Quote of the day: Wellington City Council on the Taxpayers’ “Union”

Hats off to Richard MacLean of Wellington City Council for nailing the time-wasting pointlessness of the National Party’s most shameless astroturfer:

Mr MacLean said Mr Williams’ comments say more about the Taxpayers’ Union that it does about anything else.

He said the amount of time and money spent responding to the union’s truly pathetic requests is an enormous expense.

‘One day we’ll have to sit down and cost out how much their useless approach to official information requests is costing the ratepayer’.

Doesn’t Jordan Williams have anything better to do, like try to get footage of drunk MPs for his mates or breaching women’s confidentiality?

2016 local government endorsements

UPDATED: 30/9 with Sustainable Waikato and a busload of Wellington groups!

It’s that time of the election season when various groups start putting out their naughty-or-nice lists of local government candidates. Because I’m the kind of nerd who likes this sort of thing, I figured it would be handy to at least get them all together in one place for people to refer to.

The list will be pinned to the top of the site and updated as regularly as new information allows. If you know of any other endorsement lists, let me know in the comments.

Candidates supporting Jobs That Count

These candidates have pledged to stand up for good jobs, strong communities and a clean environment.

Candidates supporting a Living Wage

The Living Wage Movement is calling on council candidates around the country to support a Living Wage for directly employed workers and for contracted workers delivering services on a regular and ongoing basis. 

Candidates supporting the environment

Generation Zero has put together comprehensive scorecards on a range of environmental issues and collated them on a nice little website.

Candidates supporting children

Tick for Kids is calling on all candidates nationwide to prioritise policies that will improve child wellbeing.

Candidates who love/hate your teeth

Fluoride Free NZ offers a massive spreadsheet of candidates’ responses on the question of fluoridating your drinking water.

Labour Party candidates

Green Party candidates

By far the most comprehensive list! Key campaigns are also being run in:

Auckland-specific

As part of their ongoing War for Auckland, The Spinoff have created an endorsement tool – click here!

Bike Auckland has a list of cycling-friendly candidates.

The Ratepayers Alliance (groan) endorses 25 candidates who pledge to keep average rates increases below 2%.

cersei eyeroll

Look, I said I’d link to rightwing endorsement lists, but I don’t have to be happy about it.

Wellington-specific

Wellingtonista’s local body survey is legendary. This year they’ve had just three responses – from Diane Calvert, Justin Lester and Troy Mihaka – based on a strategy of “we’re volunteers, we aren’t working ourselves to death to help you lot get good PR.” But they make for great reading, so check them out.

The Wellington branch of the Public Health Association have a scorecard for candidates running for Capital & Coast District Health Board.

Renters United surveyed and scored Wellington mayoral candidates on renting and homelessness.

Cycle Aware Wellington surveyed candidates for Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council on, obviously, cycling issue. The pro-Island Bay Cycleway group did their own rankings too.

NEW! Save the Basin Reserve surveyed mayoral candidates, city council candidates and regional council candidates on the greatest cricket ground in the world.

NEW! Living Streets Aotearoa surveyed Wellington City Council candidates about making Wellington a walking-friendly city.

NEW! The Architectural Centre surveyed mayoral candidates on urban planning, architecture and lunch.

NEW! Historic Places Wellington talked heritage buildings and Town Hall strengthening with mayoral candidates.

NEW! Student Friendly Wellington surveyed regional candidates on bus fares and city council candidates on rental warrants-of-fitness.

NEW! The Wellington Chamber of Commerce surveyed mayoral candidates and then uploaded the results as a PDF because they’re bastards.

daenerys fire

Western Bay of Plenty-specific: Closing the Gap

Closing the Gap surveyed all candidates running in the Western Bay of Plenty district as an example of how to get information about local government elections.

Taranaki

E tū and Living Wage Aotearoa have surveyed local body candidates in Taranaki. PDF here.

The Mighty Tron

Sustainable Waikato surveyed and endorsed candidates for Hamilton City Council and Waikato Regional Council on, shockingly, sustainability issues.

Other online tools

Vote Local have produced an app which suggests voting preferences for folk in Auckland, Palmerston North and Wellington based on a range of questions.

~

Let me know in the comments if there are any other good endorsement sets out there! Yes, that means the rightwing ones too – Family First’s central government scorecards are always good for telling you who’s worth voting for, if not in the way they intend.

The other war of the polls

The Dominion Post has been given access to two polls telling slightly different stories about the Wellington mayoral race:

Two polls conducted in the past week have revealed Wellington’s mayoral race to be a three-way dogfight between Justin Lester, Nick Leggett and Jo Coughlan – but both polls tell different tales of how the election may play out.

Methodology nerds, sharpen your pencils, I guess?

Lester’s poll targeted “likely voters” – people who voted in the past two elections and would likely do so again this year. The poll commissioned by Leggett’s team quizzed eligible voters.

