Posts tagged ‘Celia Wade-Brown’

Thank goodness I did not have a ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ moment on Saturday


On Saturday, I called then-Councillor, and now Mayor-elect, Celia Wade-Brown to congratulate her. I felt sure that the special votes would see her ushered in, and in my Sky TV interview that night, I stated much the same: I would offer our new Mayor my support for programmes that would benefit the people of Wellington. We all share a desire to make our city great, and that’s a fantastic starting-point.
   I’m glad I made the right call on Saturday, otherwise it would have been my televised ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ moment.
   Soon after, she and her husband, as well as a few of the Celia for Mayor campaign team, joined us at our event, along with Councillor Ritchie, who was re-elected. We had intended to join hers at Finc, but as they started earlier, their function ended earlier. We were still going, buoyed by a speech from my former rival and now friend Bernard O’Shaughnessy.
   While the Mayor-elect and I exchanged emails this morning, prior to the official announcement of the final results by the High Sheriff, I was able to congratulate her in person at the Backbencher pub earlier tonight.
   I pay tribute to her and her dignified campaign, and her willingness to give credit to policies where it was due from the very start. Leadership must acknowledge the notion of fair play. I am delighted that we believe that ICT will play an important role in our city’s future.
   You might say we worked together, at least, to ensure that the process was fair. When Access Radio mentioned they might like to interview me for Espace Français, I told them that Councillor Wade-Brown should also be approached, as the other Francophone candidate. It was as early as April when we debated one another—in French no less! I don’t know if it was the Councillor’s first debate of the season, but it was mine. I am willing to bet that it was the first political debate in a foreign language for us both.
   She was equally generous with providing opportunities: when she learned of events before I did, I can remember two occasions in which she forwarded me a note.
   We exchanged a few notes during the year and realized that we faced at least some editorial bias from one foreign company. Thankfully, the majority of people in Wellington was too smart to fall for that, and both of us did better than had been predicted by some so-called specialists.
   Her supporters will be pleased to know that consultation, which the Mayor-elect had preached during her campaign, was practised.
   Just as I had a reasonably good dialogue with the outgoing Mayor, Kerry Prendergast, till we became more guarded rivals, I look forward, as a Wellingtonian, to supporting our Mayor-elect.
   It’s a great start to what I hope will be a better three years for our city.
   And as her predecessor’s years come to a close, it is only right that I offer Mayor Prendergast a tribute, too.
   It takes great sacrifice to be in a public role, and she has done that as Mayor for nine years. It is the culmination of many years of sacrifice of putting others first.
   My late mother was a midwife, and it takes a selfless mindset to start in that career. I note that Mayor Prendergast began her career in the same profession, before being elected to the Tawa Community Board, and then to Wellington City Council.
   As a businessman, outside of our respective campaigns, nearly all of my dealings with Mayor Prendergast were positive. She honoured every appointment request I made of her. It is those memories that will remain with me, especially the New Year shows that I have hosted at which she was guest of honour, as she departs from office.
   Never mind that politically, she and I differed. I believed we needed a city IT strategy through the last few years, as growth slowed in our city. I would not have said no to free wifi in 2008, even if she came right on this during the campaign trail. Based on my years doing business strategies, I felt we were being weighed down by bureaucracy—not to mention some entrenched bureaucrats—which needed a solution, either of greater transparency or a renewed corporate culture.
   I trust our Mayor-elect recognizes the many issues that face Wellington: I am sure, after hearing my and my other opponents’ addresses for three weeks on a daily basis, she knows there are pressing concerns, such as our debt, that must be addressed beyond her own manifesto.
   I am sure that we all look forward to Wellington’s future together, in a spirit of cooperation. We can make our city globally competitive and great again.

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Posted in business, culture, internet, leadership, media, New Zealand, politics, technology, Wellington | No Comments »

Endorsements from Sir Michael Fowler and others—and why the Paul Henry débâcle matters


