Council Jargon

Along with the announcement ofa big loss, the council has spelled out for us what they are going to be doing.  You’d go a long way to find a bigger load of crap than this:

Embed customer-centric design into our services & processes

Increase the level of self service for our customers

React with more agility to the needs of the customer

Establish differentiated offerings to customer segments

Optimise the use of contact centre resources

Optimise the distribution of face-to-face service points

Deliver effective, consistent, streamlined services and achieve scale efficiencies through the implementation of process centres

Optimise outcomes from commercial activities

Redesign activities to better account for variable work volumes

Review the delivery model for non-core services

Adopt a ‘place-making’ mind-set and practices

Improve our capability to deliver advice and support to Elected Representatives

Implement operating model principles

Improve the effectiveness of resource and capital deployment

Improve the quality of management information and insight

Rationalise and consolidate the vast range of IT services and applications

Improve the IS capability to deliver a world-class IS function

Open appropriate data to drive open innovation

Establish high performance foundations

Embed high performance practices throughout the organisation

Sustain high performance through talent and succession management

Extend performance through innovative programmes

Attract the best talent to build a high performing organisation

Streamline bureaucracy within the organisation

Rest of Article

And the comments there are pretty funny too.

 

This is Interesting…

SFO serves warrants on Hawkins construction giant

NBR staff | Friday August 31, 2012

The Serious Fraud Office served search warrants on construction industry giant Hawkins today at one of its  major redevelopments in Auckland’s CBD.

Hawkins is working on a $46 million Hobson St Substation redevelopment, on behalf of Transpower and Vector.

The SFO has confirmed it went on site and served search warrants this morning. But it won’t release further details about the nature of its investigation yet.

It was reported workers were sent home as work at the redevelopment was shut down.

Source

I wonder what on earth this is about.  Does anyone know?

The News Ads Guys are Going to Jail!

Remember the Capital + Merchant ads during the 6 o’clock news on TV1?

Such a sound, reputable company….. NOT!

Well they’ve got their comeuppance at least:

Capital + Merchant directors jailed

By Hamish Fletcher

4:39 PM Friday Aug 31, 2012
(L to R) Capital and Merchant Finance director Wayne Douglas, director Neal Nicholls and former CEO Owen Tallentire in the dock at Auckland High Court this morning. Photo / Sarah Ivey

(L to R) Capital and Merchant Finance director Wayne Douglas, director Neal Nicholls and former CEO Owen Tallentire in the dock at Auckland High Court this morning. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Two former Capital + Merchant Finance directors have been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, and another director has been sentenced to five years in jail.

Wayne Leslie Douglas, Neal Medhurst Nicholls and Owen Francis Tallentire faced numerous Crimes Act charges arising out of the affairs and demise of Capital + Merchant (C+M) and in July were found guilty on charges for theft by a person in a special relationship.

The Serious Fraud Office, which brought the case, said the accused knowingly used investor funds in ways that breached Capital + Merchant’s trust deed and dubbed the matter one of the most important commercial theft case in recent years.

Douglas, Nicholls and Tallentire jointly faced three charges over three different loans C+M advanced between 2004 and 2006 totalling almost $20 million.

Douglas and Nicholls were found guilty on all three counts in July, while Tallentire was found guilty on two and acquitted of the other.

Justice Ed Wylie this afternoon sentenced Nicholls and Douglas to a total of seven years and a half years in prison and Tallentire to five.

Rest of Article

So seven and half years for two of them and five years for one of them.  That’s actually pretty long for this sort of thing.  Normally they get off with a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket.

People like Mark Bryers who did way worse stuff than this, in my opinion basically got a few hours of community service.  So good to see these sorts put away for a decent stretch.

Residential Lending

The banks in NZ are keen on lending on residential property again.  Just check this out:

Westpac offers house search tool

By Anne Gibson

5:30 AM Thursday Aug 30, 2012
Photo / Thinkstock

Photo / Thinkstock

Westpac has spent $1 million-plus developing a new online pitch for more of the house mortgage market.

