- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

City-wide cover-up

NZ Herald report neglects to mention that what has occured looks like corruption, or economic sabotage or gross and deliberate insubordination - either way these characters must be dismissed:

The council introduced a new footpath policy in 2003 to stick with red-chip footpaths in mostly heritage and character areas after the public voted red-chip tops when different materials were laid at a site in Sandringham.

Senior officers, including directors Dr Jill McPherson and Paul Sonderer, decided in November 2004 to stop using red-chip, according to documents obtained by the Herald under the Official Information Act. [...]

Professional services manager Neill Forgie instructed the contractor, Fillmore Contracting, on November 19 to cease all work for seven days as there was a policy change. The stoppage led to a $118,150 claim by Fillmore for "major disruption" to the planned work programme. Mr Forgie expressed "great disappointment" about the claim, but the council paid up. [...]

Council chief executive David Rankin [...] has stopped Dr McPherson speaking to the Herald on the issue [...] was satisfied officers had not changed council policy but simply suspended it when they felt what was happening was not what the policy intended.

And the reason why these officers decided to unilaterally change the policy that went through the usual exhaustive and expensive rounds of public consultation?

They had become concerned about a colour clash between red-chip footpaths and white driveways, problems matching vehicle crossings, and matches between the new and old red colour. The officers decided that in general all footpaths would be done in black with matching vehicle crossings.

Colour clash!? They did the footpath outside here last year in the red chip concrete and it looks great. There is no colour clash worth mentioning. My problem was that they did not take the opportunity to underground the overhead wires meaning that we are stuck with the mass of cabling for 40 mother-fucking years - that upset me. And in more measured language I put my concerns to the Finance Committee incl. the Mayor who ummed and arred and seemed to pass the buck (as usual).

Now we have some cunting little Council boffins personally decreeing that asphalt with a quarter the life span of the publicly acclaimed concrete should be put everywhere incl. across driveways where they are obviously unsuitable. Just so monumentally typical.

Whale Oil suggests:

...the reason for the change is less about aesthetics and more about the fact that the officers are trying to penny pinch on spending on footpaths to compensate for extra spending pressures elsewhere.
Asphaltic Concrete, particulalry Mix10 which I suspect the council is using, is only rated to last for about 10 years. The red chip concrete was consulted with at length by Aucklanders who wanted a surface that would last 40 years.

What about the obvious questions:

1. Are the asphalt companies paying kick-backs to these officers?
2. When will these officers face disciplinary action?
3. When will these officers be made to pay back the $118,150?
4. If 1 is yes then when will they be prosecuted?

I ask the first question because since amalgamation in 1989 perfectly good concrete roads have been asphalted over - for no reason. Pt. Chevalier Rd and Beach Rd along Mechanics Bay come to mind first. These surfaces have a viable lifespan that is still current - see the last remaining strip at the bottom of College Hill and the cul de sac on Federal Street to confirm this. How often have we seen the asphalt stripped off the street to be replaced while the concrete underneath is perfectly fine? Leaving the concrete costs $zero in maintenance - replacing asphalt every decade costs $millions. Why do they do this? Why is this their policy? To increase their budgets and waste more money and/or because of corruption with the asphalt contractors who obviously would be damaged by the concrete move.

The only thing I find remotely humourous about this scandal is that the contractor is called "Fillmore."


At 22/2/06 8:22 pm, Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

You're missing the most obvious reason - these officers are probably assessed based on throughput of work rather than quality, thus the greater number of footpaths they can replace for the lowest outlay of cash in the shortest amount of time results in them receiving a bonus or 'excellent' review from the Auckland City Council.

Whatever the reason, they sure as hell won't be around in 10 years time arranging for the inevitable replacements.

Auckland is the worst run big city in the country.

At 22/2/06 9:24 pm, Blogger t selwyn said...

I did mention "To increase their budgets and waste more money" and trying to increase your budget is the game plan of every bureaucrat along with increasing their sphere of policy influence... Ordinarily I'd only focus on the ineptitude, short-term thinking, perverse incentives, budgetary process, culture of waste etc. etc. but corruption must be put forward at some point.

There is discussion at Just Left on this and partisan issues are raised - which are not relevant here. This is an institutional failure. Politicians are involved because they are supposed to be making decisions but their failure has nothing to do with what ticket they stood on at the elections - this stuff goes way beyond C&R v. City Vision.

"they sure as hell won't be around in 10 years" - won't they? They'll just claim that it was all an email mix-up and that the services manager got the draft policy by accident...blah blah blah CEO says no one to blame. With the councillors unable and unwilling to sanction officers because the CEO will have to be undermined as well (given the current system) means cover-ups are preferrable to action for them. They have a silly idea that they have to circle the wagons and protect their own when they should be firing them.

I witnessed the Mayor walk out of one meeting because he was unwilling to have council staff criticised. Well he better re-think that policy because pandering to arrogant unelected officials is costing us a fortune and making a mockery of the public consultation process.

"Auckland is the worst run big city in the country." - Maybe even the Southern Hemisphere or Asia-Pacific. When people keep saying (and they do) that we should have a super-city for the whole of the metropolitan area I must remind them that it would concentrate far too much power at the centre, be a gigantic, bottomless pit for ratepayers to fill up, and all of the expected economies of scale will evaporate in Year 1.

At 23/2/06 9:01 pm, Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

The problem with Auckland is that the city was never forced to the edge, so to speak. Most other towns and cities in NZ have faced their worst moments and moved on, but not here in Auckland.


Post a Comment

<< Home