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OPINION: Brown must resign

OPINION

Having now read the EY report commissioned by the Auckland Council Chief Executive, I believe Len Brown must resign as Mayor of Auckland. I only formed this view after reading the report, and did not believe what had previously been disclosed was substantial enough to warrant resignation.

But the report makes Clear that Len Brown publicly lied to the media and the public, and also that there were ratepayer resources used for his affair. Taking the findings one at a time:

The mayor used his council provided phone to make 1,375 calls and texts to Ms Chuang between 19 November 2012 and 21 October 2013, out of a total population of 13,797 calls and texts. Ms Chuang advises the mayor’s calls and texts to her were all of a personal nature. The mayor has advised two-thirds of the calls and texts he made to Ms Chuang were of a personal nature.

He even lied to EY. How could anyone think that a third of his calls and texts were work related, when she isn’t a Councillor or even a board member.

Personal use of mobile phones is permitted by the Elected Members Technology Policy and Guidelines. Costs relating to personal calls and texts are required to be reimbursed by the elected member in accordance with the policy. The mayor made one reimbursement of $263 for personal phone use on 25 October 2012 for the 2011/2012 period. No subsequent reimbursements have been made by the mayor.

10% of his total calls and texts as Mayor were to Chuang, and he only did one reimbursement. The ratepayers paid for all the other calls and texts. He should have done monthly reimbursements. He also is a fool for doing so many calls from his work phone – the staff who pay the bills would have noticed the same number cropping up. Brown should immediately repay the cost of all the calls and texts – but it is too late anyway. Only paying it back after the auditor finds it is not good enough for a Mayor – and he has form here.

Ms Chuang attended several functions as the mayor’s translator, mayor’s guest or as an Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel (“EPAP”) member where she provided translation services. We did not find any evidence that she was paid for providing these services by council. Ms Chuang has never been, and is currently not, included on the list of official translators maintained by council.

He only took her along as he was having an affair with her. He used his position as Mayor to further the affair. She was not an authorised translator.

The mayor, via one of his Diary Managers, provided a brief written email reference for Ms Chuang on 5 July 2011 in relation to her application for a role at Auckland Art Gallery. Earlier that day, the mayor made three phone calls to the Auckland Art Gallery Head of Development but was unsuccessful in speaking with her. The mayor has advised he provides references for people on a regular basis. Upon request, the mayor provided a number of character references and nomination support letters to us (for other people). However, these were not references for specific employment roles.

The fact he could not provide one example of another specific reference for a specific job implies he never has done such a reference before.  he even tried to call three times on her behalf. And worse it was for a job at a Council CCO. A clear example of using his power as Mayor to further the affair, or commence it.

It is a pity the EY review does not ask the Head of Development at the Auckland Art Gallery how much weight the reference from the Mayor played.

During the period of the mayor’s relationship with Ms Chuang, the mayoral vehicle and driver were used to transport Ms Chuang to her home after a number of official functions

Did anyone not sleeping with the Mayor get lifts home in the Mayoral limo? Another example of use of resources to further the affair.

The mayor has received nine complimentary (free) hotel rooms or suites which have not been registered as gifts or disclosed in his completed annual Declaration of Interests. The value of the complimentary rooms/suites based on rates provided by the hotels is $6,130.

He has broken the Council’s disclosure policy. Each room on average was worth almost $700. Even worse three of the rooms were at Sky City, and he of course was an advocate of the convention centre deal with them. That would get you before the Privileges Committee if he was an MP.

Stuff reports:

“I was not charged for nine of these hotel rooms, including one occasion in relation to Ms Chuang.

This confirms Len Brown lied to the media and the public. On 19 October the Herald reported:

Mr Brown also denied claims by Ms Chuang that some hotels rooms he booked for the pair were offered free of charge.

In a written statement to the Weekend Herald, the mayor’s head of communications, Dan Lambert, said: “He was not offered, or has accepted, free hotel stays in connection to the relationship and paid the standard rate out of his own pocket.

