A mayoral candidate complained this week that there’s been “plenty of talk but not enough action” for Wellington cyclists. Which was a mystery, as the complaint came from John Morrison who is leader of the council’s sports portfolio – he’s in charge of almost everything that’s done by the council for city cyclists.
He also announced that if he became mayor he would support the development of a BMX track at Ian Galloway Park. This statement was another mystery – because the plan has already been given city council support. (Perhaps he didn’t remember?) Andy Foster tells us:
We approved the lease of land at Ian Galloway Park for the purposes of developing a BMX track on 15 August 2012. The only reason it hasn’t already happened is that the applicant club had to resolve some issues which I understand are now sorted and the club can get on with the development of a BMX track.
Mr Morrison’s sports portfolio is defined as concerning itself with keeping Wellingtonians fit and active. He’s now promising that Wellingtonians “will hear a lot more” about cycling if he is elected Mayor. Which raises the question: why hasn’t Wellington been hearing enough about cycling during his years as sports portfolio leader?
There is, of course, a second council portfolio in which cycling gets a mention. This is “walking, cycling, motorcycling and safety” which is defined as “improving and mantaining cycleways and the pedestrian network”. Bryan Pepperell leads this portfolio. Perhaps Mr Morrison is indirectly criticising his colleague?
John Morrison has himself been facing strong criticism in recent days. After reports that he said he would be showering with a body-painted model after a Rotary art show which he was opening, he was branded a “sexist relic from a bygone age” by Denise Ritchie, who runs a foundation which fights the sexual denigration of women.
On Sunday, Radio New Zealand’s Mediawatch took a closer look at the showering remarks, and investigated why the DomPost (which had been told about them) hadn’t reported them. The paper’s initial excuse, it discovered, was that John Morrison denied using the offending words. However, after the words were reported on Wellington.Scoop and wcc.watch and then in the NZ Herald, the DomPost went back to him and raised the subject again. This time he said he had chosen his words poorly, and as a result the paper reported online that he apologised.
MediaWatch’s Colin Peacock summarised things succinctly: the DomPost (which had earlier editorialised about the need for honesty in local politics) was publishing a politician’s apology for something that it hadn’t reported to its readers in the first place. And it wasn’t mentioning that the politician had at first denied using the words for which he was now apologising.