Disingenuous protest

Penny Bright has been in the news again lately, as the Auckland City Council forced sale of her house for unpaid rates seems more imminent (nearing the end result of a protest that has lasted many years).

Stuff: Auckland protester’s home to be sold following 11 years of unpaid rates

An Auckland activist’s home will be sold to recover more than $34,000 unpaid rates and penalties dating back more than 10 years, but she’s not moving.

A High Court judgement ruled Penny Bright’s Kingsland home would be sold by tender on April 24.

Bright had been in a bitter stand-off with Auckland Council for 11 years over unpaid rates after she stopped paying them in 2007.

She said she wouldn’t pay up until the council was more transparent about its spending.

“I’m making a stand and because I am a whistle blower I’m being singled out and targeted. I am not leaving this is my home. I always intended to pay back the rates, which I think has been lost in all of this. This could be simply resolved. The mayor and councillors need to instruct Auckland Council’s chief executive Stephen Town to open up the books.”

She isn’t in a great position to be making demands. It could have been simply resolved by paying rates due.

She must be one of the most frequent protesters in Auckland, and one could ask whether she picks her battles wisely or not.

She features again here in Bikelash, paralysis – and progress:

This is the new bike lane up the hill to West Lynn shops. Its completion was briefly delayed when Occupy Garnet Road leaders Lisa Prager and Penny Bright occupied a digger, with a ‘Save the Trees’ sign. This was odd, given that no trees were being removed. At all. Indeed, the new lane diverts around a couple of trees before heading up the hill along the top of the steep grass berms.

(I’m told the Occupiers’ new objection to the path is that it is bad for the environment because it’s made of asphalt.)

She is not the only one geing disingenuous about protesting.

It’s easy to dismiss this sort of protest as nutty – as long as their bills are paid.

Auckland Council seeks sale of Bright’s house

A protest that may have gradually got out of hand may now result in Penny bright losing her house.

Council seeks sale of Kingsland property to recover rates

Auckland Council has asked the High Court to proceed with the sale of a Kingsland property owned by Ms Penny Bright to recover unpaid rates and penalties dating back to 2007.

The council obtained a judgment against Ms Penny Bright in the Auckland District Court in January 2016.

Following an unsuccessful appeal by Ms Bright and a statutory six-month stand down period, the council has now asked the High Court to commence the sale process.

“Taking enforcement action to recover unpaid rates is the last resort and happens very rarely,” says Auckland Council’s Acting Group Chief Financial Officer Matthew Walker.

“The council has written to Ms Bright regularly over the last six months offering to resolve this matter. We have also offered to meet with her to discuss rates postponement, which she has declined.

“While we would prefer not to have reached this point, the council needs to be fair to the thousands of Aucklanders who do pay their rates or have a payment plan in place.

“It’s important for property owners to know that there are always options available to resolve unpaid rates without causing financial hardship, including through a rates postponement. As a result, in almost all cases like this, we have been able to avoid taking enforcement action.”

The judgment was for $34,182.56 in rates and penalties outstanding as at 30 June 2015. The council has been awarded total costs in the District and High Courts of $20,329.20.

If an arrangement can’t be reached with Ms Bright and the sale of the property goes ahead, it will be used to recover the full amount of outstanding rates and penalties and any further costs, including real estate agency and legal fees.

The remainder of the proceeds from the sale would be released to Ms Bright through the Public Trust.

Timeline:

Background to Ms Bright’s outstanding rates:

  • Ms Bright stopped making rates payments in 2007.
  • Auckland Council first issued proceedings against Ms Bright in 2011 seeking to recover payment of unpaid rates from June 2006 to June 2011.
  • It obtained judgment by default however that was set aside by the Court on technical grounds.
  • In 2015 the council sought summary judgment for unpaid rates from June 2011 to January 2015.
  • In January 2016, the District Court entered judgment for Auckland Council against Ms Bright for $34,182.56 for outstanding rates and penalties. Costs were awarded in the council’s favour for $13,249.20.
  • In July 2016 the High Court dismissed Ms Bright’s appeal and awarded costs in favour of the council for $7080.00.
  • In March 2017 the council applied to the High Court to enforce the judgment by sale pursuant to section 67 of the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 (LGRA).
  • In May 2017 the High Court issued a notice pursuant to the LGRA requiring Ms Bright to pay the judgment sum, costs and all remaining rates due on the property.
  • After a compulsory six-month stand down period, in December 2017 the council requested the High Court to proceed with the sale of the property.
  • Throughout this period the council has continued to invite Ms Bright to make payment or to apply for a rates postponement. No payment or application has been received.

