TIme to go

18/12/2013

Front page editorials are rare, today’s from the NZ Herald, telling Auckland mayor Len Brown it’s time to go, is unprecedented.

When news broke of the Mayor’s two-year affair with Bevan Chuang, this newspaper suggested that if Len Brown’s family could forgive him then the city should, too.

Two months on, that sentiment is no longer sustainable. An issue far more important than the mayor’s private life is now at stake. Tomorrow, Auckland councillors will not only formally censure Mr Brown but begin a process designed to clip the wings of the mayoral office. If that happens, the Super City may no longer have a leader with the independent authority to drive things forward. The only means of avoiding that outcome is for Mr Brown to resign. He must go in the interests of Auckland and Aucklanders. . .

Going into next year, however, the joke will be on all of us if the Super City governance is compromised. The corrosive nature of all this is compounded by doubts that remain and the questions still unanswered – . . .

The affair and all the apologies are one thing but the lax accountability over grace, favour and entitlements and the potential emasculation of his office by the council leave little chance of him regaining the respect of Aucklanders.

Some of the prurient details of Mr Brown’s affair with Ms Chuang probably ought to have been censored. He is about to be censured by the city’s councillors. Now, it is surely time for him to come to his senses – and go.

This is damning but I doubt it will influence him.

He can’t do his job properly but that’s not a sackable offence.

He’s showing no signs of any willingness to fall on his sword which leaves Auckland saddled with a lame-duck mayor for the next three years.

That won’t be good for the city and given it’s size, it won’t be good for the country either.

 


Free rooms but ratepayers footed phone bill

13/12/2013

The Ernst & Young report into Len Brown’s affair found:

Auckland mayor Len Brown used his council-funded phone to make more than 1000 personal calls and texts to mistress Bevan Chuang.

A report into the pair’s affair, released this afternoon, said Mr Brown used his council phone to make 1373 calls and texts to Ms Chuang between November 19, 2010 and October 21, 2013.

Ms Chuang said all of the calls and texts were of a personal nature.

The mayor also received nine free hotel rooms which he didn’t declare, valued at $6130.

He also failed to declare 54 hotel upgrades valued at $32,888.50. . .

The rooms didn’t cost ratepayers but the phone calls did.

And there’s the cost of the review:

But will anything happen?


Is this a resignation offence?

03/11/2013

Ian Sinclair’s interview with Bevan Chuang on Sunday canvassed whether or not Auckland Mayor Len Brown wrote a reference for her for a council job after their liaison began:

IAN: And what about your application for the job, um, at the art gallery? Were you in a sexual relationship with him when you applied for that job and he wrote the reference?

BEVAN: He’s one of five referees that I have put on to the list.

IAN: At the time, though, Bevan, at the time when he wrote the reference, was he in a relationship with you? A romantic one, I mean?

BEVAN: Yes.

IAN: He was? Yeah, and at the time when it went forward to the shortlist, was he still there?

BEVAN: Yes.

IAN: But you did use your relationship with him — and it was a romantic relationship — to help gain, get backing for a job, did you not?

BEVAN: Um, he was a referee for the art gallery job, and probably you can say that. I mean, I have got— I’ve got the job, and, of course, the referees are important. Um, and, yeah, that could be the advantage, but I obviously have lost more now than I gained.

A mayor who acts as a referee for someone applying for a council position is at risk of compromising himself at the best of times.

Doing it for a lover is stupid, does it also contravene the council code of conduct?

Brown previously said he wrote the reference in the very early stages of us knowing each other.

If she is telling the truth the word knowing can be understood to be in the Biblical sense.

Is that sufficient offence to require his resignation?

Thankfully #gigatownoamaru is a long way from this tawdry affair.


Right and wrong not left and right

23/10/2013

A former Labour MP who worked with people from across the political spectrum on a local body campaign said he’d come to the conclusion that left wing people were far more likely to see things through a political lens than those from the right.

Some people are trying to turn Len Brown’s affair into a right wing conspiracy.

It’s not.

Cameron Slater, who broke the story on his blog Whaleoil, is from the blue end of the political spectrum.

But he doesn’t let that get in the way of his posts. He’d have run the story regardless of the mayor’s political affiliation.

That’s one of the reasons his blog is so popular. Like David Farrar on Kiwiblog, he’ll give praise and criticism where it’s due regardless of the subject’s politics.

Other people from the right had some involvement with Bevan Chuang but Jane Clifton points out:

There’s been much tut-tuttery about the fact that the source of the story was Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil, one of the country’s best-read blogs, which is aggressively pro-National Party to boot. Slater’s father ran the campaign for Brown’s closest mayoralty rival, a campaign Brown’s inamorata was close to through her friendship with another campaign activist. This has brought claims she was secretly working for the other side. Which just goes to show there’s plenty of hypocrisy, paranoia and self-delusion to go around. It’s common for journalists and political junkies in the twittersphere to denounce Whale Oil as “gutter” blogging. But not for the first time, the gutter-shunning media have piled onto Slater’s ruck without a second’s hesitation.

Allegations that this is a deliberate smear campaign generated from within the National Party to destroy a left-leaning mayor are somewhat ambitious. To the best of my knowledge, the National Party cannot make a married man have an affair. For two years. Or trick him into sending silly texts that might be kept and used against him. Or force him to conduct how’s-your-father in the Ngati Whatua conference room of the council chambers.

There’s also the inconvenient fact that the blog did not run the story till after the local body elections in which Brown was safely re-elected. He is unsackable. . .

But the political views of those involved in the affair and its exposure is irrelevant anyway.

This isn’t about right and left, it’s about right and wrong.

Andrew McMillan provides a timeline of events which show:

Brown, who portrayed himself as a loving family man  and committed Christian had a prolonged affair.

He had a sexual trysts in council premises on council time.

The woman with whom he had the relationship was on a council advisory board. That’s not a direct employee but as mayor he was in a position of power and she could be considered to be vulnerable.

He wrote her a reference, and as a side issue he admitted writing worthless references:

Was it an abuse of power to provide a reference for Bevan Chuang?

It was the very early stages of us knowing each other. I have provided many references in supports of lots and lots of friends and people that I know. The letter of support I wrote was a reasonable letter. I tend to be quite positive in my writing for the many people I write references for. It wasn’t a reference that was requested or provided for that was out of the norm. It was, for me, a fairly typical reference done at a time when, quite frankly, we hadn’t known each other all that long. . .

A reference from the mayor would carry considerable weight but his words suggest he dashes them off frequently and in this case without knowing the subject all that long.

Whether that is appropriate for a mayor might be moot but the impact on his family from his infidelity and what it says about his character is not.

Whatever his politics and those of the people who exposed him, he is in the wrong.

Whether or not it will require a resignation will depend on the outcome of a council inquiry.

But whatever it determines won’t make his behaviour right.


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