Brown eased out, Goff lining up

It looks like Len Brown is being deserted by his own team.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown loses backing of top campaign team

Advisers want Goff/Hulse to run for mayor.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has lost the backing of key members of his campaign team, who are turning their attention to other left-leaning candidates at next year’s local body elections.

The Herald has learned of a meeting last month where key campaign and mayoral advisers delivered the “blunt message” to Mr Brown that he has no chance of winning and should step down.

At least two of Mr Brown’s inner circle have held talks with Mt Roskill MP and former Labour leader Phil Goff about standing for the mayoralty.

There is also support for deputy mayor Penny Hulse, who has expressed interest but said she would never stand against Mr Brown.

It is understood Mr Brown was shaken by the actions of his campaign team and mayoral staff, some of whom are longstanding friends. He has not responded to their request.

All Brown could do was several over the top laughs when interviewed for 3 News – Len Brown tight-lipped on campaign team’s support.– while the currently have the wrong video linked they are displaying an uncomplimentary image:

LenBrown3NewsAnd Phil Goff is lining up to take his place – Goff considers Auckland mayoralty bid

Senior Labour politician Phil Goff says he is giving deep and serious consideration to running for the Auckland mayoralty.

The veteran MP for Mt Roskill, who has served for 15 of his 31 years in Parliament as a cabinet minister in portfolios including foreign affairs, defence and housing, said today he had received approaches “from right across the community” to lead the SuperCity but had yet to make up his mind.

“It’s something that I need to give some pretty deep thought to.”

Phil Goff says he can’t say and won’t say if he has had discussions with Len Brown’s team about standing for Mayor… (reads: yes he has)

It was likely Brown would have difficulty getting sufficient support to stand again.

And Goff has been suggested as a mayoral candidate for Auckland for some time. He would probably do well in a campaign and could make a good mayor.

And Labour get to bring someone new in to their caucus which is overdue for renewal.

It could work out well all round (apart from for Brown of course).

Bets are off Sky City’s stupid gamble

Sky City did a deal with the Government. They got gambling concessions in return for the promise of a convention centre in Auckland.

Now Sky say their cost estimates have gone up and they need financial assistance.

But Len Brown says the Auckland City Council won’t fork out – Ratepayer cash won’t go into convention centre, mayor promises.

Auckland mayor Len Brown says the council will not put any ratepayer cash into building or running an international convention centre.

He told the Weekend Herald yesterday that there would be no money for the SkyCity convention centre in a new 10-year budget.

The council and Mr Brown were blindsided by suggestions from the Government and SkyCity before Christmas that ratepayers’ money be used to fund the shortfall in costs for the controversial project.

SkyCity said the original $402 million cost had been “revised” to $470 million and to $530 million.

That doesn’t rule out non-cash assistance such as rates relief, and…

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce floated the idea of ratepayers helping cover operating costs, but has since talked down the idea and suggested the council look at its regulatory fees for the consent and construction process.

But ruling out cash is sensible, and essential.

Who would want to finance a company who makes a deal based on costings that under-esitmated (or under-claimed) the cost by 20-30%?

Sky either cocked up or cooked up a massive con.

And the Government should discount any financial assistance too. They negotiated a deal based on no cost to taxpayers.

If National now bow to Sky’s coercion/attempted blackmail and fork out they will rightfully be blasted for it. It would look  that bad it would be likely to play a major part in the demise of Key’s government.

It would be a stupid business gamble and a very stupid political gamble.

And Sky have made a stupid gamble thinking they can fool us on their cost claims and suck us in to finance their folly.

Call their bluff. If they renege on their deal and ditch the convention centre Sky will be the biggest losers.

In gambling you need to know when to walk away.

RMA reform – same old opposition

Nick Smith says National is reviewing the most contentious parts of it’s last (failed) attempt at RMA reform and stated “National’s “preference” to build support beyond a bare majority” but “made it clear that the party was prepared to do so with just the support of the single MP of the Act Party”.

National pushes on with Resource Management Act reform is a bit contradictory.

After failing to gain the support it needed to pass changes proposed in 2012 during the last term, today National signalled that it could use its stellar election result to proceed – with little change.

