Hurrah, the spy cam car is dead

At last the people have a victory over the forces of evil. The nasty, vicious, spy cam car is going. Positively makes me want to sing.

Ding Dong! The Witch is dead.

Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!

Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.

From the Wizard of Oz as sung by the Munchkins; also in the 1960s by a vocal group called the Fifth Dimension, and more recently by Glee.

But before we celebrate too much let us remember the damage that this car has done to the pockets of hapless motorists, and also of the damage it has done to the council's standing among its citizens.

The DominionPost in its editorial (2 April) puts it well: "It was not the idea but the way in which it was executed that angered drivers. The balance between enforcing the law to protect the public and exercising common sense was not struck."

Even the council now admits that it was "corrosive for the council in terms of reputation," says Stavros Michael, the city council's director of infrastructure.

Hurrah that it is going. But there are some questions that still need to be answered. The obvious one is why it took so long for the council to acknowledge what everyone knew. That this was simply a predator leeching on motorists who did innocent things like stopping to back into a car park, and businesspeople parking in loading zones to unload goods into their own shops.

That's exactly what happened to a mate of mine - snapped and fined $60 for an entirely lawful activity. He got off eventually, but he had to go through the hassle of proving himself innocent.

But there are more important questions that have not yet been answered.

Why was it rarely used for its originally stated purpose: patrolling school intersections? How come it spent so much of its time downtown instead? Who authorised that change of direction and why? Were councillors and citizens misled by the original justification for the introduction of the car?

Also why was the decision to remove the car made by the management? Where were our elected councillors in this? The decision to introduce the car was made by councillors, so why was the decision to take it away made by officers?

What does this say about who is really in charge of this council? One might well think that it's really the officers who are in charge, and that councillors are just the show ponies. That would not be a nice conclusion to arrive at in any democratic system, but councillors could dispel that impression by answering the other questions that this unfortunate saga raises about power in the city.