Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Conspiracy Theory! *Throws Cats*

Have you got your tin foil hats on? It's Conspiracy Time! Your favourite paranoid family show.

In July of last year there were reports that Serco, the private company that runs Mt Eden prison, was failing to meet targets and was reported with such apt headlines as Serco Fails to Meet Targets. They failed to meet 15 out of 37 to be exact. Bill English even fronted to media to defend Serco since they were under investigation in England for unsafe practices: Government Defends Prison Contractor.

Now Corrections have released, for the first time ever, a league table on prisons. This has been reported with such headings as:

Private Prison gets a ratings tick
Private Prison fairs well
Private Prison tends to ailing puppy, saves Christmas

Well, you get my drift.

The report, surely, takes the pillow of soothing and places it across the face of the nation. "Nothing to worry about in privatizing our prison system, sleeeeep." BUT, and this is when the tin foil should be reached for, there are some interesting issues with this report and this miraculous turn around where Tolley suggest that we can 'learn something from Serco'.

Looking at some of the angles media have taken with this you'd be justified in thinking that perhaps private is doing better than public. Well, that's not exactly true. Out of 17 prisons "six are exceeding their performance targets, eight are operating effectively and three are needing improvement" - their positions can also leap about on the table depending on whether any instances occur within that quarter reporting. This has just been a snapshot that shows Serco isn't completely sucking along with 14 other prisons. Voxy does a good write-up here.

The table was released with data collected from September 2012 and the year to last December and will be released quarterly after this. It should also be noted that:

Prisons with large numbers of remand, high and maximum security prisoners are treated differently from prisons with more low and minimum security prisoners, and their results are weighted so there’s an even playing field and performances can be compared.

Anne Tolley won't release the raw data. In fact she's told the NZ Herald that they'll have to go through the Official Information Act. The supposed point of releasing the prison league tables was to promote transparency, but on hearing this, and on hearing how the data has been massaged, this seems more like a public relations exercise in order to sell further privatisation down the road.

Are Serco and the Government in talks to take over managing more prisons?  All I know is that I can always use extra tinfoil for the Sunday roast.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review of 3rd Degree

