Hard News by Russell Brown

Read Post

Hard News: Footpaths, not manifest destiny

85 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 Newer→ Last

  • Russell Brown,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Rotmistrov,

    Gattung is both entirely wrong and entirely right.
    The Mayor doesn't have a lot of power, and neither does Council. But they could. The politicians do not set the right goals nor do they take a sufficiently active role in guiding the actions of the bureaucracy. There is more concern about the colour of a library's paint job, or the technical details of a bike lane, than there is about the effect of those decisions in terms of social, economic, or cultural outcomes.
    My hope is that if Goff wins, instead of worrying about specific projects, he will change the debate to the kind of outcomes we want - faster or more accurate building consents? Fewer beach safety warnings? Shorter commutes? Rather than focusing on specific projects. As a former Minister he may have the experience of managing for outcomes and purchasing outputs that current Councillors lack.

    Since Jan 2016 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Stevens,

    A great analysus Russell. The Nats really don't get the "local" bit of lca government.

    And Thesea Gattung's name will always be tainted with her advocacy of corporate duplicity - remember her comments on how it was good to keep mobile contracts so complicated that consumers couldn't understand them?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Ross,

    Where to start with this Russell.

    The Centre Right is fractured in Auckland between the pragmatics and the ideologues.

    Your pragmatics (whether you agree with them or not) are the following
    Webster
    Cooper
    Penrose
    Cashmore
    Watson
    Anae

    Your ideologues include:
    Quax
    Stewart
    Wood
    Krum
    Brewer
    Fletcher when it comes to the Unitary Plan

    That list above shows how fractured the Centre Right is in Auckland for starters.

    Now here is something else
    Goff or Crone it doesnt matter who gets elected - they can only pull in 7 votes on the Governing Body I theorise.

    Our Deputy Mayor however, pulls 10 and her vote makes 11 - a straight majority.

    Now ask yourself this:
    Why can Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse (Len could but he is stepping down) rally those of the Left and the Right but mayoral candidates, C&R and Auckland Future are struggling?

    This can lead to another question:
    Why are Transport Blog, Public Address and others "authorities" in Auckland discourses? (A question as it played into the heart of our democratic structure and inner mechanics of Auckland)

    Why are die hards on the right still going on about the CRL and the Unitary Plan when both will be done and dusted prior to the elections and cant be unpicked?

    All things to ponder about.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2014 • 32 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ben Ross,

    Now ask yourself this:
    Why can Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse (Len could but he is stepping down) rally those of the Left and the Right but mayoral candidates, C&R and Auckland Future are struggling?

    Thanks for that, Ben. That's fascinating.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Ross, in reply to Russell Brown,

    You're welcome :-)

    Auckland • Since Jan 2014 • 32 posts Report Reply

  • Joshua Arbury,

    I obviously need to be careful what I say about this given I work for the Council, but thanks for the analysis Russell – very interesting. I always enjoy reading Simon Wilson’s articles on Auckland and the Council, it’s obvious that he attends enough Council meetings and talks to enough people to make insightful comments about what’s going on.

    I think one key point highlighted by a number of these issues is that local government decisions often don’t fall neatly into a left/right dichotomy. Some do (e.g. the size of the Uniform Annual General Charge) but many don’t. The Unitary Plan in particular comes to mind, but others like the City Rail Link don’t lend themselves to a left/right division.

    It will be interesting going forward in the future to see whether the current type of Council stays in place or whether you see more of a shift to how the old Auckland City Council tended to operate.

    Auckland • Since May 2009 • 236 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Ross, in reply to Joshua Arbury,

    I dont think it will drift to the old ACC type of style of division - not at the moment and not while Hulse and the other 10 (or similar in replacement) are there.


    One thing I have always said is that to win the Mayoral Chains you need the votes of the South (includes Howick which voted for Len both times) and the West. They also contain 7 of the Governing Body votes that usually bloc together (see pragmatism comment above).


    Three Wards for Russell and Simon to watch

    Albany
    Waitemata
    Manurewa-Papakura

    Auckland • Since Jan 2014 • 32 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Kearney,

    An interesting piece, Russell.

    You're right: The centre right in Auckland is fractured. My personal view is that Auckland actually does need party politics. By this I mean Labour stands in its own name, and National should do the same. The reason it doesn't is because National cannot control it, and is therefore scared of its brand being tarnished. So it silently sits in behind the scenes trying to play puppet master.

