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Today is the final Governing Body meeting of Auckland Council for 2014. I have the agenda and Annual Plan draft in the respective embeds below.
While I expect Skaypath to move on to the next stage today (13-8 should be the vote pattern) it is the Mayoral issues that are taking the limelight today (and most likely a good portion of the meeting).
I will be running live commentary and Tweeting today from Town Hall of the Governing Body proceedings. All About Auckland by Kane Glass will be running a live video feed as well for the open session.
Deputy mayor Hulse refuses to speak up for boss
By Bernard Orsman 5:30 AM Thursday Dec 19, 2013
Deputy says councillors focused today on doing what’s best for Auckland as mayor fights for political survivalMs Hulse would not say if she backed Mr Brown to stay on as mayor, only that councillors were focused on doing what was best for Auckland. Photo / NZ Herald
Auckland Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse is refusing to back her boss as councillors gather today to publicly censure Mayor Len Brown, whose extramarital affair has left him fighting for political survival.
Ms Hulse yesterday would not say if she backed Mr Brown to stay on as mayor, only that councillors were focused on doing what was best for Auckland.
She said councillors had clearly expressed to him the disappointment and concern about the reputational damage to Auckland arising from his behaviour and were left wondering how to address matters.
It was the second time in three days that Ms Hulse – Mr Brown’s deputy for three years – has not stood by him as he battles the fallout of a two-year affair with Bevan Chuang.
You can read the full article here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11174750
After I returning from the Governing Body today I will run a nice piece of long commentary into the saga and my own thoughts about it. It should show some interesting insights most likely to some mechanics of Auckland’s Governance.
Vote wise this is how I expect the votes to go down today:
- Skypath: 13-8 in favour
- Censure Motion: if not unanimous the vote will be 15-5 in favour
- Quax‘s No Confidence Motion: two ways that can end up going (both failing mind you): either 5-15 or if a couple more jump on board then 8-12
- Any attempts for an oversight committee will most likely pass 11-9
Will see how those predictions pan out today
Government needs to tighten up the “rules”
This is a rare piece of commentary from me personally into the entire “Len Brown affair.” Since the story broke I have been more or less silent on the “affair” aspect while constantly keeping an eye on the “conduct” side of the matter. From Day One when the story broke (while returning from a Council briefing on I believe it was on the Unitary Plan heading for notification) I have always said for me to no longer give “support” to the Mayor, he would have to conduct a criminal act (and be convicted) or conduct serious misconduct (an affair is not misconduct) through misuse of resources or power, and/or other serious nature.
I have the EY report that was commissioned by Council CEO Doug McKay after it landed (with an accompanying release) in my email box this afternoon. You can read the report over at this post here: The EY Report Commissioned by Auckland Council CEO. That said I was NOT at the Press Conference in Town Hall this afternoon over the release of the report.
After receiving and reading the report I have come to three conclusions:
- The “rules” set by the Council Code of Conduct, that by the Remuneration Authority, and the Local Government (Auckland Amendment) Act 2009 are too loose with little measures provided if something does go wrong/breached
- Government must tighten up the regulations set about by the Remuneration Authority for issuing rules around use of ratepayers resources – e.g the mayoral car and when it can be used or not. In the same regard the Local Government Act needs tightening up so the Governing Body have available a wide range of measures to deal with errant elected members. This can range from a Censure motion to something more punitive (whatever one decides that might be short of sacking a mayor)
- Owing to this error in regards to several matters pointed out in the EY report (cell phone, mayoral car, and not declaring the hotels on the register)(and rather than the actual affair) my confidence in the mayor is shaken with support moving from positive to negative. That said I still have confidence and positive support in the wider main Council (although a particular CCO is an exception at the moment) and the rest of the elected members (regardless of whether I agree with them or not (Dick Quax and Cameron Brewer)). In being honest it has weighed on my mind on what else has the mayor not declared outside of the “affair” and could have this affected any other mayoral decision-making
I stress again to make it crystal clear that yes confidence in the mayor is shaken with support switching from positive to negative. HOWEVER, confidence and support remains with the Deputy Mayor and the rest of the Councillors despite disagreements from time to time.
