Manukau City Council

A reader rants about short-sighted and inept council

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Cam

A rant from me…

The Auckland Council will bite itself in the bum over development costs and contributions.

The development contributions that were set 2 years ago at $25,000 approx inc GST have not been based on adequate cost  figures. These costs were grossly underestimated. These contributions under the Local Govt Act 2002 are supposed to cover “costs of growth” and that includes capital works for roading improvements, acquisition and development of land for parks, reserves, community and recreation facilities.

If these are not obtained direct from the development – paid by the developers and ultimately by the new residents of the new developments for whom they are provided, then all the ratepayers will be subsidising the new development through their rate payments.  The development levies must increase – and wait for the squeals from the “affordable housing” lobby!   Read more »

EXCLUSIVE: Len Brown’s Town Hall to Downfall

lbrown

Len Brown – sent lewd texts to mistress and conducted affair from Mayoral office

by Stephen Cook

Len Brown’s hold on the Auckland mayoralty is in serious jeopardy following bombshell allegations of a two-year extra-marital affair with a council employee 25 years his junior.

Brown – who last weekend was returned for a second term with a 50,000-vote majority – is expected to face enormous pressure this week to resign over what rates as possibly the biggest sex scandal in New Zealand local body history.

Among the allegations – which are backed up by text messages – are that “barely two-minute Brown” had unprotected sex with the 32-year-old on more than a dozen occasions during office hours.

This, says the woman, included numerous times in Brown’s council office and once in the “Ngati Whatua Room” at the Auckland Town Hall – an area of special significance to Maori – where they were  caught in the act by a security guard.

At the time, the woman says, she was completely naked and Brown had his pants down around his ankles.

Brown did not return phone calls or messages this afternoon despite multiple attempts to contact him.

Read more »

The evolving calamity of Auckland Council

The Auckland Council will shortly apply its laser-like analysis of what constitutes value-for-money to a rehashed venture located at the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre in Manukau.  The scheme includes a demand for $30 million from Auckland Council, with the apparent hope of millions more from the taxpayers in the form of a government subsidy.

This scheme was rejected by Manukau City Council prior to amalgamation.  At the time the former council went out to its community and called for public input.  Submitter after submitter came before councillors to outline their disdain for free-spending initiatives.

Auckland’s Long Term Plan has been finalised.  The budget was set and the region purportedly has its budgetary house in order starting from 1 July this year.  Or does it?

Less than two months after the budget was set the mayor is demanding 3 per cent savings from local boards, those pesky entities that actually deal with ratepayers who have the temerity to demand value for money.  Those boards, which have cut and cut in order to comply with Len Brown’s budget demands are now being directed to make further savings.

What’s the bet that Auckland Council will sign up to the whitewater rafting deal with no questions asked?  If so, where will the money come from?  When will the community get to have its say on the proposal? When will democracy apply?

Auckland Council has now lost $233 million after tax in its first full year of operation.  Eye-watering liabilities such as land acquisition to build sneaky Len Brown’s rail tunnel are yet to be factored in.

Lyin’ Len Brown’s 10 year budget will grow to around $12.5 billion, which equates to nearly $20,000 for every ratepayer.  The interest cost of that debt alone will gobble up a quarter of the rates that Aucklanders will be forced to pay.

In a climate where local government losses in Auckland are now measured in the hundreds of millions and the debt mountain is measured in billions, the price tag for low quality ventures like whitewater rafting no longer seems excessive.  Auckland the mayoral office as a taste for no accountability … it even wants to deny Aucklanders the right to appeal its draft unitary plan.

Why switch on the television to see stories of the destruction of economies in Greece and Spain when that same tragedy is happening in Auckland?

Botany Update

Further to my post on Botany last night, as expected Jami-Lee Ross has announced his intention to seek selection in botany for National.

Auckland Councillor Jami-Lee Ross has announced he will be seeking selection for the National Party candidacy for the Botany by election.

Mr Ross says he is saddened that his local MP Pansy Wong has decided to resign from Parliament. “Pansy was a good electorate MP who cared deeply about her community and it was a pleasure working with her in my capacity as a city councillor. I respect her decision to retire, but I never expected to be seeking selection under these circumstances.”

