Len breaks his rates promise

November 6th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland Council’s budget committee has voted 16-7 for a proposal to increase rates by 3.5 per cent for each year of a new 10-year budget.

The proposal got the backing of Mayor Len Brown, who promised voters to hold rates at 2.5 per cent this term.

Unable to control spending, Len instead has broken his word and voted to sock ratepayers with huge increases.

For a 3.5 per cent increase: Len Brown, Penny Webster, Arthur Anae, Cathy Casey, Bill Cashmore, Ross Clow, Linda Cooper, Chris Darby, Alf Filipaina, Penny Hulse, Mike Lee, Calum Penrose, John Walker, Wayne Walker and Maori Statutory Board members David Taipari and John Tamihere.

Against: Cameron Brewer, Chris Fletcher, Denise Krum, Dick Quax, Sharon Stewart, John Watson, George Wood.

You now know who to vote for.

The new proposal is for rates increases of 3.5 per cent for each of the next 10 years – a cumulative total of 41 per cent over the next decade.

The latest inflation figure is 1 per cent for the year to September.

Rates are increasing three times faster than inflation.

The new proposal is for rates increases of 3.5 per cent for each of the next 10 years – a cumulative total of 41 per cent over the next decade.

The latest inflation figure is 1 per cent for the year to September.


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Not even Len deserves a Skoda!

September 4th, 2014 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has opted for a less fuel efficient official car, just weeks after launching a new strategy to cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, it has been reported.

A new Holden Commodore has been delivered to Mr Brown for use as the official mayoral car — his third Holden in seven years, with a carbon footprint more than 70 per cent bigger than some of the alternatives, Radio New Zealand reported.

The Holden Calais V-Series V6 has a carbon footprint 50 per cent bigger than a Skoda Superb and 73 per cent bigger than a Toyota Hybrid Camry, the broadcaster said, and comes just over a month after Mr Brown launched the Low Carbon Auckland Action Plan, which aims to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2040.

Not even Len Brown should be forced to drive a Skoda!


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Did Len have six on the go at once?

May 6th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The review into Len Brown’s extramarital affair with council adviser Bevan Chuang uncovered a large number of telephone calls and text messages the Auckland mayor made to five unidentified numbers.

Last night, Mr Brown declined to identify the numbers, saying the information was not held by him and details of his phone calls were private to him.

Except ratepayers paid for them.

Papers released under the Official Information Act show that of the 25 telephone numbers with the highest frequency of calls and text messages from Mr Brown, six could not be attributed by the council to a person or company. …

The council paid $4538.50 for the mayor’s mobile phone calls and texts over the three-year period.

Thank you very much for your kind donations …



Len’s personal gym

April 1st, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland ratepayers have paid $5200 to provide a personal gym for Mayor Len Brown in the Auckland Town Hall.

A new treadmill and multi-gym were installed in a small room on the ground floor of the Town Hall weeks after he was elected mayor in 2010.

Documents released to the Herald under the Official Information Act show the mayoral office requested the equipment for Mr Brown to manage his health and because he could not easily get to a gym.

I thought this was an April Fool’s joke when I first heard about it.

Len gets a large Mayoral salary. It is not the Council’s job to have ratepayers fund him with a personal gym.

The Prime Minister does not have a personal gym. He either goes running or uses the general parliamentary gym which is available to all staff and MPs.

Len’s sense of entitlement is obviously out of control.

Mr Brown refused to answer questions yesterday about the gym equipment.

Not big on fronting up is he.



Herald Digipoll on Brown

March 20th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Len Brown will find it tough to be re-elected Mayor of Auckland, according to a newHerald-DigiPoll survey.

Only 22.7 per cent of the people questioned in this month’s poll said they would vote for Mr Brown in the 2016 elections; 57.7 per cent said they would not. The other 20 per cent said they did not know or did not vote in local body elections.

Brown would be an idiot if he stands again. It is very difficult to see how he could be re-elected.

The poll suggests women and the elderly were particularly upset by revelations about his extramarital affair and undeclared hotel stays.

That women probably because of what they saw as a power imbalance, with the mistress being a much younger girl who was a Mayoral appointee.

