Saturday, October 13, 2007

... and the loser on the day is Whanganui

Sorry, Wanganui! You’ve contributed about $100 million in rates over the last three years (not to mention your contributions to John Maslin’s salary) funding Michael Laws’s re-election campaign.

Many of you have, however, fought the good fight and you’ve helped emasculate the party platform that has allowed the Mad Mayor to trample democracy and decency into the Vision mud.

His loyal lieutenant Murray (‘dishwasher’) Hughes has been consigned to the scrapheap and we now wait to see how long it takes for Rangi (‘I forgot to put my hand up’) Wills and the very strange Rana (mad-dog) Waitai to bed down with Vision. With luck Mr Waitai’s tenuous provisional margin will disappear and the independence of this council will be strengthened by substitution of that courageous campaigner Allan Anderson.

With even more luck, the pathetic Randhir Dahya will put the shenanigans of the past three months behind him and realise he’s got as much chance of getting the mayoralty when Mickey runs off to give birth to Vision First next year as Marty Lindsay has of being minister of broadcasting (actually, Mickey, why not take the whole lot of them with you to national ignomy – ed). To the Warburtons, Rewitis, Harknesses, Roses et al, may you drown in the toxic swamp you have personally created at Guyton St.

Congratulations to all those brave non-Vision souls (especially very high pollers Stevens and McGregor) who put their heads above the parapet and were rewarded with a very respectable number of votes from those who believe Wanganui has a future. Kia Kaha to all those who find themselves now in a position to pull back a smidgeon of respect for the democratic spirit.

10454 LAWS, Michael Brian

7044 MARTIN, John Bruce
1082 DAHYA, Randhir
270 FLEMING, Russell William

249 OSBORNE, Chandra Michelle

Blank 238

Informal 43

McKINNON, Dorothy Margaret (Dot) 10400

STEVENS, Raymond Mark (Ray) 10375

McGREGOR, James Roland (Don) 10269

DAHYA, Randhir 9359

BULLOCK, Barbara Lynn 9290

BAKER-HOGAN, Philippa 8911

LINDSAY, Martin Graeme (Marty) 8262

HIGGIE, Nicole Andree (Nicki) 8205

WESTWOOD, Susan Moya 8106

JONAS, Danny Ronald 7484

WILLS, Rangi Marehua 7445

WAITAI, Rana 6984

ANDERSON, Allan Royce 6978

HUGHES, Murray John 5976

EDMONDS, Matthew Lyle (Matt) 5960


MOORE, Robert Joseph (Rob) 5475

SIMPSON, Kirsty Nicole 5423

BROWN, Ian Grant 4923

FLEMING, Russell William 4319

KEELTY, Gordon James 4064

SMITH, Rory James 3925

FORLONG, Shaun Graham 3922

MILNES, John Ingham 3898

OSBORNE, Chandra Michelle 3405

McNABB, Andrew 3102

SEARS, Victor Frederick 2686

HUDSON, Phillip Edward 1950

STEVENS, Gary John 1875

JANGO 1676

LITTLE, Ian Paul 829

Blank 215

Informal 78


SOLOMON, Clive 6717 1

LAWS, Michael Brian 3941

BAKER-HOGAN, Philippa June 2870.75

FAUMUI, Penaia Albert (PJ) 2848.24

ANDERSON, Allan Royce 2689.08

STEWART, Ailsa Crawford 2627.91

WAITAI, Rana 2494.04

DOUGLAS, William John 2340.34

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Walking Dead

Those of you who have followed LawsWatch through 367 posts over two years will know that we Watchers are seldom lost for words. We sometimes think we’ve seen it all, like the world weary forensic pathologists on our favourite television gore-fests. We’ve often felt in danger of becoming inured to the unspeakable horrors revealed by our weekly dissections of the rotting remains of the walking dead around His Worship the Mayor of Wanganui Michael Laws.

We’ve gasped and we’ve raged at the ghastly crimes against truth, justice, democracy (and most recently the sanctity of the Prince Edward Auditorium at Wanganui Collegiate) committed daily by the Beast of Taupo Quay, aka John Philip Maslin! We’ve cracked our cynical medical jokes at the ineptness of the Foolish Felons operating under the Sign of Vision! We’ve even developed a grudging respect for the ability of the Devilish Doctor Warbottom and his Guyton St Gang to evade the Bungling Cops in Wellington!

