In the first post in this series exposing corruption in the King Country I explained that the trustees of The Taumarunui Museum Trust had (very kindly) donated the proceeds of the sale of The Memory Bank to the local council-led consortium intending to establish a hoo-flung-dung multi-million dollar Community Hub slash Museum in town. I explained that this was my prediction (based on my investigations) and that this project was “fatally flawed”. In this second post in this series I explain why this Lotto application will have “a snowball’s chance in hell” of going through due diligence and exposing the RDC’s leadership rather uncomfortably in the process.
The development of the Taumarunui main street has been in the winds for a while, encouraged by a forceful and colourful character, Deputy Mayor Karen Ngatai. Karen is a long term resident and (like me) she has no shame with self promotion. As long as that marketing flair and her spiel fits in with her conduct, then I’ll give her a 10/10 for getting her face in the paper [again] any day! Go girl!
Behind the rosy scenes out front however is a serious problem – money. Actually the lack of it to be more precise. Taumarunui is a small provincial town in the King Country, primarily a farming community but with tourism making slow inroads into the traditional farm servicing environment. We have a large percentage of Maori with their various support trusts and so on doing their thing. The farming community is well established and has the usual rural ups and downs but again is relatively stable with a sound support from the Taumarunui-based businesses.
The population is aging and in the last decade or so there has been an influx of out-of-towners attracted by the lower land/house prices. This has brought the feel of holiday homes, vacant for the week and then the yuppies coming down to play for the weekend or holidays. It takes quite a bit to be accepted by locals and the out-of-towners are not really part of the community, and never will be. They come and go. Don’t spend (or don’t spend much) when they are in town and they do not understand the slower more down-to-earth rural ways.
This all means that with the population struggling (certainly not growing) Taumarunui like many provincial towns struggles financially. I pity the council with their huge land area, lower rating demographics and marketing challenges.
BS Because Funding is Needed
Karen’s baby – at least this council-led Museum project – as it is presented has to be funded, and there-in lies the problem.
The first stages are either complete or almost complete at the point of writing. Photo above. Clive Manley puts the entire thing into proper context when he says, “It won’t happen without the Lotto money!”
Clive, and others reading, take it from me, it won’t be happening.
Lotto will never give RDC a grant on the basis of the application submitted. It’s a scrappy document with lots of pretties and endorsements but contains BS right from the get-go, and if Lotto give a million bucks as a result, I’ll eat my hat and apologise profusely. They will deserve to have gotten conned!
The RDC application to the Lotto Grants Board contains serious factual errors and inaccuracies that are utterly inappropriate for use with the Lotteries Board, especially when dealing with a million dollar claim. Three errors (two serious) relate to matters I am associated with – first, the report mentions more than once that the sole donor alongside of the RDC was the Taumarunui & Districts Historical Society [incorrect], not the Taumarunui Museum Trust [which it was]. Fortunately David Robinson one of the TMT trustees corrected this, but only after the event. Shame, RDC!
The “in cash” BS Story
Secondly though, while the first error is excusable in that it is tricky for any King Country outsider to know the difference between TDHS and TMT, this second error has the very real potential to jeopardise a million dollar application. All Lotto has to do is do an inch of due diligence and it will be toast, instantly.
Rick Pearson, writer of this report, claims in writing, and twice (you can check this in the actual application that I release in my next post) that the $50k is “in cash”. Twice. The only problem is that it’s actually only a pledge – that’s all. Not “in cash” at all! Why on earth would RDC either ensure or at the least permit that this phrase would be used, and twice? Could it be something to do with the fact that this money is contested, and they knew this, but needed the reader to be absolutely positively sure that this was as good as cash in the bank?
You betcha, and Clive Manley despite all his ‘silky words’ let it slip to me that they needed this TMT grant to show community support, which of course they don’t actually have – in a monetary sense at least.
