Local Body Elections 2016

We have reconsidered our ban on letters from election candidates, and have decided that we will allow candidates' letters from now on.

However, they will be closely edited and blatant electioneering will not be permitted. Waste answersLast week I was asked by David Bennett to respond personally to the questions in his full-page advert last Wednesday. I responded directly to him, but my reply is worth sharing.

"David, you have cited in your advert that you have communication between Dec 16, 2013 and March 17, 2014.


It is therefore surprising that you do not have the letter dated April 17, 2014 from Ministry of Health that puts all of your stated concerns to rest.

Can you please confirm for me whether or not you have a copy of or knowledge of the April 17 letter. If not, I am sure we can provide you with a copy. I consider that a read of this letter will answer all of your concerns and therefore it is unnecessary for me to do so. Councillors were aware of this communication when we made our decision in March of this year."

I quote from the letter from the Ministry of Health:

"We had been assured from your recent correspondence that council was obtaining appropriate advice and had recognised the importance of dealing with the trade waste issues. In light of this, and the concerns expressed in your letter, the Ministry of Health will provide no further engineering advice on this matter relating to the collection, treatment and disposal of sewage and waste in Whanganui, unless this is directly requested by the Medical Officer of Health."

The response I have now received from Mr Bennett claims he has no knowledge of this April 17 communication and that the information he did quote was received from a "donor". Who is playing games here? Mr Bennett or his mystery "donor"?

If Mr Bennett is really genuine, he must now accept the view he expressed in his paid advertorial is wrong. And then pay again to provide the correct information.


Jenny Duncan is standing for the Wanganui District Council in October.
Fitting response

So it's starting in Whanganui now? A computerised telephone advertising set-up, with a recorded message, selling insurance.

Happened to me today. It's rude, unwanted, intrusive. What happened to a polite, one-on-one inquiry from a real salesperson?

To be assailed with a recording you can't turn off and which won't listen to you is rudeness in the extreme.

Fortunately (but unfortunately for the perpetrators) I ended the call in disgust before I got a real-person phone number to call back to.

Some years ago in another city I lived in, another "businessman" did the same thing with automated computerised telephone touting for business. People all over that large city were eventually letting their feelings be known in the newspapers and local radio, but the guy didn't stop.

Then one day his "computer" phoned me -- yet again! By then I had had a gutsful of it, so I -- er, I mean, "a friend" who was an electronics whiz (just like me) -- reprogrammed a fax machine to automatically send those horrible screeching fax tones to his live callback telephone every two minutes for eight hours solid. Then I, -- er, "he" -- went out for the day, but not before happily hearing plaintive cries of desperation coming back down the fax line, yelling, "This isn't a fax phone."

Just like "my friend", I am pragmatic: I saw a problem that had annoyed a whole city for years, thought it through, and initiated action to get rid of the problem. And it worked.

After years of suffering, that city no longer got those harassing phone calls. And "my friend" became very popular with 350,000 people, but probably made one enemy (can't win 'em all). This is also how I've "done" my whole life. Identify the problem and solve it. Worked (and works) for me.

Was that harassment, what "my friend" did? No more so than what prompted it in the first place.


Stan Hood is standing for the Whanganui District Council in October.
Poisoned chalice

Did anyone else read the list of mayoral and council candidates with a sinking feeling? One could be forgiven for thinking we are in the 1970s, and that the reaction to having a woman mayor for the past two terms is that every white male Baby Boomer in town thinks they can do better. Of course you can; your demographic have been such great stewards of our planet, people and economy. Have another turn.

The light sprinkling of gender and ethnic diversity among the aspirants is depressing. Sad to see, too, a lack of champions of progressive environmental economic thought. I think it reflects the poisoned chalice that local government has become, where you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Some of you I wish well, and others, such as Mr Brougham, I hope your campaign sinks without a trace.


Gutsy campaign
Whanganui District Council Candidate Matthew Urry is young, very young. He has dramatically turned his life around and follows his faith. He must work part-time on minimum wage and meagre hours, often scheduled during his traders' market appearances.

To save money he even moved from Castlecliff so he could be closer to his employment, yet still maintains his whanau and community links. He has even sold personal items to pay start-up costs for space at the markets.

On Wednesday night he was still $40 short to run and file his nomination form. He made a humbling appeal on Facebook for help to make the difference and the offers came in.

Matthew may not have the loud voice and confidence to run hard, but his openness and sincerity is hard to beat. He gives it his all. He cannot afford flyer drops, nor big signage, nor paper adds, video clips or newspaper inserts, nor book a school hall and yet ... he is trying.

Nor has he dreamed to call upon iwi elders to present himself for their recognition. That's not his way. I have stood by Matthew from the start, even at times telling him perhaps this is not yet his time? He just smiled saying, "I feel I must do this, and I will try my best."

I am recognising this young man, not in an electioneering manner (as he is, I guess, competition) but I want Whanganui to know we have youth who want to be engaged at council and community, and he has started that journey, doing it tough. Kia kaha, Matthew.


Ross Fallen is standing for the Whanganui District Council in October.