But we have to confess, Dear Readers, that events of the past three months have left us wondering just what deadly pathogen has infected the Wanganui body politic and its parasitic media. Since this vile disease called Election Fever was unleashed three months ago we’ve seen sights that have turned the stomach of even the most seasoned Watchers.

But nothing to match the appalling sight on page ten of the October 4 issue of the tacky and thoroughly corrupt little rag called River City Press. There, Dear Watchers, you will be shocked to see the grinning skulls of Dr Warburstein and his very own creation Julian Harkless proclaiming they ‘have their fingers on our council’s financial pulse’ and that everything – believe them – is hunky dory!

Debt is good! Debt is great! says Dave. We’re doing a terrific job! says Julian. Watch their lips … VOTE VISION!! Their jobs depend on it, and the financial genii at the River City Press aren’t in the mood to argue. Like the rats down the drainpipe at Wanganui’s decaying morgue, they’re happy to feast on whatever comes their way.


We’ve been amused in the last few weeks by the emergence of a couple of Wanganui wannabe blogs which have fizzled and faded like soggy sparklers on a wet November 5. The first was the curious case of which set itself up as an alternative to LawsWatch, professed to be seeking the dirt on (night)mayor Mickey and attracted about five desultory comments before disappearing mysteriously into the blog fog with an announcement that:

This blog is open to invited readers only.


… there was the curious case of the newbie blogger at who lasted only a couple of posts after erupting with a hiss and a roar on September 17 with these promising gems …

Many feel that Michael has done God’s work but that it’s time for a rest from the politics of aggression and intimidation and for a bit of co-operation.

The Vision team bear an uncanny resemblance to Czarina Helen’s ministers: what the head prefect says goes. There’s one person making the decisions and we all know who it is. Supporters of Rob Muldoon and Maggie Thatcher will be suffering severe déjà vu.

I’m open to persuasion, but my feeling is that Wanganui folk are ready for some decorum and unity.


The RIGHTeous Blogmeister turned pollster David Farrar boasts nothing if not longevity with his KiwiBlog. Mr Farrar, famous in his own lunchtime for the fact that ‘Michael got me arrested 13 years ago’ very kindly includes a link to LawsWatch on his very well-read site which recently discussed his polling pranks on behalf of the Wanganui Chron(ic).

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday's poll results - see comments

See the Chron's inept coverage here

Saturday, September 22, 2007

An orchestrated litany of lies



Police are investigating an alleged assault at a Wanganui mayoral election forum earlier this week after a candidate's mother claimed that a man had hit her several times.

Watchers reporting from the streets, supermarkets and cafes of the River City are seeing an overwhelming swing in voter opinion against Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws and his Vision Wanganui henchmen. Despite the outbreak of ratepayer-funded pork barrel politicking by Mickey (free ice-creams for kids, for heaven’s sake!), the electorate has had enough of three years of grandstanding, abuse and anti-democratic diVision party politics. Even previous non-voters can’t wait to cast Laws into talkback oblivion on October 13.

And Watchers are quick to remind their whanau and friends how lucky they are to have the right to vote for 12 non-Vision councillors after around 100 brave souls stood up for democracy, faced down the mini-dictator and succeeded when the Local Government Commission exposed MickeyMayor’s lies and propaganda and upheld the status quo. (Three years ago division ‘policy’ was to cut the number of elected councillors to eight with a claimed saving of $100,000 per annum). However, not even Cr Rangi Wills' duplicity and the Vision puppets' complicity could save this attempted further lurch to dictatorship after the people spoke – crucially they spoke to a statutory “outside” body where the customary Vision bullying carried absolutely no weight.

Meanwhile, as Capt Michael Laws steers Air Vision Wanganui on the flight path for its Electoral Erebus on October 13, our fair city finds itself engulfed in the white-out conditions of, in Justice Mahon’s immortal words, an orchestrated litany of lies. Only paid up mayoral groupies John Maslin (see Mas’s ecstatic editorial of May 2004) and Catherine Kennedy seem to have kept the faith.

