Sunday, April 29, 2007

This is a curious one...

A gymnasium owner in Papakura has discovered that some very kind soul has paid close to $3,000 on his behalf for an advertisement in the Yellow Pages. He has no idea who is the benefactor, but he would very much like to find out.

Ray Parker is not gay, but Auckland Yellow Pages users could mistakenly be thinking his fitness centre is for homosexuals.

The Papakura gym owner - and district councillor - is fuming after someone placed an advertisement in the 2007 Yellow Pages for "Ray Parkers (Gay Lesbian) Homosexual Fitness Centre", complete with false telephone number.

The bogus advertisement also appears in White Pages listings.

Mr Parker was alerted to the advertisement a month ago and says his friends, staff and gym members have been joking about it.

But he is concerned the ad has sleazy connotations that could deter people from signing on with the 1000-member centre.

Ray's Gym attracts about 15 new members a week, but he says the centre needs to lose only about three or four recruits a week before it fails to break even.

He is not sure if the ad is someone's idea of a joke or an attempt to harm Ray's Gym, a brand he is looking to expand after spending six years building the Papakura business.

He says he has a couple of suspects in mind, but is amazed anyone would have spent the $2700 plus GST to place the ad.

"It's a lot of money for someone who doesn't like me. If they don't like me, they sure don't like me."

Mr Parker has hired a lawyer and is negotiating with Yellow Pages Group to find the perpetrator. But whoever placed the ad requested confidentiality, which means Mr Parker has had to fight his way through the Privacy Act to glean information.

"We will take whoever it is down. He thinks he is smart, but he is a dickhead."

Yellow Pages is now a stand-alone company after splitting from Telecom. Spokeswoman Wendy Rayman said yesterday Yellow Pages had more than 200,000 business customers and such malicious advertisements were rare.

The company told Mr Parker the name of the person who placed the advertisement, but a check revealed it to be false.

Ms Rayman said Yellow Pages' "Privacy Act team" was now working with Mr Parker.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Another holiday - another leak...

Yesterday, April 25, was Anzac Day. It is the commemmoration of the landing of NZ and Australian troops in the Dardanelles 92 years ago. Over that time, it has become our equivalent of Remembrance Day.

So why is it that the news (Granny Herald specifically) carries the following as a banner headline?
10c tax on petrol to pay for roads, trains

By Paula Oliver

Motorists face paying more for petrol through regional fuel taxes, levied to pay for local transport projects including the electrification of Auckland's suburban trains.

In an announcement understood to form part of the Government's Budget, the Auckland region will be given the go-ahead to introduce a fuel tax of 10c a litre.

This would push the cost of 91-octane fuel to $1.60 a litre.

Just over a third of the rise - 3.5c - will pay for the rail electrification project, which fits well with the Government's climate change ambitions.

The rest of Auckland's fuel levy will help to pay for Rodney District Council's link-road between Whangaparaoa Peninsula and the Northern Motorway, and for completing the Manukau-Waterview western ring route.

Now there is one thing that I must give Auntie Helen and Uncle Michael credit for - it is the originality of their "leaks". Remember this one?

Well, I wonder who it was that dropped this latest one to the Herald?

Friday, April 20, 2007

What a godless lot we NZers are!!

The results of last year's census are now coming out and there is a fairly lengthy and interesting analysis in this morning's Herald.

This did catch the eye

Believe it or not

55.6 per cent said they were affiliated with a Christian religion, down from 60.6 per cent in 2001.

34.7 per cent said they had no religion, up from 29.6 per cent in 2001.

Top five religions

554,925 Anglicans, down 5.1 per cent.

508,437 Catholics, up 4.7 per cent.

400,839 Presbyterian-Congregational-Reformed, down 7 per cent.

186,234 Christians (with no denomination given), down 3.1 per cent.

121,806 Methodists, up 1 per cent.

Small, but growing

37.8 pc increase for Orthodox.

25.6 pc increase for Evangelical, born again and fundamentalist.

17.8pc increase for Pentecostal.

More than one in three New Zealanders have no religious affiliation.

I wonder why?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Tech

Nothing I say is going to assuage the grief that follows the deaths of 32 young people.

I have nothing to say about gun laws.

It has all been said.

"Murderers are either bad, or sad, or mad." - From (if I recollect right) a senior NZ policeman following the Aramoana shootings.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The end of Holy Week...