Yesterday, as some of you know, Sir Michael Fowler endorsed me, saying that I am the ‘intelligent’ mayoral candidate and he likes the programme I have outlined for our city. It goes beyond what is on my campaign site, of course—the programme includes plans to bring Waterfront Ltd. back under council control, increased transparency through webcasting council meetings, streamlining the processes within the Council, and reviewing Wellington’s asset and risk management (which needs serious work). Most of these have been voiced during the last three weeks of very entertaining debates with my opponents.
   I’m grateful to get the endorsement of a three-term (1974–83) mayor and had the pleasure of campaigning with Sir Michael yesterday up in Brooklyn.
   He is right on many points. The present council is in disarray. And he believes I am more of a unifier. I imagine that is right: in branding, if you are going into a company to redo their strategy, you need unity. If you don’t have it, you need to find a way to create it.
   I was also encouraged by the fact that Sir Michael sees huge value in social networking. ‘You reach a literate, voting population,’ he told me. I am glad he is not as dismissive of technology as at least two of my opponents, who pay IT lip service and little more. He agrees with me that it can help create jobs and give a career pathway for our youth.
   Aside from Sir Michael’s endorsement, those of you who watched Back Benches, listened to Radio Active or watched the video Scoop know that Bernard O’Shaughnessy, one of my opponents, has asked his supporters to back me. I’m very grateful to Mr O’Shaughnessy as well for his support.
   And while it’s not asking supporters to give me their 1, Councillor Celia Wade-Brown has told her supporters to give me a 2 or, at least, a high ranking. I reciprocate that for Councillor Wade-Brown: if we want change, and we can rank our candidates, then please consider a 2 or a high ranking for her.
   Remember that your votes are due in the post by tomorrow (Wednesday). Our own small-sample poll shows that the newspaper one is inaccurate, and suggests that the race is far tighter than has been reported. But the margin of error is also quite large, so if I don’t put much stock in either, I won’t let them sway you. I’ve posted plenty over the last while, more so on Facebook, and I’ve met so many of you in person at the debates and forums, for you to know who the best and most engaged candidate is. One only wishes that more of these were televised!
   Vote with your hearts and minds, but the important thing is: vote.

Yesterday’s mainstream media was more taken with the débâcle surrounding breakfast TV host Paul Henry and his implication that the Governor-General, HE Sir Anand Satyanand, did not look and sound like a New Zealander. He asked the Prime Minister, John Key:

Are you going to choose a New Zealander who looks and sounds like a New Zealander this time … Are we going to go for someone who is more like a New Zealander?

A strange comment, considering Sir Anand was born in Auckland, has had more years in New Zealand than Mr Henry himself, has a distinguished record of public service, and is definitely a New Zealander through and through. His judicial service is probably as recognized as that of former Governor-General, Sir Michael Hardie Boys.
   What Henry really wanted to say is that you can put in decades being a judge and, for the last few years, our viceregal representative, but if you are ethnic Indian—or, more to the point, not Caucasian—then you’re not “really a Kiwi”.
   As the mayoral candidate who would never get a Paul Henry backing because I look nothing like him, the furore struck a chord. Because there is a racist undercurrent in some circles that Henry represents. Any minority has witnessed it, particularly in areas where minorities have typically not ventured due to the earlier prejudices of a bygone age. I am sorry to note that it is still there and I have even noticed it in this election—fortunately not from the Wellington public, but from some of our establishment institutions.
   TVNZ initially defended the man (saying that he simply vocalizes what is on people’s minds) before suspending him (for a mere two weeks—I Tweeted a 30-day minimum would be appropriate). Henry stood by his comments before apologizing. But it all looks like too little, too late, as was the inaction by the Prime Minister, who critics say should have had Henry up on the comment during the interview.
   If one looks at the outrage on Twitter (a small sample, I know), then Henry is well out of touch with ordinary New Zealanders. He has a responsibility as someone who reaches over 100,000 people. And yesterday, he crossed the line. Intentional or not (and only he will ever know), this sort of thinking has no place on our airwaves except, perhaps, in a drama where Sam Tyler wakes up in 1973 and meets a tobacco-stained, borderline alcoholic homophobe by the name of Gene Hunt.
   As one friend of mine says, Henry has a right to be a dork. However, we are paying for this man’s salary as he is employed by the state broadcaster, and he’s less happy with that. As am I. Make such insinuations in other parts of the civil service, and you’d get a more severe reprimand than a TV network defence and a delayed suspension. Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand would know, and they worked for a state broadcaster, too. At least there, the BBC immediately recognized what was indefensible.

The fallout from the Henry incident—whom my friends note still appeared on telly this morning—included the resignation of Ben Gracewood as the show’s gadget commentator. Ben felt it was the last straw and Tweeted late last night, ‘Do you know what made me quit? I wanted to say this, and then realised I was holding back: what a f***ing cock that Paul Henry guy is.’
   Pop over to Ben’s blog where more of the debate has taken place. I think he did the right thing, and I applaud him for acting and having principles.

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Posted in culture, internet, media, New Zealand, politics, TV, Wellington | 1 Comment »