I hardly ever read the NZ Herald but I saw, on the front page of the January 11 edition, an interesting story about the Neurological Foundation.
The NF is a charitable organisation that exists to distribute grants to bright young men and women doing research on epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, schizophrenia and many other brain disturbances.
But not all of the money NF raises goes where it should.
An inquiry by the Charities Service revealed that the executive director, Max Ritchie, CNZOM, 79, on a salary of $160,000, had developed such a sense of entitlement after 20 years on the job that he had spent a total of 271 paid working days over four years on the golf course, not counting his annual leave. That is nearly a third of his working days playing golf.
Also, $5000 of NF money went to paying his subscriptions to the Grange Golf Club and the Auckland Club.
Also, he took his new wife on an $18,000 trip to the US, Canada, Scotland and Hawaii, ostensibly for two conferences, but which complainants called a "paid honeymoon". The NF conceded that "it was hard to quantify that there was $18k of value added to the NF".
Also, Max Ritchie was given $142,207 to "retire".
And he is still allowed to keep his CNZOM for services to the NF. The Charities Service concluded that the affair was not corrupt but "gross mismanagement" by the NF that allowed him to get away with it.
The reason I feel so unusually indignant about all this is that for years I have been a donor to the NF and the thought of this man buying golf balls with my money makes me wild.
Incidentally, the late Gerald McDouall was a terrific worker for the NF, and I suspect he would feel disgusted at Ritchie's behaviour.
I D FERGUSON
The referendums on cannabis and euthanasia are, as I understand it, legally binding in terms of enactment or not.
The election of political parties into a governing body are also, by their reliance on popular vote, a form of referendum. My suggestion is that we empower the integrity of voters by holding accountable, and enforcing a degree of integrity on, politicians by also making their election promises and pledges legally binding should the related party become government.
This, with some clauses included concerning extenuating circumstances for some exceptions, would guarantee a level of honesty and realism in political strivings for votes, which we all know from experience often and predictably amounts to nothing more than a carrot dangled in front of the voters with little certainty that we get to munch on it once governance is achieved.
More power to the people, I say, and less to political deceit. As voters in good faith,we deserve that sort of leverage, which up to now has rested with politicians.
In response to Jay Kuten:
The Holocaust is incomprehensible, although genocide has happened before. My heart goes out to the dead and the survivors.
It must not happen again — except that it has; how can you explain the Israeli treatment of Gaza and the West Bank Palestinians?
Truth leads to dark places for sure.
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