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Banks joins the spenders’ club

Written By: - Date published: 9:57 am, June 29th, 2010 - 41 comments
Categories: accountability, auckland supercity, john banks, len brown, local body elections, supercity - Tags: ,

I have very mixed feelings about all this scrutiny of the spending of public figures. On the one hand it is clear that abuses of the system exist – major ones like the outlandish cases that were happening in the UK, or Bill English’s Double Dipton housing rort. These need to be dragged into the sunlight. But on the other hand, where does the process end? When does it become panty sniffing, or a tool of political mudslinging? The hounding of Len Brown certainly has the latter feel about it.

Well, for the record, now Mr Banks can join the club of those who have broken the rules. And his sanctimonious claims about spending turn out to have been wrong too. Bernard Orsman reports:

‘I completely forgot about any of that’ – Banks

Auckland City Mayor John Banks has admitted claiming $438.80 in entertainment costs after issuing a Super City mayoral campaign bulletin saying he had “never charged a sandwich, lunch or coffee to the ratepayers of Auckland”.

And he broke council rules when office staff sought reimbursement for the entertainment against a bill for private use of his cellphone instead of making an expenses claim.

Last night, Mr Banks said it was a genuine mistake to say he had never charged anything to ratepayers outside work in the Town Hall, and he would run a correction in his next online campaign bulletin.

No doubt we will now see a full spectrum Herald campaign against Banks driving him into an emotional apology, and snarky concern troll editorials questioning his suitability to lead. Any moment now…

41 comments on “Banks joins the spenders’ club”

  1. Bored 1

    How wholly unholy!!!! Could not have happened to a nicer guy!

  2. Lindsey 2

    Maybe now the MSM will be interested in the $50,000 I understand it cost to provide garaging in the Town Hall for Bank’s Bentley. The open air Mayoral carpark space outside the Grey’s Ave building was good enough for every other Mayor but not good enough for Banks.

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      Now that truly is much more of a scandal than anything anyone else has recently been pilloried for doing with their expenses.

  3. Anne 3

    Will there be a hounding of Banks on the grounds he “mis-spent our money”? No.
    Will he be dragged before his council and ordered to explain himself? No.
    Will he be forced to apologise to the rate-payers of Auckland for his transgressions? No.
    Will his future as a politician – read super city council mayoral candidate – be irrevocably tarnished? No.

    Will he be forgiven by media (and rate-payers) because he never knew it was wrong? Yes.

    • Margaret 3.1

      Anne you are wrong, Banks will not be hauled over the coals because he is a National Party man.

      He is the one who has been chosen to push the privatisation of Auckland ahead for the National Party.

      Len Brown is a lefty so he needs destroying, got out of the way for Banks to have a clear run.

  4. Bright Red 4

    The Right has been running the line that if Brown can’t run his credit card he can’t run the super-city, well what do they say to Banks’ “‘I completely forgot about any of that”?

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      Probably something like: Oh, good, that means he’ll forget about all this other oversight stuff that stops us making a profit at the ratepayers expense as well.

  5. Mako 5

    And right on cue, D Farrar and C Slater jump to His Lordship’s defence. Slater, who let’s not forget, has plastered his blog with Brown smears (heh) for the past three weeks, says Banks “made a bit of an oops”. Farrar describes it as “embarrassing”, but then notes that it’s “refreshing to see the names of the people entertained”. So this will be their theme for the coming week(s): “Looney Len” must reveal the identities of the people he took to dinner. This will be the line that’s relentlessly pushed, perhaps even sloganised; this is how they will try to keep this story alive. As for Banks’ failing memory, not a word more will be said.

  6. BLiP 6

    I had to have a cynical chuckle to myself at the weekend. I got dragged along to the Panmure “King of the Mountain” fun-run where, having never ever attended previously, who was all over the scene glad-handing and working the crowd – none other than John Banks!

    Normally, you’d have to drag Banksy kicking and screaming anywhere south of the Ellerslie border but there he was pressing the flesh and generally making a nuisance of himself. I was wondering why the usual Southside dignitaries were not in obvious attendance – turns out the event has been handed over to Athletics Marketing and Management – a company owned by one Dick Quax.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 6.1

      When has ‘southside’ been up to Panmure.?
      Its Auckland City.

      The real south starts after Otahuhu but often includes it.

