cronyism

Punching back, Charles Koch reposnds to his critics

The Koch brothers are the current punching bag of antidemocratic forces intent on removing their voices from political discourse. They are demonised even in New Zealand.

In the Washington Post however Charles Koch punches back at his critics, with facts.

I have devoted most of my life to understanding the principles that enable people to improve their lives. It is those principles—the principles of a free society—that have shaped my life, my family, our company and America itself.

Unfortunately, the fundamental concepts of dignity, respect, equality before the law and personal freedom are under attack by the nation’s own government. That’s why, if we want to restore a free society and create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans, we have no choice but to fight for those principles. I have been doing so for more than 50 years, primarily through educational efforts. It was only in the past decade that I realized the need to also engage in the political process.

Hooton on Labour’s version of crony capitalism

Corporate shill Matthew Hooton calls out David Cunliffe for his own version of crony capitalism.

The most disappointing aspect of John Key’s government is its tendency toward crony capitalism and corporate welfare.

Most passionately debated were the tax breaks and employment law changes for the movie industry after lobbying from Sir Peter Jackson andWarner Bros.

The SkyCity deal involved the government foregoing future revenues from casino relicensing to get a Convention Centre at no immediate cost.

The Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, with annual revenues of over $1 billion, was given a one-off handout of $30 million, an amount which cannot materially improve its viability.

The government tried to keep prices for broadband and landlines artificially high to subsidise Chorus.

These are the best-known examples but seldom does a week go by without Steven Joyce announcing a new handout to some chosen sector or firm.

I don’t subscribe to subsidies, but politicians love the pork.

In his first party conference speech as leader, Mr Cunliffe launched a fearsome assault on National for “tilt[ing] the playing field even further” towards its “mates.”

“[National]’s Hall of Shame,” Mr Cunliffe boomed, “involves those shabby deals with Warner Brothers, Sky City, Rio Tinto and Chorus.”

Quite accurately, Mr Cunliffe reported businesspeople telling him they wanted no part of it. “They want a level playing field that’s fair and transparent, not one set of rules for National’s mates and another for everyone else,” he said.

It was a superb issue for Labour because it unifies everyone from the anti-business far left to the New Zealand Initiative, the resurrected Business Roundtable.

Now Labour has gone and blown it.  Read more »

Services to Hairdressing?

Michael Cullen got a gong for services to the Australian Shareholders Association (Railway sub branch) which to be frank was a bit of a shocker but this is on a whole other level.

He is the architect of David Cameron’s eye-catching shift to the left.

But critics have questioned why Lino Carbosiero, the hairdresser responsible for the Prime Minister’s side parting, has been given an MBE.

The crimper to the stars, who has also styled Madonna, Adele, Sir Paul McCartney and Amanda Holden, was recognised for ‘services to hairdressing’ in the New Year’s Honours last week.

His Twitter page is now full of congratulations from colleagues calling him ‘an inspiration to the industry’.

It is understood that he was not nominated for the honour by the PM.   Read more »

Labour’s crony appointments

Labour is making much of crony appointments at the moment. From the sounds of it they will be implementing the Hipkins Standard quite forcefully when they get back in power.

Truth has helpfully published a list of crony appointments made during their term as a point of reference:

Most are former staffers, advisers, union flunkies, spouses of senior regime members, former MPs and some who were to become MPs.
All were appointed under Clark’s watch.
- Ross Armstrong,
- Lesley Soper,
- Simon Mitchell,
- Louisa Wall,
- Shane Jones,
- Graham Hill,
- Rosslyn Noonan,
- Warren Lindberg, Read more »

Mike Williams and the Hipkins’ Standard

Everyone knows that Labour uses crony appointments to allow its office holders to earn a crust so Labour doesn’t have to pay them. Former Labour President Mike “Fat Tony” Williams was the prime example. Mike had a heap of board positions (five) paying him an awful lot of money and putting him well into the 1%. Di Yates was another Labour flunky bestowed with four board appointments presumably on the basis of her strong union affiliations and general uselessness.

Thanks to Chippie coming up with the Hipkins’ Standard, which we will assume is going to be Labour policy or Hipkins will be a hypocrite, Labour will no longer be able to use government appointments to fund their office holders.

This could be the single most valuable contribution Chippie makes to politics in New Zealand.

No longer will the tax payer be burdened by having useless Labour Party members, office holders, union hacks, hangers on and other bludgers on high paid government appointed boards. We should all thank Chippie for his valuable contribution to our country.

