2013 Hamilton Local Government Series – West Ward Candidates

Below is my review of the west ward candidates, this might be the last one I will do in the series as I have a few things coming up that I need to do. I don’t live on the West side of the river but I have followed the same format as I did in the east ward candidates. They are ranked from best to worst with bold and italics representing those I would vote for bold being the maybes and the rest are the definitely nots.

I wrote this post in alphabetical order and it was so depressing, something this length would usually take me three hours to research/write but I spent near enough to eight today working on this because I kept having to go off and watch a tv show or something to keep me vaugely focused. This was because the impression I got was that the candidates were almost all aweful and at least six of them would end up on council. However when it came time to rank the candidates I realised that besides Holly Snape, who is Awesome and Martin Gallagher who is very good there were also a few decent ones hidden amongst the terrible. However there is still a considerable drop off in quality between Jaime Toko and Andrew Warren, essentially from 12 down I was really looking for redeeming qualities to make me think the candidate wouldn’t be completely destructive of where I want my city to go.

Also fewer candidates on this side of the river have significant online presences so my estimations of their policy are heavily based on environmental/sustainability/climate change groups surveys of candidates. Which means that this post has an environmental focus with very little discussion of social or economic issues, which is unfortunate but the best I can manage given the information too hand.

I hope you all find what’s below informative, comment with anything I have gotten wrong or completely missed so I can correct it.

1.

Holly Snape

 

At the first meet the candidates event I went to Holly got up and talked about people she had worked with in Melville and how despite the wonderful things they were doing they had no input into the decision making of their city. She gets how difficult it can be for people to engage with council and wants to use her experience from running a community house in helping to get council focused on people(instead of jut rates). FYI she was endorsed by Sustainable Waikato, top marks from Generation Zero and second best in the West from the environment centre. If you are interested she has a facebook page and a website with a policy page,which is a bit bland unfortunately. Holly really shines in her survey responses in the Gen Zero response she agues that the council shouldn’t just be carbon neutral they should be encouraging other businesses to be carbon neutral, promoting insulated housing isn’t enough the council should also promote waste reduction, water conservation and home grown food. City Planning and development needs to take promote alternate energy sources, sustainable urban design and better transport choices. Her Sustainable Waikato is long but she manages to put forward her support for environmental restoration, cycleways, libraries, the arts, community groups and centres, sustainable business certification, waste reduction and pest control amongst others, it is definitely worth a read.

 

2.

Martin Gallagher

 

Martin was my fourth form social studies teacher and maybe third form economics, but I wont hold that against him. When he wasn’t teaching Martin has been a successful politician at both the national and local level. He has a website which mostly focuses on how great (in its opinion) Martin is as opposed to specific policies however his desire for a conservative fiscal policy comes through. However his responses to Generation Zero and Sustainable Waikato gives an insight into his knowledge of sustainability issues. In the Gen Zero response he supports a Wof for all rental properties, safe cycleways and the city council taking a lead in ethical investment. In the sustainable Waikato response he talks about council being a role model of sustainability for citizens, subsidies for grey water systems and a heritage protection plan. The only hint of disagreement I have with him is on his efforts to raise the drinking age to 20, but hopefully this will be reflected in his support for a strong local alcohol plan.

3.

Dave Macpherson

 

I’m feeling lazy so here is his mayoral review again.

 

Dave Macpherson has put out more policy on his website than any other mayoral candidate. I don’t agree with all of it, but I do with most of his policy. I’m disappointed that there isn’t a specifically environmental policy amongst the sixteen documents he has posted to date, for some reason conservation efforts comes under the water metering policy. I’ll briefly go over his policies which I care the most about, I’m not even going to try to be complete in this case.

 

More community consultation, I support this but I think that consultation alone doesn’t really give enough power to the local community. Also his proposal for the Mayor to actively engage with community groups is an improvement but is still going to miss feedback from the significant numbers of unengaged citizens.

 

Jobs, Wages and Fair Treatment of Council Staff. Dave sees the council working towards improving the labour market in collaboration with business groups, WINZ and unions. He also supports a living wage for all council staff and a flatter pay structure. However in his policy on parks and recreation he proposes the council organising networks of volunteers to maintain green spaces, which seems to be undermining the job of council staff.

 

He is opposed to the sale of community assets and wants to increase the stock of social housing in Hamilton. However he is in favour of selling some commercial assets such as the councils share in Novotel and Ibis hotels. He is also opposed to water metering for non commercial users and supports water conservation measures.

 

His transport policy is long but very good with an focus on active(walking and cycling) and public(buses and trains) modes of transportation. The one point I will disagree with him on though is whether HCC should take over the buses from the WRC, there are significant benefits to this in terms of planning within the city but the buses are expensive to run and the city council doesn’t have a lot of money to spare. I fear that the HCC taking over the bus services would lead to a fare increase to cover the cost of running the buses.

 

This is more likely when we consider his rates policy which is to maintain the current land value system and keep rate increases below the local government rate of inflation. Both of which I disagree with. Land value rating less accurately rates wealth than the alternative capital value system and I believe that to pay down our debt while maintaining services let alone taking on the bus network as a new service requires more money, not a lesser or equal amount. This is his only policy that I substantially disagree with but it is fairly important to me.

 

The only other real complaint I have with Dave is that he has been on council for 15 years now and a lot of the things that he wants to change started after he started his watch. So if he couldn’t do anything over the past fifteen years why will he be able to next year.

 

Lastly on his facebook page he thinks being the first NZ councillor to use an apple mac is something to brag about.

 

 

4.

Tureiti Moxon

 

Tureiti sounds like an awesome person judging from her candidate statement and she doesn’t mention that she won a civic award in 2010. She is currently the managing director of Te Kohao health and judging from her Sustainable Waikato response is very aware of the need to have friendly and resilient communities to create a healthy and sustainable city. She also puts biodiversity as one of her environmental concerns and expresses great support for waste reduction, renewable energy and sustainable industry development. Not surprisingly she was endorsed by Sustainable Waikato. Her response to Gen Zero was also very good, but her environment centre score was poor. Unfortunately I can’t find any of her policies outside of the environmental/sustainability sphere.

 

5.

Ewan Wilson

 

Again I’m being lazy and just putting up the mayoral analysis again.

 

I feel that I should start the discussion on Ewan Wilson by pointing out that he has been convicted of fraud, although he calls it misuse of forms and says that it doesn’t define him. I also feel that his policy platform is based on popularity rather than being based in a set of values. He point I’m getting at is that I don’t entirely trust him to stick to his policies, although I hope he does stick to them because the platform he is running on I find acceptable.

 

On his website Ewan has policies split into ‘values’ and ‘why vote for me’ sections. The first mainly covers transparency in council spending and decisions while the second is a series of statements on policy issues. In terms of rates Ewan wants to restrict rate increases to inflation although he doesn’t say whether he means CPI or local government inflation, however he does want to change to a capital value based rating system which is a big plus in my book. His policy on alcohol and synthetic drugs is also positive imo by targeting the suburban sale and distribution of these products. He is also opposed to residential water metering favouring repairing water infrastructure and education. However, I am a bit uncomfortable with the emphasis he places on upgrading the airport, he describes it as his ‘biggest priority’. I don’t doubt that an upgraded airport would get more flights and therefore money and jobs, but I suspect that there would be more effective investments that would also be carbon neutral. Flicking through his website it is apparent however that the environment and social justice issues just aren’t something Ewan feels the need to comment on.

 

He also has a facebook page and is actually very good at replying and engaging with visitors.

6. Robin Fletcher

 

Robin ran in 2010 finishing in the middle of the pack, the policies that she puts forward in both 2010 and 2013 as well as on her website are very good. She supports a sinking lid for pokies, a regional rail network, reducing debt and community development. She did well on the Environment centre survey, I was hoping that her response to Sustainable Waikato would be more in depth but unfortunately her responses were brief although she does demonstrate that she has a basic concept and desire for sustainability.

7.

Jamie Toko

 

Jamie is interesting, she works for the Service and Food Workers Union and has been involved in trying to get a living wage for council staff. On her facebook page she also seems to have a grasp of the risks of cycling. However she did not do well on the environment centre survey and her answers to the Sustainable Waikato questionnaire were very brief. I don’t really see a lot policy around but I get the impression she would be strong on social and workers issues but a bit weak on the sustainability/environment side, I really couldn’t guess how Jamie would perform elsewhere. Here is a youtube video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zStTuoaWsFs

8.

Peter Bos

 

This isn’t the Peter Bos who has been on council forever but instead someone with the same name who is hoping to capitalise on the original Peter Bos’ retirement. Unfortuantely I can’t find a lot online about the new Peter Bos, mostly because the internet is getting the two Peters confused. But what I do know about Peter Bos is that he is the contact person for the Waikato Cycle Action Network and knows a fair bit about cycling in Hamilton and how to fix it. From talking to him at meetings though I feel that his knowledge of the rest of council business is poor – average, this also comes through in his Sustainable Waikato response. He did do very well in the environment centre survey.

9.

Angela O’Leary

 

Angela is a current councillor, she is the most active of the councillors and candidates on facebook, which means there is a lot of waffle to read through before you get to any interesting policy statements. She also has a website which is full of photos but short of policies, her main focus for the next three years is a citywide synthetic cannabis ban, which I feel isn’t counterproductive as it’ll probably just drive people back to natural cannabis which is safer. Other than that her policies are about supporting increased safety, more creativity, less red tape and the ‘right’ river development.

10.

Leo Tooman

 

I can find out lots about Leo, but not his views on policies other than safety is good and excessive spending is bad. The only place I have seen him put forward policy positions is in the Gen Zero survey where he is in favour of home insulation, ethical investment and reducing our carbon footprint but opposed to throwing more money at buses and admits to not having a clear understanding of climate change. So to my mind, he is kind of average through lack of information.

 

 

11.

Andrew Warren

 

The link above is all that I can find about Andrew Warren, unless he is also in the Hamilton Car Club, in which case I know two things about him.

 

12.

Stephen King

 

Stephen is not related to the other two Kings running in this ward, however he is closely linked with the National Party being the chair of the local executive committee. To his credit his candidate statement is actually fairly informative in that it demonstrates that his main focus is on debt reduction and he will work towards this via limiting the council to core services. His result on the environment centre survey was average-poor and he also performed okay on the Gen Zero survey, although his written responses are unclear. When I got talking to him at a meet the candidates meeting he told me at length that water meters are inevitable and that we should just hurry up and install them, which at the least speaks to me of a lack of imagination. I also asked him about cycle safety and he told me that he considered cycling but just decided to do all his cycling at the gym because of his safety concerns. So Stephen recognises the problem but offered no solution to deal with it.

13.

Peter Findlay

 

Another one which I can’t find a lot about, Peter got the highest score on the environment centre survey but has also been endorsed by Ray Stark. Based on his candidate blurb he is mostly focusing on financial matters in his campaign which would explain the Stark endorsement and mean that he is probably not the candidate I would like.

14.

Nick Ravlich

 

Nick is the son of Paul Ravlich and reckons he will represent the working class and the young on council. Unfortunately his policies are all about cutting rates and limiting services so it seems like he actually has the interests of the old and wealthy at heart. He has a facebook page but other than a call for free parking in the CBD and calling for reduced crimes you’ll just see lots of photos of him water blasting his name into things.

 

15.Paul Ravlich

 

Seems like an older version of Nick Ravlich but without any online presence other than his poor showing to Gen Zero. He will not support carbon neutral programmes and services over carbon releasing ones, he will not support policies encouraging home insulation (‘why should one rate payer subsidise another…’ kind of ignores the none subsidy solutions or the tenants who have no say in whether there house is insulated or not) does not support ethical investment and is only a maybe on reducing the HCC’s carbon footprint and improving our transport network.

 

16.

Robert Curtis

 

Robert has a website which is spectacularly uninformative. That’s not entirely true, Robert seems to believe it is enough for him to demonstrate he knows things rather than having an opinion or demonstrating his ability. He lists the legislation that govern local government and an excerpt from the candidates handbook about the role of council and he has copied out the councils financial statement none of which convinces me he would be good as a councillor. His statement is bland and the only policy I actually get out of it is that he would favour local providers when contracting out services. He also ran in 2010 and came last on a ‘Labour Party (member)’ ticket and in the 2011 election as an independent.

 

17.

