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Monday, September 25, 2023

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown forwards abusive emails to fellow councillors after meeting

Oakland Mayor Wayne Brown forwarded an email to councilors calling them “dip s***” after publicly criticizing them in a chaotic, invite-only news conference s”.

At a meeting at Auckland Transport headquarters on Thursday, Brown took aim at four councilors, calling them “financially illiterate”.

Not only did he berate his hosts for occupying a “seaside palace” and promise to move them to cheaper accommodation, but there was chaos involving the media.

this Herald See an email Brown sent to all councilors on Thursday afternoon, which reads, “On behalf of Mayor Wayne Brown, please see attached – email received today – Auckland Council 2023-24 Feedback on the mayor’s proposal for the annual budget.”

Attached to the email is a PDF of a series of critical and insulting comments directed at MPs who do not support Brown’s budget.

“Can I ask which MPs are against selling the airport? Pity you can’t kick there [sic] ass there [sic] the brain is. Keep up the good work, Mayor Brown. Regards Jim. “

“I’ve been following your battle with Auckland Council’s entrenched management and you seem to be winning. Getting rid of the highly inflated airport stake, like everything in New Zealand, would be a coup for you and reduce the city’s deficit The important part,” Stephen said in an email.

“The next round of champagne and smoked salmon is up to me!” said Roger. “Keep doing what you’re doing – Oakland needs you now more than ever!”

“I just wish Wellington had a right-wing mayor instead of a handbag-loving lightweight environmentalist and we’re stuck with Grant Robertson MP throwing money like crazy.”

“Keep up the good work and your attacks on the Left Media – they are drongos,” John said in an email.

At the meeting before the email forwarding incident, TVNZ, Newshub and thing Journalists and camera crews were barred from the reception, and Herald and RNZ were banned from live streaming the event by one of Brown’s media team, reportedly because “no prior request was made”.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown outlined his budget at AT headquarters today.Photo/Michael Craig
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown outlined his budget at AT headquarters today.Photo/Michael Craig

The commotion entered Brown’s speech before the mayor’s chief of staff, Max Hardy, vetoed the media team’s decision to allow live coverage and media owners into the meeting.

At the meeting, Brown outlined his pending final budget proposal, which would sell a $2.2 billion stake in Oakland Airport City Council and is due to be voted on next Thursday.

“It’s a tough budget,” Brown said, referring to the 4 percent of more than 40,000 filers who don’t want higher rates, and he has made changes to reinstate cuts to social services and the arts to exceed the budget line.

Brown is trying to convince lawmakers that the best way to keep household rates at 6.7% (the rate of inflation), make no drastic cuts to services and plug a $375 million budget hole is to sell a stake in the airport. But he is struggling to gain support in the parliamentary seat.

He’s also trying to strike a deal with lawmakers who don’t support his rationale for the sale, which is to use the proceeds to lower debt and save $100 a year in interest costs. This is significantly lower than the expected dividend that the council would have received had it retained the stake.

With his first budget faltering in a minority vote, Brown picked Mike Lee, Kristen Fletcher, John Watson and Wayne Walker to sign a pre-election pledge to keep rate hikes at or below currency Expansion rate.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown explains his final budget proposal at Auckland Transport.Photo/Michael Craig
Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown explains his final budget proposal at Auckland Transport.Photo/Michael Craig

Great, you represent something, Brown said, “but I want you to deliver on your promises”.

“After exploring all other options, there is only one way to keep rates within inflation and that involves selling airport stakes, otherwise the cuts will come back and rates will rise,” he said.

Lee said the mayor would be capricious in punishing councilors who support him and do their best to find a way out of the budget deficit while broadly opposing the sale.

“The mayor continues to dig himself a hole,” he said.

Two MPs who backed the share sale and will vote for the budget are Greg Sayers, who he called a “Band-Aid Repair Budget” to get the council out of its current predicament, and Maurice Williamson, who was disappointed the proposed cuts had been restored but said, “It’s It is a bargain that must be made.

“I am disappointed by the lack of common sense in airport shares. It is very common sense to own an asset that costs far more than it returns, even in the best of times,” Williamson said.

Oakland City Councilman Greg Sayers.Photo/Michael Craig
Oakland City Councilman Greg Sayers.Photo/Michael Craig

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Simon Bridges also agreed with the budget, although it means a 9.8 per cent increase in overall business rates will result in rates for its members above the rate of inflation.

He called it a strong proposition for the times and circumstances, and Brown was right about the airport stock, which he said was like a family investing in stocks when they can’t pay their mortgage.

Borrowing a line often quoted by Williamson, Brown said, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die,” referring to the tough choices that need to be made.

He said he had listened to people and softened some of his spending cuts, saying arts and cultural leaders were present and had good things to say about their fields.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Simon Bridges.Photo/Jed Bradley
Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Simon Bridges.Photo/Jed Bradley

The mayor said arts and cultural groups and local councils would “get their money back” and their funding levels restored.

Funding for the Citizens Advice Bureau will be restored, but they will have to start finding other income.

Brown took aim at Auckland Transport in his mission to “stop wasting money”.

He said AT spent $76,000 on a hike with only 52 people, and if you offered $1,000 to everyone, you could get more than 50 people.

Brown complained that City Heart was not doing enough. Chief executive Viv Beck said “I want the right of reply,” while Brown told his mayoral rival “you have the right of reply, but no one believes you.”

“To the last person to leave, please turn off the lights,” Brown said at the end of the news conference. He was not allowed to ask questions.

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