Parker v Dalziel

February 20th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Glenn Conway at The Press reports:

Former Christchurch mayor Sir Bob Parker has criticised his successor, Lianne Dalziel, for doubling staff numbers in her office without consulting ratepayers.

The staff changes for the Mayor’s Office were part of a restructure by the Christchurch City Council’s acting chief executive Jane Parfitt, as mayoral responsibilities increased.

Dalziel said the structure helped “create an efficient use of my time so I can devote myself to the city”.

Dalziel yesterday said she had made “an error in judgment” by not explaining the changes when staff were appointed.

Figures released under the Official Information Act show the mayoral office budget in the 2013-14 year was $385,952. The proposed budget for 2014-15 is $798,605.

Dalziel said she should have “front-footed” the changes to her office.

Parker, who had about four staff in his office during his six years in charge, said the “sizeable increase in costs” was never raised publicly through the annual plan process.

“The decisions, apparently, have already been made and contracts granted by the mayor,” Parker said.

Dalziel’s office has more staff than the mayoral offices in Wellington and Dunedin combined.

It would be very interesting to learn the size of each mayoral office. They should all be of comparable sizes, for similarly sized councils.

Auckland mayor Len Brown has about 20 staff in his office and Prime Minister John Key employs about 25 staff .

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull, who has “a PA and that’s it” said new mayoral powers were “more illusionary than real”.

His council looked for savings “wherever we can find them” and “as a default” did not hire new staff if possible. There were no plans to review staffing levels.

A spokesman for Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown said she employed six-and-a-half fulltime positions, including a chief of staff, office manager/PA, receptionist (who is also PA to the chief of staff), an events co-ordinator and one and a half fulltime correspondence co-ordinators.

20 staff for Len Brown is a staggeringly high figure.

Why did Bob go?

July 6th, 2013 at 3:10 pm by David Farrar

John Stringer blogs on 10 reasons why he thinks Bob Parker went:

  1. CEO not a poli.
  2. Marryatt and Consents
  3. Endless negativity and character assassination
  4. The Press
  5. Polls
  6. Wife and “well-being”
  7. Reputation and legacy
  8. Communication
  9. Transferred frustration
  10. Media prostitutes.

I don’t agree with all of them, but I do think the endless negativity was very real, and partly explains what Marryatt stuffed up also. He definitely made many mistakes, but I suspect the fact that some Councillors spent so much of their time attacking and undermining the Mayor and CEO, is why he was reluctant to let them know when problems arose, such a the consenting.

Now that is not to defend his decision. He should have informed the Council. But some Councillors are to blame also for creating a culture of negativity and attack, so the CEO did not feel he can be upfront with them. If he tells them of problems, they’ll just use it to attack him.

Who is The Press scaring off?

June 20th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press Deputy Editor writes:

Lianne Dalziel is good for Bob Parker, and vice versa. It seems an odd argument, but each needs the other to validate whatever comes of the Christchurch mayoral election.

The point was made eloquently by city councillor Peter Beck when he announced in March that he would soon retire, and expressed a wish that the coming contest should be a “two-horse race”.

“My hope is that there is one, and only one, seriously credible alternative [to Mayor Parker] so that the city has a clear choice,” Beck said then. “That is good for democracy. It is good for both candidates. Whoever is elected will then hopefully carry a real mandate of the people.”

With respect, Cr Beck said that because he didn’t want Parker winning against a split vote. Nothing to do with mandate.

Voters should not pay too much attention to the party politics in this election.

Good God. Just ignore the fact she has spent two years demanding the Minister resign.

Both Parker and Dalziel have considerable strengths. The real danger here is that a credible third candidate will declare and deny ratepayers the chance to make a proper decision between the two. It would not help the city if a mayor was elected at this important time who did not command a clear majority of votes cast.

Such a credible third candidate would be perfectly entitled to stand, but should carefully consider his or her motives for doing so before declaring.

This is the bizarre part. I’m not sure I can recall a NZ newspaper before imploring people not to stand for office, let alone almost threatening them that they will be seen as having bad motives if they do stand.

How incredibly arrogant to declare that Parker and Dalziel must be the only choices and that a credible third candidate is a “danger” who will hinder a “proper” decision. I’d suggest many people in Christchurch would love to have a credible third candidate as they are so thoroughly depressed by the prospects of either Parker or Dalziel.

