Monster cities and monstrosities
Peter Salmon QC and his commission friends are beginning a long look at – among other things – the merits of an Auckland supercity.
And certain mayors with familiar names are already drafting plans for land and prestige grabbing expeditions in the process.
Meanwhile, a 45-storey, 328-metre monstrosity is planned for the Auckland waterfront, another threat to the community’s view of the harbour – and public views on the project.
Regardless of conditions, how could Auckland city planners recommend it be approved? What happened to the public consultation processes in the much-vaunted Local Government Act?
If current bureaucrats are as distant as that from issues of the public good and its opinions, what would their replacements, or the same people with new titles, in a new hierarchy, be like with authority over the whole isthmus and beyond?
Arguments that soupedup community boards would play a bigger role in a new set-up don’t wash with me.
I’ve been on three community boards and chairman of two of them and I know the frustrations of working with unelected masters, council bureaucrats in far-away high-rise civic headquarters. And I’ve seen how a community representation system which once promised so much has so often been sidelined and ignored.
Okay, so we’ll never get back to those interesting and often satisfying days now remembered only for the redundant council chambers that dot suburbs which were once local bodies.
One memory of that era: Complaining to Newmarket council that our rubbish hadn’t been picked up. Soon after, I watched with astonishment as the town clerk, a genuine public servant, arrived to pack the bags into the boot of his car and do the job himself.
Those were the days. No one expects them to return, nor believe they would cope with a big modern region.
But Auckland and the Salmon commission must find a compromise between that, the current situation and the risk of future power for even higher-paid and even more distant desk-drivers.
They could pontificate and change your environment working out of towers like the latest harbour-side disaster – calling the shots without the need for public consultation with the people who pay their salaries.
You might feel you’ve got little voice now, but the risk is you’ll have even less after an expansive and expensive revamp we’ll all pay for. A monster-city could produce more monstrosities.
Dateline Zimbabwe: “Pray for us.”
While the Mugabe regime punishes, beats and imprisons those who voted against it, jails electoral officials who unwisely accepted those votes, busily reshuffles the results and whistles up even more arms from international dealers, this call came:
“This email may be my last from Chidza Farm, Masvingo, Zimbabwe.
“A carefully orchestrated war vet attack has been made on the few remaining white-owned farms in Masvingo.
“The farms that I know were invaded, were the Goddards, Connors, Borland, Richards, Sparrows. The whole Pa Nyanda Lodge was taken over.
“Graham and Cally were given an hour to leave their house. They did so with a few photos and valuables but didn’t even have time to pack a suitcase.
“A lorry-load of war vets arrived at our gate to take over our land, equipment and cattle.
“They have been singing their war songs at our gate and more and more of them have arrived.
“We managed to get Alison, our daughter, and baby John to town and for now it is just John and myself and our dogs in the house, now on the farm.
“They have said that our labour will not work tomorrow and that they want us to kill them a sheep which John refuses to do, so no doubt they will kill one for themselves.
“Graham Richards was under siege at the same time as us. The Goddards and Deidricks are in the same boat.
“Chris was invaded yesterday afternoon. I just happened to be visiting Charmaine and Chris when about 23 war vets drove up the road singing war songs. Chris went out to them and they told him to leave the farm immediately.
“The police arrived about 45 minutes after the war vets and spent a long time talking to them with Chris remaining calm and reasoning.
“Charmaine, Laura and I watched anxiously. I was so worried that they might beat Chris up as is so often their style.
“They left the property and have vowed to return today to ‘sort things out’.
“As Mbeki and co sit on their hands Mugabe is free to do as he likes. It’s obvious that Mugabe wants to provoke violence so that he can declare a state of emergency to rid himself of dissenters.
“All we can do is pray for international intervention before it’s too late.
“Surely, the outside world cannot sit back and allow a repeat of 2002. Please keep all of us in your prayers.”
We will. And not just the besieged white farmers – the whole Zimbabwe community too.
Letter of the week, which needs a little backgrounding for those who may be puzzled about its significance.
When Paul Holmes summed up his impressions of China which I quoted from, he also mentioned – as a non-commercial aside – that he had made his Beijing trade deal excursion to “flog my olive oil and to take advantage of the new friendship”. Which prompted Ken Wortelhock of Narrow Neck to write: “Don’t be too hard on Holmes ... all he is doing is trying to pour olive oil on troubled waters.”
On the subject of quotes, how about that American housewife who posted on a blog site the Obama throwaway line to a private function.
He talked politically naively about Pennsylvania’s bitter small-town voters “clinging to guns or religion ... or antipathy to people who aren’t like them”.
She quoted him then capped that off by revealing later that she was actually an Obama supporter.
Who needs enemies when you’ve got friends like that?
To contact Pat Booth email: firstname.lastname@example.org. All replies are open for publication unless marked Not For Publication.