Albert Einstein once said “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”
It certainly appears that public trust in what Napier City Council says is the truth is fading fast.
That NCC, normally so obliging for a positive-spin photo op, was not quickly forthcoming with access to the stored-away flame and Roll of Honour plaques (note – we haven’t seen a photo of them yet) erodes what little public trust they may still have even further.
Long-term, seat-warming councillors can express their regret, hindsight and sympathy all they want. But it doesn’t hide the fact that those same publically elected councillors voted to remove the “War Memorial” name from the Marine Parade conference venue (on the basis of marketing jargon from unelected council staff) and in doing so, consigned a sacred memorial to a council yard and the Eternal Flame to being sheltered by what appears to be a rubbish bin cover.
This is hardly new, though.
The likes of “Spin-Doctoring”, “Fake News”, “Alternative Facts” and “Dirty Politics” have been around long before #Hashtags made them fashionable on social media and American politics somehow made them standard operating procedure.
In recent years Napier ratepayers were told Art Deco Busses would be a great tourism attraction and money spinner. They weren’t.
We were told 680,000 people would visit the city’s new Museum, Theatre and Gallery. They didn’t.
The same facility was meant to be able to house the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust’s $44 million, 100,000 object collection. It still can’t.
Napier Skating Club was told that “SK8 Zone” would remain open and in place until the new, Council operated “Bay Skate” facility was opened. It didn’t.
When the council demolished Sk8 Zone ahead of what was previously stated, we were told they had found a temporary facility for the club. The week it was supposed to open we discovered that wouldn’t happen either.
Watchdog! claimed there were serious issues with the Napier Pound. Napier’s mayor called it a “pathetic crusade”. The Ministry of Primary Industries found otherwise.
Following a positive E.coli test and subsequent chlorination of Napier’s normally pure water supply in February this year, another positive test was returned in late May.
To ensure the waterborne bugs were killed off the council chose to chlorinate the whole system for “up to a month”.
That was still on track in mid-June when Napier’s water was due to return to normal “by the end of the month”.
Yet, here we are in July – six weeks later and it still smells like a swimming pool whenever I turn a tap on and our annual rates are up 4.9% for something that never used to be a problem.
And, of course, we’ve been told Napier “needs” a multi-million dollar velodrome, in fact it’s the “number one priority” for some in council and is sneaking back into agendas.
I’ve read through the “O’Connor Sinclair Participation Report 2014” and “Hawkes Bay Sports Regional Facilities Plan Feb 2015” reports which were being used as a basis for justifying this “need” and for the life on me, all I can find about a velodrome is that, Under “State of the Sport” for Cycling, quote: “There is no track cycling venue in HB” and under “Development Options”: “Explore future opportunities for a velodrome”. That’s it!
The same report stated that ”No additional development is required” for “Aquatics” (Swimming), despite “an increasing trend” in participation , current facilities closing due to earthquake strength issues, and lane pool demand outstripping supply.
During the last election the public very clearly voiced their opinion that what the city needed a public swimming pool like the old Onekawa Olympic Pool. Those running for re/election voiced almost universal approval for a pool and dismissal of the velodrome.
Even the mayor said the Velodrome/Public Pool issue was “not an either/or situation”.
Yet thousands of ratepayer dollars have been spent on viability reports for and promotion of a velodrome concept wanted by a very small minority, while there’s no sign of a new, publicly supported, competition / Olympic-sized swimming pool under construction and silence from its freshly elected ‘supporters’?
More recently, many a “Yeah, right!” has been muttered at revelations NCC’s offices were dangerously earthquake-prone, despite 2010/11 reports saying they were 100% up to code.
Many consider this timing all too auspicious, given NCC management were looking at selling the site off to hotel developers, relocating NCC HQ into the neighbouring library building and somehow squeezing Napier’s library into a much smaller space amidst Clive Square and yet more war memorials – Napier’s Women’s Rest building and the city’s cenotaph!
Throughout this, the senior, unelected, Napier City Council management behind many of these decisions have remained silent, while the city’s mayor attacks public, press and online questioning and criticism of his council’s decisions and actions, lambasting critics as “nay-sayers”, as if the rate-paying public who fund his salary were responsible for the problems.
It used to be that public servants took great pride in doing just that – serving the public.
More recently, and locally, it feels like there is an expectation that the public should be serving them.
The people of Napier want answers.
The people of Napier want the truth!
The people of Napier deserve better!