Mike Lee

Missing in action

Len Brown is unavailable for comment as he is on holiday while his Ports of Auckland company is being held to ransom by demanding, greedy unions. He is showing all care but no responsibility as he suns him self on Waiheke Island.

Last I heard cellphones and the internet worked just fine on Waiheke.

Meanwhile the union is bombarding talkback with their flunkies spinning all sorts of lines. What they can’t anser though is why exactly they are striking. The Port has offered substantial increases, far larger than any other sector has obtained or won and still they are announcing further strikes.

There is some good news though…if you are a Ports of Tauranga shareholder, your shares went up:

If Fonterra follows through, it will mean the loss of a second major customer for the port in a month following shipping line Maersk’s decision to re-route its Southern Star service to the Port of Tauranga.

The prospect of more business has given Port of Tauranga’s share price a boost. The stock rallied by 15c yesterday to close at $10.10 – a record high.

Back in Auckland ratepayers are watching while a small group of lazy, greedy unionists are bleating about the employer wanting them to work when the employer wants them to work not when the workers want to work. I kid you not, that is what they are saying in calls to NewstalkZB.

The Maritime Union is holding New Zealand’s biggest port to ransom and it appears they are being aided and abetted by some councillors like Mike Lee.

Mike Lee is Captain Omni-shambles

Mike Lee is scrambling to blame the government for its supercity reforms as to why insufficient toilets, crowd control and a properly controlled atmosphere was achieved down at the waterfront in Auckland.

Yet – this is clearly a misguided and dishonest attempt to divert blame.

The supercity reforms, a massive enough task, were delivered will relatively few dramas. Rubbish continued to be collected, water continued to flow (and for most people, far more cheaply), and consents continue to be issued for construction (probably still too slowly).

All the management of these tasks were implemented properly by the transition agency and handed over in good condition on November 1 of last year.

The Supercity reforms can not be blamed for fan zone management. The RWC was won years before the Royal Commission heard people on Auckland reforms.

But there has been one constant during this time – Former ARC Chairman and current Chairman of Auckland Transport Mike Lee.

Lee, who has been ultimately responsible for transport improvements, waterfront upgrades and the Ports Ownership for much of the last 6 years has much to answer for this massive omni-shambles.

It was he who prevaricated and dithered over Queens Wharf for most of 2009 and 2010.

It was he who was responsible for the performance of rail for the last 6 years (taking credit whenever he could, so suck it up now that it failed)

It was he who presided over the pillage of the Ports of Auckland for dividends that put them to the brink of financial ruin.

It was he who has been on the the supercity council and the Auckland Transport Board for the last 10 months, focusing on pie in the sky rail projects Auckland can’t afford instead of the greatest sporting event coming to Auckland.

If there was ever a single person most responsible for the omni-shambles in downtown Auckland on Friday night it is Mike Lee.

The Secret Mayor

Len Brown is the Secret Mayor. He didn’t want anyone to know who he had dinner with and fought for 8 months all the way to the Ombudsman. He lost that fight. He wanted board appointments held in secret so he could put his mates on the board unchallenged. And now he has fought an attempt to have the business of the Maori Statutory Authority conducted with openness and transparency.

Secrecy surrounds a new funding plan for the Maori Statutory Board after Mayor Len Brown yesterday crushed a move by many councillors for an open debate on the issue.

Mr Brown, who campaigned last year on openness and transparency, did not want councillors speaking publicly about one of the biggest embarrassments of his six months in the Super City hot seat.

He gathered 11 votes, just enough to stop nine councillors who wanted to debate the council’s new negotiating position with the board in public.

Said councillor Cathy Casey: “It is time to speak out, say what you think and own your words.”

9 Councillors voted for openness. They were Cameron Brewer, Cathy Casey, Christine Fletcher, Mike Lee, Callum Penrose, Sharon Stewart, Des Morrison, John Walker and George Wood. They can hold their heads high.

The other 11 – Len Brown, Wayne Walker, Michael Goudie, Arthur Anae, Alf Filipaina, Richard Northey, Anne Hartley, Penny Webster, Sandra Coney, Penny Hulse, and Noelene Raffils need to be drummed out of the council for letting down their people.

Len Brown sat on a train and campaigned for openness and transparency. He promised “open books”. He has lied to Aucklanders. This discussion is about the budget of the Maori Statutory Board, if that isn’t part of the books then what on earth is?

Aucklanders know now that Len Brown prefers the shadows, back-room deals and weasel words. He has the spine of a jellyfish and the gumption of a fart. It is unacceptable that discussions about spending ratepayers money are held in secret.