One thing I do ask of the Governing Body after the elected members have had time to review the EY report is that an extraordinary meeting be called of the GB ASAP! In that extraordinary meeting a motion of censure is called and voted for against the mayor immediately. Whether the vote passes or fails is beside the point in my opinion. The point being is that the Governing Body has now been damaged and in the eyes of the City the censure motion needs to occur to help restore confidence towards the Council. Failure to move the censure motion quickly could paralyse worthwhile projects before the Council – and that would be a true detriment to Auckland. It is risky
For the rest of it Parliament is going to need to haul backside and tighten up rules around Local Government to prevent this kind of mess from happening again. And to me that is going to be the main point coming out of this entire mess!
The EY report
Inauguration of Mayor and Councillors Tonight I think to say all things considered and relative Auckland is in safe hands over the next three years of the now 2013-2016 … Continue reading The New 2013-2016 Term
Final Results Out Deputy Mayor kept busy in the battlefield Mayor busy organising ready for new Council and its respective committees Seems today have been a busy day … Continue reading Final Election Results for Auckland Council is Out
Focus to the 2016 Local Elections
The Local Elections for 2013 are nearly over with voter turnout to be the worst in living memory. We will be teeth gnashing over this for months to come on reasons why the turnout was so crap.
Along with my Geography of Tourism paper I am writing on Te Papa North – Manukau, I might also write one up on these elections as well for Auckland. I have had some interesting conversations with people over these elections and the conclusions whether they be Left or Right were generally the same.
Just as a test on Political Marketing 101 here I am going to copy over two election campaign “blurbs.” See what you think and if inclined leave a comment below. Oh comment on the style rather than personal attacks on the person please…
From Len Brown and John Palino
From NZ Herald
Much has been achieved since the establishment of the Auckland Council, but there is more work to do. We’ve brought our region together and are tackling the big challenges facing Auckland.
We’re seeing progress on the infrastructure needed to unclog the roads. Average rate increases have reduced from 5.7 per cent under the old councils down to 2.9 per cent, and I’ve pledged to reduce them to 2.5 per cent next year.
If I have the honour of being re-elected mayor, my priorities will be:
Fixing Auckland’s transport, with a focus on starting the city rail link, better bus services, school transport plans and upgrading local roads
Keeping rates low and delivering efficiencies across council budgets
Increasing the housing supply with more affordable housing, so families have a place to call home
Supporting economic development and more jobs for Aucklanders
Protecting our beautiful environment and cleaning up our harbours
Investing in the pools, parks, libraries and town centres that make our communities special
I’m proud of this city, its spirit and the diverse people and cultures that make us unique.
I’m going to put the “local” back into local government. That means more power and responsibility for you, your community and local boards on one hand, and on the other means I’ll be able to focus on keeping rates down, controlling our region’s exploding debt and providing the best possible regional services for you, your family and your business.
I’ve committed to keeping rates at the level of CPI inflation (currently 0.7 per cent) or below that every year that I am mayor.
I’m going to strengthen local boards so that decisions are made closer to residents, removing the need for bureaucracy, and improve transparency of council processes so you can monitor progress.
For new growth to Auckland I will concentrate in priority areas where there is both public support and public transport.
The most significant such area will become a second CBD in Manukau, because that’s where the strongest growth is, where the biggest need remains for jobs and where there is existing infrastructure.
I’m going to target congestion by making it easier to take public transport, not more unpleasant to drive. I will greatly expand park-and-ride facilities and, with growth focused on transport-equipped priority areas, will reduce future traffic increases.
I will make my own musings on this later
Focus though now will be turning to the 2016 Local Government Elections. Any one with a sense of intelligence will realise that if you want to run for Council, Mayor or Local Board in 2016 your campaign starts now. Actually it started 18 months ago for Mayor.
It takes time to build rapport with your potential voters and get use to the issues of a Council. See for example if I were to run for a Council seat in 2016 my campaign would have started 18 months ago and continue until the day before election day 2016.
You start quietly by getting involved with your community and finding out how Council works. By getting to know your community you get to know the issues as they are often long-“lingering” ones. By finding out how Council works you can learn how to not make a total muppet of yourself in the formal stage of the campaign by “promising” things that can’t actually be done (Local Board candidates wanting to revoke the Unitary Plan being one). To find out how Council works it means taking time to rock up to Town Hall and sitting in through some often long and very boring Committee Meetings. My particular two were Transport and the Auckland Plan Committees (and those weren’t actually boring, Strategy and Finance always was 😛 ).
