Dirty local body politics?

A story of ‘political skulduggery’ in Marlborough from Stuff: Marlborough councillors brand Whale Oil leak ‘despicable’

Political skulduggery has again rocked the council chamber in Marlborough as lawyers are called in to investigate a secret recording of a committee meeting leaked to a right-wing blog. 

The leak to Whale Oil could see heads roll at the council, as councillors who attended the meeting are made to front up on Monday.

A recording of a tense behind closed doors discussion about the cash-strapped ASB Theatre was published on the blog site on Friday.

Council chief executive Mark Wheeler said if a councillor had leaked the public-excluded discussion he or she could be asked to resign. 

The committee meeting took place in April. 

Councillor Peter Jerram said the leak was “absolutely orchestrated” and smacked of “dirty politics” emerging in Marlborough. 

“Party politics are definitely involved. But worse than that, it’s gutter politics.” 

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said the post was a clear attack on mayoral frontrunner Leggett, after a “very successful” attack on Sowman himself. 

Whale Oil involved in local body politics in Marlborough might seem a bit odd, they don’t usually do much about the provinces and most will have no idea who the current mayor of Marlborough is and who the candidates are.

But Whale Oil has had a number of posts on Marlborough local body politics over the last few months. Why? The Stuff article has a hint.

Political strategist Simon Lusk, who has links to Whale Oil, spoke at a local government seminar in Marlborough earlier this year attended by several council candidates. 

Lusk said at the time fighting for transparency was meaningless unless candidates opposed bad news being hidden in publicly excluded council meetings.

Lusk did not confirm or deny whether he was involved when contacted on Saturday. 

He was told information had come through on the blog’s tip line, he said. 

Why Lusk or Whale Oil might have such an interest in Marlborough local body politics is anyone’s guess.

There’s an unusual number of posts on Marlborough issues at Whale Oil going back to about June. No other regions have had this much attention so they stood out.

I never took much notice of the Marlborough posts apart from noticing they were there, they seemed local and not very interesting.

But what we have now is a story of wider interest:

  • a secret recording of a closed Marlborough District Council meeting in April
  • details of the recording published on Whale Oil in September, on the day that local body election voting papers are sent out
  • council chief executive Mark Wheeler said if a councillor had leaked the public-excluded discussion he or she could be asked to resign

Being asked to resign three weeks before the election closes might be horse bolted timing.

What if the leaker is a candidate for the election? Their name is already printed on the ballot and posted to voters, but it could affect votes.

The Marlborough Express (Stuff) has followed up with Marlborough council announces investigation into Whale Oil leak ahead of final meeting

A secret recording of a private council meeting has triggered an investigation into all councillors and staff who were at the meeting. 

The investigation will require everyone at the behind closed doors discussion in Marlborough to sign a statutory declaration saying they were not behind the recording or it being leaked to a right-wing blog. 

It is a criminal offence to knowingly make a false declaration.

They are taking it very seriously.

Meanwhile Whale Oil had a string of posts on it yesterday too.

As predicted yesterday the Marlborough Express has written an attack piece on me. They didn’t even call for comment.

After we busted John Leggett and the Marlborough Express tried to ignore the story there still remain a number of unanswered questions that I am sure the ratepayers of Marlborough wants answers to.

The Marlbourgh Express doesn’t seem to know the first rule of politics. Explaining is losing.

That’s funny considering the number of posts explaining everything.

Locals don’t dare speak out because their lives will be made hell.  Local news doesn’t dare speak up because their commercial viability is under threat if they speak up against their biggest advertisers.

More explaining. They could be important issues for people in Marlborough, but that’s local stuff that most people are unlikely to be interested in.

So they act like they are violated, scream “Whaleoil” and hope that voters will forget what it is really all about.

What an utter waste of rate payers’ money to try and figure out who helped the truth get to the public.

Stop screaming my name, and start taking responsibility for your own words and actions.

That’s more interesting, to me anyway.

A secret recording was taken of a closed door council meeting and supplied to a media outlet and published during an election campaign.

The recording is a serious matter. If it was a councillor they could be asked to resign. If it was a staff member  I expect it would potentially be a sackable offence.

But Cameron Slater and Whale Oil don’t think that how the information was obtained matters, or is excusable as the story they want to tell is what is important.

Nicky Hager thought something similar when he published Dirty Politics.