However, Mr Brown can take some comfort from the survey, which found 51.6 per cent of respondents believed he could still be an effective advocate of Auckland’s interests for the remainder of this three-year term.

When asked if the mayor should have resigned last year after revelations of his misbehaviour, 50.2 per cent said yes and 37.7 per cent said no. A further 12.1 per cent did not know.

This is a reversal of the result of a Herald-DigiPoll survey taken a few days after the affair became public last October.

At the time, 51 per cent of Aucklanders said he should stay and 39.5 per cent said he should resign.

The details in the report about all the hotel stays, is probably why the mood has changed.

Lawyer and feminist commentator Catriona MacLennan said the poll result reflected that women do not believe that Mr Brown’s affair was a private matter and could see he used his powerful position to obtain sex from a young woman.

“Many New Zealand women have encountered this behaviour in their own working lives.

“I and other women wish there was greater condemnation and consequences for such behaviour so that it becomes less prevalent in future,” Ms MacLennan said.

While the affair was consensual, the fact Bevan was a Mayoral appointee and he helped get her a job while trying to start a relationship with her, means it was not a private matter.

The poll of 248 Auckland voters was taken between March 6 and March 16. Of those, only 31.3 per cent voted for Mr Brown last year.

248 is a very small sample size.  That’s a 6.2% margin of error. The breakdowns by gender and age are even bigger. The gender data would have a 8.8% margin of error and the age one could be as high as a 12.4% margin of error. So I wouldn’t put too much faith in them.

Also the fact that only 31% of the sample say they voted for Brown could be significant, as more than that actually did vote for him. However we don’t know if that 31% is of all Aucklanders or of Aucklanders who actually voted. Also asking people who they voted for last time doesn’t always get reliable data as people often claim they didn’t vote for someone who has since disgraced themselves, even if they did.

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Brown’s advisor says Mayor toast if credit rating drops

March 11th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Len Brown’s principal policy adviser James Bews-Hair says the Auckland Mayor will be “political toast” if the council’s credit rating is lowered.

In an email accidentally sent to the Herald, Mr Bews-Hair said the mayor’s office has been advised there is a risk the council’s credit rating will be downgraded.

The email was circulated to senior mayoral staff on Sunday following Herald inquiries about council debt, which has soared from $3.9 billion to a projected $7.4 billion in the first four years of Mr Brown’s mayoralty.

In a candid email to Mr Brown’s chief of staff Phil Wilson, head of communications Dan Lambert and chief press secretary Glyn Jones – and copied to the Herald – Mr Bews-Hair outlined the mayoral position on maintaining the council’s AA credit rating.

“We need to keep on using the KPI [key performance indicator] for debt that we set for ourselves in election policy – retaining our rating.

“If we do that right, that can become the basis on which we are judged.

“We are advised that there is a risk that we will be downgraded … frankly, though, if we get downgraded in an improving economic environment then we are political toast anyway,” said Mr Bews-Hair.

I’d say toast regardless of the credit rating, but that certainly would deepen the searing.

Mayor Brown, who doubles as treasurer of the Super City, has borrowed $875 million on average in his first four budgets. This is nearly three times the average annual borrowings of $355 million by the former eight councils between 1989 and 2010. Debt repayment in the current financial year is $367 million.

Borrow like there is no tomorrow.

Mr Brown has refused to talk to the Herald on debt issues.

I would have thought a Mayor would be willing to talk to their local newspaper on any civic issue.


Brown has a point

March 6th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Making all Aucklanders pay a council income tax may help elderly people in affluent areas who can’t afford their rates, mayor Len Brown says.

The current system is “inherently unfair” on people living on fixed incomes and paying high rates because of the value of their properties in areas like Devonport-Takapuna, Brown says.

Introducing an income-related tax for local council services that everyone pays is an option, he says.

Only property owners pay rates but the council is spending money on infrastructure and services for everyone, Brown says.

I’ve long thought that a local income (or sales) tax could be a fairer way of funding local government than a property tax.

