Paekawakawa - have you voted?
We all know Paekawakawa is the most progressive ward in Wellington so let's make sure we get the vote out. Here's a few dashboards from Living Wage Wellington, Renters United and Vote Climate to help you decide.
If you have progressive values then please please vote, but don't vote for anyone who doesn't get top marks across these 3 areas. That really only leaves Laurie Foon (Green), Nureddin Abdurahman (Labour) and Jonathan Coppard (Independent) who will all be awesome and should be your top 3 for Paekawakawa in whatever order you choose.
Vote now! And encourage all your friends and family to vote too . You need to either post your vote by Oct 4 or drop it off at one of these locations by midday on Oct 8.
Here's the link to my full voting recommendations for WCC.
WCC voting recommendations
Here's the Island Bay Healthy Streets voting recommendations for the 2022 Wellington City Council elections
Got your voting papers? This is going to be a tight election so make sure you vote and encourage everyone you know to vote. In addition to posting your vote here's a list of drop-off locations around the the city, including supermarkets and libraries. Easy! Drop off locations
Here's the recommendations. First, a caveat - these are progressive recommendations for progressive voters. This is an important election for Wellington. There has been significant progress in areas such as housing and transport over the last three years which needs protecting. Wellington is a pretty progressive town but it requires people to vote and to encourage other friends and family to vote, especially the younger voters, students and renters who stand to benefit most from more housing, better transport options and finally tackling an infrastructure deficit that previous generations and councils have allowed to build up while they enjoy artificially low rates.
Party tickets are also really important this year. The standard of the independent candidates is generally pretty poor. Many of them seem to be running solely on a sense of grievance with nothing more to offer than cliches about 'listening to the community' (which means listening to the people they agree with), 'sensible spending' (which means spending on the things they agree with) and magically reducing rates while also fixing infrastructure (spoiler alert - that won't happen).
A significant number of the independents don't seem to have engaged in local politics before and most don't appear to have ever made a submission on a council consultation. For example, it really doesn't look good to be complaining about rates, or a lack of planning, or a lack of consultation when you never made a submission during the council's Long Term Plan process i.e. the consultation on the plan that determines what our rates will be.
Many candidates don't seem to have any real appreciation of how local government works or how they can effect change with just one vote at the council table. Some of the promises being made by independents are ridiculous and sorry but any candidate claiming they will be able to lower rates , or even hold them at current levels, is lying to you. Rates have been too low for years and now we have no choice except to play catch up.
In contrast, both Labour and the Greens have put out very clear, comprehensive and progressive Wellington Local Government policies that their candidates are obliged to support:
Labour Wellington Local Government Policy 2022
Green Wellington Local Government Policy 2022
The fact that party candidates have already been vetted during selection processes and that you can expect to see a degree of co-ordination at the council table gives voters a level of reassurance that the independents just can't provide. There may be times in the future to be more sceptical of party candidates but this election definitely isn't it. As a general rule I am including the Labour and Green candidate in the top 3 ranking in every ward.
The Labour and Green party tickets have much more comprehensive and progressive policies than the independents
Remember: Wellington City uses the STV system where you rank all the candidates in order and you cannot hurt the chances of your favoured candidates as long as you rank them above your less favoured candidates. Read more about STV here.
Candidates have been assessed using the following criteria:
Finally, this election is too important to Wellington to be pulling any punches so no apologies from me for being as frank as possible. Here's the recommendations with a brief comment about each set:
Rank 1: Tory Whanau
Rank 2: Andy Foster
Rank 3 or 4: Paul Eagle/Ellen Blake
Rank 5-8 (in any order you like): Don McDonald, Ray Chung, Chris Dudfield, Kelvin Hastie
Rank 9 (last): Barbara McKenzie
Comment: Tory Whanau is the only progressive choice for Mayor. She has the freshest and most positive vision for Wellington, is strong in some key policy areas such as transport and has the advantage over Andy Foster and Paul Eagle of not having been on the council for multiple terms already and not having to accept some accountability for why we're in the position we're in now. I've already outlined why I think Paul Eagle is not the best choice for Mayor and I think Andy Foster gets the #2 ranking because although he and Paul are both relatively conservative candidates at least with Andy you still get a competent bureaucrat. Ellen Blake is probably the best of the rest although she has strong NIMBY leanings. I outlined in this Mayoral candidates meeting review why Ray Chung, Chris Dudfield and Kelvin Hastie are all problematic candidates and Barbara McKenzie needs to be avoided altogether as a Trump supporting anti-vaxer. Don McDonald is just Don.
Rank 1: Jenny Condie
Rank 2: Ben McNulty
Rank 3: Robyn Parkinson
Rank 4: James Sullivan
Rank 5-10 (in any order you like): Raveen Annamalai, Rachel Qi, John Peters, Tony Randle, James Sales, John Apanowicz
Comment: Jenny Condie is the outstanding candidate in Northern and a member of the Fab 5 current councillors that we need to bring back. Ben McNulty (Labour) and Robyn Parkinson (Green) then get the nod due to their progressive party platforms. Robyn Parkinson just edges out the very progressively minded James Sullivan based on her work with the Tawa Community Board. While there are some other candidates with strong community links they are mostly conservatives who have tied themselves to either the Paul Eagle or Andy Foster independent-but-not-really tickets and should be avoided.
Rank 1: Rebecca Matthews
Rank 2: Lachlan Patterson
Rank 3 or 4: Bob Mason/Alexander Garside
Rank 5-10 (in any order you like): Ray Chung, Diane Calvert, Kush Bhargava, Kelvin Hastie, Ryan Bothma, Heather Baldwin
Rank 11 (last): Barbara McKenzie
Comment: Rebecca Matthews (Labour) is the clear #1. She's probably the strongest current councillor on increasing housing supply and is a member of the Fab 5 we need to get back on council. Lachlan Patterson (Green) provides a much-needed younger voice in Wharangi. The only other obvious progressives are Bob Mason and Alexander Garside who I find hard to separate so take your pick for the 3rd spot. Diane Calvert is conservative as hell and has shamelessly pitched her tent in the Eagle camp for no better reason than she knows he won't do anything 'too hard' which suits her reactionary agenda. Ray Chung and Kelvin Hastie are both running for Mayor but are grievance candidates and not even fit to be councillors. The others seems pretty anonymous, have never made submissions before and didn't fill in the IBHS or Vote Climate surveys, although Heather Baldwin has good community connections. Barbara McKenzie needs to be ranked last again as a Trump supporting anti-vaxer.
Rank 1: Tamatha Paul
Rank 2: Afnan AL-Rubayee
Rank 3: Jonathan Markwick
Rank 4: Iona Pannett
Rank 5: Ellen Blake
Rank 6-9 (in any order you like): Nicola Young, Zan Rai Gyaw, Jane O'Loughlin, Karl Tiefenbacher
Rank 10 (last): Nicholas Hancox
Comment: Tamatha Paul (Green) is the outstanding candidate in Pukehīnau and another member of the Fab 5. Afnan AL-Rubayee gets the nod at #2 as the Labour candidate and someone with good community connections. The #3 ranking here is probably the closest call in this whole exercise. Jonathan Markwick is young but holds very progressive views as seen in his previous submissions to council and responses to surveys. That means he pinches the #3 ranking from the very experienced Iona Pannett who can still be relied upon to vote progressively on just about everything but housing. Ellen Blake is probably the best of the rest although she has strong NIMBY leanings, as does Jane O'Loughlin. Nicola Young is deeply conservative and needs to go after a triennium spent moaning and voting against anything remotely worthwhile. Zan Rai Gyaw and Karl Tiefenbacher are just grievance candidates. Nicholas Hancox should be ranked last as an anti-vaxer and participant in the Feb protest at Parliament.