When withholding payments in protest it would be prudent to set aside the money in case you need to pay it, as is very likely with something like rates, but penalties can also grow a debt substantially.

Losing your house is a high price to pay for a highly questionable stand on some sort of principle. The only real loser could ever have been Bright.

 

Mt Albert candidates

I’ve heard of four candidates for the Mt Albert by-election so far.

Penny Bright has indicated she will stand.

‘Anti-corruption campaigner’
2017 Mt Albert by-Election Independent candidate

New Zealand People Party (NZPP), which stood in the Mt Roskill by-election with  disappointing result, has selected Vin Tomar for Mt Albert.

Mt Albert electorate will have some more choices in the forthcoming by-election in February next year with New Zealand People Party (NZPP) also announcing their candidate.

NZPP has shortlisted Vin Tomar, a registered early childhood teacher and real estate agent and a practising licensed immigration adviser as their candidate.

Roshan Nauhriya, the founder President of the Party, who is currently overseas confirmed the news on the phone and reiterated that “we are committed to building our party and fight every by-election before the next year’s general election.”

NEW ZEALAND PEOPLE PARTY TO SPICE UP MT ALBERT BY-ELECTION, ANNOUNCES CANDIDATE

Labour have selected Jacinda Ardern, and the Greens haver selected Julie Anne Genter who is sort of conceding defeat and claiming joint victory.

RNZ: Labour likely to win by-election – Greens candidate

Green Party candidate Julie Anne Genter has conceded that Labour will probably win next month’s Mt Albert by-election but says she will put her best forward.

She said Ms Ardern was likely to win but was excited to work alongside her.

“Having two positive, young women candidates who are both working to change the government is a real opportunity to get more people excited and interested in the positive potential of politics.”

Genter and Greens need to make an attempt to promote themselves rather than just be a support act for Labour.

This puts one of the best performing Green MPs up against a talked up but under-performing Labour MP.

The by-election will be on 25 February.

‘Reduce rates’ promises

Political promises are Clayton’s promises – they are promises that are not really promises. They are statements of ‘I’d like you to think I would do this if elected but it depends…’

In local body election campaigns ever escalating rates inevitably attract promises but the promises never seem to be delivered.

NZ Herald: Auckland’s would-be mayors offering same old hoary chestnuts

The triennial “silly season” is upon us. Most of the mayoral candidates and many of the council aspirants are trotting out the hoary old chestnuts, reduction of rates, for example, or capping rates. Remember those promises any other times? Remember any rates reductions, or “caps” staying in place?

Does anyone remember anyone actually drinking Claytons, ‘the drink you have when you’re not having a drink’?

…please look at the website showing press statements of Phil Goff…

From Goff’s policies:

  • Rate rises will be kept low and affordable at an average of 2.5 percent per annum or less, if current Council fiscal projections are correct and the CPI stays low.

Rates are high now so can’t be ‘kept low’ by allowing them to continue to rise faster than inflation. And Goff has two out clauses so this is not a promise, it is political snake oil.

Vic Crone delivers fairly similar, glib statements, including “keeping residential rates low”. She will also “cap rates”.

So Aucklanders can expect that their rates will remain high and will be capped at whatever the mayor and councillors think they can get away with without being run out of office.

Crone, like Goff, also proposes to make savings (“at least $500million”) and increase efficiency by reducing “back office waste” and by “efficient procurement”.

Meaningless mumbo jumbo.

Mark Thomas…

…has a more varied menu of options, such as: “freezing rates for a year with targeted options” or, “two further options of targeted growth involving an average rates increase of ‘around’ 2-4 per cent including a version of targeted rates”.

No sign of anything different there.

John Palino proposes to…

“…reduce rates by 10 per cent across the first term” by reducing spending on “non-core” and “wasteful spending”, “discretionary activities”, “payroll costs”, bringing these down “to a more normal level”.

At least Palino doesn’t pretend that rates are currently low, but I don’t know how anyone can believe he can get the support of councillors to reduce rates by 10%.

Penny Bright still doesn’t pay her own rates.

Voters are likely to remember things like this: Len Brown breaks election rates promise

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.

Nearly one in four households face rates increases of more than 10 per cent, largely due to big rises in property valuations.

 

Auckland mayoral poll – two leaders

In two ways of looking at an Auckland mayoral poll there are two leaders – Phil Goff easily leads the other contenders, but ‘Don’t Know’ easily leads Goff.

But care needs to be taken with this poll – it has been done by a pollster with an unknown record and was done entirely online with none of the traditional polling being done.