Arguably it would lead to greater fiscal restraint. Councils are always increasing rates without too much backlash because the average householder doesn’t know how much of the change in their rates bill is due to increased Council spending and how much due to a change in relative house values.

An actual local income tax would be much more transparent and hopefully there would be such a backlash against increasing it that Councils would then adjust expenditure to fit within their income (as central Govt does) rather than their current practice of working out everything they want to spend and then just setting rates at a high enough level to fund it.

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Paul Little calls for protesters to be silenced

March 2nd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Leftie HoS columnist Paul Little writes:

It’s time to shut down – or rather shut up – the ragtag bunch of malcontents who are giving their lives meaning by hounding silly old Len Brown every time he appears in public. These shrieking, self-righteous harpies are one length of rope away from full-blown vigilantism.

Protesters are now vigilantes, who should be (presumably) forcibly removed or arrested for the crime of protesting. Such a tolerant person Mr Little is.

If the Mayor of Auckland was, for example, John Banks and he had protesters turn up to most of his events – would Mr Little be calling for them to be silenced?

More importantly they are disrupting the democratic process by trying to prevent an elected official from getting on with his job. 

I doubt Len Brown would be Mayor of Auckland if voters had known about his undisclosed free hotel stays and the like before the election.

But such a fascinating view that protesting an elected official is antidemocratic.

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Fran on Dotcom and Brown

February 22nd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan writes in the NZ Herald:

Kim Dotcom and Len Brown are linked by several personal characteristics. Both are showmen. Both are prone to vanity. Both hate being out of the limelight.

In the personality world that drives mainstream media coverage these days, each of them is also a long-running news story.

This week, each man was under a new round of pressure.

Dotcom because the Court of Appeal found the police raid on his rented mansion was legal (but that the police giving the FBI the seized material was an unauthorised legal breach). The Herald’s splash showing Dotcom (or his companies) had not paid a number of small creditors while he ostentatiously lived high on the hog did not help his reputation.

But his natural audacity and fighting spirit keep him centre-stage.

Brown is also endowed with fighting spirit. He has a thick hide when it comes to public opprobrium. He was booed at the Auckland Nines and was asked not to attend a community military tattoo this weekend.

Maybe they could swap roles? Dotcom goes to all the public events, and Brown sets up a new political party? :-)

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No private prosecution for Brown

February 22nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

An attempt to take a private prosecution against Auckland Mayor Len Brown has reached a block in the High Court.

Private litigant Graham McCready yesterday filed an application for orders and directions in a lawsuit against Brown in the High Court in Wellington.

McCready, a Wellington resident, initially filed papers relating to the prosecution in the Auckland District Court.

He was told yesterday the case was not a criminal matter, and has gone back today asking for a review of that decision.

McCready said he was asking for a review because he could not understand why it was considered a civil matter when the proposed charges were bribery and corruption.

Because there is no proof of them. Brown acted very badly, but there is no proof his actions were criminal. Lying is not a crime. Not disclosing a free hotel rooms is not a crime. They are reasons for him to resign, but not reasons to be in court.

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The pariah Mayor

February 20th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Embattled Auckland Mayor Len Brown has been told to stay away from a community military event this weekend for fear he will attract protesters and take the shine off the promotion.

It follows booing when the mayor opened the NRL Auckland Nines at Eden Park on Saturday and comes ahead of a planned march up Queen St calling on him to stand down.

The terse reaction following him at many public appearances seems to be a response to last year’s revelations of Mr Brown’s affair with council adviser Bevan Chuang, hotel stays and censure by councillors.

I think Brown is hoping that over time people will forgive and forget. I am unsure that will be the case.


Brown inquiry cost ratepayers $250,000

February 4th, 2014 at 6:50 pm by David Farrar

Simon Wilson at Metro reports:

The cost of the EY report into mayor Len Brown’s affair with Bevan Chuang has come in at around $250,000. That’s the word from reliable, well-placed sources close to the council.

It’s an outrageous amount, and the reason it is so high can be traced directly back to the council’s then-CEO, Doug McKay. It was McKay who ordered the inquiry and then allowed it to blossom into an investigation far in excess of what was originally intended.

