Manukau City

From hero to zero – this is going to cost money

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As seen yesterday at Manukau event movies. Do you think he still qualifies ?


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Standing up for what you believe in

Daniel Newman is the local board chair in Manurewa, and he has run into problems with the Auckland City Council trying to reef money away from his board’s budget to fund dumb stuff. So he has taken a stand. Here is some of what he has said.

2. The Manurewa Local Board is given an assurance that all budget lines have been mapped correctly, although several are now engaged in butt-covering due to “mistakes” in mapping budgets between the regional body and the local boards. Local Boards are told that their budgets will not be touched, that the funding envelopes will be honoured.

3. Auckland Council cuts $1.75m out of the Manurewa Local Board budget to fund the Botanic Festival and Southside Gig, two events that Manurewa said were not necessary and unaffordable given the budget situation.

4. Manurewa goes and readjusts its (reduced) budget in order to balance. Cuts such as a reduction in operating funding for the Nathan Homestead Arts Centre are proposed. Auckland Council officers go wobbly at the knees but the Board stands firm on the basis that building community and sporting infrastructure for poor children in south Auckland must take precedent. I declare my intention to stand full-square behind its cost-cutting measures, and invited the Mayor to join me.

That will piss off the pinkos like Len Brown and Brian Rudman. Refined arts always take precedent over uncouth sports in the eyes of local government, maybe because so many people in local government are utter spastics and would have always been the last kid selected in pick up games at lunch time.

So the council tell Daniel that they have things sorted as long as he trusts them.

6. The Chief Executive of Auckland Council phones me at 11:27am on Saturday, 23 June to request that I withdraw my deputation on the basis that ‚Äú‚Ķ we want Thursday to be a celebration‚ÄĚ and that ‚Äú‚Ķ we can fix up your board‚Äôs budgetary problem during next year‚Äôs annual plan round‚ÄĚ.

Anyway, hopefully the poor of South Auckland won‚Äôt be sacrificing their sports grounds to fund Brian Rudman’s theatre because Daniel has told the council to stick it.

It is quite apparent that Auckland Council‚Äôs leadership would like this unsightly stand-off to go away so they can get on with the ‚Äėcelebration‚Äô. That won‚Äôt be happening. Next stop will be a complaint to the Ombudsman. A petition to Parliament requesting an inquiry into Auckland Council‚Äôs handling of its local board budget negotiation is also in order.

Having watched Daniel in action when he was a Manukau City Councillor, Len Brown would be well advised not to piss him off too much as he has a reputation for standing his ground and causing pinkos a lot of problems.

Will Labour be hypocrites over by-elections?

Well of course they will. Their proxy mouthpiece in the NZ Herald, Bernard Orsman took 5 days to write about exactly that in his attempt to smear Jami-lee Ross.

The Botany by election could well end up with a subsequent by election for Auckland Council if Cr Jami-Lee Ross is selected for National and wins the by election.

As a friendly warning to the Labour Party, if some of your more small minded or stupid supporters start attacking Cr Ross, this blog will be forced to remember all the recent incidences of Labour MPs or councillors forcing by elections. Just to give you a small sample:
2010 – Mana – Winnie Laban got out of politics a year early forcing a by-election
2009 РMt Albert  РHelen Clark lost an election and refused to continue serving the ungrateful wretches who so cruelly rejected her at the ballot box.
2008 РSu’a William Sio РManukau City Council  (Efu Koka won), Resigned his council position mid-term after being elected to parliament forcing a by-election
2006 – James Papali’i (Sylvia Taylor won) – Manukau City Council ¬†– he was no longer able to serve due to issues with the law
2003 РJohn Kerr  (Alf Filipaina won) РManukau City Council  Рno reason given but readers are willing to use the tip line if they know

Unlike Jim Anderton, Su’a William Sio, Alf Filipaina and numerous other labour candidates and elected officials at least Jami-lee Ross has signalled that he won’t be a double dipper.

Meanwhile it looks like Len Brown’s sensible spin weasel, Conor Roberts, has convinced Len Brown to make a nice statement rathe than risk ¬†a rehash of Len’s credit card issues.

Mayor Len Brown, who has a history of clashes with Mr Ross going back to their days at Manukau, said he would prefer not to lose a councillor so soon after the inauguration of the Auckland Council on November 1.

“However, after having worked with Jami-Lee for a number of years, I know he will continue to be a strong advocate for his community, whether it is here or in Wellington,” Mr Brown said.

I hope Conor gets a good secret Santa at the ratepayer funded Christmas lunch Len Brown is throwing all his staff today.

Update on Botany

Two more names have been added to the Botany selection race. Perennial loser Ken Yee and bitter outsider Michael Williams.

