In typical ‘slogger blogger’ style Slater metes out punishment of his own to Auckland Council. Slater's comments are in bold.
Some of you might have seen the recent opinion piece in the NBR by Jordan Williams from the Taxpayers Union. Williams spells out the shambles that is Auckland Council and drops a few hints.
Broken promises, eye watering rate hikes, 8500 staff, 130 spin doctors, diplomats in London, $200,000 penis art, $100,000 silk curtains, fashion consultants for finance staff, cut library hours and no berm mowing. Is this is SuperCity we hoped for?
What went wrong with Rodney Hide’s creature of efficient governance and local democracy? Auckland Council is case in point supporting the economic literature that suggests that local government suffers from diseconomies of scale once a council gets larger than around 250,000 residents. It is little wonder that Auckland Council is greater than the sum of its former parts.
In 2013, David Farrar and I established the Taxpayers’ Union to fight against government waste and argue for lower taxes. We could not have envisioned how much time and effort Auckland Council would consume.
Well even I didn’t expect Len Brown to build personal bathrooms and gyms.
Our staff and volunteers battle with the council’s corporatised spin machine every day. Its 130 communications staff habitually ignore information requests, leak requested material to handpicked media (in order to control a story) and bend over backward to protect the Mayor and his deputy.
Combine that with a weak Ombudsman to oversee the applicable freedom of information laws, it is little wonder that so many Aucklanders become frustrated trying to hold the council to account.
It’s a well-known fact that Auckland Council is a den of incompetent ratbags and troughers wasting our money.
But then the op-ed gets interesting…
Auckland needs a dedicated group to hold the council’s feet to the fire. That role should rest with the business groups but the council has captured the EMA, Property Council and even the troubled Heart of the City. All three rely on substantial ratepayer or CCO (council-controlled organisation) funding.
While the leaders of the various groups do their best, anyone with experience in a peak body knows that there’s a limit to how much you can bite the hand that feeds your organisation.
So who is left? Affordable Auckland is well meaning but lacks the broad support to push into the mainstream. Cr Cameron Brewer could have done it but has apparently chosen a return to the private sector over a tilt at the Mayoralty. In any case, a politician can only go so far without having an organisation to help take on the vested interests.
In November, Mike Hosking asked in a New Zealand Herald column: “Am I the only one who thinks things around Auckland Council are getting hopelessly out of control?”
No you’re not Mike but Auckland needs a political group to coordinate opposition, lay out an alternative and set the wheels in motion for a departure from the status quo come the 2016 elections.
The time has come for an Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance. All it will need is your support.
Several sources have confirmed that moves are underway to create a Taxpayer Union like organisation just to hold Auckland Council to account.
Brown will be crapping his dacks and will probably be after even more spin doctors to save his skin.
Watch this space.