Another thing that puzzles me about this – how much influence would Whale Oil have on the Marlborough election?

Most people are barely or not interested in local body elections. Most Marlborough voters are unlikely to read Whale Oil.

I’m baffled as to why Whale Oil is giving so much coverage over several months for a relatively low interest issue that can hardly be attracting many clicks or much advertising to the blog.

It will be interesting to see whether Whale Oil sees their whistle blowing coverage of sufficient importance and interest to continue their coverage after the election.

Leave a comment

44 Comments

  1. Conspiratoor

     /  20th September 2016

    The hypocrisy is strong in this one. The leaker made a grave error of judgement in leaking this to my good friend Cameron. Had he leaked to Saint Nicky it would of course have been spun as ‘in the pubic interest’ and the ‘silenced’ media would be lining up to do his bidding.

    Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  20th September 2016

    wherever you find Lusk,you’ll find dirt for money.Him and Slater are peas in a pod,come over all macho,and couldn’t knock a snowman over.

    Reply
    • Conspiratoor

       /  20th September 2016

      Talking of big talk blaze, have you returned from your ahem … trip to welly … in order to front up to big bad Al, the bastard’s bastard, who is no doubt salivating at the prospect of peeling you like an onion. Or are you going to beat the drums of retreat, like dear old parti? We await with … anticipation

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  20th September 2016

        It’ll be just a one to one affair. No others have volunteered to join the teams but that’s good – it’s a big challenge, and we’ll probably all benefit if there’s no mass debating on it c.

        Reply
        • Conspiratoor

           /  20th September 2016

          G, I intend to prevail upon pg to remove the letters AFF or OPP from any interlopers comments who might want to have a crack in order to sabotage the thing. Heckling from the sidelines is encouraged but lobbing a grenade in because you just can’t control your inner berserker is bad form. You know to whom I refer. Cheers,c

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  20th September 2016

            Indeed. Unspeakably impolite c.

            Reply
            • Conspiratoor

               /  20th September 2016

              In my view there are at least two others here G who would be formidable debaters in a structured format. On both ends of the spectrum so this would be an entertaining spectacle

      • Blazer

         /  20th September 2016

        FYI …I offered to debate Al Sun-Mon just passed.,he cried off ,citing travel ,work….I am in Welly from Wed to Sun.He probably needs a couple of weeks to prepare as he has,surprisingly been active here on said days all the same.Don’t know about ‘big talk’.

        Reply
        • Conspiratoor

           /  20th September 2016

          Fair enough blaze. Apologies, I went too far. Can we still be friends?

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  20th September 2016

            Seems like you might both be in Welly at the same time. Possibly you could both meet up in the car park at Te Papa & share a single malt in a brown paper bag?

            Reply
            • Conspiratoor

               /  20th September 2016

              He knows where he can find me. Green Parrot, Sunday, 2.30am. In the far corner in the company of an elderly brown gentleman sporting a poorly thatched wig

            • Gezza

               /  20th September 2016

              The only problem I foresee there is that if you & Blazer were to be filmed or photographed sharing a single malt at the Green Parrot @ 2.30am both of your reputations would be ruined, c.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  20th September 2016

          I had a bit more time than I thought because my wife insisted on driving (4 hr trip) and we had a bit of spare time in the hotel after my meeting. Home again now but you are off tomorrow so next week seems to be it.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  20th September 2016

            What format will this debate follow?

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  20th September 2016

              What are AFF and OPP ?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  20th September 2016

              Affirmative and Opposed. I dunno, Gezza. Really there should be at least two on each side so if no-one else is going to put their hand up I suggest we speak twice each alternately led off by AFF and then each sum up briefly led by OPP. But it would be better if a couple more joined the debate.

            • Gezza

               /  20th September 2016

              Well, no doubt. I’d certainly be interested to watch a team debate and learn, but having been informed of my ignorance about the correct structure of the successive arguments in the first shambolic debate I have attempted to establish precisely which of several different formats will apply, so far without success.o

              https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  20th September 2016

              Good link, Gezza. I would suggest the Mace format since it gives the opportunity for Kibitzers to join in.

            • Gezza

               /  20th September 2016

              Probably best to agree in advance on the format with your worthy opponent & for the format / rules to be briefly outlined, together with the proposition, on the Debate Page post?

