Monday, August 11, 2008

What are they thinking in Christchurch?

Always one to keep up with developments in the old home town, I've been very heartened in recent years by the appearance of bars fit for adults. Most of these are in the great inner city developments of David Henderson. It's a good example of the private sector achieving what local body politicians have patently failed to achieve. For the longest time the heart and soul of the city has been dissipating into enormous suburban malls, in recent years this trend has slowed somewhat.

Henderson's financial difficulties are not good news but neither is the news that the city council has agreed to buy $17 million worth of property off him in a deal that appears designed to attempt to prop his business up at the risk of the rate-payer.

If I was a city councillor I would be asking why the city manager is so often presenting me with complicated property deals and a deadline to vote on the proposal so close that my decision could not possibly be made on the merits of the deal. (For those not keeping score CCC entered into another enormous property deal with Ngai Tahu just days before the end of the local body elections in a move of somewhat dubious constitutionality.)

If I was a Christchurch ratepayer I would be asking why, when presented with such deals, the response of councillors has been to spend the ratepayer's dollar.

If I was a Christchurch journalist I would be ferreting around in the dubious finances and decision making processes of CCC.

As a voter in the upcoming national elections I am heartened by the sudden outbreak of cross-party unity on this question.

Politicians from across the board have poured scorn on the purchase. In a rare display of political unity, National, Labour and the Progressives have all branded the deal a public bail-out for Henderson.

Hat-tip: Tony

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