Slimmer is better

October 1st, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Christchurch’s new earthquake recovery authority will be substantially smaller than its predecessor.

It is understood Regenerate Christchurch, confirmed in an announcement on Friday, will consist of about 30 staff. It will be complemented by the Christchurch City Council’s newly-established development company, Development Christchurch Ltd, and a new Crown entity – CrownCo.

Good to see a Government entity getting smaller!

CrownCo will oversee the Crown-led anchor projects, such as the convention centre, metro sports facility and east frame, and some other objectives for Crown-owned land. It will be established under the Public Finance Act.

Even combined, Regenerate Christchurch and CrownCo will likely be much smaller than Cera. As of July, Cera had about 360 full-time and seconded staff.

Who came up with the name – CrownCo? Not going to win originality awards!

Sutton quits

November 17th, 2014 at 2:37 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Roger Sutton has resigned as chief executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA).

He had been under investigation for the last seven weeks after a complaint of sexual harassment from a senior staff member.

The allegation accused him of making inappropriate jokes and comments, and giving her an unwelcome hug.

A report provided to the State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie did not establish conduct which would have led to Sutton being dismissed and Rennie said he would not have asked him to stand down. 

“However, Mr Sutton offered his resignation and this was accepted,” Rennie said in a statement today.

A sad end to Sutton’s role at CERA. He was universally praised as the perfect person for the job when he was appointed. While he has obviously had some detractors during his tenure, he still remained very well respected.

We don’t know the details of the allegations, and are unlikely to know them. But it seems they are at the inappropriate humour side of things, rather than deliberate harassment. The SSC said that he would not have been sacked for them.

Herald repeats misinformation

February 21st, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

James Dann is a Christchurch local body politician and blogs on the Christchurch rebuild etc. His latest blog post is on the Nielsen survey for CERA which has upset a few people because in fact it found not everyone was unhappy.

James has said the survey is unrepresentative:

The key to this survey is in the methodology. It was undertaken between August 29 and October 15 last year. 2381 people responded to the survey. 1156 of them were from Christchurch City, 618 from Selwyn District and 607 from Waimakariri District. So that means that of the people who did respond, more than half (1225) AREN’T ACTUALLY FROM CHRISTCHURCH. I mean no disrespect to the people of Rolleston, Lincoln, Rangiora, Kaiapoi etc. I am sure they have had a hard time. But they don’t have the same issues that people who actually live in the city do. They haven’t had to deal with a lack of services, portaloos, red zoning, TC3 land, roadworks to the same extent that people who live in the city do. …

Yet the survey then merges these three population groups, and continues to extrapolate from the combined population for another 100 pages. If you get to the end of the report, you’ll find the populations of Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri. They are 289,000, 30,000 and 36,000 respectively. More than 80% of the adult population lives in Christchurch, and yet more than 50% of respondents come from less than 20% of the population, a section of the population that the survey shows have a more positive response in this survey.

Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Now the Herald has gone and reprinted his blog post in the Herald.

James has made a fatal mistake. He has not read the survey results.

He is correct that the raw sample is not reflective of the overall population. That 80% live in Christchurch but only half the responses were from Christchurch people.

But what he has either deliberately or accidentally omitted, is that the results are weighted so that the results do precisely match the area, gender and age of the local population. Nielsen say  in their report:

The sample design over-sampled residents of the two districts with smaller populations to ensure that the sample size within each district was sufficient to allow reliable and robust analysis. 

At the analysis stage, the data was adjusted by a process called weighting. This process adjusts for discrepancies between the profile of people who completed the survey and the known profile of residents of greater Christchurch. 

Population statistics are obtained from Statistics New Zealand data and is based on the latest population projections. 

Weighting increases the influence of some observations and reduces the influence of others. So, for example, while 618 or 26% of completed interviews came from Selwyn District, the population of Selwyn actually represents about 8% of greater Christchurch. Thus, the data was adjusted so that 8% of any ‘greater Christchurch’ result reported is based on the responses of Selwyn residents.

