The Critic payout

May 21st, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Beau Murrah blogs:

Callum Fredric has received a substantial payout, apparently near a years wages, from OUSA in agreement to avoid a legal battle. However, Callum will not be returning as editor of Critic.  Apparently OUSA decided on the economic rationale that even if they won a legal dispute it would be about as expensive.

I’d say they didn’t have a leg to stand on. Their actions looked to be a massively over the top reaction to a couple of minor issues.

OUSA is now funded by the University of Otago. What a pity Otago students are the ones who have to fund the employment mishaps of OUSA.

Salient has more info:

Under the terms of the agreement the sum of the settlement is confidential, and when spoken to by Salient, Fredric refused to confirm any figures. However, sources close to the organisation have said that the settlement was around $35,000, which is slightly less than a year’s salary for the Critic Editor.

That is a huge payout, which shows how legally flawed OUSA’s actions were. I understand their legal fees would be in the arena of $15,000 so that is $50,000 they’ve wasted.

Will students hold the executive accountable for such a waste of money? If OUSA had to actually earn its own money, instead of having the university gift it to them, then I’m sure they’d be fare more careful around how they treat their staff.

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More on Critic suspension

May 10th, 2013 at 9:59 am by David Farrar

I blogged earlier this week about the Critic editor being suspended.

Salient has some more details on what happened:

The editorial shake-up became public knowledge on Monday, when Fredric’s presence at the Critic office caused Campus Watch, and then police to be called. Senior Sergeant Benn told the Otago Daily Times, ”When the policeman asked him to leave he did so, and that was the end of that.”

Although the reason why the police were called to the office remains unclear, Critic staff filmed the incident, but then later claimed that the file had “corrupted” when Salient requested it. Salient has been told by staff present that Fredric left when asked, and was not “escorted” from the premises, as was reported in the Otago Daily Times.

Fredric wishes to “continue as Critic Editor”, and has sought legal advice on the matter. It is understood that Fredric has lodged a personal grievance claim under the Employment Relations Act, and filed an affidavit of his written evidence in support of the claim on Tuesday.

Where an employer suspends an employee in order to investigate alleged misconduct, the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment advises that “Suspending an employee is a serious action, and due process and consideration should be applied by the employer in instigating a suspension”.

I’ve not seen anything so far to indicate that suspension was a necessary or justifiable step. As I said, this could be a very messy employment issue for OUSA. it is ironic that the worst offfenders when it comes to employees’ rights are unions themselves when they are the employer.

I referred in my earlier post that one of the issues between the OUSA General Manager and the Critic Editor was that the Editor didn’t do anything about an e-mail sent by one of their columnists to the manager of Netsky after he was kept waiting eight hours for an interview. I now have a copy of the e-mail, which is:

Hi, sorry I wasn’t in the office once Boris had finished unwinding from his gig, I’m sure he’s a great guy so don’t worry I wont say anything bad about him. It’s a shame his equipment hadn’t been sorted by the gig though, his voice sounded at times like it was being distorted, almost as bad as if on purpose (plus some bits seemed like they were echoing). I will need to fill that spot on the tv & radio show though, do you mind doing an interview with me? we’re doing a piece about NZ management being shit.

I actually think that is a great piss take e-mail. Netsky is of course known for distorted vocals and echos. I understand the manager didn’t catch on that the columnist was taking the piss! I’d write a far worse e-mail if I was kept waiting for eight hours!

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Critic editor escorted off campus by Police

May 7th, 2013 at 1:27 pm by David Farrar

The ODT reports:

The editor of Critic - the University of Otago student magazine – was escorted from the magazine’s office over an employment dispute yesterday, but says he hopes to continue in the role. …

Senior Sergeant Brian Benn confirmed police were called to the office off Cumberland St just before noon, following concerns a ”former staff member” was refusing to leave. …

OUSA general manager Darel Hall declined to make any comment concerning the dispute. Mr Fredric and the university also avoided discussing the conflict.

A spokeswoman said Otago University would be making ”no response” in regard to the matter.

However Beau Murrah blogs some details:

One of the exciting events for a lot of people this year was the visit by Belgian drum and bass Act Netsky. A then Critic TV reporter, Tristan K, was seeking an interview with the artist on behalf of Critic and was allegedly legitimately treated rudely by the event managers who kept him waiting for several hours after they said they would give him an interview.