We deserve better.

 

Tell us the truth Len, without limits

Len Brown was elected promising to open the books, but he has kept his own books on campaign donations firmly shut. The Herald headline is “Mayor relies on secret war chest” and the Dominion Post headline is “Auckland Mayor hides names of campaign donors

Auckland’s first Super City mayor was elected using largely anonymous donations, despite promising to lead an administration of openness and accountability to the public.

Of Len Brown’s total campaign war chest of $581,900 in donations, $499,000 was folded into a single trust to protect the identity of those who gave money to help elect him but wished to remain nameless.

Only 15 donors were named in his returns yesterday to Auckland electoral officer Dale Ofsoske, the largest of $17,708 attributed to an entity called Fuqing, with $15,000 from casino operator SkyCity.

The Maritime Union gave $2000 each to Mr Brown and Auckland Council transport committee chairman Mike Lee, who listed no other donations in his election returns.

Mr Brown’s campaign also received $3375 from the Counties Manukau Pacific Trust, whose chief executive, Richard Jeffery, was appointed this week as a director of the Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development council-controlled organisation.

Now I guess we know why the Chow brothers building was pulled down with alarming alacrity. We also know now how John Robertson and Richard Jeffrey scored their CCO jobs. John Robertson is a trustee if the Counties Manukau Pacific Trust and Richard Jeffrey is the CEO, but more on this in a moment.

Len Brown campaigned on openness, he even gets his lickspittle, tame repeater Bernard Orsman to print stories about how open Len Brown is. Yet when it comes to openness with his own election finance and donation we find that like almost everything else about Len Brown it is a stonking great secret. The hypocrisy of the man is astounding.

The secret trust, strangely called “The New Auckland Council Trust”, is an enigma. Questions need to be asked about this secret trust. When was it formed? Who are the trustees? Where is the trust deed?

It’s all very murky from “Labour’s Mayor“. Phil Goff and Phil Twyford really need to answer some questions about their Mayor’s use of big money secret trsuts to fund his campaign. They are on record being against such secret trusts and even passed a law to prevent such things happening.

“What I would like to see is a system where democracy works but doesn’t rely simply on the power of the dollar and you don’t have some clandestine funding which was the real concern that lay behind the Electoral Finance Act,”

Let’s see if Phil Goff and Phil Twyford have anything other than weasel words about Len Brown’s secret trust. Phil Twyford was especially concerned about the influence of big money in elections earlier in the year.

Since then, there has been the rather unhappy progress of the Electoral Finance Act, and to my mind the really unfortunate failure of this House to build a lasting consensus about the need to limit the influence of big money in our political system.

Quite apart from Len’s secret trust account used to hide his big money corporate backers there is a real problem surrounding the donation from Counties Manukau Pacific Trust.

Fors a start the trust is essentially part of the new city structure, and previously was, by definition a part of Manukau City Council (pdf pg 11.). The same trust now owes the new Auckland Council (previously Manukau City Council $7.5 million (pg 29).

Worse the Trust’s audited statements show an annual operations grant of $385,000 and the $7.5million loan from Manukau City Council: (pg 10)

But the real problem is that Richard Jeffrey is the CEO and John Robertson is a trustee. They are in control of what can only be described as ratepayer funds and they have donated some of those ratepayer funds to Len Brown’s campaign. The same person who pushed through council the funding in the first place and also the same person who secretly appointed the two of them to CCO board positions.

On the surface it would appear that Richard Jeffrey and John Robertson used ratepayers funds to donate to Len Brown’s campaign in order buy themselves cushy jobs on CCO boards. The only thing that could make this story worse would be if Richard Jeffrey also attended the still secret Volare dinner.

No wonder Len Brown was being very furtive and secretive over his board appointments and no wonder he wanted to rush them through in secret before the election donations were revealed. I seriously doubt whether even his supporters on the secret council committee would have countenanced the appearance of bribery in their decisions.

Certainly I think there is enough here for the Auditor-General to have a look see, especially around that massive secret trust of big money, but more importantly around the apparent buying of CCO board positions with ratepayer funds. Len Brown campaigned on opening the books, he campaigned on honesty (but with limits) and he campaigned on being straight with us.

So far he has shown that those were just tawdry lies designed to hoodwink voters into thinking he was honest.

Politician of the Week – Steven Joyce

Mike Lee kindly points out Steven Joyce as the perfect choice for transport.

He said many public transport advocates have found Mr Joyce to be “something of an enigma” and that his “roads first” and “pro urban-sprawl” views were “fairly basic small-town red neck stuff”.