And as the first hint of Wanganui’s equinocal nor-wester littered the Cave with a plethora of pamphlets from election hopefuls, Watchers weren’t surprised to find among the pictures of Mayor Michael Laws’ kids, parents, defacto etc (bet he’s wishing he had a dog or cat or two to complete the line-up – Ed) more dodgy claims of personal policy triumphs over the past three years than you could shake a mayoral stick at. In fact, we suspect that MickeyMayor has none other than his old PR queen Antoinette Beck running the Vision Wanganui propaganda machine!

When the Cave TV set is on the blink Watchers can sometimes be found playing a game of their own invention, called Where are they now? This involves crudely scrawling in charcoal on the Cave walls lists of Vision promises from 2004 that have never seen the light of day, or worse have turned out to be A-Grade, Money-wasting Flops. (You’ll note that we don’t include consequences like Politically Damaging, Ballot-Box suicide, Credibility Busting. These are the obvious kinds of collateral damage that Vision-style failures generally bring down on the heads of their promoters in more enlightened areas of democracy that are blessed with a free press, and journalists and opposition politicians worthy of the name. All entirely absent in Wanganui!

Scroll down for evidence of some 2007 campaign lies from Wanganui mayor Michael Laws and a small selection of broken promises and other lies from the 2004 Vision policy manifesto:


Regarding the new river walkway, Mickey said the following: "The total cost to the ratepayer will be just $800,000. The total budget may be $2.2 million, but $1.4 million of that sum has come from sources other than the Wanganui ratepayer."
The funding for the project includes $1.3 million from Development Contributions and approximately $800,000 loan funded. If you remove the spin, the Mayor has spent $2.1m ($1.3m + $800k) of Council money on the walkway. Council money. Our money.


The financing of the walkway is perhaps the most cynical act perpetrated by M Laws and his Vision muppets since taking office. Development Contributions is a fund that is built up through a levy of $1800 per section paid by anybody who creates a new subdivision. It is set up by all councils to provide funding for future subdivision infrastructure. At 30th April 2007 Council minutes show that the fund had a balance of $1,120,627. I believe that Laws sought a legal opinion on whether he could divert the funds away from the purpose it was supposed to be used for- future subdivisions- and into his pet project. In the agenda preamble council officer Natalie Cowper said" Special Funds are Council's monies that can only be spent on expenditure for which the fund was originally set up. They are termed "restricted equity" according to the Local Government Act 2002. The redirection of these funds is a scandal, and would not happen in any other Council.


Here's one, from a Chron article by Maslin on 12/6/07: “Mayor Michael Laws told Monday’s meeting that the museum board had cost ratepayers $60,000 because of its ‘intransigence’.”


This is a pretty good one about the rates. From the Chronicle 12/6/07 (Maslin, of course): Laws was adamant the rate increase and impact of the levies could not be considered in percentage terms. Cr. McGregor said it was "misleading" to keep the items separate. But Mr Laws said ....”You can’t, because it could then be argued we’ve delivered something like a minus 3% rate”. Mr. Laws said...for the third year in a row Wanganui was on target to effect the lowest annual rates increase in the country


I'm still trying to find somebody whose rates only went up by 1.7%. Most of the properties in my area had about a 10% increase even before the bullshit levies are added.

Here’s a nice promise from Wednesday’s Chron. Virginia Lake will be algal bloom-free this summer. “in the short-term, and for a cost of around $20,000, we can ensure Virginia Lake is healthy and algae-free this summer”. That is the sort of promise you can make if you are willing to bypass democratic process completely. So much more efficient to just have a word with Leo and Dave. And why not. The timing’s perfect. Campaign in full swing. All those pesky meetings are over and YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH IT!