Although Environment Minister Nick Smith said it was National’s “preference” to build support beyond a bare majority, the MP for Nelson made it clear that the party was prepared to do so with just the support of the single MP of the Act Party, which has long objected to what it considers to be an anti-development bias in the environmental legislation.

“Our first duty is make changes to the RMA that make the act work better for New Zealand. If we can’t get the support of the Maori Party and the United Future Party to be able to advance the reforms, then we will still be progressing with the support of the ACT Party,” Smith said.

Smith signalled that National was reviewing the most contentious of its proposed reforms of the RMA, covering changes to the act’s principles – a move critics have argued would aid development – but otherwise the tone of today’s speech was consistent with the last term.

“It’s consistent with the direction that was set in 2012, but there’s still a lot of detail in the amendments to deliver the overall package of reform,” Smith said.

He expected “intense discussion” over some of the “hundreds” of amendments to the existing legislation.

Not surprisingly the ‘Opposition” opposes it, for now at least.

Labour leader Andrew Little

…said the changes would do nothing to cut the price of building or increase the supply of affordable homes.

“National has spent six years claiming they will change the RMA to make housing more affordable but have yet to produce any tangible solutions. Nick Smith’s proposals are underwhelming and show the Government is out of ideas.

“It is critical that changes to benefit housing are not used as a smokescreen to undermine the environmental protection standards.”.

NZ First leader Winston Peters…

…said if the government was to curb rising house prices it needed to deal with speculation, immigration and a lack of construction.

“The minister’s planned changes to the RMA to address housing affordability do nothing of the sort, they are just a sop to developers. He is blaming the RMA for a high price of Kiwi homes, the lack of supply and making speculators rich as a red herring to National’s complete failure.”

The Green Party…

…said the changes would not build more homes.

“The Government has the ability to build affordable homes and address the housing crisis now but it is simply not doing it. New Zealand needs a major state home building programme, to meet the need for new homes and drive down high prices,” Green Party RMA spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.

But the mayor of the major housing problem area approves.

The reforms would streamline “complex” processes for house-strapped Auckland, Mayor Len Brown says.

Brown said Auckland Council had been working closely with the government to find a solution to Auckland’s housing crises.

“From Auckland Council’s perspective, there is considerable scope to improve the RMA,” he said.

“In particular streamlining the complex processes councils are required to work within, reducing duplication and providing more affordable housing.

“I particularly welcome recognition of the needs of cities and urban areas, including housing and infrastructure, which the current legislation doesn’t cover well.

Wider support will depend on what changes National are prepared to make.

Radio NZ reports Smith’s RMA speech strident, says Dunne – Dunne has appeared to be peeved that so far he has been left out of the loop and doesn’t know if he will support changes or not.

He said he had thought the Government was moving down a more pragmatic path, but he was not so sure.

“I just don’t quite know what the intended strategy is here. This speech just leaves you wondering frankly.”

Mr Dunne said the speech was short on detail, so he was still no closer to knowing whether he could support any changes.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell…

…said he still believed the Government was willing to compromise, even though it no longer needed their support.

“There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge yet, these things are by negotiation and I detect certainly a desire to work with us.

The detail and the debate is yet to come so it’s too early to tell how thios reform will be dealt with.

Mayoral security required for opening of an envelope

Seven security guards were present when  Auckland mayor Len Brown attended an opening of an envelope.

The council Mail Management Centre said they arranged for the security. They defended the cost, saying they were worried that high profile minister Michael Woodhouse might be criticised in a letter to the mayor.

Brown “not totally focussed”

Auckland mayor Len Brown has said he was…

…”not totally focused” on the upgrades taking him over the $300 limit for gifts that must be disclosed under council rules.

That’s a nonsensical excuse for not following basic disclosure requirements. What does it mean? He was almost fully focussed but not quite?

It doesn’t explain whether he was too slack to follow procedures he must have been aware of. Or whether he deliberately chose to not disclose the hotel bookings.

This probably won’t be answered by the mayor any time soon because it is now subject to a private prosecution – Embattled mayor faces new date: in 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.

