Martin Gallagher on why a Watchdog has been appointed to the Waikato DHB

Last month the government appointed a Crown monitor to the Waikato District Health Board to improve leadership and governance.  This appointment came after a series of well publicised, though not always completely transparent failings of the elected board.  Think back to Nigel Murray, Bob Simcock, SmartHealth and the budget blowout on the Collingwood street refurb.  The next step, if decision making doesn’t improve would be firing the board and appointing commissioners. It’s important to note that elections are only a year away but given overall lack of public understanding and participation – we shouldn’t accept election time will drastically change things.

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Martin Gallagher, who is on that board has kindly agreed to an interview and has given me permission to “ask anything” and to “not be afraid to be tough”.  Don’t mind if I do…  Earlier this year I  interviewed Sally Webb, then Acting, now Chair of the board.  While unspoken, I certainly didn’t feel I could “ask anything”.  You can listen to the podcast of that interview here (starts at 10min).

So this week I’ll ask Martin, what the role of the board is; the failings that led to a Crown monitor being appointed; how responsible he feels for some of those decisions; whether it’s time to ditch the current model; and how they are ensuring we have a sound hospital and health care service in the future.  Tune in to Free FM at 10am Friday.

Read more:  Who is on the board?

Waikato DHB gets government watchdog.

Board member calls for New Zealand district health boards to be reduced by half

 

 

 

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Conservation week with Eugenie Sage – Minister of Conservation and Andrea Graves from Riverlea Environment Soc.

Ko te wiki tiaki ao tūroa tenei.  It’s Conservation week from the 15th to the 23rd of Mahuru.  For my 100th show, I’ll be speaking with Eugenie Sage of the Green Party of Aotearoa.  She is the Minister of Conservation and Land Information, the Associate Minister of the Environment and Acting Minister for Women.

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I’ll ask about her year so far – which included criticism of her signing approval for a Chinese company to bottle water at Otakiri Springs – Whakatane.  We’ll discuss protests at the Karangahake gorge over the weekend – resulting in the arrest of 5 people, including ex-Green party member Catherine Delahunty.  Eco and Ag-tourism are an economic opportunity for the Waikato, so I ask how we can ensure it’s sustainability.  With 1080 in the news again, we’ll korero about it’s role in conservation and finally how the coalition and central and local government are working together.

The focus of this year’s te wiki ao tūroa is our backyard – so coming back to local issues I’ve asked Andrea Graves to speak on behalf of the Riverlea Environment Society Inc about the mahi they do; their vision for the area, how development at Peacocke might impact on that and how we can get involved in advocacy and by getting our hands dirty!

Tune in to Free FM 89.0 (Waikato) at 10am this Friday.  Stream live online or wait for the podcast which will be shared on facebook or my website after the show.

A case for ‘citywide voting’

A case for ‘citywide voting’

The Hamilton City Council (NZ) is currently “consulting” on it’s Representation Review.  It looks at the number of Councillors, how many wards we have and whether we have community boards.

The Councillors voted to consult on keeping the status quo which means keeping two separate wards (East and West) rather than bringing in “citywide” or “at large voting”.

I had lots of discussions / interviews on the topic, read lots of comments and ultimately disagree with their choice.  Rather than staying silent for the status quo to be passed, it’s imperative that anyone who would prefer to vote city-wide in 2019 will need to let them know by making an online submission (and preferably speaking to it in the chamber).

I have made my submission and have pasted it below – I’m happy for anyone to copy and paste  the reasons outlined into their own submission.

To all elected members… 

Be bold, be brave and vote for change.

I am asking you to put forward / and vote for “at large voting” in this representation review. I believe it is an opportunity to ‘shake up the status quo’ and potentially improve voter turnout in 2019. (Proof of the status quo not working is the 32% voter turnout in 2016).

Reasons:
All Councillors (should) make decisions based on what is best for the city as a whole.

We need more choice, so that we can have the best possible candidates representing us.

I believe that at large voting will improve diversity of elected members, by allowing communities of interest (be it ethnicity, environment, social justice etc) to rally support for a candidate citywide.

‘At large voting’ is a better form of representation for voters who are transient or in unstable accommodation.

* I applaud the decision to implement Maaori representation in committees. I believe at large voting in 2019 and STV voting from 2022 would serve the communities well by ensuring we have the best people representing us.

I hope your decision will be based on the overall vision which is to improve participation of your constituents.

Ngaa mihi

You can read more about the Representation review on their website.   If you agree with me and even if you don’t – equally please  Make your submission here.

What’s going on?

This week a Waikato Regional Council report stated that only 36% of respondents believed they had any influence over Council decisions. Down from 62% in 2006.  A Hamilton City Council report shows strong feedback that respondents don’t think they are well represented – or listened to. Finally, the Waikato District Health Board governance has been so shoddy that the government appointed a watchdog to oversee.  So I ask myself, “What’s going on?”.  At what point is there going to be an intervention or across the board agreement that the current local political system is undeniably broken and that urgent change is needed.  I’m not talking an urgent report… I’m talking radical, creative solutions to our fake democracy.  The narrative after the poor voter turnout in 2016 was that non-voters are lazy, don’t care or don’t know… I challenge that and suggest the real problem is the disconnect elected members have with constituents and a system which pushes forward the status quo and staff and elected member’s personal agendas.  Why would someone bother voting when they don’t think it makes a difference?  2019 is shaping up to be another 2016.  How low can turnout go?

