Hamilton's biggest losers of 2013
And why won't Wanda Lee return our calls?PAUL BARLOW
OPINION: Last week Paul Barlow brought us his winners for 2013. This week he aims his sight squarely at the biggest losers.
Hamilton started with a drought this year. It cost New Zealand almost $2 billion. In Hamilton it saw record water restrictions, a pontoon was bought in to make sure we still had drinking water and the pressure on the system showed some serious cracks in our water infrastructure. So serious that this is what opened the door to talks on water meters that dominated the October elections. The massive flood outside my house probably didn't help the water supply though.
Our "International" Airport saw a massive drop in revenue after Virgin pulled out of Trans-Tasman flights. This meant less incoming tourism and business passenger numbers, lost associated services like the Customs officials and seen a drop in domestic flights as well. The airport had a pretty major upgrade not that long ago and once, back in the 90s even had Air Force Two on the tarmac so to see it so underused is a real shame.
THE ANTI-FLUORIDE LOBBY
First Hamilton lost when the Hamilton City Council agreed with someone who believes the government is spraying us with chemicals from planes while modifying the weather over the use of fluoride in our water supply. It was a decision that shocked the country, drew stark criticism from Wellington on how the elected officials had failed their constituents and outraged dentists.
But in the same token Hamilton losers also include the team behind the anti-fluoridation campaign - an obnoxious lobby group whose scare tactics, bullying, and whining not only aided in their dismal defeat at the referendum held during the election - where the public overwhelmingly supported the return of fluoride to the water supply, but also overshadowed anyone else with concerns about fluoridation.
How can we forget the rise and fall of the enigmatic Wanda Lee? She seemed inextricably linked to the New Council: New Direction member Steve McLennan, but no one seemed sure exactly how. The important thing was she had an opinion that perfectly matched the groups - because why would anyone elses opinion matter? Actually that's not fair because someone else did have an opinion that counted - Ray Stark.
Ray paid a lot of money on a campaign to see all incumbent councillors booted out of office, which he failed at. His endorsed members made it in at the cost of one incumbent; the others chose to move on. He couldn't handle people calling him after making thousands of automated calls to voters.
Paul believes Hamilton has so much potential to be great but it can't do it until it sees where it falls down - so it knows how to move forward. Next time he'll share what he thinks are Hamilton's 2013 successes.