      • BLiP 6.1.1

        Otahuhu is Auckland City as well – in my hood, Panmure is the gateway to Southside. I’m talking about South Auckland, I think you might be confusing Southside with Manukau. You’ll be correct when the SuperShitty comes into force, of course.

      • BLiP 6.1.2

        I’m talking about South Auckland, I think you might be confusing Southside with Manukau. You’ll be correct when the SuperShitty comes into force, of course.

        Ooops – you’re right. I’ve been corrected by my neighbour’s son, a regular “g in da hood”. Serves me right for trying to be hip, or is that cool, or maybe sick, or bad . . . oh, I dunno.

  7. MikeG 7

    I think that the more important paragraphs in Orsman’s piese are:

    “Figures also show that Mr Banks, who has made a virtue of being frugal with ratepayers’ money, has exceeded the mayoral office budget of $570,865 by $41,606 over the past year.

    The biggest problem has been temporary staff costs, which jumped from the budget of $10,000 to $88,372, and catering charges, which have gone from $26,006 to $36,691.

    Mr Banks’ weekly breakfast meeting with 25 senior staff and councillors costs $235.50, regular fruit bowls cost $20 and morning teas and working lunches generally cost less than $100.”

    So it’s quite ok for banks to have a “working lunch” paid for by the ratepayers, but if Len Brown does, then somwhow it’s inappropriate. And catering charges are over-budget by $10,000 but that’s not significant?

    • Bright Red 7.1

      on the wireless yesterday, Banks was saying ‘yeah but I spend nearly all my salary on my media person, which means the council doesn’t have to pay for them’ the reporter pointed out this media person is really his campaign media person.

    • Herodotus 7.2

      Why should Mr Banks be pillared for some poor budgeting by a minor council officer who does not understand the payback benefit or necessity of such spending.
      re the hireed hand spin dr- Banks I take it is paid as a PAYE worker thus gets taxed at the appropiate rate. He pays for his side arm personnally or from another entity (coy?) If it was from another coy how then can this accrue any income/benefit so should not be a deductable expense. Why does not someone investiage the mechanisms that (Sir) John Banks uses. Just like Capone use the taxman to achieve what you canot do otherwise 😆

      • MikeG 7.2.1

        “Why should Mr Banks be pillared for some poor budgeting by a minor council officer who does not understand the payback benefit or necessity of such spending.”
        I’m not quite sure what your point is here. Banks supporters have been saying about Brown – ‘if he can’t control his credit card spending, how will he control the finances of the Super City’. My point is that with significant budget over-runs in the Auckland Mayoral office, the same thing could be said about Banks.

        • Herodotus 7.2.1.1

          Humour is lost on the masses !!
          But myfollow up comment was on the basis that there maybe some irregularities in his book keeping. The IRD is a very powerful and under utilised tool, as on the surface to me I hope Sir John B is not claiming his hired gun as a means to deduct some expenses and get an indirect govt subsidy of 30% (Coy tax rate).

  8. Andrew 8

    The spending seems to be for the following:

    “The $438.80 claim covers four occasions – entertaining the United States Ambassador at Euro Restaurant on the waterfront for $215.50, catching up with arts patron James Wallace at Frasers cafe in Mt Eden ($23.80), discussing the Peter Blake memorial with businessman John Street at the Stamford Plaza Hotel ($44) and having lunch with Britomart developer Peter Cooper at the Northern Club ($155.50)”

    Can’t see how any of those are not legitimate expenses. At least he owned up to who he was entertaining i guess.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 8.1

      Legitimate expense taking a High Court judge to a box at the tennis?

      This is too outragaeous- for Banks AND for the judge

      The tennis is not a legit place to take anybody when its on the Council tab !
      A meal might be OK , invite someone to a Council function OK but a junket at something that is unrelated to Council business

      And what the heck is a judge availing himself of corporate style hospitality. ( During work hours ?)

      I think we have another case for the Judicial conduct commission

  9. American Gardener 9

    John Banks expenses seem a lot more legitimate than the unexplained $810.

    • Bright Red 9.1

      you mean the charity dinner that the council CEO signed off on?

      • Max Walker 9.1.1

        @Bright Red – I think this is the same dinner that Brown said he would never disclose who he took.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 9.2

      Thats only on the personal card .

      What else has been spent as his ‘office expenses’ of over $0.5m .

