Hard News by Russell Brown

Surely not ...

In this time of peace and reconciliation in local body Auckland, it would seem a little tacky to be in possession of the infamous Hubbard-NBR PDFs, wouldn't it? Yet if you go to Aaron Bhatnagar's blog, click on the link marked My personal photos, then go to his Mac.com Public Folder, you will find a directory called Hubbard.

In the event that the link has unexpectedly become inoperable, a description: the file NBR_Hubbard_Story.pdf is page 13 of the September 17 Hubbard special. Also there, 14.pdf and 15.pdf. Page 13 has the original spot colour, and the photographs on all pages are of much higher quality than those on the actual newsprint pages. Clearly, the PDFs are those taken from the original digital layouts.

Of course, we must take Aaron at his word in saying on September 27, after John Banks' campaign manager, Brian Nicolle, resigned over PDFgate, that: "I would like to put on the record my sadness at this. Brian is a very smart campaigner and a nice guy. While it appears that he has fallen into temptation to campaign in 'black ops' …"

Quite right. For shame. Back at the blog, a fairly whiny post from Aaron, who was tipped out of his place on the Hobson community board, ruminates on the C&R rout:

I believe in the first instance that we became increasingly associated with distasteful messages and thoughts. Much of this perception was unjustified …

Of course. There's nothing distasteful about the message in this file from Aaron's public directory, is there?

As it happens, I agree with Aaron on one thing: that Hubbard already seems more convincing as mayor than he did as a candidate. The campaign brutality does genuinely seem to have unnerved him. I interviewed him on my 95bFM Wire show yesterday. Among other things, Hubbard said that the path ahead for the V8 race was straightforward - it would go through due process and then the promoters would decide if they still wanted to play. He acknowledged that people had discussed alternative course locations with him.

He was a bit iffy when I asked him if he was a moral conservative, but flatly denied one of the campaign rumours - that he had donated money to the Maxim Institute. He said he had never had any involvement with Maxim.

Speaking of bFM, I think Don Brash's Thursday chats with Camilla work well for him, and not only because he largely gets his points away unmolested, but because he is so earnestly polite. Much more polite, as Camilla pointed out this morning, than the Prime Minister …

Meanwhile, who would have thought that this year of reckoning would have extended its reach to Fay and Richwhite? The Securities Commission yesterday filed High Court action over $83 million in share trades in early 2002 - before the bottom publicly dropped out of TranzRail. David Richwhite personally, and Midavia Rail Investments, the private investment vehicle for himself and Michael Fay, are among the defendants. So are two former senior company officers.

Fay and Richwhite's exit from TranzRail was an extraordinary final chapter to a very sorry story - if anything ever needed investigating, it was that. I hasten to add that it is now a matter for the court to decide, but the fact that action has been brought will do me just fine for now. Capitalism shouldn't need many rules, but it relies on what rules there are being universally applied.

Fran O'Sullivan's call? Can of worms.

Meanwhile, Advertising Veterans for Truth have posted a fascinating video clip to illustrate their claim that President Bush is suffering presenile dementia. There was a time, they point out, when he could form entire sentences …

And Trey Parker and Matt Stone talk to The Guardian about Team America: World Police - and the pompous and embarrassing open letter it drew from Sean Penn, who clearly is taking himself much too seriously ..