Stephen Franks

Woe betide the Uber City for Wellington, promoted by proven liars

Anyone who thinks the so-called “Uber City” for the Wellington region is going to deliver anything like that which it is hyped to needs a good crack across the bonce with a length of 4×2.

Same goes got he Hawkes Bay.

The name Uber City is a joke too…even if you combined them all they still won’t have the population of South Auckland.

Stephen Franks highlights a problem with the promotors of the Uber City…they are proven liars¬†.

According to Ms Wilde her Council not being allowed to lie in official advertising ‚Äúcould drastically restrict how local bodies operate‚ÄĚ. She believes it ‚Äúposes a real risk to robust political debate‚ÄĚ. Putting aside the inconvenient fact that¬†Council¬†advertising should be informative, not political propaganda, it is incredible that there is no media furore over her further defence that seeking the Advertising Standards Authority ruling was ‚Äúlegal nitpicking‚ÄĚ.

The DomPost has reported the matter under the heading ‚ÄúAdvertising Standards Authority calls GWRC super-city ad ‚Äėmisleading‚Äô‚ÄĚ. Note the implied warnings to ignore ‚Äď ‚Äúcalls‚Äô instead of ‚Äúfinds‚ÄĚ and the word ‚Äėmisleading‚Äô in quotes to distance the DomPost from the dreadfully unwelcome judgmentalism implicit in ‚Äėmisleading‚Äô.

Take a look at the ASA report, ( 15/004) which attaches my firm’s letter setting out the facts. Someone in the GWRC was either too stupid or too reckless to merit staying employed, or set out to deceive. See also the submission on behalf of the GWRC which says essentially that councils should be free from ASA supervision of their advertising, because being constrained to the truth would be problematic.

How do the honest members of the Council feel about this? Will they seek an inquiry into it. Will anyone be held accountable?

Businesses, remember that indifference to honesty, when you next want to shade the truth to GWRC. Its leader thinks that ‚Äúmisleading advertising‚ÄĚ which was ‚Äúnot prepared with a due sense of social responsibility‚ÄĚ is just robust debate.

In 2008 I blogged on journalistic blind eyes to lies by politicians, compared to their frothing pursuit of easily made mistaken business claims.

‚ÄúAs a commercial lawyer I‚Äôm sickened by the left‚Äôs sanctimony toward business. Labour love passing laws they could never satisfy in their own conduct. They lie happily, yet business people (properly) face prison or huge fines for faulty prospectus statements.‚ÄĚ

I’ve had some journalists and politicians claim that it is because business can lose people so much money. We saw that claim in full lynch mob glory in the media’s repeated whipping of two former Ministers of Justice. They were found by a court to have been honest though mistaken. They’d failed to add enough emphasis to their written warnings of the risks facing Lombard Finance.

The company’s failure (like most mezzanine development finance lenders) had nothing to do with the misleadingly mild warnings. Many commentators wanted them in jail for years, nonetheless.

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Why business people generally make poor politicians

Stephen Franks has a considered piece about why business people make poor politicians.

Few business people are good at democratic politics. They expect what works in business to work in democracy. They’re frustrated by the messy necessity to maintain a working consensus, by multiple conflicting objectives, and by the unreliability of delegates.

They think that if only the right people were in charge, the best structures and systems would be like those in business, where everyone accepts single prevailing decisions from nominated rulers, and he who pays, rules.

Business people who get embroiled in politics commonly hate it so much they eject before they flame out. Those who survive and learn may be small in number but they are among the best we have, and we owe them a lot for their patience.

Many good business people are equally hopeless in assessing policy. I could not count the number of times I’ve heard the idiocy that the RMA is a good law, with nothing seriously wrong with it except how it is administered by council people who are stupid or wrongly motivated. These business defenders have no idea that they’ve just explained exactly why the RMA is  so badly conceived and written as to besmirch the rule of law.

They’re misled by objectives. In business, if you can get your objectives clear, and set them out for your staff, much of the work is done. But the promoters of all law recite noble objectives, usually purposes we can all agree on.  The key problem in both policy and law-making is the unintended, often the application of law for purposes never thought about.

What distinguishes bad law from good law is simple. Well designed and drafted law works whether or not ‚Äėidiots‚Äô are in charge. It is predictable because it limits what rulers can do.¬†It is very carefully¬†¬†designed knowing that people of malign intent will try to misuse any law. Frequently they will have power. Good law is¬†drafted by wise¬†sceptics about human nature. It remains predictable in effect despite attempts to distort it.