So now, how do I know that this is only a pledge? Longtime readers will know that when you live on the edge like I do you have to be VERY careful to get things right . . . so, I know this because Clive Manley has told this to me personally three times and twice in front of witnesses. Of course I want to know this fact because as I have already explained in previous posts, KCET lays claim to the proceeds from the sale of The Memory Bank doesn’t it?
But there is more . . .
When a pledge is made, it is done because there is no completed transaction. You cannot walk out of the shop with a loaf of bread until you pay for it – usually you can’t simply pledge to pay and expect to get the bread! Likewise a pledge from TMT necessitates that a condition exists, otherwise there is no reason to pledge – just cough up the dough and the deal is done, surely? TMT has the money, in the bank. We know that. Why didn’t they just cough it up? If the Lotto deal falls over (which it will) RDC could always return it, so why the pledge? There’s clearly something untoward afoot here, especially when the Lotto application says “in cash” more than once!
So as part of my research I asked RDC, formally in writing, more than once what the conditions were of this pledge. You see this is vitally important to me – I know how these kind of tricky dudes with silky words in power operate. They do one deal in public and another in private all the time. “Conditionalities” is the word we use for this kind of shonky business.
When I know what those conditionalities are with this pledge, then I can undertake court action with greater confidence. This is the reason I never lose in court – I always work with facts. Sure, this “surprise but planned all along” pledge may possibly be all above board – if you trust the politicians who did the deal! But what say for example, that Weston and Clive agreed that after the million bucks was in the bank, RDC would slip $50k into TRACS, Weston’s pet project?
So easy to do. Then the funds from the sale of The Memory Bank are spirited away using the Lotto money/application process as the conduit to the shonky deal. These guys (and gals) in power do this ALL the time. It’s just the way that the Western world’s corruption outworks. My take is that the money was pledged with conditions that RDC and TMT don’t want made public, which is why they did not answer the question when asked and now that it’s out they will deny and lie and backtrack to try and desperately cover their sorry little *rses.
The Second BS Story
So did/does Clive Manley know that the funds are and have been contested? You betcha he does – and that’s why he actually spent ratepayers money getting the council lawyer to confirm that, “Yes, TMT has the legal right to give to the RDC!” OMG! Now RDC is taking sides in a commercial dispute using the information given to them by people that are being sued for breach of trust. What a laughing stock.
So to recap, here we have a council applying to Lotto for a million bucks who gets the names of their donors mixed up, who try to make a big deal over the fact that there is widespread support from the community with support “in cash” but it’s all hot air, BS, because they haven’t even been given and the funds are hotly contested with a court case threatened to boot! Oh my Giddy Aunt these people are a crack-up aren’t they?
But there are a couple of other factors that make this circus even more incredible . . . I’m called up by the Mayor & CEO’s secretary last week. “Dennis, can you come to a meeting with the CEO and the Mayor?” Sure, like right now? Sure. So I go over as they wanted.
Guess what? After a decent scrap, something along the lines of, “Your report sux! You’re a sh*t stirrer! We’re a ‘clean’ council and you’re an a*hole!” sort of thing, the mediator of this meeting assesses the situation and sums it up quite succinctly, “All you have to do Clive is insert one word saying that the $50k “in cash” is actually ‘contested’ into your revised application, and Dennis will be perfectly happy!”
You guessed it, “No! No way! Never!” . . . and the Mayor has all the gumption to stand up for truth and integrity and instructs his CEO to do the honourable thing?
Pigs will fly. In fact he assures me that public opinion will destroy me if I keep on holding him to account the way I was . . . oh, sorry . . . if I keep on causing trouble the way I was.
But it gets worse, way worse . . . when pushed as to why RDC when caught with their pants down doesn’t at least try to get dressed and correct the application with the insertion of one word, Clive Manley (with Mayor Don’s active support) takes this approach, I kid you not . . . “Yes we know that KCET contests those
donated pledged funds; Yes we know that it’s only a pledge and not “in cash” but it is TMT’s job to tell us that they are contested! We couldn’t possibly make an ethical decision and tell Lotto that we actually tried to deceive them, could we?”
