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Auckland Council’s next 100 days

Written By: - Date published: 9:54 am, January 14th, 2014 - 46 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, len brown, local government - Tags:

Auckland

Let me tell you the consequences of Auckland’s leadership remaining at a standstill.

Unless Council’s 2014 budget is drafted by February Auckland could have the same kind of Government shut down that occurred in the United States recently.

Unless a Unitary Plan Hearings Panel is set up and running within the next year, every house owner and house builder will have not one but seven sets of Council rules to deal with and the Auckland Plan vision will go out the window.

Unless Auckland Council nails a funding plan in 2014 there will be no City Rail Link in the future.  We will remain a motorway dominated car dominated mess as far as the eye can see.

If fresh leadership fails to rise soon, the ratepayers of Auckland will remain Auckland’s primary source of budget funding.  There will be no alternative funding plan for Auckland, just more rates bills.

If Council’s new Chief Executive remains as trapped by political scandal as the previous one, Council’s CCOs will continue to frustrate citizens and each other rather than be Auckland’s growth engine.

If Councillors continue to cannibalise each other with investigations, Auckland will start to represent the permanent revolution of France after 1789, when the old order was deposed but no one cared what a replacement good Government looked like.  Instead they swam in their own self-righteous gore.

Unless there is a great re-start in 2014, the urban decay of suburbs will continue.  There will be no revived Otahuhu, no grand plan for Avondale, no street upgrade for Takapuna, no transit cohesion for Manukau, no new mainstreet for Papakura, no nothing for Ponsonby Road, no chance ever of electric trains to Pukekohe, no busway to Pakuranga or Botany Downs, nothing except a few millionaire enclaves and the rest of the city in quickly deepening inequality.

Unless Councillors stop fighting each other there is a real risk that Central Government agencies will start doing Auckland Council’s job for them.  This will start with the Audit Office, then NZTA and the Ministry of Transport, then potentially a Commissioner appointed to replace a consistently dysfunctional Council.  Pretty soon the last few years of reforms are replaced with a Government Department,  The people of Christchurch can tell you what that feels like.  Government may well ask if Auckland’s Council would run better without any democracy and simply have a Ministry for Auckland if this mess continues.

If there is no strong leadership in 2014, the days of Auckland hosting another Commonwealth Games, Rugby World Cup, Masters Games or Americas Cup are over.  Would you believe a bid now from Toronto?

If the chaos at the top table continues, the smart money will close their chequebooks and go elsewhere.  In just three short years, Auckland’s film industry has gone from flourishing to failure and this will get worse.

Citizens, central Government and business can all see what is at stake if Auckland Council continues without strong leadership.  This is no moment for “forgive and forget” platitudes.  But the great momentum of last term has been halted dead.  Council’s easy road is to start the perpetual guillotine of inquiry and mire in the spectacle of destruction.  We will then look back by November 2016 and weep at what could have been.

The Council was elected just months ago to lead one third of New Zealanders into a confident future backed by Government, by sound financial plans, by a fresh Unitary Plan, and with a single unified vision.

They have 100 days to restart Auckland and unite Cabinet, Council and citizens again.  After that, the national mind turns once more to Central Government elections.  By April 2014  the people are back on side for this electoral term or they are done with you.

46 comments on “Auckland Council’s next 100 days”

  1. Tom Gould 1

    The “chaos at the top table” is political. Party political. Ideological. Just like their tea party fellow travellers in the US, the rabid right Tories here in Auckland are donkey deep in rendering the city ungovernable. Their only solution is complete capitulation to them and their agenda. So this is actually now a test of the left, not the right. Unless the left get in behind Brown and his agenda for the city, and confront the politics for what they are, the right will get it all. Including selling the city’s assets to their mates, and regressive high universal charges, and a rates cut, and the rest of the neo-con play book. So it’s now up to the left. Maybe they actually want the rabid right to win, to feed their righteous indignation and moral superiority?

