At the end Orsman comments on why the public holds Council in such low esteem.
Call it what you like, a failure of leadership, a lack of transparency and accountability, poor communications - Aucklanders have (sic) a very poor opinion of council.
There is a widespread feeling that the bureaucrats are running council, and running rings around the elected representatives.
There is a widespread feeling that the seven council-controlled organisations (CCOs) are out of control.
The balance between strong political governance and a responsive, high-performing bureaucracy is out of kilter.
Council officers and subsidiary organisations are making decisions that catch elected representatives unaware. When Ateed set up a posting in London the mayor was taken by surprise. No one told him about the port company's wharf extensions. He learnt about it from the Herald.
In fact, councillors read the Herald to find out what is happening at council.
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.
And finally, Auckland needs a fresh direction.
Complementing the role of the Herald in holding Council to account has been the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance. No organisation has done more than the ARA to shine the light on the culture of waste and lack of transparency and accountability in Council.
So it came as something of a shock yesterday when I was attacked by a Herald journalist in a very aggressive and hostile manner. David Fisher called me, as the media spokesperson for the Alliance, to ask why the ARA, in the name of openness and transparency, had not published its accounts. I reminded Fisher that I am the ARA’s media spokesperson not its accountant, that I am a volunteer not a professional, and that, as a private limited liability company the organisation is not required to publish its accounts.
Trying to equate the financial responsibility of a volunteer organisation relying on freely given public donations with the financial obligations of Council to account for money it takes from the public by legal force smacks a very warped political agenda to me. I would have thought everyone wanted ratepayers to get value for money from Council with as much openness and transparency as possible.
In the same interest of openness and transparency, I asked Fisher to declare any bias he had in asking these particular questions, and asked if he doing so in response to a request from any political organisation. He refused to answer, as is his right.
At this point he became very angry indeed. He started shouting and talking over me. It was obvious there was no point in continuing the conversation so I thanked him for his interest and put the phone down.
During the last year I have had to deal with every type of media organisation as the ARA’s media spokesperson. By and large the interviews I have done for TV, radio and the press have been conducted in a fair manner. I have tried to answer media questions as honestly as I can and have been treated with respect - until now.
For the record I have this to say to Mr Fisher. I will not subject myself to angry and abusive interviews from anyone. Do not bother calling me again on any matter whatsoever, I will simply put the phone down.
If the Herald wonders why mainstream media is held in such low esteem by the public it is because it is replacing experienced journalists like Orsman with media hacks like Fisher.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?