Russelle Knaap

 

Russelle is standing on behalf of the citizens and ratepayers association and her candidate statement only talks about rate increases and the city debt. Her SW response is enlightening, she doesn’t want to discuss environmental issues as this would be pre-empting the sustainability panel. Instead she talks about rates, the empty shops in the CBD and public art, she puts the burden for a muticultural society on ‘migrants and different ethnicities who should ‘share their festivals and traditions with the people of Hamilton.’ She decides that roads will never be safe an urges cyclists and pedestrians off them. She is opposed to water metering and supports education as the main method of water conservation which is a good but not great kind of answer. Not surprisingly she got a poor to average result on the environment centre survey.

18.

Andrew King

 

Andrew is the elder half of the two generations ticket. He also tends to dominate conversations which counts against him in my opinion. No online presence that I can find other than the ticket website but his policies focus on keeping rates down and reducing debt, he describes himself as taking a conservative approach on social issues and Ray Stark has endorsed him. Andrew’s Sustainable Waikato response is average although he does support stormwater tanks and improving walkways and bus routes, it is clear though that he feels the most important thing he can do to enhance sustainability is keep rates down.

 

19.Josh King

 

Josh is the son of Andrew King and is mostly trying to campaign to represent young people. He has an active facebook page but my impression of him both there and at meetings is that he is very reluctant to answer questions on policy, probably because his knowledge level is poor. He points to his ticket website for his policies and there we find that it is all about keeping rates down and lowering the debt and cutting costs in services provided, also of interest is that he wants to remove the 40 km/hr speed zones and states that ‘Roads are for vehicles traffic’ as justification.

20.

Roger Stratford

 

Roger Stratford strikes me as being weird, in his candidate statement he supports cutting rates while paying a living wage to all workers and contractors and allowing easter trading, which is kind of a weird combonation. Over on is facebook page he can’t seem to make up his mind whether he is in the ACT party or if he will be Labour’s Hamilton East Candidate in 2014. What I do know however is that he did poorly in the Gen Zero survey and came last in the environment centre questionnaire.

21.

Michael West

 

Michael is on the New Council – New Direction team and his candidate statement is exactly what you would expect from a neo-liberal. I have discussed it at length in my previous post when talking about Karina Green and Basil Wood so I’ll avoid an actual analysis except that they are awe full and illogical. However I will point out that they are being either deliberately ignorant or stupid when it comes to financial matters. In an note on their facebook page they rubbish the councils claims that they will be ‘in the black’ by 2017, they go on and on and on about how much debt the council is and will be in and therefore the claim that it is in the black is rubbish. However they completely miss the point that the council was referring to a return of operating surplus by 2017 ie their debt levels will be decreasing (black) rather than increasing (red). So I have to conclude that not only are that lot illogical they are also either thick or liars.

 

 

22.

Tim Wikiriwhi

 

Tim Wikiriwhi has a blog, he is a self described christian libertarian. So I’m opposed to fairly well everything he stands for. At the moment most of his blog space seems to be dedicated to demonstrating that it is impossible for someone to be good without God, by taking a fairly illogical view of morality as originating solely and absolutely from the christian god. Also a very poor response to Gen Zero.

 

 

 

23.

Steve McLennan

 

Steve is on New Council – New Direction and is a Climate Change denier which is all I need to know. But for laughs here is his Gen Zero response. ‘Steve McLennan is concerned climate change may be another Chicken Little situation, as people have been announcing the end of the world for thousands of years, and he believes we sometimes don’t learn from history’

 

2013 Hamilton Local Government Series – East Ward Candidates

Below I have a review of the candidates in the East Ward of Hamilton, it isn’t as thoroughly researched as I would have liked but there are 26 candidates so you’ll have to take it easy on me. Apparently almost all the candidates have facebook pages but I wasn’t able to find them all so I chose to pretend that they don’t exist. I also might have missed a website/blog or two but I hope not

I have ranked the candidates as if this were an STV election, but because we are still using FPP it actually gets more complicated. The first three candidates I will definitely be voting for, the next five I might vote for. This is because under FPP(bloc) voting every time you vote for more than one candidates your votes count against your favourite candidate. For example if I vote for only Anjum Rahman and Ross Macleod and Ross wins by a single vote I have effectively voted my favourite candidate out. That situation almost never happens but it is still fairly good practice to only vote for candidates you are sure are good.

You may also have noticed that the five maybes are chasing after a maximum of three votes. I think I might actually e-mail or facebook those five with a few issues I care about to help me make up my mind.

But now for my opinions of the candidates starting with the exceptional Anjum

1.Anjum Rahman

Anjum is an accountant who does a lot of work for a wide variety of community organisations and she sees running for council as an extension of the work she has been doing in the community. She has both a website and facebook page which contains an extensive policy document. There is nothing in this policy document that I disagree with, which isn’t surprising since I read it and offered a bit of feedback before it was finalised. A few points that will help you get a feel for the position she occupies

‘We support the right of tangata whenua to have elected representation at Council level. We will promote initiatives that will build Maori participation and engagement.’

‘We will uphold the principles of public service in our Council and Council businesses through responsible and sustainable social, financial and environmental approaches to the management of the city.’

‘Quality provision for walking and cycling and public places is an important component of an enjoyable, liveable city.’

There is a lot more but for the purposes of brevity I will finish by saying she has been endorsed by Sustainable Waikato, has a you tube video and go over to her website and read one of her campaign updates if you would like to see how effective a candidate she is.

2.Ross MacLeod

This is Ross’s second time running, his tag line is ‘silly campaign; serious candidate.’ I asked him at the last candidate meeting why a silly campaign, I feel that calling it silly helps to undermine his electability. However he is right to point out that if he weren’t silly he would get no attention. Which is a real shame because after a quick look at his website it is apparent that he has a lot of really good policies including but not limited to rates rebates for energy efficient homes, a living wage for workers and worker led efficiency improvements. He also has a facebook page and a youtube channel with a number of videos, I’ve embedded my favourite.

3. Jamie Strange

Jamie has a campaign website, facebook page and blog if you are interested in reading more about him. Jamie’s slogan is families – finance -future, he is strongly supportive of HCC as an amenity provider to ensure that all the residents of Hamilton have access to quality facilities and events. As for formal policy he has signed on to the same policy platform as Anjum above, however despite sharing the same broad values I feel that Jamie take them in a different direction to Anjum. Jamie seems to focus mostly on family engagement and involvement with the HCC and its services, which isn’t quite where I’m at politically. There are also a few instances where I feel he hasn’t quite thought through some of his public statements most notably when he proposes a $5 charge for non residents at the Gardens with a library card as proof of residency. However I note that not all residents have a library card and that those less likely to have one are probably also those who are most in need of free and easy leisure activities for themselves and their families. I would much rather prefer a theft proof donation box outside the gardens as a cheaper and (arguably) fairer alternative to a $5 fee on non residents, or simply leaving it up to ratepayers. So Jamie comes in third in my rankings, he also has a video.

4.Philip Yeung

Philip has spent the past 12 years working in community development for the HCC and so has an extensive knowledge of one of the core areas of the council and its processes. I was initially excited about Philip running as although I was not aware he existed a lot of people were very excited about him on council, however after reading his Sustainable Waikato response I have gone off him a bit because he doesn’t put forward a very strong environmental ethic and seems to favour user pays systems as a solution to a number of problems. However he clearly sees and understands the needs of Hamilton as a multi cultural society which is something the HCC really needs so he is still near the top of my list. He has a facebook page if you would like to read a bit more about him.

5.Rex Bushell

Rex works on the Mangaiti gully restoration project in Rototuna, he has a website where he puts forward a number of policies. Most of them things I support like dedicated cycleways on arterial routes or ambivalent about such as a trade school. However there are a few points I disagree with, he states that our current growth in water supply is unsustainable and immediately leaps to the need for a business model to solve the issue. He also over estimates the power of the city council, dictating the structural design of businesses as well as what is on their menu and directing the application of police resources. I suspect that Rex will be shocked when/if he finds himself on council, but overall other than his profit based solution to problems he seems to be fairly interested in social and environmental sustainability.

6.Matiu Dickson

Again Matiu has almost no online presence, however he has spoken at public meetings I have been to and is the only person I have heard addressing the role that council can fill in relationship to Hamilton Māori, although other candidates do have policy in this area. He also has been a councillor over in Tauranga.

7.Vaughan Mikkelson

I cannot find out much about Vaughan which is a shame because I suspect he might be a fantastic councillor. He has a facebook page where he puts forward three policies, limiting rate increases, better accessibility for people with disabilities and improved CBD safety. While I don’t care for the first and ambivalent to the third the second policy is very important and is something that I doubt many candidates would put in their top three priorities.

8.Peter Humphreys

Peter Humphreys is the manager of the christian men’s night shelter and has clearly spent his life trying to make the world better for people less fortunate than himself. I say this because he doesn’t put up policies but instead chooses to share stories about who he is and what he does, he says ‘My reason for this is to show that it is not policies that are going to represent the voters, it is the people elected, their values, background and their reason for standing.’ Which honestly makes me a bit nervous as I feel exactly the opposite over elected officials, I like to know what I am voting for, who will do it is secondary. When he comments on issues like the pensioner housing he is clearly opposed to the sale but other than that I can’t tell where he stands other than that he cares for people, which in practice can take many forms. For instance I note he scored lowly in the environment survey questionaire.

9.Ian Hanley

Ian Hanley is a former Anglican minister and former Police senior sergeant. He is opposed to water metering instead favouring more direct methods of water conservation. He also supports pollution controls on the Waikato River and investing in human capital to advance Hamilton’s economy.Take a look at him in the mayoral debate.

10.Adrienne Hagan

Adrienne struck me as being a little bit arrogant in person, but I have read her submission to Sustainable Waikato and I was fairly impressed. Adrienne clearly has a grasp of some of the transport and environmental issues that Hamilton faces and of the solutions that HCC could implement to resolve them. However her facebook page doesn’t offer a lot of information on where she stands outside the environmental realm.

11.Gordon Chesterman

Gordon is the current Deputy Mayor, however he doesn’t seem to have bothered with anything online and I have not seen him at any public meetings I have been to. Based on what news articles I can find and his blurb he mainly seems to be defending his efforts over the past three years and so I would have to assume he is for a continuation of the status quo.

P.S. There seems to be a glitch on the vote page which thinks he is running for the Shirley-Papanui Community Board down in Christchurch.

12.Charlie Gower

Charlie Gower has both a website and a facebook page. He has some policies on his website and he clearly excels in stating his position in a few sentences. He supports security for those in social housing but places emphasis on working with community groups in providing care, he wants greater separation between cyclists and motorists and wants to see bus fare reductions for repeat users. Which all sounds fairly good, but he is also clear he will change his mind on all these policies should enough people disagree.

13.Margaret Forsyth

Margaret is a current city councillor, last time she ran on the rates control ticket but to her credit she abandoned them once she realised what they stood for. She seems to work hard but perhaps not well, a number of councillors claim that they have not been able to discuss the bus services with the WRC, however Margaret Forsyth is the co chair of the joint passenger transport committee and seems to have performed poorly in passing information between that committee and the HCC and vice versa. Also when I spoke to her last year about climate change she seemed to have a poor understanding of the issue and solutions.

14.Javed Chaudhry

Javed is a candidate that has no online presence. However he was nominated for volunteer of the year in 2010 which makes him better than all the other candidates I know next to nothing about.

15.David Natzke

I can find nothing about David Natzke other than that he made a joke in January about Hawkes Bay people, speed dating and sheep. I was at a public meeting he was at but can’t remember a thing he said, so sorry about that.

16.James Casson

James has a facebook page, with a single like and no policy or comments at all. He is a former police officer and other than that I know nothing about him or what he stands for.

17.Possum Allen

I can’t find a facebook page nor website for Possum, nor have I heard him talk at any public meetings. So I don’t have much to go on when ranking him, he is a minor celebrity being the guy with the chainsaw at rugby games so he will get votes from name recognition however his statement in the voting papers is the usual bland fare.

18.Tony Dixon

I cannot find out a lot about Tony Dixon, he doesn’t appear to have a website or facebook page so I have to base my opinion on him on the one time I have seen him speak and the blurb he provided to the council. Tony Dixon has a background in finance and insurance, however when questions move away from the strictly financial he seems a bit out of his depth, he struggled to effectively answer a question on how he would support a multi cultural Hamilton. I have also heard that he struggled to answer a question on how he would improve sustainability in Hamilton at the environment centre meeting. Outside of reducing the debt he doesn’t seem to have much policy. However he ends both the speech I heard and the mayoral debate with a statement about individual freedom and how minorities take away rights from individuals. Which I struggle to get my head around exactly what he means by that but it does strike me as being a very neo-liberal/free-market fundie/leave our privilege alone position.