So the criticism of Dann are entirely invalid, and worse the Herald has repeated them on their website. This is not a matter of opinion. His failure to mention that the results are weighted by area totally invalidate his criticism. The Herald was aware of this also, as one of their editorial staff tweeted his blog post and I pointed out this failing in a response (which they retweeted).

Appendix 5 of the poll results on page 103 details their weighting matrix with precise quotas for area, gender and age. It is a model of transparency.

Incidentally how significant were the differences in responses from those in Christchurch itself, and the two neighbouring districts? Here’s the figures for overall quality of life – good vs poor.

  • Christchurch City 72% good vs 7% poor
  • Selwyn 85% good vs 4% poor
  • Waimakariri 82% good vs 4% poor
  • Greater Christchurch 74% good vs 7% poor

So the results for Greater Christchurch are almost identical to Christchurch City.

The only question I have is whether Mr Dann knew the survey was weighted and decided not to mention that fact, or whether he just failed to read the results in full.

UPDATE: He has amended his original blog post to now mention the weighting, but note that the version picked up by the Herald doesn’t include this.

UPDATE 2: Dann was a Labour Party candidate at the last local body elections. Yet the Herald didn’t think to mention this. Shocking.

Moral hazard

January 29th, 2013 at 9:11 am by David Farrar

Marc Greenhill at Stuff reports:

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee has rejected suggestions he ignored officials’ advice in making reduced offers to uninsured red-zoners.

The Press reported yesterday the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) advised Brownlee last August that property owners in the residential red zone who did not qualify for the initial Crown compensation deal – mainly commercial properties and undeveloped land – should have the same offer extended to them.

A decision was made to offer those in limbo half the rateable value (RV) of their land and avoid the “moral hazard” of a government safety net for the uninsured.

I think it would have been very bad to offer the same price for an uninsured property as for those insured. It would have set an awful precedent and encourage people not to insure.

Labour earthquake recovery spokeswoman Lianne Dalziel said the “low-ball” offers would form part of a formal complaint she had made to the auditor-general about the Government’s handling of the residential red zone.

Labour – campaigning for the rights of the uninsured to get the same payouts as the insured. That’s true equality for you comrades!

Mixing two things together in stories

September 14th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

One of the things which annoys me is when stories are made more sensational by combining two things together.

An example would be say there were 50 people killed and 8,000 people assaulted, and a story says “In the last year 8,050 people were killed or assaulted by criminals.

We get this in this Press story. The headline was:

Taxpayers fork out $550,000 for bash

Now journalists do not write the headlines. Sub-editors do. I saw the headline and my blood pressure rose. $500,000 on a function to launch the Christchurch blueprint would be an outrage.

The first para was:

A launch party and promotional material for the central Christchurch blueprint cost taxpayers more than $500,000.

Now do you see the issue. There is a big difference between the launch party and the actual costs of promotional material for the plan. The launch party should be modest, but considering the importance of the plan of course you are going to spend money on making sure people in Christchurch can access it and know what is proposed.

The lavish event held in July to launch the Christchurch Central Development Unit’s vision for the city included free beer, sparkling wine and canapes.

Lavish means extravagant. Now maybe it was. How much of the $500,000 was spent on it.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) said yesterday that the $549,989 bill for the event included signage, an interactive 3D computer view of the blueprint, print material, information videos, the website, 3D modelling and animation, catering and technical support.

I don’t think 3d modelling of the plan is really related to whether a function is lavish.

“This is not a one-off cost for one night. The majority of material is still being used to promote the plan on an ongoing basis,” the spokesman said.

The event was defended by Cera chief executive Roger Sutton.

“We are trying to attract something between $5 billion and $10b of investment to Christchurch and I think we have to have a bit of razzle- dazzle for investors to take notice and come to our city,” he told Radio New Zealand.

So how much was for the actual function?

