Fast-responding police prevented an ugly dispute outside Mayor Yule’s office from turning bloody in the wee hours yesterday.
It seems the Mayor had offered to sell the location rights for “the biggest equestrian center in the Southern Hemisphere” to the person who was first in line outside his office upon his official re-inauguration on October 30th AND who had contributed at least $5 million to the Hasting Councillors Private Lounge Fund.
Police had to be called when an altercation broke out between Sam Kelt and Andy Lowe, each claiming to be first in line.
Kelt claimed “that bugger (Lowe) nipped my folding chair, which was squarely in first position, when I took a toilet break.” To which Lowe responded, “Possession is nine-tenths of the law, tiny bladder.” That’s when things turned ugly. Sam Kelt, though out-sized by Lowe, landed the first punch.
Fortunately, Chief Election Officer Peter Roffewood was still in the building in the early morning hours, counting late-arriving overseas votes for Robert Jarvis. He heard the melee and alerted police.
Interviewed afterwards, Kelt insisted, “I’m the horse man in Hawke’s Bay and my Regional Sports Complex is the obvious best home” for the equestrian center, adding: “Everyone knows horses don’t like to dressage in the sand.”
But Lowe responded, “We’ll have our Ocean Beach location ready years before Sam’s place. We’re almost in the Environment Court already, while the Council hasn’t even launched its first public consultations on Sam’s glorified playground.”
At that comment, this reporter had to physically restrain Kelt from throwing another uppercut at Lowe.
Both men claimed to have the inside track with Yule. “He just gave me $50,000,” said Kelt. “Oh yeah, that’s peanuts, he’s giving me Ocean Beach,” retorted Lowe.
Asked to comment, Mayor Yule complained: “Dammit, these rich guys are so spoiled. That’s exactly why I just wanted to give it to the first in line. I couldn’t possibly decide this on the merits. Both these guys have gigantic checkbooks and I just can’t afford to alienate either one. People just don’t realize the pressure a mayor is under.”
Given a lack of witnesses to settle the dispute over first-in-line, BayBuzz asked Mayor Yule how he would now decide the matter. “I don’t know,” he replied, “Maybe there’s room in Hawke’s Bay for two world-class equestrian centers. Lord knows we have enough real estate. And I hate to see these guys disappointed. I’ll be looking for a win-win solution.”