Cullum Wilson, the bank’s strategy productivity and innovation general manager, said he hoped more customers would flow from HomeClub – a one-stop-shop search tool for buyers.

“We spent north of $1 million, a lot of that building the application and the interface and linkages to Google, Trade Me and QV,” Wilson said.

The bank, which has one in five house mortgages, has been working on the product for 18 months and is offering free but limited links to Quotable Value valuations.

Rest of Article

So Westpac is obviously very keen on getting people signed up on residential mortgages once again.  Actually they have been for a while.  Offering 95% loans and such.

But this is a fairly big new step in that direction.

And here’s why:

Mortgages are proving huge earners for banks: the country’s biggest, ANZ New Zealand, may pay its Australian parent up to $1 billion in dividends in its current financial year, the biggest windfall since 2009.

Yep, they make shedloads of money out of this, and it’s pretty low risk, if the borrower can’t pay, you have their house to take…

I just had a play around with the app, on my iPad, it’s pretty good actually.  I can see all the houses for sale in my area, go through the photos of them, contact the agents if I wish, etc.

The Elephant in the Room

Some time ago, I became aware of the threat of global inflation.  This article in the Herald reminded me of it:

Expert warns of global inflation

By Brian Fallow

5:30 AM Thursday Aug 30, 2012
Warwick McKibbin. Photo / Supplied

Warwick McKibbin. Photo / Supplied

Serious global inflation, which is not a problem at the moment, could become so within a few years, warns leading Australian economist Warwick McKibbin.

Rest of Article

 

And this is what will happen I reckon.  Why? Well because pretty much all westernised countries have huge debts.  And it’s going to take years and years for those debts to be paid down.  Meanwhile these economies will just kind of ‘put put’ along – they can’t grow quickly with so much money going to paying down debt.

And that’s all pretty stink! Who wants to live in a country where there’s like austerity for like ages?  No one.  Everyone wants to live in a country where there’s heaps of money getting splashed around and everyone’s making lots of money again like they were prior to the GFC.

And so countries like the USA, the UK etc. will inflate their debts away.  And this inflation will find it’s way here because many things like oil and other commodities are priced in US dollars.

So why is this bad?  Well it’s bad if you have money in the bank, because it’s value will be inflated away along with all the debts countries are targeting.  So your nest egg will be worth less than it is now i.e. you will be able to buy less real stuff with your money in the bank than you could previously.

So this is just another way savers are going to be hammered and borrowers rewarded.  I’m glad I have my money in property rather than in the bank, because property values should go up with inflation.

Is This What State Houses are For?

Squatting family evicted after mum’s death

By Lindy Laird of the Northern Advocate

9:35 AM Wednesday Aug 22, 2012
Members of the Dunn whanau, including occupants James, second from right and Raymond Dunn, right, in the Otangarei home. Photo / Northern Advocate

Members of the Dunn whanau, including occupants James, second from right and Raymond Dunn, right, in the Otangarei home. Photo / Northern Advocate

About 40 police, including armed officers on standby, were used to evict a family from a Whangarei Housing New Zealand home at the centre of a prolonged stand-off with a family.

Emergency tape kept onlookers well away from the scene as Whangarei police assisted with the eviction of Dunn family members – former occupants who have become squatters in the Otangarei state house they grew up in.

During yesterday’s operation, Raymond Dunn was arrested on a charge the Advocate understands was not related to his and brother James’ refusal to leave the William Jones Dr house after HNZ had issued several eviction notices.

About 10 police cars and 20 officers arrived at the house shortly before 10am and ordered the occupants out.

Rest of Article

Is this what Michael Joseph Savage envisioned when he put the welfare state into place all those years ago?

Families who don’t work, are involved in crime sitting around on their arses in a state funded house getting the dole?