Ken Yee personifies average and was previously beaten by Pansy Wong in standing for selection in Botany. It has been a long time since Ken Yee had a drink at any public trough after being tossed out as a councillor some time ago, by Jami-Lee Ross. I doubt, given the number of people coming forward that Ken will even make it through pre-selection.

Michael Williams is another wanna-be politician who is a legend in his own mind. he is the current Howick Local Board chairman, and his main attribute seems to be that he thinks it will cost les for a Community Board by-election than for a Council by-election. He is pompous and has a stunning ability to turn people off the moment he opens his mouth.

Meanwhile Auckland’s resident nutter Penny Bright has conformed with me that she will be putting her name forward for the by-election as an¬†independent. That should make candidates meetings¬†extremely¬†entertaining. I hope she brings her “dead cat” hat along.

The Standard provides some commentary on Botany, as well, with an interesting aside that Winston might have a crack. I hope he does, then I can needle him at every candidates meeting about his corruption and interesting.

Like Mediatart who comments here they make the same mistake is assuming the Botany of today existed in its current form anywhere past 3 years ago.

Will Winston stand? I think he might. It’s worth remembering that his first seat was Hunua, which he won in 1978. Now, three electorates called Hunua have existed three times with very different boundaries. The modern Hunua electorate borders Botany to the south but the 1978 Hunua was extended further north, and only included the Hunua ranges to the south, whereas the modern Hunua goes right across to the west coast. Most of the voters in the 1978 Hunua that Peters won lived in what is now Botany. Sure, it was 33 years ago, and it was a tight race against Labour’s Malcolm Douglas (Roger’s brother), with Peters losing in 1981 to Colin Moyle. Nonetheless, there would be a certain sense of grandeur, so typical of Winston, to returning to the political scene by fighting in the area that first elected him to Parliament.

When Winston was creeping through broken windows in Huna it is safe to say that there was nothing but farm land in Botany and Ti Rakau Drive ended in a compulsory stop sign and the back road to Howick. Talk of Hunua and Winston is just nostalgic tosh. Botany as an electorate was only formed for the 2008 election, until then it had been part of Pakuranga and Manukau East. It was formed by the taking the blue¬†parts¬†of Manukau East and melding them with parts of Pakuranga. There isn’t a snowballs chance in hell of Labour winning this seat. It is safe National and for that reason the person National selects must not be a fly by night candidate.

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. ‚ÄúPansy 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.‚ÄĚ

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.

‚ÄúAs 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.‚ÄĚ

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.

‚ÄúThe 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.‚ÄĚ

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

More spin and lies from Brown camp

With the news that John Key supports the action of his Loal Government Minister in getting the Audtor-General to look into the murky dealings at the Counties Manukau Pacific Trust, which runs the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre, we now have another Brown campaign person sticking his oar in and raising his head above the parapet.

The spin and lies that are pouring out of the Brown camp just raise more questions than they are supposed to be hosing down.

Trust chief executive Richard Jeffery last night denied that the trust was a council-controlled entity.

“We are a community charitable trust,” he said.

Yeah, well the facts say otherwise Richard, and anyway you owe Lenny big time for that cushy job you landed. Good journalists would ask Richard Jeffery to produce evidence to counter the evidence I published as to the legal status of the Trust.

Trust chairman Sir Noel Robinson said no costs were incurred or revenue lost by providing Mr Brown’s campaign with billboard space, which his board had made a decision to provide free to any mayoral candidate who approached it.

“As a trust we support the democratic process and are more than happy for candidates to use the billboard as long as it doesn’t interfere with our business and that we incur no cost,” Sir Noel said.

“A legal opinion said we are well within our right to do so.”

Oh! Lookie, another Brown supporter sticking up for their shonky process and dodgy practices. I wonder if Sir Noel Robinson told the reporter that the Woolf Fisher Trust of which Sir Noel Robinson is chairman of also donated to Len Brown’s 2007 campaign. I bet he didn’t. The number of people associated with or involved Len Brown’s campaign team that were either employed or controlling the Counties Manukau Pacific Trust is astounding.

I also bet that that some hasty retrospective minutes are being drafted right now to support the lie that they were happy for other candidates to use the billboard. I wonder too if they will produce the letters communicating their decision to other mayoral candidates to use the billboard or was this another secret decision that was only passed onto Len Brown so he could take advantage of it.

I note that they have rapidly obtained a legal opinion. I wonder perhaps if that was from the pallid, little man masquerading as Mayor, or perhaps his missus.

