Auckland Council

Bews-Hair vs Lewis – trouble in the Town Hall

As Labour’s next train wreck draws ever closer, here’s an angle that is worth keeping an eye on – a simmering, but growing feud between Auckland-based veteran political operatives, David Lewis and James Bews-Hair.

These two go back to the early-90s. They were on different sides of the broad church back then – Lewis a Clark loyalist and Bews-Hair donkey-deep with the likes of Phil Quin in the dirty tricks of the Moore/Goff camp. Despite this, they have always been as thick as thieves – until now that is.

I’m told things started to turn sour during the fallout from the Brown affair.

While Bews-Hair was quietly knifing people in the shadows, Lewis was strutting his prowess anywhere that would print it. To make it worse, Lewis promptly cut Brown adrift, whereas Bews-Hair continues to do his dirty work for him. Now things are about to get really nasty.

Labour will soon need a new leader, and just like the old days Lewis and Bews-Hair are going to be on different sides.   Read more »

How not to launch your mayoral campaign

dezzlepuss

That was at about 8pm last night….then just after 11pm:    Read more »

Get rid of the troughers, not the services

42.8% of Aucklanders surveyed by the Herald want Auckland Council to cut staff and salaries to reduce costs.

Many Aucklanders believe the best way to deal with looming budget cuts by the Auckland Council is to reduce staff and salaries, according to the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey.

The council is facing cuts of hundreds of millions of dollars a year in running costs and capital investment in a 10-year budget being prepared by Mayor Len Brown.

The survey found that 42.5 per cent of Aucklanders believed the best way for the council to meet its budget plans was to reduce staff and salaries.

This was followed by 20.3 per cent support for rates rises of more than 2.5 per cent and 19.2 per cent support for delaying the $2.86 billion City Rail Link from 2016 to 2020.

A council suggestion to reduce services such as inorganic collections and library hours was supported by 8.9 per cent of the 248 Aucklanders in the survey of 750 people.

DigiPoll general manager Nandan Modak said the sample of 248 was too small to be considered a poll, but the Auckland results reflected the 750 nationwide responses.

The Auckland Council and its bodies employ about 8100 fulltime equivalent staff, fewer than the 9430 combined figure of the previous eight councils. The wages bill is about $702 million. About 1500 staff earn more than $100,000.

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Top international expert slags Len’s compact city

Urban expert rejects city compaction.

Urban planner are lofty dreamers who think their work directs the way cities are shaped and formed. Except it doesn’t and now one of the world’s leading experts is in New Zealand to talk about it.

A French urban planning expert is in New Zealand this week, courtesy of think-tank the New Zealand Initiative.

Alain Bertaud, a global urban planning expert, disagrees with the compact city planning model being used in Auckland and Christchurch and is visiting those cities and Wellington.

He is formerly a planner for the World Bank and has worked in Tehran, Hong Kong and St Petersburg.

Bertaud says compactness cannot be created by planners.

“The urban village model exists only in the mind of urban planners,” he says, adding that mobility and affordability suffer.

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Auckland “Black Budget” no obstacle for Len Brown

Len may be coming for your library hours, rubbish collections and road repairs, but when it comes to keeping his staff in the comfort they deserve, $53M is easily justified

Auckland’s “black budget” council is spending $53 million to move more than a third of its 6,000 staff — including Mayor Len Brown, his staff of 20 and councillors — into new digs.

Council staff will move into the 31-storey former ASB Tower in Albert St, bought by council for $104m two years ago, this year. The move comes after revelations the council must slash $2.8 billion of capital spending over the next 10 years if Brown is to keep rates increases to 2.5 per cent this term.

This month’s “black budget” showed the council has been overspending. Its spend was based on rates rising 26 per cent in its first four budgets, when rates rose only 13.3 per cent. Council debt has gone from $3.9b to $7.3b, with interest now costing $1m a day.

But listen Whaleoil, you’re just being mean!  Think of the savings!  (What savings?)   Read more »

Labour plans to let local bodies tax you even more

Now this has to be an election winning strategy….for National.

Labour is going to let local councils tax ratepayers even more than they do now under their local body proposals.