Rank 1: Teri O'Neill
Rank 2: Luana Scowcroft
Rank 3: Sarah Free
Rank 4-6 (in any order you like): Steph Edlin, Ken Ah Kuoi, Nathan Meyer
Rank 7: Tim Brown
Rank 8: Aaron Gilmore
Rank 9 (last): Rob Goulden
Comment: Teri O'Neill (Labour) is a member of the Fab 5 and has been a very effective councillor during her first term. Luana Scowcroft (Green) is ranked #2 as someone with a very progressive voice. Despite some conservative votes on housing during the last triennium Sarah Free is still clearly in the top 3 and can still be relied upon to vote progressively on most other things. Tim Brown will be well known from his time on the Wellington Airport board but holds some confusing positions on too many things, is opposed to the NPS-UD and did not do well on his Vote Climate survey [due to his high name recognition he's ranked low here to lessen the risk of him getting on*]. The rest mostly seem like grievance candidates and members of the 'fix infrastructure but with lower rates while opposing the density that might actually lower rates' magical thinking cult. Aaron Gilmore is well-known for all the wrong reasons and is in an arm-wrestle to be ranked last with Rob Goulden who is one of the worst councillors Wellington ever had.
Rank 1: Laurie Foon
Rank 2: Nureddin Abdurahman
Rank 3: Jonathan Coppard
Rank 4-7 (in any order you like): Inoke Afeaki, Dipak Bhana, Iain Alasdair MacLeod, Urmila Bhana
Rank 8: Paula Muollo
Rank 9: Chris Dudfield
Rank 10 (last): Ate Moala
Comment: Laurie Foon is one of the best current councillors, a member of the Fab 5 and the #1 candidate in Paekawakawa by a mile. Nureddin Abdurahman (Labour) has extensive community links and the Labour policy platform means he just edges out another very active community advocate Jonathan Coppard. Both would be great in that second spot though. As can be seen in this Paekawakawa candidates meeting review from there it's pretty much just 'I've got a grievance so I'm running for council as a form of therapy'. Inoke Afeaki seemed like he could be good until he started slagging off cycleways and it appears he's fallen in with Paula Muollo, a former associate of Terry Serepisos who has little more to offer than empty platitudes about listening to everybody, sensible spending and increasing density but only in "the right areas". We all know what that's code for - NIMBY [due to her high name recognition she's ranked low here to lessen the risk of her getting on*]. Iain MacLeod is another self-confessed NIMBY who doesn't think there should be densification in "high-decile suburbs with nice facilities". Nobody from the #4 ranking down appears to have submitted to the council on anything significant before, have much community involvement and they mostly haven't bothered to complete the surveys they've been asked to, such as Vote Climate. Chris Dudfield deserves special mention for being one of the most arrogant, entitled and genuinely unlikeable council candidates in years but still gets beaten out of last spot by Ate Moala, a Trump-supporting, anti-vax, homophobe and transphobe.
Rank 1 or 2: Matthew Reweti/Nīkau Wi Neera
Rank 3: Ali Hamlin-Paenga
Comment: I don't have too much to say about Te Whanganui-a-Tara except that Matthew Reweti (Labour) and Nīkau Wi Neera (Green) both seem like really good candidates and you could probably vote for either one. Ali Hamlin-Paenga seems well-qualified too and has a background in social housing but her comment at the Island Bay Residents Association candidates meeting that she would ask the people of Island Bay whether they wanted Light Rail was silly for a project of city-wide importance that has already been widely-consulted on.
Hope that helps. Whether you agree with these recommendations or not the most important thing is that you vote, and encourage everybody else you know to vote too.
*Updated 17/9 to reflect that Tim Brown & Paula Muollo's high name recognition may lead to them being ranked higher than they deserve. Progressives should probably rank them as low as possible to lessen the risk of them getting on.
Here's how the Wellington City Council candidates say they would have voted on some key issues facing the city
I recently published an analysis of how the current Wellington City councillors voted on some key issues. In this Part II let's look at the results of a survey of the new candidates where they were asked how they would have voted on exactly the same motions. Tools such as Policy Local are helpful but asking candidates for their policy positions allows them to play safe and take a middle-of-the-road approach that hides their true beliefs. However, asking them how they would have voted on actual motions that the current council voted on leaves no place to hide and is also a pretty handy test of their ability to read and understand council papers in a short space of time, just as they will be expected to do if they are elected.
The two meetings chosen are the final approval of the 2021-31 Long Term Plan at the Annual Plan/Long-term Plan Committee on 27 May 2021 and the final approval of the Proposed District Plan for Public Notification at the Pūroro Āmua Planning & Environment Committee on 23 June 2022. Both meetings have enough juicy voting to sort the conservatives from the progressives, the NIMBYs from the YIMBYs and the climate heroes from the climate zeroes. In this spreadsheet I've collated the votes from those two meetings that weren't purely procedural or unanimous so that you can do your own analysis and come to your own conclusions if you wish (I've ignored the unanimous votes because they don't really reveal the differences between councillors and candidates). Make sure you read the notes first though! In both cases I've only recorded the voting on the substantive motion (after amendments) and not the voting on the amendments. This is only after checking that the voting on the substantive motion was in line with any amendments made, which it almost always was.
15 out of 47 new candidates actually completed a survey asking them how they would have voted, a completion rate of 32%. A further 7 candidates replied but declined to complete the survey, mostly because they said they were too busy. The remaining 25 candidates didn't bother to reply at all. The candidates who completed the survey were overwhelmingly the progressive candidates. Read into that what you like but it seems that it's the progressive candidates who are a) prepared to do the mahi and b) happy to demonstrate what their policy statements will mean in reality.
Long Term Plan
The final approval of the Long Term Plan in May 2021 came at the end of a long process that had been variously described as a shambles and a dog's breakfast. The motions covered a wide variety of areas including:
Of the 15 candidates who completed the survey by far the most reactionary and conservative was Chris Dudfield (standing for Mayor and Paekawakawa/Southern) who took the Nicola Young approach of voting against virtually everything including cycleways, the Pōneke Promise to reduce sexual violence and alcohol harm, funding for youth hubs/better youth engagement, footpath upgrades, upgrading Khandallah Summer Pool and town centre upgrades for Berhampore and Island Bay. Let's be clear - this isn't 'common sense spending' or getting 'back to basics', it's running the city into the ground. It's compounding an already chronic under-investment in infrastructure and social cohesion in a lazy attempt to win votes with exactly the same brand of short-sighted fiscal conservatism that got us into this mess in the first place. Aaron Gilmore and Rob Goulden (both standing for Motukairangi/Eastern) both voted against increased spending on cycleways. Aaron Gilmore also voted against increased spending for the arts and Rob Goulden voted against upgrading Frank Kitts Park. The progressive candidates all voted for all of the above initiatives.
