A big thanks to Zaryd Wilson for his editorial on council's apparent policy of non-communication and how this persistent behaviour frustrates those wanting answers.
My observation is that when mistakes are made the council expects a free pass, and when ratepayers or the press ask questions the most effective strategy is to ignore them and wait for the questioners to go away.
I suspect this strategy is effective with ratepayers, who live busy lives and simply give up, especially when the strategy of silence gives way to one of obfuscation.
For the decade I've lived in Whanganui, a dominant theme has been council officers and elected officials choosing not to reply to communication, whether hand-written, by email or telephone. I've also seen plenty of nonsense explanations.
This is why the fourth estate – the press and news media – is critically important: for providing smart and talented paid professionals who can dedicate time and resources to holding our government to account.
Now more than ever, it's critically important for us to continue to pay for the service of news. I made this same point in a letter last year, when NZME and the Chronicle transitioned to a paid online "premium" subscription.
The press is essential to democracy and, as quality journalism is pinched by tightening budgets, we the people need to step and pay for the service.
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Death to America
Donne-Lee and KA Benfell (Letters, January 21) try to understand why killing Iran's popular General Suleimani (and a dozen other Iranians and Iraqis, and maiming many more, in two drone strikes) was good, and why Iranians chant "Death to America".
Despite America's best efforts, General Suleimani's Shia militias, Russian (Chechen) irregulars, Kurds, Syrian army, and Syria's loyal Christian, Druze and Shia militias, have defeated Isis in Iraq and Syria.
In 1925, Britain "regime-changed" Persia/Iran. In 1941, with Russian support, Britain invaded and "regime changed" Persia, appointing Shah Mohammed Reza.
Russia sent Polish children to New Zealand through Persia.
Russia left Persia in 1945. America and Britain destroyed Persian civil society between 1951 and 1953. America then controlled Persia/Iran until Iran's popular 1979 Ayatollah revolution kicked them out.
America has never forgiven Iran for this. The next year Saddam Hussein's Iraq invaded. The American-sponsored eight-year war crippled Iran and killed more than 350,000 Iranian men and many Iranian civilians.
America has tried to regime-change the Iran's Ayatollah government ever since. American sanctions and acts of war continue to cripple Iran and impoverish the people.
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