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# 137938 13-Dec-2013 19:22
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http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9514793/Texts-sex-and-hotels-revealed-in-Brown-review

I am not in any position to judge anyone

What I want to know is - a high ranking person was given freebies of significant monetary value ...

Was he wrong for taking them or were the givers wrong for 'bribing' (looking for a synonym that implies a lesser evil) him for who knows what?




Involuntary autocorrect in operation on mobile device. Apologies in advance.


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gzt

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  # 951890 13-Dec-2013 20:40
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On the legal level there is nothing wrong with giving or receiving under current law. A legal issue arises around public disclosure. The council has an interest register where any gift over $300 is supposed to be declared on the public record. These free hotel rooms (used by his family on eight of nine total instances according to the article) and upgrades were not declared.

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  # 951892 13-Dec-2013 20:43
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If companies want to give special custom (i.e. discount burgers for the Police or an upgrade at a hotel) then as far as I am concerned that is completely the companies own business. If the discount was solicited however that's a different story.

I saw the recent HN promotion offering discounts to emergency service workers - didn't hear anyone up in arms about that being a 'bribe'! I don't see how a hotel offering a regular client an upgrade as a strategic business decision to keep or get more custom as any different.

Good clients get extra benefits sometimes - that's life.

Storm = teacup IMO









Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman, then always be the Batman



 
 
 
 


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  # 951995 14-Dec-2013 02:09
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Pretty common for free upgrades if a place is underbooked but Len should have declared. The excessive use of hotels when he had a driver and lives in Auckland is suspect... and the excessive personal calls to his mistress.

He has zero credibility and must go.

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  # 952021 14-Dec-2013 08:03
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yeah the bulk of hotel usage was for private usage - so the lack of declaring the freebies and upgrades is the key issue here - and it is very poor form on his part


however, that said, the key issues being examined were the 1. use of public funds on the affair and 2. use of his role to benefit chuang - and it would seem that he did not cross the line on those 2 matters


declaration: i voted for him twice now - firstly because when i worked at mcc in the 90's he seemed like one of the few councillors who actively engaged in the process and actively represented his part of the city (And imho he had to be better than banks)

and i voted for him last time around as he had done an ok job in mashing together what were seven very different organisations and running the merged city through a difficult post amalgamation period

would i have voted for him had the affair been made public beforehand? - YES - as i voted for a mayor not for a husband/father (his missus however has every right to kick him in the nuts on a daily basis)

i appreciate others would not have voted for him given the affair ... i guess we will find out again at the next election how the electorate feels about len and his misdeeds

gzt

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  # 953395 16-Dec-2013 22:57
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scuwp: If companies want to give special custom (i.e. discount burgers for the Police or an upgrade at a hotel) then as far as I am concerned that is completely the companies own business.

True but this misses the point. All major companies have supplier relationship ethics policies. The council should implement one as well. The purpose is to ensure that gifts of a personal nature from suppliers to company employees do not affect the purchasing process. The company gets no benefit. There is also a risk this will increase costs indirectly by raising industry averages. Most pretty much ban outright the receiving of personal gifts by employees. They also frequently specify suppliers are not to give personal gifts ever - and under penalty of terminating the relationship with that supplier. If you have a huge expense account then you are a purchaser simple as that. I'm glad the Mayor has recognised the need for disclosure and transparency but the issue actually goes further than that and they should do better.

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  # 953398 16-Dec-2013 23:05
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scuwp: If companies want to give special custom (i.e. discount burgers for the Police or an upgrade at a hotel) then as far as I am concerned that is completely the companies own business. If the discount was solicited however that's a different story.

I saw the recent HN promotion offering discounts to emergency service workers - didn't hear anyone up in arms about that being a 'bribe'! I don't see how a hotel offering a regular client an upgrade as a strategic business decision to keep or get more custom as any different.

Good clients get extra benefits sometimes - that's life.

Storm = teacup IMO






It is nothing like your Harvey norman example.
the difference is that emergency workers are not in a position of power to decide things like resource consent, rates, local legislation etc etc.

there is nothing wrong with the hotel giving Brown an upgrade and nothing wrong with him accepting it.  What he should have done though was declare it.
Can you imagine the accusations that would flyif that hotel had applied for resource consent for, say, some kind of convention centre and Len Brown used hispower to force it through, then it later turned out the hotel had been gifting him free upgrades all the time, free chips to gamble in the casino etc.

the rules are around gifts over $300. IF any individual upgrade was worth more than that he should have declared them. End of story.




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  # 953399 16-Dec-2013 23:07
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Ragnor: Pretty common for free upgrades if a place is underbooked but Len should have declared. The excessive use of hotels when he had a driver and lives in Auckland is suspect... and the excessive personal calls to his mistress.

He has zero credibility and must go.


I agree on the hotel rooms, but the publicity about the personal calls seems a bit overblown. Given his position he would most likely have been on an unlimited voice plan, so the actual cost of those personal calls and txts would be zero.