Anyone who has fairly basic small town redneck views probably doesn’t want to piss away billions of dollars on dumb public transport projects that other people have to use.

Mike Lee is also issuing rather lame threats;

“The National Government would dearly love to kill it off – but if they are not careful, what comes roaring out of Auckland’s underground rail link could end up running down the National Government.”

National are perfectly safe because there isn’t going to be an underground rail link for anything, let alone Mike Lee’s delusions of retribution to come roaring out of.

Mike Lee officially qualifies as “other people” who have to compulsorily use public transport. The council should go around and confiscate any modes of private transport that Mike Lee has.

Left wing splinters in Auckland with naked power grab

Labour - It's going to get worse

The commentators may say that the left wing controls the new Auckland Council but it appears that they can’t help control themselves.

This blogger has learned this morning that a situation is developing that is splintering the leftwing on the new Auckland Council.

In a situation reminiscent of the old Hubbard/Hucker battle, Mike Lee, Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse and Sandra Coney are leading a push for Auckland to stop using independent commisssioners for resource consent hearings and instead replace them with councillors.

It appears that there are two main reasons behind this push. Firstly money. For the same reason that Len Brown wanted 55 committees the looney left aren’t happy with their remuneration, they wish to pick the pockets of the ratepayers unfettered. Clearly this is a motivator for the push to dump independent commissioners and replace them with councillors. That way they can farm more money out of the council ratepayers from their daily rate. They can do this because resource consent hearing remuneration is from a different, and uncapped by legislation, pool of funds.

Councillors already have constituencies larger than any electorate MP and yet the looney left, led by Lee, Hulse and Coney are trying to foist this upon Mayor Len Brown….so they can pick the pockets of ratepayers even harder.

The second motivator is power. The first 13 days of Len Brown’s mayoralty have been nothing but back-dons and back-flips behind the doors of the town hall. It is my understanding that when pushed, really pushed on a position, Len Brown, in a desperate attempt to be the Mayor for “All” of Auckland caves. hardened politicians like Mike Lee have seen this and they now see this as a weakness. This is exactly the situation that faced Hubbard when he had to stare down Bruce Hucker. It fractured the left and we are now seeing a repeat as Mike Lee now attempts a power grab in the Auckland Council.

It is also my understanding that Len Brown is trying to resist this push, along with senior council executives, but Lee, Hulse and Coney and a big enough cabal of plotters from the West and South are painting Len Brown into a corner. Len Brown, for once doing something sensible, wants to keep the independent commissioners, fearing, rightly that to dump them would hugely politicise a process that is about protecting the environment rather than petty party politics. If Lee and the other plotters are successful they will have achieved two goals. Firstly neutering the Mayor and secondly ideology will trump progress.

Len Brown is finding out now the price of silence and support from the left. It is treachery and division. Where the right has divisions it is at the ballot box and on the husting, the left always appear to be best of mates until they get behind closed doors and then the knives come out.

Make no mistake that a council made up of ex-mayors and deputy mayors, plus the old head of the ARC is going to be messy, and the mess has only taken 13 days to come to the surface.

Len Brown was warned about Penny Hulse, but he ignored that advice and now he is paying the same price that Dick Hubbard paid in having a Deputy with pretensions as to their importance. Egged on by Mike Lee this is only going to get worse….where have we heard this before…oh that’s right…from Labour.

Trust the leftwing to work out the largest pockets to pick. The irony of this battle though is that Len Brown is quietly going around telling councillors that he is trying to get more committee work and meetings for them all so they can increase their pay. Adding on the work of independent resource consent commissioners is one way, but venal troughing like this will not serve the region well.

The troughers want a bigger trough

Penny Hulse and other troughers elected to the new council are whinging about their pay.

Greedy Little Piggy - Penny Hulse

Greedy Little Piggy - Penny Hulse

Deputy mayor Penny Hulse said on the basis of workload and expectations, her 20 fellow ward councillors were underpaid.

“The pay scales treat us as though we are members of small boards. They do not recognise the jobs we have been given.”

“They have been set by people who don’t recognise the job we do, how much work or time is involved.”

She said she wasn’t sure what an appropriate salary was, and although they shouldn’t be the same as MPs, “our jobs are similar”.

She was willing to settle into the job, but wants salaries reviewed.

Her comments were supported by North Shore councillor George Wood, who said he was “surprised” by the remuneration levels.

“That it’s at the level it is has surprised me, given the work we are expected to do. But given we are the first cut, so to speak, we will just have to wear it,” he said.

“This is something the Remuneration Authority will have to look at.”

