Friday, April 01, 2005

Attack of the vanilla people

Wanganui mayor Michael Laws has put the town on the media map in a way Chas Poynter never did with Moutua Gardens. Laws has provoked controversy on Frontseat over the Sarjeant Gallery, legal action with native loggers on national news, and annoyed people in Reality TV-land on Celebrity Treasure Island. Now a handful of concerned do-gooders have taken a complaint about the him to the Wanganui Council.

Apparently, Michael Laws needs to bland down a lot. Mrs Calder, for instance, didn't like it when Michael Laws said all journalists like getting pissed. Well Mrs Calder, show me a journalist who doesn't like to get pissed and you might get a bit more credibility.

The six whingeing wet blankets (Valerie Calder, Jay Kuten, Carol Webb, William Pearce, Matt Dutton and Warwick Chapman FYI) will have a hard time trying to show Laws breached the code and brought the city into disrepute. If anything, I bet tourism's up in the city with out-of-towners (such as journalists) coming to see what all the fuss is about.

Meanwhile in Christchurch, around 120 people concerned people picketed an appropriately-named nos shop called Weirdos. Christchurch City Councillors Helen Broughton and Bob Shearing spoke to the crowd. Hornby High School principal Andy Kai Fong summed up the crowd's feeling by saying that while he had not seen a large amount of evidence of nos use among students, he was sure it was happening.

Senior Sergeant Peter Laloli said people taking the substances were causing social problems in Christchurch and stretching police resources. What? All of them?

The shop has taken an interesting step in taking a trespass notice out against the police. Apart from begging the question of who the hell is going to enforce the ban, the move is the first of what I suspect will be a trend.

Chairman Jim's Supplementary Order Paper before the Health select committee seeks to introduce a new, empty schedule for drugs. He has made it clear that he would like some regulation on party pills, nos, butane, and air freshener. Maximum stock levels of these substances will be set in a way even alcohol outlets aren't.

The SOP increases police powers dramatically, allowing them guaranteed access to any property that stocks anything in the empty schedule, providing it is not a dwelling-house. It will allow them to search and seize property and financial records without warrants or evidence of a crime.

What if the dairies, petrol stations, supermarkets and head shops served trespass notices on police to stem this draconian power? What would happen if bar owners served trespass notices on the Health department smokefree police? What if every landowner took trespass notices out against every single bureaucrat and official currently allowed by right onto private property? What a great way to start a written constitution!

There's something about Christchurch. Maybe it's because it's the home of the country's highest per capita Prozac prescriptions and liquor licences. Perhaps it's because it's the home of the Chairman Jim Party. Whatever it is, there is one more reason to look askance at those particular Mainlanders; paedophile Graham Capill, formerly leader of the Christian Heritage Party and police court prosecutor. I bet he'll find jail an interesting role reversal.

Queenstown doesn't fare much better, with Lakes District Councillor Wayne McKeague going to court on child porn charges. Faced with such deviant competition, Michael Laws has no chance of being found guilty of bringing the council into disrepute. In fact, Laws scores only 6.9 on the goNZometer, 0.8 points below Tim Shadbolt.

Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey is off the charts. His cunning plan of an Orkland Lord Mayor to lobby Wellington is not a bad idea. If anything, his scheme doesn't go far enough. I think everyone would be much happier if Orkland became a federal state in what I like to call the Federation of New Zealand Independent Enclosures (FoNZIE). Orkland, like Christchurch, is a law unto itself, and it's time this was recognised.