That is a direct lie, contradicted by the evidence.  He has only told the truth now because of the audit.

The mayor has received hotel upgrades (to better quality rooms or suites) which have not been registered as gifts or disclosed in his completed annual Declaration of Interests. A total of 64 such upgrades has been identified. The value of the upgrades based on rates
provided by the hotels is $32,888.50.

By itself, this would not necessarily be an issue. You may be unaware of the upgrade, or its cost. And upgrades get given to many people. Free rooms do not. But the combination of the free rooms combines with the upgrades to paint a picture of Brown receiving massive personal benefits from the hotels.

There is also the issue of why the Mayor has had to stay in an Auckland hotel on at least 64 occasions.  The reason offered of late nights and early starts is ridiculous. His home is in Totara Park, which is just 20 minutes from the CBD.

We did not identify any improper preferential treatment by the mayor in relation to Ms Chuang’s appointment to the EPAP, New Lynn Night market, Howick Local Board contracts and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (“ATEED”) services.

There may not have been preferential treatment, but it shows how involved Chuang was with the Council. She was not a purely private citizen. She was on a panel personally appointed by the Mayor, and had no less than three contracts with the Council. That is what you call a power imbalance.

Another possible lie:

On that night, the mayor advises us he had dinner in the hotel restaurant with the Mayoral Office staff member who accompanied him on the trip and a personal friend the mayor advises us he knows well. This person had been requested by the mayor to provide translation services on the Guangzhou extension (13 and 14 November 2011). No evidence of payment has been found for these translation services. The Mayoral Office staff member has advised us she has no recollection of the dinner or attending the dinner.

I believe the mayoral staff member. Len invented her presence at the dinner to justify charging it to the Council. I wonder how often this “personal friend” provided translation services for the Mayor, and was their selection on the same basis as his selection of Bevan Chuang?

No one can force Len to resign, but he has lied to the public and mis-used Council resources. He should resign. He can stand in the by-election if he thinks Auckland voters are okay with what he has done.

Also the Auckland Council needs to take action and at a minimum censure the Mayor for his use of Council resources and his failure to disclose gifts. They can’t do more than censure him, but they can at least do that.

Comments and questions
32

I disagree although he misused funds and took advantage of public office for his own means. The costs of holding another Auckland election quite simply outweigh the benefits, resignation should be used as a last resort not just because he made a mistake which for the most part still is a trivial but personal matter for Mr. Brown.

Sebastian, I have to disagree with you.

The guy has lied to all and sundry, he has misused his position, he has misused council resources (paid for by our rates), he is the laughing stock and butt of all humor, he avoids meetings, he is unable to front up and give a satisfactory explanation, he has repeated his "entitlement" line of defense, he has used hotel rooms paid for by the ACC when he lives a few minutes down the road (has a house down the road, has a driver on call, has a limo on call).

We have an elected official running the country, John Key. Then in the country's largest city we have an elected official who has been shown to lie, cheat, and hide the truth from his so called supporters who wants to get on with being Mayor. Get a life Len, move on, show us you have at least a modicum of morality and business acumen, resign before Xmas (give Auckland the present it deserves)

No, I think Sebastian has hit the nail on the head. What he did was just plain stupid - but wasting a few million bucks of ratepayers' money just cos he can't keep it in his pants is just OTT.

As for resigning because he lied to the media - if that was the Gold Standard, Key should've resigned one month after the 2008 election.

In this case, it will be up to voters to make that decision in three years. What will be, will be.

Absolute should resign. Has said sorry for getting caught.
Said made a mistake? If you count the number of times he committed adultry ,texted,accepted benefits ,shagged in his office(is there a fringe benefit tax evasion too?) etc he has made 10000's plus 'mistakes'
pity hes not in China , they might top him!