Key vote: Cycleways
Cycleways are definitely a hot topic in Wellington and create a clear distinction between progressive and conservative so this is the key vote on the Long Term Plan in the candidates survey for me. Option 4 was to significantly increase funding and deliver a city-wide bike network (covering 150km of Wellington's 700km of roads, approx. 20%). Cycleways was the only Long Term Plan item that the council consulted on where the public's preference (Option 4, to spend more) was not the council's, and where councillors actually voted against council officers' recommendation (Option 3, spend less) via an amendment.
Agree to adopt Option 4 rather than Option 3 for the delivery of future cycling infrastructure
For: Ben McNulty, Tory Whanau, James Sullivan, Matthew Reweti, Lachlan Patterson, Nīkau Wi Neera, Luana Scowcroft, Jonathan Coppard, Bob Mason, Jonathan Markwick, Nureddin Mohamed Abdurahman, Afnan AL-Rubayee
Against: Chris Dudfield, Aaron Gilmore, Rob Goulden
The 12 progressive candidates you can trust with your vote. On the 2 key votes in the survey they voted FOR building a city-wide bike network and AGAINST reducing walking catchments in the District Plan
Approving the District Plan for public notification on 23 June 2022 also came at the end of a long process of public consultation called Planning for Growth, which resulted in a new Spatial Plan and draft District Plan for Wellington. Hopes were high that the new Spatial Plan and District Plan would enable a lot more homes to be built in Wellington so that's why this meeting caused controversy by walking back much of that progress in what The Dominion Post described as "a devastating u-turn". The voting here is really on a single issue: housing and densification.
Key vote: Walking catchments
This vote reduced walking catchments (the boundaries within which six-storey buildings can be built) from 15 minutes’ walking distance of areas around the central city to just 10 minutes, meaning there will be less land available for enabling more homes via greater density. The reduction means Wellington has taken a more conservative approach than other councils, where 15 minutes is standard. If you have hopes of ever buying a home in Wellington, or you want your children or grandchildren to be able to, voting for this makes it harder.
Agree that the walking catchments recommended by officers, in respect of the spatial plan, to be reinstated as follows:
For: Chris Dudfield, Aaron Gilmore, Rob Goulden
Against: Ben McNulty, Tory Whanau, James Sullivan, Matthew Reweti, Lachlan Patterson, Nīkau Wi Neera, Luana Scowcroft, Jonathan Coppard, Bob Mason, Jonathan Markwick, Nureddin Mohamed Abdurahman, Afnan AL-Rubayee
So there you have it. If you are a progressive voter it should be pretty clear who you can safely vote for among the new candidates, in addition to the Fab 5 current councillors standing again. But so that there's absolutely no confusion in a few days I'll be making definitive recommendations by ward on who to rank and in what order. Watch this space!
The most important thing of all is to VOTE and encourage all of you friend and family to vote too. Spread the word!
We need to talk about Paul
Here's why I don't think Paul Eagle is a good candidate for Mayor
With the campaign now in full swing there's really only three serious contenders for Wellington Mayor:
Tory Whanau is the only fresh-face there but looks qualified to do the role and has a very progressive set of policies. Andy Foster has been on the council for 30 years, including being the Mayor for the last three. Paul Eagle was also on the council for seven years from 2010 to 2017 and has been Rongotai MP for the last five years. Paul has a lot of name recognition around Wellington but here's why I don't think that translates into him being a good candidate for Mayor.
First, Paul promised during his 2020 general election campaign for Rongotai that he wouldn't run for Mayor. If he does, and wins, it will trigger a by-election costing more than 1 million dollars. It's not a good start to a Mayoral campaign that simply by running you prove we can't trust you and that you think you are worth taxpayers paying a million dollar premium for, especially when you already triggered a by-election when you left WCC for parliament in 2017.
Going back on your word like this might not matter as much if you're a great leader with a proven track record. For example, all previous cases of MPs who triggered by-elections by leaving Parliament mid-term to become Mayors had already been Ministers in Government (Fran Wilde in 1992, Lianne Dalziel in 2013 and Phil Goff in 2016, all from the Labour Party). Paul is nowhere near that level, however. In two terms in parliament he's never even chaired a Select Committee. In 2020 his list ranking dropped from 34 to 49 and if he didn't have a safe electorate seat he might not even be in the next parliament with a ranking that low (there's a theory that he's low on the list because he has a safe electorate seat but 13 of his colleagues with 'safe' margins of 10,000 or more are ahead of him on the list and the average list placement of Labour MPs with margins of 10,000 or more is 23 so he definitely has a well below average ranking).
Paul has also been on the council before and frankly achieved very little during those seven years except for trying and failing to stop a cycleway from being built. Both Paul and Andy Foster are part of a small group of current and past city councillors who have been on the council for multiple terms and who must accept responsibility for leading Wellington into the situation it is in now. It's not as if Wellington's pipes only became a problem in the last five years so why would we think the same people who let the problem get this bad are now the right people to fix it? [On a side note I would seriously consider not ranking highly any councillor who has already done multiple terms at this election. The Fab 5 of Rebecca Matthews, Teri O'Neill, Laurie Foon, Tamatha Paul and Jenny Condie, (who are all first-term councillors) are the ones we should definitely vote back in].
Paul is more of a populist and opportunist. An example of this is his handling of the Island Bay Cycleway, which resulted in the Dominion Post accusing him of "pure demagoguery" and "risible sloganeering", and this is the issue where I have had first-hand experience of dealing with him.
Paul Eagle took the side of Island Bay Cycleway opponents
As soon as the cycleway became an issue in 2014 he took the side of opponents, wrongly assuming that there was no support for it. A more community-minded leader might have shown some insight and used his mana to take a more conciliatory approach. Instead Paul relentlessly doubled-down on anti-cyclist rhetoric. During the period 2015-2016 he was pictured repeatedly in the cycleway in a variety of angry poses. The message here is very clear and it's not one of reconciliation. In 2015 he was even one of the founding members of the anti-cycleway Island Bay Residents Association, who later took the council to court for a judicial review that failed spectacularly (Paul was an active member of IBRA until at least 2017. It's not clear at what point he ceased to be a member. In 2022 IBRA finally adopted a neutral position on the cycleway).
During 2015-2016 Paul Eagle spent a lot of time standing in the cycleway looking cross
Some of the rhetoric he used around that time was appalling. Only days before Christmas in 2015 he used the hashtag #WCCGestapo multiple times to refer to WCC staff. Imagine working for the council and two days before Christmas a councillor is comparing you to the Nazi secret police. At the time of writing - nearly 7 years later - the tweets have still not been deleted. If you worked for WCC now would you want him back? Is that the sort of leadership that would inspire you to do your best?
Invoking this sort of rhetoric clearly had knock-on effects. A couple of years later cycleway opponents were emboldened to make tasteless comparisons to the Third Reich and accuse his successor as Southern Ward councillor of being a Nazi.
Incredibly, he even ended up pissing off cycleway opponents by voting for the never-actually-implemented 2017 'Mayor's compromise'. The Island Bay Residents Association Chair described being "gobsmacked" and "cut to the heart" by his "unforgiveable" u-turn.
