The ongoing scandal over the mismanagement of the theatre in Marlborough seems to be boiling over, with the Mayor staying up late at night sending threatening emails to a constituent.
Word on the street is that Mayor Sowman, as he signs his threatening late night emails, is feeling the pressure after being called upon to resign over the massive spending blow out on the “World-class Theatre”. This is the theatre that has projected revenue of $28,000 per week from a district with about 45,000 people, as we highlighted earlier today.
Here is the email thread.
From: Corey Hebberd
Sent: Wednesday, 29 June 2016 8:18 p.m.
To: Mayor Sowman-7100; Jenny Andrews; Jamie Arbuckle; email@example.com; Graeme Barsanti; Cynthia Brooks; Brian Dawson; B Dawson – 2nd email address; Geoff Evans; Trevor Hook; Peter Jerram; John Leggett; David Oddie; Laressa Shenfield; Terry Sloan
Subject: ASB Theatre Funding
ASB Theatre Funding
Tomorrow, you face an incredibly hard decision on the ASB Theatre project.
Mayor Sowman has proposed:
· Paying the Trust some $5.1m to repay its debt to ASB Bank and Rata Foundation
· Increasing the Trust’s $200k annual operating subsidy by $190k to $390k, being funded from reserves
This bailout package is significant:
· $5.1m equates to an amount equivalently equal to an 8% rates increase
· The increased operations subsidy is equivalently equal to a 0.33% rates increase
· Reserves are already severely depleted – every dollar you drain from reserves and MDCHL/MAL/PMNZ is another dollar that can’t be spent on community infrastructure, like roads, water, the environment etc.
MCTT have failed to ensure that the investment Council has applied to this project is spent wisely. Instead, the project faces insolvency and collapse, as a result of a lack of transparency and adequate reporting. You cannot seriously consider yourself to be acting in the best interests of Marlborough residents and ratepayers if you allow this lack of transparency and reporting to continue. It is what has gotten us (you, and Marlborough ratepayers) into this predicament.
For the record, I support MDC moving to acquire the Trust’s “world class asset”, and vest it in public ownership. This project must be finished – it’s too late to turn back, however, the fiscal and governance disciplines you apply tomorrow will determine whether this project can continue to drift rudderless into the future, or if it can be governed through to a “safe harbour” by Council.
Any recommendation “asking” the Trust to report on financials or allowing the CFO to attend is ludicrous – this is beyond a point where Council should have to “ask” the Trust – it is time to hold them to account and demand accountability – not simply ask nicely for it.
The Blenheim Residents and Ratepayers Association petition has exceeded 200 signatures, faring well against the number of submissions made to MDC’s AP process.
In closing, I leave you with some comments made recently from the last few days online by Marlborough residents/ratepayers, who simply want you to act responsibly tomorrow:
· The Mayor has previously apologized for not keeping Councilors informed! There is no doubt that the buck stops there.
· Perhaps it is time to bring in the Auditor General, and bring some accountability to those who have left ratepayers in this position?
· Clearly there has been an absence of governance, and the ratepayers have been misled, quite possibly with malice of forethought, by those involved.
· “We have a world-class asset.”……and a world class pile of debt…
· These [four] councillors [Bagge, Arbuckle, Shenfield, Evans] are simply doing what we have all been thinking. Well done Councillor Bagge, you have real integrity. We will miss you. Enough is enough. It is time Sowman cleaned out his locker.
· Sowman’s ego won’t quit!
· Enough is enough!!
· Never has so much ratepayer money been so unwisely spent by so few with so little accountability!
Here are the results of an online poll, asking “Do you support MDC’s proposed $5m bailout of the Marlborough Civic Theatre project, and MDC’s proposal to increase the annual subsidy to $390k?”
Vote wisely tomorrow – for many of you, it will be a defining moment.
+64 27 819 
Followed by this hostile Andrew Williamseque email from the Mayor. Read more »