Labour plans to reinstate the power for local bodies to raise revenue through extra levies such as a ‘pillow tax’ on visitors and regional petrol taxes.

Labour’s Local Government policy will also require a referendum to be held before any local council amalgamations can go ahead.

Local communities would also have to be consulted before council services were contracted out or privatised.

Local Government spokesman Sua William Sio said Labour was not opposed to amalgamations, but did not believe they were appropriate in all cases.

He said the Auckland supercity model was opposed by many Aucklanders “and designed to take control away from the hands of the many and vest governance in the hands of the few.”

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Auckland Council admits there is no evidence of support for the Central Rail Loop

On a number of occasions Mayor Len Brown has claimed that there is overwhelming public support for the central rail loop.

To see on what this was based, on June 12 one of the Ground Crew lodged a LGOIMA request with the council.

To : Len Brown

Under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act could you please provide all material,in printed or electronic form, provided to or by the Mayor/ and or Councillors showing the level of public support for the planned central City Rail Loop.

In particular please provide the results of all opinion polls carried out which indicate the levels of support for the CRL and the methodology under which these polls were conducted.

Could you please acknowledge receipt of this LGOIMA request and provide a date by which the information will be made available.

Could you please provide the answers in electronic format by email.

Thanking you in advance

The council failed to respond and so the Ground Crew member asked again.   Read more »

New trains stuffed and former fan Mike Lee puts the boot in

Mike Lee in happier times when he loved the new electoric trains

Mike Lee in happier times when he loved the new electoric trains

It seems that Len Brown’s much vaunted new electric trains are in fact a dog.

Auckland’s flash new electric trains have been grounded by power faults which are mystifying the region’s transport authority.

Four of the state-of-the-art Spanish-built trains were disabled in one stroke this week due to power failure.

They have been replaced on the Onehunga-Britomart run since Tuesday by their diesel predecessors, and Auckland Transport says it could take several more days to identify and fix the problem.

But Auckland Council infrastructure chairman Mike Lee says the “bizarre and unacceptable” irony is the old diesels are running at faster speeds than the electric trains were allowed to reach.

The trouble has struck just weeks before more trains in what will ultimately be a 57-strong fleet costing the council and the Government $540 million are due to start running between Manukau and Britomart via the eastern line through Panmure and Glen Innes.

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No surprises, troughers vote for trough to continue to be filled with lolly

Auckland Council troughers have voted to continue to sup fromt eh trough despite the council running a black budget process due to burgeoning debt.

Not for them to have to spend time with the smelly passengers and poor people in cattle class.

A group of Auckland councillors have managed to retain a business-class-travel perk, but a bid to give them free parking has been voted down.

The move comes as reduced library hours, street cleaning and an end to inorganic rubbish collections are on the table for sweeping budget cuts.

George Wood, Christine Fletcher, Denise Krum and Calum Penrose were among those who voted yesterday to defeat an amendment by councillor John Watson to restrict business-class air travel to health grounds only.

Councillors get to keep the perk of sitting in business class when taking flights of more than six hours and conducting council business within 24 hours of landing at an overseas destination.

It took the casting vote of finance committee chairman and Labour councillor Ross Clow to keep the status quo in the elected members’ expenses policy, despite many of his left-wing colleagues voting to tighten the rules.

Right wingers Cameron Brewer and Dick Quax supported the left to tighten the rules.

Mr Clow justified his decision on the basis that elected representatives needed to turn up fresh and fully prepared to represent Auckland after long-haul travel beyond most of Australia.

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Len Brown has bigger problems to worry about than a sugar ban

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Len Brown seems to be so desperate to talk about anything else aside from the Council’s black budget that he’s now thinking about banning sugary drinks.

I’ve posted about Auckland Council’s perilous state of its finances, as has Len Brown’s former favourite journalist Bernard Orsman who talked about ‘how city budget hit crunch point’.

With Len not keen on talking to Bernard, his PR team have instead raced out to find diversions to take Aucklanders’ attention off his inability to deliver his promised pet projects.  If it wasn’t Waterfront Auckland’s clumsy attempt at spending millions on Queens Wharf, it was wheeling out Rod Oram to encourage Len to keep on spending up big.  Read more »