Letters : Sister City visits

Sister Cities

Thanks to Graeme Barsanti for his elucidating letter [Marlborough Express, February 5].

It doesn't alter the fact that he has been subsidised by the Marlborough ratepayers for his Japanese trips, with no benefit to the subsidisers.

Mind you, these sister-city junkets are not unique to Marlborough.

Dear old Tim Shadbolt in Invercargill is an expert.

If any readers wish to know more, go to the Sister Cities website.

For example, I didn't know Mr Barsanti has been a board member. Yes, there is a board.

It may be cause for a more realistic view of the sister city and twin town system.



Marlborough District Council democratic support manager Mike Porter supplied information on Cr Barsanti's costs:

During the past six financial years (two terms of council) there has been only one mayoral delegation to our sister cities in Japan, in September 2008.

The mayor's travel and accommodation costs were paid for by the council, with the other members of the delegation paying their own way.

Cr Barsanti was in the group and acted as the delegation organiser.

The delegation visited Tendo and Otari to attend their 50th anniversary celebrations.

Tendo City reimbursed costs relating to the visit, expressly for the mayor and Cr Barsanti, which meant the council had to pay for only about half the Mayor's costs - about $3200.

Cr Barsanti, as tour organiser, paid for some costs with his personal credit card on behalf of the delegation.

These included hotel, bus and food that could not be paid for in advance.

The council reimbursed him for the mayor's share of these, which amounted to $467. The mayor made no claim for any costs associated with the tour.

Cr Barsanti also made two reimbursement claims for tour-related costs - $140 for excess baggage after he took a large quantity of promotional material, and for $12.03 for toll calls to Japan in the early stages of organising the tour.

The council reimbursed Cr Barsanti a total of $619.03 for that trip and $467 of that was a direct reimbursement of the mayor's expenses. No other direct costs were paid for Cr Barsanti.

Similarly, no other direct costs have been paid or reimbursements made for any other trip to Japan, or any other sister city-type overseas travel, that Cr Barsanti may have made during the past two terms.

Pope Benedict

Accepting the inexcusable tragedy of sexual abuse within the church and occasions of financial impropriety, "sins" not solely the scourge of religious establishments it must be said, Nicole Winfield's attempt at scholarly objectivity respecting the pontificate of Benedict XVI fails miserably ["Pluses and minuses of Benedict's reign", Marlborough Express, February 14].

Not simply is the writing presumptive and crammed with half-truths, it is typical of the majority of mainstream media commentators who, in their "damning-by-faint-praise" chronicling, repeat hoary generalisations respecting the Vatican and church "governance", passing them off as sound and insightful judgments.

A measured audience can be expected to sift the wheat from the chaff.

Not so the liberal-minded irreligious masses who delight in pointing an accusatory finger at a sacred institution held to be out-of-step with modern-world "gods" and aspirations.

By proffering the view that Benedict XVI's orthodox position on such matters as the ordination of women, abortion and contraception, gay "marriage" and inter-faith relations will, by common consensus, consign him to history as an out-of-touch-with-the-world traditionalist, Winfield conveniently ignores the fact that his stance wholly accords with Catholic Church doctrine - being faithful to the gospels.

Consequently, even chancing Benedict XVI should wish otherwise, it is simply not the prerogative of the papacy or indeed clergy or laity to render a re-interpretation of theological teaching for the sake of appeasing populist mind-sets.

Benedict XVI may have his faults; nonetheless, giving way to philosophies and practices encouraging of a "what's-in-it-for-me" selfish code of conduct isn't one of them.



The Mirror