He earlier stated the inquiry would cost around $75,000. Then in December, he told the council the final figure was not yet known but it would be “over $100,000”. The final figure of a quarter of a million dollars is so far above these estimates, it begs the question: why did he provide such low earlier estimates?

The answer to that is obvious, and I suspect Simon is being spun a line from Len’s office.

Len lawyered up and hired QCs and the like to try and derail the report.  Because Len was refusing to co-operate initially and threatening legal review, the Council was forced to hire a top QC also.

This inquiry would not have been needed if Len kept his private life away from the Council. If his affair had not occurred with a Council board member and contractor, had not used Council resources, had not involved liaisons in Council offices, and not had him getting free hotel rooms for the affair – then there would have been no Council investigation.

If Brown’s affair had been with Mrs Smith-Jones of Papakura and they met in their own time, in private residences or hotel rooms they paid for, then there is no way there would have been a Council inquiry.

Having Metro blame the poor Chief Executive for trying to save the reputation of the Council is obvious spin from Camp Len.

The only question now is how much of the $250,000 cost will Len pay, and how much will be left for ratepayers to pay. I think 50/50 would be equitable.

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Different reactions

February 2nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The HoS reports:

Prime Minister John Key was mobbed by fans from the Asian community vying for a photo opportunity when he entered the event.

The day showcased the cultural diversity of New Zealand, he said.

“There are over 200,000 New Zealanders of Chinese ethnicity; they’re a hugely important partner from New Zealand’s point of view.

“I think if you look at New Zealand, we are based on a bicultural foundation, but we’re very much a multi-cultural society. It makes Auckland and New Zealand a far more interesting place when you can celebrate Chinese New Year, or Diwali, or whatever the cultural function might be.”

When Auckland Mayor Len Brown took to the stage at the event he was met with a chorus of polite clapping and a smattering of boos from the crowd.

He welcomed the crowed enthusiastically, ignoring hecklers who voiced their disappointment over his extra-marital affair by using duck callers – alluding to his labelling as a “lame duck mayor”.

I wonder how many of his volunteer translators where there?

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Brown payment must be made public

January 27th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Expectations are rising for a settlement by Auckland Mayor Len Brown towards the $100,000-plus cost of a review into his extramarital affair to be made public.

Three of the five councillors negotiating a settlement – Chris Fletcher, George Wood and Dick Quax – believe it is the wish of the group to make the settlement public.

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse and Penny Webster, the other two on the negotiating group, are staying quiet.

Mr Brown told the Herald last week that when councillors set up a group last month to enter into binding negotiations, the resolution was the settlement would be confidential.

Of course it must be made public. The Auckland Council is a public organisation and has public accounts, plus the payment could be requested under the LGOIMA. I’d be amazed if the Ombudsman ruled that such a payment could be deemed commercially sensitive or confidential.

We are still waiting to hear also the full cost of the inquiry. The legal fees incurred when the Mayor lawyered up are rumoured to be well in excess of the direct cost of the inquiry itself.

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The Brown prosecution

January 26th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald report:

A private prosecution alleging bribery against Auckland’s embattled Mayor Len Brown has been stalled at the Auckland District Court.

Two charging documents sent to Auckland District Court by retired Wellington accountant Graham McCready state that between November 2010 and November last year, Mr Brown accepted for himself and his wife Shan Inglis three complimentary hotel rooms and five free room upgrades from SkyCity and SkyCity Grand Hotels.

The gifts, worth about $4600 by Mr McCready’s calculations, led to “favourable consideration” given by Mr Brown towards SkyCity and parent company SkyCity Casinos, say the documents.

However, in a decision from Judge Emma Aitken released yesterday, she said the private prosecution could not proceed until the Attorney General consented to it.

The Attorney General is almost certain to delegate the decision to the Solicitor General. The Solicitor General is almost certain to decline consent on the basis there is no proof to back up McCready’s assertions.

That is the correct decision.

Len Brown’s behaviour has been woeful, and he should never have accepted freebies from major hotels without declaring them. But that is a very different issue from asserting that the behaviour was corrupt and the freebies were a bribe.

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Brown may seek a third term!