The Spinoff: Exclusive: new Spinoff/SSI poll shows Phil Goff with huge lead in Auckland mayoral race

A survey commissioned for the Spinoff’s War for Auckland pop-up site puts the Labour MP well in front of his nearest rival, Vic Crone, just weeks out from voting. But many remain undecided.

Comparing the contenders (decided voters):

  • Phil Goff 60.3%
  • Victoria Crone 15.5%
  • John Palino 7.9%
  • Penny Bright 4.6%
  • Mark Thomas 3.3%
  • David Hay 2.8%
  • Other 5.6%

This is a big lead for Goff. Being the only one with well established name recognition the lead isn’t a surprise but perhaps the size of his lead is.

Crone has a huge job to try and close the large gap.

Palino stood against Brown last election so should be known, but his campaign has failed to impress since it launched.

But the numbers look a bit different when adding one significant number.

 

  • Don’t know 43.7%
  • Phil Goff 31.2%
  • Victoria Crone 8.0%
  • No intention of voting 4.6%
  • John Palino 4.1%
  • Penny Bright 2.4%
  • Mark Thomas 1.7%
  • David Hay 1.4%
  • Other 2.9%

 

Despite the large lack of certainty – about half chose none of the candidates – that is still a huge lead for Goff. As ‘don’t knows’ get to know other candidates the gap may close but this looks like it is Goff’s campaign to lose. This seems unlikely as he is likely to run a fairly bland campaign.

However the accuracy of this poll is unknown. It was conducted by am international pollster with no phone surveying done.

Survey Sampling International conducted an online survey of 760 Auckland residents 18+ with quota applied for gender, age and Auckland region. Polling took place August 17-19 and there is a margin of error of +/- 3.6%.

From the SSI website, About:

SSI is the premier global provider of data solutions and technology to drive business success.

As the premier global provider of data solutions and technology for consumer and business-to-business survey research, SSI reaches respondents in 100+ countries via Internet, telephone, mobile/wireless and mixed-access offerings.

 

Penny Bright loses appeal

(Yes, she did have some voter appeal in the last local body elections, getting 4th with 11,723 votes)

I doubt that many will be surprised that Penny Bright has lost her appeal in her ongoing battle to avoid paying rates in Auckland.

NZ Herald: Activist Penny Bright loses latest battle with council over unpaid rates

Activist Penny Bright has lost her latest battle against Auckland Council over her unpaid rates.

Chief High Court judge Justice Geoffrey Venning dismissed an appeal by Bright on Monday in the High Court at Auckland.

Bright had appealed a decision, made by the Auckland District Court in February, which required her to pay her rates, which have been outstanding since 2007.

The summary judgment obtained was for outstanding rates and penalties of $34,182.56, as at 30 June 2015.

In the decision, Venning said: “Ms Bright, like other ratepayers, has an obligation to pay the rates that have been validly assessed as payable by her. Her refusal to do so simply increases the administration costs of the council.”

The court also awarded the council costs.

Cost may add up to a bit on top of her rates arrears and penalties.

It is also quite odd that someone who doesn’t pay their rates stands for election for the mayoralty.

Her campaign slogan is “stop corruption”at pennybright4mayor.org.nz

PennyBright4Mayor

If she misses out on the mayoralty she could always stand for the by-election on Phil Goff’s Mt Roskill electorate should he win – she could campaign there on not paying tax.

 

 

The ladders of democracy should be equal

Democratic processes should be as even handed and equal opportunity as possible. The Auckland mayoralty contest seems to be far from fair.

Quinton Hogg at Whale Oil pointed out something I have been meaning to post on:

I attended the EMA candidates meeting last week where Ms Crone, Mr Goff and Mark Thomas spoke. And Penny Bright stood outside in the cold as she wasn’t let in.

Of the three Mark Thomas was the most impressive. I had heard Ms Crone previously without being impressed and Mr Goff wandered through the platitudes.

Slater added:

The EMA refused to allow John Palino to participate.

This stinks, regardless of how anyone may rate candidates at this early stage of the pre-campaign campaign.

It is sad to see the Employer’s and Manufacturer’s Association picking and choosing candidates to give exposure to.

Penny bright may have limited appeal, especially to an EMA audience, but she’s prepared to put herself forward and should be given an equal opportunity in a democratic contest.

John Palino (who has Slater as an adviser) and got off to a poor start with a launch that was treated as a bit of a joke by media, but he is one of the choices so should be in the mix at any election meeting.