Ah huh! I got it! And the people who run RDC can actually sleep at night?
So we have the following situation, the RDC has an application to Lotto based on factually incorrect information and an applicant that knowingly wants to deceive their potential funding partner despite being given the chance to fix the f*ck-ups before the sh*t hits the fan as the blogger from h*ll gets his teeth into another round of blogging corruption . . . oops! Oh dear! I hope that Lotto doesn’t find out about this blog.
Hmmm, might be a bit late now methinks! Don’t say you weren’t warned RDC – fair and square.
The Third BS Story
Richard [Rick] Pearson started uploading this dodgy application on 22 March 2019 and it was finally received by Lotto on 26 March 2019, three long months after KCET’s creation and several weeks after publication of my book and our public meeting, that the town needs a location in which a “significant undigitised photographic, map and film collection [needs] to be safely housed and preserved”.
But this too is not so, although this second falsehood is a little more tricky to explain, due to the CEO’s slipperiness and trickiness.
On 24 September 2018 when Ron Cooke and his supporters found out that TMT were putting The Memory Bank on the market, two of them met with Clive Manley who specifically denied Cookie and TDHS representative Audrey Walker the use of the Railways building. Now what he said, and how he said at that meeting isn’t 100% clear to me, as the three people at that meeting report it to me in slightly different ways, but the end result was clear and agreed by all parties – no dice, sorry Ron, the Railway building is not going to be an option for you!
RDC (specifically Clive Manley) knew way back then that because their lease with NZ Rail was issued on the basis that no commercial operations would be occurring on NZ Rail lands and because there were timing issues (Ron Cooke had to vacate within a fixed and short timeframe) that Ron Cooke’s collections would not be housed along with other interested parties in the new Community Hub/Museum.
Rick’s application, written under Alastair’s guidance and with Clive Manley’s explicit authorisation then says twice, that the funds if granted would be used for Ron’s collections. Here’s the REAL tricky part where deception comes by way of a forked tongue . . . Clive, and quite rightly too, claims that he never actually said “Ron Cooke’s collections” – he simply said generic “significant collection” that needs housing and “as a result of the sale of The Memory Bank”. That’s the art of deception and politics isn’t it? You create the impression of something in order to deceive in order to trick and gain something under false pretenses. Then when you’ve got what you wanted everyone is too embarrassed that they fell for the BS, that they cover their own butts and you get away with it.
Clive hints that the TMT too has a whole bunch of stuff and that he ‘could have’ meant the TMT. Yeah right! Tell that to Lotto . . . for the record the valuable collections, Clive, are with Ron Cooke. KCET owns them, and I can tell you that there is not a day that goes by that Ron Cooke and I thank God that we got them out and safe before the council got their hands on them and f*cked them up the same as TMT has done for 30+ years.
So you’d think things would settle down with all that and we can get on with life, perhaps? Nope . . . in walks another informant fuming over these turkeys spending a million bucks of ratepayer money on a Museum . . .
Dennis, Where is their Mandate?
This question rings in my ears and repeats ad infinitum, “Dennis, Where is their mandate?”
Now by law, councils are required to undergo a specific process of consultation with what is called “Significant” expenditure (an SCP). They can do up the roads, keep the cemeteries clean, slap up new signs and enforce rates as their core business without notice, but the moment that they’re into spending on their ‘pet projects’ over a certain threshold (defined in law by percentages and categories of spending) they must obtain a mandate from their constituents. Special notice, opportunity for submissions and objections and so on. Pretty basic stuff really.
I cannot for the life of me find any signs of this process having occurred with the million bucks that RDC has told Lotto that they have pledged. I’m only six months in town and have been sniffing around for only 18 months so I may have missed something but nobody I speak to even knows what RDC is up to on this dodgy application, let alone that they’ve committed a million bucks of ratepayer’s money to the Museum. My take . . . it’s again all hot air.
