Auckland

Auckland Council investing in new studio when we already own one

When Auckland Council invests in business it’s telling us all its either:

1. Stupid;
2. Arrogant;
3. Doesn’t give a toss about ratepayer monies.

There are many sure things in this world. For example the sun will come up over the horizon in the morning. Cows will produce milk. And Council employees are the last people on earth we should trust to make business decisions.

Despite that here is Auckland Council pissing more ratepayer money into the wind on a movie venture in West Auckland.

Film and television incentives have lifted the screen production industry out of the doldrums, prompting the Auckland Council to back new studios in West Auckland.

Implemented last April, the generous incentives allow overseas film and TV producers to receive up to 25 per cent of their budgets from taxpayers in return for spending money on production in New Zealand.

The incentives coincided with a fall in the value of the New Zealand dollar against the greenback and both have helped make New Zealand more attractive to overseas filmmakers and programme makers.

Much of the activity is in the Auckland region, and the Auckland Council development agency Ateed is working on a public private partnership (PPP) to build a studio complex.   Read more »

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Face of the day

Patron of Shakti Helen Clark

Patron of Shakti
Helen Clark

Today’s face of the day is Helen Clark who is the Patron of Shakti. I may not share Helen Clark’s politics but I share her support of Shakti. More people need to know of its existence.

A woman close to my family came to New Zealand from Syria many years ago to an arranged marriage. She had never met her groom and neither had her family. She arrived in New Zealand unaware that she had rights and there were people who would protect her. If Shakti had been around then and if she had been aware of it she would have been able to escape instead of being trapped by the fact that she could not speak English and knew no one. Shakti are specially for women, children and families of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origin.

I did not know of Shakti’s existence until I watched an Australian show called Four Corners about Forced marriage. One of the stories was about a group of sisters rescued from forced marriage in New Zealand by their school’s guidance counselor and Shakti. Their story will move you.

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Len’s most livable city needs dedicated train cops

Auckland is in need of dedicated transport police to stop the thugs from turning Len’s train set into an even whiter elephant.

An Auckland councillor is renewing calls to have a dedicated transit police force on Auckland’s trains.

Former police officer George Wood’s comments follow the release of a report into a brawl involving scores of youths at Britomart station.

The report says more police are needed on public transport for events like the coming Cricket World Cup.

Mr Wood has repeatedly warned scenes like the brawl are clear evidence there should be a dedicated transit police force. Read more »

Poms come up with a great policy to limit rates increases

The poms were even more pissed off with their councils than we are, so they introduced a cracker of a law about increases to their equivalent of rates.

Dozens of councils are preparing to defy the Government’s council tax freeze, including many in Conservative heartlands.

A survey by The Telegraph found that at least 30 Tory-led local authorities are planning to reject demands to freeze tax rates this year.

They are among 60 across England who say they intend to increase bills from April — including almost half of the country’s 27 county councils.

The Government has said councils should help taxpayers with the cost of living and ministers will be particularly concerned in the run-up to the general election in May.

Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, said residents should “demand an explanation” if councils refused the freeze.

He accused some of being “democracy dodgers” for planning to push up rates by 1.99 per cent, shy of the 2 per cent threshold at which they would have to hold a referendum.   Read more »

Welcome back to work, Len’s trains were stuffed as a special present for you

Len Brown’s train set welcomed people back to work by breaking down this morning.

A track fault is signalling woe for Auckland train commuters coming into the city this morning.

Auckland Transport said all lines near Britomart in Central Auckland may be affected by cancellations and delays up to 20 minutes.

The delays have been caused by a points failure outside the Britomart Tunnel.

The fault comes as many people return to work after the New Year break.

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Brown’s rail project an expensive “boondoggle”

Not Len Brown this time, but Jerry Brown, the Governor of California and his ill-fated rail project.

The similarities are astonishing though.

As California breaks ground this week on its new high-speed rail line, it is clear what the $68 billion dollar project amounted to: though the project will surely make unions, construction workers, and bond salesmen happy, it is little more than money the state doesn’t have for a train that its residents don’t need and probably won’t use. TheWashington Post reports on the project’s continued financial troubles, and it’s not pretty:

Voters approved a $9.95 billion bond aimed at funding the initial construction of the rail project in 2008, by a slim five-point margin. The Obama administration added another $3.2 billion in federal grants, and the legislature agreed in 2014 to provide funding through cap-and-trade taxes on greenhouse gases, which will add another $250 million to $1 billion per year.

That means the rail authority will have about $26 billion at best, less than half the estimated total costs. California High-Speed Rail Authority officials have said they expect advertising, real estate developments and private investors to fund up to a third of the total costs.   Read more »

Courage is not the absence of fear

courage-is-resistance-to-fear-mastery-of-fear-not-absence-of-fear

Since the massacre in Paris of the cartoonists and journalists at Charlie Hebdo a number of organisations and individuals have claimed that they will not let this, the worse terrorist attack in France ( so far ) scare them.