The Night-Mayor, Len Brown, says he is unconcerned by the investigation. I’ll bet he is. He has the Chairman of the trust deep in his anonymous pockets, he has the CEO of the Trust paid off and he has David Lewis bullying editors and spinning out-right lies just like he did for Helen Clark.

The only problem with the Night-Mayor’s unconcern is that I’m all over him and his dodgy dealings and I’ll tell the truth about Len Borwn even if he won’t. In fact I think I might ask for some billboard space at Manukau to do just that.

More bad news for Len

Len Brown’s donations are causing a stink.

The Auditor-General may well be looking closely at the donation from the Counties Manukau Pacific Trust. One of the things the Auditor-General would need to look at is the commercial value of the rental of the billboard. They have claimed that for the last 3 months of the campaign that the value is $3375 or just $1000 per month plus GST. This is farcical in the extreme. The billboard is right beside the Southern Motorway with thousands of eyeballs passing it by each day.

I know how much it costs, David Farrar and I spent far more, for our much smaller, and poorly located, billboards, than what Len Brown and the Counties Manukau Pacific Trust have ascribed to it. My understanding of the law is that commercial value for donations of such things must be attributed.

Of course there are the murky relations between the now revealed Volare diners, the Counties Manukau Pacific Trust and the Len Brown campaign team, all sharing members.

Now too there is an up-roar about Len Brown accepting a donation from Sky City.

Hapai spokeswoman Zoe Martin-Hawke said Mr Brown had been very supportive of a “sinking lid” policy which meant poker machine licences could not be transferred from venues closing down to new premises. But she was sad he had taken money from a casino operation.

“We … hope he would find alternative money both for himself in future campaigns and for community groups in general,” she said.

“I think it highlights again the need for people to practise what they preach and for the Government to help us find alternative sources of funding – as they did with tobacco funding.”

Once again Len Brown said something on the campaign trail and did another thing behind peoples backs. The man really has no honour or integrity.

Another interesting thing to note is the amazing alacrity of the demolition of the Chows building, just across the road from Sky City and the direct involvement of Len Brown and the City CEO in the swift decision to drop the building. It’s probably nothing, but with the donation from Sky City a¬†question¬†that may well get raised.

One thing for sure is that day by day we are seeing the real Len Brown being revealed, not the one who campaigned, but rather a dirty, crooked version.

I think I might start a campaign like I did against Andrew Williams of telling the truth about Len Brown, since he won’t tell the truth about himself unless forced to.

Len's Volare Dinner partners revealed

Finally after months and an appeal to the Ombudsmen challenging Len Brown’s refusal to name his dinner guests as required by the rules of Manukau City at the time I have had a victory. The Ombudsmen have ruled that Len Brown must disclose the names of those present.

And we now know why Len Brown was prepared to die in the ditch over revealing the names.

Among those exalted people who Len Brown wanted to keep secret were Leigh Auton, his patsy Chief Executive, and his missus, and Richard Jeffrey and his missus too.

Both Leigh Auton and Richard Jeffrey have been given CCO board positions in a secret meeting this week. Richard Jeffrey is also the CEO of the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre which is now embroiled in investigations surrounding donations of ratepayer funds to Len Brown’s election campaign.

Leigh Auton, you will remember was too busy to answer the Ombudsmen’s request to name the people at the dinner. He was too busy to name himself and his wife and he was too busy to name the others who he must have known well because they were at the very same dinner s him. His reward for his silence was a CCO Board seat.

Richard Jeffrey is also the person who got the now infamous Volare opera singer,¬†Geoffrey¬†Knight, his kick-start with funding. Bizarrely they are still insisting that Geoffrey Knight was “a young singing artist from the community.” His own website proves that is a lie.

Based on the Gold Coast, Geoffrey has been specialising as a Classical Singer since 2001, his career has been very diverse since he began performing professionally in 1994 after working as a stuntman for US TV shows Hercules and Xena.  During 1995 and 1996 he completed a diploma in performance art at the National Academy of Singing & Dramatic Art.

Since when has the Gold Coast been local Manukau? He is also 40 years old, hardly young, though that depends on where you are looking at it from.

Len Brown tried to keep this secret and even said he would resign if forced to reveal the names. Well now he has been forced to reveal the names, but I seriously doubt whether he will honour his word to resign.

The man who campaigned on transparency is nothing short of  a secretive, furtive ,sad little liar. The pity is that we may well have to put up with him for three years.

There is certainly something very, very wrong with the CCO board apppointments that Len Brown secretly rammed through, especially when one of the appointees is the CEO of a council funded organisation that donated ratepayer funds to Len Brown’s campaign. The fact that he was one of Len’s previously secret, diners at the infamous Volare dinner just makes matters that much worse. No wonder Len¬†Brown¬†tried to hide it. No wonder he tried to hide it from the other councillors making board appointments.