But this does have some irony as Whale Oil is not exactly an equal opportunity blog for candidates. Slater seems to have been quiet on Palino but has been predictably critical of Goff, and frequently very critical of Crone who happens to have a good chance of keeping Palino out of the contest.

Slater is also often critical of ‘the media party’ and how they influence politics, but this is even more ironic given his claim to be serious media but is far more biased and attack orientated than the MSM are ever likely to be.

The Auckland mayoralty and democracy are being poorly served all round.

The ladders of democracy should be as even as possible.

Anti democratic Auckland election event

The South Auckland Business Group is ratepayer funded and is running a mayoral election event, but it is only inviting two candidates.

Worse, they invited John Palino and then cancelled the invitation. Palino stood for the Auckland mayoralty in 2013 and got 108,928 votes (31.67%).

Regardless of perceived prospects, selecting some candidates and excluding others is unfair and is very poor democratic process.

Radio NZ reports: Mayoral hopefuls decry rescinded invitations

Two Auckland mayoral candidates aren’t happy at being invited and then excluded from an election event being organised by a ratepayer-funded business group.

Mark Thomas and John Palino said they were invited to the South Harbour Business Association candidate event, but then removed from the line-up, leaving just Vic Crone and Phil Goff.

Mr Palino said he was invited by email to join a line-up including Phil Goff and Mark Thomas, but 20 minutes later received another email withdrawing the invitation.

Ironically RNZ did similar in 2013, at least in Dunedin where they featured only four of eight candidates in their election coverage because they ruled out the chances of half the candidates, denying them equal opportunity to attract votes.

The business lunch was organised by the South Harbour Business Association, which is funded entirely by a targeted rate and a grant from the Auckland Council.

Email exchanges obtained by RNZ News showed some of the on-again, off-again exchanges:

  • April 6 2.18pm: SHBA’s manager Alex Holley, confirms that Vic Crone and Phil Goff will attend.
  • April 21 12.27pm: SHBA writes to the Goff campaign – “Further to my email regarding Mark Thomas wanting to join, I have received a call from Victoria Crone’s representative saying Victoria will not appear with Phil and Mark.”
  • April 27 11.49am: SHBA invites mayoral candidate John Palino to present “alongside Phil Goff and Mark Thomas.”
  • April 27 12.05pm: SHBA emails John Palino (16 minutes later) “Please disregard my previous email as my request is now withdrawn.”

That’s very shoddy, as is the selection of two candidates and rejection of others.

Ironically Radio NZ has pre-selected candidates that it wants to give campaign exposure to in the past.

RNZ allowed only four of the eight Dunedin mayoral candidates to feature in their election coverage in the 2013 campaign, and presumably did similar for other cities as they defended their anti-democratic pre-election selectiveness.

That was very shoddy, especially for a fully publicly funded broadcaster. I hope they give fair and even coverage this year.

Another Auckland mayoral candidate?

With John Palino’s mayoral campaign derailing at it’s train wreck launch attention is already moving back to other candidates and forward to another possible high profile candidate, Michael Barnett.

That would make the field even more crowded on the centre right.

Richard Harman from Politik was at Palino’s launch and has posted on AUCKLAND’S CHAOTIC MAYORAL CAMPAIGN.

He said that National will…

…probably not lose too much sleep over the announcement yesterday by café proprietor and 2013 candidate John Palino that he was standing again.

It didn’t go well.

But…

…with Mr Lusk running  his camopaign, and “Whaleoil” Cameron Slater in the background, Mr Palino looks unlikely to pull out.

At Whale Oil yesterday Cameron Slater suggested candidates consider whether they consolidate their position and policies.

It was no surprise to see the sensible Stephen Berry endorse the position, but with some additional things to consider around rates.

It’s worth considering whether or not these two should consolidate their position and policies.

So would Berry pull out to improve another candidate’s chances? Possibly. I asked him and he responded:

When I announced my candidacy in April last year, I did so on the proviso that I would stand as long as there was no other candidate who represented Affordable Auckland’s position and could attract more votes. That still remains my position and what is most important in this election is ensuring a centre-right majority in the next Council. I’d welcome working with other individuals and groups on the centre-right to make that happen.

It’s too early to say at this stage whether that may be Palino. I have an open mind on the matter and would love to be pleasantly surprised by some serious policy announcements from Crone or Thomas.

I think a lot of people would be pleasantly surprised by some serious policy announcements.

When Berry announced he would stand he said:

“What is most important for the future of Auckland is not whether I win the Mayoralty, but whether politicians advocating smaller government and less regulation win a majority on the Council.

