Auckland

Does Len Brown have the stones to rein in Waterfront Auckland?

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This morning Len Brown’s former favourite journalist Bernard Orsman is running a story about how Auckland Council’s CCO Waterfront Auckland is suddenly running their Queens Wharf idea up the flag-pole.

Now considering Bernard’s Monday story about how the city budget has hit a crunch point, the times are tough message obviously hasn’t filtered down to the bloated office of the Waterfront Auckland CCO.

What better way for Len Brown’s team of spin doctors to draw attention away from the city’s financial mess under their Mayor, than to get people talking about Queens Wharf instead.

But there’s a slight problem with this.

Waterfront Auckland’s John Dalzell isn’t too forthcoming about how much will all of this will cost Auckland ratepayers?  Read more »

More bulldust from Auckland Council and its friends

​David Shand has gone out on a limb to defend Auckland Council’s debt woes with some classic PR spin in the Herald.

Quoting Shand he says:

‘The Auckland Council’s latest audited financial statements (for the 2012/2013) year show an operating surplus of $246m and total assets of $37 billion against a debt of $8 billion’.

We felt some clear facts should be made.

1. Auckland Council does not own ‘$37 billion’ of assets. Wikipedia states:

‘In financial accounting, an asset is an economic resource. Anything tangible or intangible that is capable of being owned or controlled to produce value and that is held to have positive economic value is considered an asset. Simply stated, assets represent value of ownership that can be converted into cash’.

Wikipedia goes on to say that an asset is a resource from which economic benefits are to flow to the entity that owns it. Economic value is described as a benefit measured in units of currency because value is linked to price through the mechanism of exchange creating an observation of value.

In short what this really means is that for something to be defined as an asset – it must be a thing that can generate money – either through an ongoing benefit, or by its sale to another person who is willing to pay a ‘value’ to acquire it for that same ongoing benefit.  Read more »

How Auckland can be brought out of financial doldrums

Auckland Council finances lead Mayor Brown are a shambles. In a matter of two years Brown has utterly destroyed the city’s financial position and there are serious concerns that it could be at the limit of its borrowing capacity.

Len has spent like no tomorrow.

There are many suggestions for how costs could be cut – from the rail tunnel to core services – but the real elephant in the room is the outrageous staff count.

The problems with Auckland Council start with the number of people involved and the number of costly organisations. Here is the pick list of cuts and changes needed:

1. Staff - Auckland Council is one of the largest staffed organisations in the county with over 6,000 people. The super city amalgamation was meant to see the legacy council staff numbers decrease as efficiency took ahold. But instead it has ballooned massively.

Staff is where the biggest costs go. And for all the staff numbers – Council services are still woeful. So they must be sacked.

Reduction of staff to 3,000 people will reduce the budget massively.

2. ATEED and Waterfront Auckland must  go - These organisations are troughing at the ratepayer purse for virtually no return and yet huge expenditure.

3. Auckland Transport needs to be collapsed and brought back in-house to reduce doubling up costs. Besides – they are universally loathed and inept in a way that can’t be described.

4. Kill off the rail tunnel. Nobody can afford it.   Read more »

Bernard Orsman slams Auckland Council and Mayor Brown

Bernard Orsman slams Auckland Council and Mayor Len Brown for bringing the city to its knees financially saying that the Council is ‘living beyond it’s means’.

For Orsman this is a rather brutal column.

Brown failed to front for it as well.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown hailed his first 10-year budget in 2012 as the foundation block to transform Auckland once and for all.

There was $8.2 billion for 11 new or refurbished libraries, new swimming pools, sports parks, much-needed water and stormwater projects and other core spending.

Transport was to get $9.3 billion to build a world-class transport system, including $500 million for new electric trains and a long awaited start on Ameti in the southeast.

Two years later, this foundation has barely progressed and the council faces stark choices as its finances reach crisis point. Promised libraries and swimming pools may never get built.

Inorganic rubbish collections could be scrapped; cultural festivals and events scrapped.    Read more »

The Number One Driver That Keeps People Trapped In “Poverty”

The Auckland City Mission has put out a report in election year (surprise surprise) titled “Speaking for Ourselves”.  They have asked 100 high users of their services about what keeps people in poverty.

I have read the report and if it wasn’t for deep breathing and that I have a pilates class for relaxation tomorrow I would require medical attention from the rise in blood pressure.

The problem with the report is that even those of you less prone to outbursts against this sort of narrative will read it and face palm.

Apparently the eight key drivers that keep people trapped in poverty are:

1. Debt

2. Justice

3. Housing

4. Employment

5. Health

6. Food insecurity

7. Services

8. Education

However reading the report I will add a ninth that is I believe the most important driver keeping these people trapped in poverty (whatever that actually is).    Read more »

Uhmm Len, ahh…yeah, nah, let’s not

Len Brown wants us to “design our future together”…which sounds like something he once said to his missus before his dodgy after hours activities got splashed about.

Perhaps now he thinks the city is his new missus so he trying out the lines that once worked on Shan. He knows he is in trouble with his councillors and so he has rushed off to his usual megaphone when in trouble and written a piece imploring us all to work together.