Was the Parker rumour a dirty trick?

June 3rd, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says a report he is standing down at this year’s local body elections is a ‘complete fantasy’.

Today’s Sunday Star-Times suggests Mr Parker will exit the mayoral race.

So far, he is the only candidate to confirm he’s standing.

Bob Parker says while he enjoys a work of fiction, he believes in Christchurch and wants to be part of its future.

There are two questions here.

The first is whether the rumour just started as organic speculation, or was it a destabilising dirty trick?

The second is why the The Press ran the story? Parker denied it on the record to him. If a rumour is denied emphatically, how is it newsworthy?

Parker not to stand?

June 2nd, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

Christchurch’s mayoralty race could soon take a dramatic turn with rumours swirling that incumbent Bob Parker may not run.

Parker, who late last year confirmed he would seek a third term as mayor, has been sounding out city leaders lately, asking whether they thought he could win if Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel stood against him.

The popular Labour MP is widely tipped to run in October’s election and yesterday said she would announce her “decision” later this month.

The city’s mayoralty race has been non-existent so far with Parker the only confirmed candidate. Yesterday, he denied any suggestion he would stand down, claiming that was purely what his opponents wanted to hear.

It is thought Parker received mixed feedback from those he consulted.

Polling done by his political rivals shows Dalziel holding a narrow lead against him and it is thought these results prompted the Parker rethink.

But his loyal deputy Ngaire Button strongly denied any talk of Parker quitting. “That [rumour] is completely fanciful. Bob has told me he is running.”

Earlier last week, Button hosted a group of “independent” candidates she will soon unveil to stand across the city. The, group, to be called City First, fuelled rumours Parker could endorse Button for the mayoralty and slip out of the political landscape on his own terms.

She did little to dampen down that talk yesterday, saying the idea of Parker endorsing her for the mayoralty was “a scenario that could work out in time . . . but I have not thought about it”.

Bob Parker led the city very well through the initial crisis of earthquake. But he does run the risk of ending up like Winston Churchill in 1950 – the public grateful for the efforts, but wanting a change.

Would it be better to go out on top after two terms, than risk losing to Dalziel?

Who will People’s Choice choose?

January 16th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press reports:

The largest political grouping in Christchurch’s local government scene says it is determined to unseat Mayor Bob Parker at this year’s local body elections.

People’s Choice has set up a 12-strong electoral strategy panel to oversee the selection of a mayoral candidate and to chart the course of the election campaign.

The group is represented on the Christchurch City Council by Glenn Livingstone, Jimmy Chen and Yani Johanson.

Chairman Paul McMahon said informal discussions had been held with several people and expressions of interest in the mayoralty called for.

The group wanted to announce its candidate as soon as possible but wanted to make sure it selected the right person for the job.

“We are going to pick someone who can win,” said McMahon, who declined to say when the candidate selection would be made.

He said the selection panel was conscious of the need to work with mayoral aspirants outside of People’s Choice if it wanted to avoid splitting the vote and giving Parker another three years in office.

Livingstone is considered the group’s most likely contender for the mayoralty, but there has been speculation it could back Cr Tim Carter for the job, even though he is not part of People’s Choice.

Whenever a political ticket includes the term “people” in it I recall the maxim that any country that has “democratic” in its official name almost invariably isn’t, and any country that mentions “people” in its name also almost invariably oppresses them.

Parker could well face challengers from the left and the right. It will be fascinating to see who steps forward in the next few months.

The Christchurch Mayoralty

November 28th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press looks at the possible contenders:

  • Lianne Dalziel – says not standing and that a change of mind is “unlikely”
  • Tim Carter – not ruling it out, will decide next year
  • Garry Moore – never say never
  • Mike Yardley – No plans, will not stand for Council
  • Humphry Rolleston – would not comment
  • Peter Townsend – Not standing
  • Peter Beck – Initially said too soon to say, and then later said no
  • Glenn Livingstone – Not decided yet

Ipredict has Garry Moore at 70% likely to stand and Peter Beck 55% likely.

The only two I read as definitely not standing are Townsend and Yardley. The others have all left some wriggle room.

Parker is at 47% to be re-elected.


Parker wants to move Canterbury University

November 26th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Olivia Carville at The Press reports:

Combining the ageing population and the unprecedented number of young people leaving Christchurch, in about 20 years more than half of the city would be over the age of 65, Parker said.

