Clare Curran for Dunedin mayoralty?

The ODT has a story about rumours that Labour MP Clare Curran may stand for the Dunedin mayoralty.

Mayoral hopes verified, denied

The fog of war is descending as Dunedin’s mayoral aspirants jockey for position a year out from local body elections.

While some candidates are already putting their hands up for the top job, including Cr Andrew Whiley, others, including sitting Mayor Dave Cull, are continuing to play their cards close to their chests.

But that hasn’t stopped the rumour mill kicking into high gear in Dunedin. Much of the early attention is focused on one woman _ Clare Curran.

Ms Curran, Labour’s sitting Dunedin South MP, has been linked to a tilt for the Dunedin mayoralty by a variety of sources speaking to the Otago Daily Times.

She sounds like an unlikely candidate for Mayor.

The rumour is said to have come from inside Ms Curran’s office, although she vehemently denied the ”mischievous” suggestion when contacted.

”You will not see my name on the ballot paper next [local body] election.

”I’m the MP for Dunedin South. I’ve got a job.”

As far as political denials go that’s a strongish one.

Political commentator Bryce Edwards, of the University of Otago’s politics department, said a mayoral bid by Ms Curran ”sounds unbelievable”, but Labour was ”going through some quite serious reorganisation”.

Declining support for Labour in Dunedin South during the last two general elections could ”absolutely” mean Ms Curran was a candidate for change, as the party looked to renew itself, he believed.

”No doubt there will be some MPs that are having pressure applied to them to move on. It’s entirely feasible Clare Curran is one of those people.

”Questions are being asked within Labour about the ability of incumbent MPs to hold their party vote up. That’s the real measure that the party is judging all of their incumbents on.”

Ms Curran’s name recognition and profile would give her ”a strong shot” at Dunedin’s mayoralty, and she would also follow in the footsteps of some prominent Labour colleagues, Dr Edwards said.

It needs more than name recognition, although David Benson-Pope was elected to council in 2011, presumably more on name than reputation as a failed MP.

Curran just seems like an unlikely mayor to me.

But her future in Labour doesn’t look great.

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).

Dunedin’s Mayor Cull misrepresents fraud report

In response to the damning Deloitte report detailing a possible $1.5 million fraud (for as far back as was decided to investigate) Mayor Cull has made some very questionable statements.

On Radio NZ (Council under fire after fraud report) Cull says:

“Deloitte have concluded that there was no other staff member that benefited financially from the fraud.

“There were control failures and responsibilities but it was clear there was only one perpetrator in the council.”

That’s not what the Deloitte report concludes at all. Under Were other Council staff involved?


Cull is wrong on a number of counts.

  • Finding no evidence is quite different to “concluded that there was no other staff member that benefited financially”.
  • Obtaining vehicles at a discount to wholesale market value is a financial advantage.
  • Deloitte said that the police “may be interested” in staff members who paid for vehicles that the Council received no proceeds or was paid materially less than market value.

Some of the staff members at least will have known they were getting a bargain at the expense of the ratepayers. And paying Bachop rather than the council, especially in cash, was imprudent at best.

And there is major redaction of details.

In addition under Limitations the Deloitte reports says:

2.14 There is an inherent risk there are other material frauds at Council not identified in this investigation.

For Cull to put all the blame on one dead person and claim the report concluded no one else in Council benefited, when the report went as far as saying the police may be interested in staff members involved, gives me no confidence at all that the Mayor of Dunedin takes this seriously enough.

He seems more intent on sweeping embarrassments under the carpet.

His serious misrepresentation of the Deloitte report gives the impression he could be seriously misrepresenting the interests of the city’s ratepayers.

Dave Cull lacks transparency in secret deal

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull  seems to have so far escaped local scrutiny but is being criticised from further afield  for his “gentlemen’s agreement” payments to Pete Hodgson that have not been documented.

Timaru Herald (Stuff) Dunedin mayor defends MP deal

Dunedin Dave Cull is defending a “gentleman’s” agreement which saw a former MP paid $3400 for lobbying following a handshake deal.

Documents released under the Official Information Act reveal that former Dunedin North MP Pete Hodgson was paid by the council to lobby the Government not to strip core functions of Ag Research Limited from Invermay, near Dunedin.

The council said the main point of contact for the deal with Hodgson was Cull, but could not locate a single email, contract or any other document relating to the agreement. Hodgson had provided “lobbying and advocating” on behalf of council, and that he had “contributed” to a letter to Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and a submission written to the board of Ag Research.

“Mr Hodgson did not provide any reports relating to his services,” governance support officer Grace Ockwell said.

This isn’t a good look – especially for a mayor who has campaigned on improving transparency.


And: Payments by Dunedin City Council to former MP with no documentation

When I put it to Cull on Sunday (the story was released early and then withdrawn until yesterday) he responded:

What you are getting Pete is misinformation. I don’t negotiate contracts or employ anyone except our chief executive, and that with Council. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Local Govt in NZ knows that. And Mr Hodgson did considerably more in this instance than write a couple of letters: including researching, analyzing, attending meetings and giving reports. He is now assisting without payment.

It appears that the page on the Taxpayers Union site has now been taken down anyway. Perhaps they have realized that a good deal of what they are claiming is untrue.

It appears top be accepted as true.