His opportunism and poor judgement isn't limited to the cycleway either. In April 2015, a full 18 months out from the October 2016 local body elections, he announced he would be running for Deputy Mayor on a joint ticket with Mayoral candidate Nicola Young. By March 2016 he was forced into an embarrassing back-track by Labour. Announcing that he would now be riding Mayoral candidate Justin Lester's coattails into the Deputy Mayor role he admitted "In hindsight I should have gone to the party first".
Another example of poor judgement and questionable behaviour is this 2018 incident where Paul was accused of swearing at a panel-beater and being "entitled, rude and disrespectful". In the Reddit thread where the incident first came to light he was also accused of ringing a constituent to "have a big angry rant" and on another occasion "tearing into an elderly lady" at a meeting. Being "rude and disrespectful" seems to be a common theme in complaints about Paul on social media. This probably wouldn't matter if he was just another citizen like the rest of us but is this really what we want from our Mayor?
He seems especially thin-skinned about people disagreeing with him and is prone to either block or respond in a way that doesn't reflect the higher level of scrutiny elected reps should expect and the huge power imbalance between a politician and a constituent.
Paul's position of power means wide social media reach. Is it appropriate for him to use it to call people "keyboard warriors", make veiled threats about a business's council lease or claim that criticising his position on an issue is the catalyst for "hate" towards his family? (for what it's worth every criticism I've ever made of Paul's position on the Island Bay cycleway and transport generally is still online here and on the Island Bay Healthy Streets Twitter and Facebook. I stand by it all and will leave it to others to judge whether it's legitimate criticism of an elected representative or "hate").
More recently, questions have been asked about the appropriateness of him using Parliamentary resources to run a survey "for electorate purposes only" when he was clearly already preparing a Mayoral bid. He also managed to get himself in a situation where he was basically threatening the organisation he wants to lead with legal action. He denied that his campaign team set up their hoardings early, despite eye-witness statements that they did, and was also instructed to replace a rival candidates hoarding that his team had removed. On their own most of these incidents don't amount to much but taken together there seems to be a consistent pattern of a lack of respect for the rules, a lack of respect for the other candidates and playing a bit fast and loose with the truth.
Paul is running as an independent endorsed by Labour but even the path to that endorsement doesn't seem to have been easy or straight-forward. The Dominion Post reports that Labour "presented him with a rather draconian list of conditions related to endorsing him". When Labour released it's Wellington Local Government Policy for 2022 he immediately distanced himself from it, describing it as "aspirational" and actually rejecting Labour's policy on cycleways. When I emailed Labour General Secretary Rob Salmond asking him to release the detail of Paul’s endorsement and to clarify if he was in any way bound by Labour’s Wellington Local Government Policy he replied "Paul Eagle is running an independent campaign for the Wellington Mayoralty. His campaign’s independent status means he is not bound by Labour’s Wellington Local Government Policy. Instead, Paul is free to promote his own suite of policies for the election. I anticipate there will be good crossover between Paul’s policies and Labour’s policies, of course, because we share the same values". So Paul isn't actually bound by Labour Policy at all which makes you wonder what Paul did agree to in order to get the endorsement. We still don't know.
Paul's own policies focused on getting 'back to the basics' of 'parks, pools, pipes, and potholes' are remarkably conservative and short-sighted. The fact that right-wingers like Diane Calvert and Nicola Young are supporting Paul should be a massive red-flag. They know that it's not Paul's instinct to try and do anything 'too hard' which suits them just fine. Of course the pipes need to be fixed (and the current council has already put in place significant funding over 10 years to do that) but 'back to basics', is really just another way of saying let's re-establish and protect existing privileges but no more. In the middle of a housing crisis and climate crisis we need much bolder and more progressive leadership than that.
Anyway, that's as matter-of-fact an explanation as I can give for now about why I don't think Paul Eagle would be a good Mayor. I'm not saying Paul is a bad person or even a bad politician. But I am saying that he is well short of the standard we should expect from a Mayor and I think we can do better. If you have a progressive bone in your body then you really should rank Tory Whanau at #1. But above all else, whether you agree or disagree, VOTE! And encourage all your family and friends to vote. This is a huge election for Wellington so let's not die wondering.
I realise people may want to share their own thoughts about Paul, which would be welcome, but if you do please try and keep it as factual, respectful and focused on his suitability to be Mayor as possible. I don't want to be accused of being a catalyst for hate again. I'm especially interested in hearing what people think Paul's key achievements are and what particular attributes qualify him to be Mayor. Apart from turning up at a lot of things and being well-known I'm honestly not sure what they are.
Meet the candidates
I watched a two hour Meet the Candidates meeting so you don't have to
The Island Bay & Owhiro Bay Residents Associations held their candidates meeting for Mayor, Te Whanganui-a-Tara and Paekawakawa/Southern ward on 25 August. Here's my run-down on what happened. You can also watch the full video below. Huge thanks to the two residents associations for putting this on and making the video available.
Watching this I'm more convinced than ever that this needs to be a 'pull-no-punches' election. There's just too many unelectable and very average candidates. These people will damage the city so no apologies from me for calling some of them out. If you run for public office in the middle of housing crisis and climate crisis you're going to get scrutinised.
It's also noticeable how many candidates are motivated to run by grievance rather than a positive vision for the city. Most of those appear to have little to no understanding of how WCC actually works and are running simply because they're angry about something.
I know from my own research so far that most of the 'grievance' candidates have never actually engaged with the council - or even within their own communities - in any significant way, except maybe for the thing they're upset about. Which is not a great place from which to build a campaign. For example, it doesn't look good to be complaining about rates, or a lack of planning, or a lack of consultation when you never made a submission during the council's Long Term Plan process i.e. the consultation on the plan that determines what our rates will be.
Except for Te Whanganui-a-Tara I'd say there's also a really dangerous under-representation of younger voices i.e. the people who will actually inherit the city. It's entirely predictable but it's generally the older generation who seem most upset about 'things' and 'things changing'.
The overall standard of the truly independent candidates (i.e. not party affiliated or party endorsed) is pretty terrible. After watching this I think party tickets are going to be more valuable than ever. At least they provide some confidence around vetting and policy commitments.
Far too many candidates are also leaning on "I'll listen to the community" tropes which is a big fat con. It relies on a belief that the community is largely homogeneous that tells you something about their own world-view. More candidates should talk about what their values are and let us vote on those.
The Mayoral candidates from left to right, Paul Eagle, Tory Whanau, Ray Chung, Barbara McKenzie, Chris Dudfield, Ellen Blake, Don McDonald, Andy Foster, Kelvin Hastie
Ok, let's talk about the Mayoral candidates. Barbara McKenzie should be glad she's banned from the VUWSA debate because it can really only increase her chances. Not only does she hold terrible views but she is just a bad candidate. This was an awful, stuttering, unconvincing performance. AVOID
Ray Chung also came across really badly. His platform is reactionary enough without also coming across as the least competent and least charismatic member of your local residents association. He made a very big deal of having been to 46 countries as if that matters. He simply hasn't got what it takes to be a councillor let alone Mayor. AVOID
Chris Dudfield and Kelvin Hastie were both rude, arrogant and entitled. Both of them complaining about rates and what a terrible job WCC's doing before putting forward ridiculously extravagant pet projects of their own. We've suffered too many of this type of man in local government in the past. AVOID
I thought Ellen Blake came across well in the meeting. The fact that she knows how council works and is a legit community advocate/organiser type shone through. Not sure she can beat out the big 3 for Mayor though. And as a long-standing member of the Mount Victoria Residents Association there are some concerns about her being against increasing housing density, including opposing this award-winning infill development.
