Geoffrey Knight

Len's Volare Dinner partners revealed

Finally after months and an appeal to the Ombudsmen challenging Len Brown’s refusal to name his dinner guests as required by the rules of Manukau City at the time I have had a victory. The Ombudsmen have ruled that Len Brown must disclose the names of those present.

And we now know why Len Brown was prepared to die in the ditch over revealing the names.

Among those exalted people who Len Brown wanted to keep secret were Leigh Auton, his patsy Chief Executive, and his missus, and Richard Jeffrey and his missus too.

Both Leigh Auton and Richard Jeffrey have been given CCO board positions in a secret meeting this week. Richard Jeffrey is also the CEO of the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre which is now embroiled in investigations surrounding donations of ratepayer funds to Len Brown’s election campaign.

Leigh Auton, you will remember was too busy to answer the Ombudsmen’s request to name the people at the dinner. He was too busy to name himself and his wife and he was too busy to name the others who he must have known well because they were at the very same dinner s him. His reward for his silence was a CCO Board seat.

Richard Jeffrey is also the person who got the now infamous Volare opera singer, Geoffrey Knight, his kick-start with funding. Bizarrely they are still insisting that Geoffrey Knight was “a young singing artist from the community.” His own website proves that is a lie.

Based on the Gold Coast, Geoffrey has been specialising as a Classical Singer since 2001, his career has been very diverse since he began performing professionally in 1994 after working as a stuntman for US TV shows Hercules and Xena.  During 1995 and 1996 he completed a diploma in performance art at the National Academy of Singing & Dramatic Art.

Since when has the Gold Coast been local Manukau? He is also 40 years old, hardly young, though that depends on where you are looking at it from.

Len Brown tried to keep this secret and even said he would resign if forced to reveal the names. Well now he has been forced to reveal the names, but I seriously doubt whether he will honour his word to resign.

The man who campaigned on transparency is nothing short of  a secretive, furtive ,sad little liar. The pity is that we may well have to put up with him for three years.

There is certainly something very, very wrong with the CCO board apppointments that Len Brown secretly rammed through, especially when one of the appointees is the CEO of a council funded organisation that donated ratepayer funds to Len Brown’s campaign. The fact that he was one of Len’s previously secret, diners at the infamous Volare dinner just makes matters that much worse. No wonder Len Brown tried to hide it. No wonder he tried to hide it from the other councillors making board appointments.

Just as well this blogger never gave in and appealed to the Ombudsmen. Now we can all see who Len Brown was  trying to keep secret and rightly ask even harder questions about just why he insisted on dying in the ditch to keep the secret until I forced him to reveal it by going to the Ombudsmen.

The Volare Diners Revealed at last

Why won't Len tell us the truth?

Jonathan Marshall has been following up his complaint to the Ombudsmen after the Manukau City Council refused to release details of the now infamous Volare dinner, as required by the counicl’s own regulation and also as required by law under the LGOIMA.

Len Brown tells us in his extensive television ad campaign that he will open the books of the new city. That promise rings very hollow indeed when we read of his and his Chief Executive’s attempts to cover up a $810.00 council funded dinner.

Secret details of an $810 dinner Manukau mayor Len Brown charged to his council credit card are unlikely to be revealed before this weekend’s local body election, the Ombudsman says.

The south Auckland mayor, who is predicted to win the top job of the new Auckland Council on Saturday, came under intense scrutiny earlier this year after refusing to say who he took to a September 2009 dinner, costing $810.

Brown was asked by a number of media outlets who he took to the dinner, which took place in the same week as his birthday. He refused all requests.

In what was possibly the most memorable part of this year’s local body election campaign, Brown gave an emotional and passionate address to his council colleagues about the dinner. He punched his head and chest and said he would “never” reveal who attended.

“Will I give you the names? Never. I want to tell you that, I feel so intensely strong about this.”

He will open the books on the new city but actively work to prevent his old books ever being released. Dishonest is the word that immediately springs to mind.

The evening was held at south Auckland’s Volare Italian restaurant and featured Australian-based professional tenor Geoffrey Knight, aged in his forties.

Brown told Breakfast co-host Paul Henry the dinner was “a totally appropriate occasion. It was fundraiser in support of a young singing artist in our community…a fundraiser for one of our excellent young musical talents.”

So he will open the books and believes that transparency is a “not a perfect thing“. Looks like the truth isn’t a perfect thing either. Bottom line is Len Brown has never told the truth about that dinner, and when cornered he went all slappy onus.

The worst aspect of all this is the active obfuscation by a paid employee of the City Council, a paid employee who was recompensed handsomely, got a massive payout for just doing his job (or not in this case) and even had a park named after him. Leigh Auton has constantly run interference on behalf of Len Brown throughout this and we can certainly expect these sorts of tactics from Len Brown to continue i, god forbid, he wins the mayoralty.

This week commissioner Marie Shroff asked a set of questions of Manukau City Council about the dinner.

She wanted to know “whether the attendees knew they were accompanying Brown in his capacity as mayor” and “did they know the dinner was being charged to his mayoral credit card”.

Two simple questions, eight people to ask, and two of them were Len Brown and his missus. Eight people, required to say yes or no, twice. It should take all of a couple of hours to sort out. Why no answer? The only supposition can be corruption. Why won’t they answer these two simple questions.

Leigh Auton fought like hell to keep his massive 6 figure payout secret, now he is still fighting like hell to keep details required by law and council rules for a $810 dinner secret.

One must presume that this is a secret that could very well seriously affect Brown’s credibility for them all to die in the ditch defending it.

It is a travesty that Len Brown, his Labour backers and city officials can’t be trusted to tell us the truth, or to follow the law. What will be more of a travesty is Len Brown bringing these appallingly low standards of personal integrity to  the new City.