“He subsequently voted on matters relating to those entities without disclosing the fact of the gifts in his register of interests, or disqualifying himself,” the documents say.

Since his re-election Brown has been “not totally focussed” on his mayoral duties, being notably absent from duties.

This prosecution will also hang over him, further not totally focussing him on his job.

Before Christmas Brown’s position as mayor was widely seen as untenable. That hasn’t changed. Brown’s holiday break has just been a lull before the pressure on him resumes, and it is unlikely to back off.

How now down trou Brown?

Len Brown has been caught out with his trou down, literally and politically. His mayoralty lies crumpled around his ankles with virtually no chance of his political career being raised again. (Presumably his marriage is also in tatters too but it’s not known what sort of relationship Brown had with his wife and what the current state of matrimony is.)

Pants downBrown seems to have no one but those whose jobs rely on him remaining mayor on his side.

The media have turned against Brown, with NZ Herald notably scathing and damning:

The light has gone out in the mayoral office and Brown is left stumbling in a black hole of his own digging. John Roughan:

People who have had dealings with Len Brown of late say it is awkward. The light has gone from his eyes. He can see what they are thinking. If they are meeting in the mayoral office and he invites them to take a seat, he probably notices their hesitation. We have all had too much information.

Whale Oil blogs Awkward is the best you can say:

I had a call from someone the other day from the Ngati Whatua room saying no one was sitting down. Just awkward people standing around…sniggering.

Councillors have done all they can to express there disappointment, frustration and disgust. Roughan:

They voted 15-5 to continue working with him. But most of the 15, including loyal Mike Lee, made it clear during the debate that the only reason they were doing so was they had to work with him, they could not force him out.What kind of man would stay when he has clearly lost the respect of even his closest allies? Lee said Auckland would be “officially dysfunctional” if they voted no confidence in the mayor. Lee had no illusions that Brown might do the decent thing.

So they settled for a “censure”, accepting the extraordinary advice that the council’s standing orders give them no right to vote no confidence in the mayor.

When the council members go to the barbecues they can say they have censured him. I don’t think they will find anybody impressed.

There is a little support and excuse making on blogs but the overall tone is overwhelmingly negative.

It is as though people are only now getting together to discover what almost all of them think. At some point in every barbecue somebody will say, “What do you think of Len Brown?” Eyebrows rise, heads shake in disbelief.

When it is quickly clear that nobody has anything to say in his favour, the question becomes, “do you think he can survive?”

Only Brown can decide if he stays as mayor, but the bigger question is how well will Auckland City manage with a crippled leader.

 The mayor is no longer respectable, he has become a joke and not a particularly funny one.

It looks like the very unfunny situation is set to continue. Bernard Orsman:

Yesterday, Mr Brown was on holiday and not responding to questions. It is understood he is taking a break to spend time with his wife, Shan Inglis, and family as part of trying to “redeem and rebuild myself in the eyes of my wife and children and wider family”.

The Brown family are planning to spend Christmas and New Year with relatives, then possibly take a family holiday overseas.

The mayor’s office said the mayor would resume public engagements in early to mid January.

That’s a sad non-joke, the mayor has been avoiding engagements to avoid embarrassment.

And the public doesn’t want to engage with down-trou Brown. They want a divorce.

In the meantime the city suffers.

Threats of more Brown revelations, Auckland crippled

Len Brown may have survived censure yesterday…

… but are there more revelations to come? Questions are still being asked, rumours and accusations abound, and there are gaps and inconsistencies in Brown’s explanations.

Brown already said there was nothing else but has now admitted that to be false.

“In this context I should not have accepted the free rooms offered to me, and should have disclosed this fact when I was asked about it in October.

“This was an error of judgement and I apologise to the people of Auckland.”

It was more than “an error of judgement”. Brown lied. Yesterday Brown again claimed there is nothing more.

RadioLIVE Newsroom ‏@LIVENewsDesk

Auckland Mayor Len Brown is adamant there are no more skeletons in the closet after a stern telling-off by councillors today.

Cameron Brewer during the public meeting yesterday:

Mr Brewer called for the Attorney General to investigate the hotel issue, which he says was only “glazed over” by the EY report.