Southern neighbours aren’t impressed. Christchurch Press editorial Gentlemen sign contracts too:

The standards that apply to council administration in the south should be no less rigorous than in Auckland city or the Whangarei district. Why should ratepayers in Dunedin tolerate a more easy-going attitude towards the spending of their money than anywhere else, just because of a romantic notion that southerners are somehow more honourable? Actually, they aren’t.

In matters involving public money, it is absolutely essential that the principles of transparency and accountability are upheld.

And this is a mayor who campaigned on a record of increased transparency.

The existence of the deal only became public when documents were released under the Official Information Act. It is obviously difficult to know if any other work has been paid for under similar gentlemen’s agreements because, by definition, documentation probably does not exist.

This is an important point. How many more “gentlemen’s agreements” might there be?

Southland Times editorial Time, gentlemen, please …

Could you smell the port and stale cigar smoke on Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull’s breath as he defended the “gentleman’s agreement” under which his council paid former MP Pete Hodgson for lobbying?

Mr Hodgson was paid $3400 for his work helping the council advocate that Invermay retain its core Ag Research functions. He was plausibly the best person for the job. But it was done on a handshake with nary a contract – and all that tedious accountability that goes with it – in sight.

Much as Mr Cull may apply a rosily nostalgic gloss to this as a gentleman’s way of doing business in the south, it isn’t.

Hasn’t been, we would like to think, for ages. Not since the days when distinctions were drawn between gentlemen and the rank and file.

A gentleman’s agreement, says Oxford, is binding in honour but not legally enforceable.

It may come as disappointing news to the council, but in these unmannerly times legal enforceability is not regarded as a tiresome detail, let alone a damned impertinence.

Particularly where the expenditure of public money is concerned.

Mr Cull would have us understand that he isn’t, for one moment, saying he would be comfortable if the council always negotiated contracts verbally.

After all, not everyone’s a gentleman.

But when the agreement is with a sound chap like Hodgson, the mayor apparently cannot see the difficulty in the absence of either a contract specifying what would be required, nor any follow up report about what, exactly, was delivered.

Things are so vague that though his council says Mr Cull was the main point of contact with Hodgson, the mayor says he wasn’t.

Almost a shame, then, that somebody didn’t think to keep notes on a file, or something.

And will all due modesty Mr Hodgson says that as a former minister of research, science and technology he was better placed than anyone to lobby on behalf of the council.

Mr Hodgson says the fact that nothing was written up “would probably reflect their trust in me”.

As far as the public is concerned, what this should reflect is the untrustworthiness of all involved.

A council, a mayor and a former minister of the Crown should collectively and individually know full well that this was dodgy and then some.

The Taxpayers’ Union, while acknowledging that it isn’t an eye-watering amount, detects that the council isn’t applying the most basic internal controls.

Exactly. On this evidence, alone, the Auditor General should get involved.

The very real public concern has to be wider than this single, inglorious, incident.

Because Dunedin doesn’t lack for gentlemen.

What else has been happening down there in that stale old club of theirs?

Again the obvious question asked.

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.

Dunedin mayor backs economic benefit of gas exploration

A surprise position from Dunedin mayor Dave Cull on the offshore gas exploration:

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull told Radio New Zealand’s Summer Report programme he personally favours the development of renewable fuels to combat climate change, but his council will try to maximise the economic benefit of the drilling.

Listen to Dave Cull on Summer Report

I and others tried to push him on this during the mayoral campaign and made sure it was a prominent issue. He tried to avoid it, he tried to appease both camps, and he flip flopped. He ended up sort of at this position but he wouldn’t clearly state it.

Good to see him back the economic benefits. It would have been very awkward for him to have opposed them today, with the announcement that Macraes mine to axe 106 jobs which is another blow to Dunedin and Otago employment.

And despite expected competition for the benefits:

Southland leaders such as South Port chief executive Mark O’Connor are celebrating the drilling plan but not expecting to benefit directly this time.

“It’s highly likely, depending on the final location they identify, that it may well be closer to Dunedin and therefore it makes sense to service that initial exploration project from Otago.”

This seems to signal that Dunedin is likely to get the most benefits.

Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead welcomed the news and echoed Mr McIntyre’s comments the city needed to make the best of the opportunity to show it could provide the required infrastructure.

”Port Otago has been in communication with Shell and its partners over the years. Again, there is a long lead-in period to this, so we are not getting overexcited.

“But we have the mix of a safe deepwater port and an engineering base in Dunedin. The mix of infrastructure and expertise in and around Dunedin would make the city the logical choice.”

This all looks promising for Dunedin.

But it won’t be without significant protest. Radio NZ:

Anti-drilling protest

Anti-oil activists are running a protest summit this weekend in Dunedin, and a spokesperson for Oil Free Otago, Niamh O’Flynn, says Dunedin should be seeking jobs in cleaner, greener industries.

Ms O’Flynn said the protest will include a symbolic blockade of part of Otago Harbour. “We need to be standing our ground and saying ‘no we’re not having this industry here and and we need to be looking for jobs in sectors that are going to be long term and actually provide jobs for our people.”

A generally wary post  Shell and the Great South Basin bsrpout points out the positives alongside his (genuine and reasonable) concerns:

 If the industry is as successful as Taranaki, around 800 new jobs will be created. 

That would be significant in Otago (or Southland).

I wonder if they change their name to Gas Free Otago. Shell don’t expect to find oil.

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.



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