There will be no rates increase under a Vision Wanganui-led council in the 2005/06 financial year. #failed (oops – they forgot it was a revaluation year)

Create a ‘Residents’ Rights Charter’ that explicitly defines the service standards a ratepayer and/or resident may expect from Council #failed (mayor decided residents should have no rights)

Start discussions with our nearest territorial neighbours to see if some efficiencies cannot be gained from aggregating particular services. #failed (Mayor decided to insult and abuse them instead)

Institute quarterly suburban meetings to ensure that the Mayor and councillors go to their constituents rather than vice-versa #failed (no one turned up after liar-fatigue set in)

Hold a yearly Expo in the War Memorial Hall to canvas the options before Council before each yearly rates round and better inform citizens of the civic services available to them. #failed (Mayor replaced citizen consultation with citizen abuse)

Establish a Writer`s Residency that is regarded as one of the top literary prizes in New Zealand. #failed

Establish a mayoral office on Mainstreet. #failed (councillors & staff said ‘thanks but no thanks’ – too dangerous to actually meet residents.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Double the Debt = Half the Vote

Sadly, dear readers, the inconvenient scheduling of last night’s Mayoral Forum meant Watchers were gathered round Shortland Street on the gas-fired TV set at the LawsWatch Cave, where Sophie, Nate, Tess, Durville, Justine et al were going about their non-business, oblivious to the drama being played out at the Prince Edward Auditorium. Other Watchers, though avid Wanganui Chronicle readers one and all, missed the drama … the conflict … the applause … simply because the Chron managed to forget to tell anyone it was on!

So we are forced rely on reports from no less than the collective geniuses from the Chron, and to piece together comments to this blog (scroll down for the prize snippets) from Watchers who passed up Shortie Street for the night. To summarise:

Mas and Kirsty put together a macabre collection of questions for John and Michael and Russell and Randhir but not Chandra because she was staying home and sulking about something that happened ages ago and sent someone who looked like her Mum to make a nuisance of herself. It got so bad that Mas told her off and then Michael behaved badly and Kirsty made a fool of herself by letting him have his own way. Suddenly Kirsty was being booed and jeered for showing her organ’s Visionary bias in public and then Michael got even more angry and Kirsty was glad when it was all over and she could go home and watch the video of that night’s episode of Shortie Street which she’d had the foresight to tape …

The morning after hang-over must have been a shocker in the Maslin household when he saw what he’d written the night before and waited for the phone to ring with an early dose of mayoral abuse from his buddy Michael:

Martin tops mayoral forum poll

WE CALLED it "forum feedback" and if that decided the outcome of Wanganui's mayoral election race, then we’d have a new mayor! John Martin.

Of those who took part in our ballot, 64 said they'd vote for Mr Martin, 41 for incumbent mayor Mr Laws, one for Mr Fleming and none for Ms Osborne or Mr Dahya. And did the forum help in the voters' decision-making? Sixty-six said it did and 38 said it didn't.

So diVision apparently managed a turnout of roughly the same number of candidates and Bob Walker's fellow realtor Catherine Kennedys as they did at their damp squib launch a week earlier, while Randhir Dayha’s apparently undentable ego got the bash.

But the Cave’s discerning followers of the TV soaps were delighted to find the Chron(ic’s) new soap queen Lin Ferguson, editor Kirsty MacKnucklehead’s fellow Southland Times graduate, writing in the style to which they have become accustomed in a gushing review of Episode 981 of Vision Street in which Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws stars in yet another a crude election special down by the riverfront, specially funded by the Ratepayers of Wanganui …

"Michael Mayor's here! yaaay," a small group of children whispered as the opening of the Riverfront Walkway got under way on Saturday. The balmy, spring day attracted a crowd of more than 300 people to cheer on Wanganui’s latest community project.

Meanwhile, back to the Vision Street reviews provided courtesy LawsWatch’s anonymii:

ML goes Surreal on debt
Anyone who missed the forum this evening passed up the chance to listen to Mickey explain how the $31.5 million we owed in 2004 was actually less than the $67.5 we now owe and the $48 million peak we were predicting in 2004 for 2010 has now actually been reduced to $74.6 million. It was surreal

Jokers, pretenders & losers
Tonight’s mayoral forum illustrated clearly that we have a two man race. Russell Fleming is a joke and Randhir showed us all how badly he is out of his depth. Ms Osborn chose not to attend, but sent a heckler to represent her. Wonder how Randhir Dahya feels this morning? The world's biggest loser maybe?