First elected to the Manukau City Council in 2004, Mr Ross was returned to the Council in 2007 with an increased vote. He was successful in gaining election to the Auckland Council in last year’s local government elections and serves as Co-Leader of the Citizens & Ratepayers Team. Mr Ross currently represents the Howick ward which encompasses Botany, Howick and Pakuranga.

Mr Ross says he has strong links to the Botany electorate. “My wife, Lucy, and I have called this community our home for the past four years. I live in Botany, I work in Botany, and I represent Botany.

“As a local representative I have fought for funding for local sports clubs, developed and purchased land for new parks, and seen this growing community expand. Botany people know me as someone that asks the tough questions and speaks his mind on important local issues. Botany will be well served by my leadership.”

If successful in winning the National Party selection and the Botany by-election, Mr Ross will step down as a member of the Auckland Council. “It would not be possible to do justice to both jobs, especially with the expanded role for new Auckland councillors.

“The public expect politicians to do one job, and do that job properly. I will not try to juggle two full time positions. If I had have known my local electorate was going to need a new candidate so soon after the council elections I would not have stood for council.”

Good to hear he won’t be a double dipper. Jami-Lee would definitely be the front-runner and so far is the only local.

Also as predicted by this blog, Denise Krum has put her hame forward. She is an outsider, living in Ellerslie and also has the stigma of once being the president of United Future.

Within an hour of Ross announcing, Denise Krum, a former president of United Future also announced she is seeking the National Party nomination in Botany.

Krum stood for United Future in 2008 but switched to National after the election 2008 and is now the deputy electorate chair for National MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga and Deputy Regional Chair for the Northern (Auckland) region of the National Party.

Krum, 40, is the daughter of former National MP Graeme Lee and is co-founder and director of the Tableside Charitable Trust, which works with charities in Auckland communities.

Krum lives in central Auckland with her husband and their three children.

Krum said she is expecting, and welcomes, a vigorous selection process.

She also acknowledged the work Wong carried out in Botany.

Good to see she acknowledged Pansy’s role, like Jami-Lee Ross in her announcement, that is stark contrast to the me, me, me announcement of Aaron Bhatnagar. Unfortunately she has also played the gender card without realising that National doesn’t do quotas and selects the best candidate irrespective of their gender, race or sexual preference. If she wants to play that card she should join the Labour party.

With the membership definitely over the 200 members threshold there will be a contested selection, not a board selection. I look forward to blogging how the selection meetings go.

Auditor-General to move on Trust

The story isn’t online but was printed in the DomPost this morning. The Auditor-General has announced that her office has launched an investigation into the murky dealings surrounding the “donation” to the Len Brown campaign.

The story clearly dis-abuses the notion that the Trust wasn’t or isn’t a Council Controlled entity.

Comments that the Trust was independent of Len Brown’s now defunct Manukau City Council were mis-guided she said.

“According to us, it is a council controlled organisation. It is counted as a public entity and audited by us.”

The spin by David Lewis, Trust Chair Sir Noel Robinson and Trust CEO Richard Jeffrey, all key Len Brown campaign flunkies, is coming un-done very quickly.

Dodgy Trust dealings being investigated by Auditor-General

Len Brown says do as I say not as I do

Bernard Orsman reports that Len Brown is conducting a witch-hunt after Jonathan Marshall got the drop on the secret appointment processes being run by Len Brown to put his mates into CCO jobs.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has ordered an investigation into a councillor suspected of leaking the names of council-controlled organisation (CCO) board appointments.

A source close to Mr Brown said the mayor had “lost faith in a member of the committee and is asking the chief executive to conduct a full investigation into the leak of information”.

This followed online reports at the weekend that two people with close links to Mr Brown – former Manukau City Council chief executive Leigh Auton and former Manukau deputy mayor Gary Troup – would be appointed to CCO boards on Thursday.

The mayoral source refused to name the member of the CCO strategy and appointments subcommittee suspected of leaking the information.

What a dick. Conducting a witch-hunt, that just proves that he was manipulating a process that should be public. The thing is Len Brown wants to keep these meetings secret yet he ordered the CCOs to do exactly the opposite.

Yesterday, a spokesman for Mr Brown said the mayor had made his position quite clear.

“It’s all down there in black and white. Wherever possible he wants CCOs to hold meetings in public and agendas of meetings to be published.”

Is this the “straight answers always with a limits” that Len Brown speaks of? Transparency clearly is “not a perfect thing.

