Celia’s legacy

As Celia is retiring after two terms as Mayor, it is timely to look at her legacy. In 2013 I blogged:

I basically assess local body candidates on what I call the 3 Ps – policies, personality and political management.

Now when it comes to policies, of course there are not that many areas I agree with Wade-Brown. However the Mayor is just one vote of 15. So policies alone is not a sufficient reason to not vote for someone.

Personality isn’t a problem for me with Celia. She pleasant and engaging, and generally gets on well with people. She is no Bob Parker who managed to alienate huge swathes of people.

It is the third area, political management, where the Mayor hasn’t been successful. The Council under her leadership has been almost embarrassing at times as it flip-flops backwards and forwards on issues such as the Basin Reserve.

I also said:

If she does get re-elected, then of course her policies will not change but I do hope she improves her political management.

Now to be fair to her, I believe she was a better political manager in her second term compared to her first, and a few Councillors have said this also. She did manage to get some runs on the board, and get some good projects initiated such as the Peter Jackson film museum. There were of course some things not done at all well, especially the Island Bay cycleway.

In her retirement statement she covers some of her achievements. I’ll add my 2c to them:

“Our economy is in good shape. We established the Wellington Regional Economic Development agency to drive growth in the regional economy

Too early to call WREDA a success. I hear a lot of grumbling about secrecy there.

and established new airline routes to Singapore and Canberra and via Fiji to the United States.

Paying airlines to fly to Wellington isn’t an achievement in my view, just corporate welfare.

“We’ve bought the land for the new Movie Museum and Conference Centre and the last details are being ironed out between VUW, NZSO and us on the Town Hall and Civic Precinct.

Yep good progress there and may be the best part of her legacy.

“I led funding for the resource consent for the extension of the airport runway so Wellington businesses will have easier access to international markets and so we can accelerate tourism and overseas students into the city and region. The benefits to Central New Zealand will far outweigh the costs.

Yet to be convinced here. In favour of the resource consent, but I think the bulk of the runway extension should be funded by the airport shareholders – not taxpayers.

“As a tech geek I was excited to deliver free WiFi in the CBD, the Collider Tech Hub and helped bid for the ICT Graduate School now being established.

Celia has been a good supporter of the technical community. She was in fact an original Councillor of InternetNZ.

“As a progressive politician, I have led local government in New Zealand with the staged implementation of a living wage for all Council staff, CCO employees, security and cleaning contractors.

Councillors voting to force ratepayers to pay wages at the level a priest in Lower Hutt decides is not an achievement, especially when at least two Councillors who voted in favour refuse to do so in their own businesses.

“In light of the squeeze on housing in the city for the foreseeable future, I successfully negotiated with the Government special housing accords to help Wellingtonians access an adequate supply of affordable housing in the city as well as ensuring the existing social housing improvements were extremely well done. New modular style building will catalyse cheaper builds in the city while maintaining quality.

Too early to judge, but was good to get the SHAs agreed.

“As a proud cyclist it was very pleasing to secure over $37 million in council and government funding for the next four years to build a beautiful network that will transform the way we get around the city and reduce our carbon emissions. We’ve moved the Great Harbour Way, which I have advocated for for many years, from a community dream to being solidly funded from Petone to Ngauranga and Oriental Bay to Miramar. Council and volunteers combine to make amazing mountain bike tracks. Bikes to Schools has brought joy to many primary school children.

Sadly the way the Island Bay cycleway was done has set things back. Good cycleways should make the road safer for cyclists and motorists, not more dangerous.

“Light rail is still on the medium-term agenda

No it isn’t. Even Celia abandoned support of it when the benefit to cost ratio was calculated at 0.05, which means every $1 million of spending would produce just $50,000 of benefits.

and the new collaborative arrangement “Let’s Get Welly Moving” between Regional Council, NZTA and Wellington City is a far better place to start from than fighting the failed flyover.

There is no start or starting place. Thanks to the opposition to the flyover, there are zero affordable solutions in play to reduce congestion at the Basin.

“When I hang up the Mayoral robe and chains for the last time, I will begin a third career with a number of different portfolios.

“I have been accepted into a local English language teaching course that starts in late September and I am really looking forward to it, especially to supporting refugees settle in. Several personal and business projects will follow in 2017, including walking Te Araroa from Cape Reinga to Bluff. I’ve been asked to be on several Boards including the International Walk21 Foundation.

Walking Te Araroa is a great challenge. Would love to do that one day.

“My Mayoralty can be defined by the breadth of my interests and the varied projects we’ve completed that impact the lives and experiences of all Wellingtonians. I’ve been inclusive of all elected members. I am heartened that I leave the Mayoralty with the city in good shape.

The city is in good shape, but I’m not sure the Council is the same.

“Vogue magazine was right when they said in 2015 that Wellington is the “coolest little city in the world.”

Yes it is, but I am biased.

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