Council management is rejecting Mayor Wayne Brown’s suggestion they misdirected critical calls that might have alerted him to the scale of January flood problems sooner.
Newsroom had earlier revealed that since the October election, three or four emails a week had been misdirected to another Wayne Brown at the council.
He is principal recovery advisor for Auckland Emergency Management, but the council insists it’s checked – there were no misdirected calls or emails on the night of the flood.
The Mayor is sticking to his guns. “Nobody contacted me directly,” he responded, on an interview with TVNZ’s Q+A.
“You’ve got to understand with that thing, they didn’t have my phone number. They had the phone number of another Wayne Brown who worked in Emergency Management. So if they can’t ring the Mayor to tell you what’s going on, you can’t be expected to know. I should have known better. Had I known better, I would have done more about it.”
That’s why it took so long for him to declare a state of emergency: Referring to the independent review by former police commissioner Mike Bush, his office says the general Manager of Emergency Management was still “trying to track a contact number” at nearly 6pm, as the deluge worsened.
The Council’s corporate communications manager Jo Davidson confirmed the council had checked wth the other Wayne Brown, and he’d received no misdirected calls or emails that night.
“Our response still stands,” she told Newsroom. “Wayne Brown, Principal Recovery Advisor, has never received a phone call intended for Mayor Wayne Brown.”
Ahead of the publication of Bush’s report, last week, the other Wayne Brown, the principal recovery advisor, emailed Newsroom to offer an assurance they were different people. Since the election, he’s had an auto-reply that provides the correct address for the Mayor.
“It was identified early on that this could be a problem and a solution put in place,” he wrote. “I get very few emails intended for the Mayor.”
The Bush report says membership of the early incident meetings on the afternoon and evening of Friday, January 27, appeared to have been driven by pre-existing email lists held by the Auckland Emergency Management team. These lists did not include the Mayor and most of his staff.
The general manager of Emergency Management was “trying to track a contact number” for the Mayor at approximately 17:56pm that evening, Bush reported.
The Mayor’s spokesperson Josh Van Veen told Newsroom that Bush’s review had found “significant gaps in communications” between council staff and the Mayoral Office on January 27.
“It is a matter of record that during the early stages of the crisis, Auckland Emergency Management did not have a phone number for the Mayor, and that an Auckland Council employee named Wayne Brown received emails intended for the Mayor,” he says.
“The Mayoral Office is working closely with Council executive leadership to ensure the review panel’s recommendations are implemented.”