January 22nd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Len Brown has hinted at seeking a third Super City mayoral term in 2016, saying the factors that will guide him are the support of his wife, Shan Inglis, and maintaining his love and passion for the city. …

Asked whether he would seek a third term in 2016, Mr Brown said “There are two things that would determine my view in terms of the role that I have here. The first is that my family support me and the second is that so long as I maintain my love and my passion for our city and our people – and I do, I love this place and I love our people in the very best and the worst of times – then I would do the job.”

I hope he does stand again. That would guarantee a centre-right Mayor.


Mayor surrounded by security guards

January 20th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Questions have been raised about the level of security surrounding Auckland Mayor Len Brown during his first public appearance of the year.

Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer said ratepayers should be concerned at seeing a “bevy of heavies” shadowing the Mayor at the opening of the new $17 million Panmure Transport Interchange on Saturday. …

Protester Dick Cuthbert, who has been to many demonstrations over the years and had come to voice his disapproval of Mr Brown’s leadership, said he was surprised by the level of security.

“I was amazed by the heavies at what was not a controversial event – it was a much-awaited bus-train station. It’s unprecedented.

“I put this down as a mayor terrified of the real public and how they will respond to his carrying on.”

Mr Brewer said the protesters did not justify security being there.

“I don’t believe ratepayers should be funding security guards to surround the Mayor on such occasions. A few hecklers and peaceful demonstrators exercising their democratic right is no justification,” he said.

“It’s an unprecedented sight to have a New Zealand mayor surrounded by publicly-funded heavies to open a suburban railway station.”

I can’t recall a precedent in terms of local body politicians.


McCready vs Browns

January 17th, 2014 at 10:32 am by David Farrar

Andrew Geddis blogs at Pundit on why he thinks Graeme McCready may not suceed in getting a private prosecution vs Len Brown. The bottom line is that unless you have witnesses coming forward to allege some link between the free hotel rooms at Sky, and his support for their conference centre bid, then there is no proof.

I concur it is unlikely to go anywhere.

The Herald also reports that McCready is considering a private prosecution against Brown’s wife, Shan Inglis:

Mr McCready said he would be in Auckland on Monday to file briefs of evidence in that matter and would also seek legal advice about whether there was enough evidence to lay charges against the Mayor’s wife Shan Inglis.

Mr McCready alleged gifts in her name were a “laundering exercise” to avoid Mr Brown having to declare them on the register of interests. …

Mr McCready said he would prepare two charging documents against Ms Inglis anyway.

“There’s no doubt that there’s culpability. It sends a message to all of these spouses,” Mr McCready said.

“By accepting these freebies, Ms Inglis became a party to her husband’s alleged offending and in the interest of justice she ought to be made accountable.”

Oh for God’s sake, leave the poor woman alone. Hasn’t she suffered enough. Going after family like this is deplorable, unless they have done something wrong and there is no evidence at all she has.

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Project Rehabilitate Len

January 14th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The mayoral office is working on ways to rebuild Len Brown’s shattered reputation after his sex scandal. The strategy involves setting outan action plan and contacting communities.

Good to see Len’s six spin doctors hard at work.

Mr Brown and his advisers are considering a new year speech with a focus on public transport, in which Mr Brown wants to make a start on the city rail link in 2016.

Sounds good. Just tell us where the money is coming from.

Meanwhile, the right-wing local body ticket Affordable Auckland is organising a “Stand Down Len Brown” march up Queen St at noon on February 22.

Leader Stephen Berry and spokesman Will Ryan said the march was not so much about Mr Brown’s private life as his undeclared activities and poor financial management.

May take more than a speech from Len to make this go away.


The absentee Mayor

January 13th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland Mayor Len Brown is lying low and refusing to say exactly when he will resume public duties after his sex scandal, undeclared hotel stays and censure by councillors before Christmas.

Mr Brown did not return calls yesterday and his team of spin doctors were giving little away about the movements of their boss, who has been on leave since December 21 – the day after councillors expressed their “profound disappointment and disapproval” of the mayor’s inappropriate behaviour and undeclared conflicts of interest.