Leggett’s poll was conducted by Curia, David Farrar’s outfit. I’d assume they deliberately left the net wide to deliver the result their client wanted – I’ve eyerolled at more than enough of the surveys they’ve done for Family First, with questions quite clearly worded to deliver the kinds of “sex is terrible, gay people are evil, bring back draconian morality laws” headlines Bob McCoskrie likes to put on his press releases.

Lester’s poll could be equally flawe. But the ultimate conclusion – that it’s all going to come down to second and third preferences – means things are running as intended. That’s what I like about a preferential voting system. You don’t always get your perfect choice for candidate, but the collective, together, get the choice that pleases the most people overall.

Phil Goff probably wouldn’t be looking so secure of the Auckland mayoralty if Aucklanders weren’t burdened with good old First Past the Post – and because I’m a democrat, I have to say I think that would be a good thing, even though with the current field it would probably mean the Right would triumph with their stable of terrible, incoherent candidates.

If there’s a weakness in the current lineup of Wellington likelies, it’s that the odds seem stacked against outsiders. Practically everyone running for mayor is either currently on council or has been. The front-runners are the current Deputy Mayor, who has a major party behind him; a sitting Councillor, who unofficially has an even bigger political party behind her; and the Mayor of a neighbouring city, with a warchest big enough to have his face plastered onto every available surface in the CBD (though apparently not enough to get humble hoardings out to the northern suburbs?)

I long for a Chlöe Swarbrick kind of run – and in Wellington she’d have a much better shot. Maybe in 2019 …

Voting papers get delivered shortly. If you want to support some local campaigns that could make a real difference, might I suggest signing up to Our Democracy at together.org.nz?

Wellington mayoral candidates on The Nation

I dragged myself out of bed at the ungodly hour of 9am* to get the coffee on before The Nation this morning. If you missed this very revealing look at the six (current) mayoral candidates for Wellington City, fortunately @nkean has immortalised the tweetstorm that ensued for posterity. Check out the Storify post here.

*Parents with small children or school kids with sporting fixtures, form an orderly queue to hurl tomatoes at me.

A change underway in local government?

Things feel pretty bleak on the left these days. It seems like the forces of short-sighted self-centered capitalism reign supreme, that darned mainstream media isn’t asking the questions we want them to (and only the questions we want them to), and those blasted voters just aren’t getting the message.

Besides, it’s a local government election year, and literally no one cares about local body politics. Right?

scrubs wrong

Wrong, apparently. The Spinoff, which is basically my main source of news and great TV reviews these days, didn’t just manage to raise $10,000 to do some honest-to-god active campaigning journalism focused on Auckland’s unitary plan, council elections and housing crisis. They raised it in 17 hours. As of typing up this post they’re sitting at over $23,000.

Turns out “the people” do know good media when they see it, and are willing to stump up the cash. I mean, who wouldn’t pay for regular video content of Shamubeel Eaqub calling bullshit on things?

It makes me feel hopeful. Not just that we’ll get solid, in-depth reporting on the future of Auckland for the next few months, but that this can set a tremendous precedent for political engagement and how our media operate – instead of having to rely on clickbait and churn to get those ad impressions up.

~

There’s also a change happening in the capital, with the National Party all-but-outright endorsing a mayoral candidate in the Wellington race. National have always had proxy candidates in the capital – Nicola Young, even Nick Leggett if those much-denied only-Whaleoil-seems-to-have-heard-them rumours about his fundraising are true. In Auckland, the Citizens & Ratepayers group or whatever they’re called these days was always deep blue (and Labour and the Greens have taken the same approach in the big city with united brands like City Vision and Future West.) And it’s perfectly understandable for Bill English to say nice things about Jo Coughlan, given they’re in-laws.

But then you look at what English did say – not just “Jo’s a mate and I think she’d be a great mayor”, but quite baldly, “wouldn’t it be nice if you had the right kind of mayor, and then I could give you aaaaaaaaall this money”. You look at the fact that National have unsubtly asked their members for money for her campaign. You see John Key, a man painfully precise about how his image is used (even if we on the left think he makes terrible choices in that regard) posing for a friendly snap with Coughlan at the flash opening of the new David Jones department store:

This isn’t the usual “if you know Wellington politics you know who the Tories are and who the lefties are, even though everyone calls themselves an Independent” variety of partisanship. Though the field is more crowded by the day, and no cups of tea have been publicly consumed, the hopes of the Right to get a friendly mayor into Wellington are clearly pinned on Team Jo.

It may not be the smartest move. Wellington is a pretty solid Labour/Greens town. But it obviously irks the Parliamentary right to have the city council in their own back yard doing silly things like holding onto assets and not building ALL THE ROADS. They have to unite around someone if they’re going to defeat the incumbent mayor (Wade-Brown) and a well-resourced Labour ticket (Lester) on the preferences. So “go, Jo” it is.