19.Rob Pascoe

Another one who its hard to find information on, he has a facebook page although the only policy he seems to have put out is that he doesn’t like the cost of implementing a living wage for council staff. His Sustainable Waikato response is interesting, he applies a minimalist approach to sustainability such that when questioned about what the HCC should do regarding sustainable water management his response is ‘At least their minimum legal requirements’ likewise when discussing cycle and pedestrian safety his solution is ‘…education (for both motorists and cyclists/pedestrians).’ All in all I think Pascoe is not the councillor for me.

20.Roger Hennebry

Roger is a long time councillor who was aligned with rates control in the last election but not this time around. I cannot find out much about where he stands this time but I assume he is still focused on keeping rates down to the exclusion of pretty much anything else.

21.James Parlane

James is currently a Waipa District Councillor, he is running for Waipa mayor and a seat on the Ruapehu District Council. His main policy is limited spending and a reduction in debt, although I will note he cost the city council thousands of dollars in court over parking tickets that James had received on at least two occasions. He has since been disbarred from being a lawyer.

22.Jason Howarth

Jason Howarth is a self described conservative and his motto appears to be ‘if you look after business, you look after the community.’ So I’m guessing he is a bit of a neo-conservative rather than a traditional conservative. As far as I can tell he doesn’t have explicitly developed policy but instead he focuses on reducing debt, economic growth and social responsibility without explaining how these will come about. However he does have a youtube video.

23.Karina Green

Karina Green is on Gary Mallett’s ticket, I read a bit about why she is running it was all about how rate increases are unfair the debt is too high and regulations on builders (and probably others) are too restrictive. Of course the difficulties associated with paying off the council debt while lowering debts and presumably providing infrastructure to unregulated developers were unexplored.

24.Basil Wood

Basil is a member of new council -new direction and like the rest of the ticket seems entirely focused on the past, I summarise his three main focuses as … ‘Rate increases are too high, also the debt level is too high, past councils have been shit.’ Note that other than not being shit -my words not his- there is no real idea of how they are going to reduce rate increases and debt at the same times. Considering the current plan requires 3.6% rate increases per annum (iirc) to keep our debt stagnant this is kind of a significant point that must be addressed. In his why I’m running document he mentions that he reads Austrian school economists, for fun, which is unsettling for at least two reasons. The first being that he has the same sense of fun as myself and the second that he is most likely a raving neo-liberal.

25.Garry Mallett

Former president of the ACT party, blergh… He was also once criticised for making a vomiting motion while referring to homosexuality, I only do that when referring to ACT party folk. And yes he is on the new council new direction ticket, which is odd considering he was a councillor in the past. Perhaps a better name might be, old council, even older direction.

26.Jack Gielen

At the last candidates meeting I was a he did an Elvis impersonation and when asked about the local alcohol policy said that kids need to get high on Jesus. You can read more about him in my review of his Mayoral candidacy. For now I’ll just say that he thinks Jesus will return in 2017 and put Jack in charge.

2013 Local Government Election Series – Hamilton Mayoralty

So below I give my opinions on the mayoral candidates. I have also decided to rank them as if this were an STV election. I’ll explain why I ranked them the way I did after the discussion. I looked for a website and facebook page for every candidate but may have missed one or two due to SEO stuff, if I have let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

1.

Dave Macpherson

Dave Macpherson has put more policy on his website than any other mayoral candidate. I don’t agree with all of it, but I do with most of his policy. I’m disappointed that there isn’t a specifically environmental policy amongst the sixteen documents he has posted to date, for some reason conservation efforts comes under the water metering policy. I’ll briefly go over his policies which I care the most about, I’m not even going to try to be complete in this case.

More community consultation, I support this but I think that consultation alone doesn’t really give enough power to the local community. Also his proposal for the Mayor to actively engage with community groups is an improvement but is still going to miss feedback from the significant numbers of unengaged citizens.

Jobs, Wages and Fair Treatment of Council Staff. Dave sees the council working towards improving the labour market in collaboration with business groups, WINZ and unions. He also supports a living wage for all council staff and a flatter pay structure. However in his policy on parks and recreation he proposes the council organising networks of volunteers to maintain green spaces, which seems to be undermining the job of council staff.

He is opposed to the sale of community assets and wants to increase the stock of social housing in Hamilton. However he is in favour of selling some commercial assets such as the councils share in Novotel and Ibis hotels. He is also opposed to water metering for non commercial users and supports water conservation measures.

His transport policy is long but very good with an focus on active(walking and cycling) and public(buses and trains) modes of transportation. The one point I will disagree with him on though is whether HCC should take over the buses from the WRC, there are significant benefits to this in terms of planning within the city but the buses are expensive to run and the city council doesn’t have a lot of money to spare. I fear that the HCC taking over the bus services would lead to a fare increase to cover the cost of running the buses.

This is more likely when we consider his rates policy which is to maintain the current land value system and keep rate increases below the local government rate of inflation. Both of which I disagree with. Land value rating less accurately rates wealth than the alternative capital value system and I believe that to pay down our debt while maintaining services let alone taking on the bus network as a new service requires more money, not a lesser or equal amount. This is his only policy that I substantially disagree with but it is fairly important to me.

The only other real complaint I have with Dave is that he has been on council for 15 years now and a lot of the things that he wants to change started after he started his watch. So if he couldn’t do anything over the past fifteen years why will he be able to next year.

Lastly on his facebook page he thinks being the first NZ councillor to use an apple mac is something to brag about. I’ll put up two videos for Dave, his TV ad and his mayoral debate performance.

2

Ewan Wilson

I feel that I should start the discussion on Ewan Wilson by pointing out that he has been convicted of fraud, although he calls it misuse of forms and says that it doesn’t define him. I also feel that his policy platform is based on popularity rather than being based in a set of values. He point I’m getting at is that I don’t entirely trust him to stick to his policies, although I hope he does stick to them because the platform he is running on I find acceptable.

On his website Ewan has policies split into ‘values’ and ‘why vote for me’ sections. The first mainly covers transparency in council spending and decisions while the second is a series of statements on policy issues. In terms of rates Ewan wants to restrict rate increases to inflation although he doesn’t say whether he means CPI or local government inflation, however he does want to change to a capital value based rating system which is a big plus in my book. His policy on alcohol and synthetic drugs is also positive imo by targeting the suburban sale and distribution of these products. He is also opposed to residential water metering favouring repairing water infrastructure and education. However, I am a bit uncomfortable with the emphasis he places on upgrading the airport, he describes it as his ‘biggest priority’. I don’t doubt that an upgraded airport would get more flights and therefore money and jobs, but I suspect that there would be more effective investments that would also be carbon neutral. Flicking through his website it is apparent however that the environment and social justice issues just aren’t something Ewan feels the need to comment on.

He also has a facebook page and is actually very good at replying and engaging with visitors. I’ll put up two videos for Ewan, his performance in the mayoral debate and his video ad.

3.

Ian Hanley

Ian Hanley is a former Anglican minister and former Police senior sergeant. Unlike the other candidates he has put stuff on the your vote page. He is opposed to water metering instead favouring more direct methods of water conservation. He also supports pollution controls on the Waikato River and investing in human capital to advance Hamilton’s economy. Of all the mayoral candidates he seems to be the nearest to my own political position but I don’t really know much about him.

My only real objection to Ian is that I think he is a bit too eccentric for me to be comfortable with him representing the city to the rest of New Zealand and foreign dignitaries. Which seems a bit shallow of a reason for rejecting a candidate but that is actually a big part of the job of mayor.

Take a look at him in the mayoral debate to see how he presents himself.

4.

Julie Hardaker

Julie Hardaker is the current mayor and I would rate her performance to date as being slightly sub par. To her credit three years ago the councils finances were in a terrible state and over the past three years the debt levels have been contained. However I do not like how keen Julie has been to sell off assets(such as social housing) and cut spending on various community and environmental funds and projects. She also strikes me as being a bit uninspiring as a mayor, I have heard here speak at a few events and I have always found what she says to be a bit ill-informed and/or off topic.

She has a website which details her vision for the next three years which I would rate as being above average but rather bland. For instance ‘Re-examine capital rating value’, ‘Continue to invest in the transport network, both things I support but neither is a very strong commitment. Reading her policies she seems to be proposing a continuation of the last three years much of what she wants to do is to finish off projects that have been started recently such as the Arts Agenda, the Waikato River plan and the Central City Transformation plan. She really isn’t proposing many new policies and those that she is proposing seem a bit bland, a governance review, developing more partnerships with businesses and charities and cutting red tape. She does however support water metering.

To be honest if Julie were to be re-elected I wouldn’t be particularly happy nor upset, I expect that a Hardaker led council would be fairly average with no significant changes on the staus quo either good or bad, unless external factors arise.

She also has a facebook page and below you can see how she performed at the mayoral debate.

5.

Tony Dixon

I cannot find out a lot about Tony Dixon, he doesn’t appear to have a website or facebook page so I have to base my opinion on him on the one time I have seen him speak and the blurb he provided to the council. Tony Dixon has a background in finance and insurance, however when questions move away from the strictly financial he seems a bit out of his depth, he struggled to effectively answer a question on how he would support a multi cultural Hamilton. I have also heard that he struggled to answer a question on how he would improve sustainability in Hamilton at the environment centre meeting.

Even on finance he is mistaken when he claims that the city has ‘no plans or intentions of reducing the (debt) burden on ratepayers.’ containing then gradually reducing the debt was the single most important goal of last years ten year plan. I feel that this was too conservative but it is a plan. Outside of reducing the debt he doesn’t seem to have much policy. However he ends both the speech I heard and the mayoral debate with a statement about individual freedom and how minorities take away rights from individuals. Which I struggle to get my head around exactly what he means by that but it does strike me as being a very neo-liberal/free-market fundie/leave our privilege alone position.

I feel that the mayoralty is a bit beyond Tony’s experience level at the moment, but I think given a bit more engagement with council could prove effective in some capacity in the future.

6. Arshad Chatha

Arshad is most well known for his legal troubles, which seem to have dominated his life since 2000, he has been convicted of helping others commit immigration fraud, theft and assaulting a bailiff. He also ran for Parliament in 2005 and 2008 and for the mayor of Palmerston North 2004, 07 and 10. Oddly enough in 2007 he was in prison for his fraud charges during the election campaign while campaigning on maintaining law and order in Palmerston North. So far I have sat through one of his speeches in person and it was a long ramble that was barely coherent, he didn’t even say his name. The only point that I can gather from his speech and the two videoed speeches I have seen is that he wants more ethnic/immigrant representation on council.

If you would like to see these speeches here is the one from the recent mayoral debate and here is the other from 2010. He doesn’t appear to have a website or facebook page but from what I gather his policies are fairly conservative.

7.

Tim Wikiriwhi

Tim Wikiriwhi has a blog, he is a self described christian libertarian. So I’m opposed to fairly well everything he stands for. At the moment most of his blog space seems to be dedicated to demonstrating that it is impossible for someone to be good without God, by taking a fairly illogical view of morality as originating solely and absolutely from the christian god.

I have not heard of him being at any meetings or giving any public performances and since his blog doesn’t discuss Hamilton or the election campaign then I guess he isn’t even trying to become mayor, he just felt like wasting his money on the candidate fee.

8.

Jack Gielen

The first time I met Jack was in 2010 when some vegans used to but film nights on at Waimarie house. I was waiting for the documentary to start, if I recall it was zeitgeist part 1, and Jack comes and sits beside me introduces himself tells me he is a suicide counsellor and that there is nothing on earth worse than a man committing suicide. I ask him what about if a pregnant women commits suicide and he yelled at me for around ten minutes about how the man is the heart of a family and if he dies the family ends and all of the most terrible patriarchal bullshit you can imagine. That single sentence is still all that I have said Jack, and hopefully all I ever will.

There is a lot more weird things I know about Jack but I’ll only go into the ones directly relevant to his mayoral campaign, he has a website reigninggrace.com, he also runs the NZ Suicide Prevention Trust, which is also his campaign email, but I get the impression this trust doesn’t receive a lot of e-mails. Jack considers himself a pastor counsellor, ie. suicide prevention through religion, he asks people at the meet the candidates meetings if they are Christian or not. He has also founded his own Church after God spoke to him and gave him new revelation on ‘tribal identification and daystar apostleship’. Before we get on to his policies I will add that he is running on the Sovereignty Party ticket, aka the King Jesus Sovereignty Party which campaigns for a ‘theocratic rule model’.