Did the Herald try all six of them?


Complaint re Brown’s Trust

December 29th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The HoS reports:

A private investigator has complained to Auckland Council and the Serious Fraud Office about a trust that was the biggest donor to disgraced Auckland mayor Len Brown’s election campaign.

Grace Haden, who stood unsuccessfully for the council in October on the Transparency New Zealand ticket, asked council chief executive Doug McKay, electoral officer Bruce Thomas and the Serious Fraud Office to investigate the New Auckland Council Trust.

Returns filed earlier this month showed Brown’s successful campaign was funded by $343,375 in donations, with the biggest donor the New Auckland Council Trust, which chipped in $273,375.

The trust, which contributed $499,000 to Brown’s 2010 mayoral campaign, allows donors to keep their identities secret.

Haden said the trust, and others like it, was impossible to investigate because it was not incorporated. “It’s a total sham.” She wants the trust’s legal existence established, and those who set it up and the trustees and beneficiaries identified publicly.

Brown’s campaign spokesman, David Lewis, said it was “fascinating” Haden was complaining only about the New Auckland Council Trust, and not any others. “Trusts … have been used by political parties for years. Len Brown’s campaign abided by the law and it’s a perfectly legal operation for raising money.”

Lewis is correct that trusts were legal for local authority elections – up until 29 June 2013. They have not not been legal for parliamentary elections for many years. Brown knew that trusts would be made illegal (or at least have to reveal their donors) for this election, but got in as much money as possible before the law change. Labour claims it wants transparency in electoral finance yet its most prominent members who is a Mayor does everything possible to avoid the transparency,

I wonder how many of the donors want their money back now?

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Williams on Brown

December 24th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

One of the most puzzling aspects of the Len Brown scandal is when he found time to cheat on his wife, says former North Shore City mayor-turned-MP Andrew Williams.

“It was full on – from dawn to dusk,” said Mr Williams, now a New Zealand First MP. “Your spare time would be limited. I am somewhat aghast he would have had the time to do it. I was run ragged for three years.

“[Wife] Jane said to me, ‘I can’t believe he would have time for an affair’.”

To be fair, it seems the encounters did not require much time :-)

Mr Williams said he was surprised by the details brought out in the EY (Ernst & Young) report. The amount of phone contact with Ms Chuang was a surprise. “I don’t think I would have rung my wife 1375 times.”

I’m no expert but I understand people tend to contact their mistress more than their spouse!

He said the frequency of stays in hotels in the city was also unusual. Mr Williams said it would have taken Mr Brown as long to get home as it used to take him as North Shore City mayor – and he had needed a hotel only once. On that single occasion, city-based meetings were followed by a black tie function and a 6.30am start the next day.

The number of stays by Mr Brown “seems excessive”, particularly considering the Super City mayoralty came with a car and driver.

At least 60 stays and he lived 20 minutes from the CBD!

The SkyCity hospitality – including free rooms and upgrades – was “definitely a conflict of interest”.

“That should have sent alarm bells to Len straight away.”


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More calls for Brown to go

December 22nd, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Matt McCarten writes:

Until this week Brown’s crime has been mainly about moral hypocrisy by using his wholesome family image to help his career for years while being privately the opposite. Without doubt, if any council employees had used council property or work time for trysts, they would have been fired with the mayor’s blessing.

This week the findings of the investigation take things to another level. His conduct crossed from his personal misbehaviour to the professional compromise of the office of mayor. …

Brown won’t get another term, regardless of what happens. So he should forget about himself and spend his energy doing big meaningful things for the people who put him there. That’s the mayor’s pathway to redemption.

Otherwise he may as well resign now and put himself, his family and us out of our misery.

Kerre Woodham also writes:

You’d have thought that shame would have seen him depart the mayoralty but the shame gene appears to be missing from his DNA.

I suppose he’s hoping the Christmas and New Year break will take the heat off him and when everyone comes back to work next year, it will be as if nothing ever happened.

But unless there’s a seismic shift, he’s going to be the most impotent mayor in the history of local body politics (which is ironic, really, isn’t it?)

