Chris Fletcher

And they think that is going to save them? [UPDATED]

Some Auckland councillors think that abstaining from a vote means they didn’t make one and can’t be blamed for the consequences.

That’s so dumb its incomprehensible.

It’s like saying the dog ate one’s homework.

Not voting – abstaining – is still supporting the Mayor. It just comes with a bit of posturing. The result will still be a win for the Mayor’s budget.

And being scared by Stephen Town into believing that there will be dire financial consequences?

That’s even dumber.

Several Auckland councillors are expected to abstain from a budget vote this week to avoid plunging the Super City into a financial crisis.

Mayor Len Brown looks set to pass his new 10-year, $60 billion budget with less than half the votes of his council at Thursday’s governing body meeting.

He will get there after councillors were told the consequences of not passing the budget by chief executive Stephen Town and chief finance officer Sue Tindall over lunch last Thursday.

Councillors attending the lunch said the consequences were dire.   Read more »

The 15 councillors that need voting out after imposing a poll tax on Auckland

Yesterday 15 councillors and unelected Maori representatives, including Len Brown voted to increase Aucklanders rates by 9.9% despite promises from Len Brown to limit rates rises to just 2.5%.

These are the 15 who need rinsing at next year’s local body elections. They are dead to citizens of Auckland. Useless. A waste of space. If only we had recall legislation.

Mayor Len Brown, deputy mayor Penny Hulse, Penny Webster, Arthur Anae, Cathy Casey, Bill Cashmore, Linda Cooper, Chris Darby, Alf Filipaina, Chris Fletcher, Mike Lee, Calum Penrose, Wayne Walker and Maori Statutory Board members David Taipari and Glen Wilcox voted for the increase.

These people need to be voted out.

They are completely out of touch with the feelings of the ratepayers. Those ratepayers need to ensure they are never in the position to rape our pockets again.

Those who votes against should be rewarded.

Cameron Brewer, Ross Clow, Denise Krum, Dick Quax, Sharon Stewart, John Watson and George Wood voted against the rises.

Read more »

Face of the day

Len Brown

Len Brown

Auckland mayor Len Brown has traded verbal blows in a heated debate over how the council is making decisions about rates and financial matters.

Former Auckland City mayor Chris Fletcher has accused him of rushing through decisions without adequate information and proper procedure.

An angry Len Brown has shouted down Councillor Fletcher, saying he’s had enough of her ‘baseless’ accusations over the past four years.

He says the decisions have to be made, the information has been adequate, and no one will be entirely satisfied by the process.

It’s the latest in a string of angry outbursts from the mayor, who’s faced repeated challenges about spending plans during a two-day meeting.

On several occasions, he’s lost his temper at left and right wing councillors who have criticised proposed plans for transport and stadiums.

-NewstalkZB

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Len Brown breaks yet another promise, ratchets rates ever higher

Len Brown has become the lying Mayor.

Another of his election promises has gone by the wayside as his council keeps on increasing rates rather than reining in spending.

Auckland Council’s budget committee has voted 16-7 for a proposal to increase rates by 3.5 per cent for each year of a new 10-year budget.

The proposal got the backing of Mayor Len Brown, who promised voters to hold rates at 2.5 per cent this term.

This is on top of the massive rates rises of the last 3 years, some way more than 10% but capped under now expired legislation. Remember too that this is average rates rises of 3.5%, there will be some with even higher rates rises.

These are the tax, spend and hope councillors.

For a 3.5 per cent increase: Len Brown, Penny Webster, Arthur Anae, Cathy Casey, Bill Cashmore, Ross Clow, Linda Cooper, Chris Darby, Alf Filipaina, Penny Hulse, Mike Lee, Calum Penrose, John Walker, Wayne Walker and Maori Statutory Board members David Taipari and John Tamihere.

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Auckland’s councillors are revolting

Well, not all of them, but certainly enough to put Len Brown’s pet project in jeopardy.

The $2.4 billion City Rail Link could be deferred until 2020 because of mounting concerns by councillors about its impact on rates, debt and big cuts to community services.

A number of councillors are having second thoughts about an early start on the rail project and support deferring work until the Government comes on board with funding in 2020.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has locked $2.2 billion into a new 10-year budget to begin work on the 3.5km underground rail link in 2016 and completed by 2021.

