14 December 2013

Should Len Brown resign?

I imagine that quite a number of politicians, mayors, councillors and directors around the country are quietly hoping that no-one does an EY report on their behaviour like the one that has just been done on Len Brown. After all, before yesterday, it would have been so easy to neglect to even think that a hotel-room upgrade should be invoiced and declared back at the office as a gift. And how many personal calls have we made lately on our work phones?
(Fortunately, I don't have a work phone, but I must remember to bill my employer for those work-related calls made on my personal phone! And how I wish I even got any room upgrades that I could have neglected to report!)
So, while I agree with Fran O'Sullivan that the Mayor of Auckland has been found to be in the wrong (that is, in breach of Council policies), I can't for a moment agree with her puritanical take on it.
She insists that Brown ought to resign. Has she thought about the consequences of that? It would mean a costly by-election and a major disruption to the leadership of the city's business. Furthermore, there is no obvious, politically credible contender to take his place. Who would we end up with as Mayor, if Len resigned, and would Auckland be any better off?
I say to Len Brown, "Mate, keep it in your pants, report any freebies from now on, and get on with the effing job. If you're any good at it, then you can stand again at the next local body elections and the voters of Auckland will have their chance then to judge your performance and your character."
By 2016, we will have had time to see it all in perspective, rather than be rushed into judgement by high-minded columnists and the like. Now, it may well turn out that Len Brown loses the public's confidence by then and bows out of the next election, or maybe stands and gets defeated by a new face. So be it. That's politics.
The Council, if it chooses, could move a motion of censure against the Mayor, now that the facts are on the table. Even councillors who support Mr Brown would find it hard not to vote in favour of such a motion. So be it. But can they please get on with the job of running the City now? We don't need another election.


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