In terms of his policies they are kind of a mixed bag, he talks a lot about equality, social justice and opposing the power of money, he is anti-privatisation and supportive of non-Pakeha cultures. However he also wants to restrict rates to core services and a fan of the ‘heavenly hierarchical structure’ and ‘avenging murder of relative as a guiltless executor practising reconciliatory justice.’ But he insists on trying to talk over everybody else at public meetings which kind of makes me suspect he doesn’t really believe that other people are his equals. Plus I get the distinct impression he doesn’t understand a lot of the terms he uses. I’m not sure why but check out his performance in the mayoral debate to see if you can figure it out.

Reason behind the ranking.

In terms of policy the top three stand out as having the political views most similar to my own, Dave Macpherson I ranked number one purely because of his policies I feel that he has explained himself the most thoroughly and I trust him to actively work towards these goals. Wilson on the other hand, I do not trust to the same extent nor has he put as much effort into defining his position/vision so we can be sure exactly what he is standing for. Hanley or Hardaker for third was actually the hardest decision in this list, I feel that Hanley would be a poor mayor taking the city in a direction I would like while Hardaker would be average but lack the directionality of Hanley, I picked Hanley over Hardaker but it was a toss up.  Tony Dixon I consider to be out of his depth and I don’t know where he stands on anything other than finances. Arshad Chatha seems likely to spend half his term if elected in and out of court, which still makes him preferable to a libertarian and a theocratic nutter to round out the list

I hope this has been helpful to you, I hope to get the East ward candidates up on Friday or Saturday with the West Ward candidates up in the mid-late next week.

P.S. I’m struggling to embed videos from the stuff site so you will have to click on links.

2013 Local Government Elections Series – The Referendums

I have kind of an ambitious plan for this blog over the next few weeks, I want to give my thoughts on both the referendums, the mayoral contest, both the West and East Ward for council and the Hamilton candidates for the Regional Council. I’m putting up my thoughts on the referendums today with hopefully the Mayoral and at least one of the Wards out before the papers are posted out on the 20th. Unfortunately there are a lot of candidates so this project will take a bit of research and possibly some long posts but I’m already getting allot of visitors to this site searching for info about the local government candidates.

 

 

So for those of you in the know there are two referendums happening along with this election, the first is for our electoral system and the second is on whether to add fluoride to our water or not.

 

 

Electoral System

 

 

For local government elections we have two choices, STV or FPP,* the reason that there is only two options is because proportional systems can’t work when we don’t have parties and FPP and STV are the common choices amongst the plurality and preferential systems. For me, this is an easy choice, STV. This is mostly because in STV strategic voting is pointless, the best way to get the result that you want is to vote for that. Over the past month I have had a few people come up to me and ask me who is most likely to beat Julie Hardaker because they want to vote against her most effectively, in STV there is no need for these people to guess who is most likely to beat Hardaker, they would just have to rank everyone they thought was better above her.

 

 

The other major reason I support STV is because it ensures that every vote counts. To continue discussing the mayoral contest as an example the mayor that is elected must have more support from all voters than the second most popular candidate. In FPP however the mayor only has to be the first choice of more voters than the second most popular candidates, it is quite possible for a mayor to be elected when most of the voters would have chosen a single other person if it was only a two person race.

 

 

For council seat elections with 6 candidates it gets more complicated but the principal that the elected candidates have to be the preferred 6 using the votes of all voters stands. This does bring up another interesting point in favour of STV. Lets consider a hypothetical election in which 40% of the voters want ticket A, 30% want ticket B and 30% want independents candidates, under FPP the result would be that ticket A would win all 6 of the seats provided that they stood six candidates. Under STV the two or three most popular candidates from ticket A would be elected along with the most popular one or two from ticket B and the independents. STV clearly gives us a more proportional council and minimises the risk of council being captured by unpopular factions.

 

 

Against all this the only advantage of FPP is that it is easier for voters to manage.

 

 

Fluoride

 

 

This is a harder decision for me, I’ll probably be voting against water fluoridation but I’m not that happy about my vote.

 

 

The main reason I would prefer to not add fluoride to the water (ie. leave it at natural levels) is because of what I read in the York Report which is a meta study of the research on water fluoridation in the 20th century. Their findings were that adding fluoride probably reduced tooth decay by around 14%** and had no significant side effects. In the same report it also demonstrated however that ensuring better dental health care, decreasing poverty or improving peoples diets would have a greater effect on reducing tooth decay. The council spends $48,000 a year on fluoridating water and I think that if we really wanted to reduce tooth decay than this money would be better spent getting a part time dental nurse to go around visiting Hamilton schools like they used to. Which just makes me wonder why this is the City Council’s responsibility anyway, it really seems like something the DHB should be doing and it might also generate more interest in their elections.

 

 

Speaking of the DHB they has claimed that this will cost us $500,000 in increased dental costs compared to the $48,000 per annum that we currently spend on adding fluoride, however this seems to have been taken down from their website :(. Instead the summary the DHB is putting in with the voting papers says that this decision will ultimately cost us $100,000’s which you would note is non time specific and could be rapidly overtaken by the cost of fluoridating. I did find this article in which the DHB claims that more than $1 million has been saved in Hamilton due to water fluoridation since 1966 however at the rate of $40,000 per year since then that the article cites we would have spent $1.88 million, so I can’t help but conclude that the cost is at best equal to the gains.

 

 

I tried to look up some studies on cost effectiveness but I didn’t have access to any of the studies the ministry of health cited and its 4:09 am as I write this so I’m not doing any more than that, its a shame but I’ll have to go with my own guesses.

 

 

The reason that I am uncomfortable with my vote is because it associates me with absolutely bat-shit insane people. The people that are vocal about opposing water fluoridation are clearly wrong and have a very warped perception of science, both the method and the community and a terrible viewpoint on their fellow citizens and elected representatives. I feel that I’m fairly well informed on this topic and that my stance is rational based on the evidence I have seen and will change if different evidence becomes available, but somehow I have ended up with the crazy people. Disturbing.

 

 

 

 

*Well technically bloc voting but everyone just calls it FPP, the only difference between the two is that FPP is only for single seat electorates while bloc voting is used in multi seat electorates.

 

**95% range over decent studies of a reduction in cavities between -5% and 63% with a median of 14.1% and an inter quartile range from 5% to 22%, the reduction was somewhere between 0.5 decay free teeth and 4.4 decay free teeth. Also for the equity argument they point out that this reduction is flat across social classes, the reduction is the same for the wealthy as for the poor.

 

A Review of Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

 

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer details the aftermath of the Pussy Riot performance in the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Short review of the movie, I enjoyed it, mostly because it helps you realise what the situation is like for activists in Russia, particularly pro-feminist and anti Putinist activist.

 

 

First of here is the performance that caused all the trouble.

 

 

 

Less than a minute and a half of a few women singing on stage to a prerecorded sound track and doing some surprisingly well choreographed dance moves considering the situation.

 

 

The result was that three of the four women dancing in that cathedral were charged with ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’. At first I though that was a nonsense crime, but really it seems to be a bit of a mistranslation, in the Soviet Union hooliganism described any disruptive behaviour, apparently disorderly conduct would be the New Zealand equivalent.

 

 

The three women arrested were Nadia, Katia and Masha, they performed in the cathedral to draw attention to the links between the Church and State in Russia which the believed the cathedral symbolised. However conservative Russians found the performance to be highly offensive, the particular spot where they performed was forbidden to women and the lyrics that Pussy Riot sang were considered offensive.

 

 

The film uses footage from members of Pussy Riot and media covering the trial as well as interviewing their families and people who were opposed to Pussy Riot. It takes you through the groups history and how the three women arrested came to be activists, as well as the trial and their eventual imprisonment.

 

 

From watching the documentary you get the idea the trial was a bit of a joke and the conclusion was never in doubt. The three were found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison, former gulags in South and East Russia to be precise. I can’t help but disagree with the sentence though, the hooliganism charge I can’t really argue with because I don’t understand what it means in Russia. However, the three were clearly not motivated by religious hatred, take a look at the lyrics of their song.

 

 

St. Maria, Virgin, Drive away Putin
Drive away! Drive away Putin!

Black robe, golden epaulettes
All parishioners are crawling and bowing
The ghost of freedom is in heaven
Gay pride sent to Siberia in chains

The head of the KGB is their chief saint
Leads protesters to prison under escort
In order not to offend the Holy
Women have to give birth and to love

Shit, shit, It’s God’s shit!
Shit, shit, It’s God’s shit!
St. Maria, Virgin, become a feminist
Become a feminist, Become a feminist

Church praises the rotten dictators
The cross-bearer procession of black limousines
In school you are going to meet with a teacher-preacher
Go to class – bring him money!

Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin
Bitch, you better believed in God
A chastity belt is no substitute for mass-meetings
In protest of our Ever-Virgin Mary!

St. Maria, Virgin, Drive away Putin
Drive away! Drive away Putin!

Pussy Riot clearly has a problem with Putin and the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church as well as the Churches promotion of Putin and oppression of women. However that isn’t religious hatred, it is possible to criticise things without hating them, in fact looking at the lyrics they suggests that they feel that the Orthodox Patriachs support for Putin is getting in the way of his religious role. I really don’t see how there can not be ambiguity around their ‘hatred’ of the Orthodox Church. My favourite point of the movie is when Masha says she doesn’t understand the charges because she doesn’t understand what the basis for her hatred is. Of course the judge gets annoyed and the trial steam rolls ahead.

 

 

“God will punish you, mark my words! God will punish you for going near the altar!”

 

 

Which raises the question, if God is going to punish these women anyway why does that state have to as well.

 

 

Also the sentence was out of all proportion to their crimes, their performance was less than 2 minutes long. If the cathedral was full, which it clearly was not, and the total disruption lasted for five minutes then a grand total of 25,000 people minutes would have been disrupted, by comparison the three women were sentenced to spend a total of 3,156,000 people minutes in prison. Those two numbers are very different and I don’t see any way it could be justified.

 

 

However Pussy Riot were the winners of this trial, even if Nadia, Katia and Masha came out worse off worse. This trial really shone a light on Russia and over the past two years a length stream of authoritarian conservatism stories have been coming out of Russia. International pressure is growing against Russia.

 

 

But I’m not convinced this will change anything in Russia… The countries government seems resolute to continue being authoritarian and corrupt regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.

 

 

Also Blog related Stuff

I’m thinking over the next few weeks I’ll do a bit of a review of the local body candidates in Hamilton this election.

 

 

Part 3 – Review of The Delinquent Teenager who was Mistaken for the Worlds Top Climate Expert: IPCC Expose by Donna Laframboise

This is the final part of the my review of Donna Laframboise’s book, the delinquent teenager who was mistaken for the worlds leading climate expert. The first part can be found here and the second here, if you missed them.

We start this part of the review with chapter five, I’ll let the title of this chapter speak for itself.

5. The Right Gender or the Right Country

 

 

I don’t like where this is going….

 

 

In early 2010 the InterAcademy Council, an organization comprised of science bodies from around the world, took an historic step. It established a committee whose purpose was to investigate IPCC policies and procedures.

 

 

Well that wasn’t quite what I expected but okay a committee was established to investigate the IPCC. For the purposes of clarification the IAC is an United Nations organisation made up of the Presidents of various national academies of science. Generally the UN Secretary General approaches them to deliver advice on a particular topic. IAC then appoints a committee of people they believe to be experts to investigate and develop advice on the topic. In this case the Head of the IPCC and the UN Secretary General jointly approached the IAC to establish this committee in response to the Himalayan glacier scandal of 2010. Lets continue.

 

 

The committee posted a questionnaire on its website and invited interested parties to respond. Answers to those questionnaires were eventually made public after the names of the respondents had been removed. Those provided by IPCC insiders can be separated from the ones submitted by concerned citizens because the questionnaire begins by asking what role the respondent has played in the IPCC.

 

 

Good, although I think that in this particular case the self selecting nature of an invited survey will tend to make the responses more negative of the IPCC than reality. It is just the nature of sending an e-mail around  saying that ‘hey here is a tool for you to use if you want to bitch about your job.’

 

 

People with direct experience of this organization were remarkably frank in their feedback. According to them, scientific excellence isn’t the only reason individuals are invited to participate in the IPCC.

 

 

Remember, this is a UN body. It therefore cares about the same things other UN bodies care about. Things like diversity. Gender balance. Regional representation. The degree to which developing countries are represented compared to developed countries.