 
 
 
 


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  # 953424 17-Dec-2013 02:17
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The issue of gifts is a tricky one but each local body has its own rules. Auckland requires gifts worth over $300 to be declared. The council I served on as an elected member had no such policy - instead we were not permitted to receive personal gifts. A Christmas card was fine, a gift not. It all comes down to elected officials needing to not just be squeaky clean but be seen to be squeaky clean. 

The issue of hotel room upgrades isn't as straight-forward as the media makes out. Hotels give complimentary upgrades all the time - even more so to regular guests. If council was paying then who was getting the benefit? The payer or the guest? The guest gets a nicer room presumably but it still cost him the same as the original booking - zilch. So, the value to him is $0. You can't get more zero than zero. I doubt anyone being offered a room upgrade ever asks for paperwork to show the value of the upgrade. 
The same reasoning would apply to airfares. If an elected official is travelling on council authorised business and the airline upgrades them is s/he really getting a personal benefit? I would argue No, not in monetary terms. 

I bet there are central and local government staff and elected representatives all over the country madly seeking clarification on such things right now because I'd bet a very large number of them have received upgrades without ascertaining the monetary value. if they should be doing this, and declaring them, then the law needs to change so that everyone knows where they stand. Since there is nothing in law to say whether what LB did was wrong I don't feel the media has any right to take a moral high-ground and say it was. 

Similarly, the phone calls. For all we know the council gave him a mobile phone in full expectation it would be used for both business and personal use. I know that happens for most mayors and, let's face it, its pretty unreasonable to ask them to cart two phones around to keep personal calls strictly separated. They would still receive incoming calls of a personal nature on their business phones anyway. Let he who has never been called on a work number by friends or family, or the contractor painting the house, or whatever, throw the first stone. 

I'm not defending Brown. I think what he has done is wrong on many levels. But as far as the monetary benefits he gained, I don't think its all black and white. 

gzt

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  # 953545 17-Dec-2013 10:07
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It looks very simple to me. On one occasion he accepted a free hotel room completely for his own personal benefit. If he was provided that or there was a chance he was provided with that because of his council approved spending then he was wrong to accept it.

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  # 953564 17-Dec-2013 10:39
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I find it very hard to remain impartial on the whole subject and I think many would.

I didn't vote for Brown and never will. He's not my kind of politician and I never really liked him as a public person - don't know him privately.

The moral issues aside, he's a public officer and as such should be seen to be above reproach.
in my opinion, he's breached the public trust that many times his position is simply untenable.

He must go of his own volition, or be forced out.

He cannot be trusted, due to the persistent smear of what has transpired and that is simply unacceptable of the most powerful politician in local body politics.




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  # 953568 17-Dec-2013 10:48
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Elpie: The issue of gifts is a tricky one but each local body has its own rules. Auckland requires gifts worth over $300 to be declared.


Unless Brown was getting a very favourable rate for the standard room I couldn't see a $300 difference at the hotel he spent most his nights at using one of the internet booking sites. Maybe the report uses an artificially high value for the suites. The next morning the hotel basically still ends up with the same laundry regardless of room size.

As far as phone expenses, my wife does the accounts at a small organisation where all personal use should be paid for. The mobile plans even for them have so many free minutes that it is not an issue. If the Auckland Council couldn't get a better deal that would seem incompetent.

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  # 953587 17-Dec-2013 11:03
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Personally at this stage I think this is grey enough that it is up to voters to decide at the next election.

Imho the problem is the council's procurement policy does not specifically ban employees or suppliers from receiving/giving gifts. It should immediately be amended so that it does.

At present the policy says relationships must be ethical without any specific policy on gifts which leaves each instance entirely open to interpretation in a legal sense.

"Auckland Council will conduct its business with the utmost integrity in its procurement of goods, works and services. Therefore, Auckland Council employees and suppliers are expected to conduct themselves with the highest standards of honesty, fairness, and personal integrity. It is critical that both employees and suppliers adhere to these standards, all applicable laws and avoid all perceptions of conflict of interest and impropriety."

AK City Procurement Policy (see Page 11)

In a moral sense (could not care less about the affair thing btw) I completely agree it could violate that policy but in a legal sense it is arguable. Clearly he did not "avoid all perceptions of conflict of interest and impropriety" but might be able to argue he adhered to the standards. It's borderline against him but mostly I see it as a choice for the voters at this stage and council policy must be amended to be absolutely specific and crystal clear on this point like every other large organisation is.

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  # 953598 17-Dec-2013 11:16
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They should come under the same rules as Public Servants




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  # 953602 17-Dec-2013 11:21
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As has been stated before it isn't the receiving it is the not saying he received.

He gets a free hotel room and says he did, that's fine.

He gets a free hotel room and he doesn't say so when he knows the rules say he has to means he is now open to extortion from everybody who knows that he broke the rules.

Secrets what involve breaking rules are a vulnerability politicians can't afford. He basically lied and that isn't something which should be taken lightly.

Brown's personal life is his own business but he could have paid for his own hotel rooms or made other arrangements.




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  # 953678 17-Dec-2013 12:39
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every day the guy is more of an embarrassment.

all this yibber yabba over whether he broke the rules or not would be moot if the council adopted one simple rule - accept no gifts.

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