            • Gezza

               /  20th September 2016

              Might I suggest the decision on who wins be made by a panel of 3 or 5 judges, an equal number chosen by the participants, with the other one being the YNZ Forum Host?

            • Gezza

               /  20th September 2016

              *Kibitzer is a Yiddish term for a person who offers (often unwanted) advice or commentary. This term is used for a non-participant spectator in contract bridge, chess, go, and many other games. The verb kibitz can also refer to idle chatting or side conversations.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  20th September 2016

              Yep, club chess lightning games always had kibitzers. So did our grad student lunch room bridge game. Local rules there were that anyone who lost a contract got replaced. Much cheering and jeering happened.

  3. Pete Kane

     /  20th September 2016

    Slater”:………. there’s a Boss Hogg mentality………..”

    RNZ: “Cameron Slater says he a acquired the information from tipoffs and his own research. He says, there’s a Boss Hogg mentality in many small towns, where canals of rat bags act with impunity.”

    Dirty Politics hits mayoral candidates in Nelson and Marlborough
    “Mayoral candidates in Marlborough and Nelson are being targeted by a smear campaign, and there’s allegations right-wing blogger Whaleoil is stirring the pot”
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/201816735/dirty-politics-hits-mayoral-candidates-in-nelson-and-marlboroug

    Hope certain Jurors sneaked a little listen to Checkpoint last evening.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  20th September 2016

      “… where canals of rat bags act with impunity.”

      Thanks heaps for the mental images of that one Pete. 😄

      Reply
      • Pete Kane

         /  20th September 2016

        You survived the deluged I hope G. Glenmore Street, Kelburn, was like the River Jordan, on Saturday, Rat Bags, swimming for their lives.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  20th September 2016

          A mere heavy mist in Wellington, I think, Pete. To go with the gentle zephyrs that rustle the leaves there.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  20th September 2016

            Just overcast in North Welly. Stream ran a bit high but no flooding probs. Two slips on the way to the rest home but the stop/go sign bloke & sheila were on the job with the digger driver and some other joker whose role wasn’t immediately obvious but required a hard hat & hi-vis vest, and only a minute’s delay. All clear on the way back two hours later. Big ups to the working class, making things work for the poor and the rich motorist without fear or favour.

            Reply
            • Conspiratoor

               /  20th September 2016

              Hope the flooding eases in welly cbd over the weekend. Have to get to the green parrot for a yarn with an old mate over a single malt or three

            • Gezza

               /  20th September 2016

              Single malt stocks may need a bit of boosting around the place.

        • Pete Kane

           /  20th September 2016

          But you get some heavy rain up there in Auckland , Alan.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  20th September 2016

            Yes, but all clear on this trip. And siting Auckland between two harbours sorted the drainage problem. Traffic is still crap though.

            Reply
            • Pete Kane

               /  20th September 2016

              Such is life in the “upper suburbs’. (As a very young SI chap Alan, I was given an early lesson in NZ geography by my Daddy, as to the (then named) North Auckland rugby team. 300 miles seemed a long city boundary to a 5 year old.)

  4. John Schmidt

     /  20th September 2016

    This is what happens when one of the Whaleoil contributors and moderators live in Blenheim and wants to promote the voice of a very vocal but very small group of Blenheim naysayers luddites who have spent a life time opposing everything in the province. Had these naysayers ever gained hold Blenheim would be a ghost town rather than the vibrant and we’ll off community that it is today.
    The irony being Whaleoil has put themselves in the same place as Assange and Wikileaks or the activites of Hagar and yet they had plenty to say against those activities. They are quick to accuse others of hyprocosy and yet they put themselves in exactly the same space.

    Reply
    • Pete Kane

       /  20th September 2016

      Irony. Are you suggesting there was something meritorious to begin with?

      Reply
    • Good points, but again there is a difference in how the same actions is viewed by those crying foul;

      Whaleoil – airs a secret recording from a closed Council meeting = dirty politics, lets attack Whaleoil as they deserve it.
      Hager – uses stolen emails to write a book for profit = investigative journalism at its finest, lets attack Whaleoil as they deserve it.

      I’m a major critic of Whaleoil but I’m also a critic of overuse of the term ‘dirty politics’ which has essentially become the catch-cry of anything the left-wing of this country don’t like, even if they themselves are doing the very same thing.

      Putting aside for a moment how this information came about what have we learned about the people in the meeting?

      Reply

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