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  # 954232 18-Dec-2013 12:33
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It isn't the gifts, it isn't the affair, it isn't the perks, it isn't the media.

It's about the integrity of the mayor and the fact he has demonstrated a lack there of. We require these people for their ability to exercise good judgement. They fail to demonstrate good judgement, they go.

The media isn't to blame for exposing this. If the media had said something that wasn't true Brown could have denied it and if needed take legal action.

Giving or receiving gifts isn't wrong for politicians, knowingly deceiving those empowered to enforce the rules is. Saying 'there is a lack of clarity' is a weak defence and basically a half hearted way of saying "I knew what I was doing was wrong and I didn't think I'd get caught".

We know why he wasn't declaring the hotel room use, he knows why he wasn't declaring the hotel room use. That anybody who knew what was going on could hold a secret like that over the Auckland mayor is an unacceptable risk.

That Brown put himself in that position is an unacceptable lack of judgement.




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  # 954233 18-Dec-2013 12:35
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joker97: is using it as a gift is the same as donating to charity?

No - there's no personal or professional gain in donating it to charity on behalf of the company that gave you the gift.

The point with this is that it can often cause offence to refuse or return a gift - particularly in Asia...of which we are a part, like it or not.




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  # 954291 18-Dec-2013 13:49
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Is receiving a free room or upgrade a gift, or is it just part of the usual business practise for a frequent stayer? Depending on the reason why the upgrade was given, I'd argue that it wasn't a gift at all.

Most hotels have some kind of loyalty program. You will get free nights based on the number of stays you have had, and once you get a certain status may automatically get an upgrade if there is a better room available.

If the free rooms and upgrades were given to the mayor simply because he is the mayor - yes they should be declared.

If however, they were given because he was a frequent visitor and got exactly the same benefits as every other patron, that's just part of the hotel's normal business model. It's not a gift.

I also dispute the valuation of the gifts that they have used. They seem to be based on the 'rack rate' for each type of room, which is disconnected from reality. For starters, very rarely are the rates as high as the rack rate, and also, the value of an upgrade shouldn't be taken as the difference between paying the rack rate for two different types of room. The reason a hotel is happy to give such upgrades is that the cost to them between putting you in a empty room of one kind vs. another is virtually nothing. Hotels usually only upgrade when there is basically no chance they will sell that room to a paying customer. The revenue forgone by the hotel is zero, the incremental cost is zero. The difference would be if the hotel bumped a customer paying for a suite to give the mayor an upgrade to the suite, because he was the mayor.

There seems to be no distinction in what was assessed, and I strongly suspect (the majority of) the upgrades and free rooms were aligned to a normal hotel loyalty programme rather than because it was the mayor.




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  # 954310 18-Dec-2013 14:00
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The other related issue I have on this topic is the stupidly over the top scrutiny of public figures expenses when travelling, like people getting up and arms that they spent $100 on dinner, or took a bunch of taxi's to meetings.

a) These people, as part of their jobs, are asked to be away from home and families and there should be a fair bit of discretion and compensation while they are away. If they want to take a client out for a nice meal - fine, if they need dry-cleaning done or need to take taxi's to get to meeting - who cares. If it's hookers and blow that's another story, but eating, entertaining and getting around seem to have come under scrutiny before and I just can't understand it.

b) It's nothing in the grand scheme of things. It's pretty well accepted that business travellers and made reasonably comfortable while they travel. It's the cost of doing business. However, for public officials it seems to be inappropriate to spend any money when you are expected to be away from home.




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  # 954325 18-Dec-2013 14:17
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Your explanation for hotel use is very likely to be the case. But for some reason the report did not break down the council paid and personal/family paid hotel room usage so it is hard to make a judgement call on where those issues stand.

That still leaves an iPad (auctioned for charity) and an NRL Grand Final ticket. There is a relationship with the NRL and the Warriors obviously and I expect it is related to council business in that context. Again should have been declared.

