Don’t vote for Richard Halliday. Don’t vote for Dianne Ammundsen. Don’t vote for Jonny Best.
In my recent exercise on gauging the candidates opinions on clean air and bicycle infrastructure issues (see How to Vote in Kapiti) I was generally disappointed with the quality of the answers I got. I want to share with you what, I consider to be, the three worst candidates volunteered as their opinions on things. And I encourage you, if you haven’t already voted, not to vote for this hopeless lot.
I was generally going to not repeat verbatim what was said by any candidates, and my questions were only to get the general gist of where they were coming from, but I made no promises, and if they responded to my questions they can assume since I am a blogger asking the questions I might use what they say on my blog. So this is a fair cop.
Firstly Richard Halliday, standing as a councillor for the Waikanae Ward. In his info he says he has a science degree and a teaching diploma, so a science teacher being a respectable profession with generally capable people in it, you, like I, may start with high hopes. Let me dash those hopes for you. Firstly lets ease into it. He was the only candidate who didn’t support signposting the National Cycleway from one end of Kapiti to the other. Let’s see what he said:
“Would have to cost it, not in a position to say.”
So from that I guess he can’t estimate in his mind how many signs there are likely to be along a route he probably doesn’t even know where it is going to go, and he has no idea of what a map of Kapiti looks like. Perhaps I’m being harsh, so let’s move on. His other answers about cycling would suggest that he doesn’t support any cycleways if they cost anything at all. No hint of improving amenities for the people who live in Kapiti then I guess?
But his answers about air quality are what really gets my goat.
Asked Question 1, about whether he supports a complete ban or phasing out of woodburners he responds
“Not at all, absolutely not. I’m from Christchurch where there is a real smog problem with inversion layers on still winter nights. In most of Kapiti there is not. When I was there 15 years ago it was motor vehicles and open fires as the main causes. The recent incident in Raumati was disputed as to whether it was smog or mist. I have a woodburner, I can cut my own wood, it is far far far more economical and effective as a heater than electric plug in heaters. A heat pump is an expensive installation, I’ve never chosen one. I had a clean-air wood burner in Christchurch.”
So he thinks there is a real smog problem in Christchurch, yet he had a “clean-air” woodburner when he lived there. Now those two facts aren’t unrelated by any chance? Despite supposedly being lower emitting woodburners they still have problems in Christchurch and all Canterbury towns. So completely ignorant of the fact that so-called “clean” wood burners are actually not clean. No idea that his burning may have contributed to what even he admits is a real smog problem. No idea that 80% of woodburners on the NZ market when tested after market don’t actually meet the emission standards. No idea that those emission standards are weak. He is ignorant of the inversion layers that form in Kapiti, and then when there are demonstrably severe ones such as in Raumati South claims that it might be mist. For heavens sake I lived in Raumati and those still nights were killers. I didn’t have to move away from Raumati because of mist. He has a woodburner, and bugger it, he likes it because it is cheap, and well air quality doesn’t matter, as it is his own convenience that matters more than anyone else. When I was looking for another place to live I looked at the Kapiti Heights subdivision below Hemi Matenga. I decided against it because it was too polluted along Elizabeth Street and well I guess that would have been your smoke Richard hey?
When asked “Do you support a ban on new installations of wood burners? ” he says “Absolutely not, I think it’s unnecessary and extreme to disallow new installations of clean-air approved woodstoves. What about you? “
Well I am glad you asked Richard. Imagine you have a beautiful house that you have committed hundreds of thousands of dollars and your heart and soul to and you are happy, and then your next door neighbour puts in a woodburner and it ruins the air you have to breathe and you can’t stop them, because there is no one to complain to, and if you tried complaining to the KCDC they’d ignore you and you can’t actually live in your home anymore. That is the reality of woodburners. Also if you do install a new woodburner then you are making the air quality problems in Kapiti worse and they are already bad enough. How can letting more of something that should be banned be installed be anything other than a stupid idea? It’s not extreme. It’s common sense, and it is common decency not to force woodsmoke onto anyone.
When asked if he supports a neighbour’s right to veto smoke coming onto their property he says:
Outside burning – we aren’t allowed to anyway have outside open fires, are we? I would complain to him if I wanted to if he lit a smelly smoky bonfire that went on for any time”
So according to Richard Halliday if you suffer your neighbours smoke tough love. He is also denying that his smoke is a problem to others. Does he actually know this to be true? Has he asked his neighbours? Has he asked pedestrians and cyclists that go past his house? Has he asked the people who chose not to buy around his home, or have already moved away?
As for not allowing to have outside burning, well we’re stuck with it in some parts of Kapiti, and when it is a problem the KCDCs compliance and monitoring team will not do anything to help. They won’t enforce their own rules, and they won’t enforce the conditions on the permits that they issue.
