Last night C&R councillor and National Party MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga ended his double-dipping charade and quit the Auckland City Council.
By way of background, Sam was elected as a councillor for Tamaki-Maungakiekie in the 2007 local body election. He used this position to leverage his way into parliament as a National MP at the following general election. He is now most famous as parliament’s biggest snoozer, regularly dozing off as his leader delivers another weak defence of the finance minister’s housing rort.
Anyway, the problem is that Sleepy Sam didn’t resign as an Auckland city councillor and this has been causing a lot of concern around Maungakiekie.
His council no-shows have been attracting a lot of negative media attention, as this April Aucklander article notes at that time he had only bothered turning up at 12 of the 22 meetings he was supposed to attend (including full council, the finance strategy committee and community board meetings).
And as this follow-up story notes, he also missed four of the last seven One Tree Hill College board of trustees meetings and almost every one of Onehunga Mainstreet committee’s quarterly meetings.
This is hardly value for money, given taxpayers and ratepayers have been shelling out a combined $200,000 salary for Sleepy Sam’s no-shows. We understand his attention to the community has only deteriorated and he has become an embarrassment to his parliamentary and council colleagues.
Sleepy Sam did display early bravado in the face of questions about whether he will resign from his dual roles saying, ‘No. It’s about finishing the commitment that I started. Plus, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have if I was just a councillor or just an MP.’ Whatever could have happened?
Well his position has become progressively untenable as more people in the community became aware of his double-dipping, leading to worries that terminal damage has been done to the C&R/National brands in the area. This doesn’t bode well for the right in Tamaki-Maungakiekie next year, as we are sure City Vision will continue to remind voters about the Citrats arrogant treatment of their community.
John Banks and the C&R council have now effectively abandoned the area as we understand there will be no by-election or appointment to fill Sleepy Sam’s seat.
This highlights another thing wrong with the National/ACT Government’s rushed anti-democratic super-city legislation. With major issues such as the third piece of Auckland council amalgamation legislation and decisions on ward boundaries still to come, the people of Tamaki-Maungakiekie will have less council representation to advocate for their interests. And that is a disgrace.