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New Zealand’s Silliest Local Government Spending Competition, Ctd

A mare and an ass talk amalgamation

A mare and an ass talk amalgamation

Thanks to a number of eagle eyed readers who have nominated Ray Wallace, Mayor of Lower Hutt, For New Zealand’s Silliest Local Government Spending.

The ratbag mayor of Lower Hutt gets the nomination for the Silliest Local Government Spending Competition.

Ratbag is probably too kind a word to describe him with as he has pissed away $47,000 of ratepayers money trying to stop amalgamation and protect his own job.

Lower Hutt ratepayers have stumped up nearly $47,000 to fund an anti-super-city lobby group fronted by mayor Ray Wallace. ¬† Read more »

Stephen Franks on the lie that is the Religion of Peace

Stephen Franks is a smart man, he has realised that we are in a war and he is now speaking up.

He explores the statements made by defence expert Dr David Kilcullen about the fight against ISIS and what we have to do to combat militant Islam.

Kilcullen highlights the risks from our internal responses (if the West fails to destroy the caliphate’s appeal to its own citizens):

‚Äú‚Ķif we fail to face the threat where it is today ¬ó primarily overseas ¬ó we¬íll suffer the consequences at home. This isn¬ít to rehash some Cold War domino theory in which we ¬ďfight them there or we¬íll fight them here¬Ē. It¬ís just to recognise the reality that a purely isolationist, defensive, policing strategy ¬ó protecting ourselves at home rather than seeking to defeat terrorism abroad ¬ó ultimately means the end of society as we know it. Mass surveillance, secret police, a national-security state, guards on every gate, a garrison society: that¬ís what a ¬ďdefensive¬Ē strategy actually entails.‚ÄĚ

He seems to¬†be warning¬†against the current mealy-mouthed approach to Islam within our countries, pretending that the conservative¬†Islamic leaders, their schools and their doctrine are part of the solution, instead of recognising¬†that they are fuel for the problem: ¬†¬† Read more »

Stephen Franks lashes a judge for her dodgy 3 strikes ruling

Stephen Franks lambasts a judge over her wonky and dodgy 3 strikes ruling last week.

There has been surprisingly little attention paid to the Court‚Äôs decision last Friday¬†not ‚Äúto order that [a gang murderer] serve a life sentence without parole‚ÄĚ despite the judge‚Äôs admission that¬†she was ‚Äúrequired [by the three strikes law] to order that [he] serve that life sentence without parole‚ÄĚ unless it would be manifestly unjust.

She then converted that requirement to find manifest injustice¬†¬†into the standard pre-three strikes judicial quibbling about disproportionality. With¬†breathtaking ease she slid past a previousmanslaughter to focus on the ‚Äėrelatively minor‚Äô nature of the¬†offences that triggered the three strikes law application, managing to take into account also the¬†‚Äôsigns that you wish to be more pro-social as noted in the presentence report‚Äô¬†.

She completely turns on its head the law’s intent that offenders get greater certainty about the consequences of offending, noting that the murderer would not have known at the time of the earlier offences of the three strikes certainty.

Judicial naivete at its worst. It is only by applying the law, that offfenders believe that it will be applied. The most clear lesson  from the experience where three strikes certainty was followed by dramatic reductions in offending, was that pitiless certainty finally sent the message to offenders that they could no longer gamble on meeting soft judges and gullible parole boards.

Sensible Sentencing is correct to highlight this judgment in their Judge the Judges website.  But the judge concerned is orthodox.  Judges generally resist punishment as a legitimate and sufficient purpose of sentencing. With Parliamentary sanction they have collectively warped criminal law from doing justice on behalf of victims and the innocent, into a primary role of therapy for the criminological needs of offenders. They do not respect the common sense intuitions of ordinary people. They resent the demand for retributive, incapacitating and deterrent punishment. To them only rehabilitative objectives are truly noble.

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Something to go to today since the weather is rubbish


Could be an interesting meeting this weekend for Aucklanders concerned about the council’s racist Unitary Plan, and trashing of property rights.

Remember when Shane Jones called a stupid digging instrument for corrupt extraction of RMA ransom payments a spade earlier this year.

Of course Labour did not pick up his mere when he left, because it did not fit with the identity politics that was all they had left. Bob Jones seems to have been the next public figure to risk tackling this issue (link). He reminded everyone that thousands of properties were newly vulnerable to iwi discovery of taniwha or other spirits and cultural needs that might need placating with koha.