People don’t want to work with him. Ratepayers are contemptuous of him. And politicians in Central Government will be wary of him, because nobody likes being around a loser, so it will make it more difficult to lobby for Auckland’s interests in Wellington.

On that note the HoS reports:

Auckland councillor Dick Quax, an outspoken critic of Mayor Len Brown, has called on him to withdraw from hosting Prince William and wife Catherine early next year.

The couple and their baby George will visit New Zealand in April.

Yesterday, Quax said Brown should not be greeting the royals after his two-year extramarital affair with Bevan Chuang and a review that found he had accepted free hotel rooms and upgrades.

“I’d be absolutely horrified if he was the face and the representative of Auckland meeting Prince William, his wife and their baby.”

That would be embarrassing.

And the HoS editorial:

When Santa Claus packs his sleigh ahead of his delivery run in the next couple of days, it’s fair to assume he won’t be needing a lot of space for parcels for one Len Brown, of Manukau in Auckland.

“Have you been a good boy this year, Len,” is a question the Auckland Mayor would, surely, dread right now.

It has been a horrendous end to 2013 for a man who should have had so much to celebrate. He won a landslide victory in the Supercity mayoralty and had another term or two firmly in mind. But his lengthy affair with Bevan Chuang, an independent report that cleared him of legal wrongdoing but revealed freebies and the use of a ratepayer-funded cellphone to support the affair, his forgetfulness over council policies on transparency, and a media pack that has turned on him all mean one thing – Mayor Len is dead man walking.

Len’s sole supporter remains Brian Rudman it seems.


Fran on why the Auditor-General should investigate

December 21st, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan writes:

Auditor-General Lyn Provost is the right person to take inquiries into Len Brown’s relationship with the SkyCity hotels and casino operator to the obvious next stage.

The mayor of Auckland has attempted to brazen his way through the embarrassing detritus exposed by the EY (Ernst & Young) report into some of the implications of his two-year affair with Bevan Chuang.

But that report, emasculated as it was after legal negotiations between Brown’s lawyer and the Auckland Council’s QC, has put new material on the table which must now be investigated by the Auditor-General herself.

I agree.

But in the Auditor-General’s case there is a firm basis on which to make more inquiries of Brown, the mayor’s office and SkyCity. The EY report is fact-based. But it also suffers from the obvious limitation of being a report commissioned by Auckland Council CEO Doug McKay into his boss.

Provost is not constrained by any such relationship and, importantly, has the power to inquire and make relevant comment.

The EY report established some useful facts, but didn’t cover many things. For example there was no asking of the Auckland Art Gallery whether or not the Mayor’s reference was the major reason Chuang was hired.

The EY report – as published – shies away from disclosing whether Brown solicited any of the nine freebies he had in four city hotels or requested any of the 64 upgrades.

The impression by Brown’s public comments is that his wife, Shan Inglis, made most of their hotel bookings.

But it stretches credibility to believe Inglis would have made the booking for her husband’s rendezvous with Chuang in a SkyCity hotel bedroom.

Especially as rumour has it that some of the bookings were for the day, not the night!

EY saves the mayor some embarrassment by failing to distinguish between Brown’s overnight stays and his daytime stays in hotels. A footnote to the report simply says “room nights refers to both night stays and day stays”.

It is unclear whether these so-called “room nights” cover the pop-in arrangements that Brown was said to have when a room was sought for a few hours for him to get away from the pressures of the office.

Pressures of the office?

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Auckland Council scrutiny

December 20th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Mayor Len Brown will forgo some executive powers as he sets out to rebuild his political career after a decision by councillors to keep him on.

A subdued Mr Brown yesterday accepted the unanimous decision by his colleagues to censure him with a warning from supporters Ross Clow and Chris Darby he would be on thin ice if any other skeletons came out of the cupboard.

Mr Brown gave an assurance there was nothing else out there and made a commitment to work closer with councillors on a common agenda in the new year.


In a blog written at the meeting, Metro editor Simon Wilson said if Mr Brown could not lead the council he needed to find the courage and grace to step aside. “He’s reached that stage,” wrote Mr Wilson, who said the subtext of the mayor’s supporters was they no longer had confidence in him.

