Alf is always suspicious of politicians who make a fuss anonymously rather than stand up to be counted when they go out to do battle on behalf of those who pay their wages.
He is suspicious of public service poobahs, too, whether they work for central government or local government.
The buggers are much too inclined to operate under the cover of secrecy.
Hence he is not surprised to hear that senior officers in the Super
Slum City are being accused of holding back information from Auckland councillors to stifle public debate on extra funding for the Rugby World Cup.
But he is disappointed to learn that the bugger who claims to be intent on flushing out this nonsense is operating under cover, too.
And so the Herald can only report that –
A furious councillor said chief finance officer Andrew McKenzie, rugby cup executive officer Rachael Dacy and one of her offsiders, Virginia Terpstra, were behind a move to stop councillors publicly debating all the issues of the extra funding at Thursday’s council meeting.
The councillor – who spoke on condition on anonymity – accused the officers of “poor public policy” by delaying the release of a report to “force us to make a decision apace”.
“Officers are treating us with contempt and we are getting a bit sick of it,” the councillor said.
But this particular councillor – presumably a properly elected representative of his or her people, and not one of those appointees demanded by Maoridom – is treating his or her public with contempt too.
If he/she had any sense of duty plus a good set of balls (check out Crusher Collins if you reckon women don’t have any) he/she would be only too keen to be named.
The yearning for confidentiality has Alf wondering what’s not being said.
Of course, playing funny buggers with public money is to be expected from the poobahs, mandarins, satraps and all their variations who run rampant in government.
And so the Herald reports that officers have been “cagey” about the bill for gaining two quarter-final Rugby World Cup matches at Eden Park and probably a pool match from quake-damaged AMI Stadium in Christchurch.
Alf supposes this means the buggers won’t disclose the numbers being requested.
Hence the Herald must guess.
Being reduced to guesswork never stopped the media from professing to have a good handle on what is happening, of course, and so we learn –
One source said each extra match would cost up to $1 million.
On dear. More anonymity.
Here comes a chunk of information with a name attached to it.
After Herald inquiries yesterday, Rachael Dacy said a public report on the relocation of matches with funding details would be released today with a confidential attachment that would unfairly prejudice council negotiations with Rugby New Zealand 2011 if disclosed.
She blamed the delay on the matter being endorsed by the Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development board last Friday – the day councillors received their council agendas and attachments.
Rachael Dacy said not all funding details would be made public.
Auckland ratepayers should be outraged.
Probably they won’t be.
They are eager for all sorts of gossip about celebrities, TV personalities and what-have-you, or good information about yachting, and a good understanding of where to go for a latte.
But they are apt to be indifferent to what happens to their hard-earned rates.
In this case, we are talking about a sum that would fund Eketahuna’s public amenities for the next 10 years or more and leave plenty left over for an annual piss-up to be enjoyed by every citizen.
Ratepayers are already contributing $100 million for the cup, including $65 million towards upgrading Eden Park and surrounding infrastructure and $35 million on running costs, such as traffic management and fan zones.
But it’s not just the money.
It’s also a matter of council poohbahs being disinclined to give a full public accounting of the sums being consumed.
Citizens & Ratepayers councillor George Wood said he was not impressed with the reasons given by officers to debate extra cup funding behind closed doors, nor with the decision to withhold a report on the matter until closer to the meeting.
“I haven’t seen the figures, but I understand it’s not going to be peanuts.
“We have got to be open when we conduct our business because we are dealing with the public interest and public money.”
Orakei councillor Cameron Brewer – a bloke with a good business brain on his head as well as an admirable flare for getting his name into print – said he could see no commercial or legal reason to withhold information from the public on the extra funding.
Mr Brewer said he had real concerns that the Auckland Council was not pushing back enough on the costs from the Government’s decision to reallocate cup matches from Christchurch to Auckland.
He said Prime Minister John Key had said the Government would meet the $4.1 million costs of fixing the uninsured turf at AMI Stadium because of a $10 million windfall gain from moving the quarter-finals to Auckland.
But the Super City bureaucrats have quickly established that they intend to run the show and put the elected representatives in their place, which is subservience.
This is the third time council officers have been criticised over providing information to councillors.
Councillors were unhappy about information provided to them shortly before approving a $3.4 million budget for the Maori Statutory Board.
And planning officers were in the gun for a report to councillors on SkyCity’s plan to take some airspace to expand its convention centre that left out critical comments.
The buggers will get away with these shenanigans, of course, if elected councillors are too shy to take off their masks when they say boo.