Facing facts, folly fearlessly

MORRIS WEST - NORTH TARANAKI MIDWEEK
Last updated 14:06 19/02/2013

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OPINION: There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact - Arthur Conan Doyle

So the mayor thinks I am not interested in facts; after all, it is said that a reporter never lets the facts get in the way of a good story.

However, I am interested in the facts, just not the selective facts that our council provides.

This is a council that has provided me with "facts" relating to Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, which insists that between July 2011 and June 2012 it had 80,662 visitors, or more than 30 visitors an hour for every hour it is open.

On every occasion that I have visited GBAG, being the hypocrite that I am, there has never been more than 10 people in the gallery and I go at times when you could readily expect people to be there.

They also insist that 66 per cent (53,207 or 1023 a week) of visitors are from outside the district and that GBAG is a major factor behind them coming here.

If that's the case, having already paid to come here, surely they will expect to pay to see such a world-renowned facility.

Following my over-estimation of the cost to install the new parking system, the council provided me with the facts. It did, however, take three ever-increasing sets of council facts to get something close to reality.

So your worship, I would rather leave things as they are and give you some idea of the facts as they stand in community opinion because, if those facts are wrong, then it is because your own council is not being transparent enough in its dealings with the public.

As to having a majority of councillors interested in keeping the rates down; yeah right. If this was the case you would not be bringing in rate increases at three times the rate of inflation, then expect a pat on the back for trimming that back to twice the rate of inflation.

Interestingly, the major cuts have been made to things that the majority of the community use, while leaving GBAG alone, despite the fact that it will be closed for the majority of this year and much of the next, a potential saving of $5 million on that budget alone.

Why is it that two outspoken councillors have been subject to censure for name calling and asking questions in the public arena, and yet another councillor once called a fellow councillor an "outhouse rat" in chambers and not an eyelid was batted?

This same councillor abused me in a phone call one evening and, had I known of the low methods the council would use to control the facts getting out, I would have complained, instead of brushing off his petty action.

I hope I haven't given away his identity but he is a small person with a big ego, and no, it's not Cathy Thurston.

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My advice to the mayor, as this is an election year: You may think your councillors are behind you but not everyone who purports to be behind you is there to pat you on the back. Real foes will face you, the others will stab you in the back. I'm more worried about Harry's do-nothing councillors than those who are now reduced to doing nothing by them.

Enough rant. On Tuesday Puke Ariki hosted the first Pancake Day with races and pancakes from Van Dyck Fine Foods. Apart from providing the most delicious Marcel's pancakes and crepes, along with Tinkerbell ice cream, the day also supported the Mellowpuff Foundation.

Finally, happy 80th birthday to Little Theatre, celebrated in conjunction with their annual Toscars awards.

- Taranaki

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