“Len Brown will soon be gone. It’s hard to see him lasting past Christmas.”

He’s lost Metro! Wilson is as left as they come, so that is significant.

The Herald does another editorial:

If Len Brown declined to make a move yesterday, there was not going to be a move. That was the harsh reality for Aucklanders, the majority of whom clearly want the mayor to resign, and the councillors who met to publicly censure him. Mr Brown’s obduracy duly carried the day as he refused to acknowledge that the standing and influence he once enjoyed had been shredded by conflicts of interest and inadequate explanations and apologies arising from inquiries into his two-year extramarital affair. …

Auckland has a mayor who is politically reined in, reputationally damaged and personally unlikely to regain residents’ respect. It also has a mayor who must, one day soon, realise his diminished mana cannot allow him to speak for all in the region. At one level, a right-wing councillor, Sharon Stewart, reveals Mr Brown’s reputation so troubled schools and churches in her community they found it hard to have him present awards. At another, left-wing commentator Chris Trotter doubts Mr Brown’s ability to be taken seriously in Wellington.

The mayor’s failure to acknowledge the reality of his position was starkly apparent when, offered a “right of reply” to the councillors’ decisions yesterday afternoon, he offered a few perfunctory thoughts that came across as insufficient and offhand. The contrition that even his council supporters desired remained out of reach.

The manner in which Mr Brown has brazened it out with the council and the people this week shows he doesn’t, really, get that his tide has gone out. The city needs a new leader.

The reality will maybe set it, when Brown doesn’t receive any invitations to address businesses, schools, community groups and the like. No group will want him as a guest speaker.

Meanwhile scrutiny goes on other Councillors:

Auckland councillor Cameron Brewer, who has been baying for Mayor Len Brown’s blood for not declaring gifts, has admitted not declaring a four-day junket to the Gold Coast.

Mr Brewer yesterday admitted taking free air tickets and accommodation paid for by MediaWorks, which runs TV3.

The right-wing councillor said he made a declaration of interests in 2011, but not in 2012, which would cover the period he went to Queensland.

The 2012 declaration of interests shows that Mr Brown and just nine of the 20 councillors filed returns.

All Councillors should be filing returns, even if they are nil returns. Maybe the requirement should become a legislative one so there can be consequences for not doing so.

And why was Mediaworks paying for a Councillor to go to Queensland? Maybe he won a competition?

UPDATE: It seems it was to talk to a marketing and sales conference, in his role as a former head of Newmarket Business Association.

UPDATE2: The Pants Down Brown song is now the No 1 selling country song on iTunes for NZ. You can buy a copy for just $1.79, for endless fun.

UPDATE3: The Dominion Post also calls for him to go:

Len Brown is done. The sooner he and the councillors who slapped him over the wrist with a wet bus ticket yesterday realise it, the sooner Auckland can get on with its business.

Mr Brown’s crime is not his extra-marital affair with a woman 25 years his junior. It is the way he has dealt with the affair becoming public and what has been revealed by the investigation into his conduct.

His attempts to paint himself as a victim and to duck responsibility for his actions have damaged his credibility. His breaking of Auckland City Council rules has damaged the reputation of the council. Pleading ignorance of the rules or that he was distracted by other matters is not an excuse. As mayor Mr Brown had a responsibility to acquaint himself with the rules and to abide by them.


He, and his remaining supporters on the council, need to realise that Auckland is bigger than him. His continuing presence is an embarrassment and a distraction to the city he claims to love.He cannot impart a sense of direction to the city while he is ducking the public and avoiding the media. He cannot uphold standards for councillors when he has lowered them himself. And while questions persist about his conduct, the council cannot turn its attention to matters that actually concern Aucklanders. …

”You have sat too long for any good you have been doing,” Oliver Cromwell famously told the Rump Parliament in 1653. ”Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

Mr Brown should heed the sentiment.He has broken the rules, lowered standards and lost the respect of the people he represents and the people he is required to deal with as mayor of the country’s largest city. He should resign.

Is there anyone at all saying he should stay? No, Brian Rudman doesn’t count.

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