Monday, February 16, 2015

Meathead values

Last week, Palmerston North elected a rugby meathead for a mayor. And over the weekend, we got the first display of his values: choosing to fund a covered stadium rather than social housing [offline]:

Palmerston North's new mayor Grant Smith has had his first win, gaining city council support of $1 million to pay half the cost of a new covered stand at Arena Manawatu.

The money has been included in the draft long term plan in the 2017-18 year, subject to private interests matching the money to cover the embankment.


The plan had opponents, including those who would rather have seen the council pour money into social housing.


[Councillor Chris] Teo-Sherrell said with an ageing population and increasing numbers of vulnerable people unable to afford private housing living in unsafe circumstances, the council had to show leadership [by funding social housing].

He said it was much more important than extra spending on Arena Manawatu. "I must have a different value set," he said.

Indeed he does: one which sees people as being more important than rugby. Sadly, our new mayor doesn't share it. Given a choice between providing a roof over the head of rugby fans to keep them dry for two hours every week, or one over the head of pensioners to keep them dry for the rest of their lives, he's chosen the former. And that's simply immoral.

[Meanwhile, I'm wondering how this got past the council's conflict-of-interest provisions. The primary beneficiary of this decision is Manawatu Rugby, an organisation Smith sits on the board of. using your council position to push for benefits to an outside entity you manage seems to be a perfect example of a conflict, and exactly the sort of thing an ethical representative would not do]