In response, Tristan wrote an email (which I have not read) but by various credible accounts was outrageous, insulting, bitchy and rude to Netsky’s event managers under the guise of it being an official communication of Critic magazine**. When Callum Fredric learned about this he apparently was not concerned and thought it was basically rather funny and did nothing.

Netsky’s event managers, which apparently manage several other major musical acts, did not think it was funny and threatened to never send acts to OUSA/Dunedin events ever again. OUSA general manager Darel Hall was then forced to profusely apologise and Callum adjoined to it on behalf of Critic.

If I was kept waiting for several hours, I’d write a bitchy e-mail also. If anyone has a copy of the e-mail in question I’l happy to publish it!

The staff appointment the ODT alludes to is the attempted appointment of Maddie Phillips, Callum Fredric’s girlfriend, as sub-editor of Critic magazine to replace Sam McChesney.

There possibly could have been a situation where an editor boyfriend could appoint his girlfriend to the second highest (or third highest? There is also a deputy editor and I get confused) position in a newspaper and it not be cronyism but this is not it. …

If Maddie was a popular, safe choice it could have been ok but actually it is just appointing your girlfriend over a number of other possible qualified candidates (of which I am not one). At the very least, it creates a very strong impression of cronyism and needs to have been clearly justified.

If someone you have a relationship with someone who is in line for an appointment, it is best to delegate the decision, or at least involve others in it. I don’t know if this happened in this case.

The OUSA general manager, Darel Hall, probably saw and heard all this. If he did not hear the grumblings or see some questionable choices he definitely experienced the Netsky incident and he definitely had cause for concern about Cronyism. Anyways, he saw it necessary or desirable to suspend Callum’s employment.

With all of that in mind I also cannot see Callum staying as editor. He apparently is already not editor anyore and Sam McChesney, last publicly noted as resigning from his job as Sub editor a few weeks ago, was the acting director as of at least last Friday. Yesterday when the police walkout occurred Callum was allegedly told not to the come to the office for a meeting and did, thus the police walkout occurring.

What will also be interesting is what process has OUSA followed. You can’t just sack an editor because you disagree with his decisions. This case could well end up in the employment courts.

UPDATE: I’ve now heard from several sources on this issue. Two interesting further aspects.

Maddie Phillips was sub-editor in 2012, so having her do the job again in 2013 is not that big a think it seems.

The bigger issue is that it appears OUSA gave no notice or written warnings to the Critic Editor before they informed him he was suspended and had to vacate the premises. If this is correct, I think they may be on shaky legal ground. As the University now funds OUSA, it is ultimately student funds at risk.

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Critic on Louis Crimp

August 20th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Callum Fredric of Critic has done a controversial and interesting profile of Louis Crimp, based on a two hour interview with him. I found the article fascinating – both for the archaic views on Maori – but also for what they call the sympathethic side of Crimp.

“The Maori culture before the white man came, they were Stone Age people. Each tribe used to be at war with the next tribe, and if they beat one tribe they’d kill all the males in it, and eat them. And I’ve got it somewhere that the females, they’d put them in a separate stockade, and they drove spikes through their feet so they couldn’t run away, and they kept them there to have sex with until they’re ready to be eaten. So they’re sort of like a deep freeze for food and sex.”

The tales of cannibalism are well documented, but the spiking women’s feet is news to me.

However 200 years ago, many bad things happened. The US had slaves. Women were almost chattels. That is not to say that all cultures were equally good or bad. But the key thing is most cultures have evolved.

Ah, those were the days. Mr Crimp followed up by saying that although Maori in Invercargill are “anglicised” and “part of our community”, Maori people in South Auckland are “still savages, on welfare or in jail”. A few years ago, he came up with a plan for making some cash off the people who shared these views, by setting up an all-white retirement village in Invercargill to lure people down from South Auckland. “I couldn’t proclaim it being white, but somehow or another I would say that it was a predominant Anglo-Saxon society, you know.” But he couldn’t secure the land, and the plan fell through.

Oh Good God. White enclaves. I suspect Crimp’s views could only be formed in an area like Invercargill (not meaning people in Invercargill are racists, but they have relatively few Maori there). If, like me, you went to a school with many Maori, went to a university with many Maori, have worked in jobs with Maori colleagues – you know not to apply stereotypes to individuals.