    • Sanctuary 1.1

      + 1,000,000

    • SHG (not Colonial Viper) 1.2

      Unless the left get in behind Brown and his agenda for the city, and confront the politics for what they are, the right will get it all.

      Brown’s toxic now. No-one will go near him, and in an election year that’s a disaster for Auckland.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.3

      So it’s now up to the left.

      Yep, we have to let the people know that the rabid right are doing exactly what the Tea Party in the US is doing and that it will cost them far more and not just in money but in loss of democracy as well.

    • Pete 1.4

      This is the problem of viewing an ethical and fiduciary issue in left/right terms. Brown has lost the confidence of most Aucklanders (left and right). ‘Getting in behind Brown’ as you put it just digs the hole deeper. Until he goes this wound is going to fester. There is no point banging on about the right in this issue – it merely deflects from the real problem. When he goes everyone can get on with the job – not just the left (or the right).

  2. The Baron 2

    Mickey, what a sensible set of comments. Credit where credit is due etc etc.

    Regardless of what you think of the scandal that caused all of this, the problem remains that crucial momentum is lost and now nothing appears to be happening. I read in the paper today that some initial funding plan for the city rail link was due from Brown before year end – now not done due to the obvious distractions.

    Either our councillors need to unify, let bygones be bygones and move on to the work that needs done; or Brown needs to step down. This do nothing no mans land risks exactly what you outline above. That would be a great shame.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 2.1

      No. The Tea Party loons need to pull their heads in and accept that they lost the election, probably because the majority of electors can see that they are Tea-Party loons. Brown has plenty of power and should use it to ignore them, or if they continue to get in Auckland’s way, drive over them inflicting maximum damage.

      Force them to justify playing their panty-sniffing games with Auckland’s future and don’t blink. This is another opportunity to expose the Right for the scum they are.

  3. Will@Welly 3

    Len’s got three years to redeem himself. First, he has to confront his demons. Instead of hunkering down, hiding away, he needs to prove he is the “man of steel”. He needs to galvanize the left around him and carry the fight to the right, and long-term, he needs to help find a successor.
    Rodney Hide set up the Super City to flog off Auckland’s assets, that is what National wants. Greed.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 3.1

      Since when is he hiding away ?

      Is the PM and the Cabinet ‘keeping a low profile’ too ?

      of course not. Its the bloody holidays.

      Did Rodney Hide face such a wringing of hands when he took up with a ‘coach’ at the Remuera Racqets Club, ditching his wife and family some time later ?

      Oh no the ‘rules’ were different then , nothing was said as he was from the’ right side’ of the marital bed.

      Later when Hide took his paramour on a taxpayer funded global tour to her brothers wedding, it was all smoothed over, his views on ‘ his entitlements’ were forgotten once he ‘paid it back’

      The hard side of politics is nice for some, when they have the right wing noise machine on their side

      • SHG (not Colonial Viper) 3.1.2

        Since when is he hiding away ?

        Is the PM … ‘keeping a low profile’ too ?

        Yep, playing golf with Barack Obama is pretty damn invisible. Good point.

        Later when Hide took his paramour on a taxpayer funded global tour to her brothers wedding, it was all smoothed over, his views on ‘ his entitlements’ were forgotten once he ‘paid it back’

        The fuck? It ended his political career.

  4. rich the other 4

    Good ,
    now you know how the rest of the country feels when the greens oppose almost every development around the rest of the country.

    (. There will be no revived Otahuhu, no grand plan for Avondale, no street upgrade for Takapuna, no transit cohesion for Manukau, no new mainstreet for Papakura, no nothing for Ponsonby Road, no chance ever of electric trains to Pukekohe, no busway to Pakuranga or Botany Downs, nothing except a few millionaire enclaves and the rest of the city in quickly deepening inequality.) Poor you.

    These are the type of thing the greens perpetually oppose in many parts of the country.
    Wgtn/Kapiti coast motor way development , wgtn airport extention , Taranaki , Dunedin , Hawkes Bay oil exploration , west coast mining , etc etc .