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A sh*t sandwich for the Mayor

Have you heard of a sh*t sandwich?  It’s a tool for giving feedback which protects the recipient’s feelings slightly while also allowing you to tell them how unhappy you are with their performance.

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Mayor Andrew King has been a regular guest on Free FM. (Pictured alongside fellow Free Breakfast host Mike Williams).

Most work-places have regular performance reviews – in the case of the elected Hamilton City Council it’s every three years when we vote  – except there are so many flaws in the democratic process that residents vote on name recognition – or don’t hold Councillors to account for the crappy decisions they may have made during the term … or just don’t vote.  So, I thought that given we’re “celebrating signing off the 10 Year plan” (cough) – that I’d offer a performance review of Mayor Andrew King – mid-term … Although, I think even he knows he’s a one-term Mayor.

It would be unfair to review performance without first acknowledging some things he has done which he needs credit for.  He and the Chief Executive Richard Briggs proposed an increase of the minimum wage for Council staff to $20 to take effective on 1 July 2018.  It wasn’t quite the living wage – but an increase that would have helped all the Council staff trying to pay rent and bills in a city they spend their working week maintaining!  Great resource from Dorrington Wright to show you how Councillors voted on this back in December.  While it didn’t go ahead we acknowledge that he tried.  Council Minimum Wage.

We can also credit him (though some may disagree with me here) for generating discussion on the Hamilton vs Kirikiriroa debate …  While he was only proposing a change to Kirikiriroa for the Council – it sparked a city-wide korero on our name and our history which I think should always be welcomed.  Though I did wonder if he’d approached the issue more strategically or if someone else had proposed it, if it would have gone down differently with the public.  Read more: Hamilton Mayor proposes name change to Kirikiriroa City Council.

This is a sh*t sandwich, so it’s time for the bit you came for.

The Mayor sat on an Audit NZ report, seemingly for so long that it couldn’t be released before the Councillors were forced to sign off on something that the report was concerning.  WTF? Now, I know – Councillors who voted for the $7 million being set aside – have justified their decision to back it because “we wouldn’t want a fast food business there” or “we need skin in the game” or “no-one is saying which buildings the money is for” …  but at the end of the day – actions and decisions like this  impact on residents trust of local government – the whole idea of “Councillors doing what they want anyway” prevail.  I’m appalled that this has happened.  Audit NZ report into council process over park expansion delayed

Another thing: on the central city park idea – Who the heck’s idea was that?  Oh yeah … The Mayor’s.  I know, because I asked him in a Free FM interview last year.  Well guess what buttercup, that is not a community mandate.  The 10 year plan should be made up of conversations, briefings and tried and tested ideas with the community – not vanity projects, sprung on other Councillors last minute.

Anyway … I’m going to say something nice again because that’s  how a sh*t sandwich works.  I’ve found myself defending him on lots of occasions, because despite him being rather awkward (I relate to this) you can tell he is genuinely nice and wants what is best for us all, not just the rich – proof of this is the proposal to increase developer contributions significantly.  So next time you think he’s doing deals for mates – you might remember that he was about to charge them tens of thousands of dollars more for developments.  That took leadership.  Read more  If increased charges are in, we’re out: Hamilton Developer.

A sh*t sandwich pats someone on the back for a good job while also telling them to pull their socks up.  What would you tell the Mayor if you had to give good and bad feedback?

 

 

 

Waikato 125 – the women who shine

Podcast available for Episode 89 (22 June 2018).

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Angela O’Leary (Hamilton West City Councillor) joins us in this episode to talk about an exciting project she’s driving called Waikato 125.  The project is calling for nominations of great Waikato women (past or present) who embody strength, vision and honour.  They will then be commemorated at a Suffrage 125 event in September.   We also discuss the lack of  Women in Politics – and what we can do to tip the balance for the 2019 elections.

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Later in the episode I go on a bit of a plastic bag rant – after discovering plastic bags replacing plastic bags at Countdown…  sigh.

Continuing on with the wahine theme… Music on this show is from Auckland emo-pop band Openside; Coral (who is off to represent the Waikato in Hollywood next week!) and Tami Neilson and The Miltones (in town on August 1st).

 

 

Central city mayhem

Why aren’t more questions being asked about the full cost of the ‘central city park’?

In the 10YrPlan consultation document it gives the cost as $12.8 million … but that’s not the full cost.  It was approved in December at $30 million, and on Facebook Rob Pascoe has floated $75 million!  Which is it?  There has been no community mandate for the project, and no financial plan – just a “heads up” from the Chief Executive to developer mates over what could be considered a boyhood dream of the Mayor!  For those of us wanting “a great river city”, we need to stick to the ‘River Plan’, not an ill thought out pet project.  The River Plan had community involvement, is costed and invests in river-side projects, not a concrete block we can eat our lunch at 30 meters above river level.  Councillors have a week of verbal submissions before deliberations – join me by asking via telephone, email or social media what the full cost of the project is and then ask them to vote against it, to get the River Plan back on track.