$1.2 million budgeted for just three staff in Len Brown’s office

Len Brown

There has been much made of wayward spending at Auckland Council.

Recently details emerged of millions of dollars spent by Len Brown’s council utilising the Labour party’s pollster UMR. There are also serious fraud investigations underway in Auckland Transport.

On top of that in recent years there has been increasing alarm at the vast sums of money being spent in Len Brown’s office on staff involved in PR, media liaison, and spin. The costs of all that in 2012 were calculated at $3.2 million:

Figures released to Mr Brewer show it cost $3.2 million to run the mayor’s office in the first 12 months of the Super City, much of which was spent on 23 staff, contractors and consultants.

“The mayoral budget is far too fat … This is really empire-building stuff,” said the right-leaning Orakei councillor and Mr Brown’s loudest critic on council.

That budget appears to have extended alarmingly with the recent appointment to Len Brown’s office of just three staff.

Information obtained under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act show that Len Brown has recently appointed three staff, two of them part-time to positions in his office with rather large contract rates. The total approved expenditure and contracts amounts are for $1.2 million for three staff. 

The Council in their response said:

“The contract values listed …are the maximum foreseeable cumulative for the whole of the contract term, this being a full fixed term contract of three years where all contracts expire at the end of October 2013. These figures do not represent amounts paid against this contract value.”

This is highly unusual. The procurement paperwork for these contracts was only sent through the council procurement office on 22 May 2013, in an election year. To sign up staff to the mayoral office for three years just a few months out from tan election is highly presumptuous. Even taking their explanation that the amounts quoted are for three years the sums are staggering.

Jacques Victor of Vicon Limited has a full-time contract to provide services as a “Senior Advisor re: Unitary/Annual/Spatial Plan” for $650,000 over the life time of the contract. Over three years that equates to $216,666 per annum. This is equivalent in dollar terms to the salary of a minister outside of cabinet with more than one portfolio, it is certainly more than a single portfolio minister outside of cabinet…and just for policy advice? Jacques Victor was formerly the Director of strategy, Rodney District Council.

Mike Joseph of Built Solutions Limited has been appointed a part time staff member contracting as the Mayoral Office liaison officer. His contract is for $400,000 or for $133,333 per annum for a 3 year contract. It is part time work remember, doing whatever a Mayoral Liaison officer does. He is receiving remuneration in line with a back bench MP salary and for only a part time role.

Steve Armitage, part time speech writer

Steve Armitage, part time speech writer

Steve Armitage of Three Point Two Communications is another part time member contracted as the Mayoral Speech Writer. His contract is for $150,000 or $50,000 per annum. Again it is part time. His words must be dripping with ratepayer gold at those rates. Steve Armitage also claims on his LinkedIn page to be the head of corporate relations for another council organisation, ATEED. Clearly booking two spaces at the trough it would seem.

All of these appointments appear to have been ‘direct award contracts’…the council response describes them as “direct sourcing by theMayor’s office in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009”. Perhaps that is council speak for shoulder tapped by a mate.

Len Brown seems to be continuing to use the public purse to fund his re-election. When you look at these appointments and add to the fact that Glyn Jones, who is Brown’s Chief Press Secretary, a council paid position who is introducing himself to all and sundry as Len Brown’s campaign manager. I’m not sure that ratepayers will be too enamoured with knowing we are paying the campaign manager’s salary.

The mayors office does not exist to provide re-election funds for the mayor, nor to provide staff.

It is also inappropriate to be initiating 3 year contracts in political positions this close to an election. Len Brown needs to start being honest with the people of Auckland.

LGOIMA Request – Auckland Council by Cam Slater


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  • Macca

    WOW! This guy (Len), is completely out of control! The biggest problem with so many of these people is that they actually start to believe that they are worth what they are earning! Talk about out of touch with reality when you look at what the PM earns or Bill English etc and the huge amount of responsibility they have!

    With the socialist media backing this fool (as out of touch with reality as Len is), it looks like he’ll probably get another term – thank God I don’t live in Auckland!

    • AnonWgtn

      Len does not care it is not his money he is spending only yours.

      • le sphincter

        How much does Nationals ‘sticky beak’ at the Christchurch Council cost ?
        $2000 a DAY !

        These guys are paid peanuts instead.
        Their contracts have a finite term but are probably terminated at Browns discretion

  • You kids in Auckland are so lucky. Since the amalgamation costs have soared. And somehow, there are still enough of you that will vote Lenny back in because you haven’t quite been bled of enough money yet.

    • johnbronkhorst

      The problem isn’t amalgamation, it’s entirely LEN BROWN!

    • Ducky

      yes, them aucklanders are so lucky to have Len, isn’t he superb? , spending alot of your money and still they vote for him…I suppose he can milk the cows more by increasing their rates, and still gets the votes… can’t loose.