Te Reo is Mr Crimp’s kryptonite. His aversion to the language is strong enough for him to pay for his five-year-old granddaughter to attend a private school in a failed attempt to shield her from having to learn it. He also cancelled his long-running subscription to the Southland Times after they included a single Maori word in their crossword.

That is pretty nuts.

Mr Crimp has made millions through his various property ventures, and has gained many supporters in Invercargill for his charitable donations, including over $1 million each to the SPCA and the St John Ambulance Service. In an attempt to see the other side of Louis Crimp, I asked him about his reasons for these donations.

Mr Crimp’s philanthropy began when his lawyer told him he should “get out and spend” his millions before he died. But this was no easy task. Mr Crimp says that from an early age he has was forced to “watch [his] pennies” — “I was the oldest boy in Southland who had a paper run, at the age of 16, because we were poor, my family.” Having visited his house, I can confirm that Mr Crimp is not prone to extravagant spending – while he lives in a large house, his furniture is old-fashioned, and his TV is smaller than you’d find in most student flats.

After his lawyer’s comments, Mr Crimp “started dishing it out to people I think who needed it.” He was attracted to the SPCA, “because most of their work is done by volunteers. It’s the same with the St John ambulance…Yeah, there’s a lot of people who do some good in this world without pay.”

As I read the profile, I actually feel a bit sorry for Crimp. It must be pretty miserable to be so fearful of Maori.

Mr Crimp’s generous side is forced to sit next to his habit of saying incredibly offensive things. One of Mr Crimp’s stories demonstrates this duality. He lends “money out to poor suffering people sometimes” at a special low-interest rate. He loaned $7000 to a Maori woman who needed a lung cancer operation, but it turned out “it was all bullshit, she wasn’t sick at all”. Mr Crimp was understandably aggrieved, but does himself no favours whatsoever by describing the woman as “just a cheat, a big black Maori cheat”.

After that comment, he relented a little: “She’s had a pretty rough life… Yeah I’m feeling sorry for her already, she hasn’t got a job, she’s got a boyfriend who beats the hell out of her, she hasn’t got any money, oh God.”

Interviewing Mr Crimp made me think of Levi Hawkins, aka the “Nek Minnit” guy. He’s a real, multi-faceted human being, yet we all essentially know him as an amusing dancing bear, a sideshow. When he gets approached on the street, people ask him to say his catchphrase. By seeking out Louis Crimp solely for the purpose of getting outrageous quotes, I was guilty of the same dehumanisation. On the other hand, some of the quotes are pretty damn funny. It’s a difficult balancing act.

I think the article gets the balance about right.

I asked Mr Crimp about his views on gay marriage, secretly hoping for some more controversy-laden denouncements. But his prejudices against Maori don’t seem to extend to the rainbow community. “I couldn’t care less. If Sir Elton John can work it, and write beautiful songs and stuff…” 

What a good attitude! I think very few people are really worked up against gay marriage. Most people are fine with it.

He paused. “Are you a fruit?”

I mentally searched through my encyclopedia of 1950s slang, past “buffoon (medical diagnosis)” and “colour, person of”, and realise he’s asking whether I’m gay. “No.” “Neither am I.” As if to underscore his acceptance of all different lifestyles, Crimp continued: “I got a nephew that is, and he’s a nice guy, he’s tall dark and handsome, and clever. I remember I was with him one time over in a pub here, and I said to him: ‘That woman second from the end on the pokie machines, she’s a hooker.’ ‘Oh, go and get her out uncle, we’ll fuck her.’ I said, ‘Oh I thought you were a fruit?’ He says ‘Yeah but… both ways,’ he said.”

Heh, not sure his nephew will appreciate that story being told :-)

Mr Crimp told me he has been divorced for 15 years, and noted that “now people don’t get married, they just have partners.” He then demonstrated his trademark tact and diplomacy with a series of questions. “Have you got a partner?” Yep. “How long have you had her?” Three years. “Oh. Does she want to get married?” Yeah, eventually. “Do you want to marry her?” Yeah, maybe in a few years. “But not at the moment.” No, not right now. I’m too young. “So you don’t love her. You just use her for shagging practice.”

Classic.