He also called for full and final disclosure by the mayor: other perks, other girlfriends, other hotels, he says. He was disappointed by his fellow councillors who would not ask the mayor for final disclosure in today’s motions.

Dick Quax told 3 News yesterday the saga is not over.

“He’s been so badly damaged, and it’s my belief that there will be more revelations as well, of further unbecoming behaviour,” he says.

“I have heard that.”

And before yesterday’s meeting Whale Oil posted SOME IMPORTANT QUESTIONS COUNCILLORS NEED TO ASK

Once I had them there I’d ask a few more questions.

  1. Did the mayoress really make the bookings as claimed by Mayor Brown on television?
  2. How were the majority of bookings made? Internet or phone?
  3. Did the mayor solicit any of the upgrades himself?
  4. Of all the room bookings, how many were for daytime and how many for at night?
  5. What other information came to light during the investigation that fell outside the scope?

That then would lead onto questions for the mayor to answer:

  1. Why would the mayor need to book a hotel room in the middle of the day?
  2. Wasn’t he supposed to be working for the city 24/7?
  3. Why did you solicit the upgrades yourself?
  4. Why did you answer differently to Campbell Live?
  5. Do you ever tell the truth?

Then I would call in his driver and ask him just one question:

  1. How many times have you driven the mayoral car to 14 Tawa Drive, North Harbour?

There are, as the mayor’s former mistress says, many more questions that are required to be asked of the mayor and answered by him with some honesty for once in his miserable life.

There are still questions remaining over the secret trip to Hong Kong and the breaches of the code of conduct.

Two Hong Kong trips haven’t yet been fully disclosed. Brown and his staff have tried to keep details secret and have misinformed on these trips.

Some of Brown’s explanations have been inconsistent and incomplete. In a statement after the release of the EY report last week:

“My reason for staying in the central city is that I often work until late in the evening – attending meetings, functions or civic events – and I start work early the next morning.” 

On Wednesday on 95bFM:

“I was also thinking, ‘hey, look this has nothing to do with the council, this has nothing to do with spending ratepayers’ money’.

Last Friday on Campbell Live in response to the questions about why his wife arranged accommodation Brown said:

“because she loves me and I love her and she’s been basically looking after me by arranging through my office….”

Brown has claimed the hotel bookings were nothing to do with the council, but also says his wife booked them through his office.

Until all these questions are fully and clearly answered this scandal will haunt Brown. This will affect how he can do his job. And that will adversely affect Auckland City.

Of course more revelations and more proof of Brown not being open and honest, and lying, will surely mean he will have to resign.

But until that happens a lame duck mayor will cripple Auckland.

UPDATE: Christine Fletcher has just said on Firstline that while she has heard rumours tolerance has reached it’s limit, there must be no further revelations and Brown must show genuine contrition or his position is untenable.

Confidence gone, Brown gone by Christmas?

At today’s Auckland council meeting the attempt to have a vote of no confidence failed. Some councillors said it would put them in an impossible position if Len Brown didn’t resign, they would have to work with him having expressed no confidence in him.

The censure motion went ahead and passed as predicted. Amongst other things it unanimously expressed “profound disappointment and disapproval”.

NZ Herald reports: Vote over Mayor Len Brown’s censure passed

The motion of censure was unprecedented and was one of the strongest motions a fellow politician could give, Mr Lee said.

“It means we have chastised the mayor for his failings, and a motion of no confidence means that we can’t work with him.

“Members, we have a choice here and we have to try and move forward.”

Councillor Dick Quax said the council would only be able to move forward when Mr Brown was gone.

“He has been the architect of his own dilemma.”

So councillors have now expressed views ranging from profound disappointment and disapproval to no confidence. This further entrenches the untenable situation Brown is in.

Metro editor Simon Wilson blogs: Len Brown: gone by Christmas?

Len Brown will soon resign. The governing body of the Auckland Council has been meeting since 10am, and it’s still not over, and it’s clear in the debate that the mayor has lost the support of most councillors. That will make it extremely difficult for him to do his job.

When he understands that – and how longer could that possibly take? – he will step down.

 So why will Len Brown stand down?

