Blair Anderson, on the hustings 'canvassing for opinion'

Blair Anderson, on the hustings 'canvassing for opinion'

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Researchers Detect Human Influence on Precipitation Trends

Northland/Manawatu rain event and global warming/climate change identified as "man made"

MP Pete Hodgson once said of the Manawatu flood event 'If this isn't climate change, then this is exactly what it looks like.'

What is striking in this new report is that it exposes bare that we are doing this to ourselves. While last Mondays Water Wars "Hot Science" debate at the James Hay Theater [Christchurch Town Hall meeting attended by more than 1000 concerned citizens] hinted at climate variability, it lacked robust debate centered around the core issue of climate change and linkages to energy (electricity demand by irrigation) and bovine methane forcing. In this regard, the science wasn't even warm.

The results show that climate change has had a detectable influence on observed changes in average precipitation within latitudinal bands, and that these changes cannot be explained by internal climate variability or natural forcing.

The observed changes, which are larger than estimated from model simulations, may have already had significant effects on ecosystems, agriculture and human health in regions that are sensitive to changes in precipitation

Detection of human influence on twentieth-century precipitation trends”; Xuebin Zhang, Francis W. Zwiers, Gabriele C. Hegerl, F. Hugo Lambert, Nathan P. Gillett, Susan Solomon, Peter A. Stott & Toru Nozawa; Nature advance online publication 23 July 2007 | doi:10.1038/nature06025

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Nominations Now Open for Local Government Candidates

Christchurch City Council media release , 24 Jul 2007.

Now is your chance to give local politics a go and have a say in the future of your City. Nominations for candidates wishing to stand in this year's local authority elections have now opened.
The electoral officer (Max Robertson) says anyone wishing to stand as a candidate for the Christchurch City Council or for their local community board should get their nominations in now. Nominations close on Friday 24 August. "We are encouraging anyone who wants to make a difference in the local community to stand. After all, local government and local democracy are fundamental to our society giving the opportunity for everyone's voice to be heard. The mayor, councillors and community board members take on a leadership role in Christchurch representing the views of the community," Mr Robertson says.

"We need a range of elected members of different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds to represent the diversity of our community. Anyone over the age of 18 can stand for election as long as they are a New Zealand citizen and enrolled on the electoral roll."

Voting documents will be sent out from 21 September 2007 and must be mailed in time to reach the electoral officer by midday on Election Day, Saturday 13 October 2007. For further information on standing as a candidate, visit, or contact Electoral Officer Max Robertson DDI 03-941-8533, mobile 027 229 1735 or

Friday, July 13, 2007

US Mayors turn Drug War on it head

US Mayors Anti-Drug War

(MildGreen Snopsis: It's a local issue, stupid!)

At last some civic common sense for Drug Policy: addressing Drug War's Impact On The Community, Family, Young People, Students, And The Poor

US Conference On Mayors Adopts Anti-Drug War Resolution, Calls For "New Bottom Line"

The US Conference of Mayors held its 75th annual meeting June 22-26, 2007 in Los Angeles, CA. One of the resolutions they adopted at the conference urges an end to the status quo "war on drugs" and calls for a "New Bottom Line" in US drug policy.

The drug war resolution runs from page 47 through page 50 of the resolution packet. The major text of the resolution is as follows: (the highlighting is mine./Blair)

  • "NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the United States Conference of Mayors believes the war on drugs has failed and calls for a New Bottom Line in U.S. drug policy, a public health approach that concentrates more fully on reducing the negative consequences associated with drug abuse, while ensuring that our policies do not exacerbate these problems or create new social problems of their own; establishes quantifiable, short- and long-term objectives for drug policy; saves taxpayer money; and holds state and federal agencies accountable; and
  • "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that U.S. policy should not be measured solely on drug use levels or number of people imprisoned, but rather on the amount of drug-related harm reduced. At a minimum, this includes: reducing drug overdose fatalities, the spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis, the number of nonviolent drug law offenders behind bars, and the racial disparities created or exacerbated by the criminal justice system; and
  • "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that short- and long-term goals should be set for reducing the problems associated with both drugs and the war on drugs; and federal, state, and local drug agencies should be judged – and funded – according to their ability to meet specific performance indicators, with targets linked to local conditions. A greater percentage of drug war funding should be spent evaluating the efficacy of various strategies for reducing drug related-harm; and
  • "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a wide range of effective drug abuse treatment options and supporting services must be made available to all who need them, including: greater access to methadone and other maintenance therapies; specially-tailored, integrated services for families, minorities, rural communities and individuals suffering from co-occurring disorders; and effective, community-based drug treatment and other alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent drug law offenders, policies that reduce public spending while improving public safety; and
  • "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Conference supports preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other infectious diseases by eliminating the federal ban on funding of sterile syringe exchange programs and encourages the adoption of local overdose prevention strategies to reduce the harms of drug abuse; (Christchurch already has this strategy in place, implemented in the mid 70's by Dr John Dobson it lead the world. /Blair) and
  • "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the impact of drug use and drug policies is most acutely felt on the local communities, and therefore local needs and priorities of drug policy can be best identified, implemented and assessed at the local level. A successful national strategy to reduce substance abuse and related harms must invest in the health of our cities and give cities, counties, and states the flexibility they need to find the most effective way to deal with drugs, save taxpayer dollars and keep their communities safe."