Affordable Auckland will be taking a strategic approach to ensure this occurs.”

Berry’s campaign website: Affordable Auckland. He followed Palino’s launch with a press release More to Rates Than Just the Rate.

Harman looks at the other candidates from centre to right.

Ms Crone has the backing of two Cabinet Ministers so she won’t pull out.

Mark Thomas, who stood aside once before in the 1996 election campaign in Wellington Central to allow Richard Prebble through, will undoubtedly come under immense pressure to stand down.

So Crone will probably remain in the race and Thomas may or may not.

And will Barnett also join the line up?

Meanwhile speculation is mounting among National Party insiders in Auckland that Chamber of Commerce, CEO, Michael Barnett, may also add his name to the list of Mayoral hopefuls.

But…

Mr Barnett can expect little enthusiasm for any candidacy he may want to mount.

Unless that mess can be somehow sorted out this all looks good for Phil Goff. There is no credible competition for him to his left, Penny Bright may get some protest vote but annoys more people than she attracts, and David Hay is there in name only at this stage and I don’t think he will get the Green machine behind him.

Penny Bright making things up

Penny Bright often promotes herself on Kiwiblog (not here yet Maggie). Today at 9:50 am:

Fellow Auckland Mayoral candidate ‘Independent’ Phil Goff (currently Labour MP for Mt Roskill) supports the TPPA, road tolls, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and the sale of Auckland Council assets – starting with the Remuera Golf Course.

It therefore surprises me that a number of Kiwibloggers don’t support Phil Goff for Mayor – because don’t a lot of you support the above-mentioned policies?

I don’t.

Which is why I expect to get electoral support from a number of Labour Party supporters, and the 64% of (2013) non-voters, who are unlikely, in my view, to feel inspired by these policies which are promoted by and serve the interests of the corporate 1%?

Penny Bright
2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

Another person who dreams that the non-voters will support them.

But more interesting – she often promotes herself at The Standard too. Today at 10:16 am:

Fellow Auckland Mayoral candidate ‘Independent’ Phil Goff (currently Labour MP for Mt Roskill) supports the TPPA, road tolls, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and the sale of Auckland Council assets – starting with the Remuera Golf Course.

Which is why I expect to get electoral support from a number of Labour Party supporters, and the 64% of (2013) non-voters, who are unlikely, in my view, to feel inspired by these policies which are promoted by and serve the interests of the corporate 1%?

City Vision have endorsed Phil Goff as ‘their’ Mayoral candidate.

Phil Goff supports the TPPA, road tolls, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and the sale of Auckland Council assets – starting with the Remuera Golf Course.

Does that mean City Vision now supports the TPPA, road tolls, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and the sale of Auckland Council assets – starting with the Remuera Golf Course?

Perhaps ‘Mickey Savage’ could please explain?

Kind regards,

Penny Bright
2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

Some of those paragraphs are straight copy/pasted.  There’s one significant addition at The Standard: City Vision have endorsed Phil Goff as ‘their’ Mayoral candidate.

Te Reo Putake did the explaining:

Fuck off, liar. City Vision haven’t endorsed Phil Goff, as you well know. Any chance you’ll get round to telling us why you are a climate change denier? No, thought not. Transparency is for others. aye?

Pay your rates, bludger. Then you might have some credibility.

That’s the sort of response most people wouldn’t get away with at The Standard. Paul asked:

Courtesy please

Te Reo Putake:

No courtesy for lying spammers who troll this site to boost their own egos. Penny is a bludging bullshit artist who can’t answer a straight question. As I suggested yesterday, ACT is the party most closely aligned with her lifestyle and values.

Perhaps today was payback, Penny has been trying to portray herself as New Zealand’s version of Bernie Sanders.

Sasha is more courteous but challenges strongly:

“City Vision haven’t endorsed Phil Goff, as you well know.”

Yep, 3rd time Ms Bright has made that claim here in recent days.

From their website:
http://cityvision.org.nz/news/media-release-city-vision-welcomes-phil-goffs-mayoral-announcement-and-prepares-for-2016-campaign/

“While City Vision is yet to make a formal Mayoral endorsement decision, we believe that we could work collaboratively with Mr Goff to build a better Auckland”, says Waitematā Local Board Chair, Shale Chambers.”

That’s correct.

I don’t expect Penny to mend her ways but other readers deserve not to be continually lied to.

It’s surprising she is still allowed to comment at The Standard.

I’m not sure that non-voters will be inspired to participate on behalf of a rates defaulter who repeats what appear to be deliberate lies.