Of the big 3 I thought Tory Whanau did the best although she stumbled a bit talking about cycleways in front of what was probably a disproportionately negative crowd. However, as the freshest face she was the most convincing overall at selling a positive vision for Wellington and she has an advantage over the other two of not having been on the council before and not having to accept some accountability for why we're in the position we're in now
Andy Foster did ok. For all the crap he takes he spoke confidently about the council's achievements over the past 3 years, and there are some. That said, he's battling a very heavy burden of incumbency and moaning about 'politics' at the council table actually just highlights questions about his leadership of a largely progressive (and largely female) council. The fact that he has put together a rather unconvincing all-male ticket, that doesn't include any current councillors, just compounds those concerns. He's been on the council for 30 years and Mayor for three so has to accept a significant chunk of responsibility for Wellington's current woes.
Paul Eagle was just himself. Bland platitudes about listening to people, communities, master-plans and all the councillor cosplay we saw over seven years of actually doing not much except failing to stop a cycleway being built. He was very obviously trying to avoid answering any of the audience questions which is him all over. Whatever your view of Paul this probably didn't change it.
Don McDonald was also just himself but I don't want to be rude and leave him out.
Te Whanganui-a-Tara candidates Ali Hamlin-Paenga & Matthew Reweti. Nīkau Wi Neera was absent but pre-recorded his answers
It's not my place to say too much about Te Whanganui-a-Tara except they seem pretty well served for candidates. But Ali Hamlin-Paenga saying she'd ask the people of Island Bay whether light-rail should come here was silly. We're talking about billion dollar city-making infrastructure and there's already been years of consultation. Island Bay is the southern terminus of the entire Wellington north-south transport spine and generates thousands of trips per day. We need better leadership than "I'll just ask the people".
Before getting into the Paekawakawa candidates I've just got say that slamming cycleways might seem like a vote winner in front of some of these crowds but it is a total red flag and tells me that you are not a remotely serious thinker about transport issues. The case for cycleways is so strong that only an ideologue with acute car-brain would even bother attempting the mental gymnastics required to argue that it's not.
Paekawakawa candidates from left to right, Paula Muollo, Urmila Bhana, Inoke Afeaki, Laurie Foon, Nureddin Abdurahman, Ate Moala, Johnathan Coppard, Dipak Bhana, Iain MacLeod
Laurie Foon is the stand out Paekawakawa candidate by a mile. Great values, great communicator, solid achievements over the last three years. Proper councillor. Got to get her back on the council.
Nureddin Abdurahman also came across well. He's another one with proper community organiser/advocate credentials. And I've got to say the overall standard of the independents is so bad that the Green/Labour party tickets count for HEAPS here in Paekawakawa.
Of the other independents Jonathan Coppard also has good community activist credentials and came across well in front of a pretty hostile crowd. Dipak Bhana seemed like a nice guy but didn't have much to say. He's part of Andy Foster's all-male Together for Wellington ticket so seemed to running the line that 'everything is awesome'. Inoke Afeaki was going ok and seemed like a sensible person until he started complaining about cycleways.
Paula Muollo, Iain MacLeod and Urmila Bhana all came across as grievance candidates i.e. "the council's bad but I'll listen to the community and magically deliver everything everybody wants without pissing anybody off while also lowering rates". None of them appeared to have any real understanding of how the council works or any actual policies and yes, they all think cYcLeWaYs aRe bAd. Former Miss Wellington and Terry Serepisos associate Paula Muollo managed to come across like she was only running for council for a dare. Urmila Bhana was part of the court case trying to stop the Newtown to City cycleway being built and kept quoting some statistic about bikes not lowering carbon emissions that just didn't make any sense and sounded like she either didn't understand it or was being deliberately mis-leading. Iain MacLeod runs the Penthouse Cinema and in trying to convince us he can work with anybody actually said "I employ a few of those LGB, um, ah, whatever it is", managing to achieve the exact opposite. It was the cringiest comment of the night which is saying something. He's also a self-confessed NIMBY. He doesn't want development in Seatoun (where he actually lives) because it is a "higher-decile suburb with some nice facilities". You can work out for yourself what that's code for. AVOID
Chris Dudfield is also running in Paekawkawa but as previously discussed came off as a rude, arrogant and entitled. Lord, grant me the self-confidence of the middle-aged pākeha male with a grievance who is posting an NBR article on LinkedIn when he realises he was born to lead and it is his - and only his - unique mix of skills, experience and world-view that is missing from the local council table. Good grief - there's far too many of these arseholes in local government around the country already. AVOID
Speaking of the plague the final Paekawakawa candidate is Ate Moala, an anti-vax, climate-change denying, Trump supporting, homophobe and transphobe. Need I say it? AVOID
Ok, that's it. Thanks again to IBRA and OBRA for making the video available. I'm more determined than ever to keep digging into what these candidates are like across the board. Watch this space and don't forget the resources I've already published. And VOTE. And tell everyone you know to vote. Vote like your lives depend on it, because maybe they do.
WCC election 2022 resources
Here's some resources to help with deciding who to vote for
WCC voting recommendations
**Here's the Island Bay Healthy Streets voting recommendations for the 2022 Wellington City Council elections**
WCC candidate social media
A list of all the candidates websites, Facebook pages & Twitter accounts.
WCC candidate submissions
A list of submissions made by the new candidates on 3 big WCC consultations:
WCC candidate media
A list of media stories featuring candidates (contains many red flags)
WCC candidate community
A list of candidate involvement in community organisations
How the current council voted at 2 key meetings in the last triennium plus how the new candidates say they would have voted:
The Fab 5
WCC isn't dysfunctional, it's just diverse & these are the 5 current councillors we must vote back in.
Report card Part I: how the councillors voted
Here's how the current Wellington City Council voted on some key issues (based on the WCC votes spreadsheet above).
Report card Part II: how the candidates voted
Here's how the new Wellington City Council candidates say they would have voted on some key issues (based on the WCC votes spreadsheet above).
Meet the candidates
Summary of the Island Bay & Owhiro Bay Residents Association's meet the candidates evening for Mayoral, Te Whanganui-a-Tara and Paekawakawa/Southern candidates.
We need to talk about Paul
Here's why I don't think Paul Eagle is a good candidate for Mayor and Tory Whanau should be the progressive choice to rank #1
WCC voting recommendations
Here's the Island Bay Healthy Streets voting recommendations for the 2022 Wellington City Council elections
Paekawakawa - have you voted yet?
Recommendations and scorecards to help Paekawakawa/Southern ward voters
The complete guide to the NZ local elections 2022. Find out who’s running in your area and what they stand for.
Scorecards and candidates' statements on what they think about climate action .
Vote Local by Generation Zero
Where do your local candidates stand on climate justice?
Scorecard on whether candidates will make things better or worse for renters
Updates will be regularly added...
Here's how the current Wellington City Council voted on some key issues
The Dominion Post recently published a pretty good analysis of Wellington City councillors' performance over the last 3 years that largely aligns with my Fab 5 blog highlighting the 5 progressive councillors I think we need to re-elect.
