Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Rodney's Folly

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  • Paul Campbell,

    If so many candidates didn't make commitments on the stadium (which was a big issue) they should have been forced to do so or pay the price at the (postal) ballot box.

    Part of the problem is that getting elected in local body elections has more to do with how well your name is known and how much money you're prepared to spend rather than what your ideas are - politics ought to be a marketplace of ideas where the best ideas prosper, not one of money.

    I'm in favour of representative democracy, I don't want to vote on everything - but as I said above I think we do need safe guards over and above waiting for the next election - having a sizable percentage of the population being able to force a referendum (or even as a last ditch a recall) seems to me to be the simplest way to reign in a rogue council like the one we have today - in this case waiting until the next election isn't a solution. (I'll happily argue the numbers for how big a petition needs to be)

    One advantage of having that remedy available to the citizens is that you don't have to actually use it to get a council to keep an eye on whether they have a mandate - just seeing the writing on the wall should be enough to keep them in line.

    I'm also a bit pissed off that the council has largely stopped public question time at council meetings - apparently "there were too many cranks" - which I take to really mean "too many people with ideas we didn't really want to hear". After living in Berkeley for so many years I know that a council meeting can never have too many cranks ... there are always more .... and cranks deserve to be heard too

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2188 posts Report Reply

  • Jonathan Maze,

    Didn't Doug Myers accost Bill Ralston and demand to know why he had called him an arsehole on the radio? He had gotten Mr Brown and Mr Ralstons throaty tones mixed up. Although what Doug Myers was doing listening to BFM is anyones guess.

    About the Bain trial coverage: I would be fascinated to discover why the front page story on the Saturday Herald about some suppressed evidence has disappeared from the Heralds website - presumably after legal threats. It did not get any traction after that and for those who missed it the story went like this:

    [REDACTED -- PLEASE DON'T REFER DIRECTLY TO THE CONTENT OF THE STORY! RB]

    I'm sure a lot more stuff like this will come out as the family and friends break their silence. I'm interested in the feel-good hysteria generated by the supposedly sweet natured Bain, many of his most ardent supporters seem to be middle aged women. It's kind of the reverse of the Peter Ellis case. Maybe it's a Christchurch thing again and we need the marvelous Lynley Hood to sort it all out in a book.

    A joke to finish:

    Theres a new drinking game its called The Bain Game. First you run around the block as fast as you can carrying newspapers, then run back inside and have a shot in each room.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2007 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Oh I almost forgot - Drinking Liberally Dunedin tonight 7pm, Velvet Underground, Lower Stuart Street

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2188 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    Didn't Doug Myers accost Bill Ralston and demand to know why he had called him an arsehole on the radio? He had gotten Mr Brown and Mr Ralstons throaty tones mixed up. Although what Doug Myers was doing listening to BFM is anyones guess.

    Indeed it happened.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4403 posts Report Reply

  • Ana Simkiss,

    @ Jonathan,

    It was taken down because the publication was in breach of the suppression order made. Stephen Price notes this in his blog here: http://www.medialawjournal.co.nz/?p=257

    IANACL, but your repetition of it is probably a breach of the order as well.

    Freemans Bay • Since Nov 2006 • 127 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    About the Bain trial coverage:

    Not for discussing.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6349 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    As a writer of surveys, I think there is a more fundamental question around referundums, as to whether they actually tap the beliefs of the population. We certainly see this with the current Citizens Initiated Referendum system, where the questions are objective fail. There is also a real danger in asking only one question, especially if it is simply a binary (yes/no) response.

    In addition to the questions being poor, the sampling is not great either. Any given standalone referendum will likely suffer a poor turnout, and the people who do vote are most likely going to be those with more extreme and polarised opinions. The people who aren't much bothered, or who don't have a strong opinion simply won't vote. Given the already poor turnout in local body elections, I think the turnout is not likely to be poor (Wanganui's run at around 50%).

    On this basis, I am not excited about the prospect. It might be living dangerously, but I think I would be happier with a neutral third party designing questions, and carrying out sampling by phone!

