In an exclusive interview with BayBuzz, Mayor Lawrence Yule announced today that the Hastings Council will buy Napier outright.
“I’m as surprised about this as you are,” exclaimed Mayor Yule. “In fact, I myself can scarcely believe what I’m saying.”
Mayor Yule said that since his surprise announcement of an amalgamation plan last week, he had received so much positive feedback that he believed he had a mandate for even speedier and more decisive action. He noted that all seven soon-to-announce candidates for Hastings mayor have already called to endorse his plan, making it a non-issue for Hastings voters. So he needed to raise the stakes and tackle the real problem … Napier.
“Everyone knows those better-than-thou snobs over in Napier will never agree to amalgamation. They think of us as embarrassing dirt-under-the-fingernails country cousins. But here in Hastings, we have a trump card … we have no fear of public debt. So we’re going to borrow the money and just buy the damn city, right down to the last hoity-toity Art Deco facade. I’ve made peace with Sam Kelt and he’s agreed to organise the financing for us for a modest fee.”
BayBuzz asked the Mayor if he had consulted any of his colleagues on this.
“That’s a dumb question,” he replied. “If I’ve learned anything over my three terms as Mayor, it’s that the whole point of a surprise — and the voters love surprises … the bigger, the better — is that it needs to be a surprise! And if you can mess with due process as well, that makes it even more surprising.”
[Editor’s note: BayBuzz confirmed the surprise element firsthand by confronting Mayor Arnott early this morning at her home. She greeted BayBuzz with toothbrush in hand, and when our reporter asked about Yule’s latest announcement, he received a faceful of pasty foam. “That’s outrageous,” she sputtered, “I’d never sell Napier without prior approval from the proud citizens of Napier Hill. OK, maybe Onekawa and the hospital … Did he say how much he was offering?”]
Indeed, we asked Mayor Yule how much he was willing to pay for Napier. The Mayor was cagey. He said there were heaps of variables to consider, he hadn’t had time to think it through (“It’s a surprise, after all”) and he would be asking Simon Tremain to “honest broker” the deal.
“I have worked up some figures myself on the back of this napkin though,” said Yule proudly. “They were willing to sell the hospital grounds for about $20 million. So multiply that by 50 or 100 or 1,000 or whatever factor. But then you need to discount for the fact that we don’t get the cash cow port; that most of the land, already below sea level, will be totally underwater in fifty years; that they have lousy gravel beaches; and that Napier’s Art Deco brand will have fading value as today’s oldtimers pass on and more people discover Miami. Once you take all that into account, I’d guestimate that we’re talking less money than the sports park.”
Given all those disadvantages, we asked the Mayor why he would bother to buy Napier in the first place.
“Aw, that’s one of those trick BayBuzz questions,” he said.
“But there doesn’t need to be a reason. You just don’t appreciate the value of showmanship … especially in tough times like these. For generations, Hastings residents have been made to feel inferior to their shining-city-on-the-hill cousins. But, in the coming election year, I can give them hope, affirmation and a welcome distraction from their real problems and issues. Plus, the way I’ve worked it out, the bill won’t come due until their great-great-great-grandchildren need to pay. That’s what politics is all about.”
Our interview ended abruptly. “Need to go now,” he said, “Having the media in for another announcement. Got to keep those surprises coming.”