Mark Thomas - New Mayor for Auckland

The Brown Parallel Universe Goff Will Likely Inherit

My mayoral opponent Phil Goff has no working knowledge of the parallel universe that exists at Auckland Council at times.

He missed a big opportunity to experience it when he failed to attend either of the last meetings of the key CEO Review Committee meeting yesterday nor today ‘s Len Brown farewell Governing Body meeting. I am not aware he has ever been to key council committees, nor any of the 21 local boards that inhabit the ‘space system’ (save his own).

It might have been handy if he had attended the CEO Review meeting because they discussed the CEO’s performance review which Goff will finalise, if he is mayor, in two months time.

The CEO presented a three page list of this year’s achievements (Unitary Plan signed off, City Raul Link funding Agreement, ATAP. etc). There was no mention of the only 15% satisfaction that Aucklanders hold council in. Not an “achievement” I guess.

Goff also missed today’s send off of retiring Mayor Len Brown. To his credit, Len avoided an overly self-indulgent reflection but missing was a balanced appraisal of the highs and the lows. Perhaps too much to hope for in a valedictory. Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse offered a version of this.

Brown deserves credit for his singly minded focus in getting the City Rail Link underway. But this has come at a large cost. Many other higher priority local projects have been sidelined and public ill-will has grown at broken promises, mishandled expectations and the sham Unitary Plan consultation.

Goff was also not present at either of the Matakana, Snells beach or Waiheke meetings I attended this week where the Local Government Commission is undertaking a formal process considering restructuring Auckland because two broad communities are so unhappy they want to leave.

This was also missing from the CEO’s achievements list, and from the Mayor’s valedictory.

Key senior officers and councillors very close to the agenda of the last 6 years consider the public engagement problems mainly down to growth speed wobbles, and they think after so much work there is no real opportunity for a reset.

After campaigning all around Auckland for a year, I can say it is much more than wobbles – and a lot more than just a reset is needed.

Goff has heard a lot about the problems too. But you have to both understand a “universe” to be able to transform it, and you need universal skills.

If Goff had spent more time visiting the planets, he might have been more prepared.


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