoral candidate, have handed the mayoralty to someone who has been one of the main proponents of asset sales. The people of Christchurch deserve a whole lot better than this.