In this post I dig deeper into the Provincial Politics of Taumarunui showing how corruption is manifest in the Western culture, human nature being the same across the globe and throughout time. I use the recent experiences I have had with the Ruapehu District Council as an example, summarising the challenging and confrontational situation first, then analysing it so that we can see the way that our human failings outwork in local politics in New Zealand.
RDC recently engaged two out-of-town ‘professionals’ to prepare a Lotto application. They are/were seeking a million bucks for the council’s redevelopment of the local railway station. In the process they fudged a few things and (like many of us do with the IRD) slipped in a few porkies thinking that they wouldn’t get found out.
I found out about this dodgy application, called them to account, wrote a report specifically to the Ruapehu District’s mayor Don Cameron who took offence at me personally, “How dare you charge my CEO with misconduct, you, you, you out-of-towner newbie to the district!” sort of thing.
Previous posts in this series detail the specifics:
- The source of the funding came from a corrupt Taumarunui Museum Trust who had kicked their founder and his collections of quarter of a million historical photos out; then they cashed up the building and then they slipped a cool $50k pledge into the council coffers. “Bugger the old man and his collections” seemed to be the sentiments about the town or at least certainly those who tried to get their hands on the valuable archives!
- Then in the second post I explained the specific errors of fact, and
- In the third post I shared the contents of my report supplied to Mayor Don Cameron in which I again detailed the specific errors of fact and discussed why the Lotto application was “fatally flawed”.
The essence of falsehood (or deception) is greed, but the essence of greed is pride. When we have a ‘sense of entitlement’ or we think that we are ‘above others’, or that we have rights over others, we fall into this ego trap.
In the old days (don’t you just hate that saying?) we used to consider that to serve was an honour; a privilege; a responsibility. Arrogance however is widespread now and the spirit of human pride is having a field-day as we are all caught up with this process of empowering ourselves – technology, financial, physical and spiritual.
In this age of empowerment we are fooled into thinking that empowerment is enlightenment and we are fooled into believing that we all “have rights”. This is the antithesis of the Christian message – that we have life in order to give; to help; to bless; to love.
The consequences of this deception is that when we gain power we must as a natural consequence of having this power use it. This power is used in a physical sense by building huge machines that can and do change the face of the earth regardless of any environmental damage; the financial power is manifested in the business world and stock markets as the rich profit at the expense of the poor and the political power is used to ‘lord it over others’.
We all struggle to shop without cheap, ubiquitous single-use plastic bags because somebody up there’ told us that it was PC to get rid of them. We have to use mercury light bulbs instead of incandescent – it goes on and on. Power abuse is easy to see in a phrase used with me recently when a friend said about corrupt local body politicians, “It is a reflection of the current central government in that they simply cannot understand why people could question them!”
In this series exposing this ill within Ruapehu District Council, I now share the experience I had meeting with these top dogs. Understand here that I am the new boy in town. I have already established a Charitable Trust and secured the ownership, custody and protection of the entire region’s historical archives at huge personal cost – financially and reputationally, and now I am invited across the road to an urgent meeting with the big shots. I have just written a report exposing the Mayor’s CEO for doing something naughty and they wanna talk about it.
Here is my wrap-up of the meeting as supplied to the attendees. I always do this as it gives anybody the opportunity to correct any misunderstanding and it provides an excellent audit trail of what happened and who said what at the time.
Hi Clive & Don (cc Sue & Ron)
I summarise briefly our meeting today relating to my Report of last night; this meeting called by Sue Morris – thank you for seeing me so soon.
Clive explained that an error of identification in the Application had been resolved in regards to TDHS & TMT. I accepted this at our previous meeting and was and am still happy that this matter has been corrected properly.
My report (which I understand that Clive has given Sue today) claims though, that there are two errors of fact in the RDC Lotto grants application, and one concern (unaddressed today) over the legitimacy of the RDC’s pledged contribution:
a) The fact that the $50k is contested is (I believe) a deliberate deception. Council has said clearly today, from both of you (Clive and Don) that they will NOT insert the word “contested” or “conditional” claiming that it is for TMT to advise council if the funds are contested or may become unavailable. I accept RDC’s strong resistance to changing the words of the application.
b) Council has defended their use of the words in the Application supposedly referring to or implying that the funds would be used for “Ron’s collections” and RDC explained that this is “the other stuff” that TMT has possession of and that there is no mention of Ron. Furthermore Clive said that he has never said that Ron’s collections were “not welcome” in the planned project and there were other purposes in the grant application. This is technically correct but is misleading, and I claim deliberately, especially when it is properly understood where the items described actually are.
