In this eighth in a series exposing and discussing corruption within the King Country, I dive into the relationship between the local rag and the Ruapehu District Council showing how the establishment conspire to misrepresent reality to the public. It’s quite a revealing story and while many in the district know the partiality that exists, rarely does actual evidence of this come to light. This is one of those cases . . . brought to you by the “Blogger from Hell” and . . . the Internet.
People of the King Country know the owner of the local rag, Mark Ebrey well. Largely, they know everyone and everything else well too – it is the quintessential small rural New Zealand town of a few thousand people. I’m told stories from his past, good and bad; his political leanings and the personal. As I said – small town dynamics apply. Whatever . . .
He’s been in the newspaper game off and on over the years and currently has the local rag, the Taumarunui Bulletin. As a newbie in town*, I’m naturally a target of distrust – I get that. As an investigative blogger, I could be seen as a threat by the local rag too – I get that as well.
Then, as a guy who has crossed swords with a local who was ripping off a mate of mine who I helped, I was definitely seen as the ‘bad guy’ when I first started making noises about this injustice. It wasn’t pretty with the local journo when we first met, but whatever. Some people have attitudes. That’s the way things go sometimes eh?
So when I broke the story of corruption at the local council, I slipped a Public Notice into the local rag notifying those interested that there was commentary online. This is where it gets interesting, note the timelines here, working backwards in time.
The paper comes out on a Friday. It’s delivered to the distribution agent on Thursday afternoon. It is printed elsewhere in the North Island on Wednesday. Mark’s cutoff is Tuesday afternoon – close of business.
A week before my King Country Corruption series was scheduled to start online publication I asked Mark when his cutoff was for the advert copy. 5.00pm Tuesday he replied. He had a mixup over the time which is immaterial to this story as he honoured his word but I had the advert text finalised and to him before the deadline.
I published the first of the King Country Corruption posts on Thursday morning, 16 May 2019. On Friday 17 May – lo and behold – we’d made front page with comments from RDC’s CEO, Clive Manley, even before I’d published the report! This should be a very important piece of news would it to stop press and breach commercial trust?
Let’s analyse what happened and who did what and why . . .
Mark Ebrey got the advert by deadline. He didn’t know what the article(s) were going to contain because they weren’t published yet. He didn’t contact me for a copy of them (If he’d asked I would have given them to him, but embargoed of course – duh!). He would have phoned Clive Manley on his cellphone – Clive was in Wellington that week – and said, “What’s Dennis blogging about? He’s just placed an advertisement in the paper for this week!” [naughty, naughty!]
Clive has responded in a general way and thus we have the front page STOP PRESS story! Thank you for the additional exposure there, Mark. That was a bonus appreciated at the time. I’m told that people went online as a result of that story, which well and truly justified my $49.00 I paid for the advert.
A report examining RDC’s 26 February 2019 application to Lotto (R-LEH-2019-109193) for more than a million dollars was supplied to Mayor Don Cameron on 7 May 2019. It is now available at: www.dennis.co.nz. It concludes that the application is fatally flawed & recommends that RDC either withdraws it (before due diligence forces it rejection) or corrects deliberately deceptive substantive errors of fact.
Dennis A. Smith
Writing the Wrong Ltd
Licensed Private Investigative Blogger
A public notice printed today from Dennis A. Smith makes reference to the Ruapehu District Council’s Lotteries Board application for funding for the Taumarunui Railway Station project.
RDC chief executive Clive Manley says the actual details that Mr Smith refers to in his public notice on page 17 are in fact concepts and the details are still being worked through with the many parties involved.
“The community groups involved with this project include local Trusts and Ngati Haua who have been working with a very experienced consultant who has worked with museums throughout NZ including national museums to develop the final details.
“The museum in the Railway Station is just one part of this with Taumarunui’s history and stories being integrated into all the redevelopment projects.
“Mr Smith has drawn his own views based on his own way of looking at things.
“Needless to say others have very different views and would strongly disagree with him.
“What is important is that we as a community look at what we have, and together share it in ways that others can enjoy.”
Concepts vs Actual Application
Taking a stab at what I might be saying in the future blog post, the local rag summarises Clive Manley talking about “concepts”. This is deception again, called a “bait-and-switch, logical fallacy”. My report analysed the ACTUAL APPLICATION and showed the falsehoods. Concepts had turned into an actual application. It is/was irrelevant whether things were still to be worked through!
My report was issued by a Licensed Private Investigation company that deals with facts and has a very high commercial pedigree. It was supplied to Mayor Don Cameron alone. He supplied a copy to others – immediately to Clive Manley (CEO) and then onwards. Ron Cooke and I were asked to attend a meeting in which Don Cameron was exceedingly rude, and Clive Manley defiant to the meeting facilitator who suggested more than once that he could just insert only one word in the dodgy Lotto application to solve his problems. Nope!
RDC’s “very experienced consultant who has worked with museums throughout NZ including national museums” used false information supplied by RDC’s CEO, Clive Manley, a deliberate attempt at deception for Lotto. The day following this meeting, despite refusing point blank at least twice to change anything at our meeting, Clive Manley advised Lotto that some matters were different to that claimed in their application. It took quite a bit of digging but eventually the truth came out. RDC’s CEO was caught out lying.
Clive Manley told Mark Ebrey that, “Mr Smith has drawn his own views based on his own way of looking at things. Needless to say others have very different views and would strongly disagree with him.” My conclusion was that the Lotto Application was fatally flawed. It was. The successful grant applications have just been published online absent RDC’s million dollar Museum of course. It was never in the hunt but millions went to other councils for their capex!
First, this is collusion proven between a commercial newspaper operator and the local government. In an honest and just society a paid advertisement placed in the local newspaper’s Public Notices should be read by the public on the day of publication and commercial sensitivity should apply until published. H*ll’s teeth if this cost us money, he’d be in court trying to defend the indefensible inside a week!
What Mark Ebrey did was morally wrong and commercially foolish. As I said before, in town here his political activities are well known but this is the actual proof of the way things work in Taumarunui – like it or not. You CAN trust the local newspaper – to share things with those in power. Note here that this was a paid advertisement, not even a letter to the Editor, and certainly not a news story that requires editorial balance and is subject to journalistic standards!
The concept of “Corruption” which is the term I use here, is normally used in a political sense. Breach of trust is the personal application and breach of contract is the commercial variant. These are forceful words but perfectly valid.
So the comment from Clive Manley is essentially, “I don’t know what the blog story is likely to be but, hey, we’re good guys and Mr Smith isn’t!” The funny thing is that I always give a story about somebody or something to them before I publish with an invitation correct any errors of fact and offer them Right of Reply before I publish a story – unlike Mark, it seems! Indeed the whole thing seems like an ‘own goal’ if ever there was as I knew what the real score was here from January 2019!
I don’t expect any favours to come my way anytime soon telling the world the facts about the local newspaper man either!
Wait for more spin from the political people when the public find out that RDC’s screwed up their chance for a cool million dollar windfall. It was always the stuff of dreams. The consultants should hang their head in shame and be chased out of town as amateurs and the crooks running the RDC should get their act together, fast.
In the next post in this series I take a shot at the way that politics and religion mix to corrupt the church. Standby.
* I’ve actually spent more than 30 years in the King Country but mainly using it as a playground. It’s only really since January 2017 that I’ve made it my home.
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
- King Country Corruption 8. Media Bias
- King Country Corruption 9. The Church
- King Country Corruption 10. The Psychiatric
- King Country Corruption 11. Why they Lie
- King Country Corruption 12. Advice for Fighters