When asked “What is your plan to clean up the air in Raumati and Raumati South?” he says:
Now Here’s what Jonny Best wrote to answer my clean air questions. he’s standing for the Paraparauumu-Raumati Community Board.
“As for your clean air issue my response is no to all of your questions. I personally use an approved woodburner to keep my family warm and healthy over the winter months and enjoy my chiminea creating a great atmosphere when having summer BBQs in the evening. There are already rules in place for installing woodburners that they must meet approved emission standards. As for smoke issues in Raumati I would support the education of the users of woodburners to use them correctly to reduce emissions.”
Jonny lives in Raumati. So he’d be one of the reasons I had to move out of my place in Raumati. He claims it is an approved woodburner. Does he know that 80% of all woodheaters when tested after market failed to comply with the standards? Does he know that those so-called standards are very, very lax, and allow way too much toxic pollution to come out of them. It is still unknown whether the air in Raumati is going to comply with any air-quality standards. The GWRC only started monitoring this year, and have not published any results. Does Jonny know that the education of the users of woodburners in the “correct” method of using them has never been demonstrated to remove air pollution from any community, but instead it gives the users the false impression that they are causing no harm, when in fact they are continuing to pollute with toxic emissions? Your neighbours probably really love the ambience of your chiminea in summer. Again Jonny lives in a polluted community, and yet fails to take any action to acknowledge that there is a problem, that he is part of the problem, and he is doing nothing to fix the problem. So Jonny you are just the kind of person who isn’t needed on a community board, as you don’t have the interests of the community at heart. You only have your own interests.
Now for lucky last of the three worst candidates in the Kapiti Elections, I’ve got to say it is Diane Ammundsen. She’s a current councillor at large and is up for reelection. She may think it unfair that I’m naming her in the worst three, since her answers for the cycleway were actually pretty good. But I’ve got to say that one of the most frustrating things about politicians in general are that they can be scientifically illiterate. Is it really asking too much to want to have competent and intelligent individuals representing us in representative governments? That is why we should get participatory democracy instead, where we get to vote on issues and not for “personalities”.
So when asked “Do you support a complete ban or a phasing out of woodburners to remove the toxic pollution that they inevitably emit?” and “Do you support a ban on new installations of wood burners”, she replied:
“Don’t support a ban and am not convinced woodburners produce toxic waste.”
So never let scientific facts get in the way of an opinion Diane. Wood smoke is as toxic as cigarette smoke. Wood smoke causes cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, lung, and bowel. Being carcinogenic, it is also mutagenic. It also causes, or exacerbates lung and bronchial diseases such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis. Studies have shown that if exposed chronically to woodsmoke, you are more likely to die by suicide, your children will be 5 IQ points dumber, and your life expectancy is reduced by 2 years. Hardly benign stuff that woodsmoke.
When asked “Do you support a ban, or tightening up on burning off throughout the district? A suggested tightening up would be a ban on all properties less than 2ha for instance.”, she replied:
“I would be prepared to consider this”
Well hallelujah. So Diane is at least flexible enough to consider something on her merits. This is actually encouraging. If she’s elected all we have to do is educate Diane a little about some of those pesky science facts and maybe she’ll support good science-based policies.
When asked ” The KCDC has a current rule of no rural fires within 40 metres of a property boundary. I have a burnoff fire 42 metres from my property boundary. The smoke of course doesn’t magically stop after 40 metres and I’ve copped the smoke. Will you support a minimum distance more in line with reality rather than in line with stupid? I have also copped smoke from fires 150 metres or more from my house. ” she replied:
“Council does not get many complaints re nuisance fires.”
Actually they do. I may make a large proportion of them, but I’ve seen the summary reports for the KCDC and the GWRC and there are many more complaints than you know about.Even if there was only one complaint then these are still issues that need addressing. The word on the street is that other people have complained and the KCDC does nothing so they give up, and other people think the KCDC won’t do anything. So the KCDC is seen as being ineffective. If the KCDC dealt with complaints more professionally then there would be more complaints.
And when asked “What is your plan to clean up the air in Raumati and Raumati South?” she replies:
“ Sorry I cannot help here, air quality is a regional council responsibility”
That’s hogwash Diane. It is all our responsibility. The KCDC could do heaps more. They could properly deal with smoke complaints. They could discourage woodburners use through education campaigns. They could ban new installations of woodburners. They could ban burning off. They could get rid of the stupid 40 metre law and replace it with something that is actually effective. They could recognise that people should have a right not to breathe smoke if they don’t want to. They could tell us what the plans to clean up Raumati and Raumati South are once the air monitoring data is in. (It is going to fail, so what happens next?) They could do oh so much more, but really it depends on the quality of the candidates that get elected. Diane, Richard and Jonny are not the best suited to be elected to the council and boards. They are severely limited in their understanding of air quality issues.