Opponents of big roading projects in Wellington have accused city councillors of economic illiteracy and sent them children's counting books, calculators and letters saying they should learn how to use them.
The anonymously run Economic Illiteracy Support Group sent the packages to councillors who supported the New Zealand Transport Agency's road corridor plan.
The group says the benefits of the proposals – which include a flyover to the north of the Basin Reserve, duplicating The Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels, and four-laning Ruahine St and Wellington Rd – are less than the costs.
"Firstly, read the book and use the calculator we've enclosed with this letter. Understanding basic concepts like numbers and what that pesky `negative' sign means on the calculator will really help," the letter says.
"Secondly, it's never good to look like a dick in public. So avoid making stupid statements about how roads are an investment in the future or how they create jobs, because all the people who've already read the book and mastered the calculator will think you're a moron."
Councillor John Morrison was among at least three councillors to receive one of the packages last week. "It is totally derogatory, offensive and pathetic in so many ways," he said.
Copping flak was part of the job, but the letter had a "nasty undertone" to it. "To send people packs in the mail under anonymity is not only intimidatory and threatening, but it's also gutless and spineless."
Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer had a short message for those who sent him an anonymous package: "They are gutless wonders."
Councillor Jo Coughlan was unconcerned about the message her mail contained. "Any group that hides behind a charade of secrecy is probably not worth taking any notice of."
The council's governance portfolio leader, Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon, didn't receive a letter but was outraged that his colleagues had.
"The debate was in the open and, while there were differences of opinion, no-one tried to hide them. This is really an attack on the democratic process."
The Dominion Post contacted the Economic Illiteracy Sup-port Group's website, asking for a spokesperson to put its views. There was no reply by last night.
- The Dominion Post
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