I do have a few minor quibbles with the Dom Post's piece though. Apart from Shelly Bay the voting they analysed is too consistent and doesn't reveal the key differences between councillors. Even Shelly Bay is complex and doesn't follow traditional left/right voting patterns. Also, the particular votes chosen are not always from the most interesting stage in the discussion e.g. the big votes on the Bike Network were during the Long Term Plan process where various councillors did vote against more funding at different points. I'm also really surprised the Spatial Plan/District Plan didn't get a mention. That's the headline issue of the last triennium for me and reveals some fundamental differences between councillors that voters should consider.
Unfortunately, attempts to get WCC to build a database of voting records for the current triennium failed with the council claiming (a year after they first received the request) that they "didn't have time". The council have been doing some related work in the background so I'm hopeful that we can still get a voting database up and running at the start of the new triennium. It really would be a very useful tool and create much greater transparency over council decision-making.
In the meantime, how can we get a sense of how councillors have been voting over the last 3 years without a huge amount of manual collation and analysis of voting that is scattered across hundreds of different pdf files? I decided to focus on two really significant meetings from the past 3 years that had a good volume and variety of votes within the meeting and also some really high-stakes votes for the city. That way we should be able to get a good feel for who's been voting for what to help inform where we want to put our own votes during local body elections in October.
The two meetings I chose are the final approval of the 2021-31 Long Term Plan at the Pūroro Maherehere
Annual Plan/Long Term Plan Committee on 27 May 2021 and the final approval of the Proposed District Plan for Public Notification at the Pūroro Āmua Planning & Environment Committee on 23 June 2022. Both meetings have enough juicy voting to sort the conservatives from the progressives, the NIMBYs from the YIMBYs and the climate heroes from the climate zeroes. In this spreadsheet I've collated every vote from those two meetings that wasn't purely procedural or unanimous so that you can do your own analysis and come to your own conclusions if you wish (I've ignored the unanimous votes because they don't really reveal the differences between councillors). Make sure you read the notes first though! In both cases I've only recorded the voting on the substantive motion (after amendments) and not the voting on the amendments. This is only after checking that the voting on the substantive motion was in line with any amendments made, which it almost always was.
The Fab 5 progressive councillors : Rebecca Matthews, Teri O'Neill, Laurie Foon, Tamatha Paul & Jenny Condie
Long Term Plan
The final approval of the Long Term Plan in May 2021 came at the end of a long process that had been variously described as a shambles and a dog's breakfast. As a result councillors were still being asked to vote on a whole range of changes during the meeting. Bad for them but good for us. The votes covered a wide variety of areas including:
There are ten current councillors probably running again (only one or two are yet to confirm) plus the Mayor, so let's focus on how they voted. Looking at the voting you can probably see why I identified Rebecca Matthews, Teri O'Neill, Laurie Foon, Tamatha Paul and Jenny Condie as the progressive Fab 5. They voted almost totally in unison and almost totally in support of the initiatives listed above.
At the other end of the spectrum Nicola Young voted against everything except increasing arts funding (because she personally likes the arts) leaving even the Grinch stunned at her misanthropic miserliness. Diane Calvert also voted against a lot, including cycleways, the Pōneke Promise, funding for youth hubs/better youth engagement, increased arts funding and town centre upgrades for Berhampore and Island Bay. Not quite Nicola Young standards of austerity but still grim (imagine voting against reducing sexual violence and alcohol harm). Mayor Andy Foster supported most things but voted against increasing spending on cycleways and youth hubs/better youth engagement.
Sean Rush was absent but probably would have voted against at least some of this stuff. In his case it doesn't matter - he should be considered unelectable after he straight up lied about creating an anonymous Twitter account to troll his colleagues and post some pretty questionable content (including climate change denial and transphobia), only telling the truth after it had already been established beyond any reasonable doubt that it was him.
Key vote: Cycleways
Sarah Free and Iona Pannett also voted in support of all of the above but it has to be noted that at an earlier point in the process they both voted against increasing funding for cycleways (Option 4), meaning that the council's preferred option during consultation was to spend significantly less money (Option 3). Cycleways was the only item that the council consulted on where the public's preference (to spend more) was not the council's, and where councillors actually voted against council officers' recommendation in this meeting via an amendment. Cycleways are definitely a hot topic in Wellington and create a clear distinction between progressive and conservative so this is the key vote in the meeting for me:
Agree to adopt Option 4 rather than Option 3 for the delivery of future cycling infrastructure
For: Jenny Condie, Jill Day, Fleur Fitzsimons, Laurie Foon, Sarah Free, Rebecca Matthews, Teri O'Neill, Iona Pannett, Tamatha Paul
Against: Andy Foster, Diane Calvert, Malcolm Sparrow, Simon Woolf, Nicola Young
Absent: Sean Rush
Majority vote: 9:5
Approving the District Plan for public notification on 23 June 2022 also came at the end of a long process of public consultation called Planning for Growth, which resulted in a new Spatial Plan and draft District Plan for Wellington. Hopes were high that the new Spatial Plan and District Plan would enable a lot more homes to be built in Wellington so that's why this meeting caused controversy by walking back much of that progress in what The Dominion Post described as "a devastating u-turn". The voting here is really on a single issue, housing, and easier to get a handle on as it was a core eight votes who did the damage. Six of those votes are thought to be running again in October; Mayor Foster and councillors Diane Calvert, Sarah Free, Iona Pannett, Sean Rush and Nicola Young. The progressive Fab 5 of Rebecca Matthews, Teri O'Neill, Laurie Foon, Tamatha Paul and Jenny Condie all voted against watering down what had previously been agreed.
Key vote: Walking catchments
This vote reduced walking catchments (the boundaries within which six-storey buildings can be built) from 15 minutes’ walking distance around the central city and metropolitan areas to just 10 minutes, meaning there will be less land available for enabling more homes via greater density. The reduction means Wellington has taken a more conservative approach than other councils, where 15 minutes is standard. If you have hopes of ever buying a home in Wellington, or you want your children or grandchildren to be able to, these eight councillors have now made it harder. The one vote that 'flipped' from when a 15 min walking catchment from the central city was introduced into the Spatial Plan in June 2021 was Sarah Free.
Agree that the walking catchments recommended by officers, in respect of the spatial plan, to be reinstated as follows:
For: Andy Foster, Diane Calvert, Sarah Free, Liz Kelly, Iona Pannett, Sean Rush, Simon Woolf, Nicola Young
Against: Jenny Condie, Jill Day, Fleur Fitzsimons, Laurie Foon, Rebecca Matthews, Teri O'Neill, Tamatha Paul
Majority vote: 8:7
So hopefully that gives you an even greater sense of which current councillors you might want to vote for in October than the Dominion Post piece, where a lot of the voting they highlighted was actually pretty consistent from one councillor to the next.
What I plan to do in Part II of this blog is use the votes highlighted in these two meetings as the basis of a survey of new council candidates once nominations close on 12 August and then publish the results. Tools such as Policy Local are helpful but asking candidates for their policy positions allows them to play safe and take a middle-of-the-road approach that hides their true beliefs. However, asking them how they would have voted on actual motions that the current council voted on leaves no place to hide and is also a pretty handy test of their ability to read and understand council papers, just as they will be expected to do if they are elected. Watch this space!