He got approx 150,000 votes at the last election with his nearest rival getting approx 100,000. On that basis he is probably entitled to feel he still has the support of the electorate and if the election was run again tomorrow I'd expect him to win with a vastly reduced majority. Might as well wait until the next one really.

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  # 954415 18-Dec-2013 16:10
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Where was the front page editorial from NZ Herald demanding the resignation of John Banks for  "forgetting " about the $50,000 he has been caught accepting.... I wonder who else also gave that amount of funds but not got caught.
Chap who came second didn't come up smelling of roses either. What did he really know about this story too.


Political reporter on radio commented that the reporters at bee hive know of a number of politians who are having affairs. If it's news to have affairs, then they should name and shame them too.

The nz Herald is a but right wing so I feel there is a slight smell of politics in this case.

I vote for people who have skills I need. What they do otherwise unless illegal I don't care. Ie the surgeon who operates on me the pilot at the front of the plane etc.

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  # 954420 18-Dec-2013 16:39
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crackrdbycracku: It isn't the gifts, it isn't the affair, it isn't the perks, it isn't the media.

It's about the integrity of the mayor and the fact he has demonstrated a lack there of. We require these people for their ability to exercise good judgement. They fail to demonstrate good judgement, they go.

The media isn't to blame for exposing this. If the media had said something that wasn't true Brown could have denied it and if needed take legal action.

Giving or receiving gifts isn't wrong for politicians, knowingly deceiving those empowered to enforce the rules is. Saying 'there is a lack of clarity' is a weak defence and basically a half hearted way of saying "I knew what I was doing was wrong and I didn't think I'd get caught".

We know why he wasn't declaring the hotel room use, he knows why he wasn't declaring the hotel room use. That anybody who knew what was going on could hold a secret like that over the Auckland mayor is an unacceptable risk.

That Brown put himself in that position is an unacceptable lack of judgement.


What do we know? We know what the media is reporting and it's hard to see this as anything except a campaign to embarrass Brown. I don't support him. I think he has been silly. BUT, I can't say if he knowingly did anything wrong because I'm not inside his head. This, "lack of clarity" over gifts is something every local body politician has to deal with and I'd bet that a majority, if asked, would not be able to give a definitive answer about what they can and cannot accept. 

I had room upgrades when I was a city councillor. Did I declare them? No. The only benefit I got personally was a nicer room. It had a bed, place to hang clothes, and a bathroom - and that's what council paid for me to have. I neither asked for an upgrade, nor asked its value, and nor did other elected members who were similarly upgraded at the time. Should I have declared them? I don't think so. I wouldn't blame Brown if he had thought the same thing. 

Brown is being hounded because of his affair. The affair showed poor judgment but I've yet to see any evidence that in his working life as Mayor that he has exhibited any work-related errors of judgment. 

I don't care if he stays or goes but a by-election would cost Auckland megabucks and if I was a ratepayer there I would be more worried about some five-figured amount being spent on a possibly unnecessary election than I would be about Brown's understanding of what constitutes a reportable gift. 

 
 
 
 




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  # 954465 18-Dec-2013 19:12
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afe66: Where was the front page editorial from NZ Herald demanding the resignation of John Banks for  "forgetting " about the $50,000 he has been caught accepting.... I wonder who else also gave that amount of funds but not got caught.


didn't a very famous mr peters whose name kept popping up before?




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


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  # 954619 19-Dec-2013 08:26
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joker97:
afe66: Where was the front page editorial from NZ Herald demanding the resignation of John Banks for  "forgetting " about the $50,000 he has been caught accepting.... I wonder who else also gave that amount of funds but not got caught.


didn't a very famous mr peters whose name kept popping up before?

There's plenty of cases (just can't think of them right now) where there have been editorials...just not sure that outside of Winnie there has been much in the way of front page editorials...l




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  # 954624 19-Dec-2013 08:51
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Elpie: I think he has been silly. 


I think this might be my understatement of the year and I think it's great. 