There is a strange thing about holidays - especially religious observances - in NZ. For some reason they have this propensity for triggering the "release" of all manner of little governmental embarrassments. This past week, culminating in the Easter break, has been no exception.

This time around it is the topic of election spending that has come to the fore in the form of a "leaked" report in Granny Herald. But before I start on that quarter, this is a topic close to my heart as can be seen here, and here, and here, here, and finally here.

At the time of writing, Herald sports this page of links which give a useful course through the continuing STOOORY of Auntie Helen and the funding of elections.

First a brief recap -
  • The problem centres upon (intentionally) vague law that leaves (hopefully) a bigger hole for your mates and a smaller hole for your enemy.
  • The problem centres upon (the same law) having unintentionally vague holes in it that the enemy can drive trucks through.
  • There is a need to persuade the electorate that the playing field is still level, even though the southwest corner still floods every time there is a shower and the northeast corner has never had a try scored there.
  • There are some considerable amounts of money siphoned out of the public purse into Paul's wallet for electoral purposes. There have been solemn undertakings from all parties that they will raise their hands and reimburse what was "inadvertently" taken through "changes to the rules", and misinterpretation of the CAG's pre-electoral pronouncements.
  • The current laws concentrates upon funding through "donations". It does not in any stretch of the imagination cover "third party electioneering" (for Americans the equivalent of the "Swift-boat committees").

The Herald expose last Monday started thusly -

Labour plans to restrict third-party election spending to $60,000 by any one group in its "payback" electoral law reforms - a move that will effectively outlaw campaigns such as the Exclusive Brethren's $1.2 million effort last election.

It also plans to attack an important source of money for National by limiting anonymous donations from anybody, including trusts, to $5000.

National received $1.8 million in 2005, all but $140,000 of it from six trusts.

Then follows...

The Herald has learned more of the detail, which includes measures to:

* Require any third party (a group or individual other than a candidate or registered party) to register its intention with the Chief Electoral Officer if it plans to spend more than $5000 nationally and $500 in an electorate.
* Restrict any third party from spending more than $60,000 nationally or $2000 in an electorate.
* Restrict any third party to New Zealanders or New Zealand-based organisations.
* Make it clear that advertising does not have to state the party or candidate's name to be subject to restrictions. Advertising attacking a party can count too.
* Exempt from the new third-party rules groups such as unions or companies when they are communicating directly with their members.
* Require whatever the third party spends to be counted against its $60,000 limit and the limit of the party it is supporting.
* Lower the threshold for disclosure of donations from $10,000 to $5000 for parties and from $1000 to $500 for individual candidates.
* Ban foreign donations except those from expatriate New Zealanders.
* Include in the definition of donations loans at non-commercial rates, and a party's goods or properties sold well over their valuation.

Go read the whole thing so that I don't get into strife for breaching copyright PLEASE!!

But the greatest change is the proposal to fund parties directly from the General Fund (that is my money!). Dish it up, lads and lasses!!! Two sweet young lambs on the spit. Pipe in the haggis and gie it a good addressin'!! Fire up the old copper with watercress, cabbage, pork and mutton; kumara, spuds, pumpkin in flax baskets stacked over the wild boar and two haunches of venison in the hangi. This is who gets the dough!!

Cash For Votes

What parties would get:
* Labour $1.14 million
* National $1.14 million
* NZ First $260,230
* Greens $241,042
* United Future $121,720
* Maori Party $96,526
* Act $68,938
* Progressives $52,882
* Destiny $28,420
* Legalise Cannabis Party $11,496

The formula being proposed would give parties $2 for each party vote they receive up to 20 per cent of the vote, and $1 a vote after that to a cap of 30 per cent.

Whakapohani! Auntie Helen!!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Sorta criminal...

Been a couple of topics this past week that have been deserving of comment.

The first is the release of Dame Margaret Bazley's report into the Police. That report has taken some three years longer than intended to prepare, primarily because there is a Government "rule" that prevents the release of Commissions of Enquiry and similar reports whilst there are associated Court hearings still in process. I wrote at the time of the Louise Nicholson case; a rape charge some 25 years after the fact against three police officers, two of whom had been found guilty of rape on other women, the third a high ranked (about 4 or 5 in the country) serving officer who was (eventually) found Not Guilty. There have been in the past three years at least another three cases of a similar nature, one of which involved the same three officers as in the Nicholson case.