I dunno, we have to sort this crap out

This Bastard Should be Put in the Stocks

The bald faced arrogance of some people: Kaipara Chief’s $240k Golden Handshake

Kaipara chief’s $240k golden handshake

By Mike Barrington

12:50 PM Tuesday Aug 21, 2012
Kaipara District Council's former CEO Jack McKerchar (right), seen here with John Burt, acting chief executive in November 2011. Photo / Northern Advocate

Kaipara District Council’s former CEO Jack McKerchar (right), seen here with John Burt, acting chief executive in November 2011. Photo / Northern Advocate

Former Kaipara District Council chief executive Jack McKerchar received severance payments totalling $240,000 when he quit.

McKerchar, 61, was CEO when the council illegally struck rates and was also at the helm in the lead-up to an $80 million-plus debt blowout.

He gave health as the reason for leaving his job, which he had held for more than 18 years.

Details of his severance package were released to the Northern Advocate this week after a battle for the information through the Ombudsman’s office.

 

Well if was up to me, if I was the dictator of NZ, I’d have this guy in the stocks for about 3 days so that the people of the region could show their ‘appreciation’ for the ‘work’ he’s done in that time.  You know via throwing rotten tomatoes etc.

What sort of total bastard would bankrupt a council and then take a $240k payout on his way out?  This is just so typical of local government in NZ at the moment.

Gougers of ratepayers the lot of them!

 

Titles Coming Soon!

Well my lawyers have put the application into LINZ for 5 brand spanking new titles.  1 shop, 1 offices, 3 apartments.

It was quite a long process getting everything together again, needed the neighbours to sign for the new ROW – again, which is a real pain.

Also had to get answers from the council re rates before I could proceed.  Which took weeks.

But I got all of that done the other day and my lawyers have now managed to lodge all the necessary bits of info with LINZ.  Apparently they will take 15 working days to process it and issue new titles.

Will be going out to dinner when I get them! You have to celebrate these little milestones!

I’m doing this so that I can refinance the property and get the borrowings on residential rates which are at least 1% lower that commercial rates.

And at that point the property will be performing much better.

I’ve also just had the downstairs car park area painted and man it looks soooo much better, all nice and bright and clean.  Should have done it ages ago.

This is done in preparation for rent reviews for the commercial tenants which are due in December and January. 2 years nearly gone by already…

And the Power Bills Just Keep Going Up

You would think in any country, the price of power would be based on the cost to produce it plus the cost of maintaining and extending the network.

But that’s certainly not the case, not in NZ anyway.  The electricity companies make huge profits which they pay to the government of the day.  Just read this from the Herald:

Profit rise for grid operator

By Brian Fallow

5:30 AM Saturday Aug 18, 2012
Transpower chief executive Patrick Strange says the next big challenge for the company will be on the demand side. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Transpower chief executive Patrick Strange says the next big challenge for the company will be on the demand side. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Transpower is to pay the Government a final dividend of $205 million, making $315 million for the full 2011/12 year.

The company, which owns and runs the national grid, yesterday reported a net profit after tax of $85 million, up from $79 million the year before.

Its preferred measure of net profit, which excludes the effects of marking to market financial instruments it has in place to manage exchange rate and interest rate risks, rose to $167 million from $126 million in 2010/11.

This year’s bumper dividend reflects a move to a more highly geared balance sheet.

Transpower raised an additional $1.1 billion in debt over the past year, mainly in the United States and Canada, lifting term debt to $2.4 billion, against total assets of $4.9 billion.

Going forward its dividend policy will be to pay out between 65 and 75 per cent of cashflow left after allowing for maintenance capital expenditure and subject to keeping free cashflow above 2.8 times interest costs.

In the latest year it spent $915 million in capex on major upgrades to the grid but the bulk of that work is now behind it and capex is expected to drop back to around $400 million a year from 2014/15.

As the major upgrades move into the regulated asset base on which it is allowed to earn a set return, Transpower’s transmission revenue is set to climb, from around $630 million this year to nearly $1 billion in three years.

But it says that will only increase its share of the typical householder’s power bill from around 8 per cent now to less than 10 per cent.

“The big build has happened,” chief executive Patrick Strange said. “We have put the extra capacity in.

