I’ll answer the burning question — “Upon whom?!” — in a moment.
But first a word on covering the Napier Council.
Since the election, a variety of people have urged BayBuzz to devote more coverage to the Napier Council. I’ve tried to explain all along that the problem is … nothing ever happens at the Napier Council. Then I urge them to go see for themselves. And of course they never do.
But listening to our faithful readers, I investigated a bit and discovered that we have done some 302 blog posts that mentioned Napier. That’s not bad. [OK, I’ll admit, some of those might have said things like … Napier doesn’t need a Council, they have a monarchy run by a Queen Mother.]
Those 302 posts, I might add, are in the context of having written 1,004 BayBuzz posts so far in total (passing the 1,000 article milestone last week … get out your vuvuzelas!)
Anyway, I bit my lip and headed over to Napier yesterday to do my reporting duty. I figured, hey, they have two back-to-back committee meetings … better odds that something will make the trip worthwhile.
At first it didn’t look too promising.
The meeting of the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee, chaired by Councillor Bill Dalton, lasted all of ten minutes (including a report from the Mayor on the visit by Napier’s Japanese sister city friends). This despite the fact that the agenda included pay levels for the Councillors (an ordinary Councillor pockets $34,000, in case you’re interested) and a “review” (I use the term loosely) of Council’s expenditures for the first quarter of the fiscal year (one question arose on that item, otherwise the meeting might have ended in nine minutes).
But then things livened up. The second meeting was the Regulatory Committee, the important committee chaired by Councillor Rob Lutter, dealing with by-laws, liquor bans, urban design, consents and RMA issues … potentially meaty stuff.
An “intense” (again I use the word loosely) debate ensued as NCC pondered declaring escalating the war on skateboarders. Actually, most Councillors seemed to agree that these were indeed nasty little creatures, posing a genuine threat to the safety and security of the Art Deco City. The argument was over how much to charge them to retrieve their boards if they were apprehended skateboarding in forbidden areas — $150 (proposed by the draconian staff), $100 (proposed by the peacemaker Chairman), or $20 (proposed by rebellious soft-on-crime backbenchers).
The outcome — the offending buggers will now be slammed with a $20 charge to recover their boards … but only for repeat offenders. [A proposal to dump the confiscated skateboards on Heretaunga Street in Hastings in the middle of the night, although greeted enthusiastically by Councillors, was left to lie on the table.]
The skateboard item, plus three others, took 25 minutes to resolve.
So all was said and done in 35 minutes. And witnessed by one other member of the public.
Now, I’m not compensated for the reporting I do for BayBuzz. But at least I can have fun writing stories like this one.
It’s hard to comprehend how real media can justify sending paid reporters to endure cover meetings like these … and, moreover, even expect them to serve up serious coverage of what they witness.
That said, I hear you BayBuzz readers … if you want more coverage of the Napier Council, we will do our best to comply. Sooner or later a hot issue — maybe a street closure in your neighborhood — will surface.