Questions over secret stadium letter

The existence of a secret letter from Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin to the Government, seeking money for the proposed Otago stadium, has been leaked to the Otago Daily Times.

Cr Teresa Stevenson raised the issue, questioning Mr Chin's right to send a letter to the Government without first having it approved by the full council.

In a letter to the editor yesterday she asked: "Does the Mayor have the authority to write to Central Government requesting funding from the new proposed Government grant to fund infrastructure that will boost local economies, for a project of his choosing?

Can he do this without the agreement of the whole council?

Can he suggest gifting city assets in return for such a grant?"

It is understood councillors were told about the letter at a meeting last week and were also told the matter was to remain confidential.

Mayor Peter Chin last night declined to comment.

Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Cairns confirmed last night that he had co-signed a letter with Mr Chin.

"There is a letter. I did sign a letter. I co-signed a letter. Absolutely."

Mr Cairns would not discuss the contents of the letter.

"While I have agreed the contents of the letter, and co-signed it, I would prefer that Peter had the chance to talk to you first."

Cr Stevenson would also not discuss the contents of the letter but has, in the past, been a vocal opponent of any suggestion that the council sell off social housing.

During annual plan hearings in 2007, one councillor said "he had heard" that if the Government bought 49% of the asset, the council could keep control, yet raise almost half the equity in the housing, which has an estimated value of $71 million.

Auckland city sold its social housing to the Government and Wellington city was paid $220 million in an arrangement with the Government over its social housing.

Asked if his council was aware that he had signed the letter, Mr Cairns said: "They were certainly aware after the fact and . . . I have a strong belief that they were aware before I signed it."

He said he would check today.

The city council has made no secret of the fact that it is "in dialogue" with the Government over stadium funding.

It was unclear last night when the letter had been sent and if the mayor was entitled to write to the Government without a prior resolution from the council.

Asked to comment on Cr Stevenson's actions, Cr Fliss Butcher said discussion about the letter was in confidence.

"She is totally out of line and hopefully this will finish her off. And you can report that, as far as I'm concerned."

Secret stadium letter

Both signatories on this letter should resign forthwith.

Does this mean we can't really afford a new stadium?

I wonder why the DCC is secretly asking central government for money to fund the proposed stadium - does this perhaps mean that the city can not actually afford it as easily as they'd like us to believe?
As for Cr Butcher, she might be wise to also step up and represent against the secretive and deceptive processes involved in this project, rather than slag those who do. The majority of people are opposed to the proposed stadium not simply because it's more than the city can afford for a non-essential item, but also because of the dishonesty and lack of accountability and transparency involved in the project.

University's fair share

I hope Mayor Chin and Stephen Cairns have asked the Government for the University's share of the stadium funding, which should be around $128 million dollars.

Secret stadium letter

Open democracy? Looks more like banana republic tactics to me.

Arrogance

What a lovely woman Cr Butcher has shown herself to be..."hopefully this will finish her off"! Good to see such collegiality. I am totally fed up to the back teeth with the stadium 'debate'! It must not go ahead, to do so would prove how fiscally irresponsible this council are. I am not anti rugby, merely looking at how I am supposed to meet the exorbitant rates rises projected for the next ten years. Seems the supporters of this plastic box are earning way too much if they can afford to incorporate these rises in their expenses.

Mayor & chairman act unilaterally

In their private capacities Peter Chin & Stephen Cairns can write to whomever they want; but as office-holders of local councils, neither the mayor nor the chairman may. Power resides in councils, not in individual councillors. The letter must be regarded by government as a letter from individual citizens and the chairmen should be censured by our representatives.

Sewage treatment more important

Surely the first priority for Dunedin's share of the Government's infrastructure fund is for the new sewage treatment plant?

Mayor's Covert letter

Good on Cr Stevenson for sticking to the most important principle of the Local Government Act – “a Local Authority should conduct its business in an open, transparent, and democratically manner.” Far too many Mayors and Chairs are abusing the law with secret meetings and numerous closed work shops away from the eyes of the public.