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Open letter Regarding V8 Race Polling Methods

Open letter Regarding V8 Race Polling Methods

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Urgent & Important. Dear Garry,

Proposed V8 Car Race.

I seek your own, and the mayor's assistance please. I am being contacted by an ever increasing number of Wellingtonians who seem to have the perception that council's (so-called) consultation process is totally flawed, - to say the least.

Council's reputation is under question, and this includes so-called consultation on the Waterfront, and other such projects.

My problem, as an elected member accountable to the ratepayers, is how to answer them. I will not compromise my own credibility.

I believe that until this whole matter has been satisfactorily cleared up, all (so-called) public consultation on the V8 Race should be suspended, and the public be immediately informed. The alternative could be an Auditor General's enquiry, and/or a Legal Review.

What is the mayor's position on the Car Race? It seems she is doing her utmost to promote it. This is certainly the impression given by her utterances in the media, during council meetings, and again tonight on TV.

What is her exact position on the race? A clear answer please.

I suggest that council keeps a very careful record of all media, TV and other public statements on the issue. This could be vital later on, and, as we all know, some people have varying recollections of past events.

The public are worried, (and so am I), as to why the council commissioned a professional and very expensive telephone survey of Wellingtonians, where totally incorrect and misleading information was given to those whose views were being sought by the polling company when seeking answers relating to the race.

For example, why were the pollsters told to "Read slowly and clearly, repeat if necessary" and say the following "........... It is anticipated that $1,000,000 could be required annually from the Council, which would result in a very small yet to be determined increase in rates".

Etc, etc, etc. I am not sure of the date of the poll. Yet page 2 of Council Report 3, (1215/11/IM) dated 15 March 2005, and presented to full Council on that day clearly shows the following:-

A Capex amount of $6,158,000 would be required for the year 2005/06, and a net Opex would be required amounting to $2,580,000 for year 2005/06, $2,583,000 for year 2006/07, $2,633,000 for year 2007/08, $2,580,000 for year 2008/09, $2,523,000 for year 2009/10, 2,463,000 for year 2010/11, and $2,398,000 for year 2011/12.

Hardly $1,000,000 annually! What conclusions are the public (and myself) expected to draw from these figures? - other to accept them as stated. Why weren't the public told this at the time? I trust you will provide us ll with a credible explanation to convince otherwise those members of the public who currently believe that this was a deliberate attempt to mislead the public into supporting the race. Not only were these totally incorrect figures given, but the results of the poll based on these figures were then widely publicised as showing public support for the race.

I would add that a reason given to me for misinforming the public of the true figures was that they were not known at the time! If so, why was the poll not delayed until the true picture was known, or why weren't those people questioned so informed? Everyone connected with this Race are well aware I have consistently said there was, in my opinion, an 'indecent haste' in dealing with this vast amount of public funds. Why?

Incidentally: exactly who authorised the poll, and the questions, and the subsequent publicity, knowing it was totally based on what the public now perceive to be completely incorrect and misleading information? As far as I personally am concerned, obviously I am (currently) hesitant to accept the public perception that this Council would seek to deliberately mislead them, so I trust you will give us all a full and credible explanation without further delay.

You suggested that I speak to McDermott Miller about this issue, and I have decided not to. I want this matter dealt with in writing. I seek your confirmation that this and all other relevant correspondence be immediately communicated to the Race Promoters.

Yours sincerely, Jack Ruben.

P.S. What makes this so much more serious is that Council seems unable to find a few thousand dollars for worthwhile projects, but can find many millions for a 3-day event - requiring a further rates increase!

P.P.S. I am ambivalent about the V8 Race, but let those promoting it form a consortium (as was done for the Tiger Woods Golf Tournament), fund it themselves, and keep the profits - if any - not seek public money as with the T.W. Golf


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