And who do you suggest that you replace him with?? that is as Squeaky clean as you seem to be demanding, I don't believe there is a person on this planet that could do that on your terms, I certainly know that I couldn't, and not one of my circle of friends either, hey and as a matter of fact, I doubt that we could use anyone from a certain religion as well, so go figure.

Excellent point sebastian. You should use the politics of Germany in the 1930s to justify your argument. Forgive for the greater good until we are all burnt. Yeah right.

Here comes the Nazi analogies.... sure sign of a vapid argument. Len Brown is an oaf and has displayed poor judgement, but removing him to promote others political agendas and a cost to the rate payers doesn't sound very appealing either.

Using public resources and time to conduct an extra-marital affair is hardly a trivial matter for someone who holds the key role of leading this City.

Not complying with the Council's disclosure policy is not a trivial matter for the person who is supposed to be leading the Council.

Lying to the public and the media is not a trivial or personal matter.

Taking your mistress along to council events in the guise of a "translator" is not a trivial indiscretion.

It is a sad day when we are expected to accept this woeful standard of behaviour because it is "too costly" to do something about it.

The issue for electors is simply this. If Len is untrustworthy in his relationships, he is most likely untrustworthy and dishonest in his official Mayoral duties too. Len's ego knows no bounds. Who would believe anything he says?

What sad lonely lives you all have

Like any corporate customer or customer on a Telco plan, the holder of the phone can make either a prescribed number of calls or unlimited calls - and txts. So unless Len Brown has breached that limit you are all talking absolute drivel - it hasn't cost the ratepayer a cent

Likewise with the hotels - he stayed at hotels when attending functions in his role - so all the costs were council related - just because he bonked his girlfriend afterwards is irrelevant. Would you be criticizing if he bonked his wife after the event he was attending - obviously not.

Having an affair is not a offense.

Most corporate plans charge by the minute/ TXT/ MB.

Also one of the free rooms was for his affair and some of the others were family related e.g. Shan's 50th.

Wrong Fred. Most have caps but unlimited calls as I presume the council plan is. Simple point. Please advise the public just what ratepayers money has been misused here??? Freebee rooms and calls within a plan dont constitute embezzlement . We seem to be confusing morality with fraud.

Spot on, Red.

Having read the EY Report, I can't actually see where the fraud was committed. In fact, half of EY's findings consist of "We see no evidence of..."

The worst that Brown can be accused of is stupidity.

Len believes the mayor should be accountable to "a higher standard".

He is required to declare gifts which he hasnt done on free hotels and upgrades - not once or a few occasions - but 63 times !!. This is not a careless error but a calculated omission to hide his activities and gain personal advantage. If Mr Brown can ignore/break the rules and get away with it then the same attitude should be given to everyone else in the council. In most corporates his contract would be terminated. Is this the higher standard he thinks ratepayers should accept?

The mayor needs to set an example for all working for him. Len must fall on his sword and resign !

Len continues to claim he is a victim when clearly his actions have been intentional and done in a way to hide what he is doing.
His complete lack of integrity demonstrates why he should go.

No he shouldn't. I imagine half the people clamouring for him to resign are as guilty as he is including acknowledged adulterer cameron slater. Politically motivated hypocrites the lot of you, all u care about are your property values and being built out. Len should triple the rates in epsom ponsonby remmers and tamaki then see how u like that

Your comment shows you are the politically motivated one. You just want "your man" to deal to those evil neolibs. And it doesnt matter to you how he does it. Great.

The only reason this is getting air is the political motives of others.

Luigi is the man you want to interview. He'll be able to provide more answers than anyone. But not only has he gone to ground, but also left the country. We wonder who he really was working for? Someone was funding his high life. It might be something the gscb may be able to answer.

Huh. Luigi isnt the mayor of Auckland. Maybe he should be - he couldnt be any worse than what we've got.

But good try at misdirection. Poor Len is just a puppet of the VRWC. Unbelievable.