    There's nothing antithetical about a centre right elected member working with the centre left, or the left in general. At least not at local board level. You can't argue over parks maintenance, or library upgrades, on philosophical bases. That stuff belongs in academic writings, not at the coalface. There are some issues where an ideological view can proceed over pragmatism, but not many. Mostly, you need to get on at local board level at least, to get things done. These are the reasons I believe I was voted in as deputy chairman of the Kaipatiki Local Board in 2013, even though those voting for me were from Labour, and I was from Act (and they all knew it). If you're into achievement politics (as I was) then that's the only way to play it. A case in point was the Unitary Plan process. Philosophically, I prefer expanding the RUB rather than intensification. But it was crystal clear that the debate around expanding the RUB was not being won, and at local board level you have little input around that. So it became a matter for me on focusing on what you could achieve, rather than sitting back and throwing rocks. Auckland desperately needs housing and so getting the Unitary Plan through was imperative so I argued that we should still expand the RUB, but at the same time supported the Unitary Plan - because I'm into achievement politics.

    On the other hand, I think the Council is a different beast. There is a more room for class warfare (as it were) if you want to play it that way. But council is not dissimilar to MMP, which is what Penny Hulse understands, and I think some centre right councillors supporting the Mayor do also. Basically, you have to pick your fights - again, not dissimilar to national politics. The best centre right councillors should know this, but it's not clear on the evidence.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 73 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Isn't the whole point of Auckland local government to stand for 'Auckland and its future', not a 'party and its interests in having control'...

    The greater good needs a good grater to slough of all the dead areas.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7866 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Nick Kearney,

    There’s nothing antithetical about a centre right elected member working with the centre left, or the left in general. At least not at local board level. You can’t argue over parks maintenance, or library upgrades, on philosophical bases. That stuff belongs in academic writings, not at the coalface. There are some issues where an ideological view can proceed over pragmatism, but not many. Mostly, you need to get on at local board level at least, to get things done. These are the reasons I believe I was voted in as deputy chairman of the Kaipatiki Local Board in 2013, even though those voting for me were from Labour, and I was from Act (and they all knew it).

    Thanks Nick. That's very much the kind of thing I meant.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Rotmistrov,

    Surely you can argue about library upgrades on a philosophical basis though? Maggie Thatcher didn't like the concept of "free" libraries. Libraries began as private/subscription services.

    Since Jan 2016 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Phil Lyth,

    To state the obvious: Auckland uses the First Past The Post voting system, and will do so for the October 2016 election. (It could be changed for 2019 if there is the political will.)

    That *should* drive the actions and strategy of people and groups. (As RB observes, that's not the case for the Nats.)

    If a Council uses Single Transferable Vote then all the levers change.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2009 • 458 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Kearney, in reply to Rotmistrov,

    Politics is also the art of the possible.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 73 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Rotmistrov,

    Surely you can argue about library upgrades on a philosophical basis though? Maggie Thatcher didn't like the concept of "free" libraries. Libraries began as private/subscription services.

    Eighteen of NZ's free public libraries were established with grants from a Scottish-American philanthropist.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4590 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch, in reply to Ben Ross,

    Three Wards for Russell and Simon to watch

    Albany
    Waitemata
    Manurewa-Papakura

    The competition for wards is far more interesting. I know that the left is very interested in getting Krum out and will want to stand someone capable of knocking her out. I don't think that Quax is standing for re-election either, but if he does put himself forward his seat is fairly safe. I don't expect that any of Auckland's seats will be uncontested this time around, even if they're filled by paper candidates.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rotmistrov,

    Surely you can argue about library upgrades on a philosophical basis though? Maggie Thatcher didn’t like the concept of “free” libraries. Libraries began as private/subscription services.

    A long time ago when Hard News was a weekly radio rant, the second most foul-mouthed edition ever* was in response to an appalling op-ed in the Herald by Doug Myers, in which he declared that libraries were not a public good because it was no use to him if a poor person could read books.


    *The most abusive edition ever was in response to Alan Gibb’s famously barking neo-Victorian speech to a families conference, in which he blamed poor people’s access to contraception (which allowed them to behave immorally) for the problem of poverty. There were not enough four-letter words in the language for that one.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Patrick Reynolds,

    Simon's article is full of interesting angles but there is a big problem with his central thesis. He argues because National got the most votes in most AKL electorates at the last election that proves that AKL is essentially a tory town, and then asks how come haven't then controlled the first two 'Super City' Councils?