      Staff costs may be most of it , But lets see ALL the little details since Banks memory seems to be faulty and we mean invoices not line items in the accounts

  10. ianmac 10

    And he broke council rules when office staff sought reimbursement for the entertainment against a bill for private use of his cellphone instead of making an expenses claim.
    Since when is it right or legal to lay off the cost of one item as a credit on another? Accountants please explain.

    • Herodotus 10.1

      It would be advisable to claim both sides, as there maybe some entertainment tax issues and the inability to claim GST on these related entertainment expenses. Sir John has also been very fortunate that both amounts are the same netting off to a nil balance. But then public entity accounting maybe different to the private sector, as I have never heard of a tax/GST audit being conducted on a concil, as I am sure from experience that many councils may have tax and or GST issues regarding timing of income and future expenditure

      • Bored 10.1.1

        Whats this “Sir” crap? Something dusted off from ancient history? Nasty title for a nasty man.

        • Herodotus 10.1.1.1

          Like Judges, any long serving mayor receives this title (that is the real price for the successful winner to this local election) as recognition for their valued work towards the community, and as Sir John has given so freely to many deserving communities and time in parliament I thought that this site would be a great test for acceptance of such a honor!!!!! :mrgreen:

          • Mac1 10.1.1.1.1

            Hoo, boy, Herodotus. You of all historians should know about the dangers of hubris! 🙂

            “Herodotus believed that the universe is ruled by Fate and Chance, and that nothing is stable in human affairs. Moral choice is still important, however, since arrogance (Hubris) brings down upon itself the retribution of the gods (Nemesis).” ref. Age-of-the-Sage.com

  11. Looking forward to an OIA on John Banks Personal Assistant.
    Said assistant has a council credit card so i would suggest a slight of hand on John Banks’ part.
    Question. Why does the assistant need a council card?

    • Craig Glen Eden 11.1

      So what we now know is John Banks is a hypocrite with a poor memory and when he does not have his own money he will use the rate payers, his personal expenses go on his assistants card and he is not fit to run a city because he cant run a credit card.

      But according to the wingnuts its all ok because they approve of who he spends Auckland rate payers money on illegally. What a disgrace !

      • Armchair Critic 11.1.1

        So what we now know is John Banks is a hypocrite with a poor memory
        We already knew that. He also forgot whether he supported the changes that lead to leaky buildings when he was a National govt. minister back in the 1990s. Still doesn’t know, apparently. Hard to believe.

  12. Irascible 12

    The difference in the minds of Banks & his ACT cronies is that he is using an accounting method to hide his misuse of the ratepayers’ money which is acceptable because he doesn’t use a credit card. Credit cards imply the user is liable to use it frivolously and irresponsibly (look at all those south aucklanders who get into trouble with credit and loan sharks!).
    Anyone using a credit card can’t be trusted. Therefore Banks can be trusted.
    Yeah Right!!

  13. tc 13

    If only he could be gagged and tied up till after the election then the Nat’s may be in with a chance as he just doesn’t live in the world we all habitate.

    Yet another classic example of the low IQ bufoon that Banks is and with the likes of Ralston in his corner there will be plenty more foot in mouth opportunities for this serial trougher on his full beehive pension on top of his substantial wealth.

    Time for fresh thinking and enthusiasm….not more of the same crap he delivered as akl mayor !

  14. rod 14

    No doubt Duncan Garner will get stuck into Banksie on this one. Could keep it going for a week or so. Can’t wait.

  15. Armchair Critic 15

    I’d like to know two things:
    First – how the hell does he manage to spend $10k a year on cellphone calls? Surely his provider can provide him with a plan that doesn’t cost $800+ a month. Or he can wait until he has access to a landline phone. I’d love to have $10k a year to spend on cellphones, but back in the real world….
    Second – why is he making private calls on his council phone? Cellphones aren’t that big, it’s easy enough to carry two around, one for work, one private one. If it is good enough for government ministers to present two credit cards at hotels to cover the separate government and personal expenses then the same standard can apply to Mr Banks and his cellphone.

  16. I dreamed a dream 16

    Really, John Banks’ Olympics dream is either sheer stupidity or a purposeful decoy to divert attention from something.

  17. deemac 17

    see today’s Herald for details of petty claims by Quax et al. How mean do you have to be to claim for travel expenses – to go to an ANZAC Day ceremony??

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