“It took place in the city council foyer. It is hardly like we hired out the Hilton.”

Not that lavish.

At the end of the day, I have no information on which I can make my own judgement as to whether the function was lavish. Sparking wine doesn’t make it lavish.

What would have been useful is a breakdown of the costs, with specific reference to how much was the food and drink bill. It may well be that the spending was on the high side. But I can’t tell from the story.

Positive attitudes in Christchurch

August 14th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

UMR has done polling of residents and business in Christchurch. Some of the more interesting results:

  • 61% of residents say Chch heading in right direction and 21% wrong direction – more positive figures than for NZ as a whole
  • 95% are aware of the CBD rebuild plan and 56% support it, 30% are neutral and only 13% opposed to it
  • 78% of Chch businesses say Chch heading in right direction and 8% wrong direction.
  • 99% of businesses are aware of the CBD rebuild plan and 74% support it, 15% are neutral and only 7% opposed to it

I’d say the CERA team will be delighted with those results. It’s also good to see that the Christchurch residents by a 3:1 majority are positive about the direction of their city as that stands in contrast to the daily doom and gloom pushed by some of the local opposition MPs.

The Chch CBD plan

July 30th, 2012 at 6:12 pm by David Farrar

The proposed plan is here. It looks pretty damn good to me. The key projects are:

  • A green space around the Avon River
  • The square, with more green areas
  • A retail precinct
  • A convention centre that can hold 2,000 people at once
  • Health, justice and arts precincts
  • An earthquake memorial
  • A cultural centre
  • A metro sports facility
  • An enclosed sports stadium
  • A centralised bus interchange

As I blogged previously, the city centre was somewhat dying even before the earthquake. This plan, if accepted and affordable, looks to make central Christchurch a great place to work, live and play.

CERA Powers

July 25th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The High Court has ruled Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee ‘‘stepped outside the legal limits’’ of his earthquake powers in rearranging Canterbury housing boundaries.

In the first legal challenge to Brownlee’s special powers his Canterbury land zoning decisions have been set aside by the High Court.

In a decision released today, Justice Chisholm ordered a judicial review of the process Brownlee took. He also set aside the land zoning changes Brownlee made.

At a High Court hearing in Christchurch early this month Independent Fisheries, several Canterbury property developers and supermarket giant Progressive sought to overturn Brownlee’s post-quake redrawing of housing boundaries.

He stopped short of giving Brownlee directions for reviewing the development potential of appellants’ land saying the court’s jurisdiction was on the scope of Brownlee’s powers, not the outcome.

To me this indicates that while the Government was given wide powers to speed up the reconstruction of Christchurch, the powers are not as vast as people said they were. The fact the High Court was able to over-turn them is proof of that.

But meanwhile the Greens use this to claim:

Sage said the Green Party had called for the extensive ministerial powers contained in the Act to expire after nine months, once the emergency period was over.

One can debate the extent of the powers, but for the Greens to claim there is no need for any special powers at all is sheer madness. They would have Christchurch CBD sitting empty for two decades, no doubt. It must frustrate Labour that the Greens get away with saying such daft stuff, and no one holds them to account for it.

Touring Christchurch

June 19th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A couple of Fridays ago, I (and around 14 other media) spent a day touring Christchurch as guests of CERA.  I found the day quite fascinating as the scale of the issues is daunting. I’m going to blog some photos and commentary, and also at the end my overall thoughts on Christchurch.

The tour started with an amusing incident as we passed the new McDonalds. Gerry Brownlee said that sadly it was not yet open, as the Council had yet to approve its consent. This caused some amusement, and I wondered if Gerry had considered using his special powers to consent it himself 🙂

We started off looking at areas such as Kaiapoi, where in some areas house after house is noticeably damaged and of course abandoned. But we also saw the areas where new sub-divisions are planned, and construction about to start. I believe Ngai Tahu is planning what will almost be a small township of 2,500 on some of their land.