 

 

We all knew this was coming, people like Lisa Alexander and Sari Kovats aren’t in the IPCC because they are bloody awesome but only because the organisation needed a women quota. If only we just let the intelligent and deserving white men get on with it without all these women and people from the developing world bothering them they would get the right answers. Lets see how deep a hole she’ll dig or herself, by the way remember she is a feminist, which means she can’t be sexist.

 

 

The collected answers to the questionnaire total 678 pages. As early as page 16, someone complains that: “some of the lead authors…are clearly not qualified to be lead authors.” Here are other direct quotes:…

 

 

If you were wondering the … in the middle of the quote covers ‘(generally although not always from from developing countries)’ the respondent then goes on to offer a solution to this problem ‘The solution is to do a more careful screening of the candidates that are put forward by their governments, and request alternate candidates when the person clearly does not have the right background

 

 

I’ll spare you the quotes she has lined up suffice to say that Laframboise has five quotes from the 678 page document bemoaning geographically based appointments (including one from someone from a developing country!) and she states that there are dozens of mentions of the word gender in the 678 pages although use of the term is both negative and positive. I think I have to ctrl+f this document to see how many times make dozens and the balance of positive to negative. Be back in a minute.

 

 

I counted 26 respondents using of the word gender and 1 of engender but I got a bit confused in the counting – many of the answers looked similar to each other so I may be a bit off. 6 of those 26 used it in a negative connotation and 2 of those 6 said that the problem was that the IPCC didn’t do enough to bring about a decent gender balance, while the other 4 were your stock standard different viewpoints aren’t important arguments. I have also read a lot of what the writers of the IPCC have to say about the selection process and I believe I may have uncovered a point that Laframboise is ignoring. But let her continue…

 

 

Among those with firsthand IPCC experience, therefore, it is an open secret that some people are appointed for reasons that have little to do with world-class scientific expertise. Depending on whose opinion you believe, this is true in either a small minority of cases or with regard to as many as half of the authors. In the view of at least one person, every IPCC personnel decision is influenced by concerns unrelated to science.

 

 

If the United Nations regards the IPCC as a training ground for scientists from the developing world that’s perfectly OK. If it thinks one of the main goals of the IPCC is to raise the profile of female scientists that’s OK, too. It is entitled to do whatever it wants with its own organization. But it is dishonest to tell the world you’ve assembled a group of competitive cyclists when many on your team are actually riding tricycles.

 

 

All right lets get this done, I don’t think it is a secret at all that the IPCC tries to have a level of gender and regional balance however it is also clear that the people entering into these working groups still have excellent qualifications. The vast majority of the respondents that I saw valued working with people from diverse backgrounds, many valued the local knowledge of conditions and experiences of groups around the world that were brought to the debate. They also thought the differences of backgrounds tended to help the groups run smoothly and made them more effective, mainly in that it helped prevent the ideas of the working groups from becoming homogeneous.

 

 

Which makes me wonder if maybe having some sort of balance of gender and geography will actually produce the best quality reports. Particularly if you follow Laframboise implied proposal of only selecting those with world-class scientific expertise. In the last two chapters we saw that she valued age, length of service and number and quality of qualifications as the markers of scientific expertise. Which is fairly certain to ensure that you will get a vast majority of the people who meet these criteria coming from the Northern Hemisphere, being male and most likely dominated by a few universities. Assuming that this is the best measure of scientific expertise, which is an assumption I will never agree with, it is clear to see that this will lead to a very homogeneous IPCC with similar shared intellectual and lived backgrounds. Heterogeneity would suffer as would the quality of the science reported.

 

 

One more point that she should mention, I mentioned it earlier in this chapter and she implied it way back in chapter 1. The scientists names are largely put forward by their home governments, remember the 100 godparents metaphor. The IPCC is responsible to the whole world and the whole world needs to feel that they had their problems discussed and analysed so that at least everyone can know the truth of them. Geographical balance is not optional for the IPCC, there would be no quicker way to lose legitimacy amongst the majority of the world than if they were to find their own scientists being consistently rejected from contributing to solving global problems.

 

 

And again while being from the developing world may imply that a persons university etc. may not have existed for centuries or be as well funded as those in Europe or North America nor have the same job security that is found in those institutions does not imply that the people that work there are stupid or do not have anything to contribute. Well lets get this chapter over with.

 

 

Journalists say we should trust the IPCC’s conclusions because its reports have been written by the world’s finest scientific minds. But in order for that to be the case the IPCC would need to apply very different criteria when selecting its authors.

 

 

It would need an explicit policy that says something along the lines of: Even though we are a UN body, we are not influenced by UN diversity concerns. We select the world’s best experts and only the best experts – regardless of where they come from or what gender they happen to be.

 

 

That is the kind of IPCC I could believe in. But that is not the IPCC we have

 

 

I have no doubt that is the kind of IPCC you could believe in, as would the globally privileged but not many others. Plus the quality of the reports would drop rapidly, debate would be stifled and the IPCC would become an even more conservative body.

 

 

6- Activists

 

 

I promised you I would get back to you about Richard Klein and why we shouldn’t care about why he worked for Greenpeace. Here is the opportunity. The chapter begins with an statement that activists and science do not mix.

 

 

Since activists bring their own agenda to the table, and since agendas and science don’t mix, environmentalists need to keep their distance from scientific endeavors. Data cannot be considered scientifically reputable if it has been collected and analyzed by activists. Scientific conclusions – especially those involving judgment calls – cannot be trusted if activists have played a role.

 

But activists have not kept their distance from the IPCC. Nor has that organization taken steps to safeguard its reputation by maintaining a strict boundary between itself and green groups

 

 

Okay I’m not going to take this opportunity to point out the slight flaw in her line of thought because I read ahead a bit and noticed a great quote to build my argument on. I’ll limit myself to wondering aloud why she assumes being an activist is illogical and inherently corrupting, I mean she was all for the 1995 deceiver of the year despite his dowsing proclivities how is it he might keep is pseudo-scientific beliefs separate from his science but an activist inherently can not keep any of there beliefs separate from their science?

 

 

Laframboise now continues the attack on the relationship between Greenpeace and the IPCC this time with a kiwi connection.

 

 

The improper relationship between activists and the IPCC is illustrated by a 2007 Greenpeace publication. The foreword to that document was written by none other than Rajendra Pachauri. At the end of his remarks, beside his photograph, he is identified not as a private individual expressing private opinions but as the chairman of the IPCC.

 

 

The following year Pachauri wrote another foreword for another Greenpeace publication. Think about this for a moment. The IPCC’s role is similar to that of a trial judge. It examines the scientific evidence and decides whether or not human-produced carbon dioxide is guilty of triggering climate change.

 

 

The Kiwi connection is that the first ‘Greenpeace’ document was written about the New Zealand energy situation. I actually recall remember reading it a few years ago, 2008 maybe. I had to put Greenpeace in quote marks because it is a bit simplistic to call it a Greenpeace publication. I mean it is published by Greenpeace Aotearoa/NZ but the European Renewable Energy Council and a department with a long name that I’m too lazy to type from the German Aerospace Centre contributed. It is about a strategy those groups came up with that would move New Zealand away from fossil fuels and towards a greater use of renewables. Pachuri’s forward pretty much says Renewable Energy is really great and climate change is really important and this publication is kind of interesting.

 

 

The whole judge/trial metaphor goes on for a bit after the second paragraph. But I’ll just limit myself to Laframboise’s initial premise that the IPCC is a trial judge, even though it does get funny a few paragraphs on when the IPCC(the judge) and Greenpeace(the prosecutors) are having a pissup. But it seems to me that the IPCC is better compared to a commission of inquiry rather than a trial judge. A judge is trying to find whether someone is guilty or innocent, a commission of inquiry is after the truth. The IPCC isn’t putting anyone on trial they are simply trying to describe the observed phenomena in the world and occasionally offer advice on how to deal with it. There are no prosecutors or defendants, there is only true, false and everything in between.

 

 

Laframboise then goes on to list a number of IPCC contributors who are involved with activist organisations, namely Greenpeace, the WWF and the Environmental Defence Fund. But frankly it will prove a very similar exercise to that I went through in chapter 4 and I don’t feel like doing it again. So we’ll skip right to the main point I want to discuss, her quote is below.

 

 

When the public hears the term ‘scientist’ we think of someone who is above the fray – who’s disinterested and dispassionate and who goes wherever the scientific results happen to lead. This implied neutrality is what gives scientists their authority. But in the 1970s a new kind of scientist began to emerge – the activist scientist. Nowadays these people occupy impressive positions at universities. They are often employed by respectable government bodies. All of that disguises the fact that they hold activist worldviews and that those views can influence their scientific judgment.

 

 

This is essentially Laframboise’s entire argument in this chapter, she believes science should be dispassionate and neutral and that since the 70’s it has become increasingly less so. At least here she softens her earlier stance now activist world views only ‘can’ influence science. Before I begin discussing this paragraph I think a definition of an activist is necessary mainly because I suspect that Laframboise means something slightly different than me when she says activist. For the purpose of this discussion I’ll be working with the idea of an activist as an individual who uses their social power to try and create what they see as a positive change for their society. The thing that makes me think Laframboise means something different is the mention of an activist world view, I can’t really figure what that phrase means to her unless she is referring to a person identifying and living as an engaged citizen but I don’t see why you would want to disguise this.

 

 

Anyway on to her actual argument starting at the beginning there is a logical flaw between her first and second sentences. Laframboise argues that scientists should go “wherever the scientific results happen to lead” and that this implies neutrality. Which is clearly not the case, lets say you are a scientist who decides to research climate change you do so and the results of that research convinces you that climate change is a threat to humanity and that we should do something about it. Guess what you are no longer neutral and the second you try to do/say something about climate change you now have an activist world view and you can’t be trusted near science. Of course the same is true if you find that climate change isn’t happening and really we should do less about it, you are now an activist and can’t be trusted near science. Apparently the only people that can be trusted near science are those that are uncertain about what they are talking about. This is also the huge point Laframboise is missing in all her discussions of activist scientists, they are not activists who became scientists to advances their own ideologies using the legitimacy of all the good scientists in the world. They are scientists who looked at the problem and became activists to try and help solve it, it is their logic and rationality that makes them qualified to be scientists that also compels them to act to improve this world.

 

 

Next point the whole activist scientists appearing in the 1970’s story, there have always been activist scientists. There was a down blip during the political repression of the 1950’s which might have given the appearance of the rise of a new type of scientist but Laframboise is simply mistaken in this regard. A few examples, Isaac Newton became a warden of the royal mint and used that position to reform the English economy around a gold standard. Albert Einstein convinced the American government to start building atomic weapons, then spent a lot of the remainder of his life trying to get rid of them, as well as publicly opposing racism and Macarthyism as well as promoting socialism and peace. Niels Bohr helped protect Danish Treasures and was instrumental in helping 7000 Danish Jews to leave Nazi Occupied Denmark. John Snow when he wasn’t trying to prevent cholera was promoting temperance. Benjamin Franklin was an American Revolutionary. I could go on but I keep getting distracted by reading all about the cool activist things people did.

 

 

So lets just finish with the good old 11th thesis on Feuerbach ‘The Philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.’

 

 

7. Climate Modellers

 

 

Well this is the last chapter in Laframboise’s sample, so I’m afraid this will have to be the end of this review. This chapter looks at the methods that are used to predict the future of our planets climate. But first Laframboise explains the scientific method to us.

 

 

The scientific method involves forming an hypothesis, testing that hypothesis in the real world, and then confirming, adjusting, or abandoning the hypothesis according to what the real-world tests reveal.

 

 

Simplistic but near enough.

 

 

But there is no duplicate planet Earth on which experiments may be safely conducted. No one knows, therefore, what will happen if the number of carbon dioxide molecules in the atmosphere increases from 390 to 600 parts per million.

 

 

Well no one can know what happens in the future with absolute certainty, we still make plenty of decisions based upon predictions of the future, particularly if these predictions are based upon observable phenomena and mathematical laws which describe these phenomena. Also we could look at Earth’s pre-history when there were 600ppm of carbon dioxide to have some sort of idea what Earth would be like. But I take her point, we have to ensure that the basis of our predictions are based upon solid observations and updated when new data become available. Or at last I think that is her point because she goes of on an unusual diversion.