Crimp’s Maori counterpart, Hone Harawira, is known for making outrageous generalisations about a particular race, yet interacting normally with people of that race in person. I get the feeling Crimp is similar. It’s like the way Otago students can make harsh generalisations (“Anyone who votes for John Key is a moron”/“Socialists are the spawn of Satan”) and yet have close friends from across the political spectrum.

Crimp as the counterpart of Hone. A bit harsh on Hone.

Overall, the 79-year-old Crimp gives the impression that he has unfinished business, and that he just doesn’t care what people think about him any more. “I want to wind things up and piss off, retire, you know. And if I could do something for Invercargill, that’s get rid of the ILT (Invercargill Licensing Trust). 

Now that sounds worthwhile.

And if I could do something for NZ, [it would be to] have the Maoris be just like … all New Zealanders.”

Umm – Maori are New Zealanders.

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Critic on Treatygate

August 13th, 2012 at 8:26 am by David Farrar

An exclusive from Critic:

Critic has obtained documents from controversial race campaigner Louis Crimp, setting out a plan for a $2million campaign aiming to make New Zealand a “colourblind” (racially neutral) state. The campaign will be split into two distinct “brands”, known as “Treatygate” and “Colourblind State”.

‘Treatygate” is the “attack brand”, and will involve a series of brief, hard-hitting advertisements designed to incite “anger” in “hothead” voters. Treatygate aims to “expose the 40 year state brainwashing campaign that has distorted the history of Crown-Maori relations”.

Speaking to Critic, John Ansell, the advertising guru behind the campaign, described the planned advertisements for Treatygate as “short sharp little messages with one piece of evidence in each one”, such as that “Maori companies pay 17.5% tax, [while] others pay 28%.”

According to Ansell the primary goal of the Treatygate campaign is to “expose the bias and enrage the public”. “You have to make the public mad… otherwise we’re the passionless people, we won’t rouse ourselves to oppose the politicians unless [the public] have the information.”

The Treatygate campaign is likely to kick off before the end of 2012, dependent on funding.

After the public have been fired up by the Treatygate campaign, “Colourblind State” aims to harness this anger to get 80% or more of the public to vote in favour of a referendum question along the lines of “Should New Zealand be a colourblind state, with no race-based political representation, policies, or funding?”. Ansell intends to submit his referendum question by the end of August, which will give Parliament three months to approve it. After that, Ansell and his fellow campaigners will have one year to gather the more than 300,000 signatures required to trigger a citizens initiated referendum.

I wonder which CIR may gain more signatures – the asset sales one, or this proposed one? I guess the Greens will not be using taxpayer funding to hire staff to colect signatures for this one!

But Labour and the Greens are insisting that a CIR trumps an election mandate. So if this CIR does happen, and gets majority support, will they adopt it as policy?

For Ansell and his supporters, time is of the essence – the Constitutional Advisory Panel, which was set up in 2011 to review NZ’s constitutional arrangements and draft a set of recommendations, is due to report back in September 2013. Ansell believes that the panel is “stacked” in favour of what he describes as “Griever Maori”, and that the panel is likely to recommend that the government “impose a Treaty-based Maorified constitution by 2014”, which would be “the end of NZ as we know it”.

The Treatygate campaign will involve TV and print advertisements, dependent on funding. However, Ansell says: “The NZ media are pretty gutless so they probably won’t run the ads, so we may have to find other ways of getting them to the public – putting them in letterboxes, dropping them from planes, whatever it takes.”

As well as whipping up public sentiment in favour of a colourblind state, Ansell hopes his campaign will “turn people around from the belief that if you say one thing against this rort then you’re a racist. It’s a tough road, because in America you’re a racist if you wear a white hood and want to lynch black people, and in NZ you’re a racist if you want racial equality.”

Funding is the biggest roadblock standing in the way of Ansell’s campaign so far – although he is aiming for a “political party-type budget” of $2 million, several of his donors have bailed out on him, including one “patriot” who had originally pledged $250,000. Despite this setback, Ansell remains hopeful that funding will trickle in over time. “Hopefully we can start with something small and it’ll snowball. I will be putting out my prospectus to as many people I can think of as possible, with deep pockets, who might be prepared to help, and to ordinary people.”

Note John has commented on the articles in the comments below it.

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