The Fab 5
WCC isn't dysfunctional, it's just diverse & these are the 5 current councillors we must vote back in
This is an important local body election for Wellington. Faced with a housing crisis, climate change, the glacial progress of Let's Get Wellington Moving, and a host of more mundane problems such as broken pipes we really need a council that is united around a bold, progressive vision of making Wellington an exciting, optimistic and liveable city for decades to come. We need to challenge the short-sighted, conservative interests that are invested in preserving a status quo that serves them well, but leaves thousands of other Wellingtonians struggling, and thousands more potential Wellingtonians unable to even contemplate coming to live here. We should aspire to do much more than just get 'back to basics', which is really just another way of saying let's re-establish and protect existing privileges but do no more.
The Fab 5: Rebecca Matthews, Teri O'Neill, Laurie Foon, Tamatha Paul & Jenny Condie. Bring 'em back!
Forget the rubbish you've heard over the last 3 years about this council being dysfunctional. What we actually saw back in 2019 was the council flip from a balance of 9 men and 6 women to 4 men and 11 women, and the average age of the council drop dramatically with a couple of the new councillors in their 20s. The current council leans largely progressive overall (reflective of Wellington's demographics) but with a centre-right Mayor, Andy Foster. He won that position by just 63 votes over Labour's Justin Lester largely through having the backing of Peter Jackson, which was in turn motivated by Jackson's desire to influence a single-issue; Shelly Bay. So not an ideal outcome, but a nominally democratic one, and very much a product of our ward-based system. To my mind that's been the single biggest problem this term - a Mayor who is not politically aligned with the majority of his council. I might say some more about this in a future post but I don't think the answer to that problem is to replace one centrist middle-manager with another and then hope the rest of the council drifts in the same politically conservative direction. That might look like a more outwardly functional council but to what end? Three years of unified stagnation branded as 'stability'? Fix the pipes, for sure, but then build apartment buildings, light rail and cycleways on top.
I've been watching this council pretty closely. Yes, there have been some close votes and public spats over the last 3 years but frankly, from what I've seen a lot of that has been about perceptions of power/seniority and an established group of mostly longer-serving councillors struggling to accept an increasing amount of diversity around the council table. In particular, I've seen the older, more privileged, more conservative councillors bristling at the younger councillors not just having their say but doing it with fire. At times I've honestly felt that the word 'dysfunction' has been used to excuse actual bullying with a splash of misogyny, racism and ageism on the side. Put simply, some of the more conservative councillors have been in a minority for three years and on the losing side of a lot of votes. They don't like it, they're not used to it and they're happy to act out about it.
For all that, this council has actually made some great, and perhaps necessarily painful, progress. Let's face it, some of Wellington's issues are so entrenched and so structural that if there wasn't any backlash you'd wonder if we were trying hard enough. If having it labelled 'dysfunctional' is the price of seeing a younger, more diverse, more progressive council kick-back against established interests that would prefer to keep this city locked in a museum then I guess I'd like some more dysfunction please sir.
The current status of the incumbent council is that one has already moved on (Malcolm Sparrow) and another three have announced they're not running again (Fleur Fitzsimons, Jill Day and Simon Woolf). Mana Whenua rep Liz Kelly (Ngāti Toa) will be joined by a rep from Taranaki Whānui and an elected councillor for the new Māori ward, Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Andy Foster has also announced he's only running for Mayor this time. That leaves ten councillors potentially running again (a couple haven't confirmed that yet).
Name recognition and getting the word out are important with local body elections so let's not muck around. Here's the five councillors I reckon must be part of the next council. It's no accident that they are all women, were all first-time councillors in 2019, have all made valuable contributions to the current council in their own ways, and are all now battle-hardened from the last three years. There's also one from each ward which makes it easy to recommend that they all be ranked #1 in your ward (and hey, in case it's not obvious this blog is an unapologetically progressive space where climate change is real and requires action, everybody deserves a warm, dry, affordable home and people should have choices about how they can move around the city safely and comfortably without needing a car. If that's not your kaupapa that's fine but I honestly don't know how you've made it this far). The Fab 5 are:
Rebecca Matthews: Labour, Wharangi/Onslow-Western Ward (FB page)
Teri O'Neill: Labour, Motukairangi/Eastern Ward (FB page)
Laurie Foon: Green, Paekawakawa/Southern Ward (FB page)
Tamatha Paul: Independent, running as Green in 2022, Pukehīnau/Lambton Ward (Website)
Jenny Condie: Independent, Takapū/Northern Ward (Website)
The jury's out on Sarah Free and Iona Pannett. Depending on who else is running in their wards they may still be worth ranking highly enough that they get back in but neither of them will be running as Greens this year after a succession of quite conservative votes over the triennium, largely around housing but also transport. They have also both been on the council for a long time and there's a point at which it has to be asked if some new blood would be better.
I would rank the three remaining councillors (Diane Calvert, Nicola Young and Sean Rush) as low as possible if you want Wellington to make any real progress on important issues such as housing and transport. All three are conservative right-wingers who consistently vote to protect the status quo and wouldn't be missed if they didn't get back in. We can do better and deserve better. Sean Rush should be considered unelectable after he straight up lied about creating an anonymous Twitter account to troll his colleagues and post some pretty questionable content, only telling the truth after it had already been established beyond any reasonable doubt that it was him.
Hopefully, I will outline in a future blog a little bit more about what separates the Fab 5 from the rest but time is tight so better to make these recommendations now, especially when it is so clear cut to me who deserves to get back in. If you have a vaguely progressive bone in your body these are your people [in truth Jenny Condie comes from a blue/green background, which is fine but does mean she occasionally leans towards 'fiscal prudence'. However, she's just so intelligent and such a good communicator (even when explaining a decision I don't like!) that any council would be lucky to have her].
Spread the word folks. This election is a big one so let's not die wondering. And vote! And encourage everyone you know to vote, especially the students, renters and other young people who deserve so much more than just a tired and uninspired 'back to basics' approach. Check whether you're enrolled to vote at your current address here: Vote NZ
Show me the money
Money can't buy you the Wellington Mayoralty, but it sure helps
I had a look at Wellington Mayoral campaign expenses and donations for the last three elections. The candidate who spent the most won every time and also spent virtually all of the $60k cap. It's also very interesting to see who is trying to buy themselves a Mayor via donations.
In 2013 Celia Wade-Brown just edged out John Morrison with both of them spending over $55k.
Here's where the money came from in 2013 (only donations over $1.5k have to be declared). Interesting how big the gap between expenses and donations is for all candidates. There must have been a lot of small, undeclared donations or candidates footing the bill themselves?
In 2016 Justin Lester won by spending slightly more than Nick Leggett and Jo Coughlan. A massive $250k was spent overall.
Here's where all the money came from in 2016. Nick Leggett collected twice as much as he was even allowed to spend (wonder where the rest went?). Over $200k was donated to three right-leaning candidates who still couldn't win. There's also a massive gap between expenses and donations over $1.5k for Lester who must have had a lot of small donations or payed some of the bill himself.
In 2019 Andy Foster won (just) by outspending everybody else and using almost all of the $60k cap. Justin Lester's spend dropped from $58k in 2016 to $16k in 2019, while Foster's went from $13k to $58k. At face value incumbency and the Labour brand turned out to be less important for Lester than dollars.