In the current issue of the magazine, I have suggested that Brown’s misdemeanours are not sufficiently serious to require resignation, but if he loses his ability to do his job, that changes. If he cannot lead the council, he needs to find the courage and grace to step aside.

He’s reached that stage.

Can Brown still do his job? Widely viewed as a disgrace and/or a laughing stock, his only salvation lies in his potential to harness council support to lay that reputation to rest. He needs their goodwill and support if he is to have any chance of re-establishing his claim to leadership. But councillors have made it plain that cannot happen.

Brown should not be confused about this. Most councillors will not support the explicit right-wing attack on him, at least partly because they do not want this to be seen as a right-wing victory.

But he should recognise that they want him to resign anyway. They are waiting for him to do the decent thing.

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

I think that sums it up well.

Support for Brown has been evaporating since yesterday’s NZH editorial – Editorial: Brown must go for the good of the Super City

The Government is sending strong signals that it is up to Brown (implying to resign).

Collins to Len: Do you have the moral authority?

A senior Government minister says Mayor Len Brown has to question whether he has the moral authority to stay on as mayor.

Judith Collins, who has known Mr Brown for 30 years, made the comment this morning ahead of a council meeting at which the mayor will face motions of censure and no confidence.

She told RadioLive the mayor had to question whether he should stay on.

“My advice to Len is this – Len, do you have the moral authority to do what is an extremely important job?”

Ms Collins said she had been hearing consistently negative comments around Auckland about someone who people used to think very highly of.

“And I just think it’s really going to be very tough if he wishes to stay.

“But if he does, obviously we will work with anyone when it comes to the mayor of Auckland, and we have to as a Government. But Len’s really got to think about it.”

Brown’s friends and allies are advising him it’s time to go.

Len Old Friend: This Is Why You Must Stand Down

By Selwyn Manning 

Sometimes our strength is not measured by what we strive for, or hold onto, but by what we give up… If you go, you do so for the team, by forcing an election the voters of Auckland will get to choose who will lead the City’s council rather than that choice being made by those who currently occupy the Beehive. 

His council have now officially censured him and want to be able to move on. It’s hard to see how they can do that with him as mayor.

Confidence in Brown is evaporating, and their are signs his own confidence has taken a major hit.

A Christmas present for Auckland will be Brown’s resignation. Early would be better.

Then in the New Year the city can set about choosing a mayor that they have confidence and trust in.


The many problems with Brown

Len Brown will face his councillors and the public in a meeting today. It is obvious he has a serious problem with a severe loss of trust and credibility. It’s about far more than Brown, the credibility and the future of Auckland City is at stake.

While the lying and the ignoring of proper disclosure processes are serious there is major problem with the office sleaze factor. Brown has claimed his infidelity is a personal issue but he conducted some of his sexual affairs in his office and in other council locations.

People shudder at the thought of shaking Brown’s hand as mayor.

Females will feel uncomfortable meeting with Brown on their own in the mayoral office.

And ridicule hovers over Brown in public appearances. It is affecting his ability and willingness to carry out normal mayoral duties.

On top of this is the loss of trust. Brown has twice at least had affairs – and his Chuang relationship cannot be passed off as “a mistake”, it involved extensive contact over two years. And as pointed out, it involved Brown’s public as well as his private life.

Presuming his wife and family feel deceived and cheated it will be very difficult if not impossible for Brown to repair his marriage. Difficulties in his private life must affect his ability to focus on his job.

Brown has a history of “mistakes” as mayor. After his credit card misuse as mayor of Manukau he pledged to not err again, but he has failed to declare his hotel freebies, and he has failed to declare details of a trip to Hong Kong in January. They are basic and well known requirements. Brown cannot claim “lack of clarity” as an excuse.

And there is more hovering over him. The Ernst Young report precipitated the current escalation but it was relatively soft on Brown. There are still question marks over him giving Chuang written and oral job references, there are question marks over two Hong Kong trips, there are questions about Brown and his staff deliberately withholding information and deliberately misleading.

Brown has already been found to have lied in his denials.

There is a huge question mark about what else may emerge, there are strong rumours about Brown having more relationships. These rumours may or may not be true but regardless, Brown’s word means little and while he remains as mayor doubts will remain about the extent of his cheating and lying.