A group called Democracy Action have called a public meeting in opposition to the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

The Plan kowtows to iwi elite and forces the rest of us to pay in cultural impact assessment fees, and lip service to so called spiritual and cultural values (taniwha) just to do things like replacing a window or putting in a pool.¬† Read more »

Group to take on Len Brown’s taniwha

A group calling themselves Democracy Action has got into gear to take on Len Brown’s requirements for you to go and get a certificate that no Taniwha exist before you make minor alternations to your house¬†(the PC term is “Cultural Impact Assessment”).

Sir Bob Jones wrote about his experience with Cultural Impact Assessments a few weeks back:
Recently, a shop tenancy changed in a modern 17-storey Auckland CBD office building owned by my company. The previous tenant had blocked off some of its window which we now intended putting back to the conventional shop front.

At this stage, sit down with a stiff drink and accept my assurance I’m not making this up.

For we were then informed by a planner my Auckland office uses for council dealings (which can be laborious) that under the new council rules, changes to a building’s appearance require resource consent and we would be subject to penalty if we simply put back the window.

If that’s not outrageously absurd enough, things then became truly Kafkaesque and illustrate why the Government, against ill-considered opposition parties’ objections, wishes to tone down the Resource Management Act.

For we were then told that under the new Draft Unitary Plan, not yet enacted, our building being within 50 metres of a designated Maori heritage site, we needed RMA approval (for a new shop window, for God’s sake), this instantly forthcoming at a cost of $4500 plus the approval of 13 iwi.

The council refused to advise the addresses of these iwi outfits, yet added that without their consent, we can’t put back the window.

According to the DA website: Read more »

Franks on engaging social media

Stephen Franks has written a LONG (but very considered) piece on why not only should lawyers not be afraid from engaging with social media, but arguably they are ethically obliged to, where using effective channels to get a message out there is in the interest of a client.
It’s a bit of a read, but for anyone interested in the media, politics and the law, it is an essential read.

A public voice for clients, and for views of what the law should be, does not shun effective platforms.

We have in the past, do now, and will in the future, write, publish, talk about and promote causes and interests in any medium that seems to us likely to be effective. Of course that includes social media. I have my own blog. I comment on the blog posts of others. Frequently the participation is on issues where I or the firm have a view, and our participation is a pro bono attempt to add expert correction or advice to the public discussion. Sometimes participation promotes the firm. Sometimes it is expressly to advance a client’s cause.

Like most people, we are probably more effective and more energetic on issues where our views coincide with those of the client. With their approval we’ll use as many channels as is practicable to ensure that the client position is communicated to the people who should have the information. We are public advocates. We do not eschew any lawful form of communication.

He then turns to the irony of the NBR reporting asking about using a media resource that calls on accountability and causes some offence. ¬† ¬† Read more »

Protect that Child and ignore the wombles

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has launched a campaign about name suppression and flown Derryn Hinch over to speak about the travesty that is name suppression.

I may have been convicted and in the process changed the law, but the law changed put through by Simon Power were small and more interested in stopping people like me rather than actually tightening up on suppression orders.

Derryn Hinch has gone to jail for opposing suppression orders.

Derryn Hinch wants to be able to turn on his mobile phone and see the names of all sex offenders in the neighbourhood.

The outspoken Taranaki-born broadcaster, who now leads a campaign for a public sex offenders register in Australia, has come home to launch a pre-election campaign by the Sensible Sentencing Trust to get a similar register in New Zealand.

He will take part in a trust-organised debate tomorrow against liberals Dr Gwenda Willis and Kim Workman.

Kim Workman is one of those wombles who means well but is a hopeless crim hugger that the media uses all the time to promote their crim hugging stance.

Stephen Franks gives him a right good ticking off in his latest blog post.

On Sunday afternoon¬†I’ll be in Auckland to¬†chair a¬†public discussion¬†of¬† the secrecy that justice insiders defend so tenaciously. Derryn Hinch is the main speaker.¬†He’s endured prison¬†to stand up for open courts and freedom of speech.

Doing my homework, I’ve been reminded of the intellectual blindness engendered by the beliefs of well meaning people. ¬†Kim Workman is a good man. He writes thoughtfully on his¬†blog “Smart on Crime”. The¬†post prompted by the absurd discharge¬†of the Maori prince is worth reading by anyone who needs to understand the criminal justice establishment. They need to feel morally superior (compassion is their claim)¬†over¬†the rest of us, but they acknowledge the need also for research on their side.