The story's already been well told about where the money came from in 2019. Peter Jackson-related companies donated over $30k to Andy Foster. Only $83k was donated in total and $60k of that was to Foster. Most of the big donors from 2016 completely bailed in 2019. I'm not sure why.
Correlation is not causation but the lesson seems to be that you need to spend big to become Mayor, which is a bit grim. However, it's less clear that big money donors can just buy an election. The difference between donations to right-leaning candidates (nearly $300k over 3 elections) and left-leaning candidates (around $30k over 3 elections) is stark but it doesn't automatically buy success. Andy Foster won in 2019 with heavy backing from Peter Jackson but that may have been more about the association with such a big name, which was widely reported. In 2013 and 2016 the big donors on the right actually wasted their money. It would be fascinating to know how both Celia Wade-Brown and Justin Lester managed to spend over $55k in 2013 and 2016 respectively with less than $10k in donations over $1.5k because that appears to be the winning formula if you don't have a few rich mates.
The bottom-line is that if you support a candidate who's unlikely to have people writing $10k cheques for them, and historically those seem to be the more progressive, left-leaning candidates (such as Tory Whanau in this election), you might want to seriously consider donating them whatever you can afford. They'll probably need lots of small donations to be competitive. And you'll need to do that soon so that they can spend that money effectively over the course of the campaign.
Another problem here is that we only find all of this information out well after the election. Apart from what's reported in the news we really don't know who's bank-rolling who until it's too late. Let's call on all Mayoral candidates to be transparent and voluntarily publish any donations received over $1.5k (including donor name and amount) when they receive them, and definitely no later than Friday 16 Sept when voting documents are posted out. Voters deserve to know who's funding you.
A classic tale of how car dependency multiplied by status quo bias leads to crappy city-making
A group of six Wellington businesses who are taking Wellington City Council to court over plans for a temporary cycleway from Newtown to the CBD have won an injunction to stop the work until the judicial review can be heard in September. Four of the six businesses are involved in the motor industry and active transport advocates were quick to point out the hypocrisy of car-yards taking the council to court over a perceived lack of consultation on a traffic management issue when they have benefited for years from an "informal agreement" with WCC (i.e. never consulted on) to use Kent & Cambridge Terrace for the loading and unloading of cars from transporters. Car-trucks loading and unloading in the road is a nation-wide issue (check out the #cartruckparty hashtag on social media) but this particular case takes it to a new level. It requires a special sense of entitlement to take the council to court for lack of consultation on a temporary cycleway when you've been (informally) given a free-pass to conduct your business in the middle of the road for years, creating exactly the kind of health and safety risks for the public that a cycleway might help to mitigate.
Stuff's report Cycling advocates criticise car trucks in backlash over court case provides a good overview but also raises a lot of additional questions. The whole scenario is an almost perfect exemplar of how car dependency multiplied by status quo bias can lead to some really lazy decisions and crappy city-making. So you want to make a change that benefits cars at the expense of other road users? Sounds legit. No need to consult, just go for it! Want to make a change that benefits other road users at the expense of cars? How dare you? See you in court buddy!
The report quotes WCC as saying the car trucks “do have an exception to the blanket prohibition of double-parking under the Land Transport Act” and the council is not specifically authorised to implement further conditions on that. I assume the reference to the Land Transport Act is actually the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 6.20 which contains exceptions to the rules on Stopping & Parking. However, the relevant exception for goods vehicles does come with conditions.
The loading or unloading must "take place with due consideration for the safety and convenience of other road users" and "alternative access for the purpose of loading or unloading the vehicle was unavailable" or "it was unreasonable to require the alternative access to be used". So who decides what is "safe and convenient" and "reasonably available alternative access"? Straight away we can see the potential danger of status quo bias within a heavily car-centric and car-dependent transport network at the expense of the interests of "other road users".
WCC have tried to partly answer the question above with an "informal agreement" (their words). More questions though:
In this 2019 LGOIMA response to Twitter user @dylanp WCC makes a number of confusing and contradictory statements including; they don't authorise the practice, but they don't think its practical to stop the practice, but they reserve the right to take enforcement action
Setting aside the issue of whether WCC can make an "informal agreement" without consulting other road users or being transparent about their decision-making process it's clear they have known for years that the car trucks are not complying with the "rules" they informally agreed to anyway.
The car trucks are often seen operating during peak hours. They often occupy more than one lane and use a lane that is not the kerb-side lane. And they are definitely not using appropriate traffic management or Worksafe best practices such as cones and signage.
Other road users can't bend or ignore the rules just because the rules are inconvenient. What the car trucks are doing doesn't give "due consideration to the safety and convenience of other road users" and there are "reasonably available alternatives" to the way they currently operate. They can obviously operate outside peak hours. Personally, I think they should only be able to do this activity between midnight and 6am. They can also make sure they only ever use the kerb side lane by using single deck trucks that aren't affected by the over-hanging branches. They must use appropriate traffic mgmt. I'd like to know whether WCC has ever checked that the car truck companies have sought advice on traffic management as agreed and whether they are following the Traffic Control Devices Manual and Code of Practice for Temporary Traffic Mgmt.
Even more questions:
It's just not good enough (and reveals status quo bias) for WCC to say "we don't believe it's practical to stop the practice because most of the car yards would not be able to accommodate a transporter".
Here's a few alternatives that could be explored for this specific location. Why can't the car trucks use Hania Street to load and unload? Convert it to one-way northbound to get rid of the current southbound rat-run and designate a couple of long loading zones.
Gazley Mitsubishi is also currently leasing this section of land near the Basin Reserve which would easily allow a car transporter in and out. Why can't they use that to do the loading and unloading for all their Kent and Cambridge Tce locations?
Not even joking here, with the advent of e-scooters car yard staff could be ferrying cars to and from the yards from just about any location in the city. Just scoot in one direction and chuck the scooter in the boot for the other. Seriously, why can't they do that?
The answer of course is that they don't want to incur any additional costs of doing business, no matter how small or reasonable, and would rather that the public subsidise their operations through provision of free parking, disruptions to traffic and increased risk to health and safety.
It's really up to WCC, the car yards and the car- transportation companies to reconsider what "alternative access" looks like in the current context because things have moved on quite a bit since this cursed "informal agreement" was originally made, including the implementation of a lot of new WCC policy.
Ultimately the best thing for the city overall is that the car-yards aren't on Kent and Cambridge Tce where they are not only tying up developable land but also obstructing the transport system improvements that go hand in hand with higher density.
WCC has already received a few LGOIMA requests for information about the "informal agreement" but I reckon they need to go a lot further than just a passive response bounded by the limits of the Act. I hope they will front-foot this with a more comprehensive response that acknowledges a mistake was made, considers changing circumstances and expectations, and proposes a way forward. I also hope that the three Pukehīnau councillors (Tamatha Paul, Iona Pannett and Nicola Young) and the other hopefuls such as Afnan AL-Rubayee will apply some political pressure to review the "informal agreement" and make changes more aligned with WCC policy, the relevant legislation and good city-making.
Finally, you'll notice that apart from the first paragraph I haven't really mentioned the judicial review at all. The review will stand or fall on its own merits. Although the situation with the car transporters and the "informal agreement" highlights a certain amount of hypocrisy around the judicial review it's still an issue well worth discussing in its own right.