So the intellectual giant that is Dick Quax is going to take on Len Brown at today’s Council meeting and I suspect that he believes that through the force of his argument and the righteousness of his cause he will single handedly deliver Len’s head on a platter.
If he fails, and I am sure that he will fail, he has only his long time mate Rodney Hide to blame. Because the Super City legislation clearly states that apart from giving Len a good telling off the Council are powerless to act.
The Ernst and Young report into the Mayor’s possible use of Council resources to further his affair with Bevan Chuang essentially exonerated him of these allegations. It did criticise him for his failure to declare some free nights and also upgrades that he had the benefit of from various hotels. If it was not for the Bevan Chuang allegations I suspect that these complaints would have been brushed aside. Upgrades occur regularly and are hard to track. And there is a question whether they were for Len’s benefit or for his wife. Who can say if Len even knew that the upgrades were occurring let alone that they breached the $300 cap on gifts.
The moral backlash is reaching fever pitch. Karol is right in criticising the City’s structure rather than Len for the undemocratic nature of Super City. And before we join the braying mob I think that we should analyse the behaviour of some of the councillors. Because he or she who is without sin should be permitted to cast the first stone.
The allegations can be summarised that Len engaged in an affair, while campaigning for office he tried to present himself as something he was not (family man verses two timing philanderer) and he did not declare the free hotel nights and upgrades when he should have.
As to the first allegation he is guilty as. But if this was an office vacating offence then a few of our elected representatives would lose their positions. The issue is one of morality and not one that goes to the fitness to hold office. Parliament has determined that those who commit serious offences, for instance electoral fraud, should on a finding of guilt be removed from office. There is no such requirement for someone who breaches the moral code of behaviour, as opposed to the legal code of behaviour, to stand down.
As to the second allegation I wish that all politicians who campaign misleadingly were obliged to resign when their deception is discovered. For instance out west Councillor Linda Cooper, who is a current National List candidate but campaigned as being an “independent”, surprised many by turning up to a living wage campaign meeting for candidates out west and pledged to support the living wage campaign. She then disappointed many by voting against even letting the people of Auckland submit on the proposal as part of the next Annual Plan. Feel free to sign the online petition if you disapprove.
As to the third allegation well again all the Councillors should come clean. I understand that the failure to disclose things is quite common. For instance in 2012 it appears that only ten councillors filed returns and only Richard Northey declared any gifts. According to this summary which appears to be the latest summary of returns Cameron Brewer, Dick Quax and Sharon Stewart did not even file a return. So a failure by Len to declare gifts he may not have understood he was receiving is more serious than others failing to file any return at all?
Len is not without fault or immune from criticism. But he has been elected as Mayor and there is no statutory power to remove him from office with what has been alleged against him. I would prefer that he pours himself into the job of getting the inner city loop happening, implementing a living wage policy and maintaining his preference for a compact urban form and for him to then sort out his problems in his personal time.
There is no need for him to resign. To do so would render the City inactive for at least six months as a new election would be needed and the successful candidate would then need to establish an office.
Len should think of his future. At this stage he would have to enjoy a phenomenally good three years for the people of Auckland to even think about electing him as Mayor again. This term may be his last.
But there is no statutory power to remove him today and there is a stench of hypocrisy coming from those trying to force his removal from office.
Update: The no confidence motion has failed because it is outside of standing orders. Obviously no one on the right thought to be properly prepared. And tweets are flying saying that Dick Quax said that Shan Inglis is also hopelessly compromised. Way to occupy the moral high ground, Dick.