Just as well this blogger never gave in and appealed to the Ombudsmen. Now we can all see who Len Brown was  trying to keep secret and rightly ask even harder questions about just why he insisted on dying in the ditch to keep the secret until I forced him to reveal it by going to the Ombudsmen.

The Volare Diners Revealed at last

Tell us the truth Len, without limits

Len Brown was elected promising to open the books, but he has kept his own books on campaign donations firmly shut. The Herald headline is “Mayor relies on secret war chest” and the Dominion Post headline is “Auckland Mayor hides names of¬†campaign¬†donors

Auckland’s first Super City mayor was elected using largely anonymous donations, despite promising to lead an administration of openness and accountability to the public.

Of Len Brown’s total campaign war chest of $581,900 in donations, $499,000 was folded into a single trust to protect the identity of those who gave money to help elect him but wished to remain nameless.

Only 15 donors were named in his returns yesterday to Auckland electoral officer Dale Ofsoske, the largest of $17,708 attributed to an entity called Fuqing, with $15,000 from casino operator SkyCity.

The Maritime Union gave $2000 each to Mr Brown and Auckland Council transport committee chairman Mike Lee, who listed no other donations in his election returns.

Mr Brown’s campaign also received $3375 from the Counties Manukau Pacific Trust, whose chief executive, Richard Jeffery, was appointed this week as a director of the Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development council-controlled organisation.

Now I guess we know why the Chow brothers building was pulled down with alarming alacrity. We also know now how John Robertson and Richard Jeffrey scored their CCO jobs. John Robertson is a trustee if the Counties Manukau Pacific Trust and Richard Jeffrey is the CEO, but more on this in a moment.

Len Brown campaigned on openness, he even gets his lickspittle, tame repeater Bernard Orsman to print stories about how open Len Brown is. Yet when it comes to openness with his own election finance and donation we find that like almost everything else about Len Brown it is a stonking great secret. The hypocrisy of the man is astounding.

The secret trust, strangely called “The New Auckland Council Trust”, is an enigma. Questions need to be asked about this secret trust. When was it formed? Who are the trustees? Where is the trust deed?

It’s all very murky from “Labour’s Mayor“. Phil Goff and Phil Twyford really need to answer some questions about their Mayor’s use of big money secret trsuts to fund his campaign. They are on record being against such secret trusts and even passed a law to prevent such things happening.

“What I would like to see is a system where democracy works but doesn’t rely simply on the power of the dollar and you don’t have some clandestine funding which was the real concern that lay behind the Electoral Finance Act,”

Let’s see if Phil Goff and Phil Twyford have anything other than weasel words about Len Brown’s secret trust. Phil Twyford was especially concerned about the influence of big money in elections earlier in the year.

Since then, there has been the rather unhappy progress of the Electoral Finance Act, and to my mind the really unfortunate failure of this House to build a lasting consensus about the need to limit the influence of big money in our political system.

Quite apart from Len’s secret trust account used to hide his big money corporate backers there is a real problem surrounding the donation from Counties Manukau Pacific Trust.

Fors a start the trust is essentially part of the new city structure, and previously was, by definition a part of Manukau City Council (pdf pg 11.). The same trust now owes the new Auckland Council (previously Manukau City Council $7.5 million (pg 29).

Worse the Trust’s audited statements show an annual operations grant of $385,000 and the $7.5million loan from Manukau City Council: (pg 10)

But the real problem is that Richard Jeffrey is the CEO and John Robertson is a trustee. They are in control of what can only be described as ratepayer funds and they have donated some of those ratepayer funds to Len Brown’s campaign. The same person who pushed through council the funding in the first place and also the same person who secretly appointed the two of them to CCO board positions.

On the surface it would appear that Richard Jeffrey and John Robertson used ratepayers funds to donate to Len Brown’s campaign in order buy themselves cushy jobs on CCO boards. The only thing that could make this story worse would be if Richard Jeffrey also attended the still secret Volare dinner.

No wonder Len Brown was being very furtive and secretive over his board appointments and no wonder he wanted to rush them through in secret before the election donations were revealed. I seriously doubt whether even his supporters on the secret council committee would have countenanced the appearance of bribery in their decisions.

Certainly I think there is enough here for the Auditor-General to have a look see, especially around that massive secret trust of big money, but more importantly around the apparent buying of CCO board positions with ratepayer funds. Len Brown campaigned on opening the books, he campaigned on honesty (but with limits) and he campaigned on being straight with us.

So far he has shown that those were just tawdry lies designed to hoodwink voters into thinking he was honest.