Bernard Orsman

Len Brown backs his Auckland ’embassy’ staffer

Len Brown is a fool, firstly he comes up with a lamer excuse than John Key and Jami-lee Ross and pretends he didn’t know about his own council spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for a staff member in London.

Now just 12 hours later he is telling an incredulous Bernard Orsman that he is fine with it all.

Auckland’s Mayor, Len Brown, today came out in support of the city council having its very own man in London, at a cost to ratepayers of more than $230,000.

Auckland Council’s economic development arm has created a special contract in London for one of its senior executives, Grant Jenkins, who has moved his family to England.

His English-born wife, Kate, was homesick and had been longing to return home for several years, according to a former council staffer.

The Jenkins have set up home with their two children outside London in the village of Bourne End in Buckinghamshire.

As well as paying about $196,000 for a 12-month contract, ratepayers are picking up Mr Jenkins’ work expenses and office costs at New Zealand Tourism’s headquarters in New Zealand House near Trafalgar Square.

Ratepayers have paid an administration fee of about $15,000 for his contract and contributed $19,841 to the family’s relocation costs.

Last night, a spokeswoman for the mayor said Mr Brown had been unaware of Mr Jenkins’ job in London.

However, Mr Brown came out in support of the contract after being briefed today by officials at Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed).   Read more »

Busted telling porkies!

We said it days ago that the advice provided by Auckland Council Regional Planner was a bold faced lie and now Bernard Orsman proves it.

The Auckland Council appears to have done a legal flip-flop on the controversial issue of further reclamation of the Waitemata Harbour by Ports of Auckland to park cars.

Council documents, obtained by the Weekend Herald, show the council received two legal opinions in 2013 saying it was on firm ground with tough new rules for reclamation.

On Thursday, councillors narrowly voted 9-8 to weaken this position after the council’s regional planning manager, Penny Pirrit, advised them the tougher rules were not legally defensible.

Yesterday, council chief executive Stephen Town refused to answer questions about the legal position. A council officer said they would be answered under official information law, which could take up to 20 working days.

Council emails show high-profile lawyer Mai Chen was hired by Ports of Auckland shortly after the council passed a resolution in August 2013 to make reclamation a “non-complying” status in the draft Unitary Plan.

Ms Chen said the resolution was an illegal breach of the Resource Management Act. It also breached the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement, she said.   Read more »

The NZ Herald’s number one fanboi gums Auckland Council COO for $101M overspend

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Bernard Orsman, as we imagine him, taking it to the Auckland Council

Bernard Orsman just can’t bring himself to bite the hand that feeds him

An Auckland Council IT project originally budgeted to cost $71 million should be delivered for the new cost of $172 million, says a senior council executive.

“I’m not going to go through another media expose on NewCore in 18 months’ time,” chief operating officer Dean Kimpton told the council’s audit and risk committee on Tuesday.

Last month, the Herald revealed the soaring cost of the NewCore IT project, which is key to delivering better services and promised savings to the Super City model.

Mr Kimpton said the NewCore system would simplify issues that upset Aucklanders, such as not being able to book learn-to-swim programmes online.

He outlined steps the council was taking to ensure the revised cost and deadlines were met.

Call me a cynic, but in 18 months we’ll be talking about it not being completed, and the need to “re-purpose” more money to close the gap.   Spending another $101M in 18 months isn’t that hard, but actually producing a working IT system is.   Read more »

Len’s loopy train set delayed for two years

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The councillors at Auckland Council have decided they would rather be re-elected than vote to ratchet rates up even further in order to pay for Len Brown’s loopy train set.

The Auckland Council has voted to put back a start on the City Rail Link by two years.

Mayor Len Brown told a governing body meeting today that a 2015 start was considered too much of a stretch by the Auditor-General.    Read more »

The collapse of the Herald, predicted in 2009 and slowly grinding on

After reading of poor Tim’s travels, I found this article by Michael Bassett from 2009 on the demise of the Herald.    

It’s not the fact he openly outlines the failures, hints at Bernard Orsman interviewing his keyboard or making stuff up, he goes on to lay the blame at Tim Murphy’s feet for not acting to change either Orsman’s style or just moving him on.  

Roll on 5 years, yawn, same story, same mistakes and poorly researched articles or just plain made up on the fly.

Maybe this article should be compulsory reading for the executive team and board, along with their latest KPI indicators and their total and advertising revenue, circulation and overhead costs, that would be an interesting exercise to benchmark over the last 10 years.

In case you hadn’t noticed it, the New Zealand Herald, the paper that used to claim to be the country’s premier paper of record, has abandoned this aspiration and seems intent on becoming a mere British-style tabloid. Its journalists are down to a skeleton of reporters; the sub editing (those who fit the headlines to the story below) seems to have fallen into the hands of deliberate troublemakers; and the editor, Tim Murphy, appears not to be in charge of what appears in his paper. 

You might think these are rather strong comments. They are. They describe a state of affairs that is poisoning too many relationships around Auckland, and causing the time of competent people to be wasted on countering deliberate falsehoods that appear in the Herald. Several key people in Auckland local government now refuse to talk to Bernard Orsman, the Herald’s so-called Auckland City Reporter, because he twists words given to him, fabricates stories, and seems determined not to report the news, but to try to create it. 

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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 bigRead more »

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 »

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 »

Len Brown’s contribution to affordable homes…increased connection charges for water

Council services just keep on rising under Len Brown’s ‘leadership’. The latest rise is for water charges up another 2.4% under this spendthrift mayor.

It will now cost $12,075 to connect the water up to a new home! Auckland City’s contribution to ‘affordable homes’.

Bernard Orsman reports:

Auckland households will pay 2.4 per cent more for water and wastewater charges from July.

Watercare Services has announced the price of water will increase from $1.343 to $1.375 per 1000 litres of water, and wastewater charges will rise from $2.281 per 1000 litres to $2.336.

The fixed charge will rise 2.6 per cent from $190 per year to $195.

[…]     Read more »

Len Brown’s reckless ideas expenditure plan

Len Brown wants to cut $2.8b from capital expenditure to find the funds to build his train set.

What that means is that he wants to rob the capital expenditure kitty.

The result is quite simple – roads, storm water, sewer, parks, libraries and other important infrastructure will have their budgets slashed.

Bernard Orsman reports:

Planning is under way to slash $2.8 billion of new spending at Auckland Council to control soaring debt and rates while pushing ahead with the $2.86 billion City Rail Link.

The fiscal shake-up will come at a cost to core council services, such as new libraries, swimming pools and playing fields, which face being pushed back or canned altogether.

An early start to electrification of rail to Pukekohe now appears highly unlikely and bus and ferry improvements could take a back seat to the rail link.

The Herald has obtained a copy of a confidential briefing by council officers to councillors, which outlines four scenarios for next year’s 10-year budget review.

The first two are based on updating the first 10-year budget and the second two are based on locking in rates at 3.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent over the next decade by cutting capital spending by $2 billion and $2.8 billion   respectively.

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