There has been a disquieting but growing trend in this election campaign of targeting the one remaining ethnic group within our society for which it is permissible to criticise, denigrate and generally ridicule without fear of having to answer to the Race Relations Conciliator.
I refer, of course, to that generally affable but much maligned and endangered species, the "White Man in a Suit"; aka the Be-suited White Man, White Man With a Tie, and now, by one of your Saturday columnists, the Old Angry White Man, with fears that he could dominate our next council.
Perhaps these old angry white men are just grown-up and more mature local versions of the "Angry Young Men" of the 1950s, a group of radical and forward-looking British working and lower-middle-class writers intent on shaking up the status quo.
I note that those showing signs of this leukophobia (fear of white) are all women, so I'm guessing it could be some sort of gender-based issue.
I believe medicine can help alleviate phobia symptoms, although counselling or hypnotherapy is said to be more effective if seeking a long-term cure.
A more inclusive way may be to form an Angry Old White Men's Association to which leukophobia sufferers are welcomed by way of honorary membership (on condition, of course, that they make the tea and bring a plate).
They got it wrong
Michael Laws shoots himself in the foot (Chronicle, September 13: "Legal threat to staffers").
Robert Domm's 305-page plant report reveals Michael Laws, as mayor, laying claim to hiring highly qualified engineering staff to advise on the failed wastewater plant.
Could one ultimately, therefore, see a case for Michael Laws to be charged over the failed plant?
Now is the time to admit the then council, with some innocence, got things seriously wrong. Domm's report strongly alludes, more than once, that feedback from plant workers to engineers and council, fundamentally critical in all new designs, either did not occur or was ignored.
This feedback is how new plant operation is monitored and how job training is "tweaked" to maximise efficiency.
In my own professional experience of new industrial systems, feedback to the "suits" from the workers makes the difference between success or failure.
That's how serious daily feedback is in the early stages of operating any innovative design.
It's not engineers' fault -- they are taught very well how to do stuff, not how to deal with the way that workers who haven't been properly trained will innocently muck things up.
Plant failure was not workers' fault either. It comes down to keeping communication open between designers and workers. Now bring on the new plant, but expect a fight to make it cheaper.
�Stan Hood is standing for the Whanganui District Council in the local body elections.
Fear and hot air
Are you utterly fed up with the fearmongering and bickering around the new wastewater plant? I am. Do you ask yourselves why there are so many different theories, and why it's been ramped up immediately before council elections?
Have a look at Donald Trump's campaign; our situation is very similar. Fear and hot air abound, with very little substance. Have you wondered what motivates all these "experts"? Engineers at opposite ends of the pole arguing that they are right? Are some whitewashing their own involvement in the matter or are some using this as an electioneering platform in order to stage a takeover bid of the council table? We have a brand new party in town and, hey, they have much to gain from this election.
Remember the last party to stand for our council? Michael Laws' Vision Party was an unequalled disaster.
Given the mess the present council inherited, I believe they have done exceptionally well. They have decreased the debt, turned around our devastating, dangerous, gang image, which was even printed in the Lonely Planet, and got on with the job of a new plant.
We ratepayers paid 50 grand for the Domm report, which I believe is a good investment. It clearly shows we do not need the $42 million Cardno dinosaur that our dying council has committed us to.
Several incidents are recorded in the report:
1. On page 55, the council's deputy infrastructure manager, Rick Grobecker, attributed the plant's early failure (odours in 2007) to wet industries overload from the drought (farmers de-stocking).
2. At a council meeting on August 31, 2009, it was reported that the plant was operating OK but increasing loads from the Imlay double shift were causing large volumes of animal by-products to block the screens at the Beach Rd pumping station.
3. A council meeting on July 19, 2010, asked Horizons for a permit to divert to the ocean (from Beach Rd) when flow exceeded 1120 litres per second.
These and many other "overloaded by wet industries observations" by plant supervisors throughout the report would cause most readers to be amazed that the plant ran for five years.
The solution is obvious: reinstate the WWTP and run it without the wet industries (who have asked us to do just that). This will immediately satisfy Horizons that we are not sending untreated town waste to the ocean. Cost will be in the thousands instead of $42 million and it will allow the wet industries to reinstate their own mothballed treatment plants. This will also alleviate the need to convey vast amounts of dangerous wastes through our town and river.
No more councils
As a former resident of Whanganui/Wanganui, I believe now is the time to place the city's administrations under the care of a "city administrator" and do away with needing mayors and councillors. A city administrator will be answerable to the ratepayers only, with no other political agenda. He/She could then implement kerbside recycling, as managed in Palmerston North City.
As for our sewerage problem, why not dry it out, bag it up and market it as the best quality topsoil money can buy, then sell it to China under the label "Taniwha Tutae". This, of course, will balance out all the tutae we receive from China under our free trade agreement with that country. Changing our name to Anganui will solve that other "dividing" contention we have. United we stand.
I think the development of the port is a great idea, but let's go further to make Whanganui a great city. Let's develop and turn the airport into an international airport:
1. We have the land to make a long runway to cater for 747 jets; the airport has good weather, not often is it closed.
2. Just imagine: every time a plane lands, 300-400 passengers leave those planes. With those people leaving, the work it would create for buses, taxis, hire cars, motels, hotels and restaurants, you name it.
3. Who would pay for it? All you would have to do, if permission was given, is to inform China Airways, Singapore Airways, Indonesian Airways and the like that you were building an international airport and would they like to help with the cost in doing so. Landing charges would be very minimal. I think they would come on board with the idea.
We sit back in Whanganui and wish things would happen. To get things moving you have to think big. If the port works so would an international airport work, just think again of the work it would create and people wouldn't have to travel to Wellington and Auckland. We have the land, we have a good airport -- let's make it bigger. Palmerston North is a no, and so is Ohakea a no. So let's start thinking, Whanganui council.