What is abundantly clear now is that Len Brown is picking up from where he left off with dodgy behaviour, getting people to cover for him and providing jobs for mates. By conducting a witch-hunt he simply confirms that there is things that need the disinfectant of sunshine.

Len Brown campaigned on honesty and transparency and less than one month into the job he is proving he is neither.

The pay off for his silence

Leigh Auton is set to get his pay off for his obfuscation and delaying tactics over the still secret Volare dinner.

The boss of Auckland mayor Len Brown’s former council looks set to get a top position in the new Super City council.

Leigh Auton, who received a $171,700 redundancy cheque when he left Manukau City Council in October as chief executive, decided not to apply for a job at the Auckland Council, saying he would instead setup a consultancy business.

In December last year he formed Auton and Associates Ltd which he runs from his Manukau home.

But now Fairfax can reveal Auton could be appointed director of the Property Council Controlled Organisation (CCO).

At the CCO appointments committee next Thursday the $35,000 appointment will be debated and voted on. It is understood Brown wants Auton in the job.

Auckland Council insiders have said the agenda item will be held behind closed doors during a confidential segment of the meeting.

This man has no place on a CCO. Like Len Brown he has truth issues. He ran interference and was still running interference for Len Brown right up until the polls closed by refusing to answer questions put to him by the Ombudsmen’s Office over the still secret Volare dinner. Leigh Auton and Len Brown were prepared to die in a ditch over Volare and now the pay off for Auton’s tricky behaviour seems to be a cushy board placement to augment his 6 figure pay out for finishing his contract.

There is no way he should be in consideration and there is no way that the decision to appoint him should be behind closed doors. What has happened to Len’s promises of open-ness and transparency that he campaigned on?

Len’s other pal in line for CCO jobs, Gary Troup, is also one of those enjoyed a joint birthday lunch paid for by Manukau City ratepayers to the tune of $244. Oh what a nice cosy coincidence.

Len Brown campaigned on opening the books, yet he stills maintains his silence over the last set of books he maintained along with Leigh Auton.

Why won't Len tell us the truth?

Jonathan Marshall has been following up his complaint to the Ombudsmen after the Manukau City Council refused to release details of the now infamous Volare dinner, as required by the counicl’s own regulation and also as required by law under the LGOIMA.

Len Brown tells us in his extensive television ad campaign that he will open the books of the new city. That promise rings very hollow indeed when we read of his and his Chief Executive’s attempts to cover up a $810.00 council funded dinner.

Secret details of an $810 dinner Manukau mayor Len Brown charged to his council credit card are unlikely to be revealed before this weekend’s local body election, the Ombudsman says.

The south Auckland mayor, who is predicted to win the top job of the new Auckland Council on Saturday, came under intense scrutiny earlier this year after refusing to say who he took to a September 2009 dinner, costing $810.

Brown was asked by a number of media outlets who he took to the dinner, which took place in the same week as his birthday. He refused all requests.

In what was possibly the most memorable part of this year’s local body election campaign, Brown gave an emotional and passionate address to his council colleagues about the dinner. He punched his head and chest and said he would “never” reveal who attended.

“Will I give you the names? Never. I want to tell you that, I feel so intensely strong about this.”

He will open the books on the new city but actively work to prevent his old books ever being released. Dishonest is the word that immediately springs to mind.

The evening was held at south Auckland’s Volare Italian restaurant and featured Australian-based professional tenor Geoffrey Knight, aged in his forties.

Brown told Breakfast co-host Paul Henry the dinner was “a totally appropriate occasion. It was fundraiser in support of a young singing artist in our community…a fundraiser for one of our excellent young musical talents.”

So he will open the books and believes that transparency is a “not a perfect thing“. Looks like the truth isn’t a perfect thing either. Bottom line is Len Brown has never told the truth about that dinner, and when cornered he went all slappy onus.

The worst aspect of all this is the active obfuscation by a paid employee of the City Council, a paid employee who was recompensed handsomely, got a massive payout for just doing his job (or not in this case) and even had a park named after him. Leigh Auton has constantly run interference on behalf of Len Brown throughout this and we can certainly expect these sorts of tactics from Len Brown to continue i, god forbid, he wins the mayoralty.

This week commissioner Marie Shroff asked a set of questions of Manukau City Council about the dinner.

She wanted to know “whether the attendees knew they were accompanying Brown in his capacity as mayor” and “did they know the dinner was being charged to his mayoral credit card”.