Business as usual for Chronic
What the Chron didn't say this morning was that it didn't take long for the editor to abandon her presence of neutral chairpersonship and give ML a second crack at a question. Sure, he went through the motions of appearing to throw a wobbly at her but it was plain he was going to get his own way. Why should Monday night be any different to any other day of the week?

Vision lacks numbers
The numbers in the chron say it all - from where I was sitting down the front there appeared to be a formidable chunk of paid-up vision party candidates and their hangers on at the back plus the seriously weird Catherine Kennedy and her long-haired companion. They must have accounted for most of the 41 pro-mickey "votes" between them!

Cornered rat
Laws was really in cornered rat mode last night. The neering/shouting/snarling act probably made some of the Visionaries think wistfully about a change of mayor. I wonder if they are allowed secret votes or if they have to hand over their voting papers for mayoral inspection before putting them in the box.

Poor old Randhir While Russell Fleming turned out to be a worse buffoon than expected, one couldn't help but feel a pang of sympathy for Randhir. He was so clearly out of his depth and fumbling ... then with his quote about how "when he is mayor" he'll appoint the highest polling as his deputy he went and spilled the beans on his three bitter years and the deal that Mickey dangled before him to get him to make such a dick of himself by standing for mayor. If he wasn't so old, you'd want to tell him to grow up!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Promises and lies

Three long years ago, Wanganui mayor Michael Laws convinced himself that people’s memories were so short he could rise again from the ashes of his ignominious failure in national and local politics. He worked his Svengali magic on the likes of Nicki Higgie, Marty Lindsay and John Maslin then booked the 830-seat Opera House for the Vision Wanganui lunchtime launch. And from the clutter of zimmer-frames and wheelchairs on the St Hill St pavement, it seems the lure of an hour’s free operatic entertainment was sufficient to draw a good number of the aging Bob Walker’s friends from their rest-homes, though not to keep them from their midday naps (see picture above).

And what an appropriate venue our grande dame of opera was, as the castrato boy-who-would-be-mayor warbled his way through the lamentably overwrought libretto for the debut performance of diVisionii’s Promesse e bugie (that’s Promises and Lies to you, Bob! - Ed) which needless to say brought the house down among the Vision Wanganui fan club at the Chronicle editor’s office that night.

But oh how the Diva of the Ditch has fallen! After three long years of screaming abuse at Wanganui citizens and council staff, his once powerful castrato voice has lost its range and he’s reduced to performing diVisionii’s 2007 operetta Più Promette e si Trova (that’s More Promises and Lies to you, Bob! - Ed) in the 200-odd seat Davis Lecture Theatre. Or, Watchers are suggesting, is it really a case of mayoral cold feet?

The Diva has done enough polling by now to know that the citizens of Wanganui are weary of his promenading and performing, and they’ve certainly had more than enough of his Vision Wanganui promises and lies. So like a fading Dame Nellie Melba, the Diva of the Ditch has wisely chosen not to risk playing to an empty and cavernous Opera House for the last stop on his Vision Wanganui political farewell tour.


And from the August council minutes, two snippets follow on the Who pays the piper theme from last week’s post (see the sordid tale below of how Randhir Dahya learnt to blow for Vision):

Before members of the public were excluded from the meeting, Mayor Laws thanks John Maslin, Wanganui Chronicle Newspaper journalist, on behalf of the Council for his accuracy in reporting the Council’s meetings during this term of the Council. Mayor Laws said it had been a boon to the Council to have a veteran professional reporter. He hoped that Mr Maslin’s appointment as Council reporter would continue following the upcoming triennial election.

… and lest anybody lucky enough to win Mr Quigley’s Events Lotto should think there are no Vision strings attached, we came across this little gem in which Ray Stevens leads the way in suggesting a nifty little cost-cutting ruse for the election ‘celebrations’, much to MickeyMayor’s delight:

Cr Stevens suggested that as the Council had previously funded jazz festivals, the jazz band entertaining at the Riverfront Boardwalk and Upokongaro Jetty openings should provide its services free of charge. Mayor Laws agreed and asked Mr Quigley to follow this up.