    The problem with this is that while National was indeed often the biggest single vote recipient in many seats but that this total was often not greater than the Lab + Green vote combined. So the case that AKL is, in essence ,a blue city is not made, at least not by this metric. In Auckland Central in 2014 for example in the party vote National+ ACT does just pip Lab + Green 12,981 v 12,343, but for the seat Kaye [+ACT] got 12,687 to Ardern + Roche's 13,974. I think we can call that area pretty even.

    Mt Albert Party Vote: again National the single biggest vote winner but Nat + ACT still lower than Lab + Green 11,179 v 18,828.

    Additionally people do have different priorities at local level. Less emphasis on the economy and much more on delivering services, especially transport and housing. Even if this is unrealistic as central government controls these two areas to a greater extent than most seem to understand.

    The biggest problem Goff faces is that everyone expects him to hose in. But the last election shows that even when the 'right' put up a complete no-name muppet he or she will still automatically get strong support from the traditional blue areas. Additionally it is these people that bother to vote; typically older propertied people. The proverbial butcher's pup with a blue rosette has a base of 100k votes it seems [Palino is probably as hopeless a candidate as we'll ever see].

    Agree with views above saying Council business isn't as clearly divisible down party lines. And hooray for that.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2010 • 40 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Rotmistrov,

    Re public libraries. Constant public vigilance is required to ensure the council's role in supporting them as a public good in their own right and as safe civic spaces free to everyone and with no pressure to spend money. Retaining this principle of access to books and knowledge is a constant battle in local government. In Wellington a group of us have been active since the 'business process reengineering' fashion of the mid 1990s, regularly fighting to save various library services and branches. We lost the mobile library after a long struggle, and have endured various cuts and extra charges, but have so far saved all the branches.Councillors know we are watching and alert to any crazy new ideas they have that risk attacking the free public library philosophy.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3187 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Presland,

    I agree with Patrick Reynolds that National's expectation of success because of the last election result is misplaced. First of all it has to deal with the C&R/Future Auckland diffulties. Then it has to deal with the intense parochialism in the south and especially in the west. And it ignores the reality that Labour + Green is in many cases stronger than National.

    An example is my home suburb of Titirangi with its cafes and decile 10 ranking and obvious middle class nature. But the Labour + Green Party vote last time was higher than the National vote.

    And, dare I say it, but I agree with Nick Kearney. Much of the Council and Local Board business requires practical responses and competence rather than ideology is rewarded. People want to know what elected representatives think. But they want to be sure that if a problem is presented for solving then their elected representative can do this.

    That is why local government is different to national politics. And why it is so much more unpredictable.

    Waitakere • Since Nov 2006 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Greg Presland,

    And, dare I say it, but I agree with Nick Kearney. Much of the Council and Local Board business requires practical responses and competence rather than ideology is rewarded. People want to know what elected representatives think. But they want to be sure that if a problem is presented for solving then their elected representative can do this.

    I sometimes think local boards haven't had enough credit. I'm not sure how it is in all the wards, but the local board members I know of seem helpful and engaged.

    I don't know of any who are obvious wastes of space, which is more than can be said of one or two councillors. The system seems to work.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    When National looks at those numbers, it asks itself, “If we’re so popular, why the hell can’t we win the council?”

    Maybe just maybe the answer is less that Auckland voters actually like National but rather that in the council elections there is a functional, reasonable alternative. In stark contrast to the national elections where there is very little evidence of a functional alternative.

    The alternative to centre-right candidates in Auckland have a track record of making Auckland a pretty decent place, with a clear coherent vision that fits with what most Aucklanders want.

    The argument could in fact be turned on its head. The council elections are evidence that the Auckland population actually do want a centre-left leadership and IF the opposition could get their shit together and offer a decent centre-left platform they could cruise into the Beehive with ease.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Joshua Arbury,

    local government decisions often don’t fall neatly into a left/right dichotomy

    THIS so much this.

    Except that it is also true of national government. We have been conned into the belief that a left or right ideology leads to a better government whereas the fact is getting the right things done based on the best possible evidence and being willing to change when you get things wrong is what is needed.

    Sometimes that will fit a right leaning ideology and sometimes it will fit a left leaning ideology. In essence the ideology is the bullshit part.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Nick Kearney,

    rather than sitting back and throwing rocks.

    Contrast that with question time

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    A long time ago when Hard News was a weekly radio rant, the second most foul-mouthed edition ever*

    Is that because like many of us, the public (free) library was where you got to read. The ability to walk to the library after school each day and get another pile of books FOR FREE played a huge part in growing up.

    I can't even guess what life would have been like without all those books.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.