    It’s hard to be sympathetic when the rest of the country is paralyzed by factions , perhaps in the future Labour will stand up for the rest of NZ , something that’s well overdue.

    Auckland’s solution is easy ,get rid of len , problem solved.

    • karol 4.1

      Hmmm… the kinds of development the Greens support are many of the ones in line for Auckland – the rail network for instance. The Greens are not opposed to everything – just those things that are counter-productive.

      So you think “the rest of NZ”, are for oil explortaion that doesn’t have environmental safe guards?

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 4.1.1

        He thinks? Citation needed.

      • rich the other 4.1.2

        The point is , the rest of NZ is happy for AK to have it’s rail link and are in fact paying plenty towards it.
        It’s the roading projects around the lower NI that have been delayed for two years by the greens or their associates , the irrigation schemes in canterbury, the dam in HBay which is very hard to understand especially when the green zealots continue to preach global warming and then stall water conservation.

        These projects cannot possibly be described as counter productive , the rest of NZ is entitled to be developed to ensure prosperity for all.

        Labour’s lack of clear support for these projects is a no brainer and will ensure defeat at the polls .
        Once again , get rid of len and move on.

        • Paul 4.1.2.1

          “Preach global warming”.
          We’re discussing Science here, not religion.
          Flatearthers like yourself are the ones who rely on a belief system without evidence.
          Your mate David Cameron even acknowledges it. Is he a green zealot?

        • karol 4.1.2.2

          The point is , the rest of NZ is happy for AK to have it’s rail link and are in fact paying plenty towards it.

          Citations needed, especially re- the rest of NZ are paying plenty towards Auckland’s rail system.

          Edit: Or I could just help you out with this.

          • Paul 4.1.2.2.1

            Wasting your time Karol. Rich and like minded folk don’t rely on evidence for the arguments.
            As is clear from their ignorance of the science of climate change.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.1.2.3

          These projects cannot possibly be described as counter productive

          Actually, they can be and are.

        • millsy 4.1.2.4

          Some of us actually like to have clean water and air. You sir, are not one of them.

          I look forward to the day when company managers who gave the OK to pollution are led away to prison in handcuffs.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 4.2

      The best solution to delay is an election? No wonder they say right wingers have below average IQ.

      You lost the election. Then your boys Slater and Wewege made you look like scum (not that they had to try too hard). You had a shit candidate who just managed to tell enough lies to get plausible doubt.

      I think it’s great: Aucklanders are getting a good look at the New Zealand Tea Party, whereas the only career Len Brown damaged was his own.

      Are you sure you should be calling for an election so soon after demonstrating that you are a bunch of unelectable partisan panty-sniffers?

    • Ad 4.3

      This is an unhelpful misdirection.

      Do you have any comment about Auckland Council?

  5. captain hook 5

    No he doesn’t. He is a trouble maker and a fomentor of dissent.
    Its still holidays and Len Brown is still the mayor and the sky is still blue and it is not going to fall on anyones head.

  6. tinfoilhat 6

    The Auckland council and Mayor are a total shambles.

    We were sold the need for the amalgamation so as to gain increased efficiencies, lower cost, and presumably lower rates.

    None of this has happened, under the current and provious council and Mayor Brown we have got the no real movement in much needed projects the previous councils had set in progress.

    More costs for the residents of Auckland in every sense of the word. Rates have risen exponentially in the past few years to the stage that many people are on the tipping edge. We are having to sell much loved homes/units/town houses because we can’t absorb the huge rate hikes on our limited incomes. Added into this the water rates: the biggest rort ever inflicted on Aucklanders. Whereas once we paid them twice a year – averaging around $100 each time, I now pay once a month averaging $60 to $70 per month. An increase from $200 to $700 plus per annum. Multiply that for families with small children and I don’t know how many of them manage to cope.

    Local boards are hamstrung and aucklanders don’t seem to be able to have any contact with the mayor or his council

  7. Paul 8

    And there was me hoping this thread might not be hijacked by the dullards and those desperate to distract.