But I learnt a wealth of information at those meetings, struck up networks with Councillors, Officers, Media Officials and other members of the public. That networking and often a sense of curiosity on my part would allow me to be invited to the media table at Committee meetings and media briefings on things like Finances and the Unitary Plan. A privilege I am honoured to have and one I return thanks back often.
Local Boards you will need to familiarise yourself with too and what they get up to. They are an integral part of the Council in making sure your community is being looked after. Local Boards are also often the first port of call if you have a problem you would like to take up with Council. Admittedly I short-circuited my Local Board and would either go straight to the main Council or to Auckland Transport if a transport issue. More lately though I have been keeping a more close eye on my Local Board with some heavy issues coming up (The Rural Urban Boundary, Manukau and Glenora Road Station). So don’t forget the Local Boards too.
And from that if I were hypothetically run for Office the skills and tools learnt from interaction mentioned above I could use in a campaign.
Media and Social Media presence is a bug bear by candidates to me. You never see most candidates until right weeks before the elections where they suddenly pop up – often like a weed over the summer, then after the election you will never hear from them for three more years.
Your campaign for 2016 starts now if not 18 months ago. This means from GO you need a media if not social media presence. There are all sorts of ways this can be done and various good campaign managers will brief you on that. Again if I were to run hypothetically I have my blog to call back on. Talking Auckland is linked to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and via email. This means I can run a social media presence that has been picked up by Main Stream Media outlets, Council itself, other Social Media Commentators and other individuals out there.
It also means that by 2016 I would have built up over five years roughly a presence that can be capitalised on. Candidates need to do this and be in for the long game if they want both a good voter turn out and a measure of respect as well. A good pre-built presence also means you can swat away daft MSM coverage like berms and focus on the actual stuff should it happen…
There are many other things that can be done as well to build up a good profile for an election if you are chasing office. While I am not running for office I am sharing the above points as I use them when fleshing out candidate choices – especially if I do not like the incumbent. I also believe in good voter turn out and respect back to the voters. Doing the above will earn that respect and achieve a good outcome, do the opposite as we are seeing mostly at the moment and you wonder why the turn out is crap as it is.
So your campaign for 2016 has already started – it actually on real thoughts started 18 months ago. If you have not started then start now. Wait three years and forget it you wont be getting my vote.
Something to remember
They are vying for your vote after all
With social media full of campaigning updates, and TEDx Talks currently being held in the CBD as I write this (well yesterday) I thought I might give another glance at three of our mayoral candidates vying for our vote: incumbent Mayor Len Brown, the Rev. Usefili Unasa, and John Palino.
After a quick search through the Main Stream Media I note things have gone rather silent since both Len and John launched their campaigns around mid July. I have noted the respect candidate’s websites and Palino dropping a bit into Scoop that the MSM have not picked up on…
Lets take a look a screen shot of Brown and Palino’s respective websites (note I run a 27″ widescreen)
You can visit the two’s respective sites by clicking on the links above for your viewing pleasure.
While I have not discovered a website for Rev Unasa yet but I had dug up this little nugget from All About Auckland that runs interviews and feeds on Auckland Council affairs. You Tube is where All About Auckland (run by Kane Glass) is uploading videos on Council affairs can be found here http://www.youtube.com/user/aboutakl/about
So the question I leave to readers, rather than have me frame the commentary or put words in people’s mouths is what do you think? More to the point what are your issues for the elections in October (by postal ballot).
Leave your comments below in the comment box. Note to first time commenters, your comments are held in moderation until I approve them. Once your first comment is approved then you are free to comment in real-time – until I revoke that privilege (usually because you broke a rule of the site).
While my mind is at it I also ask a tougher question. 2016 – the next round of Local Elections. It is known a campaign for a Council (or even Central Government) seat starts at the previous campaign and must be sustained for the term of the upcoming Council before we hit the polls again in three years time (from now). So what would you be not only looking for in the 2013-2016 term of Council, but for those vying in 2016.
It is a more cryptic or thought-provoking way into looking at the long-term towards the City as a whole.
The comment box is open below