Auckland mayor Len Brown has been keeping a very low profile for weeks:
Mr Brown did not return calls yesterday and his team of spin doctors were giving little away about the movements of their boss, who has been on leave since December 21 – the day after councillors expressed their “profound disappointment and disapproval” of the mayor’s inappropriate behaviour and undeclared conflicts of interest.
Yesterday, Mr Brown’s chief press secretary, Glyn Jones, said the mayor was “still officially on leave but spending some time in the office while enjoying quality time with his family before returning to mayoral duties within the next couple of weeks”.
He’s been on leave but his team of spin doctors – possibly all six of them – has been at work trying to work out how to paint the black actions of Brown white:
The mayoral office is working on ways to rebuild Len Brown’s shattered reputation after his sex scandal. The strategy involves setting out an action plan and contacting communities.
One option is a state of the nation-type speech. Another is resuming Mr Brown’s “mayor in the chair” chats, but that carries the risk of angry citizens lambasting him in public. . .
They and he can do and say what they like but they can’t undo what he did, make people feel comfortable with it nor consider him an appropriate person for bread and butter civic duties where he might be seen as a role model in the community.
Councillor Sharon Stewart has said people in her community – schools, sports clubs and churches – were uncomfortable about having Mr Brown at events. . .
Mayors usually get invited to the opening a a cake tin but there’s a lot of groups who don’t want his fingers on their tins any more, either because of the affair or the associated behaviour.
. . . Meanwhile, the right-wing local body ticket Affordable Auckland is organising a “Stand Down Len Brown” march up Queen St at noon on February 22.
Leader Stephen Berry and spokesman Will Ryan said the march was not so much about Mr Brown’s private life as his undeclared activities and poor financial management.
Whether or not many people turn up, this, like Graham McReady’s planned litigation, will keep the mayors misbehaviour in the news, colouring people’s minds and making it much harder for the spin doctors to white-out the black marks Brown’s made.