So how do they end up so far from reality? This well written piece shows us. The reasoning is respectable so far as it goes, but it stops well before it gets anywhere near the main issues. It misses the same point as is missed by the justice insiders generally.

It measures everything according to its potential to redeem the offender. Redemption is worth trying if it does not prejudice more necessary purposes. But the fate of particular offenders is trivial, when the proper measure of a justice system, indeed any social mechanism for inculcating and upholding norm observance, is the extent of offending overall. Recidivism rates may affect offending rates, but they are much less important than rates of recruitment to offending.

Most serial offenders and hardened criminals will never be redeemed. I’d like to see Kim Workman offer to take in some of these scum into his own home if he thinks they can be redeemed.

I suspect he’d baulk at that suggestion.

Almost all cultures rely heavily on reputation mechanisms to discourage the establishment of such patterns. They commonly involve exacting a price over the long term from individuals, their families,¬†and communities that harbour them. They also commonly¬†provide well recognised paths to discharge the shame burden, to demonstrate remorse. As Kim Workman acknowledges, Maori norm enforcement¬†relied heavily on whakaama ‚Äď shame. What he does not go on to acknowledge was the extent to which shame mechanisms need practical impacts and ‘stigmatization’. They¬†depend on tangible consequences to shameful behaviour.¬†Whakaama (shame)¬†becomes irrelevant and toothless when it¬†is separated from the consequences, when the forgiveness carrots are poured out in sackloads without¬†any sticks of¬† ritual humiliation, group responsibility and formulaic depredaton (muru and utu)..

But¬†well meaning¬†‘sickly white liberals’ (in Winston Peters’ memorable words) have gutted our law of its links with reputation sanctions. They’ve left the law¬†struggling ineffectually to rely on formal punishments alone.

So Mr Workman, when you deplore the powerful¬†trend toward¬†more¬†severity in punishments, when you rail against the lack of recognition of the truth¬†that speed and certainty of consequence are much more important than severity in deterrence, take a look at your own responsibility. You’ve helped eliminate from our law the most powerful and speedy social sanctions of all at¬†the critical¬†time (in application to young people).

Rethinking Justice¬†applauds the secrecy of our youth courts. You defend our disgraceful name suppression law. You supported the Clean Slate law. And in your blog you whine about the ordinary peoples’ rejection of the expert demand that criminal justice policy be left to experts. You exemplify the establishment’s comprehensive rejection of the reputation based natural social sanctions.

You genuinely believe you have research and reason on your side, but it is fatally limited. Your post on Paki takes the shame analysis no further than the effect of shame on rehabilitation prospects. Shame may inhibit rehabilitation for offenders outside a community with high social cohesion (i.e. where the social sanctions are presumably severe, and scope for collective redemptive support). But where is the consciousness of its importance to offending rates?

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Stephen Franks on Labour’s Liu Legal problems

Stephen Franks has highlighted Labour’s little legal problems with the Donghua Liu revelations.

Since the link between Donghua Liu and David Cunliffe surfaced early this week there has been widespread speculation that Labour breached the law in failing to declare two campaign donations made by Mr Liu in 2007.

Though Labour maintains it has no records, the Herald has reported that in 2007 Mr Liu contributed $15,000 for a book signed by Helen Clark, and an unknown amount of money for a bottle of wine.

Under the current law, a candidate donation can include:

‚Äúwhere goods or services are provided by a candidate under a contract or arrangement at a value that is more than their reasonable market value, the amount of the difference between that value and the reasonable market value of those goods or services.‚ÄĚ

Corresponding terms govern party donations. Assuming the second donation was for more than $1500, they would capture both of Mr Liu’s transactions. The candidate or responsible party agent who knowingly failed to report them could face up to two years imprisonment (section 207I of the Electoral Act 1993).

But¬†until 19¬†December 2007 the law governing donations was different. Until then the Electoral Act 1993 defined ‚Äėdonation‚Äô to include goods or services provided¬†to¬†the party at an undervalue, but did not expressly capture a sale at an overvalue.

This loophole was partly closed by the Electoral Finance Act 2007 but untl then it was arguably legal not to report the alleged Liu donations if they were provided by way of auction price.

The fact that the law was changed to capture the second transaction increases the strength of the case that parliament realised there was a legal loophole under the old provision.

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