My report stands.
I note that Clive confirmed that he was the ultimate sign-off for the report. Thank you (Clive) for answering the question I asked of you and your team by email weeks ago.
Don shared his opinions about me personally – specifically what he saw as my “desire to go to court”, the potential for lack of support from the community and the difficulties that I personally was putting Ron into with my politically incorrect, unpopular and ‘hard-line’ approach to TMT matters.
In this regard, I note that the purpose of everything I have done and am doing is to actually AVOID litigation, and that I’m really not interested in what people think about me, nor in garnering public support.
We clearly disagree on some key matters and KCET will respond appropriately in its own manner and time letting others make decisions of our conduct as it suits them.
Thank you for inviting me across to talk nonetheless. It is good to have a clear response to my Report so that we can all proceed with clarity.
Now this is a simple summary of a meeting that at times got ugly. I was actually stunned that the Mayor could or would talk to a constituent like he did. I found him rude and his arrogance insulting. Personalisation of a business matter is a losing game if the recipient of your ad hominem attacks doesn’t care. He’s lost because I don’t care what arrogant and rude people think about me. I speak the truth. He clearly doesn’t want to know it. Period.
What also happened that stuns me is that an astute CEO in the form of Clive Manley has done is baited me to take it to him. His reply to my challenge that it was ethical to advise Lotto that the pledged $50k was contested means that forever and a day he is a marked man. He is the man who fudged a Lotto application and got caught out. One has to ask the question why? Why on earth would a man be driven to lie so, even at risk to his entire career over a little matter like this?
The answer comes down to the same thing all the time – pride. You see the way pride works is that it gives us a false impression of the power that we have. If we think that because we are CEO, or we are the mayor, we can make executive decisions independently of fact or truth or what the little people think, then guess what . . . we will.
And this is fine as long as we are never questioned. Our little game of politics can control others because they are fearful of speaking up against bullies who have power. This is where the #MeToo movement has shown its muscle – little people standing up and saying, “Enough’s enough!” sufficiently that accountability is achieved, albeit in only one sector of life, granted! I’m not suggesting that it is all kosher BTW either, just noting that in this area the little people have stood up and made gains.
The other thing about this exchange is to identify where the power comes from. Can you work that one out? Where do these political leaders get their power to play loose with the truth at our (the little people’s) expense?
It’s from us. We are the ones who vote them in and you can see this in Don Cameron’s fear of political loss. He said to me that I would lose the popular support of the people if . . . I caused problems for the Lotto grant or for Ron Cooke’s collections etc. This subservience to the people is literally a form of worship – it puts ‘passing things’ ahead of principles. Technically, literally, spiritually, it places us under ‘the whims of the transient’ at the cost of the permanent.
Don Cameron is a politician, popular today because nobody else can beat him at present in the popularity stakes, but gone tomorrow as a has-been if someone more popular comes along. My words however, based on fact will remain as truth forever. Some may not like the fact that their conduct is questioned, analysed or exposed – true, but I can tell you that there are many little people in Samoa who treasure the fact that it was me that notified the world that their Prime Minister was a crook.
When we have an ego and let the world stroke it, our sense of entitlement grows and there is no limit to this insatiable need for power. Even good people who get on this gravy train of politics get caught up in it and it has the potential to destroy – careers, reputations and even life, when called to account.
It only takes one person, even one little boy to say for example, “The Emperor has no clothes!” and the world can be a different place.
The fallen nature of mankind in which lies and deception is accepted as a part (in this case) of local body politics is the blueprint in which we all live, whether we like it or not. Don Cameron may come or go and the next one is just as likely to spin yarns and play the game to get ahead and be seen to make their mark.
I accept that reality, but I also know from the school of hard knocks that those in power, those who lack integrity and who are in it for themselves do not appreciate commentators like me who speak it like it is. I warn them though, that the truth can be VERY unforgiving. Mess with it and those who speak it without fear or favour at your peril.
In the next post in this series I take the topic to the last level, that of a solution. Many know that there is a problem. The astute can measure or identify that problem. It is very rare however to find people that can take it to the next stage and provide a healthy, meaningful practical solution. I take a stab at this, again applying it into the current expose of Corruption within the King Country.
I dare you!
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