We headed into the Cashel Container Mall, where we met some of the CERA executives such as Roger Sutton and Warwick Isaacs. Sutton is a very quirky personality, who was telling us how the amount of milk he has to drink to cycle to the Port Hills, is equal to the amount of petrol a car would need – in terms of energy. This factoid is new to us, but not new to Gerry and the other CERA people who I gather hear such factoids on a daily basis.

A profile of Sutton in The Press has he has calculated it takes 7 grams of chocolate to run up the 11 floors of HSBC house.

Putting aside the quirkiness, both Sutton and Isaacs impressed with their plans. There were lots of questions from media types, and I found their replies to be realistic. They are well aware that they can not force investors back into the central city, and that the CBD will be smaller. However they are doing what they can to make investment occur, such as working with the former large tenants such as the financial institutions, the law firms, the Government sector to confirm they will relocate back to the CBD if the rental cost is similar to what it was.

I’ll come back to the investment challenge, but will note that some of the property investors in Christchurch are very “loyal” and keen to invest if it can make sense for them. The Cashel Container Mall came about because four of the major property owners got together and arranged for all the owners to temporarily donate their land into a trust which charges peppercorn rentals to the current retailers.

We headed into the restricted zone, and saw first hand the deconstructions occurring.

Large areas of the CBD are now clear. CERA believes that within 12 months all the deconstruction will have occured, which suggests that by then the construction plans will be known and pretty finalised.

There is an opportunity here for Christchurch to get a city centre which is an improvement on the old one. Many locals will admit that the sad reality is that the city centre was in decline even before the quakes. One of the reasons for this is because so few people lived in the city centre.

The draft plan for the CBD is to have apartment blocks to allow 30,000 people to live in the inner city. That’s a great plan, and will make a real difference to its vibrancy.

However CERA was quite blunt, that the investment may not happen. The return on residential property is less than on commercial property in city centres. You get less per square metre. We won’t know for some months if there are property investors who will be willing to invest. One of the real problems is that the heightened requirements in the building code, means construction costs will be greater – possibly more than even insurance will cover. So the investment equation may not be there for new residential apartment blocks.

The other thing planned is to have some sort of logical sectors within the city. For example the courts, the police and the law firms will probably all be located next to each other. I quipped it was nice that prisoners would have shorter distances to travel 🙂

Part of the Cathedral. I am not an Architect, but having seen its exterior, I reckon anyone who thinks it is safe to preserve it is barking mad. It’s fucked.

The CERA Chief Geologist took us to Redcliffs. Those houses had such stunning views, but are now obviously unsafe to live in.

That’s a mighty big load of rocks that have come down.

Further along, they have this temporary solution of containers, to prevent further rock falls spreading onto the road. A simple but effective idea. Who knew containers had so many uses – prison cells, retail shops and rock guards!

You have to be careful emerging from between the containers as you are straight onto the road. I remarked to Beck Eleven from The Press that it would be bad to get run over here, as all the other media would get to report your being hit by a car or truck. Beck agreed, but said what would really gut her is that she has no camera with her to take photos of my body after being whacked by a vehicle. We agreed that she could take my iPhone from my body, and use it to take and send in photos of the scene 🙂

A bit hard to see through the window, but yes that is a large rock in the middle of that bedroom.

What happened is the rock landed here and bounced literally through the wall in the background into the bedroom.

We were told the rocks fall at around 90 km/hr but when they land and splinter, a shard can travel a several hundred kms/hr. So even a small shard can be fatal.

This rock had a cow underneath it. No it did not land on the cow, it caught it on the way down and splattered it at the bottom. I observed that if it landed on a human, you’d probably not even know there was a body underneath it.

Somehow a discussion eventuated about what would have happened if someone was, umm, being intimate with the cow when the rock struck it. The consensus was they would be very dead, or in great pain.