“We are on a direct path at the moment to become New Zealand’s most modern and attractive new rebuilt resthome.”

One possible solution to the “age group crisis” was to relocate the University of Canterbury back inside the four avenues.

Despite the university’s reluctance to shift, this was the most “grievously undercooked” opportunity in the rebuild.

I don’t know what it would cost to move the university, but imagine it would be a nine figure sum. In reality you would be building a brand new university. Looking at the UC annual report this would be a capital outlay of around $700 million less what you would get for the existing land and buildings.

Having the university more central isn’t a bad idea by itself, but money doesn’t grow on trees (except for the Greens). If Bob Parker really thinks it is essential, than maybe he can identify what projects he would can to pay for it.

Surprisingly good

September 27th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The ads to promote Christchurch to the Aussies are surprisingly good.  I thought “Bob Thinks Big” could be lame, but actually they have pulled it off quite nicely. You actually want to keep watching.

Episode 1 is below, and at the conclusion of it, you can watch episodes 2 and then 3.

Parker standing again

August 25th, 2012 at 7:35 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker will seek another term in office.

Speculation was rife that Parker, whose two terms in office have been marred by controversy, would step aside at next year’s local body elections, but in an interview with The Press the former television presenter confirmed he would seek re-election.

No-one else has publicly signalled their interest in the mayoralty yet, but behind the scenes the hunt is on among Christchurch’s movers and shakers for a candidate to challenge Parker.

Christchurch East Labour MP Lianne Dalziel was tipped, but ruled out standing because she has her eyes on Gerry Brownlee’s job as Canterbury earthquake recovery minister.

She is believed to be pushing prominent businessman and rich-lister Humphry Rolleston to stand. Rolleston is on the board of several listed companies and was for many years a business partner with the late Timaru financier Allan Hubbard.

Former Christchurch mayor Garry Moore is another who could be persuaded to stand. He has been outspoken of late about the loss of democracy in Christchurch and the stranglehold Wellington has on decision-making here.

Rolleston would be a very formidable challenger. Moore was a popular Mayor, but I’m not sure people will want to be seen to turn the clock back.

Among the city councillors there are three who stand out as possible contenders – Burwood-Pegasus councillors Peter Beck and Glenn Livingstone, and Hagley-Ferrymead councillor Tim Carter.

Carter is a first-term councillor and, at 35, could be considered by some as too young, but Vicki Buck was just 33 when she became the city’s first female mayor.

Beck has been on the council for a matter of months, but his former role as dean of Christ Church Cathedral means he has a high profile in the city and is widely respected.

Livingstone is in his first term, but has proved to be an effective councillor and has recently led council moves to get an insurance advisory service set up in Christchurch to help those locked in insurance disputes.

I’m not sure any sitting Councillor would win against Parker, as people were unimpressed with all the infighting. However Beck being new may be an exception to that.

Mayor Bob is wrong

August 21st, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Tina Law reports:

Dr Smith said hysteria was sweeping the country about the practice, and he called for some “science and commonsense” to be injected into the debate.

He likened the fracking debate to a modern-day version of the Chicken Licken story, in which a hen thinks the sky is falling in after an acorn hits her head.

He accused the Christchurch City Council of “jumping on the Greens’ ‘Don’t Frack with New Zealand’ bandwagon”, saying fracking had been done in New Zealand for decades and was used in the building of the Clyde Dam.

But Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said Christchurch had experienced 12,500 quakes, so it was “entirely reasonable” for the city to ban the controversial practice until someone could provide evidence it would not trigger more of them.

“We’re not going to take a risk on something that we are uncertain about until there is some certainty.”

Absolutely wrong. You don’t ban things until they are “proven” safe (an impossible thing to do). You ban things when they are proven unsafe.

It was not an entirely reasonable thing to do. It was an entirely kneejerk thing to do.

The Press on Christchurch

May 14th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

It will now be possible to consider Dalziel’s criticisms of the recovery process – and they have been many and seem to encompass just about everyone involved – the mayor, the minister, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority – without the thought they are designed to advance any designs on the mayoralty.

And the Council. Dalziel has been pretty relentlessly critical of everyone and everything.