Mate, this is going to make headlines!
Mate, we're going to get flak for this!
I don't care! I aggressively hand gesture to this effect.
But mate, we could end up hunted, on the run, our names besmirchedand our past buried, forced on the lam with only a handkerchief and a stick for our belongings.
No mate, the citizens of this country demand the hard answers. I am now aggressively brandishing this pen.
No! You, mate!
*camera pans to a fireplace, fade to black*
So it's with high expectations that I tune in for the first ever episode of 3rd Degree. This is the current affairs show that is promising the hard questions and soft homoeroticism. These are journalists armed with tenacity, pens, and scalding water ready to be flung at their guests.
So what stories are being covered on this nail biting, hard hitting show?
1. Taranaki's public enemy number one! Is it poverty? ? Is it the DVD starring Johnny Depp of the same name which has been number one in the Taranaki movie charts for the past 14 years?
No. It's a guy who clamps cars.
There's covert filming. In black and white. A pensioner gets angry. This is serious shit, yo. OLD LADY SPIT!
2. Anna Guy. She's moving on in the world. I think Women's Day did this already. Anna Guy, in her own words. Apparently there were still some left.
3. Wait, there's no three, four or five?! You're going straight to the car clamping story? That's it? There better be some hard god damn answers coming up from some very softball questions being tossed around...
Parking fines, they suck, but clamping cars that's a horrible job, amirite? Duncan's down with the working class. This guy clamps and he clamps and he clamps and this is full-on - Guyon leans into camera in a full-on fashion so you know it is.
Hidden camera and old lady is back with her handbag of hate and her saliva of evil. There are other bits of jostling footage and newspaper clippings pile up.
There's a showdown happening folks, except without the guns or anything vaguely interesting. Arrests, corruption, wait...New Plymouth? I thought they said Taranaki. It's outside Auckland, who cares. High School Geography only told me about volcanic rocks and tourism in Northland. People don't like the car clamper, including the police apparently. He winds the window up on them and has a 'tone'. If I was a cop I'd lob in a can of pepper spray, maybe a light bit of genital tazing. My instant reaction is the car clamper guy is incredibly unlikeable which means that I'm automatically on the wrong side of this story.
The car clamper guy covers himself in cameras; I hope he doesn't teach in a NZ High School. The same old lady footage is shown again, a man says that he'll do everything he can to put car clamper out of car clamping business, Mr Clampy is arrested by police where it sounds like he's resisting, so that's a very quick clip. The Police, the newspaper, the majority of the city, all out to get him, so he should probably join the 3 Degrees staff witness protection programme. It goes all the way up to the Mayor, dude.
The Major thinks it's because it's the guy’s demeanour, which is fancy politics talk for he's a twat. Melanie is getting to the bottom of this: the hard questions. Is the wheel clamper guy a twat? He says no. Well then, that's that.
We find out his background. Is his background twatish? He has a baby, guys. A baby. Would a twat have a baby?
He has a 'clamping career'? Pretty sure that a guidance counsellor wouldn't recommend it. He's shown with his Nurse wife and his adorable baby. Are you going to call that adorable babies dad a twat?! Melanie Reid says: no.
The clamper guy clamps the daughter of a policeman’s car. Dude, that policeman had contacts. With the rest of the police force, the newspaper, the majority of the city. And the Mayor? That was the daughter! It wasn't, but you know the Mayor is involved in this giant conspiracy on a scale this country has never seen before.
I blank out. Next minute the footage of the elderly woman is back again. Is she his only customer? There's hours of footage apparently, why the same clip played over and over again.
I'm going to level with you, I have lost interest. Where's an expert legal opinion on this? They say that the police don't know the legal position on this, well thanks to this show neither do I. This is a Fair Go episode for business owners. Oh, wait, a government enquiry is underway - what does that even mean?
Question: car clamping is about making sure people can't drive off and use their cars, which makes sense if someone has outstanding traffic fines. But isn't the point of parking restrictions so that car parks are kept free for use by the right people - wouldn't a tow truck then make much more sense? Why haven't the owners of the properties be questioned on this, and also whether he has their permission or not - seems a bit of an oversight.
After the break the Mayor gets a grilling. A third degree grilling. Jesus, now I have to tune back in, Garner and Espinor are going to cook a human being on air. The ratings war is a harsh bitch.
Melanie says no in the promo for the next part and has a pen in her hand. She means business.
Ad break. Must buy things.
The elderly spitting lady is back. I think this is a publicity for a new TV3 show that she'll be staring in. Ffwd.
Wait, letter by wheel clampers lawyer says that he believes that the interpretation by the police was incorrect under the new regime. Does this mean that there could have been confusion due to new legislation? What's the new legislation? I shouldn't ask questions I might get the spitting women foisted on me again as a distraction.
"We've had many complaints about Mr Clampy" "No..." Shouldn't the follow up been, well let’s see them then? Shouldn't there be a record? Or would that muddy the black and white waters of a town that's in cahoots?
At this point they should have brought the baby back out because I'm done with this story.
OH PLEASE! Did Guyon Espinor really just stay  that the cops 'effectively said' that if he's getting beaten up or murdered by an elderly woman swinging a handbag that the police will stand around laughing mockingly and not offer any assistance? I think there needs to be an investigation, he says sternly, hands on pocket. Like me he must have blanked out as well and so forgot the bit in the story where it says that there is an investigation going on which is why the police couldn't comment.
A complete change of space - more fluff. Anna Guy story after the break. She's trying to put tragedy behind her by moving on. I wonder how many more stories can possibly be spun out of that.
Honest to god, I was going to stick it out and watch the whole thing, but two seconds into this I realise that unlike the media machine of NZ I have in fact put the tragedy behind myself and have moved on, and I really can't be arsed sitting through a twenty minute human interest story on something that holds no interest for me. But best of luck to her.
MATE! Maaaaate! The Dudes embrace.
Now that we've finished airing a piece about her moving on from tragedy, let’s get her into the studio and ask her if her husband killed her brother. Sensitive. HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR BROTHER FELT AS YOUR HUSBAND CAME AT HIM? I don't know if they actually asked that, I was still ffwding.
I was thanked for watching. I don't think the thanks was warranted.
Okay, if this is a sign of things to come, nobody is allowed any more pens. This is not pen waving and biting material. Bring me that instead. Ask the hard questions on issues that will in fact make headlines, though granted a farting monkey wearing a suit and juggling a kitten would make front page news in this country. Aim higher, is what I'm saying. And then you can make serious faces and yell Mate at each other and have a pen for each hand and I will love you for delivering what you promised in the promos in the first place.
More third degree less fake tan.