Just what has the council got under the tree for us?

16:00, Dec 02 2013

The dawn of December not only heralds the head-long surge to Christmas, but a pivotal period for our new-look city council.

The Christchurch mayor is walking the talk on opening the books, commissioning a dispassionate audit of the council's true financial position.

In the coming weeks, all will be laid bare in "plain English".

Have you noticed that Lianne Dalziel's language has dramatically sharpened about the city council's real financial position? She is sounding increasingly concerned.

On Sunday, while appearing on TVNZ's Q&A, Dalziel tellingly conceded that she couldn't rule out council asset sales, despite her philosophical objection to such a prospect.

(Surely City Care would be the first cab off the rank).


So just how parlous is the council's financial health?

Should we be bracing ourselves for a rather incendiary Christmas cracker?

Meanwhile, the hunt for a new chief executive starts in earnest this week, with advertisements formally placed.

The outgoing boss of Christchurch Airport, Jim Boult, is considered a strong contender for the position after ably steering the airport through the post-quake tumult and terminal redevelopment.

Another local contender is the head of the Central City Development Unit.

Warwick Isaacs has revealed to me his interest in the job. Like Boult, Isaacs hasn't shied away from controversy, notably the compulsory acquisition and clear-felling of central city sites.

Despite that, Isaacs is a highly affable, personable leader, with substantial local government experience.

Tony Marryatt told me last year how he "hugely rated Warwick Isaacs."

Then again, enlisting the former CEO as a referee would probably be an employment death wish.

Holiday deal-breaker

As you plan your summer getaway, is wi-fi connectivity a pre-requisite?

When I'm on holiday I try and stay off the grid as much as possible, to give the mind a digital detox.

But I'm not an absolutist. I still like to stay connected.

If I'm travelling for work, it's an absolute necessity. Which is why nothing is a bigger accommodation deal-breaker for me than extortionate wi-fi charges.

Yet so many New Zealand hotels continue sabotaging their own reputations by imposing swingeing wi-fi fees.

Recently, a mid-range Dunedin hotel wanted to bill me $35 a day for wi-fi use.

Excuse me? Cap my usage, make me watch an ad before I log on, restrict me to hot spots in the lobby if you want - but don't rob me blind for wi-fi.

Worldwide, it's becoming a standard amenity that's expected at no charge, way more than a bathroom hair-dryer.

Kiwi hotels need to get with the programme.

The Press