Karl du Fresnse writes in the Dom Post:
Wellington could save itself a truckload of money by getting rid of its mayor and 14 councillors and replacing them with teddy bears.
Would the quality of governance be affected? Not a jot. The council bureaucrats would continue to run things just as they do now.
Maybe someone should should set up a ticket of teddy bears to run?
Wellington is hardly unique. In local government, real power often resides with the managers. But in Wellington’s case, it’s a lot more obvious than usual.
Hence my suggestion that the council abandon the facade of participatory democracy and replace the councillors with stuffed toys. Meetings would be over faster, the petty bickering and point-scoring would cease, ratepayers would be saved more than $1.3 million a year – which is what they pay the mayor and councillors – and council officials would be free to get on unhindered with what they do anyway, which is running the show.
I am personally fond of koala bears – I had nine of them growing up!
In Wellington’s case, Helene Ritchie is the standout survivor, having first been elected in 1977. Other long-serving councillors are Andy Foster (1992), the mayor, Celia Wade-Brown (1994), Stephanie Cook (1995), Bryan Pepperell (1996), John Morrison and Leonie Gill (both 1998), and Ray Ahipene-Mercer (2000).
Admittedly, it can be useful to have councillors who have been around a while and know the ropes. Besides, some long-serving councillors are conscientious and hard-working. But there are others you couldn’t trust to feed your cat. The trouble is, voters often can’t tell which is which.
Wellington is a dynamic, creative city that deserves a council to match. Unfortunately many of the incumbents give the impression of having run out of ideas and energy years ago and now merely keep their seats warm.
There are some good incumbents. But they are a minority.