Whether, if Labour were to win power in 2014, Dalziel would be a good choice to take Gerry Brownlee’s job as the minister for earthquake recovery is highly debatable. It is, in any case, a slightly unambitious goal. By the time it could come about, more than 2 1/2 years from now, the hard political and financial decisions on earthquake recovery will largely have been taken. By that time, it must be hoped, the recovery will be well under way and any ministerial involvement will have become peripheral.

Indeed. In fact the big decisions should all be made by mid 2013 I hope.

While Dalziel has many commendable personal qualities – and her energy as a critic of what is being done has been indefatigable – whether she would be the right person for the job is doubtful. She has been a minister before, of course, and though she was competent enough she hardly shone in the role.

That is a bit unfair. While I don’t share her policies, Dalziel was actually an  effective Commerce Minister, and one of the better performing Labour Ministers.

 In addition, her well-signalled party-political partisanship could hinder her capacity to get on with others in a job that requires party politics to be put firmly aside. Her suggestion for some new layer of bureaucracy between the minister and Cera – as if more bureaucracy is what is required – also does not augur well.

I agree. Having the Minister appoint a board who supervise the CERA CEO seems bizarre. You have boards for commercial SOEs, not for government departments.

With Dalziel out of the running, attention can now turn to other possible contenders. While it may be a thankless job in many ways, it is also one of unprecedented opportunity and the incumbent Bob Parker shows no signs of having lost his appetite for it. At this early stage, talk inevitably centres on sitting councillors, and the names of Tim Carter, Peter Beck and Glenn Livingstone have been mentioned. All are very new to the council and their only mark of distinction so far is their inexperience in all the skills that will be needed in the next phase of Christchurch’s recovery. Neither they, nor indeed anyone else on the council, inspires much confidence as a future leader of the city and voters may be forgiven for hoping some better alternatives emerge before the election.

The Council obviously has bitter divisions. A new Mayor from one of those factions, will just compound the frictions. If people want an alternative to Bob Parker, they need someone not currently on Council who has proven leadership experience.

Brownlee v Parker

February 9th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says calling Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker a clown was “over the top” but reflects his frustration with the city council’s problems. …

In yesterday’s Christchurch Mail, Brownlee called Parker a “clown” over comments about possible rates rises in the city.

Parker told The Mail last week the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) Act allowed the Government to force the council to hike rates or sell off assets to fund the city’s recovery.

“Cera has the ability to say, `This is how you have to meet your costs, and can make us take measures such as raising rates or selling assets’,” the mayor said.

Treasury officials had made overtures to the council about a potential rates rise, Parker told The Mail.

Brownlee dismissed the remarks, saying the legislation did not allow the Government to make the council set a rate. “That’s an outrageous abdication of his responsibilities. The Cera Act specifically forbids that,” he told The Mail. 

Brownlee told The Press last night the clown remark was “probably over the top”, but was based on his frustration with Parker’s comments and the council’s problems. “We were going through a quite intense period of getting the council to recognise their responsibilities … I am sick and tired of the council running and telling people what we’re going to do.”

Ironically this will probably make Gerry more popular in Christchurch.

It seems clear the Mayor was incorrect in his comments. Having said that, the remark just adds fuel to an already difficult situation. Hopefully it won’t become a major issue.

Never been so happy to lose $2,500

October 9th, 2010 at 1:47 pm by David Farrar

I just lost $2,500 on iPredict. I had purchased a massive amount of Anderton too win stock when he was 30% ahead in the polls.

I can honestly say I have never so happy to lose $2,500.

Bob Parker has won with around 68,000 to 51,000.

Mayor Parker made some mistakes in his first term. But his response to the earthquake has been excellent. It has been more than just talking to cameras as Anderton snidely put it. A natural disaster does not always help the incumbent – look at Hurricane Katrina and Bush.

I wonder if Anderton will persist, in his final year in Parliament, with the myth he is a party leader.

Parker in the lead

September 29th, 2010 at 5:11 pm by David Farrar

UMR have just released a poll on the Christchurch Mayoralty.

  • Bob Parker 55% (+27%)
  • Jim Anderton 41% (-19%)
  • 88% say Parker has handled earthquake well
  • 55% have positive impression of Parker (+20%)
  • 44% have positive impression of Anderton (-19%)

What I find interesting is not that Bob Parker has gone up, but that Anderton has had a 19% drop in his favourability. That should be unaffected.