True, we don't know the inside of his head any more than anybody else's. We can and do judge people by their actions and words, or lack there of. Brown has done nothing to change the public perception that he is dishonest. By this I judge him and I find him wanting.

I'm actually quite left leaning in my political views, not the time or place here to outline them, but I once characterised the Right vs Left in this country as 'like watching a professional army go up against a bunch of hopefuls with guns'. It is exactly this kind of thing I was talking about. 

If you are in politics you know 'they' are out to get you. You know they will use every dirty trick in the book, people are right to ask where the editorial calling for John Banks to resign was as there probably isn't a bigger political crime than election fraud which is actually illegal.

But whining about it won't do any good. If you need to be squeaky clean then you better squeak or get out. We can moan about how this is unfair politics but politics is always unfair but it's very nature. If Brown can't do a better job than this it is time to get out of the way. 




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  # 954629 19-Dec-2013 08:59
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I can't believe this whole thing is still going on. At the end of the day, nothing he has done has impacted the public significantly or affected his ability to do his job. On any given day there is more waste in public office, than Len Brown is supposed to have not declared the benefits of. His job is to serve the people, which he has done, in my opinion much better than our last 3 mayors combined.

Sadly this is not about common sense, and because of the type of people these roles attract, councillors will block everything he does from now on, not because they have an issue with the stuff he is doing, but what he has done in his own time.

Stupidity at it's finest point.

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  # 954634 19-Dec-2013 09:18
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Have other politicians had front page editorials in the herald calling for resignations? Google might help I suppose.

The Auckland correspondent for National radio yesterday commented that he could not remember anyone else getting that treatment.

Winston Peters was too long ago for me to remember.

But John Banks saga is a fresh. Where were the front page calls for him to resign. Lieing about $50,000 received from supporters is far more insidious. He used to be a mayor in auckland, I doubt his fund raising tactics have changed. (he also used to be a government minister too.....). And now he's facing criminal charges.

I get a little frustrated when the media claim the high moral ground about their importance in educating the masses but then dont seem to be impartial about the political right/left split.

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  # 954636 19-Dec-2013 09:26
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networkn: I can't believe this whole thing is still going on. At the end of the day, nothing he has done has impacted the public significantly or affected his ability to do his job. On any given day there is more waste in public office, than Len Brown is supposed to have not declared the benefits of. His job is to serve the people, which he has done, in my opinion much better than our last 3 mayors combined.

Sadly this is not about common sense, and because of the type of people these roles attract, councillors will block everything he does from now on, not because they have an issue with the stuff he is doing, but what he has done in his own time.

Stupidity at it's finest point.


If all this rubbish had come to light before the election I very much doubt he would have been returned to office, therefore he should do the honourable thing and step down, allow a by-election and stand as a candidate, this way the constituency will decide if they want him
to continue as Mayor.




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  # 954637 19-Dec-2013 09:27
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For the ordinary person, something like an upgrade at a hotel is most welcome and not reason for concern. I stayed at the Langham last year and booked a pretty expensive room for a special occasion. I arrived to find they had upgraded me to an even MORE expensive room for no additional money. 

Did I notify anyone? No. I enjoyed the huge Presidential Suite....

Was I Mayor of Auckland conducting an illicit affair? No. 

Len was dumb to accept upgrades.....though sometimes the upgrade isn't even notified. They tell you the room number and give you a key.....and do you REALLY know you got an upgrade? Maybe. Maybe not.

I'd be more interested to know who donates to the various trusts that fund the National Party for the sole purpose of hiding who donates the money. If the local body Nats are going to blow fuses about hotel upgrades they must be almost insanely upset about how their own party conceals who donates money to it.

Listening to Dick Quax attacking Len Brown is almost funny. No one even voted for Quax in the recent Council elections.




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  # 954638 19-Dec-2013 09:29
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Was I Mayor of Auckland conducting an illicit affair? No. 



 


So you say....! ;-)





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