On Wednesday, all 20 councillors and the mayor will debate the budget and make decisions on the rail project for public consultation.

One commenter notes:

The best news from the article is that councillors seem to be backing away from the train set – with luck Len’s folly will be initially deferred and later abandoned without fanfare.

And another comments:

Had a quick look. Finally it seems like ‘the people of Auckland are getting mad enough and therefore loud enough to be heard. Reading between the lines it seems like the counsellors have decided they would rather get re-elected and keep their jobs than support someone (Lenny) who is going to lose.

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Guest Post: John Boscawen

This is a guest post from John Boscawen, and also his speech form last night.

Last night I organised a meeting for the three contestants for the ACT leadership. While the media reported 100, it was actually attended by 140 – we counted them. It was the biggest ACT-related public meeting since the 2011 campaign launch.

We have received very positive media coverage. It was covered by all major media.

I wanted the meeting to present the ACT Party and its candidates in the best possible light – we succeeded.

More importantly, it was the first and only opportunity for ACT members to hear from and question the candidates before the Board commences its deliberations at 9.30am on Saturday

As a public meeting, it also enabled me to invite many tens of donors to the Party that I have built relationships with over many years and who are not formal members – they appreciated it.   Read more »

Has Len Brown never heard of the LGOIMA?

Len Brown is fighting to keep his deal with councillors over repayment secret. He has got bad news coming down the line if he thinks he can do that.

Bernard Orsman reports:

Expectations are rising for a settlement by Auckland Mayor Len Brown towards the $100,000-plus cost of a review into his extramarital affair to be made public.

Three of the five councillors negotiating a settlement – Chris Fletcher, George Wood and Dick Quax – believe it is the wish of the group to make the settlement public.

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse and Penny Webster, the other two on the negotiating group, are staying quiet.

Mr Brown told the Herald last week that when councillors set up a group last month to enter into binding negotiations, the resolution was the settlement would be confidential.

He can’t hide, there is a little problem for Len Brown called the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act and it will most definitely apply to the meetings of 5 councillors and him settling a repayment. They made it council business.  Read more »

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.   Read more »

Councillors flip flop

Richard Northey, who is a weak as Aussie beer and Cathy Casey, both of whom voted to axe berm mowing, and both of whom have been very vocal in support of the axing have all of a sudden performed a flip flop.

They certainly don’t have the courage of their convictions and should be run out of town on  rail.

Auckland councillors Richard Northey and Cathy Casey have done a u-turn on their previous support for not cutting city grass berms and want an immediate fix until after the local body elections.

Mr Northey and Ms Casey are facing strong challengers in wards with scruffy roadsides, and are blaming poor council communication for people not knowing about the new policy.

Mr Northey, who told the Herald on Tuesday that he supported the no-mowing decision and had received feedback in favour of the move, yesterday said people had not been told of the decision or the reasons for it.

He said the berms should be mowed this month and the incoming councillors and local board members should decide whether to resume berm mowing permanently and, if so, how to pay for it.  Read more »

C&R = Catastrophe and Ruin for the Auckland centre-right

In around 7 months, NZ will be in the thick of local body elections, the most important for the Auckland Council.

At this stage, there isn’t a declared centre-right candidate to take on Len Brown, though the rumour mill is running overtime on a couple of names.

However, Len for know is very much in the box seat, which is why Auckland needs a strong centre-right council to hold him to account.

The centre-right in Auckland Region is normally represented by the Citizens and Ratepayers ticket, who have historically done well on the former Auckland Regional Council and the old Auckland City Council.

Since the 2010 elections, when C&R did poorly in the first ever supercity elections, there has been a rebrand by C&R’s executive board and National Party hacks Alastair Bell and Mark Thomas, to try and refresh their image. But while the colours and names have changed, their political fortunes have not.  The new C&R, now known as Communities and Residents, has barely registered in the media over the last year. The C&R caucus is badly divided, and their board ineffective. Wags have said they should have renamed themselves Catastrophe & Ruin instead.

National has all but washed their hands of C&R in the elections this year, its caucus refusing to make available any organisation to the adrift group, instead encouraging individuals to participate if they feel like it. Candidate selections that were supposed to take place in November have been deferred and deferred as people go cold on standing for an organisation heading for defeat. Big fundraising plans have turned to dust and instead, a big levy is likely to be imposed on the hapless cannon fodder that stand.  Read more »