    • andrew carrot

      Yet no one with any skill and potential wants to stand against him. Apathy rules again in Auckland, where less than 50% of the population voted last local government election. Far too many of my friends and acquaintances moan about Len but then have to admit that they didn’t vote. I suspect that they won’t this time either. A first world problem if ever there was one.

      • Macca

        My understanding is that there is a very capable restauranteur running but the left media won’t give him any coverage – so who would know he was running!?

        • kehua

          If you are talking about John Palino then call him JOHN PALINO in your bloody Post, otherewise you are no better than the useless Media that you are criticising. Wheere are the bumper stickers Cam?

  • blokeintakapuna

    Great sunlight Whale.
    Lets hope the AG, Electoral Commission and perhaps even the PM think his spending is not only way out of control, but that it also has the distinctive waft of tainted cronyism and abuse of elected authority.

    Hope the respective authorities are taking some time out from investigating the union rorts to look into these over-spends?

  • Muffin

    Wonder if his fanboy on radio live Gardner will pick this and run with it? Doubt it, as I’m pretty sure he was practising his sword swallowing on him when he did an interview the other day

  • Quintin Hogg

    This is the top of the pile.
    Most departments in the AC are overstaffed with many people sitting at window seats just staring outside.
    Policy Parrot has pointed out the vast number of planners the city employs and whose numbers should be pruned for example.
    As Bloke says, get the sunlight into the dark corners…..

  • johnbronkhorst

    I see from Yahooxtra news. That the Auckland council is to OPPOSE the sky city convention centre DEAL. NOT the convention centre, just the deal that meant it is free of public monetary input!!!
    Quoting the false hood, that pokie numbers will increase!
    So, what they want is a FREE to Auckland (tax payer funded), convention centre. And to get it they are arguing that despite the fact, that pokie numbers will have reduced to such a level in Auckland, that when you add these, the numbers will be LOWER than they are today. I smell the fiddly finger of labour in this!!!
    I have a deal for you (Auckland council), either agree, or ALL funding for roads, rail, the convention centre are transferred to Transmission Gully, the 4 laning of SH 1 and any other project we can think of? Fund your projects, yourself!!!

    • Macca

      True! Since when was it local body council policy to start delving in to social engineering? What the fuck has it got to do with the council how many people are gambling etc? Is there job not to look after buildings, roads and verges etc?

  • Rat

    Average of $133,333 per person per annum, about the average salary for a top level manager .

    Kids, stay in school.

    Standing for Mayor yet Cameron ?

    • Muffin

      Sorry, thats top level manager for a private enterprise, where you actually have to perform.

    • Never in the dark…..

      Average salary for a top level FULL TIME manager.

      Cam SLATER for mayor. Although I know Brewer would like the job too.

      • le sphincter

        He didnt even make the top 10 when he ran for ward councillor

  • Whafe

    Lyin Len strikes again…… Yet still the simpletons vote and feel he is the man to make this city the best city in the world, oh and we must build up, because we don’t want to be like LA……. What a waste of space this fool is

  • Never in the dark…..

    Haven’t read the entry yet, but had to say something off topic about the picture. It reminds of the sad joke where little Johnny (in this case Lenny) was promised an ice-cream if he get his hands to meet when clapping, after several tries he succeeds, gets his ice-cream and immediately plants it in his forehead.

    So despite the seriousness of any article featuring old Loopy, I’m completely thrown off by the accompanying picture when it is included.

  • ratesarerevolting

    Can we drop Len Brown on Robert Mugabe from a great height ?

    LBIAFC !

  • Patrick

    The architect of this Super Shitty mess is Rodney Hide – care to comment Rodney? You have a lot to say elsewhere on all topics. We must be due for a objective review of the success/failure of the Super Shitty.

    • CheesyEarWax

      One of the thing Hide failed to do was set targets/mandates around cost savings for the Super City plan. Just like central government in the hands of tax-and-spend socialists, its no different at local councils. The SC amalgamation gives them much more ammo to tax more and spend more.

      • Patrick

        That is part of it, legislation should also have been put in place forcing Councils (country wide) to stick to their knitting, providing core services such as sewage systems, water supply etc. The spend on social services is the responsibility of central government. All that is happening here is the “Labourisation” of the biggest voting base in the country. The way Len is going Auckland will be like the Liverpool Council of the 1970’s & 1980’s prior to Thatcher. A festering sore of communists.

    • Clarence

      As much as I like Rodney and think his intent for Auckland was good he left a lot of loopholes to exploit and exploit Len has.

      • Patrick

        Hide had plenty of time & plenty of expert resources available to get the parameters set correctly & he failed. Spent his whole political career railing against perks. The Perk Buster was that busy filling his own pockets that he totally screwed up the formation of the Super City. Why is he not being held to account for the mess that he has allowed Len Brown to create?

  • Wendy

    Outrageous! The auditor general needs to step in immediately.

    This is unacceptable.

  • John Q Public

    Tell me, just who the hell do we have to vote for in Auckland? The TV chef? Has there even been such a selection of nothingness for the right leaning voter in a local election?