Two simple questions, eight people to ask, and two of them were Len Brown and his missus. Eight people, required to say yes or no, twice. It should take all of a couple of hours to sort out. Why no answer? The only supposition can be corruption. Why won’t they answer these two simple questions.

Leigh Auton fought like hell to keep his massive 6 figure payout secret, now he is still fighting like hell to keep details required by law and council rules for a $810 dinner secret.

One must presume that this is a secret that could very well seriously affect Brown’s credibility for them all to die in the ditch defending it.

It is a travesty that Len Brown, his Labour backers and city officials can’t be trusted to tell us the truth, or to follow the law. What will be more of a travesty is Len Brown bringing these appallingly low standards of personal integrity to  the new City.

A big fat cheque and a park named after him

Len Brown’s patsy CEO, Leigh Auton, the man who helped cover up Len’s expense scandal, the man who billed his own private expenses to the council credit card too, and who still refuses to release information requested under the LGOIMA, and the man rumoured to be paid a rather large golden parachute (a six figure sum) also gets a park named after him.

Manukau City Council’s chief executive will get a top honour – having a park named after him – despite losing his job to the Super City.

Leigh Auton has worked in various roles for the council, including as a town planner and in management, for 32 years.

For the past four years he has been the chief executive, but will lose that role with the advent of the Super City.

The Leigh Auton Reserve will be at the headland at Spinnaker Bay, in Beachlands.

He got a park named after him for doing his job! A job he received more than $400,000 per annum for! A park!

This is an outrage. He gets a park named after him for doing his bloody job, a job he was exceedingly well paid for.

One wonders just what his fat farewell cheque is written out for? Auckland City has released the details of the exit package of their CEO, will Len Brown be so transparent?

More Council Funded Campaigning by Len Brown

Len Brown has been caught, yet again using, council resources to campaign. I have just received the email below, sent by a Manukau City Council staff member under the authority of another MCC staff member from the office of the Chief Executive. The Chief Advisor of the Chief Executive no less.

It seems that staff in the Manukau Chief Executive’s office are now paid campaign members of Len Brown. We always suspected that Leigh Auton was a Brown patsy but now we have irrefutable proof.

We also have irrefutable proof that Len Brown intends to use council maintained databases for his election campaign and council maintained resources for the same campaign.

Mr Brown wishes to now use the database in a different capacity for the purposes of communicating information regarding his campaign for election as Auckland Mayor…

This is an astonishing email. Astonishing in its mendacity and astonishing that Len Brown’s team would even put this in writing.

It isn’t like I haven’t already warned him that I’m watching.

How about Len Brown campaign without cheating, would that be too much to ask? This email is prima facie evidence of breaches of his own council’s policy and also of the Auditor-General’s guidelines.

Not only does Len Brown think he can help himself to ratepayers money, he also thinks that it is ok to use Council provided drivers to campaign and now council databases. The man is a walking thief of ratepayers money.

It is high time that the Auditor-General stepped in over these abuses.

From: Erin Schumacher <[email protected]>
Date: Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 3:34 PM
Subject: Changes to Len Brown e-newsletter
To: Erin Schumacher <[email protected]>

Greetings,

Your name and email address has previously been on a database used to distribute a regular e-newsletter from Len Brown in his capacity as Mayor of Manukau. For reasons discussed below, we need to inform you of a change regarding this database and give you an opportunity to have your name removed if you so desire.

Most people were on the database prior to Len Brown becoming Mayor of Manukau – in other words, it was effectively his private email list in the lead up to him winning the Manukau Mayoralty in 2007.

Since that time however, the list has been maintained by Manukau City Council and a number of names have been added by that organisation.

Mr Brown wishes to now use the database in a different capacity for the purposes of communicating information regarding his campaign for election as Auckland Mayor and for communication beyond the cessation of Manukau City Council on 31 October 2010.

Because of privacy and anti-spam legislation, it is important that you are informed of this and an opportunity to direct that your name be removed. You can do this by return email by simply asking “please remove my name and details”. You can also do so later by opting to no longer receive emails but of course this would be in response to “new” email newsletters from Len Brown in his private capacity.

I trust this is clear but am happy to clarify further as necessary.

Naku noa na | Regards

Phil Wilson
Chief Advisor
Chief Executive’s Office
T 9 262 5465 | M 0274 510 834 |
[email protected]