I think two things have contributed to it. The first is his statement that he could do Mayor and MP standing on his head came back to haunt him. And the second is his snide comments about Parker. He couldn’t bring himself to say anything genuinely nice about the job Parker did, so he did a veiled insult – “Bob is very good at appearing on television” type statements. It looked (and was) cheap.

The only bad thing about the poll is it means we probably keep Jim as an MP for another year!

Timaru Herald on Mayoralty

September 9th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Timaru Herald editorial says:

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker’s leadership has been flawless. His political arch rival Jim Anderton must feel like Cinderella stuck at home while the disaster ball is in full swing.

Certainly it would be hard to imagine Mr Anderton’s case for being a part-time mayor while he continued his MP duties now stacking up as a viable proposition.

It was questionable before the earthquake, and the disaster makes Mr Anderton’s position now look nonsensical.

It is the height of arrogance for Jim Anderton to continue with his insistence that the Mayoralty is a part-time job.

An MP is required to be in Wellington on house sitting weeks from Tuesday to Thursday. This would have a Mayor Anderton available Mondays and Fridays only during the week.

I know it is a bit unseemly to be politicking so soon after the quake, but the fact is that ballot papers go out next week. There are only a few days left for Jim Anderton to renounce his egotistical stance, and announce he will resign immediately as an MP, if he is elected Mayor.

Considering the Government is pouring the best part of $2 billion into the earthquake repairs, Anderton’s insistence he has to do both jobs to save the taxpayer $500,000 is laughable.

If Jim Anderton backs down, and announces he will resign immediately as an MP, if elected Mayor, then he will boost his chances considerably. If he continues to refuse to do so, then he will have no one but himself to blame if he loses.

The cause of the earthquake has been identified

September 5th, 2010 at 4:12 pm by David Farrar

UPDATE: Seems the Herald got it wrong, and the reference to earthquakes by Anderton was about him leaving Labour.

The NZ Herald reports:

Christchurch mayoral aspirant Jim Anderton told CTV on Friday that it would take an earthquake for him to lose the election race against incumbent mayor Bob Parker.

So God just filed his vote early.

iPredict shows that Bob Parker’s chances of beating Anderton increased three-fold in the aftermath of the earthquake. So Jim may have got what he claimed was necessary for him to lose.

Anderton in the lead

June 14th, 2010 at 10:44 am by David Farrar

UMR have just released a poll of 350 people (through an online panel) from Christchurch. Their findings:

  • Unprompted Mayoral choice is Jim Anderton 46%, Bob Parker 21%
  • When asked head to head it is Anderton 61%, Parker 30%
  • Parker has 49% disapprove and 35% approve
  • Anderton has 21% disapprove and 63% approve

Things are looking good for Saint Jim to be getting his hands on the Mayoral credit card.

Will Burke and Anderton both stand?

May 6th, 2010 at 1:23 pm by David Farrar

The Press reports:

Former Environment Canterbury (ECan) chairman Sir Kerry Burke has resigned from Left-leaning political group Christchurch 2021, but he denies the move is intended to clear the way for an independent run at the Christchurch mayoralty.

Burke said he would decide next month whether to run against Mayor Bob Parker in the October local body elections.

He said Christchurch 2021 had become caught up in “narrow partisan interests”, and he hoped a more diverse political group would be formed.

“This should not be seen as a calculated means of opening up a run for the mayoralty,” he said.

In his resignation statement, Burke said Christchurch 2021 had “lost the breadth of opinion it contained a decade ago” and was “increasingly intertwined with parliamentary agendas”.

I suspect what has happened is that Burke has found out that Jim Anderton will be announcing he is standing for the Mayoralty this week (before Monday). Anderton will be endorsed by the 2021 group (Labour/Progressive in drag) and hence Burke needs to have resigned before that happens.

Anderton will be a strong contender against Bob Parker. However if Burke stands also, that may split the centre-left vote and keep Parker as Mayor.

The Henderson deal

August 16th, 2008 at 6:39 am by David Farrar

The Press editorial today is on the deal with David Henderson to buy five properties off him.

The deal may or may not have been a good thing to do, but I agree with The Press that the way the Council went about it is the issue. This is why there is such a big backlash.

I would almost go so far as to predict the Mayor may only be a one term Mayor, on the basis of this deal.