Ratepayers’ Alliance campaign accused of being “misleading”

I hope the Ratepayers’ Alliance aren’t sued for defamation as that is the preferred weapon of choice by people who want to silence their critics. For now they have simply been accused of being “misleading” even though the council cannot find one example of something that was incorrect in the Ratepayers’ Alliance campaign.

Dear Juana,

Here at the Ratepayers’ Alliance we work very hard with our spokespeople and volunteers to ensure that our research and briefing papers are accurate.  We make no apologies that our campaigns are hard hitting, as our very purpose is to keep elected officials accountable.

Last month we launched our ‘these councillors are rubbish’ campaign to expose two councillors who are failing to prevent changes to local waste services which will see many households north of the Harbour Bridge pay twice as much for domestic waste collection. We had done a lot of homework.

In a response that left us stunned, the Council issued this media statement on the ratepayer-funded news service “Our Auckland” which labelled our campaign misleading and quoted the Council’s Manager of Financial Policy, Andrew Duncan as saying “the generalisations in the flyers could be misleading”.

We immediately wrote to Mr Duncan asking him to please tell us what he thought was misleading, and what information he was relying on in making that claim.  Our team put a lot of time into the 10-page briefing paper.  This work involved filing dozens of information requests, working with lawyers, and putting in hundreds of hours of work.

We also made a request under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act for any documents and emails which justified Mr Duncan’s claim relating to our campaign (including the briefing paper).

Mr Duncan didn’t even have the courtesy to reply to our request that he explain what he alleged was ‘misleading’.

Now we know why he didn’t.  Yesterday we received the Council’s response to our request for official information – the Council has been unable to point to a single claim which is misleading.

On Thursdaywe called for Mr Duncan to resign from his position.  Although it is unusual for us to take this step, we believe it is totally unacceptable for officials to attack the integrity of third parties using ratepayer funded media channels controlled by the Council.  Although we have asked for an apology and withdrawal of the claim we have received neither.  The Council hasn’t even bothered to remove the comments from its website.

Clearly our criticisms do not suit the push by officialdom to extend their empire, so they attacked our campaign as ‘misleading’ and told media that the claims should be ignored.  That is hardly the sort of transparency and integrity we want from the Council.  The papers we received yesterday suggest that the Council does not care what tactics it uses to hose down unwelcome criticism. Being charitable, even if Mr Duncan wanted to ensure the information he provides to the public is accurate and politically neutral, somehow neither he, nor anyone else has shown us justification for a serious allegation.  He may have been acting under instruction from one of the elected officials the campaign criticized.

These are the actions of a Council based on spin, obfuscation and empire building.

We ask that you take a moment to support our call for accountability by clicking here to send an email to Mr Duncan, CC’ing the Councillors in Rodney and Albany who should be fighting for the affected residents in their area.

Put simply, the Council needs to know that if it cannot hold itself accountable – we will.

Regards,

Jo Holmes
Spokesperson
Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance
www.ratepayers.nz

 


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If you agree with me that’s nice, but what I really want to achieve is to make you question the status quo, look between the lines and do your own research. Do not be a passive observer in this game we call life.

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