Labour’s new anti cronyism policy

ᔄ NZ Herald

Even though Chris Hipkins attacked the wrong person he has still done us all a massive favour. In an intemperate rant about National appointing mates to the Health Promotion Agency he says the following:

Three National Party office-holders on one board, particularly given the nature of the board, with an advocacy role, it seems to me is pretty questionable.

He was concerned that the presence of three National members would heavily influence the agenda of the new organisation, which would create programmes on key areas such as alcohol use and obesity.

Great. When Labour come back into power we will be able to hold them to the “Hipkins Standard”. No one with any Labour Party connections, even if they have been out of parliament for more than a term, may be given any government appointment.

That should stop the kind of useless hacks that infest Labour being given any positions that cost the rest of us money.

Something Queen Hekia & Len Brown could take on board

Celia Wade-Brown funded her own campaign and did not accept anonymous donations. A politician of rare principle and just confirms my award of Politician of the Year for 2010.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown spent close to the $60,000 mayoral limit during her successful election campaign – with nearly all of it coming from her own pocket.

Losing incumbent Kerry Prendergast’s campaign cost just over $53,000 but more than $45,000 came from anonymous donations.

Wellington electoral officer Ross Bly has released the expenditure figures for candidates who stood in this year’s local body elections.

Ms Wade-Brown’s campaign cost $58,262 and all but $4859 of it came from her own funds.

I’ll bet that Celia Wade-Brown won’t be accused of hypocrisy or cronyism like Len Brown has been.

Grrrr

The other day I blogged about Len Brown’s Christmas card. I also submitted a LGOMA request for the costs.

I am yet to receive a reply but it looks like Len’s spin weasels have seen that there could be some impending damage and so ran off to the Herald with the numbers.

Brown’s mayoralty has been marred by allegations of cronyism after key members of his campaign team – and those who have helped him in the past – were appointed to jobs such as directors of council-controlled companies.

The latest issue involves Christmas cards sent from the mayor’s office – the company in the last-minute scramble to design the cards, business cards and letterheads is led by Mike Hutcheson, who advised Brown in his Supercity campaign.

The total value of the work, covering four separate orders between October 22 and December 12, was $9623.10.

They haven’t used Bernard Orsman like the cheap whore he has become, but they have milked a story out of Kieran Nash. No acknowledgement from Nash either about where he got the story from or where the charges of cronyism in Brown’s office have come from. That’s just rude.

Anyway the story is still about Len Brown’s wasteful ways. He has blown nearly 10 grand on a bloody christmas card. First it was credit cards that got him in trouble and now it is christmas cards.

Len Brown campaigned on being honest, and yet he just hands out jobs to his mates. Yet another Brown campaign team member has dipped his hands into the pockets of ratepayers. Not only that he banged on and on during the campaign about John Banks spending money on flowers and yet he has almost spent as much on a single bloody christmas card.

The Night-Mayor continues….as does the repeating of repeaters.

The silence of the spokesman for the homeless

Before the local body election, the Labour spokesman for the homeless was constantly banging on about how Rodney Hide has stolen the city, how the CCOs were open to corrupt manipulation by Tory henchmen and how all of these things would be different under Labour.

Rodney Hide’s hand picked appointees to run the new corporatised Auckland have been announced.

Apart from Sir Don McKinnon and Mayor Bob Harvey most Aucklanders won’t know who they are. And that is the point: these people will now wield enormous power over local government in Auckland but they’ve been selected in secret by the Minister, without Aucklanders having a say.

Since the election virtually nothing has been heard from him. He certainly hasn’t utter a single word about the blatent cronysim with Len Brown’s “hand-picked appointees” where campaign workers were handed the lolly in a secret closed meeting. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear Phil Twyford’s comments on Len Brown’s process where his appointees were “elected in secret by the” Mayor, “without Aucklanders having a say”.

Perhaps he is keeping quiet  to stay in good with Len Brown since he knows he is tits at winning selections. He could well be needing a CCO job soon.

Why the secrecy Len?

In the SST on Sunday Jonathan Marshall again busted Len Brown fro his pay off of campaign workers and golden handshakes, and this morning Len Brown excluded the public from the meeting to confer those favours on his campaign helpers.

For some bizarre reason Fairfax hasn’t seen fit to put Marshall’s story online, (read it here ) so I will have to quote from Bernard Orsman’s regurgitation this morning. First the golden parachute rort;

Former Papakura District Council chief executive Theresa Stratton has started work in Mayor Len Brown’s office weeks after receiving a redundancy payment of $209,730.