“Going forward it is all about capex efficiency and making sure we don’t overbuild or underbuild.”

The next big challenge would be on the demand side, he said.

“The value to us is, when we have something go wrong, how much load can we shed in a hurry so we can hold the grid together?

“We have got a $12 million programme pushing the demand side in Auckland.

“I have quite great hopes for that and it will certainly help us push that $400 million [of projected annual capex] down towards $300 million.”

By Brian Fallow | Email Brian

Now I get annoyed by this for several reasons:

1) Why on earth is this company paying $315 million to the government each year?  Why don’t they just not pay that and make our power prices cheaper?

2) Further to that, this company has only made a net profit of $85 million (or $167 million depending on which measure you use).  So are they borrowing to pay a dividend to the government?

3) And at the same time they borrowed $1.1 billion.  So they pay out $315 million to the government, but borrow $1.1 billion… Far out that just doesn’t make sense does it.  Why not pay no dividend and borrow less for crying out loud?

4) And this will ‘only’ increase the share of the average punters power bill from 8 percent to 10 percent!  Well mate, the whole friggin country is getting pretty sick and tired of constant electricity price increases.  Electricity has been going up much faster than inflation for years now.  Over 10 years I would imagine.  And it looks set to continue.

Well I know exactly why companies such as Transpower, Meridian Energy, Genesis Power, Mighty River Power et al pay these huge dividends to the government, it’s because the government makes them.  They’re cash cows for the government.

So their job is NOT to provide power at a competitive price, allowing for future upgrades, but to make as much profit as possible so they can pay a huge whack to the government each year.

If they each paid $300 million to the government annually, that’s $1.2 billion extra for the government to spend.  $1.2 billion less they have to tax us.  And of course it’s probably easier to collect it via higher electricity prices than to raise taxes.

After all, as a government minister, if you are asked about higher electricity prices, you can just sort of shrug your shoulders and say “Yes it’s annoying how they keep going up” – even though it’s your own policies making them rise.  But if you have actually raised taxes, and you get cornered by the media about that, you have no one to shift the blame onto, no one to deflect the question onto, so it becomes and untenable position.

And just imagine if that $1.2 billion was not collected from New Zealanders, how much cheaper would our power be? How much would each household and each business save?

According to Statistics NZ, there are around 1.6 million households in NZ and around 470,000 businesses.  So lets round that out at say 2 million and divide $1.2 billion by 2 million, we get $600.  Now this is a pretty rough calculation, and takes no account of how much each house or business uses etc. but that’s a saving of $600 for each household or business on average.

So we can effectively think of this as an extra tax.  We pay an extra $600 extra tax each year (and more if you own a business as well) via electricity.  I wonder how many people realise this, or care?

 

 

More Bank Business

So Standard Chartered Bank in the UK has been found guilty and fined for handling financial transactions for Iran and covering it up.  Why am I not surprised?

Let’s make a small list of some of the fraudulent activities banks around the world have been involved in, in the last few years:

  • Predatory lending to home owners in the United States, Britain and elsewhere.
  • Foreclosing on many home owners illegally.
  • Selling securities and investment products to their clients and representing them as AAA investments when they know they are junk, and sometimes even taking out bets to make money when they fall over, as they know they will.
  • Manipulating the LIBOR rate to make money off of the backs of everyday people.
  • Dealing with foreign governments they’re not supposed to and covering it up.
  • Creating very complex trading instruments like CDOs etc. Which really no one understands and using these to trade and make a lot of money whilst putting the global financial system at risk.
  • Taking taxpayer funded bailouts when some of the above backfires.
  • Paying excessive remuneration to their employees –  often with bailout money.
  • Lending money to related parties and often outside of the bank’s lending rules.
  • Overcharging or incorrectly charging fees on accounts, especially credit card accounts.

And probably a whole heap of other things that I can’t think of right now or don’t know about, but that’s a pretty damning list!

Here’s a story about fraudulent bank activity in Australia.  Quite damning really.