Brown has not been open and honest, and his apologies have been inadequate. He continues to divert blame, he tries to diminish his responsibility, and he tries to seek sympathy.

Auckland councillors have a difficult job this morning. Brown should never have put them in this situation, but so far he has put his own interests ahead of his council and his city.

This morning at the public meeting Brown will make a statement. If it is more weak apologies, more excuses, and more ignoring of the seriously compromised position he is in, then he will force the hands of the councillors. They will have to step up and express as much disapproval as they can.

But ultimately whether Brown remains as mayor is his call. If he declines to resign today Auckland City will go into the Christmas and New Year break hobbled and ridiculed.

Some are claiming that putting on Brown to resign, especially by NZ Herald, is undemocratic, but our democracy allows us all to express our opinions.

And a reality of democracy is that if an elected official has lost the trust of the people and has done nothing to give any confidence he accepts responsibility and properly recognises the problems then his position is untenable.

Today is too late to repair the damage for Brown. The best he can do is allow Auckland to start to repair the damage and recover. The only way Brown can do that is to resign.

Democracy means he will still be able to stand again if he chooses. At the very least he must put his future in the hands of the people of Auckland, let them judge his suitability for remaining as mayor. The way to do this is to have an election.

Or  Brown should hand over to someone else via a by-election. There seems to be no viable alternative for Auckland. The people must be able to decide what is best for their city, not a severely compromised mayor.


Brown still in denial

Len Brown still seems to have no idea about the severity of his situation and the inadequacy of his response to growing problems. He continued to show a distinct lack of awareness in a radio interview this morning – Len Brown laments his ‘annus horribilis’.

In an interview on 95bFM this morning he repeated his previous assertion that his failure to declare $39,000 in free hotel rooms and upgrades was due to “a lack of clarity around the policy in terms of gift registry and declaration”.

“A lack of clarity’ is nonsense. The mayor should make sure he is clear about his responsibilities regarding declarations. Any lack of clarity is his own failing, but he appears to be trying to divert blame.

“Secondly, I just didn’t bring my mind to it clearly enough … if you received an upgrade, or a complimentary [room], if it was over $300, then you should declare it.

“I’ve put my hand up to that and said `hey, you know we could have been much, much clearer and lucid around that and got better instruction and understanding.

He hasn’t put his hand up, he keeps making excuses.

“I was also thinking, ‘hey, look this has nothing to do with the council, this has nothing to do with spending ratepayers’ money’.

He should also be aware of the dangers of possible appearances of conflicts of interest.

“I’m wiser in hindsight, well chastened and I suspect that it’s just not me, there’d be many sitting around the council table who’ll be thinking back on their declarations and wondering, ‘hey, did I declare that upgrade in the aeroplane?’.”

Again trying to diminish his responsibility. The mayor of Auckland needs to be wise in advance, not make excuses afterwards and think it’s ok – especially when he has been chastened in the past, as mayor of Manukau, and he promised he wouldn’t make mistakes again.

Mr Brown said in reflection it had been “annus horribilis” (a horrible year).

“Certainly the last few weeks have provided something of a reflection for me … It’s been really, really tough and not just in the public eye obviously, [but also] for us as a family, for me as a husband and a dad – it’s been really difficult to confront that and that’s where the damage has been most profound.”

Yes, it has become a horrible year for him. and a horrible year for Auckland City. But Brown seems to think it’s all about him.

The damage may have been most profound for him at home because his wife and family give him the sack. That’s all of his own doing (and far more than “a mistake” as he has claimed).

But this has also had a profound impact on Auckland City. Brown is not able to act fully as mayor, and he has brought ridicule on himself and the city.

He said he had been making a lot of apologies recently and was copping “a fair old whack around the ears”.

He keeps having to make apologies because his responses have been inadequate. He will keep copping whacks around the ears until he makes apologies that address the root of his and the city’s problems.

And because he has fobbed off, misled the public and kept making lame excuses he has dug himself into a hole.

The only adequate apology now would be one accompanied by his resignation. If he really cares about his city that’s what he will do, but still today he appears to only care about himself.


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