We ended the tour by going to the headquarters of SCIRT, the Stronger Canterbury Infrastructure Rebuild Team. They are the group rebuilding the roads, fresh water supply, waste water and storm water networks. It is an alliance of CERA, the CCC  and NZTA on the government side and Citycare, Downer, Fletcher, Fulton Hogan and McConnell Dowell on the construction side.

The scale of the work they have on is staggering. Off hand I think their budget is $2.5 billion. but instead of that being one big $2,5b project, this is around 500+ individual projects. Over the next few years I think 40% of the sewers will be replaced or upgraded. When they dig up roads, they are notifying utility companies, so one bright thing has been a lot of fibre or duct for fibre is being laid for little cost.

We finished the day watching the Crusaders play the Highlanders at the AMI stadium. The stadium is superb – you feel very close to the rugby. For a “temporary” stadium, they’ve done a great job. We were hosted by the stadium trust, in their box. At one stage the Highlanders scored a try and as a good former Dunedin resident I jumped out of my seat clapping and cheering. I then noticed that I was the only person in our area doing so, and the Mayor who was seated next to me gave me a very strange glare. I explained I went to Otago University and one has to stay loyal.

Overall it was a very enjoyable and interesting day. I think all the media found it so. The Press has a story online about some of their impressions. There is a lot happening, but the future is of course still unknown. The plan for the CBD is around half way through the 100 day formulation period, and it remains unknown how willing the large property owners and investors will be to build in the new CBD. However there are some confirmed tenancies which will help those decisions.

There were two things which struck me during the day. The first was how much time and energy is spent “fixing” things with the Council. Many many stories were told about issues where they have had to hurry or help the Council do something. Without exception these stories were told with respect for the Council. People often said that it is not their fault – the Council simply is not geared up to rebuild an entire city. They are staffed and structured for business as normal. They simply don’t have the staff, the experience, the flexibility and the funding to do much more than their core competencies.

Some politicians have called for the Council to be given a much larger role in the rebuild. I think this view is woefully misguided, and would be a disaster. I doubt the Council itself even has this view. They simply are not structured in a way where they could perform much more than what they currently do. This is not a criticism of them, just a reality.

The other thing that struck me was the intimate detailed knowledge CERA Minister Gerry Brownlee had on the city and the issues. Over six or more hours on the bus, he was peppered by questions, and could answer pretty much them all. At almost every location he could tell you what had happened, what issues had arisen, and what probably will happen. There were many stories about ministerial interventions to stop something bad happening by some entity. We’re not talking about use of official powers, but persuasion and yes diplomacy. With a rebuild of this size, it is not surprising that so many issues arise.

Now again some politicians have called for there to be a Board for CERA, and have the CEO report to the Board and the Board to the Minister. In my opinion that is also a very misguided and potentially disastrous idea. Apart from the fact there is no other Govt Dept that has such a setup, lets look at what would happen. The Minister would be a remote figure mainly based in Wellington deciding on recommendations from the board. The board would be a group of part-time directors who could only decide things when they formally meet every few weeks. Having a board would be near criminally stupid – it would remove the Minister from an active role, put in place some unelected directors who have no accountability, and slow things down massively. Most of all you would lose the ability of the Minister (and his associate Amy Adams who also showed a high level of knowledge) to perform that all important role of sorting out conflicts and clearing roadblocks.

As I said, the day was very interesting and I learnt a lot. I hope they do another media trip in a year’s time, when fingers crossed buildings in the new city centre will be starting to go up. But ultimately that will depend on if the private sector can get a return on any investment there.

NB – While invited by CERA, like all the other media I paid for my own travel down there.

Can anyone work out Labour’s position on Christchurch

April 18th, 2012 at 2:58 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

But in a speech to the Employers Chamber of Commerce in Wellington this afternoon, Dalziel lashed out at both the Government and the council.

Everyone but Lianne is incompetent it seems.

“Without a layer of governance between the Minister and the recovery authority we have decisions being made by Cabinet, implemented by bureaucrats and undermining the last remaining democratic institution in Christchurch – our city council.”

