Honesty with Limits still the policy at Manukau

Len Brown promised to resign if his ratepayers ever asked him to reveal who he had dinner with at Volare. This ratepayer did, and did it under the LGOIMA.

On Thursday I receieved my response from his lickspittle CEO, Leigh Auton. So too did the Sunday Star Times, and they are not happy, having laid a complaint with the Chief Ombudsmen about Len Brown’s secrecy.

HE CHIEF ombudsman is investigating Manukau City Council’s refusal to name those whom mayor Len Brown wined and dined at an $810 dinner paid for by ratepayers.

Brown has said he will never name those at the September 27, 2009, dinner – held at Italian restaurant Volare just days before his birthday and paid for on his mayoral credit card.

“Will I give you the names? Never,” Brown told a council committee meeting when asked to justify the dinner, insisting it was business-related.

Unfortunately under Council guidelines for use of the Purchasing Card he cannot do this. This is what the SST and I am trying to enforce. What I can’t fathom though is why Len Brown is prepared to die in the ditch over $810.00. He has made this relatively small dinner a do or die principle to keep quiet, and for why? If he simply had complied with council policy and provided the details people wouldn’t be wanting to know why the secrecy. It would have died as an issue from day one.

Now it is extremely interesting to for us to see who he is wanting to die in the ditch for. Why the secrecy?

As you could see from my LGOIMA request, I was very, very specific as to the questions I asked. they could be answered with a simple yes or no answer and thereby wouldn’t breach anyone’s privacy. Very simple isn’t what the Mayor and his Chief Executive want though, they want complicated and therefore they want this story to be big.

I responded to Leigh Auton’s letter:

With all due respect Mr Auton this response fails to meet the requirements of the council’s own policy and the requirements of the LGOIMA

Your reliance upon the Privacy Act to answer yes or no questions as outlined again for your benefit is stretching the intent of the council’s policy and the LGOIMA Act.

I ask again

6. Was Conor Roberts in attendance at the “fundraiser? YES or NO
7. Were any members of the Mayor’s family in attendance? YES or NO
8. Was David Lewis in attendance at the “fundraiser”? YES or NO
9. Was Noel Robinson in attendance at the “fundraiser”? YES or NO
10. Was Richard Jeffrey in attendance at the “fundraiser”? YES or NO
11. Was Mike Hutcheson in attendance at the “fundraiser”? YES or NO

If these people weren’t in attendance then there can be no breach of policy by answering NO. If they were in attendance then again there is no breach of privacy. In fact it could be argued that the there was no privacy as this “meeting” or “fundraiser” as you and the Mayor euphemistically call this ostensibly private function because we as ratepayers paid for it.

The Mayor’s diary also points to the fact that this wasn’t a fundraiser at all, simply an Opera Night at Volare, a night of entertainment rather than business.

Please reconsider your response. I will also be asking the Ombudsmen to consider your response as well.

In a separate request I had asked for the Mayor’s diary for that night, I also asked for Leigh Auton’s and the Deputy Mayor’s but he hasn’t sent those through. As you can see from the diary there is no fundraiser, it is simply a Opera Night, exactly as advertised by Volare. the only people to claim that this night was a fundraiser were Len Brown and his spin doctors, and even then their story didn’t hold water. Just to remind readers of the spin, lies and obfuscations surround this dinner, it was explained that the night was a fundraiser for a local, up and coming Opera singer, this blog proved that it wasn’t a fundraiser, and the dinner to ‘support a local emerging artist’ turned out to be for a Gold Coast based professional singer whose manager and fundraiser also happens to be one of the guys in charge of the Telstra Clear events centre, the very same organisation that is supposedly paying for one of Borwn’s spin doctors and campaign managers, Conor Roberts.

There is a reason why Len brown is dying in the ditch for this, and since they refuse to say who we must then take it as read that the refusal to even say who wasn’t there as tantamount to an admission that they were. Until Len Brown is forced to keep the council’s own policy we can only but speculate as to who was there, one thing is for sure, it certainly wasn’t a fundraiser, and it sure as hell wasn’t council business.

My letter to the Ombudsmen was sent Friday.


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  • I beg to differ, Whale. I think this event was a fundraiser.

    Just not for the singer…

  • excuseme

    Great ferreting, Whale. Keep up the good work, and don’t let them grind you down – as if you would!

    Auckland Council can do without a mayor who resorts to this kind of obfuscation to protect the “privacy” of his dining at taxpayers’ expense.

  • inventory2

    Stick with this one Cam. The more Brown refuses to disclose who he treated to dinner, the more dodgy it looks for him. If he has nothing to hide, why does he just not climb down from his high horse? Spending Other People’s Money carries with it a far higher standard of transparency.