The Long-term Plan process we are now embarking on will present a number of options in the next 11 months to Aucklanders about how they want to see their city move forward.

Council officers have the next two months to look at all the options on the table and feed those back to me. At the end of August, I will present my proposal for how I think we can go forward and meet the challenges we face in the next decade.

This will be the first opportunity for Aucklanders to hear where my thinking on Auckland’s future has got to and will provide a starting point for discussions and debate.

And this is where every councillor and local board member will be taking a key leadership role.

Then we will be asking you to tell us what you think.

Aucklanders told him what we think and he is still in the job despite us telling him to sling his hook. What makes us think he will listen on this issue?    Read more »

Time Len Brown faced some facts regarding finances

Auckland Council spending like there is no tomorrow and pissing off Aucklanders

Aucklanders are rebelling at Mayor Len Brown’s “black budget”, which targets core services such as libraries and parks to pay for the $2.86 billion city rail link.

Many people are also reeling at the prospect of higher rates if Mr Brown breaks an election promise to hold rates at 2.5 per cent and goes for 3.5 per cent.

An overall rates increase of 3.5 per cent would result in household rates rising about 4.7 per cent under a policy to shift the rates burden from commercial to residential ratepayers.

Said Herald reader Lynda Brooks: “Since the Super City was formed my rates have gone up 25 per cent in four years. I worked very hard to buy my own home and will not be fleeced by a council that has been irresponsible with finances.”

Mr Brown and council bosses outlined an overview of the new 10-year budget on Monday, which includes proposed cuts to many services and slashing up to $2.8 billion of new spending.

Mayor Brown has created a culture of excess.

Excessive costs from the Mayor’s office PR team – to bloated staffing counts across the organisations – are killing off spending in core services.   Read more »

This is what happens when you take voters for granted

Labour has traditionally owned the Pasifika vote, especially in South Auckland, which has been a fortress for Labour.

It saved them in 2005 when the infamous KFC remark was made by Mike Williams about how he turned out South Auckland to save Helen Clark’s government.

But Labour are a party of condescension and voter exploitation.

For so long they have taken those votes for granted that they never actually delivered anything other than continued poverty and welfare traps for voters. After nine years of a Labour government these people were still living in the same crappy neighbourhood, with the same crappy neighbours, their kids going to the same crappy schools. Nothing had changed despite generations supporting Labour.

Labour for their part selected corrupt or dodgy representatives, ranked them low on the list, created a ghettoisation of politics especially for Pasifika and rocked up and recited all the greetings like they meant something other than votes to them.

Now though, after 6 years of a National government with ministers and representatives like Peseta Sam Lotu-iiga and Alfred Ngaro they are seeing that a focus on education and respect of ability rather than race or tokenism pays off.

They have seen 300 more police in their neighbourhoods and the incidence of crime dropping and they are seeing a focus on schooling and training for their people as a way out of poverty. Their eyes are open to alternate realities outside of poverty and welfare.

Have a drive through Otara, I do every day, and witness the changes from just 10 years ago. Maori have largely moved further south, to places like Clendon Park, and Pasifika have moved in and taken over. Former state houses are now kept in immaculate condition, lawns are mowed, and a quiet respect has developed.

Little wonder then that Pasifika are gravitating to a party that gives hope and rewards hard work and enterprise.

The Pacific vote is traditionally Labour’s, but socially liberal policies like same-sex marriage, driven by Labour, have created a drift.

The Prime Minister is pouncing and believes National is set to secure more Pacific and south Auckland votes in this election than in the past.

Many turned out to see John Key in Mangere, offering hugs, kisses and photos. They even managed to roll out a gold carpet, but there was no red there.

“I can’t think of a time where I have been a leader of the National Party where we would have so many people in Mangere turn up for a National Party meeting,” says Mr Key. “If you close your eyes you’d be forgiven for thinking you were at a Labour Party meeting, over 500 people in there.”     Read more »

More good news

via Lindsay Mitchell

National have almost halved the “social-housing” waiting list from what it was under Labour. 

In fact, they may have done even *better* than halving it, given that the March 2008 figure was HNZC-only and the latest figure includes other providers as well. 

MSD has started publishing a quarterly report on housing waiting lists.

- 57% are in the Auckland Super City

- Only 10% are in Christchurch and under 3% in Wellington

- Even with Wellington, Lower and Upper Hutt and Porirua added together, the waiting list share is still only 6% (Greater Wellington population is just over a third of Auckland Super City)

Again, the bulk of the housing problem is in Auckland. I am guessing that affordability in the private sector is prompting renters to apply for cheaper social housing. Read more »

Would you like the bash with your train ride?

I don’t believe in public transport. And here is one reason.

After at least 14 assaults Auckland train inspectors are to wear lapel cameras for added protection.

No wonder rail patronage is dropping and growth is stagnant – it’s simply a dangerous place to be.

I’d drive my car rather than be assaulted on a train.

Ticket inspectors on Auckland trains are to be armed with small CCTV cameras on their jackets to combat fare evasion and violence.

Video and audio footage will be used as evidence for police prosecutions in the absence of any direct financial penalties able to be imposed on those caught riding trains without paying.  Read more »