  8. Paul 9

    Auckland is currently one of the world’s most desirable cities. Why? Because all of those who claim it to be so, state that it is because has lots of space, big houses on full sections, parks, green spaces, ability to drive to beaches etc.

    So Len Brown wants to eliminate every single thing that the world loves about Auckland, and then claim that people will like it even more when all of that is taken away? Lets destroy all of the heritage buildings, pave over all of the parks, create terraced housing that the world hates. For god’s sake, if people love something, who in any normal rational mind, would create the exact opposite, and claim that they will like that even more? Len Brown, sink to the bottom of the ocean, along with your morals.

  9. Adam Michaels 10

    It is a very sad situation, indeed to have the focus on the Mayor’s personal failings instead of the important things that need to be done in Auckland.
    With each passing day, Len Brown’s position seems more untenable and the pressing issues that face our largest city receive less attention than they are due.
    Aucklanders do not benefit from this regime, and in the long run, neither does the rest of the country.
    Leaders must be able to demonstrate that they have a vision and a means to take people along with the implementation of that vision.
    Local government needs to be able to bargain strongly with central government.
    That means the Mayor and the councillors working together.
    Time is running out for the Auckland Council. Even if Len Brown resigns- and he should, to put us all out of our misery-what a mess the city is left with.
    And who, on the Council is going to clean it up?

    • lprent 10.1

      Adam. FYI and in response to your comment amongst the mostly mindless short comments that I saw it amongst.

      Being polite doesn’t matter, nor generally does your opinion. Being able to argue intelligently and without silly slogans does matter. One of us has to release any new commenter to this site. I merely scanned (without reading) your comment because it didn’t fall into one of the moronic troll patterns.

      Read the policy if you are uncertain.

  10. RedBaronCV 11

    Well Len could sack the CEO for unauthorised spending on the witch hunt , collapse the CCO’s, hand a junk of the rates to the local boards to spend on their own areas needs (central back office perhaps) and do the regional council thing of only the really big framework issues with the council but the local boards get to oversee this. Should create a grassroots system that would be locally responsive and difficult for the RWNJ’s to unpick. BTW I don’t live there.

    Let each area set it’s own plans, height limits etc but maybe not building regs. That’ll keep everyone happy.

  11. Tanz 12

    could we just have Penny Hulse in charge instead? She would make a much better fist of it, and how can Len show his face in public now? Aaron Gilmore resigned for far far less, as did poor old John Banks. Len just is so stubborn.

    • Ad 12.1

      She has all the influence she could want, without any of the grief.
      Why change?

    • Lonnie 12.2

      Google Narcissistic personality disorder. They have NO shame and many other bad attributes because they totally believe that they are so fabulous. God’s gift to the world and any haters must have some sort of problem themselves, never them. Sure, Lenny knows he’s stuffed up but he still believes that his “fabulousness” will see him through. “They” love attention, even bad attention which just reinforces to them how special they are.

  12. Penny Bright 13

    FYI.

    The NZ Serious Fraud Office choose NOT to investigate our bribery and corruption complaint against Mayor Len Brown and Sky City.

    Private Prosecution will be filed in Auckland District Court as soon as Graham McCready’s documents arrive – should be Wednesday 15 January 2014:

    http://www.pennybright4mayor.org.nz/nz-serious-fraud-office-choose-not-to-re-evaluate-our-bribery-and-corruption-complaint/

    Remember how the Police corruption scandals rocked NSW in the 1980’s and were the impetus for their anti-corruption legislation, which set up their Independent Commission Against Corruption?

    In my considered opinion, 2014 is going to be the year of scandals about corrupt corporate cronyism, particularly of the casino variety, and this is just the start…………

    Why do you think PM John Key has not come out calling for the resignation of Mayor Len Brown?

    This is NOT ‘left’ vs ‘right’.

    That went out 30 years ago when the 1984 -87 Labour Government introduced the neo-liberal Rogernomics ‘reforms’.