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 691 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Yes. I'm sure Jonathan didn't mean to breach the order, but I've taken out the offending passage and I'd be grateful if everyone could keep to this.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • Jonathan Maze,

    That takes me back to the dark days of the mid nineties - Hard News kept me sane as the Roger-gnomes ran amok with their wide eyed pea brained Year Zero zealotry. Roger Estall, Peter Shirtcliffe et al - is there an emoticon for "shuddering"?

    It was amazing how brain washed some people were. I remember when it was found out that prisoners were making shoes and undercutting the local industry. Kim Hill phoned up a local shoe manufacturer and asked her what she thought. In strangely robotic tones she droned "I believe all competition is good..." I laughed out loud. You can't teach a sneetch.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2007 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    78% of the community [are against the Dunedin stadium] according to the most recent survey

    I rather wish someone would carry out a more independent survey.
    This number is bandied around a lot, but is essentially meaningless.
    a) It was a mail survey. Any textbook will tell you that mail surveys achieve poor response rates (here c.40%), and that the people that do reply are skewed towards those that hold a strong opinion on the issue.
    b) In the light of (a), it is often suggested that this survey tells us what the 'silent majority' think. However, with the low response rate, the silent majority are still clearly silent.
    c) It was conducted while 20% of the usually resident population were out of town. Some argue that students aren't ratepayers, but I would be very surprised if there are any landlords who don't attempt to recover their rates through rent. There is a counter claim that students don't stay for very long, so the next group of students might be unhappy with the decision. However, I think excluding their opinion altogether is unwise.

    I have heard some strong reservations about the questions themselves, but having not seen the survey I can't comment. I think the sampling issues themselves are enough to invalidate the results. That said, I suspect there may be a majority of people who are now against the stadium, but for lack of a decent quality survey it is hard to tell.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 691 posts Report Reply

  • Jonathan Maze,

    Oops, apologies. Well done the Herald though.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2007 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    "I'm in favour of representative democracy, I don't want to vote on everything"

    You don't have too. A Citizens Council (like Jury service - but I give a sh!t about this) can be schooled up on proposals and vote on the options from there. This paticipatory option empowers the general public to decide and gives the best oppertunity for inform democratic decision making IMHO.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1147 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    James: the latest survey was done by a University team, partly as an academic exercise, it was paid for by the anti-stadium people, the pro-stadium people declined to be involved although they were invited to help fund it and frame questions. The university group also collected demographic information at the same time - the raw data gave (I think, it was a while ago) a 72% against - the 78% against figure was after correcting for city demographics - which probably means that the pro-stadium people either went out of their way to respond to it to try and skew it their way - or they care more about the issue and were more likely to respond - either way it still shows the pro-stadium people in a small minority.

    As far as I know there was only one question (other than the demographic data) - which was something like "do you want to pay for the stadium out of your rates?"

    There was an earlier mail-out survey from the city about a year before that asked 3 questions, it collected no demographic data and was only mailed to the first name on the rates bill (which by and large tend to be male) - I think that one was pretty suspect - but even that showed only 50% in favour of building the thing

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2188 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Surely it would make sense for councils to get a share of GST spent in their areas?

    I think local communities should be able to choose their taxation model on any fair and workable basis, e.g. rates, local income tax, tourist taxes. The one tax that doesn't fit well into this is GST, because if a local district had say 15% GST, people would just shope elsewhere.

    Communities (which need not be geographic) should be able to choose their own form of local government. One could see each council having a "charter" that defines what it does, how much tax it can raise, etc.

    For instance, we in Central Wellington could control our own roads, cultural facilities, planning and maybe education provision. Wellington City could have water, buses and health. The regional council could run the rail network and strategic planning. If we wanted to change this, we could do so by a charter vote.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4484 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    @Just Thinking: this is probably not a good week to use jury service as an example of a public good.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I hate to be a pedant but ... the plural of referendum is referendums.

