Some are speculating whether the Auckland Mayor’s leadership is circling the drain. James Elliott hopes they’re right.
There’s never been a week quite like it. It was the week when the rains came. All of them. Even the rain from Spain that was supposed to fall mainly on the plain, came.
It was doubly unfortunate for Aucklanders. The worst floods in Auckland in living memory arrived under the watch of the worst mayor of Auckland in living memory, Wayne Brown. That’s a notable achievement given he’s only been in the job for a few months and given that competitors for that title include Len Brown (no relation, he hopes) and John Banks.
It’s also a notable achievement for Mayor Brown to be heavily criticised for not communicating about the floods and then even more heavily criticised when he did. No more so than when he messaged his tennis buddies saying he couldn’t play tennis because he had to “deal with media drongos over the flooding”. That would be the flooding during which four people died and many hundreds of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed.
With only one in three voters actually voting in last year’s local government election, it’s reasonable for a number of people to be asking – who is Wayne Brown? And also what and why? For starters Mayor Brown is not affiliated to any political party – by choice, and almost certainly theirs. Political non-affiliation is a trait he shares with Adam West, the former mayor of Quahog, from TV’s Family Guy. Adam West was a fictional mayor whereas Wayne Brown is only too real. One of Mayor West’s initiatives was to mandate the cementing of coffins so that zombies couldn’t return from the dead. During the week there were numerous calls for Mayor Brown’s political coffin to be cemented in similar fashion.
In 1959 the Sao Paulo mayoral election was won in a landslide by Cacareco the rhinoceros at the Sao Paulo zoo. Stubborn, explosively belligerent and prone to attack at the slightest threat – these are traits that you will also find in a rhinoceros.
Only he’s not going anywhere. We learned this during a 30-minute interview he had with one of the NZ Herald’s most experienced drongos, David Fisher, or ‘Fish’ to his drongo mates in the media.
“I am the mayor for three years. You can’t do anything about that,” Mayor Brown said. “No one else in New Zealand is going to get 180,000 votes. That was my mandate.”
Well, at least he didn’t say it was a ‘landslide’. As Fish noted there’s a distinctly Trumpist ego echo in that claim about his mandate. However there’s a big difference between a presidential election and a mayoral one. Historical research of mayoral elections shows that being a mayor with a big mandate isn’t necessarily something to brag about. Cats, dogs and even corpses have won mayoral elections. In 1959 the Sao Paulo mayoral election was won in a landslide by Cacareco the rhinoceros at the Sao Paulo zoo. Stubborn, explosively belligerent and prone to attack at the slightest threat – these are traits that you will also find in a rhinoceros.
And in 1967, the mayoral race for the Ecuadorian town of Picoazá was won handily by a candidate named Pulvapies whose election-winning campaign slogan was “Vote for any candidate, but if you want wellbeing and hygiene, vote for Pulvapies”. Pulvapies was a deodorising foot powder which, as it turns out, might have been more helpful to sodden-footed Aucklanders in the past week than a mayor who said of some lost homes that they shouldn’t have been where they were in the first place. For those homeowners who had just lost literally everything, that’s the opposite of empathetic – pathetic.
It’s a dangerous precedent to create a new oversight minister when somebody is clearly not up to the job – by that standard it’s odds-on that there will be a Minister for the All Blacks appointed midyear.
That “shouldn’t have been there” line is reminiscent of that evening of the 14th of April 1912 in the mid-Atlantic when Captain Edward Smith of the RMS Titanic said the iceberg shouldn’t have been there. I’m sure that was of great comfort to the 1500 passengers who plunged to their deaths in the icy waters. At least Captain Smith had the decency to follow protocol and went down with the ship.
Meanwhile the country’s new helmsman RedChris quietly carried out a Cabinet reshuffle including creating the new role of Minister for Auckland. There’s some conjecture as to when he made that decision but the general consensus seems to be about 90 seconds into Mayor Brown’s drongo conference that people were clamouring for, and then when it happened, wished they hadn’t clamoured for quite so much. It’s a dangerous precedent to create a new oversight minister when somebody is clearly not up to the job – by that standard it’s odds-on that there will be a Minister for the All Blacks appointed midyear.
It was also a tough week for BlueChris who struggled to take the opportunity a crisis brings of establishing a presence as a credible PM-in-waiting. It sounded like he got carried away with an app that sends you a new word every day as he squawked “shambles” and “shambolic” from the sidelines.
Some are predicting more rain this weekend. I hope they’re wrong. Others are predicting that the reign of Wayne is headed for the drain. I hope they’re right.
Have a peaceful weekend. And hopefully a dry one too.