    This is the corporate minority vs the public majority and those who serve their interests.

    Beware the smiley faces and the ‘personable’ manner of the treacherous SELLOUTS.

    Penny Bright

    • RedBaronCV 13.1

      Personally Penny I think there should be a lot more questions asked about how the CEO managed to spend $100,000 of ratepayer money on what amouts to a witch hunt. Who authorised that?

      • Pete 13.1.1

        The council authorised it. The CEO merely acts on their instruction. Thats how these things normally work. No CEO would authorise a review of the mayors behaviour without council sign off. You are flogging a dead horse here. If it is only $100k I will eat my hat (to coin a phrase). At that level it would be pretty good value if you think of the time, resources and advice obtained.

        • RedBaronCV 13.1.1.1

          Don’t think so Pete.
          “that’s how these things normally work” I agree but:
          – last meeting of old council 26 September 2013
          – local body election day 12th October 2013
          -Inquiry announced on 21 October 2013 by the CEO
          -Inaugural meeting of the new Council 29 October 2013

          Nothing that I can find in the minutes of the governing body from 29 October refers to any authorising of the inquiry. Nothing in the inquiry terms of reference refers to the council authorising it.
          The CEO probably has some powers over the transition period but he still has to follow the rules. (Otherwise he could give a contract to his mates to build a new harbour bridge). See Penny below

          Was he ever entitled to spend the funds?
          Can a CEO in this position hands out a “job for the boys” no tender etc?
          Why did he usurp the incoming council on this matter?
          Why did the terms of reference include finding the security guard – there is no financial issue for the ratepayers there, that was just purient.

          Yes it will be more than $100,000 probably closer to $250,000 for a question mark over a couple of hundred dollars. That’s just waste.
          If I was a ratepayer I’d be looking for some personal liabilty from the CEO.

  13. Penny Bright 14

    FYI – there is a LOT more to come out about the Ernst and Young ‘inquiry’.

    In my considered opinion, as an anti-corruption campaigner, who recently spent $870 (Aust) to attend a full-day workshop at the 2013 Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference on how to conduct an ‘internal investigation’ on alleged ‘misconduct’ – that there is NO WAY that the Ernst and Young inquiry / report was done in a proper way.

    Just check out for yourselves – the Auckland Council Code of Conduct, section 8 “Compliance”, and read for yourself the process which SHOULD have been followed …..

    http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/SiteCollectionDocuments/aboutcouncil/governingbody/codeofconductelectedmembers.pdf

    8.5. Conduct Review Independent Panel

    The governing body shall constitute a Conduct Review Independent Panel. The members
    of the Panel will be selected from a list of persons with appropriate skills and knowledge, to
    be recommended by the Chief Executive. The Independent Panel is not a Committee of the
    governing body and its sole function is to investigate those matters referred to it and to
    make recommendations on those matters to the governing body/local board. Up to three
    members on the list will be deemed to be ‘convenors’ who will be the Council’s primary
    contact in relation to convening a panel when required. ‘Convening’ a panel includes
    chairing that panel. A convenor may appoint other convenors to a panel.

    8.6. Procedures of the Conduct Review Independent Panel

    The Independent Panel will establish and notify standard procedures, fair to both
    complainants and respondents, which it will apply to the investigation and consideration of
    all complaints referred to it.
    ________________________________________________________________________

    Seems that former Auckland Council CEO Doug McKay effectively made up his own process and appointed his own people?

    Having been to an expert workshop, and studied this matter, it appears very clear to me that the ‘Terms of Reference’ weren’t ‘scoped’ in a proper way either …………

    (More on this later ………………)

    Penny Bright

  14. HtD 15

    Len Brown was voted in under false pretences. He got the religious people by pretending to be a Catholic and the poor(er) by pretending to care, whilst he was on the take from Sky City and other big business. On voting day, we didn’t know that, but wed do now. Brown’s wife can’t trust him and he takes backhanders…why should anyone trust him?

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