Rudman on King Len

It is not often you will find me agreeing with Brian Rudman.

Yesterday his column was actually superb.

At last, after three years of being in thrall to the mayor, the politicians on Auckland Council are preparing to exercise their power. At Thursday’s meeting of the full council, it looks as though the two most senior councillors, former Auckland City mayor Chris Fletcher, and former regional council chairman Mike Lee will not just move a “cross-party” motion of censure against the mayor, but propose a monitoring committee to oversee the mayor and his office.

This would be similar to the monitoring committees already in place to keep track of council-controlled organisations and the chief executive officer.

Mr Brown has apologised to his wife, his family and, on Friday after the release of the EY report, to the citizens of Auckland for his errors. But councillors say they’ve been humiliated as well, and want an apology of their own.

To me, it’s the monitoring committee that’s important. A powerful body to provide checks and balances over the mayoral silo. Exactly how this attempt to clip the wings of the “executive” mayor will be achieved is one for the lawyers, and ultimately the law-makers to work out. But if the end result is the walls of King Len’s castle are knocked down and he and his officials become members of the greater Auckland Council team, then the whole Bevan Chuang kerfuffle was almost worth it.  

The power has gone to Len Brown’s head. He cannot be trusted. The executive powers need to be reined in.

The report did unearth nine complimentary room nights the mayor had been gifted by local hotels in 2011-2012, including three nights at SkyCity. The mayor says the SkyCity gift was all one night in February 2011, when his family booked in to celebrate his wife’s 50th birthday. Given the on-going controversy between the Government and SkyCity over the more pokies for a convention centre deal, the mayor was stupid to accept these and the other freebies, and not to declare them on the council gift register.

After all, in the midst of the first Super City mayoral race in June 2010, when the Auditor-General criticised him for personal spending on the Manukau City credit card, the tearful candidate and former Manukau mayor said “I’m under extraordinary scrutiny and maybe Jesus Christ was the only one to withstand that and come out completely pure”.

That was a bizarre claim, and as I said, Len Brown, supposedly  devout christian, would do well to remember what happened to Jesus Christ. His own crucifixion is well undrway in the court of public opinion.

Regardless of the rights or wrongs of the upgrades arithmetic, the mayor’s reputation is in tatters. His redemption, and his legacy, now relies on him delivering the goods. And the best way to do that is to break down the castle walls and work with his councillors.

I doubt that will happen. Len Brown thinks he has gotten away with everything.

Let’s see how he handles the next wave of revelations.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.