    • Ducky

      better the TV chef than Lennie.

  • Andrew

    It’s totally illegal. The Mayor should stand down. He has Mugabe written all over him.


  • nellie

    I wonder how much Veena gets paid? And what the heck is “Democracy Services”?

    • Travis Poulson

      An empty office that needed to be occupied.

    • Mr_Blobby

      Democracy Services is the department, not office, that is designed to liaise between our elected officials and Council.

      Put simply to keep the elected officials under control and out of the way.

  • cows4me

    Sounds like Auckland is lost. It has become the very thing She Beast would have brought to the whole of NZ had there not being enough good people to see her off. Get out while you can. Sell the house for some sky high price and by twice the residence down south. Plenty of jobs in Taranaki and no parasitic Len Brown.

    • Bunswalla

      Sir Dove-Meyer Robinson will be spinning in his grave. He was the very epitome of thrift – walking to work from the Eastern suburbs, often with his shirt off in the middle of winter to show he was no pussy (I think Putin must have read about Robbie and tried to emulate him). He’d almost always eat in the staff cafeteria and happily welcomed any staff member that wanted to sit with him and ask him questions (or bend his ear).

      Even Muldoon was jealous of the affection Aucklanders held Robbie in – referred to him once as an “old pet”. Robbie just laughed it off and said well at least pets are loved by their owners. What a guy.

      • conwaycaptain

        Good salt of the earth east end of London Jewish stock.
        Not like these up ’emselves self important NUMPTIES

  • Bunswalla

    I’d be interested to know if indeed these contracts were able to be ‘directly awarded’ – my understanding is that any contract with a total value of over $100k (I think even $50k in some cases) has to be published on the GETS (Government Electronic Tender Service) website and be subject to an RFI/RFP/RFT/RFQ type process.

    I’ve searched the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 online, and can find no reference (using the Search facility) to any of the following terms:
    – procurement
    – procure
    – direct sourcing
    – direct source
    – award

    Cam, can you write back to the person in “Democracy Services” and ask them specifically which section and/or clause of the above act allows the Mayor to “directly source” the procurement of these contracts without any open tendering process?

    I think more sunlight is needed on this one.

  • Rodger T

    Vote for Minto as mayor cos` he gonna put all council staff on the living wage of 18 bucks an hour,`cept for the mayor and the chief exec ,of course.
    It`ll be fucking hilarious.

    • Markmywords

      Minto is even more crazy. Imagine how deteriorated Auckland would be if he were Mayor. What a prize tool he is.
      Anyone who wants the things he seeks has no grasp of reality.
      He’s possibly insane.

      • Pointless

        Possibly? His only policy is to stop Israelis from competing in the tennis.

  • VotingforPalino

    Dodgy corrupt secretive little lying Len is as bent as a paper clip.
    He should resign.
    The electoral commission should investigate.
    His office should be stood down on leave.
    He should be audited.
    The government should frown on him and whack him with a stick.
    The Police should take a look at whether laws have been broken.
    And nobody should vote for him.

  • rockape

    Well voters get what they deserve. If you cant be bothered getting an interest in local politics,dont complain when those that do get their man elected. You jaffas are paying the bill for your disinterest in local politics,if you want change DO SOMETHING other than whinge!

    • LessLaw

      The level of comment on this blogsite suggests plenty of jaffas ARE interested…sadly the last election saw a lack of the right-leaning voters (and possibly an alternative candidate of equally dubious credibility) that allowed LB & his successful PR team to garner the Brown vote with promises of spending for the lower socio-economic constituents

  • AnonWgtn

    Like Tauranga it will only be a while before Commissioners are put into these two Councils.
    They are bleeding ratepayers dry, who can do nothing to prevent it.

  • DavidW

    Sounds like the Geese are starting to object loudly to being plucked. Louder guys, more honking and hissing required. Equally one could say that the frog is still in the pot but the water is getting close to boiling.

    Len may have turned the heat up a bit quick

    Ref. the US President who described taxation as the art of plucking a goose with the least objection from the goose.

  • DavidW

    One recommendation for those who have habitually paid their rates in one lump is to only pay by instalment for the 2014 rating year. This will have a significant impact on the council’s cashflow and borrowing pattern and the cost to each ratepayer is miniscule. (i.e. the financial incentive to pay early is an insult)

  • Mr_Blobby

    The answer is simplicity itself.

    Rates are abolished, Councils are funded on a per capita basis from central Government.

    Councils are to have there power curbed to essential services roads, water, waste, rubbish etc.

    No need for hundreds of PR specialists to tell everyone how good you are. If you turn the tap on and water comes out and the toilet flushes proof enough.

    And can some one please tell me why a city of 1 Million men, women and children need 5000+ Council employees to deliver these basic services. Take out the retired, beneficiaries and school age children they must represent about 10% of the working population. I assume contractors are extra.

  • Pointless

    If you want to see corruption, backhanders, jobs for the boys and incredible money wastage just look at the council’s IT department…