 

 

These really are the amounts under discussion. Scientists believe carbon dioxide used to comprise less than 0.03% of the atmosphere – 280 parts per million- prior to the industrial revolution. Currently, at 390 parts per million, it’s approaching 0.04%. Barring emissions reductions, by the year 2100 that number could reach 0.06%. All this fuss is based on a hypothesis that says our planet is so unstable a slight increase in one particular trace gas will trigger disaster

 

 

You could also call it a doubling in concentration of the fourth most common gas in the atmosphere. But I wouldn’t want to cause a fuss.

 

 

Since there’s no way to actually test this hypothesis, some people have adopted an alternative approach. They say that supercomputers programmed with complex mathematical formulas confirm that a bit more CO2(sic) in the atmosphere will be really bad news. In the view of climate modelers, these computer simulations are as good as hard evidence.

 

 

I actually doubt that any climate modeller has said anything like this. I imagine they would say something about how observation of the world and small scale experiments have demonstrated that the concentration of carbon dioxide leads to certain changes in other process. And extrapolating this information into the future makes us suspect bad news is coming, of course we would prefer hard evidence but it is impossible to get hard evidence of what the future will be like until it is too late to do anything about it.

 

 

But this requires a rather large leap of faith. If math and computing power were the only things necessary to predict the future, investors would already know the price at which gold will be trading five, ten, and twenty years hence. But the world is chaotic and unpredictable. It rarely unfolds in the manner that even the smartest people, aided by graphs, charts, and computers, think it will.

 

 

The difference between the climate and the price of gold is that the first is a natural phenomenon while the later is a social phenomena. Gases, chemicals and physical forces all tend to act predictably provided enough information is known. People do not always act predictably hence why people struggle to predict future gold prices, Climate change is a combination of the two, it is predictable natural phenomena based upon unpredictable human behaviour (to overstate the difference between the two). That is why the IPCC proposes numerous scenarios depending upon how humanities carbon emissions change in the future, essentially they account for uncertainty by putting forward a range of possibilities

 

 

Laframboise stays on this point for a while, offering a quote from Freeman Dyson which says near enough to the same thing as above. Pointing out that we can’t prove long term predictions in the short term and that we can’t predict the weather all that well. Then she moves on to a discussion of groupthink in the IPCC.

 

 

This is a recipe for tunnel-vision. It is groupthink waiting to happen.

 

 

The research bodies that fund climate modeling teams don’t appear to have taken any precautions against groupthink. Nor has the IPCC subjected climate models to rigorous evaluation by neutral, disinterested parties. Instead, it recruits the same people who work with these models on a daily basis to write the section of the Climate Bible that passes judgment on them. This is like asking parents to rate their own children’s attractiveness. Do we really expect them to tell us their kids are homely?

 

 

 

As regards to precautions against groupthink the IPCC have tried to prevent this by trying to get people from a variety of backgrounds to work on each chapter, which I note Laframboise disapproves of two chapters earlier. As to the IPCC not subjecting things to neutral, disinterested parties for review I would point out that there is a significant internal review process for all the chapters. Do you all recall the 102 pages of criticism for a 54 page chapter I have linked to for the third time now. For variety here is a 65 page review of AR4, WG 3, chapter 11. In fact the IPCC puts the chapters through three reviews, although I imagine that Laframboise would claim these aren’t neutral or disinterested reviewers. AR5, the iteration of the ‘climate bible’ that will be released shortly had at least 800 experts and 26 governments provide a total of 52,822 comments on the first working groups report so far, that is the third of the total report which deals with the physical science of climate change. It is pretty obvious that this isn’t being rubber stamped by a group of people who are all unwilling to challenge each other. I would further argue that while a few of those experts might be mostly thinking of there own interests I doubt all or even most of them are, and of course governments tend to have different interests than scientists.

 

 

But more importantly who does Laframboise want to work on or review these chapters, climate modellers get this role because they are the experts on climate modelling. Our options are largely limited to climate modellers or people without expertise in climate modelling, who would have to be brought up to speed by the experts anyway. Also Laframboise ignores that there are a variety of competing climate models with different authors. I’ll fix her metaphor for her.

 

 

This is like asking a panel of parents to rate the attractiveness of a group of children including their own. Do we really expect them to tell us their kids are homely?

 

 

Nope but I think they could manage to state a reasonable average level of attractiveness.

 

 

The rest of this chapter is Laframboise listing climate modellers who worked on the IPCC reports and making horrified noises. I’ll skip over all of this bar one paragraph to show a point that Laframboise misses and is kind of important.

 

 

George Boer is considered the architect of Canada’s climate modeling efforts. As an employee of Environment Canada (which also produces weather forecasts), he has spent much of his career attempting to convince the powers-that-be that climate models are a legitimate use of public money. There has been a direct relationship between how persuasive he has been and how many staff he’s been permitted to hire, how much computing power he’s been permitted to purchase, and the amount of professional prestige he has acquired.

 

 

Now I don’t know much about George Boer or the Canadian Government, but I do recognise the problem that Laframboise is serious, it is also prevalent throughout our society. But we usually manage to take it into consideration when making decisions and when it is critical there are steps that can be taken to try to insulate policy making from advice or information producing. But looking at this particular example, why does Boer want more staff and more computing power? Well it is to enable his team to produce better, more accurate predictions – unless he has some sort of computer fetish. The issue of professional prestige is more serious, but considering Boer is probably very bright and seemingly very persuasive he probably would have thought up a more efficient way of gaining prestige than being a climate modeller for Environment Canada. Of course all his vast hoard of computers, staff and prestige is only dependent on the accuracy of his predictions. Despite what Laframboise repeatedly asserts this is actually checked up on, in fact here are two articles doing just, both have Lisa Alexander as a co-author, who while being too young to work on the IPCC report in 2001 has now grown up and so must be a genius.

 

…..

 

Well that is that, I am not paying to review the rest of this book, there are a few appendices left in the free sample but I’m reluctant to criticise them without reading what Laframboise has to say about the information in them.

 

 

However if anyone has a copy and would like to read more than flick it on to me and I’ll give it a go. Or you could suggest other books for me to review I actually enjoyed writing this, not so much reading the book.

Thank you all for reading this far, I hope you all enjoyed it.

 

Part 2 – Review of The Delinquent Teenager who was Mistaken for the Worlds Top Climate Expert: IPCC Expose by Donna Laframboise

This is the second part of the review, the first is here and the third is here

3. The Top Scientists and Best Experts?

Laframboise starts by saying that the past two heads of the IPCC have said repeatedly that the organisation contains the best people for the job. Which in my experience is true of the heads of any organisation. But in this case it is ‘bogus’. This chapter basically an annotated bibliography of deserving people who should have been included in the IPCC but were denied because they don’t think climate change is happening and/or caused by humans while the next is a list of people who were undeservingly included. I will try to cover all of them.

First we meet atmospheric science professor William Gray from Colorado State University who has never been asked for his input despite fifty years as a meteorologist and hurricane and climate prediction. Lets look into this, wiki might be a good place to start …. seems they feel the need to point out his hurricane forecasts are often inaccurate. Oh here is one of his co-authors saying that his climate change related research is never up to scratch but that he is great at making hurricane forecasts. But I mean surely his expertise on hurricane prediction should be enough to include him at least in the extreme weather chapters. But there is a link to his testimony before a US Senate committee that might have something interesting in it. “Short-range prediction is possible up to a week or 10 days into the future…. How can we trust climate forecasts 50 and 100 years into the future (that can’t be verified in our lifetime) when they are not able to make shorter seasonal or yearly forecasts that could be verified?… few have ever given real-world weather briefings or made operational weather forecasts.”

Oh I see what the problem is now, he doesn’t really understand the difference between climate and weather on is based on long term average tendencies while the other is based on a linear progression of events. Climate science can’t predict what will happen tomorrow with any accuracy and meteorology can’t predict what will happen next year with any accuracy. A surprisingly common confusion but one you really should have figured out before you start being a climate change expert.

All right next up is Paul Reiter, who claims that the people that wrote the section about malaria are amateurish in his expert opinion. I’m going to include a wee quote here because the wording will become important very soon.

While a large portion of the health chapter in the 1995 edition dealt with malaria, Reiter points out that “not one of the lead authors had ever written a research paper on the subject!” Only those with limited knowledge of this field, he says, could have produced such “amateurish” work.

For example, the Climate Bible said malaria-transmitting mosquitoes usually don’t survive in areas where winter temperatures drop below 16°C (60°F). Reiter says that’s nonsense. We now associate malaria with tropical locales, but poverty and an absence of health care are important factors. Hawaii, Aruba, and Barbados are all tropical, but malaria isn’t a problem there. On the other hand, in the 1800s thousands died of malaria in North America and Europe – even in Siberia

Finally some hard facts I can check up on, lets look at the 1995 malaria section, well I expected a bit more than a page and a half on malaria it is after all a ‘large portion’ of this 21 page chapter. And this chapter (like all of them) has two types of authors, lead and contributing. Both write parts of the chapter although lead authors contribute more. Well let us look at the lead authors, a google scholar search on all 9 of them demonstrates that none of them have papers on malaria specifically on the first page of their results, although two did write a paper on infectious diseases and climate change which is vaguely relevant to this section. But how about the 11 contributing authors some of them may have written the malaria section? While W.J.M Martens has a fair few on the topic on the first page of his search and R.Sloof has one about disease vector control and R.S. Kovats has one about climate change and disease vectors, both of which probably include mosquitoes . Speaking of which W. K. Reisen is all about mosquitoes and disease. So actually saying that the leading authors don’t have the expertise may be true in a narrow sense but is definitely misleading.

But while I have the report open lets see what it says about malaria….

Although anopheline mosquito species that transmit malaria do not usually survive where the mean winter temperature drops below 16-18°C, some higher-latitude species are able to hibernate in sheltered sites.” p.571 2nd IPCC (1995) WG II

So shall we play spot the differences between Laframboise quote and what the IPCC says? First you have the difference between mean winter temperature dropping below 16oC and the winter temperature dropping below 16oC the word mean is kind of significant in this context. For example I live in Hamilton, NZ the Average August Temperature is 10oC however so far this month the temperature has dropped down to 8oC it got down to 5oC in the last few days of July and is expected to go down to 4oC on the 20th. That is a 6 degree difference which is kind of huge, dropping the word mean is hugely dishonest. But there are more differences the end of that sentence, which Paul Reiter has definitely read, goes on to point out that some mosquitoes can even survive in those conditions by hibernating. So yes Mr Reiter all the mosquitoes dropping dead if the temperature goes below 16oC is nonsense the fucking IPCC even supports your statement.

But there are a few more IPCC quotes you should see before we let Paul Reiter go.

Until recent decades, parts of today’s developed world were malarious. These included the United States, southern Europe, and northern Australia. In the last century, outbreaks of P. Vivax malaria occurred in Scandinavia and North America. Although climate change would increase the potential transmission of malaria in some temperate areas, the existing public-health resources in those countries… would likely make reemergent malaria unlikely.” p.572

Which covers pretty much everything that Paul Reiter implied that the IPCC were amateurish for not knowing. If the statement attributed to Reiter is accurate and not taken out of context than he is a miserable wretch of an academic who should thank every god that has ever been conceived of that he has managed to get a single word published in an academic journal. Whether this is an accurate statement or not Laframbroise is clearly a disgrace of a journalist who despite her two years of research into this topic either never looked at the report she was criticizing or deciding she was just going to mislead her readers about what was in it. Real fucking classy.

One totally deserving scientist left, Nils-Axel Mörner, former head of a geo-dynamics unit at the university of Stockholm. (P.S. Nils-Axel is a cool name and sorry if you do actually turn out to be deserving but I’m in kind of a bad mood and you are in shit company here.) Laframboise claims he told the British House of Lords that

Between 1999 and 2003, genuine sea level experts held five international meetings to discuss the available real-world evidence. They concluded that sea levels are unlikely to increase by more than 10 cm (4 inches) by the year 2100.

But I no longer trust her so I’m going to go and check this out. Wow that doesn’t seem terrible, I mean Laframboise forgets to mention that 1999 to 2003 was the period when Mörner was the President of the INQUA Commission which are the experts cited. He also doesn’t say that seas are unlikely to rise more than 10cm by 2100 he says they are unlikely to rise by more than 10cm plus or minus another 10cm. Which is actually saying sea levels are unlikely to rise by more than 20cm but hey when you have already been as dishonest as Laframboise has been then you might as well lie about the small stuff as well. Remember back at the start when I said Laframboise and I might get along in some settings I mean she is a feminist and supports civil rights, yeah I was wrong.