So Labour’s policy is that there should be a Board for CERA? So the Minister appoints a Board that appoints a CEO, and all decisions go from staff to the CEO to the Board to the Minister. Yes, that will speed things up.

The council itself had not responded properly to the shock of the earthquake either, she said. …

However, the mistakes of the council had been compounded by the Government’s response of “imposing a growing bureaucracy” which “must not replace the core functions that belong to the council – the only body that can offer democratic participation in decision-making”.

It is a strange argument that local government is democratic, but central government is not.

“The solutions to all the problems we face in Christchurch can be found in strengthening the council so that it can perform its proper function in collaboration with the citizens of Christchurch, not to usurp its role with a government department without any practical knowledge and experience of urban planning and design.”

So now the policy is to “strengthen” the Council. Can anyone explain to me, what exactly is meant by that?

Just being angry about everything isn’t a substitute for rational policy and analysis.

The new unit is seconding experienced staff from the Council. Unless one is proposing that the City Council be given the powers of compulsory land acquisition, it has to be done by CERA.

The Christchurch CBD rebuild

April 18th, 2012 at 10:44 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A new Christchurch Central Development Unit has 100 days to prepare a ”Blueprint for Action”.

The unit will be headed by Warwick Isaacs, currently the general manager of operations for Cera, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.

The new unit was announced today by the Minister for Earthquake Recovery, Gerry Brownlee. He said it was time for action and the city needed a clear direction for the centre’s rebuild.

The unit has been created as part of Cera because of the authority’s wide-ranging powers, which include compulsory acquisition of land for major projects.

Brownlee said the Government had largely adopted the Christchurch City Council’s draft plan for the centre.

He said the unit would second staff from the city council and Environment Canterbury, but it would collaborate with the City Council and it was not a takeover.

The council will remain the consenting authority, but Brownlee made a commitment that building consents for the central city would be approved within 14 days.

Isaacs has an extensive record in local government. He was the chief executive officer of the Timaru District Council for 10 years before coming to Christchurch after the February 22 quake as part of Civil Defence’s emergency response team.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker welcomed the unit and said he was delighted that the Government had essentially accepted the community’s vision for its city.

He told a business leaders’ briefing this morning that the unit’s ability to develop and implement a plan showed that the Resource Management Act could not deliver the ”speed, direction and outcomes that we need”.

Seems pretty sensible to me. We await the condemnation from the Labour Party Mayoral candidate.

Dalziel starting her Mayoral campaign early

April 5th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

Christchurch democracy is to be “discarded” with the Government poised to take control of the central city rebuild, Labour says. …

Parker said he had not been informed of any “dramatic announcements” about the council’s role in the central city rebuild. …

Cera chief executive Roger Sutton also said he was not aware of any proposal to take over planning responsibilities in the central city.

I think this is more about the 2013 Mayoral elections.

The Fletchers Reserve bank conspiracy

June 20th, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

An e-mail alleging some sort of conspiracy involving Fletchers, CERA and the Reserve Bank has been circulating for a few weeks. I’ve received it multiple times.
The e-mail alleges the Government through the Reserve Bank is a shareholder in Fletchers and hence awarding contracts to itself. The situation is:

This anonymous email’s author has discovered the Reserve Bank’s custodial service and drawn the conclusion that the Reserve Bank, and hence the government, owns the shares held in it. In reality this is a nominee company through which local and international institutions hold shares in a range of companies, one of which is Fletcher Building. It is an absolutely standard structure, common worldwide, and which has been in place for over 20 years.

This link to the Reserve Bank website sets the NZClear system out in very simple terms.

In brief, NZClear is a real-time settlement system which members access from their premises. Each member has a security account on the system which records the securities “lodged with New Zealand Central Securities Depository Limited” (NZCSD), a custodian, fully owned by the RBNZ. NZCSD becomes the legal owner of the securities on the relevant register and holds securities on behalf of the member, the beneficial owner. The inventory of securities held in the depository currently stands at around NZD92 billion.