Waitemata and Gulf councillor Mike Lee said the salary was “not sufficient”.

“It’s meant to be a super city. The council is meant to undertake the responsibilities of what was a regional council and a city council, but that is not reflected.”

This is what happens when you elected old duffers and pinkos. They always want a bigger suck of the sav. Poor old George Wood looks confused, ho on earth can he express surprise at the remuneration levels? As for Mike Lee and Penny Hulse, well they are just pinko troughers looking for more public money to wallow in.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide rubbished the request, saying that if councillors didn’t like the pay they shouldn’t have stood, since salaries were announced three months before the election.

In June the Remuneration Authority announced the new mayor would receive $240,000, and councillors an $80,000 base rate, with more allocated to committee chairs, though the exact amount is unclear.

So no surprises there then, except for poor old George.

Whau councillor Noelene Raffills also considered the salary low, but said she didn’t put herself forward for money.

But Howick councillor Jami-Lee Ross disagreed, warning his colleagues, some with business incomes, to resist being greedy. “We knew what the salaries would be before we put ourselves forward, so why would we now ask for more?”

Good to see some councillors can see the bleeding obvious. Haven’t seen a pinko councillor though with similar perspicacity.

No wonder Len Brown was under pressure from the pinko councillors to have 55 committees. All the more meetings to fill up the trough with ratepayer cash.

I think with a spendthrift Mayor and a whole bunch of pinkos on the council we should be vigilant on how they propose to spend our money. The warning signs are already there, that though there will be no credit cards, the Deputy Mayor looks to be establishing some nice expense accounts for the councillors.

Len and Lefties win in Landslide

Len Brown and his lefty chums have won in the Super City elections. The predicted Rodney Hide corporate take over of Auckland hasn’t happened.

What has happened is that Aucklanders can look forward to massive rates rises under a spendthrift pinko council. I’d predict a 7% rates rise in the first 12 months.

Once again though the reverse Midas Touch of Michelle Boag has haunted a campaign. Everything she ever touches turns to shit.

What will be interesting to see now is Len Brown’s promised opening of the books. He could start by opening Manukau’s books especially on his dinner at Volare.

What will also be interesting is how those who have spent months talking up how the SuperCity will be a failure now will have to battle to prove otherwise. The success of the Super City is now in the hands of those who complained the most. If it fails it will be on their heads.

I predict a rates revolt at the next election after Len Brown and his pinko mates have ratcheted up the rates on the North Shore and East Auckland to pay for their billions in promises.

If there is anyone to blame for the loss of the city to Len Brown though it is Colin Craig who scavenged a huge amount of votes out of the right.

Aucklanders can now enjoy their coming rate increases with Len Brown and probably Mike Lee as his deputy.

Pinko excuses – 101 – Blame the workers

Why is I that the first thing pinkos do when caught with their hand in the rate/tax-payers till is to blame the staff. Here was me thinking that they were for the the workers not agin them.

Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee has had to pay back more than $400 after it was found he double-dipped on hotel and lunch expenses.

The double-dipping, blamed on a staff error, was discovered only after the Herald on Sunday requested Lee’s council expenses and credit card spending.

It revealed that Lee paid a $358.70 bill from the Greymouth Kingsgate hotel in February 2008, and $65.50 for lunch at Ponsonby GPK in September last year, using his ratepayer-funded credit card.

He also signed off an expense form for reimbursement for the Kingsgate and GPK bills. The money was paid into his bank account.

Lee told the Herald on Sunday it was an administration error made by a council staff member.

Yeah I just bet it was an administrative error by staff. For a start, how come he had the receipts to submit again, where did the personal statement come from to suppport the receipts? Why do pinkos die i the ditch for such tedious amounts?

Len Brown turns his back on Manukau

At midnight the other night Len Brown’s council funded campaigner Conor Roberts sent out multiple emails inviting people to an event .

Len Brown has an important announcement regarding the future of Auckland at 2pm this Sunday.

The thing is he is going to make this announcement on the slopes of One Tree Hill, in Auckland City.

He has turned his back on his support base in Manukau in order to try to score cheap political points in Auckland City. Not only that he didn’t even bother to invite his own councillors in the email.

One thing for sure that is now abundantly clear is that there is set to be a war on the left. Where does this imminent announcement of Len Brown’s candidature leave Mike Lee and Bob Harvey?

Is Labour falling in behind Len Brown? That would be a turn of events for Len who assiduously campaigned last time to avoid the Labour hack tag by running blue and green coloured signs. Len Brown needs to come clean about who he will be standing for. With a Labour lickspittle working in his office people have the right to ask.