Paul Little at large
Paul Little is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Paul Little: Waffle, woe in Brown's city plan

A rates rise cap of 2.5 per cent may be breached. Photo / NZ Herald
A rates rise cap of 2.5 per cent may be breached. Photo / NZ Herald

Technology continues to develop at an extraordinary rate, changing our lives in the process. It has now progressed to the point that the damning verdicts on Len Brown's Black Budget are in before anyone even knows what it contains.

How this happened is not the only mystery surrounding the draft strategic plan process and the upcoming budget.

What, for instance, does the plan's aim to create the world's most "liveable" city actually mean?

Finances are so parlous, it appears, that to fund what Auckland needs Brown may need to break a promise.

So, no change there. A rates rise cap of 2.5 per cent may be breached. Figures as high as 3.5 per cent have been bandied about.

Failed North Shore mayor Andrew Williams (How failed? He's now a New Zealand First list MP) wants to call in Crown managers. At least he's not proposing himself as the man to fix things.

In the interests of seeing what Brown and his colleagues are up against, I started to sniff around the draft strategic plan. And what a sorry document it is.

As usual language abuse fills in the gaps where ideas should be.

Once you get past the trendy reaching-out, engaging, down-with-the-homies nonsense of the "My Vote Rules" section and the "Youth Video Challenge", you're left with the same old bureaucratic jargon: "Summary of Decisions Requested (SDR) report was notified by Auckland Council on 11 June 2014. This date marks the start of the further submissions phase." Et cetera.

Click through and you get enormous and elaborately produced (more than a few dollars to be saved there) mountains of waffle with a molehill of substance.

And who has time to wade through this material? Not people with jobs or deadlines, but people with too much time on their hands. Busybodies, that's who.

That is why the council doesn't hear enough from the people it needs to hear from: the busy, creative, productive people who are so involved in making something of Auckland they don't have time to give the council the benefit of their ideas.

If rates need to go up just to keep up, then Brown should waste no time at all in engineering the biggest possible increase across the city.

To people who unflinchingly pay more than a million to buy run-down homes in this perpetually frenetic market, a few extra grand on their annual rates bills will barely be noticed.

It will, after all, represent only a tiny increase in their outgoings. They have paid world-class prices and expect world-class services. They haven't spent that much money to live in a city with facilities to rival those of Timaru*.

Korotangi Paki, the unconvicted son of the Maori king, Tuheitia Paki, may be royalty, but the racist rant he could be seen delivering on Facebook this week shows that he's definitely not quality. (His "I'm the man" kapa haka rant, on the other hand - that's just what you do to get pumped for kapa haka, and it's telling that the mainstream media didn't twig to that.)

I've known people hang on to grievances for a lot longer than necessary but one this week has raised the bar.

A new film version of the story of Bonnie and Clyde — last seen glamourised by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in 1967 — is in production. "Let's hope they get the weapons right this time," snapped a munitions pedant in a website comments box.

* Dear Timaru, please don't write in tempests of dudgeon. I've been there. You're perfectly lovely. But you're still Timaru.

- Herald on Sunday

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