This looks remarkably like Ottawa Charter stuff. The challenge now is will HEALTHY CHRISTCHURCH adopt it. /Blair

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mayoral debate "burgled" by Christchurch Star

With the 'front page' publicity given to a Christchurch Mayoral candidate's house having been burgled it has brought into perspective 'acquisitive crime' and public safety. (see Christchurch Star, 11/07/07 Even mayoral candidates can't escape the burglars )

While the media focused on this one incidence of burglary, no one asked the critical questions. What is the driver behind burglary? What encourages this income-producing crime?

The core factors not being identified are alienation from rule of law (rejection of social values) and expenditures on drugs (not the drugs themselves) in a context of constrained licit earnings.

There is some irony then that Dr Megan Woods PhD (History) and education spokesperson for the Progressive Party headed by drug czar and local MP Jim Anderson is the one burgled. Jim has long been critiqued for his long held beliefs that it is the illicit drugs that cause these crimes. The issue here is not that there is empirical evidence Megan's unfortunate experience was caused by a drug taker/consumer (though likely) rather that it brings into perspective salient issues surrounding community safety and perceptions of crime.

The Christchurch Star newspaper in its front page news item and enclosed Mayoralty analysis (pretending this writer/candidate didn't exist) quoted candidate Bob Parker "There is a feeling of real insecurity, especially at night. That is not the way it used to be. The crime figures are at a reasonably high level, there are some real examples of violence and intimidation, but it is about perception".

Bob is right, it is not the way it used to be, and Megan as a student of history would likely agree. Crime data evidences that the wheels started to fall off about 40 years ago, around the date of the adoption of the Misuse of Drugs Act (1975). That is why this mayoral candidate calls for a full and unfettered engagement on civic ALL drug policy, to “spark an open and honest discussion about the criminal justice system’s inability to create the result that we all want: reducing the damage done by drugs while not creating more harm than the use of the drugs themselves.”

It is contingent upon all of us to resolve these tensions. It is the stuff of social capital.

Drug policy, covering both alcohol and the currently illicit drugs, ought to be a major component of a rational crime control strategy, and crime control ought to be one of the dominant themes in designing drug policy. But none of the slogans now dominating the drug policy debate is adequate to the complex reality linking drugs, drug policy, and predatory crime. Only if we start to think more clearly can we start to act more wisely. / Mark Kleiman, Professor of Policy Studies at

CheatNeutral, A fun way to save the atmosphere

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Christchurch Mayoralty: 'Struggling to unite on global warming?'

A public issue for the Christchurch Mayoral Debate?

I have said many times elsewhere, this is where the civic leadership on climate change should be taking us. If London can do it, so can we. The Southern Hemisphere needs an antipodean representation for a whole lot of reasons. Reasons we are good at. Contraction and Convergence, fundamental to the maintenance of international peace and security is the leverage for capitalising on Christchurch's 'Peace City, Garden City' well earned image.
An opportunity for real community engagement that can benefit everyone, here, there and everywhere. The cost? "some civic leadership" based in science and equity, else everything we do do round climate issues, is just vote catching rhetoric to appease genuine fears while changing nothing. /Blair

Dr Mayer Hillman Senior fellow emeritus, Policy Studies Institute, wrote

Just over three years ago, you [the Guardian] published a letter signed by 16 organisations extremely concerned about the prospects of climate change. [see Struggling to unite on global warming ... Climate change Guardian Unlimited Environment:]

They called on the [UK] government to take the lead in international negotiations for the urgent adoption of the comprehensive science-based framework, contraction and convergence, devised by the Global Commons Institute.

This requires the contraction of global carbon emissions to a safe level and convergence towards sharing them equally among the world's population.

The framework has been endorsed by the all party parliamentary climate change group, the synod of the Church of England, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, HSBC and the Environmental Audit Committee, to name but a few bodies within the UK recognising its significance.

Contraction and convergence is being increasingly acknowledged as the only practical strategy to limit the extent of catastrophic damage to the planet. It needs to be publicly endorsed by contributing partners of Saturday's Live Earth concert as well as by organisations such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and WWF who were not prepared to do so in 2004. We owe it to our children and generations beyond them to stop further procrastination.

