Just Spray (Money) and Walk Away!

This little doozy almost snuck under the radar, printed in the Napier Mail last week (week begining 16 Feb 2015)

This little doozy almost snuck under the radar, printed in the Napier Mail last week (week begining 16 Feb 2015)

I’m pleased to announce that Napier’s beleaguered Museum, Theatre, Gallery’s (“MTG”) problems have apparently all gone away!
You’ll be excused for not noticing the change as, while publicised, it did seem to be done all hush-hush.

I’ve previously mentioned the wildly inaccurate consultant’s visitor number calculations, woeful storage capacity issues, over-priced entry fees, staff restructures, job losses and all the associated bad press and public opinion that go with it, but before these problems could “go gentle into that quiet night”, there was one final financial flaw to face – Napier City Council announced recently that the facility’s operating costs were expected to be $500,000 more than budgeted.

Half a million dollars!

That’s TWO Dibble sculptures worth! 😉

While a fair bit of that budget blow-out is from continuingly lack-lustre visitor numbers, a fair amount would also result from the workforce restructure NCC instituted last year and pay-outs for redundancies and the like.

But we needn’t worry about that money any more – It’s all been fixed financially, after Napier City Council’s Finance Committee (Which actually includes ALL COUNCILLORS) elected to retire MTG’s debt of $5,000,000. You read right – not just this year’s blowout of $500,000, but the WHOLE debt of FIVE MILLION DOLLARS!

The money – YOUR RATEPAYER MONEY – was re-distributed from the proceeds of land sales in Parklands.

The council’s spin team evidently decided that a clean slate was required – All the bad decisions, big debts and former staff have gone and everyone can start afresh with no memory of the past.

So it isn’t too surprising to find our local paper, The Hawke’s Bay Today, appeared to give almost too-glowing coverage of MTG’s new director Laura Vodanovich’s appointment, arrival and first few days in office.

The paper has even given the new director her own column in their weekend edition.

That’s an awful lot of support for someone who’s barely been in the job long enough to get their chair warm, let alone turn MTG’s fortunes (literally and figuratively) around. I don’t remember Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins being accorded such support.

I wonder what the turn-around time is these days between pandering and being on the endangered species list?

Napier in Frame – Fashion Designer!

I'm NOT too sexy for my shirt... ;)

I’m NOT too sexy for my shirt… 😉

About five years ago I came up with an idea.

Having never been a big fan of the whole “Art Deco is all there is to Napier” mind-set that seems to rule our city, I decided to make a statement and wear my heart (and opinion) on my chest.

I came up with a slogan – “Art Deco is SO Last Century”, made up a design to accompany it and got about a dozen T-shirts printed off, selling them to like-minded friends.

They went down a treat and I, along with many of my friends still wear their T-shirts years later on Art Deco Weekends, such as the one that hits Napier tomorrow.

They still draw attention, good natured laughs (usually from visitors in period-themed costumes) as well as the ire of some of the snootier-nosed Napier “Deco-ites”.

I had been meaning to reproduce the shirts for some years, but time, demand, money and all the usual trappings of life seemed to get in the way.
But this year I finally got a chance to get a good run-up and have another batch made.

Two went to friends who had been waiting for me to make more, but I do still have T-shirts sized Small, Medium, Large and XL available.

Do you fancy making a (fashion) statement this Art Deco Weekend?

Then let me know! 

Whinge Away!


I have noticed a disturbing trend emerging in Hawke’s Bay recently – no-one is allowed to complain. About anything.

If you do, you are a “Hater”, or a “Knocker”. Basically, it’s devolved into George W. Bush-esque “You’re either with us or against us” bullshit.

You don’t like the fact a giant container park has grown skywards, right next to Napier’s picturesque Estuary nature reserve? Then you don’t support new jobs being created!

Or If you think Lawrence Yule’s roles as Hastings mayor, amalgamation advocate and head of Local Government New Zealand might all conflict in some way? Or that using ratepayer money pay for promoting Hastings District Council’s pro-amalgamation (and inevitably Napier City Council’s anti-amalgamation) viewpoints could be considered as some level of graft or misappropriation of public funds, then you don’t support democracy, or making Hawke’s Bay a better place!

What a croc….

Sadly, the sentiment has been around for a while – it has even been ingrained in HB local body policy.

A Massey University researcher found Napier City Council’s code of conduct “stifles the free speech of councillors”.

Massey University’s Dr Catherine Strong analysed codes of conduct of all New Zealand’s city and district councils and found:

“Napier City Council was the only Hawke’s Bay council to include what she called “disturbing” wording preventing elected representatives’ talking to the media about anything negative within their council.