Nice try at distraction. It was the Mayor's appendage ruling his brain. End of.

Those who seek power over others through the political process are entitled to human foibles. There is either an ethos of service or an arrogant sense of self righteous entitlement in the person who puts him/her self forward for election. The mayor of Auckland holds the latter in my view. To quote Billy Connolly - Don't vote it just encourages them. There is always a sense of "my way is right and I'm going to impose it on everyone" in all those who seek political power. We as voters get to choose how much of that sense of being right we want to put up with.

I do not subscribe to Len Brown's political or economic ideology. However if a politician with exactly my world view behaved as Len Brown has I would come to the same conclusion. The decent thing is to resign. Now. As soon as possible. Hanging on to power in such a grim determined way has no sense of serving the public about it.

Resignation is not optional for a politician when he has been so humiliatingly exposed as being a hypocrite and a liar as Len Brown has. There is scope for a police inquiry and possibly sufficient evidence to justify criminal charges against Len Brown on what has been exposed so far. These charges could add fraud/theft/corrupt public official to his list of foibles.

This is about pecuniary advantages of tens of thousands of dollars and economic and political power that rests with one of the top 3 people in New Zealand. He has systematically lied and cheated the public by his press statements now proven to be false, his hotel room gaining and his LOGIMA abuses. This when the issue of Sky City was ruled on by his Council. That has more than a hint of corruption about it.

Making mistakes is fine if you are in private life. Being a serial and over a long period of time offender against the higher standard Len Brown admits a mayor should maintain he has made himself unelectable and therefore it is no longer morally or legally tenable that he can remain in office . People can make mistakes. Politicians who want to remain in office cannot. Not mistakes that involve a fundamental breakdown in trust, respect and the willing submission to the political process by the electorate - that is me and you. I don't want to be governed by a person who is as fundamentally dishonest as Len Brown has been in relation to his duties as Mayor. I don,t care about his sex life. I care that if he says something I can rely on it being true..

Lenny is honourable to Aucklanders in the same way as Brutus was to Caesar. We should be proud that we have a guy like this that infes... err, inhabits the Office of Mayor.

Better a plucked turkey we know about than the cost of a by election - where few will bother to vote - and the high probability of getting another turkey.

Gosh golly aw shucks... I'm breathless.Wgtn's own single tea party non entity apologist, pokes it in the eye for Auckland's Len. When anybody who reads it stops laughing hysterically, they can relegate this junk to the bin.Len won't give it a cursory glance and neither will most, if anyone.

You are right. Len doesn't care what the voters think and will stay in the trough.

Brown's personal life is irrelevant! What is relevant is that flawed legislation not only created the office of Executive Mayor - a drain on rates - but that it did not create checks and balances over the office. A predominantly sycophantic Council will not remove the person who creates their privileges and roles.

the Nats and Hide messed this up. The Nats have time to initiate a fix.

Oh dear Whale/Farrar - what sort of mugs do you think we are? You always wanted Brown to resign.

I cant see any reason he shd resign - i'd still cast my vote for him.

Mayor Brown is competent. Let him get on with his job. Remember, he who is without sin should cast the first stone.

"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely" - Lord Acton

The problem is not the cost of another mayoral election. The problem is with a lying and corrupt politician who must go! If Len Brown remains in office, he damages the Council's reputation and the reputation of the councilors who let him remain. HIs own image is already damaged beyond repair. His sense of entitlement and arrogance are truly mind blowing.

Of course Len Brown won't resign. Apart from his salary and perks there is too much at stake ie. many shonky Auckland City deals,appalling allocation or ratepayers funds, uncontrolled indebtedness and other things will become exposed and then some very serious questions will be asked (hopefully by the Auditor General). As long as Brown is there with the executive powers he has, he is able to keep a lid on so much. This city is fast becoming a wild west cowboy town .

Serves us right for voting for a man who claims to be religious.... should have known what that really means.