But back to what Nils-Axel was saying to the Lords, he puts forwards a bunch a graphs which show that the sea level isn’t rising – two of them look a bit odd. There is one which he claim has been ’tilted’ by other scientists to compensate for inferred tide-gauge interpretations. Which when you tilt it back to the raw data shows no increase in sea level. It seems to me like it was probably tilted for a reason but I really don’t know enough to comment on this other than it makes me a bit suspect. The other suspect one is a graph of the sea level of the Maldives which demonstrates a really sharp drop in the 1970’s and since then no change, which makes me wonder why the locals are getting upset because some of them at least can surely remember sea levels being much higher only 4 decades ago. Lets check out these INQUA experts, well they seem legit, although the only thing on their wiki page is them saying climate change is serious and we should do something about it. But what is this down the bottom, Nils-Axel has his very own page. Oh it seems that pretty much as soon as he stopped being their President the INQUA experts publicly denounced his views on climate change, ouch. Oh and that no one has been able to support his findings about the Maldives and that most studies disagree with is whole graph tilting thing. Also he is a fan of dowsing and was elected ‘deceiver of the year’ in 1995.

So to summarise the three people Laframboise uses to demonstrate how the IPCC didn’t pick experts are a weatherman that doesn’t understand what the difference between climate and weather is, a misleading prick and the deceiver of the year (1995). Lets just say I am glad she is not in charge of recruitment or the IPCC.

But one last quote from Laframboise

But they are all IPCC outsiders. This suggests the IPCC defines top scientists and best experts differently than do most of us.

No, they define top scientist and best experts differently than you, not most of us.

4. Twenty-Something Graduate Students

If you hadn’t figured it out by now I’m sure that chapter title gave it away Laframboise really doesn’t like young people. This is her chapter about people who were included in the IPCC reports writing but didn’t deserve to be, compared to the people in the last chapter. Her main argument against them is that they are all to young to be scientists. In her words

Typically these are individuals in their twenties. Their experience of the world is neither broad nor deep. If they were merely performing administrative tasks that would be one thing. But the IPCC has long relied on their expert judgment.

But well lets go through them to see if her arguments against them stack up. First up on the old unfounded character attack train is Richard Klein, in 1992 he finished his Masters, worked for Greenpeace and in 1995 he was an IPCC chapter lead author, age 25. By 28 he was a coordinating lead author of the IPCC and finished his PhD in 2003. That is all the info we have on him, lets do the standard thing google scholar search. Unfortunately Richard Klein is a common scholarly name but assuming he is Richard J.T. Klein he hugely influential, his work has been cited in 7,674 other academic works. Holy Fuck that’s a big number particularly since he hasn’t been writing all that long. Also here is his C.V. Laframboise forgot to mention his second masters, also that stint working for Greenpeace was a three month work placement not that it means anything either way but more on that in a few chapters.

Anyway looking at this guys C.V. It seems fairly obvious in retrospect that he is a smart guy but lets put us in the place of the IPCC recruiters (or whatever) in 1995 what does his C.V. tell us about his qualifications at that time in his life. Well we might actually know him because it was his job to liaise with us and other international science organisations on behalf of VU University in Amsterdam, he was also Research Associate and on secondment to the National Institute for Coastal and Marine Management. Which all sounds well but he is going to be one of 11 lead authors on the chapter on coastal zones and small islands, for which there is also a coordinating lead author and 19 contributing authors to support him on this chapter. Actually he does have a lot of support and supervision for this job and he has risen very far very quickly in the Dutch scientific community, I’d give him a go. A bit subjective but it doesn’t seem anywhere near as abhorrent as Laframboise makes it out to be.

Next we have Laurens Bouwer was was an IPCC lead author in 1999 while he only completed his masters in 2001, a masters in climate change and water resources although he worked on the insurance chapter of the IPCC report, you should all be horrified right now. But wait theres more, he was working for MunichRE and insurance company at the time, as a trainee.

Well lets do some research, google scholar says he isn’t quite as awesome as Richard Klein up above but Bouwer still does manage 710 citations which it is only three years since he got his PhD. Also one of his areas of expertise is Risk Assessment, sort of relevant to his work on the insurance chapter. Unfortunately no proper C.V. Is forthcoming but here is his bio and it really seems like his career was only just taking off in 1999 when he started working on the third IPCC report. So given the information at hand it does seem a little surprising that he ended up working on this report, however he was probably actually chosen by MunichRE as they are the experts in reinsurance and them putting forward one of their trainees in geoscience department was probably a big confidence boost for the IPCC in allowing this man to take part.

Now we have an Australian women, Lisa Alexander the only information provided about her is that she worked on the 3rd and 4th iterations of the IPCC report while getting her Ph.D in 2010. She doesn’t seem to have an authors page like the previous two but the list of publications is impressive going back to at least 2000. Also her bio makes it clear that even in 1999 when she was selected to be on the IPCC for the first time she was experienced, in fact I get the distinct impression that she only got around to getting her Ph.D in 2009 because there was a bit of a lull in all the research she was doing on climate change. She got a BSc in ’95 a MSc in ’98 when she was also working at the Met Office Hadley in the climate variability group. Which is still a decent four years research on climate change, assuming she didn’t do anything relevant during her bachelors. She spent the next decade continuing working for Met Office Hadley then the Australian Bureau of Meterology while leading The Expert Team on Climate Change Detection and Indices regional capacity building teams in Jamaica, Morocco, Turkey, Vietnam and Indonesia, hopefully not all at once. She is currently a senior researcher at the University of New South Wales and chairs the World Meterological Organisation Commission for Climatology Expert Team on Climate Risk and Sector Specific Indices. Seems to me like Laframboise left out a few relevant details.

We have two more to go Sari Kovats and Jonathan Patz they were both contributing authors on the health chapter that Paul Reiter criticised in the previous chapter of LaFramboise’s book. In fact Kovats was one of the authors who has done research relevant to the topic that Reiter implied no one knew anything about. But Kovats’ crime was not getting her Ph.D until 2010 while Patz completed his Masters in ’92. You all know that both of these people are going to turn out to be very competent, but I still feel like I should show you some links then point out one very pertinent fact. For Kovats we have her google scholar page and a bio, and the same for Patz (google, and bio) probably should point out that was his second masters in 1992 and he actually got his first in 1987

The important fact to consider about these two is that Kovats actually was a co-author of one of the first books on climate change and human health. This book was published in 1994, the reason that this chapter of the IPCC had young people as experts was because it was a very new field of study.

If you are getting the impression that it I’m feeling a bit depressed by now you would be correct, firstly because I don’t like seeing these people who are clearly good at what the do being misrepresented by a person who is clearly bad at what she does. Secondly because she doesn’t seem to understand that often for an academic when they complete their Ph.D is often when they are at the top of their game academically, it is a period where they are supposed to be immersing themselves in their field of study with the object of becoming the world expert in that topic. They aren’t supposed to be worrying about teaching other people, disseminating what they learn or reviewing their peers just entirely on learning everything there is to know about something It isn’t an opportunity most people get very often. Third thing that has made me sad about this is that underneath this whole chapter is a belief that young people can’t know things and are generally intellectually useless. So I’m just going to drop a few names and ages here, Isaac Newton, discovered the binomial formula and started working on inventing calculus, age 22. Johannes Kepler, published the first book describing the motion of the planets mathematically, age 24. Rene Descartes, develops the philosophical basis of modern science while a soldier in the Dutch Army, age 23. Ernst Rutherford, co-discovered the electron, age 26. Albert Einstein, Special Relativity, Brownian Motion and E=MC2, all the same year, he was 26. On their behalf and for all the other young people in the world, go fuck yourself Donna Laframboise, I would expect a self described feminist to know better than to judge someone based purely on their age, although I’m guessing she is old and intersectionality wasn’t really a thing when she was being ‘progressive’. Notice how aged based stereotypes of stupidity work both ways, that one of many reasons why they are so idiotic.

Wow this book is an emotional roller-coaster. Read how it ends here

Review of The Delinquent Teenager who was mistaken for the worlds top climate expert: IPCC expose by Donna Laframboise

delinquent_teen_150x200This is a book about climate change denial and the alleged corruption of the IPCC. A friend of mine was recently told she should read this book ‘and do your own research’. Well I decided that I too would read the book and do some research which I will now share with you. I have been watching some Steve Shives videos lately and will actually try and replicate his method in dealing with this book which I hope you all will find as entertaining or useful as I do.

Unfortunately my first research failure was being unable to find a free copy of this book, but I did discover a sample copy of the first seven chapters and at the moment that is all I’m inclined to read based on those chapters I don’t think the final 29 are actually worth US$5, but if someone can find me a free copy to review I’ll continue. This review will be spread over the next month, I’ll be publishing two chapters a week since although the chapters are short I find a lot to comment on in each chapter

Before I get in to the actual content of the book I’ll say a little about the author (the sample includes a slightly more than two page bio) Donna Laframboise was a journalist who became interested in climate change in 2009 leading to her writing this book which was released in 2011. She claims that her research covered all sides of the climate change debate although the Blog Post she links to support the claim contains references to 41 books not one of which is taking a mainstream approach to climate change. Though to be fair this post is from 2011 so it may represent her final position rather than starting position, and yes she does admit to being a climate skeptic. The rest of her bio is her discussing how politicians and green activists are trying to silence people like her by saying things like the debate is over or saying nasty things about climate skeptics. A few final points which may be of relevance is that Laframbroise has a degree in Women’s Studies, was Vice-President of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and is a self described feminist, so other than climate change I suspect her and I might have a fairly similar world-view.

But on to the actual argument of the book.

1 – A Closer Look at the Worlds Leading Climate Body.

This chapter starts with a terrible metaphor which you quickly realise is where the title of the book comes from and is likely to be carried on throughout the book.

This book is about a spoiled child. Year after year, this child has been admired, flattered, and praised. There has been no end of self-esteem-building in his life. What there has been little of, though, is honest feedback or constructive criticism.

This goes on for almost a page but I’m sure the bit you have all realised is that the spoiled child is the IPCC. I will make one little comment her claim that the spoiled child (IPCC) has received little constructive criticism, even if we ignore all the climate skeptic writing because it isn’t constructive criticism the IPCC still receives a lot of constructive criticism. Here is 102 pages of constructive criticism on the first draft of Working Group III Chapter 12 of IPCC AR4(2007) Sustainable Development and Mitigation. I’ll jump along to the next part of this analogy which

Notice that the word intergovernmental is part of its name. This means that every country that chooses to send delegates to infrequent meetings is a godparent of the IPCC. Any child with over 100 godparents is bound to be spoiled. Even when he torments small animals there will always be those who think he can do no wrong.

Which means that disciplining this child is next to impossible.

This may be the point where the metaphor becomes obviously useless, frankly I think any simple metaphor would fail to accurately describe the IPCC. But the whole UN as parents – the collected governments of the world as godparents – IPCC as child thing is kind of ludicrous. But going along with it for a bit, the kid has 100 godparents who are responsible for disciplining him(didn’t you know the IPCC was a boy) some of those will think he is great despite his animal torture habits (by the way – seriously?) but surely some of them will also think he is an absolute arse and animal torture simply confirms what they have always known and the majority of the god parents probably make their decisions on a case by case basis. I don’t really see how disciplining this child is next to impossible unless the godparents operate by absolute consensus decision making processes. But I fear we are drifting to far away from the main topic of discussion.

Having morphed into an obnoxious adolescent, the IPCC is now everyone’s problem. This is because it performs one of the most important jobs in the world. Its purpose is to survey the scientific literature regarding climate change, to decide what it all means, and to write an ongoing series of reports. These reports are informally known as the Climate Bible.

Ack…. Climate Bible, I do not recall ever having heard anybody refer to the IPCC report as that before and it seems very misleading considering that there are significant methodological differences between the IPCC reports and the Bible, not the least of which is that the IPCC is updated every few years to adapt to developing information while the bible is not.

But thankfully we have made it to the end of that drawn out metaphor, lets get some serious discussion going.

(two paragraphs later)

What most of us don’t know is that, rather than being written by a meticulous, upstanding professional in business attire, this report was produced by a slapdash, slovenly teenager who has trouble distinguishing right from wrong.

For now, let us consider just one example. In the grown-up world, whenever important decisions and large amounts of money are involved conflict-of-interest mechanisms are firmly in place.

Deer god it’s not going to end. Also the IPCC has trouble distinguishing right from wrong? It is largely written by academics, that is kind of what they get paid to do, at least in a narrow field of expertise. Also look at that sentence immediately before the slovenly teenager, since when has dressing nice made a person better at distinguishing right from wrong? But lets carry on we must be almost getting to the core of this argument.

