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Dear John Cousins...

Dear John, 

I read your assessment of Tauranga City Councillors in the Bay Of Plenty Times yesterday with great interest as, I am sure, have my colleagues.

I must agree with Scott Inglis that the scorecard is your opinion but I am not so sure it is unbiased and fair. After all, when it comes to one's opinion, it rarely is "unbiased and fair". 

Everybody is entitled to their opinion and I have never believed that there is a right or wrong when it comes to that. We just agree to disagree. 

What concerns me is that your assessment and reviews are so apparently applauding political prowess and admonishing otherwise. I am extremely surprised that having read some of your criticism of Council, that you should praise the same trait that you, of all people, must know is what created more problems than solutions in that organisation in the first place. 

Your review on me, in my opinion, can be summarised into 2 simple things; that I am human and no politician. And from that point of view, you are right. I am very often frustrated but who isn't frustrated with Council? It says that I am doing my job, John. 

How can I not be frustrated when days, even weeks of work is wiped off by my colleagues who were never involved in the investigative and submission processes? You are right again that I do sometimes get deeply personal. I guess I actually care, John. How could I not when I feel that we as ratepayers are sometimes getting a raw deal by some of Council's decisions or actions? 

I also agree with your other observation of me. I listen more than I talk in Council. I'm not sure why you think that a weakness because I believe some of the other elected members talk too much and don't listen enough. There is no reason for me to say more if everything that needs to be said has been said. We need to move on to other issues at hand rather than fight to repeat ourselves over and over again. It accomplishes nothing for the city or our ratepayers and in fact, that behaviour in Council also frustrates me. 

It is so easy to just join them and become the same way, but I do not do things that are counter-productive. I don't, like some of the other Councillors, love the sound of my own voice. I believe that if we all listened more, we would be a better Council. This coming from a man who speaks professionally and gets paid to talk. How ironic...!

Let me say this. I am not and I don't ever want to be a politician. I don't speak because you and/or your peers from the media are in the room and I certainly don't speak hoping that you will put my words in the Bay Of Plenty Times headline the next day.

I put my name forward in 2010 with the intention of kicking (excuse the pun) some of the politics out of Council. You and many others may believe that it is naive to think that it was even possible but hey, if I had a dollar for every time someone told me I couldn't do something, I would be a billionaire today. 

Council's responsibility is to provide core public services and infrastructure and my take has always been that these things have to be done right before we even divert our focus somewhere else. There is little need for politics in fulfilling this basic responsibility, John. There is no ruling and opposition parties. We should be exactly what we are; just a group of people, elected by the ratepayers, to do what is best for them. 

Make no mistake. I think that Larry and Stuart have not done such a bad job in their positions but I could never agree that their distinctions are due to them being good politicians. As a longstanding reporter for the largest newspaper publication in the Bay Of Plenty, I think that a little more thought and responsibility need to go into articles obviously written for the purpose of "helping" ratepayers vote the right candidates into the new Council.  

And what is nervous energy anyway? Have you any idea what I have gone through in my life, John? 

As for Council? I never give up when there remains even the merest of possibility and I'm certainly not giving up on driving change in there and keeping politics out. Hopefully, I will get to continue doing that for another term. 

Look forward to talking to you then.  

Yours truly, 
Tony Christiansen