At the same time there were at least three actions taken to the High Court by groups representing the Police (Police Officers Association for example) on matters pertaining to the procedure of the Enquiry by Dame Bazley.

The police hierarchy waged a ferocious behind-the-scenes battle against Dame Margaret Bazley's inquiry into police conduct.

Though her damning report extracted an unprecedented public apology from the country's top police officer, background material to the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct reveals that lawyers acting for the police challenged Dame Margaret on several counts during the three-year inquiry.

Among the incidents, police:

* Successfully opposed Dame Margaret's intention to survey people involved in supporting sexual assault victims.

* Raised concerns about the procedures adopted by the commission and asked it to undertake a "fundamental overhaul".

* Questioned the commission's reliance on disputed or unproven allegations when criticising police.

* Expressed concern that the commission was describing problems of a general nature in areas where the problem was confined to isolated cases.

In the behind-closed-doors legal battle, the Police Complaints Authority also questioned whether the commission had the jurisdiction to inquire into the authority and make recommendations relating to it.

Now that the report is released, it is as expected quite damning of the culture within the Police during the 1970's to 1990's, then makes some 60 recommendations intended to improve the relationship between Police and Public.

Now, I want to make one thing very clear here. Essentially this whole raruraru centres on a small number - perhaps no more than 50 out of some 9000 officers - who represent what I can only describe as a nasty little nest of vipers. Above that there are a few small groups of "managers" who were incompetent, or totally ignorant of what was happening on their watch, or at the worst gave tacit approval (boys will be boys) to the goings on. Whichever, the light is now shining where it was never thought it would (pune).

The second is the release of the crime statistics for 2006. Several things here...

First, you can not compare these statistics with prior years because the questions have been changed (again!).

Second, there seems to have been an increase in most crime other than homicide.

Those are the minors.

First major - some 30% of crime is unreported.

The second major -

Most concerning is the fact that some 50% of all crime is committed on only some 6% of the total population. Worse, that 6% is the poor, the hard up, the "vulnerable" members of society. People such as beneficiaries, students, youth, unemployed, sick and infirm are the most likely to be victims of crime, most likely more than once. In an attempt to ameliorate this piece of "bad news" the government insists that this is common to most western societies. It is also used to explain why 30% of crime goes unreported - because the victims see little point in reporting their second or third burglary in six months...

Recorded crimes in New Zealand last year increased by more than 4 per cent from 2005, police statistics released today show.

The total number of offences recorded in 2006 was 424,134, compared with 407,496 in 2005.

Assistant Commissioner Grant Nicholls said the largest jump in a crime category occurred in the area of sexual offences, with a 9.7 per cent increase.

Sexual offences made up 0.8 per cent of recorded crime.

However, New Zealand and international victim surveys consistently showed the majority of sexual offences were not reported to police, Mr Nicholls said.

"The increase in recorded sexual offences between the latest July-December periods may be due to the increased public awareness and reduced tolerance of such offending," he said.

Recorded violent offending has risen 1.8 per cent. The greatest increases were in Waikato (9 per cent) and Waitemata (8 per cent).

Northland and Auckland City showed the greatest decreases, 9 per cent and 8 per cent respectively.

Mr Nicholls said the increase in recorded domestic violence was greater than for non-domestic violence.

Robberies showed the greatest increase within the violence category.

There were 1328 recorded robberies in the last half of 2006, up from 1098 during the same period in 2005 -- a 21 per cent increase, Mr Nicholls said.

Six of the 12 districts had a drop in recorded crime, including Bay of Plenty District with a 10.1 per cent drop and Northland with an 8 per cent drop.

In the Bay of Plenty decreases were recorded in all categories, except property damage.

The largest increases were recorded in Wellington with an increase of 7.7 per cent and Canterbury with an increase of 6.5 per cent.

The Waikato and Central Districts also increased with 4.9 per cent and 4.1 per cent respectively.

Mr Nicholls said increases in crime could reflect more proactive police work, so simple comparisons of district performance were difficult.

"What I am sure of is that frontline police throughout the country are working hard to tackle crime.

"With increasing support from the community we hope to drive up both reporting and resolution rates."

The increase in crime was consistent with the effects of a change from the Law Enforcement System to the National Intelligence Application introduced by police in 2005.

Comparing the full calendar year of 2005 with 2006 would not give a valid representation of recorded crime over the two years, he said.

"However the last six months of each year can be compared in a meaningful way as statistics for both periods are recorded using the new system."