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12 EAST & BAYS COURIER, JULY 18, 2012
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Another outbreak of tunnel vision?
It must be something in the water.
Auckland local body politicians
have always had a worrying tend-
ency once they ve taken office to
unwrap huge projects -- some of
them either unsuitable, impractical
or economically out of left field.
Some of them in my lifetime: Sir
John Allum s nightmare plan to
pump sewage to Browns Island for
disposal, the terrible first months of
fumes from Sir Dove-Myer Robin-
son s alternative Mangere plant
searing the paint off houses within
its range, the original four-laned
harbour bridge which the Holland
government forced on us until the
Nippon Clipons made the span
workable, the urging by Sir James
Fletcher that he use a big newly
acquired dredge to fill in Hobson
Bay and move the university there.
There was the option to gut the
Princes St edge of Albert Park and
rape the space with university
buildings, the senior government
road planner who recommended a
three-lane southern motorway
stretch -- one north-bound, one
south with a middle shared passing
lane (soon rightly labelled the sui-
cide lane before it was rejected).
Then there were the secondhand
trains we bought from West Aust-
ralia after years of discard -- and
how the newly established Sub-
urban Newspapers investigative
unit found servicing record books in
the driver s cabins.
These and sources in Oz showed a
terrible breakdown record which
had forced replacement engines to
be flown from Germany to keep the
Perth services running.
Until, that is, they were scrapped
and naive Auckland buyers with
more money than sense took them
Let s not forget the mad Mallard
scheme for an international sta-
dium on stilts over the city harbour
This lot at the council and plan-
ners seem no different. It s just that
the super-city syndrome has pro-
duced a new scale to their day-
dreams. In this case, there s also a
new form of tunnel vision.
Latest Think Big news flash on
that super rail tunnel: Most of
Albert St in central Auckland
stands to be dug up and more than
200 properties affected by the city s
proposed $2.86 billion underground
(That s right -- $2.86 billion.)
Most of 210 surface properties
likely to be needed for the project
are at the Mt Eden end of a 3.5km
pair of tunnels running under the
west of the city centre from Brito-
They will include the five-storey
headquarters of MediaWorks and
its TV3 subsidiary below the New
North Rd and Mt Eden Rd intersec-
tion, near where the tunnels will
emerge before joining the western
railway line. Another big victim,
Downtown shopping mall of 81
retail outlets at the city end, valued
at more than $80 million.
I just thought lessons from his-
tory were worth mentioning. So is
an overseas breakdown of extreme
local government worries that our
planners should be aware of -- the
The Californian city of Stockton
(population around 300,000,
US$700m in debt) has become the
largest US city to reach for bank-
ruptcy papers, the seventh Amer-
ican municipality this year. It s
more than $700m in debt. Detroit is
cutting police, lighting, road repairs
and cleaning services affecting as
much as 20 per cent of the popu-
lation. It s simple: The city, which
has been on the skids for almost two
decades with the decline of the US
car industry, doesn t generate
enough wealth to maintain services
for its 900,000 inhabitants.
More than 100 American cities
could go bust next year as the debt
crisis that has taken down banks
threatens next to spark a municipal
meltdown, a leading analyst has
Meredith Whitney, the US
research analyst who correctly pre-
dicted the global credit crunch, told
CBS: There s not a doubt on my
mind that you will see a spate of
municipal bond defaults. You can
see 50 to 100 sizeable defaults --
more. This will amount to hundreds
of billions of dollars worth of
US states have spent nearly half
a trillion dollars more than they
have collected in taxes and face a $1
trillion hole in their pension funds.
New Jersey governor Chris
Christie sums up the problem: We
spent too much on everything. We
spent money we didn t have. We
borrowed money just crazily. The
credit card s maxed out and it s
over. We now have to get to the
business of climbing out of the hole.
We ve been digging it for a decade or
more. We ve got to climb now and a
climb is harder.
Cities from Detroit to Madrid are
struggling to pay creditors, includ-
ing providers of basic services such
as street cleaning. If our council
response to all this is that I don t
know what Auckland s risks might
be I haven t got that on my own.
That s going by the decision of an
unelected employee of the council to
withhold essential facts from elec-
ted councillors during the supercar
racing decision involving a pro-
portion of ratepayers money.
No more of that nonsense, thank
you. A new slogan for those who
spend our rates: Think Stockton.
The full facts on the $2.86 billion
tunnel vision must be like the first
stage of any tunnels -- out in the
That ludicrous, tawdry, highly
touted women s boxing stoush may
have been a handy promo for the
already much-hyped television
home with the Ridge girls exclu-
It certainly did nothing but harm
to the overall image of women.
It was worse than that. It was a
nationwide promotion of the school
yard bitchery which pits girl against
girl in boots-and-all fighting which
has then starred on television prime
The media s unthinking advance
plugging of it told you plenty about
current news values too.
And as for the suggestion that the
Cameron knock-out of some nonen-
tity being a stumbling step towards
a world title, well remember Tua s
embarrassing world title fight and
Cameron s even more cringe-worthy
one round demolition by a Tua well
past his prime.
It reminded me of a very old gag
about the man who paid big money
to watch the Joe Lewis-Max
Schmeling world title return fight
in 1938. (The German had unwisely
agreed to a return bout after knock-
ing out Lewis in the 12th round two
American reaction to that first
match loss: I walked down Seventh
Ave and saw grown men weeping
like children and women sitting in
the kerbs with their head in their
hands. All across the country that
night when the news came that Joe
was knocked out, people cried.
The fictional spectator was said to
have missed that logical rematch
fight of the century two years later
because he was putting his hat
under his expensive Yankee Sta-
dium seat at the time.
Watch it on Google.
First knockdown in one and a half
minutes, two more before the bout
was stopped in two minutes 10
seconds. The hapless Schmeling
threw only a few low calibre
punches during his demolition.
Meanwhile, there s a campaign to
introduce women s boxing into the
Really? Surely not ahead of the
noble art of mud wrestling.
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