Treating the communications spending of the council and its various entities solely as something to be limited as far as possible doesn't make a lot of sense either.
Unless you are a lazy hack like the Herald's Orsman who laps up press releases from the Auckland branch of the Act-aligned Taxpayers Onion - for whom no amount of public spending is ever low enough, no matter its benefits. Wilson's fisking of Orsman's latest rubbish shows what real journalism looks like.
Thanks Russell. This seems to be a not uncommon problem with CCOs. Auckland Transport appears to spend a lot of money on uniformative flyers telling us all about what they plan and implying a consultative process. But the reality is otherwise IMO. More typical of their attitude is the appalling electronic sign on Surrey Crescent, encouraging us to support local business, while notifying us of the road works along Richmond Road which have not only made the shops there very difficult to get to by those of us who need vehicle access, but also fail to mention that most of the parking adjacent to these shops is being removed by the works and no alternate is provided. Thanks guys. I could go on...
It's really hard communicating, even between two people who know each other.
As I've pointed out elsewhere, Council (and I mean Council whanau) communications fall into two main areas;
- the statutory, legal stuff. Rates. Meetings. Bylaws. Submissions, Civil Defense etc.
- the non-statutory stuff. Events. Heritage items. 'Did you know' columns, facts about council operations, parks etc.
Council does the statutory stuff really well, because it's law.
The non-statutory - broken water mains - not so well. Perhaps we need to think of what kinds of important stuff needs to be moved to the statutory area so that it is done well?
The non-statutory – broken water mains – not so well. Perhaps we need to think of what kinds of important stuff needs to be moved to the statutory area so that it is done well?
The comparison I make is with Vector, whose website has a brilliant widget showing exactly where system failures are and roughly the affected area. Even simply having someone on deck to publish info about outages and estimated fix times would be useful.
And having the plan for a long-term fix being treated like a "I didn't tell you this" secret is just weird. I mean, this is happening every couple of weeks. We should be able to know.
what kinds of important stuff needs to be moved to the statutory area so that it is done well?
Ensuring communication is delivered in a form and via channels that reach all the relevant citizens and stakeholders in ways they can act on would be a good requirement - especially where people's options are limited.
Measuring communication results is important for that, as is knowing (and caring) about the communication needs of different groups and communities.
If you don't tell anyone what you are doing then they can't criticize you for failing. That's what Orsman and co fail to realise - sure they didn't spend (waste) money on communication but the consequence is that you have no way of know where they did waste money.
But it's a symptom of a larger failure in these organisations and that is they don't believe they work for us. Every dollar in those organisations comes from the people in the communities. It's not just that we aren't being treated like valued customers, it's that we aren't being treated like owners.
My guess is - the reason is the size of the backlog. If they had a comprehensive website/app regarding fault and maintenance schedules across the city for both water and sewerage systems - the amount of information imparted in that reporting might scare the horses, so to speak.
Which could spark a lot more PR work/headaches for them as neighbourhood groups banded together to lobby for their local project to get priority over others.
I saw this sort of situation unfold in Kapiti where stormwater infrastructure and works were concerned. After uncovering (via OIA) a number of (not previously made public) consultancy reports - some of the worst affected residents became aware of the magnitude of the problems across the whole district - not just in their own neighbourhood.
The council's plan was to fix all the known surface flooding problems within 10 years (at the then current capital budget levels) - and the consultancy reports suggested that in certain areas new development should cease, or the frequency and extent of ponding/surface flooding in existing neighbourhoods would increase considerably.
The council ended up with a bit of a PR nightmare... they still haven't got on top of the upgrade and replacement requirements and some roads and properties still flood regularly during significant rainfall events.
I would not be entirely surprised to see things happen now that Watercare has discovered that the affected residents include our new Prime Minister.
LOL. In the Kapiti case (back in 2005), it was a local reporter for the Kapiti Observer who did the OIA requests that uncovered the very useful consultancy reports. He is now the Mayor - and he's on record about how utterly unaffordable the necessary upgrades and replacements for their ailing and aging stormwater systems are.
Yet, the new development rolls on!
And just as an added aside – another report uncovered at the time was one on the potential future impacts of climate change (and the projected increase in rainfall patterns and intensity) – which of course, just amplified the problems in the future.
To ‘manage’ this – the council did a 20-year long-term plan (instead of the mandated 10 year one), so that it could project this future budget expenditure to deal with CC, 20 years out :-)… (in short, look like you are doing something when in fact you're not) which is, roughly – now.