Well I am very afraid. I consider myself a sensible, practical woman and I have been fearful for a long time. As an ex History teacher who loves history because of the lessons we can learn from it I have seen where Islam has been heading in Western countries for a long, long time.

If you are not afraid I respectfully suggest that you do not understand the reality of the attack that our western societies are facing.You should be afraid, but what you should not be, is so afraid that you say nothing, do nothing, or even worse make excuses for the attacks.

Apologists even now are suggesting that we should not inflame the situation by pointing out the truth of it. If we call the attack what it actually is we will upset the people behind this attack and others. We do not want to make Islamic terrorists angry, we don’t like it when they are angry.

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Fake monks are after your cash

Lincoln Tan from the NZ Herald investigated this personally

Questions surround people dressed as Buddhist monks who are targeting tourists and shoppers in Queen St to solicit cash donations for a Thai temple.

An Auckland Thai temple says it is against the rules for Buddhist monks and nuns to ask for donations, and questions the monks’ activities.

At least three were spotted during the busy lunch hour yesterday, one wearing Nike sports shoes, and another a branded watch.

A monk offered this Herald reporter a Buddha image and a prayer-bead wristband, then asked for donations – first to “cover the cost” of the items, then seeking larger sums for the Thai temple.

He flipped open a notebook showing people had donated sums of between $5 and $200 to the cause.

“Donate more and you get more blessing and peace from Buddha,” said the monk in Nike shoes.

He would not give his name or say which temple he was from. He said he had just arrived from Thailand and also needed money to help cover the cost of his air ticket.

After the reporter identified himself, the monk claimed he spoke no English and began chanting and walked away.

Funny that.   Read more »

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Boag snatch to fund Sky City blowout?

boag-grinch

There’s a new candidate for who is paying Michelle “The Boagan” Boag and her offsider Cedric “Senile” Allan for their campaign to snatch $2.1 billion in Vector shares from the people of Auckland and South Auckland to give to Lyin’ Len Brown’s council.

Whaleoil still doesn’t quite believe it but it’s overloading the tipline so here goes: The theory is it’s SkyCity casino. Here’s why it could be true.

Since Friday SkyCity has been saying it needs another $130 million from the government to build its new National Convention Centre. Or else it’ll pull out of the deal. The government has to make the SkyCity deal work because all the rest of its convention centre plan is falling apart.

Steven Joyce seems to be saying he’ll open up some of his trough but not for the full $130 million and wants Auckland ratepayers to front up with the rest.  

In a world first, everyone from Lyin’ Len to Dick Quax have lined up and told Joyce to shove it. (The one exception is Cameron “Mr Fiscal Responsibility” Brewer who sounds like he’s had too many nights in the SkyCity corporate box.) Read more »

Auckland Council’s head planning thug hits back

Where there is smoke there is fire.

I’ve been saying for some time that Auckland Council ignores the rule of law because nobody is policing them.

As it turns out others also think the same and Rob Stock of the Sunday Star Times did so with his comments recently.

So what does Auckland Council do?

Its head thug Roger Blakeley has come out punching.

And here is the tell tale signs of an organisation that is guilty as charged.

Everything I hear tells me that developers and property people are sick to death of Auckland Council’s officers ignoring the rule of law and doing whatever they like.

They run the Council much like a Mafioso or a fiefdom and like all narcissistic control freak organisations they are quick to react to the stinging criticism with fob offs and rebuttal.

And they are running scared because others also  want a Policeman of Local Government it appears.

AUCKLAND COUNCIL planning supremo Dr Roger Blakeley has rejected claims council officers and urban planners were acting outside the law.

Last week, the Sunday Star-Times reported on planning consultant John Dare’s Charter for Change, in which he called for the removal of “discretion” from council officers whom he accused of going beyond their legal powers and stymying development.

That, along with slow and complex bureaucracy, was limiting the supply of new dwellings and driving up housing costs, Dare said.

Blakeley dismissed that. “It’s not true,” he said. “Our officers are required to abide by the law.”

Blakeley also denied developers operated in a “climate of fear” that their chances of getting their projects completed promptly would be damaged if they were openly critical or failed to adopt council officers’ suggestions.

He also rejected Dare’s idea of creating an ombudsman to whom developers could complain when they felt that council officers overstepped the mark.

“That sounds like just adding another layer of bureaucracy” Blakeley said, adding that there were already checks and balances in the system.

Blakeley acknowledged that some in the city believed only a free market could solve Auckland’s shortage of new homes and bring down sky-high property prices.

Just this past week, a report from Statistics New Zealand reported on the rise in the number of households, particularly Pacific Island households, renting. It also lifted the lid on the number of very crowded households.

The future of Auckland planning is being reviewed and a free market option is on the table.

The council has prepared a unitary plan and an independent Hearing Panel is gathering feedback with the aim of having the plan in place in 2016. That feedback process was providing a battleground for ideas on the powers the council should have to control development.    Read more »