Q. How many councillors does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. 12. One to change the bulb, two to hold the ladder, three to ensure that the necessary consents and permits are in place, two to check that Health and Safety guidelines are strictly enforced, one to write the memorandum of understanding, one to record the monumental event and take a selfie to prove it, another to post and boast of their triumph on social media, once the task is complete and one to hand out the costly, rate-payer funded certificates of participation at the equally costly rate-payer funded catered event, held to honour the completion of such a brave and perilous deed.
Q. How many councillors does or should it take to serve the needs of Wanganui, to the best of their abilities, assuming, that is, that they have any, to begin with?
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A. Hmm, now let me think.
My initial thoughts were, if Auckland, with a population of over 1.5 million can be run by 1 mayor and 20 councillors, albeit inefficiently, then, proportionately speaking, Wanganui should be able to get by on one Mayor and two councillors.
A tidy trinity, the odd number essential for a majority vote, when it comes to those rare occasions where they stop bickering amongst themselves long enough to find the best solutions for the many pressing issues they were actually elected on and paid to deal with responsibly, and in a timely fashion.
So often, when I read or hear news of council meetings, riveting as they may be, I'm left with the sense of, "what a freaking waste of time", and can completely understand why certain representatives in the past had opted not to be present, despite the criticism and threats of "no show - no dough".
When bugger all is achieved by so many I can kind of sympathise. Since when did the act of being present automatically equate to being productive and creating positive outcomes for our city?
No, I haven't been a councillor but from my observations, so much time is spent debating the unnecessary, like which overpriced experts and consultants should they engage to argue their case for them or how many subcommittees, focus groups and task forces should be formed to tackle the issues, that in reality, basic common sense should be able to solve.
Instead, we get a bunch of mismatched, self-serving, right-fighters, squabbling like school kids and spending too much time writing letters to the editor in an effort to prove their point and get in that all-important last word ... rather than dealing with the matter at hand.
Items on the agenda are, more often than not, tabled, re-tabled, re-upholstered, recycled, upcycled, swept under the carpet and/or lost in a battle of arguing egos. It appears nothing can be achieved swiftly in politics, with the exception of their own pay rises. Just about everything needs to be re-visited, multiple times, like a sickly animal, waiting to be put out of its misery.
The individual competency of the councillor is a subjective thing but I don't subscribe to the belief that bigger is better or more really does mean more, so while I will concede that my initial pick of just two was perhaps a bit on the stingy side, I do think the job could be done just as easily by four, with a Mayor thrown in for good luck.
This lower number would mean triple the salary - a great incentive to do the job and do it well.
So, how many councillors does it take to change a lightbulb ... to one that lights up our city and is both long lasting and energy efficient?
I'd love to hear your thoughts. firstname.lastname@example.org