Whoever succeeds Len Brown as Auckland mayor will be inheriting something of a poisoned chalice, and it is for that reason we are unlikely to see someone like Cameron Brewer putting their name forward.
It is a shame, for Brewer has an innate understanding of how to mobilise the urban fabric in such a way that it delivers for all stakeholders. But first he would have to disinherit the city from the legacy of Brown’s tenure, a task not unlike that facing Hercules when challenged to clean the Augean stables. And that’s simply not going to happen.
You see, Brown’s legacy will not be the City Rail link, the Skypath or any of his much vaunted and equally unwanted infrastructure projects. No, the true legacy is the sprawling, profligate and autocratic bureaucracy he allowed to flourish under his tenure.
Auckland council is, if I may be permitted another Herculean simile, akin to the Lernean Hydra, a beast of many heads; cut one off and two grow in its places. It is an extremely complex organization where power falls in unlikely places and is wielded ruthlessly by each swordholder in pursuit of the advancement of their own fiefdom.
It is a morass of second and third rate individuals growing fat and complacent in the sinecures, men and women who in private industry would barely merit a minimum wage yet through their very inadequacy have been welcomed to the ranks of a body which thrives on its own inefficient corpulence.
To cull out the inefficient and unnecessary would be to dismember Auckland Council entirely; it simply cannot be done. Such a bloodletting would prove cataclysmic for its initiator. And this, of course, is well known by all but the most idealistic of would be candidates.
Any future Mayor of Auckland will be judged, not by how well he or she has done, but how much more or less badly than Brown they have performed.
Brown has set a benchmark in abysmality, a benchmark by which his successors will set their goals. Hence the decision by Phil Goff to stand. He knows he has no hope of achieving anything, but of course he never has, and that has not stopped his snuffling at the public trough all his life.
It is a sad state of affairs. The lofty goals and ideals with which the Supercity was launched were entirely appropriate, as was the concept of a single governing body for our largest metropolis.
And it’s very first leader has proved to be its undoing, a bumbling incompetent who has succeeded in one thing and one thing alone, to deny Aucklanders and Auckland a future worthy of themselves. So it really doesn’t matter who gets the job.