So it’s very clear, the government is not “the beneficial owner” of Fletcher Building shares or any other shares held under the NZClear system.

The e-mail also asks some questions. The responses to them are:

Q. Who appointed RCP (Resource Coordination Partnership Ltd) as Project Managers for the management of ‘critical buildings’ following the February 22nd earthquake?

Christchurch City Council appointed RCP to help project manage the demolition process.

Q . Who appointed Fletcher Building to manage the demolition works and then, reconstruction works?

Fletchers have not been appointed to any such role.

Q . Who called for the tenders for the demolition of the Grand Chancellor?

Originally the owner, then Civil Defence was working through the tender process. Since its establishment, CERA has been coordinating the tender process.

Q . Who was/is to be the Principle to the demolition Contract (i.e. the Payer)

CERA is the principal. However, all costs associated with the Grand Chancellor demolition will be recovered from the owner.

Q . Who assessed the Tenders for the Demolition of the Grand Chancellor?

Initially Civil Defence appointed engineers in association with the owner’s engineers. It then went to CERA appointed engineers in association with the owner’s engineers. A recommendation was then made to CERA and the owner before a final decision was made.

Q . Who has been awarded the Grand Chancellor job (at whatever price and/ or conditions)?

Fletcher Construction Company. The contract is worth in excess of $10 million – this was stated openly by the owner of the Hotel Grand Chancellor when the contract was awarded.

Q . Who has been blind-sided?

The tender process was, and is, an open tender process. It was done with all due care and with impartiality. The preferred contractor was awarded the contract based on the best deconstruction solution for the Grand Chancellor. The ultimate decision was the owner’s.

This public service announcement was brought to you by the letter N and the number 8.

The Sutton love-fest

May 13th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

With no dis-respect to Martyn Dunne, but his decision to turn down the CERA job may have been the best thing to happen for Christchurch, as the praise for Roger Sutton’s appointment has been phenonomal.

On Twitter there have been hundreds of comments of praise. You can see a cloud of the most common terms here.

The Greens and Labour praised the appointment.

And William Mace at The Press has local reactions:

Former Christchurch mayor Garry Moore, who had called for Sutton to head the recovery effort, said the announcement was good news for the city.

“Roger Sutton is a guy who walks in ordinary people’s shoes. He understands the city, understands the people,” he said. “He’s got a good family and good networks. These are all the attributes we need to rebuild the city.”

Wigram MP and former mayoral candidate Jim Anderton said the appointment was “the best news I’ve had since the earthquake”.

“He is an incredibly good communicator. He tells it as it is. When he said the Orion cables were buggered, everyone understood it.”

Anderton praised Sutton’s management skills at “one of the best-managed corporations in the country”.

He said Sutton was a “quintessential Cantabrian”.

“We deserve someone who understands the ethos of the city – the anguish, the aspirations, the whole works,” Anderton said.

Christchurch Central Labour MP Brendon Burns said Sutton was an “excellent appointment”.

“He brings together shown leadership skills, a command of structural issues, a real capacity to engage with community leaders – I couldn’t think of a better choice,” he said.

Port Hills Labour MP Ruth Dyson gave Sutton “a 12 out of 10”, saying he had a “good strategic brain”.

“In his job as CEO of Orion he’s shown an amazing ability to keep people informed … Given what we need to do to recover strongly, he’s just perfectly positioned,” she said.

12/10 isn’t bad. I look forward to seeing Roger walk accross the Cook Strait.

The new CERA chief

May 12th, 2011 at 3:06 pm by David Farrar

I was going to blog on what a good appointment this is, but I can’t do better than what John Pagani has said:

Gerry Brownlee has made an outstanding appointment by getting Orion’s Roger Sutton to take over CERA.

 He’s a hero in Christchurch. Straight up guy.

Well done Gerry on the appointment and kudos to Mr Sutton for taking on such a crucial task.