According to Napier City Council’s code of conduct, statements from councillors should not “make personal criticism of the proper conduct of the council or of other elected members, officers of the council or members of the public”.

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said his council’s code of conduct was “”toughened up” over 10 years ago during a period when the council “almost became dysfunctional” due to infighting between councillors”.

“There were councillors on the council at that stage who spent more time attacking each other than they did working for the city. The whole idea was to be able to deal with that and in fact the voters of Napier dealt with it in the 2004 elections.” Following the elections “the problem went away”.

The councillors he is referring to were Dave Bosely and current “A Better Hawke’s Bay” / pro-amalgamation spokesperson, John Harrison.

I remember that time and the ongoing feud that carried on throughout local papers and around the city. At times it was very petty and not a particularly good look for the council, or either councillor, but it at least showed there was debate and differing opinions going on between our civic leaders.

“It certainly hasn’t been necessary since and in my eight years on council there has been absolutely no need for the code of conduct to even be looked at.” says Mayor Dalton.

That’s because Dalton’s predecessor Barbara Arnott and her CEO Neil Taylor appeared to have their feet firmly down on the throat of any form of dissent. As a result you heard virtually nothing from anyone except the mayor and CEO for years.

But the policy is still there and could very well have been part of one of the things NCC’s former economic development manager Ron Massey was dismissed for after he allegedly poo-pooed NCC’s failed Art Deco buses at a HB Tourism meeting.

But let’s be perfectly honest, WHO COULD BLAME HIM?? Pretty much every Napier ratepayer who had to pay for that sorry mess was critical of it, so why couldn’t some NCC staff be too?

By comparison, all of last term’s councillors voted for the cursed things (as far as I can tell), and were able to laugh off the large ratepayer-funded loss. Nobody criticised anyone else (keeping within code of conduct guidelines) and NO-ONE WAS MADE ACCOUNTABLE! What a win-win situation!

As Doctor Strong said of her results: “Most people elect their local councillors because they want some changes or they want them to look over what’s going on at the council and make sure it’s on the right path.”

If you see something is wrong it’s your right, your duty, to point it out – to make people aware of it and to fix it. Or, if you can’t, get it fixed.

There was a quote I read recently:

“This is your world – Shape it, or someone else will”

I say “Vox Populi”– Whinge away!

Napier and Hawke’s Bay deserve better!

Fifty Shades of an Idiot


You may remember a while a go I entered a competition the Edge radio station’s “Forbidden Fiction” competition and won $500 with my story “The Sexiest Thing a Man Can Do” – a tounge-in-cheek take on the Fifty Shades of Gray franchise.

Well, with the movie adaption of the book being released a week or two ago, the Edge had another competition to win tickets to the premiere and I couldn’t resist having another go. I didn’t win, but still think my entry is worth sharing.

Don’t worry – It’s only NSFW if you have a dirty mind 😉

So here you go:

When they had started work at The Edge, Jay-Jay, Mike & Dom had been told their boss, Mr Wratt was a strict disciplinarian who always got what he wanted. Over time they had developed a close bond and a mutual affection had grown between them. He had even allowed them to call him by his first name – Leon.
But today things had gotten just too dirty. The Morning Madhouse trio had been very naughty and had to be punished.
Their sodden clothes lay discarded in the corner of the studio, leaving them wearing only their underwear.
Dom sat tied to his chair by microphone leads; his shirt had been rolled up and tied across his mouth, gagging him.
Jay-Jay stood next to him, her fingers pinching and twisting, her hands rubbing up and down furiously through layers of whipped cream and chocolate sauce.
Opposite her, Mike grasped a shaft so thick and stiff it required a double-handed grip. He was thrusting it backwards and forwards with reckless abandon. With each stroke it made a moist sucking sound, eliciting a muffled, gleeful giggle from Dom.
The studio windows had started to fog up when the door burst open and Leon’s chiselled form strode in, inspecting the debauched scene.
“Jay-Jay – have you finished cleaning the control desk?”
“Yes, Mr Wratt!”
“Mike – how is the carpet shampooing coming along?”
“Almost done, sir!
“Mfftphhtdfft!” grunted Dom from under his gag.
“Don’t you even bloody start, Dominic!” Growled Leon
“Having a frappuccino fight live on air was your stupid idea in the first place! Now you’ll just have to sit there and think about what you’ve done while your colleagues clean up your mess!
Jay-Jay and Mike both leered at him.
“This would make an awesome book” Thought Dom
“Fifty Shades of an Idiot!”