Phil Goff already reduced to begging

Having been elected?on a platform to sort out Auckland Council, you’d expect a mayor to kick butt and take names. ?Not so.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is recommending that councillors adopt a raft of new and improved accountability tools to significantly strengthen scrutiny of Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs), including Auckland Transport (AT).


“Strengthening the oversight of the CCOs, including AT, will result in solutions that are better aligned to the outcomes Aucklanders want. That includes easing congestion on our roads, the development of an effective and efficient public transport system and the protection and enhancement of our natural environment and communities as we bring large infrastructure projects online,” said Mayor Goff.

At Thursday?s Governing Body meeting, the Mayor will recommend that councillors no longer be automatically appointed to the AT board by virtue of their roles as elected representatives. Instead, councillors should be eligible to take part in a transparent and competitive application process that is also open to external candidates.

Recommended. ? Read more »

Duco?s Lonergan is picking fights he can?t win

Dean Lonergan seems to be displaying all the traits of someone who has taken too many blows to the head.

Now he is taking on a senior Councillor at Auckland Council.

The Joseph Parker heavyweight world title fight is veering into a slugfest between promoter Dean Lonergan and Olympian Dick Quax.

Quax, who won silver over 5000m at the 1976 Olympics, and Lonergan, a former rugby league second-rower, have been trading blows over ratepayer money for the on-again, off-again, on-again Joseph Parker v Any Ruiz boxing fight in Auckland.

The latest round has seen Quax – an Auckland councillor these days – welcoming the prospect of sky high pay-per-view prices of between $70 and $100 as the “market price, not a price subsidised by the Auckland ratepayers”.

“That’s a problem?”, said the pro-market and Act Party member.

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As I suspected, Duco Events have got their hands on ratepayers’ cash


Auckland ratepayers could throw hundreds of thousands of dollars towards Joseph Parker’s heavyweight title fight, which will take place in the city on December 10.

The boss of the council’s events arm, Brett O’Riley, yesterday confirmed Ateed “continues to be a part of discussions around this opportunity”.

In a statement he said Ateed was “not providing financial sponsorship directly to the fight” but continued to “look for opportunities to market and leverage Auckland on an international stage through world-class events like this”.

He did not say what form any financial assistance would take or whether it was in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“We will look at opportunities to market Auckland to an international audience, but what form this takes won’t be determined until the fight is confirmed to take place in Auckland.”

It will be interesting to see a business case that justifies this. ?Can you name the last 3 locations where heavy-weight fights have been held outside of Vegas? ? Ok, the most recent one then? ?Did you guess Italy? ?I hope not. ?Because it wasn’t. ? It was Ukraine. ?Or was it? ? Perhaps Russia? ? How many of you been there (wherever it was held) on tourism on the basis of watching the boxing matches? ?How many of you are planning to go? Read more »

Rail from City to Airport getting no love

The Herald’s editorial raises its eyebrows:

Auckland councillor Mike Lee is not alone in doubting the practicality of running trams from Britomart to the airport. The proposal is one of several under consideration by Auckland Transport for another mode of public transport to and from the airport, which has asked for a decision by the middle of this year so that it can include a rail or bus station in its plans for a new domestic air terminal.

The fact the airport company has made this request is good news indeed. Though it has long said it is open to the idea of a rail service to the airport, the revenue it earns from carparking and retail rentals in and around its terminals has given reason to wonder whether it would really welcome trains from downtown Auckland.

The ability to greet or farewell travellers at Britomart may be more convenient than driving all the way to Mangere for many Aucklanders. For that very reason a rail connection to the airport should be a high priority for the Auckland Council, as it was until, inexplicably, Mayor Len Brown postponed it to the 2020s in his planning.

Now the airport company’s wish to start building the much-needed new domestic terminal by 2021 means it needs a decision much sooner on whether it needs to accommodate a rail or bus service. It probably has not contemplated trams, or “light rail” as urban planners call them.

Yeah. ?Funny stuff. ?”Rail” is a dirty word, so now they’re calling them trams again. One more step back, and we’ll have horse-drawn carriages. ? Read more »

Auckland Transport: We didn’t block KiwiRail, we just want $600,000

Auckland Transport denies forcing KiwiRail’s long-distance passenger trains out of Britomart to a desolate station more than a kilometre away, but acknowledges it needed $600,000 to let them stay.

An Auckland Council member on the transport organisation’s board, Mike Lee, says he has heard on good authority from KiwiRail that it was told to pay for an upgrade of ventilation and related equipment at the underground station – or get out.

“I have been told by a highly placed person in KiwiRail that KiwiRail was asked by Auckland Transport to pay $600,000 for the overhaul of the Britomart fans,” he said. Mr Lee was referring to extraction equipment installed for Britomart’s opening in 2003, for Auckland’s diesel-fuelled urban passenger trains, which were replaced in July by a wholly electric fleet.

An Auckland Transport spokesman said KiwiRail was offered the chance to keep running its Northern Explorer diesel passenger trains from Britomart, on its thrice-weekly service to Wellington, before the Government operator decided to remove them to the previously disused surface station off The Strand – at its rail junction beneath Parnell Rise. Read more »

Auckland Council officials squabbling like children

The left arm doesn’t know what the right arm is doing at Auckland a Council. It’s so typical you’d have got a low return from the TAB.

What a bunch of clowns!