    @Rickai: if you're an Oxfordian, yes...

    Myself, I agree ... but take it up with the Parliament of New Zealand. Here we have the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993.

    Let's also recognise that we don't do the whole Oxford spelling thing. An Oxonian would recognize it instead.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    rich: in California different cities or counties do have different sales taxes (it makes running a business that has to collect them a nightmare!) - for example when they put the BART (train) through Berkeley they chose to add .25% to their sales tax rate to pay for burying it rather than having it run down the main street (now they have a long thin park ...)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2188 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Graham,

    Right.
    Dare I say it, but I think opening up the question of what actually constitutes a Council's core business is a good thing. Let's get it settled once and for all, define it and move on.

    Perhaps we could have a referendum on it?

    Disclosure of Bias: I was arrested by John Banks protesting against the introduction of the Birch Report

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 180 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    @Rich: There's a potential contradiction between "Communities (which need not be geographic)" and "we in Central Wellington could control our own roads, cultural facilities, planning and maybe education provision. Wellington City could have water, buses and health. The regional council could run the rail network and strategic planning".

    Central Wellington's roads & cultural facilities may be "our own", but they also have regional and sometimes national uses. The street outside my window is a public space where local residents and workers have their lunch; it's also where people from around Central Wellington walk to work; it might also be a bus route for people from the outer suburbs travelling to the airport; and it might also be State Highway 1. The same goes for the local park, the City Gallery, the Stadium and planning or urban design decisions.

    Communities are indeed not always geographic, especially in metorpolitan areas where linkages and significance are more widely spread than in a village environment. But that means that deciding what is "ours", and applying spatial decision making to often non-spatial problems, will always be preoblematic.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1039 posts Report Reply

  • David Ritchie,

    Not a diss on Russell, but WOW those old Hard News articles are something else to read. Plus ça change and all that.

    Wellingtron • Since Nov 2006 • 163 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Disclosure of Bias: I was arrested by John Banks protesting against the introduction of the Birch Report

    Moving Mark Graham at the top of the Christmas Gifts list... done.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7404 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    There was an earlier mail-out survey

    I don't put any credence in that survey either.
    Mail Survey=largely pointless.

    There was, however, a telephone survey in 2007, which is somewhat more credible, if a little old. It put stadium support at ~62%. Interestingly, that survey did canvas whether people wanted the DCC to fund it (65%) and at a level of 91.4million (~49%). Taking the latter figure, even 2 years ago, those wanting the DCC to fund it were in a minority. Now it is entirely likely that this group may have decreased, but a low quality survey won't tell us that.

    the raw data gave (I think, it was a while ago) a 72% against - the 78% against figure was after correcting for city demographics - which probably means that the pro-stadium people either went out of their way to respond to it to try and skew it their way - or they care more about the issue and were more likely to respond - either way it still shows the pro-stadium people in a small minority.

    Actually no. It's a pretty simple issue of extrapolation. Where people self-select to participate, you can't extrapolate their answers to the people that didn't respond. The higher the proportion of non-responders, the more dangerous the extrapolation.

    To put it more clearly, the results of the survey were
    32% Against
    10% Support
    3% Undecided
    56% Didn't respond
    So there is no doubt that there are a lot of people who are clearly against the stadium, relatively few who are clearly for the stadium, but more than half, who, well, who knows.

    Finally, non-response is an issue in all research (some academic outlets demand 80+), but the research on research suggests that mail surveys are more biased by non-response than phone surveys (NB: phone surveys are by no means perfect, but there is a reason why people are bombarded with phone surveys, and not mail surveys in their evenings, assuming they don't have a home PABX).

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 691 posts Report Reply

  • Rik,

    I never knew Bureaux was the plural of bureau...it pays to read Public Address!

    What happened to Hard News - is it history now?

    Since Jun 2007 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    We tried last time already. Mr 3.6 % is like Beelzebub, no matter how unpopular he is, you can't get rid of him.

    Hell is other voters?

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1667 posts Report Reply

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