It is understood Ms Stratton has been able to keep the money because of an employment technicality.

She has gone from a full-time position in her old job to a three-year fixed-term contract as a senior planning adviser in the mayor’s office.

Her new contract does not have provision for redundancy.

Theresa Stratton should be made to pay back the parachute payment. It is unconscionable that the ratepayers of first Papakura District Council and second the new Auckland Council have been ripped off with the dodgy appointment processes surrounding the appointment of Theresa Stratton. Those processes are nowhere near as dodgy as the practices of secrecy and with-hunts being orchestrated by Len Brown over CCo appointments.

Richard Jeffrey and Pauline Winter, both members of Mr Brown’s mayoral campaign, will be paid $35,000 a year as directors of the Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development and Auckland Council Investments CCOs respectively.

Former Labour Party president Mike Williams – Mr Brown is a Labour Party member – and former Papakura Mayor John Robertson will make $52,500 and $35,000 a year as board directors of the Auckland Transport and Regional Facilities CCOs.

Last week, it was revealed that Mr Brown’s former chief executive at Manukau City Council, Leigh Auton, and former Manukau deputy mayor, Gary Troup, would be appointed to the property and regional facilities CCOs boards respectively.

They will each be paid $35,000 a year.

Mr Brown has refused to say anything about why he is putting so many close political allies forward for jobs at today’s CCO strategy and appointments subcommittee and whether Ms Stratton should pay back her redundancy.

Why won’t Len Brown tell us anything. He promised us he would be an open book. Is this his what he means when he says he will give us “straight answers, but always with a limit”.

It seems that Len is cultivating a culture of secrecy instead of the transperency that he promised us. Just today he is excluding the public from the meeting to appoint CCO board members, which is ironic because he demanded that CCOs hold meetings in public. It seems that Len Brown has standards for transparency that he likes to apply to others but not to himself. Not only is Len Brown secretive, but he is actually justifying and explaining it.

Members of the public have this morning been excluded from a meeting as Auckland councillors debate who will head the city’s Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs).

Seven CCOs have been set up to deliver services and manage some of the council’s assets, such as Auckland Transport and the Waterfront Development Agency.

Salaries range from $35,000 to $52,000 for a CCO director’s work, which is essentially part time.

The council this morning passed a resolution to exclude the public from a meeting of the CCO strategy and appointments sub-committee, with only one Councillor, Jami-Lee Ross, voting against it.

Thank god there is one honest councillor in Jami-lee Ross. What a pity that Penny Hulse and Len Brown are running the city like secretive uber-lords.

However Mayor Len Brown defended the move, saying it was in order to protect the reputation of the CCO applicants.

Speaking to the committee before the motion was passed Ross said he was concerned the debate behind closed doors would mean the process would not be as transparent as possible.

He said he did not buy the argument that good people would not put themselves forward in the future if the CCO appointments were done in a public meeting.

“The final sign-off with identified people should be done publicly.”

He said there was no reason to have the vote behind closed doors.

Deputy mayor Penny Hulse spoke in favour of the excluding the public, saying she would be extremely uncomfortable for the applicants to have the committee discuss their credentials in public.

She said the applicants had a legal right to have their reputations protected and also the council had to protect itself over any privacy issues.

Brown agreed the decision to exclude the public was to protect the applicants’ reputation.

“Much of what we do in this committee will be a matter of public record but this is the issue where we are protecting people’s reputation.”

WTF…the reputation of key Brown campaign helpers? The reputation of Mike Williams? The reputation of the man who is the bagman for the singer at the now infamous and secret Volare dinner, a dinner that Len Brown broke his own council rules over and one he still is refusing to tell about, the same dinner that Richard Jeffrey attended, the same Richard Jeffreyy who donated money to Len Brown’s campaign in 2007…that reputation…yeah that needs to be protected.

This is nothing short of cronyism and political payoffs. Who ever is advising Len Brown is either stupid or not being listened to. This must be what Len Brown means when he said “Transparency is not a perfect thing,” and “Transparency doesn’t just happen in a perfect world.”

Clearly this is the limits that Len Brown speaks of when giving us the straight answers. So far we have seen almost no impact on the 100 projects in 100 days but rapid spending on flash new chairs to sit in, jobs for the liars and cheats who covered his tracks at Manukau and now jobs for hacks who patted his back and cajoled the churches in South Auckland. Len Brown might just be the fastest moving trougher on the planet.