Restoring public confidence in council must be a high priority. The same goes for greater transparency and accountability. You must exert authority over the council bureaucracy and keep them on a short leash.
At a governance symposium one might expect elected members, especially those new to Council, to learn how Council conducts its affairs and manage public resources. Topics arising might include discussions on how politicians can serve their ratepayers, or how to run effective meetings, or how to work with Council’s bureaucracy to achieve results.
Goff made a good start by telling his new Council members that they should ‘leave their politics at the door’, though he did warn about the evils of a Donald Trump society.
It’s a great pity he had told not his bureaucrats to leave their politics at the door. What Auckland Council bureaucrats, under the guidance of the Chief Executive Officer Stephen Town, offered up instead was left wing political indoctrination. Town also warned about the evils of a Donald Trump society.
The CEO had chosen left wing political commentator Bernard Hickey (in my day it was the left wing Rod Oram) to talk about how to turn those who felt ‘neutral’ about the Council into ‘fans’ – in other words about the necessity of ‘spin’. Hickey then warned about the evils of Marie Le Pen, Brexit and a Donald Trump society.
Next up was the pharmaceutical scientist, inventor, and social entrepreneur Ray Avery. He didn’t talk about ‘governance’. He did talk about the evils of a Donald Trump society.
Sensible members shocked by the proceedings gave the tedious lecturing by a string of left wing sympathisers doused in political correctness, and Council bureaucrats steeped in the wonders of ‘diversity’, a miss. They took the opportunity to network outside the symposium and discuss real Council issues in their locality like why their roads were full of potholes, grass berms weren’t being mowed, and how they might address these and other core Council services that were woefully inadequate. After all, isn’t managing public resources what Council governance is supposed to be all about.
Goff had fallen at the first hurdle. He had failed to put his bureaucrats on a short leash. Who was really in charge of the meeting? Why it’s obvious. It was Donald Trump.