This fellow Tony Marryatt sounds like all kinds of dodgy. So it’s bizarre that the focus of the article is not on the fact he went on so many junkets in the first place, but on the fact he went to Hooters twice, and spent – OMG!!! – $120 there.
Outgoing Christchurch City Council chief executive Tony Marryatt racked up nearly $9000 on his ratepayer-funded credit card in the last year, including more than $120 on two visits to the bawdy Hooters restaurant in the United States.
Figures released to The Press under the Official Information Act show Marryatt twice visited the restaurant chain in Phoenix, Arizona, famous for its young busty waitresses. He was there on a council managers’ conference a year ago.
Cr Tim Carter, who chairs the council’s audit and risk committee and often signed off credit card reports from senior staff, said he was “struggling to understand how spending money at a Hooters bar was council business”.
Because it’s not just a bar. It’s actually a restaurant. Two visits to a restaurant for two people and spending $120 over those two visits is not unreasonable at all. It’s a meal and a couple of beers, nothing more.
Now to be sure, Hooters is not an upmarket establishment. Its target market is married, middle-aged men who want to get a good meal, drink beer, and look at pretty college girls while they are doing it. But it’s not a strip club. Nobody takes their clothes off. As weird as it seems to us New Zealanders, you see families with children eating there. And the food is, by all accounts, pretty good.
If you were at a conference, and wished to bond with another middle-aged male over a reasonably priced meal and some beers, to discuss matters relating to local government, Hooters is not an unreasonable place to do business at all. In fact you could do a lot worse. It’s not my cup of tea personally, but that’s due more to matters of taste than any question of morality.
You would think Cr Carter, and Fairfax reporters, would never so much as let butter melt in their mouths! They ignore the real issue of the junkets themselves, and focus on what is really a fairly benign aspect of his bill – a restaurant with a cheeky name and pretty girls who wait on your table. Bugger me, but that describes half the Auckland Viaduct! It’s not a story.