Two Auckland Council bodies are at loggerheads over whether 20ha of land at Hobsonville Pt should be used for housing or a film studio.

Five consultant firms have been hired during the dispute, which arose when Ateed, the council’s economic development arm, made a late pitch to turn some of the council-owned land into a film studio campus.

Auckland Council Property Ltd says it has a masterplan for the site and work can start immediately on 80 of the 441 houses and apartments, of which up to 15 per cent would be in the affordable category.

The masterplan will recoup $36 million spent to date on the land and provide a tidy $34 million profit for ratepayers, says ACPL in a report going to the Auckland development committee today.

An analysis of the Ateed proposal by CBRE property consultants for ACPL said the film studio would get the land for free for about 20 years and the council would be $24 million worse off in cash terms.

Ateed, which has used three consultants to fight its corner, said a film studio campus on 10ha of the land would provide 435 jobs annually and generate $483 million to the Auckland economy over 25 years.

The other 10ha would be used to build 315 homes. ?? Read more »

Team New Zealand AND Auckland Council? What could possibly go wrong?

Team New Zealand’s bid to host the America’s Cup qualifiers has hit a further snag, with crisis meetings held yesterday over problems with the proposed locations for the team bases.

An announcement confirming Auckland had secured the qualifying regatta in early 2017 was originally planned for yesterday but has been pushed back to next week as Team NZ try to put some distance between the fallout over Dean Barker’s axing.

In the meantime, Auckland Council bodies are struggling to agree on the waterfront locations to house the team bases after the preferred site at Westhaven Marina was found to be unsuitable within the short timeframe.

Plans to build a causeway between the end of Westhaven Drive and a seawall in two stages have encountered geotechnical and practical problems.

The first stage of building the causeway and starting repairs on the seawall is sufficient to accommodate two syndicate bases, but completing the second stage to accommodate three more syndicate bases is estimated to cost an unbudgeted $10 million to $15 million.

Team New Zealand manage to suck more money out of the tax (rate) payers after all. ?On the good side, this is only for Auckland victims. ?Until Steve Joyce figures out how to repackage his corporate welfare deal. ? Read more »

ATEED now funding tickets to exclusive golf tournaments

Len Brown’s council and subsidiaries are out of control, but none more so than ATEED which is facing several scandals at once.

Their plans to create mini embassies around the world has met with strong opposition but now it seems they are adding corporate welfare for rich golfers to their ambit.

The Taxpayers? Union can reveal that Auckland Council?s economic development agency, ATEED, has gifted $50,000 of ratepayer money to the Remuera Golf Club for the Holden PGANZ Championship. Taxpayers? Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:

?Auckland Council claims to have no money, but finds $50,000 spare to give a hand-out to Auckland?s richest golf club. They might label it ?economic development? but how is this a priority over roads, rail and housing??

The Taxpayers? Union was alerted to the funding through a Council social media competition offering ratepayers ten tickets to the event.

?The ten tickets are probably all ratepayers are ever going to see of the $50,000,? says Mr Williams.

In responding to questions put by the Taxpayers? Union, ATEED, the Council?s economic development agency, has indicated that a project sharing agreement is in place whereby the Council receive 50% of any profits over and above $150,000 generated by the event.

?Officials are trying to have it both ways by claiming that the grant is not a hand-out to sport, rather an ?investment?. When it flops, they?ll no doubt then call it a tourism expense.?

?If anyone really thinks this is a genuine investment that will make a good return to ratepayers, we?ve got a bridge to sell you.?

The documentation released by ATEED to the Taxpayers? Union is available at?

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Another Auckland Council trougher living life on the large overseas

Auckland Council is out of control.

Over the weekend it was revealed that one trougher from ATEED is living life on the large at ratepayers expense in London.

Len Brown professed no knowledge of the arrangements but backed it.

Now we know why…he probably did know, and also knew of another trougher living life on the?large, this time in San Francisco…and there are plans for another in China.

Aucklanders have their own woman in San Francisco to go with their own man in London.

Pam Ford, of Auckland Council’s economic development arm, has been based in San Francisco since March last year.

On Saturday, the Herald revealed that Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) had created a contract in London for one of its senior executives, Grant Jenkins, at a cost to ratepayers of more than $230,000.

His English-born wife was homesick and had been longing to return home for several years, according to a former council staffer. ? Read more »

Auckland Council investing in new studio when we already own one

When Auckland Council invests in business it’s telling us all its either:

1. Stupid;
2. Arrogant;
3. Doesn’t give a toss about ratepayer monies.

There are many sure things in this world. For example the sun will come up over the horizon in the morning. Cows will produce milk. And Council employees are the last people on earth we should trust to make business decisions.

Despite that here is Auckland Council pissing more ratepayer money into the wind on a movie venture in West Auckland.

Film and television incentives have lifted the screen production industry out of the doldrums, prompting the Auckland Council to back new studios in West Auckland.

Implemented last April, the generous incentives allow overseas film and TV producers to receive up to 25 per cent of their budgets from taxpayers in return for spending money on production in New Zealand.

The incentives coincided with a fall in the value of the New Zealand dollar against the greenback and both have helped make New Zealand more attractive to overseas filmmakers and programme makers.

Much of the activity is in the Auckland region, and the Auckland Council development agency Ateed is working on a public private partnership (PPP) to build a studio complex. ? Read more »