Getting back to the leaky pipe problem. Could I suggest Russell pray for AT to repave his footpath! Stay with me.. Early last year, AT announced it was about to replace the bitumen paving in my Ponsonby St with concrete. For the previous five years, the old asbestos water main at my gate had burst through the pavement on an annual basis. I messaged both AT and Watercare suggesting a new water pipe first, might be the sensible solution. They both agreed. From the lack of wholesale digging, I suspect they slid a plastic sleeve along inside the old pipe.
I think that a lot of their systems are so poor that even if they have Comms staff, the ability for anybody to find out what is going on is very limited. In my recent scrap with AT over yellow lines outside my house I was given 3 bits of completely wrong information in the space of 2 emails. After a bit of pushback, the positions on all 3 things were completely reversed. The AT staff member did not even seem to have access to information which would tell them whether or not a particular bit of road marking had been done by an AT contractor. First, they told me it had not, and when I responded that I found it unlikely that 3 days after I lodged a request for the yellow lines to be repainted, some random person with all the equipment just turned up and did it, they backtracked and admitted that yes, they had done it. Garbage in will give you garbage out.
Related - via some recent work activity, I meet someone working on a project at Auckland Council. It has an easily attributable public benefit and some political coverage. It is about to have its public release, planned with mayoral attendance and media coverage. My acquaintance outlined the many, many PR and marketing layers he has had to jump through - different PR people in mayoral office and Council executive office, actual Council PR team, the PR team of the department where the launch event is to be held, and the PR team of CCO with an interest in the project. There was no central coordination of all this - it was up to him to manage.
The focus seemed to be less about actual communication, and more about risk mitigation and protection of the interests of the various entities.
The focus seemed to be less about actual communication, and more about risk mitigation
See also the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers with their tribe of assorted shills and hacks all ready to leap into action every time they discover a new way to label something as government waste.
It is almost a cliche example of the best outcome being nothing, but the worst being really horrible, so it's no surprise many local government staff try to minimise public exposure. In a way the weird part is just how much outreach councils actually do.
The reason for the delay in replacing the water main in Moa Rd is that they’re having trouble sourcing the 4.5million orange cones required to line the road for 6 months during the works
they're having trouble sourcing the 4.5million orange cones required to line the road for 6 months during the works
There's quite a few in the Avon River and just lying around in Chchch they could have...
Maybe we should start calling them 'Road Trumpets' ....
Mock Orange? Tick!;
Pointy headed? Tick!;
Usually obstructing progress? Tick!;
Man, I really hate it when an organisation is addressed in a public forum about a public matter, and then tries to weasel their way into a private communication (where, of course, it's easier to bullshit a single person with a whole lot of nothing statements).
Good on that person for shutting that down.
It's not a private matter like "why have you sent debt collectors around about my rates bill", FFS.
Our local council tried this with one bike infrastructure scam and got really snotty with one person who repeated their "confidential" comments on failbook. They never agreed to keep anything confidential, and in fact were never asked... just told after the meeting started.
So when they emailed me I said "I'd be happy to record an interview with whoever you like and put it on utube so everyone can see it" and got a very garbled response that seemed to mean "that's not what we are trying to do". Yeah, I know, and now you know that I know.
That said, in general I've had very good dealings with our council and other local government. It's only when they can't help me that things get, well, unhelpful :)
I'm sorry folks, but how about we turn just a bit of this righteous ire into the nearest mirror.
Because if you voted for a Councillor, local board member or Mayor who swore blind they'd "keep rates rises under control" then got strategically vague about how the fuck that was going to happen?
Congratulations, you voted for all the failing infrastructure you've got with much more to come.
I'm not sorry if that sounds harsh - and it's totally fair to say it's not helped by media outlets like The Herald that were more interested in slut-shaming Len Brown out of office that any serious, sustained reporting on infrastructure underfunding in Auckland.
But I think the quality of the comms is going to be spectacularly beside the point if the water coming out of Auckland's taps starts making people sick -- in no small part due to sub-standard monitoring and plant maintenance. Think that can't happen here? The residents of Havelock North might beg to differ.
Man, I really hate it when an organisation is addressed in a public forum about a public matter, and then tries to weasel their way into a private communication (where, of course, it’s easier to bullshit a single person with a whole lot of nothing statements).
Good on that person for shutting that down.
It does seem to be a conscious practice.
Perhaps because it wasn’t a public transport initiative, the multi-million-dollar bungle with the “dead” lane on the St Lukes interchange never seems to have registered as a headline.
Somewhat bemused at this one. From what I can tell the lane on the bridge is closed because they couldn't bowl the 6 trees. The off ramp from the motorway on that side was also bungled which is probably a contributing factor.
Why can't it be used as a cycle lane at least?