Rudman Reckons: Alienating the existing Councillors Not a Smart Move

Crone’s mayoral bid not off to the best start I can think off

 

Right on the back of Debunking the Same #CityRailLink Myth. CRL Benefits all of Auckland not just the City Centre where Mayoral candidate Victoria Crone went non-committal on the City Rail Link has another piece of commentary come out noticing her “put-down” of the existing Governing Body of Auckland Council. Or more simply put the Deputy Mayor and the 19 Councillors.

 

Think what you like about the 20 around the Governing Body is one thing, alienating them with a put-down when some will be back after the Auckland 2016 elections is rather stupid and a novice mistake.

 

From the NZ Herald

Brian Rudman: Political skill more than mayor formality

Just 18 months ago, Victoria Crone was fizzing about her new role as Managing Director, NZ and New Markets, of accounting software giant Xero. A month into the job and she was enthusing on the company blog about “a fun and energy to this place that’s infectious”, and how “I love a company that eats its own dog food”. She ended the entry: “Who wouldn’t want to be part of this?”

On Monday it turned out that Ms Crone didn’t. She wanted to be mayor of Auckland instead. She’s walked out on the job where so recently, she’d “been overwhelmed by people’s friendliness, energy, pride [and], willingness to help”, into the bear pit that is local government politics.

You have to wonder how on earth the two grand dames of the National Party, Michelle Boag and Sue Wood, who came knocking and pleading, managed to pull it off. Cordon bleu dog food, perhaps?

You have to give her points for resigning her highly paid day job to pursue this new adventure. Though her sudden loss of salary will be cushioned by the $126,500 base annual stipend she’s about to start receiving following her election last week to the board of Contact Energy.

At that meeting, she told shareholders if anything were to happen, like becoming mayor perhaps, Contact would remain her “top priority”.

At her campaign launch she said it was important that “experienced leaders of my generation step up”. She added that “not being a serial politician is actually the biggest asset I bring to Auckland”. Her first point is a good one. Auckland local politics could do with some 42-year-old “new blood”. But her naive comment about “serial” politicians reminds me of former prime minister Keith Holyoake’s much repeated advice to tenderfoot MPs, to “breathe through their noses” from the sidelines until they’ve learned the ropes.

The serial politician jibe was obviously directed at her main mayoral rival, former Labour Party leader Phil Goff, but it also smears the 20 existing councillors – most of whom will be planning to contest next year’s election – and every other professional politician.

True, we all enjoy taking pot shots at politicians. But to attack your rival for being experienced, and to claim your biggest asset is being ignorant of the political process, is perverse.

I’m guessing Ms Crone didn’t sell herself to Contact Energy shareholders last week by proudly declaring her ignorance of the ways of the business world. Yet here we have her seeking support to become mayor of the Auckland Super City, the home of a third of New Zealanders, by bragging about her political inexperience.

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As for saying “our city is facing huge imminent growth along with no plan that addresses and embraces what’s coming”, where has she been for the past five years?

As cereal king Dick Hubbard soon discovered after being elected mayor of the old Auckland City, political leadership is very different from business leadership.

Around the council table, the mayor has one vote among 21. She has to learn the skill of herding cats, dishing out cat food, to borrow Ms Crone’s metaphor, in the form of committee chairmanships and the like, to maintain a majority. It’s very different from the dictatorship of being an MD. Of course people are friendly to the company boss. You crack a joke, employees tend to laugh, because you have the casting vote on their careers.

 

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Source and full piece: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11561504

 

The part in bold especially in bold red when I read it this morning I could give a reaction perfectly summed up as this gif from Blackadder:

Bean Head desking

 

Yes Goff has been around as long if not longer as a politician than I have been alive (born in 85) but Crone’s rather indiscriminate and very crude attack on him by calling him a serial politician also captures our existing Councillors as Rudman has noted.

 

Again as Rudman has noted some of the Councillors and our Deputy Mayor are vying and will return after the elections bringing them a large pool of experience and knowledge. Yes I want fresh blood onto the Governing Body table but that does not mean you go clean sweep the lot unless we want an experience vacuum and a subsequent bloody large mess afterwards. As I see it the idea would be to rotate out 20% of the Governing Body each election to keep a good mix of new talent and old hands to govern our City. Auckland 2016 we should see that 20% rotation out occur if we have good candidates challenge the incumbents next year (as well as retirements).

 

So I do wonder what Crone was thinking in attacking Goff but at the same time also attacking the existing 20 whether it was meant to happen or not.

 

Because alienating the pool of 20 that might return after the elections is one good way to lame-duck your mayorship before it has even begun! Remember:

Around the council table, the mayor has one vote among 21. She has to learn the skill of herding cats, dishing out cat food, to borrow Ms Crone’s metaphor, in the form of committee chairmanships and the like, to maintain a majority. It’s very different from the dictatorship of being an MD. Of course people are friendly to the company boss. You crack a joke, employees tend to laugh, because you have the casting vote on their careers.

 

So while our Mayor might be compromised in the terms of projecting power the Governing Body still functions effectively enough (although not to the standards I would like) through the fact that our Deputy Mayor can rally 10 of the 19 (given Hulse makes the 20) of the Councillors at any given time in most circumstances. To do that requires in my opinion Statesman like qualities of a leader. And as a final comment say what you may about Hulse but we owe West Auckland a lot for them “giving us” a Deputy Mayor who steps up to the plate for the sake of Auckland.

 

Oh and one last thing:

I hope Goff and Crone are planning to spend their campaign time attending every Committee of the Whole (three a month) and the Governing Body (so total of four meetings a month) through the 2016 period to learn the mechanics of the Council and its complex relationships it has with the wider City. To not do so does treat the voter with contempt and wont get my vote in by any length of means.

And yeah attending those Committees and the Governing Body has been a real eye opener as well (as well as both fun and downright frustrating).

 

(L-R) Cr Calum Penrose, Cr Christine Fletcher, General Manager Regional & Specialist Parks Mace Ward, General Manager Parks, Sports and Recreation Ian Maxwell visit the Ōtāhuhu Recreation Precinct (construction site) following the meeting of the Parks, Recreation and Sport Committee meeting on 9 June 2015. Source: Auckland Council
(L-R) Cr Calum Penrose, Cr Christine Fletcher, General Manager Regional & Specialist Parks Mace Ward, General Manager Parks, Sports and Recreation Ian Maxwell visit the Ōtāhuhu Recreation Precinct (construction site) following the meeting of the Parks, Recreation and Sport Committee meeting on 9 June 2015.
Source: Auckland Council

 

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