Dr Mayer Hillman / Senior fellow emeritus, Policy Studies Institute

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Christchurch Candidates, at least two offer some policy

Candidates list policy planks for campaign (some thoughts are added, courtesy of a second tilt, third way candidate, whom the PRESS probably wont go near, unless readers insist!)

Christchurch mayoral candidates Bob Parker and Megan Woods have unveiled their early policy ideas as their campaigns for the October elections shift up a gear. The two candidates are preparing for the final three months of the mayoral race.

Woods has attacked proposals for a $100 million civic building, while Parker has focused on tackling crime. (both noticeably offering expert opinions, absent any numerate or cost-benefit analysis... do they think voters are idiots?)

Their campaigning styles differ, with Parker commissioning advertising agencies and public relations firms and Woods relying on support from political alliance Christchurch 2021.

Parker has so far commissioned Harvey Cameron Advertising, public relations company The Agency Communications and polling firm Buzz the People to help in his campaign. (Are voters voting for agency's or the man?)

Woods' website was designed by a friend and her polling was conducted informally at community group meetings. (Good on you Megan, I like low cost campaigns, mine usually cost about 20 dollars, but I do my research, watch this space!)

Parker officially launched his campaign last week with a pledge card outlining his campaign priorities.

One of his main priorities is to tackle crime with more security cameras, better lighting and more community engagement in central Christchurch.

(there is no evidence that security cameras reduce crime... anywhere. They just move it along, while creating a false perception of security at a cost to both liberty and enjoyment of the right to privacy. Disturbingly there is evidence that it teaches young people that no one has any self-will. That adults cannot be trusted. Not a good sign that this is going to be anything but a populist campaign.... Voting for whats popular dumbs down the debate - that is, when they are ready to have it. When will candidates for civic office say "I'm prepared to risk my position and my standing on evidence of results?" Elsewise all this tough on crime stuff is a sham.)

"There is a feeling of real insecurity, especially at night. That is not the way it used to be. The crime figures are at a reasonably high level, there are some real examples of violence and intimidation, but it is about perception," Parker said. (what complete waffle, and from an experienced waffler at that, spot the middle of the road, sitting on the fence dribble!)

Woods is targeting the proposed $100m civic building as a major campaign issue and says it is an example of the council "not respecting the rates dollar".

She has consulted building experts to look for cheaper options and is considering a decentralised approach, where council offices would be spread across the city.

(Now here is a good idea being spoiled... not original, but the core idea is good. Lets see if Megan can come up with the right reasons, the test is, is Megan capable of original thought in the heat of debate?.)

"One option we are looking at is a decentralised model where you put council back into the community and use the holdings already owned by the council. (How about enhancing existing holdings and functions with real communications, real networking and taking a disciplined systems approach from both nature and military CCC [command, control, communicate] models. At the very least this writer brings these skills to the table. )

"You would have to make sure different aspects of council were clustered together so people do not have to drive across town for a meeting." (see above)

Parker rounded on political opponents making election issues out of the recent 7.35 per cent rates rise and the civic building. (this looks so much like when one cannot defend the indefensible, attack the messenger... we'll see where this argument moves to over the next 12 or so weeks)

"I would challenge anyone who says the rates can be lower to not just take the popular, easy rhetoric, but to convince us how they will do it," he said. "They should not just throw around that they will not have a civic building. To reiterate the same old, tired rhetoric just to get into council is a sad indictment." (Hmmmm, Mr Parker is throwing me some bait... assuredly there will not be the same old tired rhetoric 'yadda yadda' from this quarter. [wide smile all round])

Parker favours a civic building in the city centre as a way to regenerate and enliven life within the four avenues. (from a man who voted for cars and truck in 'our' malls and who is prepared to circumvent due process to do it. The inner city is not just for Mr Parker's inner city development friends, he needs to broaden his outlook and consult more widely, and properly.)

Woods is also focusing on making the council more accessible and tackling youth safety issues after the Edgeware Road tragedy, while Parker is targeting basic services like sewerage, roads and traffic congestion. (Ms Woods needs to understand this Edgeware issue from a youth justice perspective before she appeals to voters. The Town Hall meeting was simplistic and will solve nothing. )

Both have pledged to protect heritage buildings and tackle water pollution. (and mother milk, no doubt. Heritage buildings must have purpose and an economic future. Water pollution has never lent itself to being 'tackled'. The law provides remedy. It is a question of the will to use that remedy. Curiously I ask, when did Megan or Bob last kayak the Avon or Healthcote? )

23/09/06 (the day after river clean up day, this all from the botanical garden loop.)

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