Craig: you know that isn't true, that would be big government, it's ACT policy that all that stuff will be outsourced to the private sector -
I agree that having the students out of town would be an issue - but to be fair they were polling ratepayers (as were the council's surveys) and few ratepayers are also students and those who are, well, live here and don't go back home for the holidays.
Really though this is a side show as I said any these surveys should have told the council they didn't have a mandate - even after spending a whole bunch of council money funneled through the CST to try and change public opinion (we paid for all that advertising trying to change our own minds, it didn't work and was a waste of our money)
James: I understand the issue around non-responders - but I think that checking the responders against established demographic data surely gives you more confidence in your numbers - in this case it told us that in fact the pro-stadium demographics were overrepresented in the results.
Mostly though I think the important thing here is that there's a simple way to solve this sort of issue - any of these surveys should have been be useful to a council in that they told them they didn't have a clear mandate - and the simple solution would be to get one by having a referendum. And getting back to my original point that if the council wont have a referendum there ought to be a way for the citizens to demand one (since huge public meetings and marching in the streets obviously doesn't work - I've never seen downtown so empty on a Sat after that last march went through, everyone seemed to join it)
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 ...)
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
Oh I almost forgot - Drinking Liberally Dunedin tonight 7pm, Velvet Underground, Lower Stuart Street
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
Peter: there was an election - there were TWO anti-stadium groups that put up candidates and split that vote, one group won candidates - almost NO ONE ran in favour of the stadium - none of the incumbents came out in their candidate statements in favour of the stadium - most sat on the fence and didn't even mention it (like any sane politician would) - apparently there was a note going around the rugby clubs telling people which of them were really in favour of it. There was one guy out in St Kilda who ran on a pro-stadium plank, he didn't get elected.
So the results of the election were 3 councillors elected against the stadium, none elected for it.
Since then the plan has changed a lot - it's gone from "we're going to fund the bulk of it privately and use the city as a backstop" to "holy shit we can't raise any private money at all, we have to get the city to pay for it" - which is why the most recent survey showed 78% of the ratepayers are against paying for it through their rates
The previous city survey asked a different question showing that about 50% of the head of households surveyed would like a stadium built - so we can say that half of us want a stadium, but 80% of us want someone else to pay for it.
With 80% of the population against them if ever there was a case where a council should have taken a deep breath and said "you know we ought to have a referendum" this is it - but they didn't.
Some of the current council seem to be making retirement noises, (and of courser Mr Guest is currently starring on wikileaks), I think they realise that they've overreached themselves and the backlash isn't going to be pretty next year - others are raising lots of money for an ad campaign to make sure people don't forget who voted for the thing - but all this is too late, we're stuck with a spiraling rates bill for the next 20 years
Well as one of those Dunedinites who are decidedly hacked off by spending all our cash for the next 20 years on a stadium - along with 78% of the community according to the most recent survey - I think something needs to change - not necessarily a Lhaws-lets-vote-on-everything sort of regime - but at least some sort of safeguard that citizens can invoke against a rogue council.
I've seen two reasonable proposals that I could live with:
- a petition by 10% of the populace puts an issue on hold until a binding referendum is held
- a petition of 25% of the citizens recalls the council and forces a new election
The last is pretty drastic but here in Dunedin if it were in place we'd have had an election rather than spending around $400M ($217M plus interest) - in essence subsidising every rugby game by $1M+ for the next 20 years
yes - Dunedin North - but history shows us that if Labour throws up a crap candidate even the Nats can win it.
Elections during exam time suck - if the Greens were smart they'd sign students up for early voting before the exams kicked in