Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Battle to fix Len Brown's image

Officials consider a New Year speech and a risky return to `mayor in the chair' chats.

Len Brown's office has said he is expected to resume his 'mayor in the chair' sessions next month. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Len Brown's office has said he is expected to resume his 'mayor in the chair' sessions next month. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The mayoral office is working on ways to rebuild Len Brown's shattered reputation after his sex scandal. The strategy involves setting outan action plan and contacting communities.

One option is a state of the nation-type speech. Another is resuming Mr Brown's "mayor in the chair" chats, but that carries the risk of angry citizens lambasting him in public.

The mayor has been lying low since he was censured by councillors on December 19, dividing time between family and work before resuming fulltime public duties in the next fortnight.

The Herald understands Mr Brown has spent the Christmas-New Year break in and around Auckland, much of it with his wife, Shan Inglis, and their three daughters.

A lot of work is going into resurrecting his political career after a humiliating 10 weeks in the run-up to Christmas that included sordid details of a two-year affair with Bevan Chuang, a damming report that found he failed to declare more than $39,000 in free hotel rooms and upgrades, and censure by councillors.

Mr Brown and his advisers are considering a new year speech with a focus on public transport, in which Mr Brown wants to make a start on the city rail link in 2016. Other goals are more affordable houses and tightening the city's finances, including reining in debt.

But it has not been decided when or if it the speech happen.

Yesterday morning his chief press secretary, Glyn Jones, refused to say if Mr Brown would continue his "mayor in the chair" face-to face chats, which last took place in September.

When the Herald asked more questions, the mayor's office said Mr Brown was expected to resume "mayor in the chair" sessions next month.

Councillor Sharon Stewart has said people in her community - schools, sports clubs and churches - were uncomfortable about having Mr Brown at events.

Mr Brown's ability to do his job has also been tested. He lost a vote before Christmas on a a living wage for council staff - one of his top 10 priorities at October's local body elections.

He also failed to keep an election promise to develop a funding proposal for the rail link for the Government before the end of last year.

Meanwhile, the right-wing local body ticket Affordable Auckland is organising a "Stand Down Len Brown" march up Queen St at noon on February 22.

Leader Stephen Berry and spokesman Will Ryan said the march was not so much about Mr Brown's private life as his undeclared activities and poor financial management.

- NZ Herald

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