Around forty members of the public attended the roadshow along with as many Council politicians and staff, who had given up their valuable weekend time with family and friends to come to Waiheke as part of the public consultation process on Council's 10 year plan. Council salaries alone would have topped $10,000 for the afternoon. Of the Waiheke community attending around 80% were members of the island’s Green Taliban frontal assault team and 20% were ordinary members of the public.
This was an opportunity to raise concerns over the Mayor’s handling of Council finances, rates rises, and transport plans. The Mayor spent ten minutes at the outset outlining his priorities which amounted to some well worn rhetoric about rates rises and debt levels being capped, but the main thrust of his speech could be summed in when he said, “The problem for Auckland is transport and getting the city moving. All our money is being put into public transport at the expense of everything else”. He went on to explain this meant his train set. He said people he wanted to force commuters off roads by a combination of congestion charges and additional local taxes and make them use public transport or cycle to work.
The bulk of the audience weren’t in the least bit interested in hearing what the Mayor had to say, nor were they interested in engaging with Council staff who had laid out Ostend Hall with tables ready to focus on key issues, each manned by a top bureaucrat and politician. Four members of the Waiheke Local Board were there. Shirin Brown was absent. With a few exceptions such as tackling the Mayor on the ‘chemical weed management’ policy in the plan, most questions from the floor were about purely Waiheke issues not Council’s 10 year plan.
It must be clear from my blogs that I am no fan of the Mayor, especially his headlong desire to follow the small but vocal UN Agenda 21 Greens of Generation Zero who want all transport budgets spent on cycle lanes and trains. However, I have some sympathy with him and Council when they devote valuable staff time and energy to a meeting that gets high-jacked by local Greens only interested in setting the scene for their de-amalgamation agenda.
Gum-chewing Local Board Member John Meeuwsen looked very pleased with himself as he left the meeting with a wink at Stansfield. He was off after fifty minutes to start his own ‘de-amalgamation’ strategy session with his leading Green cohorts, including a person who looked like she’s been scalped and was trying to cover her bald patches by putting a skunk on her head.
No wonder he was pleased with himself. Once again the Greens had demonstrated to Auckland Council that Waiheke is run by idiots and populated by a bunch of fruits and nuts. This was all designed to make Council heartily sick of Waiheke and look forward to the day when they could be rid of the millstone around their necks. After all, as the Mayor told the meeting, Waiheke gets back much more from Auckland Council than is justified on a purely population basis.
The Mayor should not be surprised at his reception. He has made himself a laughing stock and brought Council into disrepute with his lies and deliberate attempts to undermine democracy. Sadly he is emulated by Waiheke’s Green inspired local board members who are cross that they haven’t been handed out Council sweeties to pursue their own Green vision for Waiheke. It’s a question of two narcissists, Brown and Walden, unable to tolerate each other. The losers are the people of Auckland and Waiheke.