Charity auction ends in rivals' spat

By Wayne Thompson

A charity auction for simulator flights with prominent New Zealanders has ended in North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams and an outspoken blogger accusing each other of dirty tactics.

Blogger Cameron Slater said the mayor disliked him so much he had him blacklisted from the Trade Me auction and then had family bid to win the jet plane simulator flights.

He said that short-changed the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust because once a bid of $250 was removed, bidding stopped at $150.

By comparison, he had raised $1000 in donations for the chance to sit in the co-pilot's seat for 90 minutes alongside Mr Williams.

The two have locked horns for months.

"He doesn't like me because I'm taking him to account for his stupidity," said the blogger.

Mr Williams is convinced his critic is part of a right-wing smear campaign against him for speaking up for local democracy in the Super City debate.

He said blacklisting had thwarted the blogger's attempt to hijack the event, which was the initiative of 15-year-old Lewis Simmons of Flight Experience Takapuna.

"I am not prepared to see this young man's good efforts shot down in flames by a rogue bidder out for self-promotion."

Mr Williams said council members and staff had boosted the top bid by $1030 and three teenage cancer patients would accompany him today in the jet plane simulator.

Auction organiser Mr Simmons said Mr Slater was barred for not acting in the spirit of the event.

"He left a number of rude comments on our auction.

"We saw it at the same time as it was raised by the mayor's office."

Mr Slater said he would pay the $1000, which included money sent in by readers of his blog, "in the spirit of the auction".

Trade Me spokesman Jon Macdonald said the seller, in this case the auction organiser, had the right to remove the top bid or blacklist a bidder.

By yesterday, the auction for the rescue helicopter trust had raised $4000 overall, including a bid of $1400 to accompany Prime Minister John Key.

- NZ Herald

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