This is what I think has happened and why. RDC knows that the Community Hub project and integrated Museum can never be funded from a broke community and that RDC doesn’t have the funds either. They go out and get the glossies from the consultants and present the plans to the people who all say, “Yeah great! Sounds good to me” but none of them have any cash and so they cannot pledge anything. Oh they write endorsements of course but that’s only words.
Weston Kirton, Chairman of TMT does a deal with Clive Manley. “We’ll sell up The Memory Bank building – that’ll give us $50k which we’ll slip into the Lotto grant. It means that we’ve gotta give Cookie the flick but that’s OK”, says Weston, “Leave him to me!” He keeps his people in the dark so as not to alert then to the real score so that they cannot mess with ‘the deal’. RDC pumps the price of the job up to 2 million and applies for one million from Lotto saying that RDC has pledged a million bucks.
This way there is no mandate required from the people because no expenditure from council will occur. All that has to happen is that Lotto coughs up the dough thinking that they’re paying 50% of the deal and that RDC has the balance covered, and community support the project “in cash” mind you!
This explains why Don Cameron can say that an SCP is not triggered, and why Clive Manley can say (honestly BTW) that council will not be paying anything. Of course bloggers and proper due diligence from Lotto have to be “overcome’ but the former definitely wasn’t predicted and the latter would mean the end of the road, unless that due diligence was uninformed and Lotto believed the RDC’s spin.
My investigations on this matter so far make me pretty jolly sure that this is how the deal went down.
History tells us of course that some politically incorrect “professional *rsehole” did come in and throw a spanner in the works by standing up for the “old man” who got shafted at the twilight of his career and who took on the powerful at the RDC but ‘thems the breaks’ in the big wide world of corruption in provincial politics, eh? Sometimes you win, and other times you lose.
Evidence of this sneaky stuff is revealed in my report which you can read in the next post in this series. Clive, and co, if you get your million bucks, you’ll be the toast of town, but you’ll always be known as the man with silky words, who tells half stories to people as par for the course, in my neck of the woods anyway.
This claim to Lotto is therefore preposterous nonsense, and utterly deceptive. I hope that this is all not a factor in Lotto’s consideration for if it is and it is later found out to have been granted based on known fallacies (even in part), I’d hate to be RDC having to return a million bucks. Alastair Wells, from MWA Consulting really needs to get his facts right or at least ensure that his contractors and/or subbies do.
For the record and for those who really don’t give a rat’s behind about politicians and political BS and won’t click through to it, I recommended in my report that Don Cameron be given the chance to know and understand what was happening on his watch. I also advised RDC to voluntarily pull their application, sort it out and then put it in again next year when it could be based on facts. RDC’s been given that chance, and you know what, if they asked me to help them I would!
Umm, out the window . . . is that another pig?
In the next post in this series I publish my report – the one I gave to Don Cameron only. I understand that he has given it to others and I am fully aware that he hates my guts for writing it but Don, if they elect you for another whack at the top job, please enjoy it and get used to taking pot shots from politically incorrect professional a*holes like me. Like with the other crooks around town who play the person and not the ball, you’re very welcome to your game of politics & worrying about gaining public recognition. I don’t want a bar of it; will keep on speaking it like it is and prefer to sleep easy at night knowing that I deal with facts and have a good grasp of reality.
Thanks for swinging by again today!
King Country Corruption Series
- King Country Corruption 1. TMT Scandal Deepens
- King Country Corruption 2. A Flawed Lotto Application
- King Country Corruption 3. Report on Flawed RDC Lotto Application
- King Country Corruption 4. Behind The Scenes
- King Country Corruption 5. The Solution
- King Country Corruption 6. The Consequences
- King Country Corruption 7. Suing Taumarunui Museum Trust