Actually, no the chapter has three more sentences all stating the same point as that last one, that conflict-of-interest mechanisms are not in place at the IPCC.

So I’m guessing that chapter could better be called Introduction: An extended but terrible metaphor for the IPCC. Hopefully Chapter 2 actually gets to the point possibly addressing those conflict of interest accusations that she ended Chapter 1 on.

Chapter 2 – Showered with Praise

That title makes me nervous, there may be more metaphor coming. Well lets get reading..

The IPCC has lounged, for more than two decades, in a large comfy chair atop a pedestal.

Oh no its back! but I exaggerate except for a little analogy at the end that sentence that is it for this chapter.

Actually the chapter begins by describing the sort of nice things that people say about the IPCC focusing first on journalists and then the Nobel prize chairman when the IPCC won the Peace Prize in 2007. I actually didn’t know they were awarded that so congratulations IPCC sorry it’s a bit belated. But her description ends on an ominous note.

If you know a bit about history, though, that Nobel speech may have left you uneasy. This is how it ended: “Action is needed now. Climate changes are already moving beyond human control.”

Scary… back in 2007 people already thought climate change was almost beyond control and here we are six years later and little improvement has been made, I am uneasy. But wait why is history important?

Let us be sensible for a moment. Planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old. During that time it has endured all sorts of perfectly natural climate transformations. As recently as 20,000 years ago 97% of Canada was covered by ice.

Oh so you actually meant prehistory but okay lets go with it.

That ice melted and retreated and the Ice Age ended all on its own. The Egyptian pharaohs, remember, only came into the picture 5,000 years ago, while the Romans ruled 2,000 years ago. To suggest that the climate has ever been within human control is surely a bit silly.

Here is a graph it shows temperature, carbon dioxide and dust concentration changes over the past 400,000 years, that is twice as long as modern humans have existed. You see climate and carbon dioxide changes in a fairly regular pattern, regular because it is caused by factors like precession, orbital eccentricity and planetary tilt. So lets say that this graph represents the current normal state of the earth’s climate, now look at the far left of the graph that represents the modern day, we seen to be at the top of one of those temperature spikes, at the high end of the natural temperature range, in fact based on current climate change projections of an increase of 2oC by 2100 we would be up at the highest point in the natural temperature range of the past 400,000 years. Also note that naturally carbon dioxide doesn’t get above 300ppm currently it is at 397.23ppm and the nature of the relationship between the two has changed from what this graph shows and the modern era. This chart clearly shows carbon dioxide lagging temperature changes by a few centuries. Currently carbon dioxide is leading temperature changes slightly as seen in this Graph, ignore the vertical scale as ppm and oF can’t really be directly compared, but we can see that over the past few hundred years that carbon dioxide began increasing before temperature. Clearly the current climate change is different to the pre- historical climate change.

But yes suggesting that we have been in control of the climate is a bit silly, I mean too many people believe we aren’t even changing the climate so suggesting that the climate was ever in human control is unlikely, at least deliberately. But of course that isn’t what the Nobel Chairman was saying they were saying it is beyond our control which isn’t to say we ever controlled the climate simply that we are losing the option of controlling it.

Moving on Laframboise says the famous Mark Twain quote about how most people get their information second hand and don’t actually know what they are talking about. And of course she is quick to point out that this applies to environmentalists.

But it also applies to most climate deniers, so….

Twain was talking about religion and politics when he made the above remarks and, for some people, environmentalism has become a substitute religion. It is their worldview, the lens through which they interpret everything.

First I was going to point out all the people that have both a religious and environmentalist belief pointing out that for those people at least one is not a substitute for the other. Then I realised that when she says ‘substitute religion’ she actually means what I would call an ideology and yes some people do interpret everything through a sustainability or environmentalist framework. Although I do still feel that her manner of expressing this is written in such a way as to imply that environmentalists are all atheists or agnostics, which is clearly untrue and I suspect has more to do with the low esteem these last two groups have in North America. Continuing…

Moreover, because the IPCC is a child of the United Nations – the stage on which so many of the world’s power blocs jostle with one another – whether we like it or not the IPCC is also mixed up with politics.

Yeah that is why every year all the countries send representatives to those COP summits so that they can ignore the IPCC in person, damn politics.

The next few chapters describe how over the past fifty years ‘our children’ have basically been brainwashed into thinking the planet is on the brink of ecological collapse and that because of this no one has given the IPCC the scrutiny it deserves by anyone from heads of state to concerned parents. Odd thing is the worlds heads of state have a terrible habit of being more than half a century old so would have grown up in a world only slightly touched by this brainwashing. Which may explain why they refuse to do anything about climate change.

Also the conflict of interest line is mentioned again and I note Laframboise still hasn’t explained it. But it still doesn’t get explained in this chapter the rest of it is taken up by the final analogy…

Closer examination reveals that many of the things we’ve been told about the IPCC are mistaken. For instance, a great deal of noise is made about the allegedly rigorous manner in which its reports get written. The implication is that the IPCC has procedures and that these procedures are followed diligently.

But while the IPCC has taken the time to write down some rules of the road, it has never hired any traffic cops. Since many people exceed the speed limit when police officers are plentiful, what do we suppose happens when they’re entirely absent? In the real world, when undisciplined youngsters slide behind the wheel of a fast car, how many of them can be counted on to behave?

Firstly stop ending your chapters with random statements abut the IPCC that you don’t provide any argument for now I have to wait to find out how the IPCC are ignoring conflicts of interests and how they are breaking the procedures that they developed.

But lets discuss analogy. Police are entirely absent? Where is that 102 pages of criticism about a 54 page chapter in the 2007 IPCC report. Blah.. Blah… Blah undisciplined youngsters? Seems like an odd description for academics but you have your metaphor thing. Last point – the IPCC as a fast car? Just no.

Here I’ll fix it for you.

Since many people exceed the speed limit when police officers are plentiful, what do we suppose happens when police outnumber motorists almost two to one? In the real world, when middle aged people who have spent their lives learning in an increasingly self directed manner slide behind the wheel of a infuriatingly slow car, how many of them can be counted on to behave?

I think most of them would behave.

This review continues here

Hamilton City Council Representation Review

Below is the body of my submission to the Hamilton City Council’s Representation Review. As some of you may be aware the council recently proposed to change the local government elections from the current two wards and 12 councillors to a single city wide ward with ten councillors. I argue that this proposal will take us in the wrong direction. If you would like to have your say on how council should be elected then you have until Monday on the City Council Website.

Main Recommendations.

I would like the Hamilton City Council to adopt option 4 as presented in the discussion paper of the Representation Arrangements Review. This is the option with 4 wards, 12 councillors and no community boards. I strongly support an increase in the number of wards from the status quo and strongly oppose moving to a city wide voting system.

Discussion

The purpose of the council elections is to ensure that the city council represents the full range of Hamilton city residents, that the council is competent and of a quality that the city deserves and that the council can function effectively. These are the qualities that my submission and recommendations seek to promote in this city.

I believe that the best way of ensuring that the council meets these conditions is to design a voting system that will in time lead to an increased voter turnout and a higher quality of voter decision making. I have assumed that the current FPP/bloc voting system will be retained after next years referendum. If the voters of Hamilton decide to change to STV then some of my recommendations will need to be reconsidered.

Ward System

The purpose of the ward system is to allow the representation of multiple communities of interest on the city council. This is particularly important considering that our city currently uses bloc voting, a multi member version of first past the post. This means that a single, ticket, party or faction can easily gain all the seats offered in a ward. This is often seen in the WEL Energy Trust elections where a single ticket is often returned winning all the seats offered.

This phenomenon is dangerous as it potentially allows a small segment of the cities’ population to capture the city council and ignore the interests of the rest of the citizens of the city. Having two or more wards allow multiple communities of interest to be represented, simply because a different bloc may win each ward. Wards do not prevent a single bloc from winning all the seats in the city but they increase the chances that there will be multiple blocs compared to a single city wide ward.

Having multiple wards also enables electors to make higher quality decisions regarding candidates. To take a hypothetical but realistic example, say an east ward voter in the last election only had two hours of spare time during the 2010 election campaign to compare the various candidates. There were 6 Mayoral candidates and 18 Council Candidates meaning that the voter could only spend on average 5 minutes researching the various candidates before deciding which ones represented them the best. If the city had been a single ward then there would have been 39 Council candidates to evaluate, giving less than 3 minutes per candidate.

In this situation it is much more difficult for the individual voter to make an informed decision about the quality of the candidates and who amongst them will best represent their interests. Correspondingly the increased difficulty associated with making an informed decision will make even fewer people inclined to vote and further lower the abysmal Hamilton City Council elections turnout. This is why I oppose moving to a city wide ward system.

Increasing the number of wards would likewise make it easier for a voter to make an informed decision, allowing voters to select a council that is more representative of the voters and increasing the turn out. Research looking at 30 countries has found that smaller ward sizes do have a significant impact in increasing voter turnout.1

A mix of ward and city wide councillors would be an interesting compromise solution but I fear will not make much difference to the council. I suspect that more often than not the East Ward will return one bloc, the West ward another and the city wide votes will return one or the other of these blocs, adding very little to the council’s representativeness. On the other hand it is possible for blocs which do not have plurality support in either of the two wards to have a plurality of the city at large meaning that this system could theoretically lead to 3 blocs represented in council. I suspect that most often it will be one or two however.

Community Boards

Community boards would be an effective means of allowing communities to explore and develop their own distinct identity separate from that of the city as a whole, however they are an additional cost in both time and money and I believe are unnecessary expense at the moment. However this is not a point that I feel strongly about.

Number of Councillors

There are two factors that need to be considered when determining the number of councillors. The first is the adequacy of representation and the second is the effectiveness of council. Both goals are important and sometimes a balance between the two is necessary, as a general rule smaller groups reach decisions quicker than larger ones, but larger ones can represent more parts of the community and bring more information to the decisions that are made.

Looking at the current council I do not think that we have effectively represented many of Hamilton’s communities of interest. Moving to a city-wide ward would make it even less likely that many communities will be represented on council and therefore I can not support a reduction in the number of councillors while moving to a city wide ward. I believe that the number of wards will prove to be the main determinant of effective representation on council and that if the number of wards were increased it would be possible to decrease the size of council while maintaining or enhancing the current level of effective representation.

With regards to the effectiveness of council it should be realised that the best size for a subcommittee is 3 to 6 people. Council currently having four subcommittees this means that with either 10 or 12 councillors the subcommittees should be able to work effectively and the individual councillors should remain effective. However with 12,000 voters per councillor the Hamilton City Council is already at the upper limit of representation in a study of European Constituencies.2

1Pippa Norris, Electoral Engineering: Voting Rules and Political Behavior (Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 162–176.

2Kingsley Purdam and others, ‘How Many Elected Representatives Does Local Government Need? A Review of the Evidence from Europe’, CCSR Working Paper, 2008 <www.ccsr.ac.uk/publications/working/2008-06.pdf>.

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Student Allowance Changes

This one appeared in Issue 9 of Nexus this year, from this point on most of what I write are of about this length.

The government has announced that it will make life tougher for all of us who live on a student allowance. The parental income threshold will be fixed over the next four years, meaning that in effect less people will be able to access the allowance. Meanwhile the government will be ensuring that people only have access to the allowance for a short time, in the words of the Minister, Steven Joyce “In practice this means removing access for masters and PhD students and for long courses beyond the first 200 weeks of study”

This may prevent some people from coming to university, most people do not like having to borrow money to live and unfortunately people who come from the least financially secure background will be the least likely to risk the debt.

But since we are talking about debt, this proposal will make debt worse for both the government and current and future students of New Zealand. Joyce is adamant that the money saved from not paying out the student allowance will be spent on more teaching and research. Which means that the extra money people take out on their student loans will have to come from government borrowing in the present, and the students will have to pay this extra money back in the future.

Which by the way the government is making a bit more difficult for graduates, they are raising the repayment rate from 10% to 12%. In effect this is like a 2% tax increase for people with a university education, which is a bit second rate considering the government just finished giving a 6% tax cut for the highest earners in our country.

Of course the government’s justification for this policy is that we are in too much debt at the moment, which not only shows you that they haven’t thought this policy through; but also that they are really just trying to put the costs of the tax cuts they handed out onto the poorer members of society.

So well done National, you have managed to develop a policy to make the government more indebted, while piling more debt onto the private citizens of New Zealand and reducing access to education. I’m not sure, but you must be either an evil genius or truly stupid.

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