Auckland Super City report card: How they rate

Auckland City Mayor Len Brown received a C. Photo / Greg Bowker
Auckland City Mayor Len Brown received a C. Photo / Greg Bowker

At the halfway point of the first term of the Super City, the Herald carried out a mid-term report card for Mayor Len Brown and 20 councillors.

The reading is not good for Mr Brown, who started with a hiss and a roar, but whose leadership has come under intense scrutiny and criticism in the past six months. He scores a C mark and must do better if he wants to retain the level of support he received from voters in 2010.

Of the 20 councillors, just two - Cameron Brewer and Mike Lee - scored an A. They are the respective leaders of the right and the left on council and provide a much-needed challenge to the mayor and his well-resourced mayoral office.

Other councillors have shone, notably Sandra Coney and Cathy Casey for their intellect, hard work and achievements in the space of 18 months.

Most councillors are in the "could do better" category, including deputy mayor Penny Hulse and members of the mayor's inner circle.

Councillors Michael Goudie and Noelene Raffills are the biggest surprises. Mr Goudie for his potential to become a voice in the city and Noelene Raffills for coming out of her shell after a dull spell on Auckland City Council. Bottom of the class falls to Alf Filipaina for failing to take his opportunities and popular Howick councillor Sharon Stewart for not making the grade.

Cameron Brewer - A
Main responsibility - "Leader of the Opposition"

Brewer is leader of the opposition, and more effective than the entire C&R team combined. Some accuse Brewer of being a self-publicist, but there is no more effective councillor at getting their name in the media.

Brewer has unashamedly postioned himself as the leading opponent of Brown and provided an alternative voice. The ambitious Brewer says he has no plans to challenge Brown next year. He is probably too far to the right to lure the middle ground.

Mike Lee - A
Main responsibility - chairman transport committee

Lee is the leader of the left on Auckland Council. The former chairman of the Auckland Regional Council has taken it on his shoulders to oppose the sacking of union workers in the ports dispute, oppose the pokies for convention centre deal and criticise the Government's lack of support for the city rail loop. Always thoughtful and forceful when speaking, Lee is a political heavyweight who shuns the mayor's practice of hiding behind process and leaves people in do doubt where he stands. Lee has a frosty relationship with Len Brown, who hardly speaks to the Waitemata councillor.

Cathy Casey - B+
Main responsibility - chairwoman social and community forum

Casey is not everyone's cup of tea, particularly on the right. But there is no more hard worker or champion of the poor, disadvantaged and homeless than the Scottish-born Casey, who can lose her rag at the slightest provocation.

She is most comfortable and effective working alongside social and community groups and, as a dog lover, instrumental in forcing a council backdown on higher dog fees.

Sandra Coney - B+
Main responsibility - chairwoman parks and heritage forum

Coney is one of the few heavyweights on council to possess a sharp intellect and true regional perspective. Add to that real runs on the board, such as more funding for heritage and halting the spread of a kauri-killing disease and Coney can look back on the past 18 months with real satisfaction. Except, she won't. There's still too much work to be done to improve Auckland's regional parks, environment and heritage.

George Wood - B
Main responsibility - chairman community safety forum

The former North Shore mayor has been something of a revelation after a term in the wilderness. Energetic, stroppy at times and prolific user of social media. Wood has strongly criticised the city rail loop and its $2.86 billion cost, but gives the impression of pandering to his North Shore constituency who do not want to pay for rail on the isthmus. Deputy leader of C&R.

Dick Quax - B
Main responsibility - chairman tenders and procurement subcommittee

Quax has quickly built up a reputation as a vocal and effective councillor since replacing Jami-Lee Ross, who resigned as a Howick councillor after becoming the MP for Botany in a byelection last year.

The former Manukau City councillor has been a forceful debater against the compact city model promoted in the Auckland Plan, helping the original targets for growth inside the city boundaries being watered down. On the downside, Quax can be a bit too combative at times.

Chris Fletcher - C+
Main responsibility - Auckland Transport board member

The jury is still out on Chris Fletcher as leader of Citizens & Ratepayers and other like-minded councillors. Fletcher has certainly abandoned her "care bear" image and become more combative in uniting the right to take a more aggreesive lines against Brown's plans for higher rates, debt and the city rail loop.

But doubts remain about her ability to lead C&R back from its horror result in 2010, particularly as she supports the mayor's inner city rail loop and opposes the pokies for convention centre deal on strong moral grounds.

Ann Hartley - C+
Main responsibility - chairwoman regional development and operations committee

The former North Shore Mayor and Labour MP is one of the quiet achievers on council who takes a diligent and pragmatic approach to a big portfolio. Hartley is pro-community and a stickler for process who is taking a conservative approach to new tree rules. Loyal member of Len Brown's inner circle.

Richard Northey - C+
Main responsibility - chairman accountability and performance committee

Every council needs a Richard Northey, someone with an institutional knowledge of council processes, practices and reads every document.

Northey has flagged the leadership role of City Vision, but the former Labour MP remains a senior player and Brown's go-to man for detailed and complex issues.

The best interjector on council, using the mind of a steel trap and wit to good effect.

Arthur Anae - C
Main responsibility - chairman economic forum

The former National MP and Manukau councillor brings a lot of experience to council but whose image took a knock when he was captured dozing on television. A Brown loyalist who could be contributing more.

Len brown - C
Main responsibility - Mayor

The first 12 months of Brown's mayoralty were a commendable success. The past six months have been a shocker. Brown set out as the first Mayor of the Super City with panache and drive; setting out a vision to make Auckland the "world's most liveable city".

The rot began to set in when Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully announced the Government was taking control of the waterfront after the cup's opening night debacle.

Since then, Brown has struggled to impose a sense of leadership and authority during the most bitter industrial dispute on the (council-owned) wharves since 1951 and finds himself supporting a pokies for convention centre deal. He keeps saying intervention would undermine due process, but that did not stop him ignoring the normal processes and unilaterally announcing a $27 million cruise ship terminal. Brown has infuriated his traditional supporters on the left, who accuse him of "sitting on the fence" and being "weak". For undoing much of the good work in his first 12 months, Brown gets a C for his mid-term report mark.

Michael Goudie - C
Main responsibility - chairman civil defence and emergency management committee

The 27-year-old former Rodney District councillor has been keeping his nose down and learning from more senior colleagues like Ann Hartley, who he sits alongside at the council table.

The right-leaning councillor has shown a degree of independence and not joined the C&R-led team opposing the mayor. Goudie needs to to start showing his skills and promise as a future voice in the city.

Penny Hulse - C
Main responsibility - deputy mayor

Hulse, moulded in the politics of the Eco City, was chosen by Len Brown to be his deputy for her "inclusive style and fairness" and has repaid the mayor with absolute loyalty.

Unfortunately for Hulse the hoped-for script of consensus round the council table has not occurred and Hulse has had to deal with a more partisan style of politics than she is comfortable with.

This has made her defensive at times and led to a cool relationship with some councillors on the right. Hulse possesses a likeable side that goes down a treat in the community.

Noelene Raffills - C
Main responsibility - chairwoman hearings committee

Freed from the shackles of David Hay under the old Auckland City Council C&R regime, Raffills has blossomed under the consensual style of Len Brown and the mayor's efforts to court the C&R councillor.

Raffills has proved a hard-working and competent chair of the hearings committee and while not the most intelligent councillor, she chips in during debates.

John Walker - C
Main responsbility - Auckland ambassador

The Olympian and Manurewa-Papakura councillor is a diligent councillor who is very economical with words, but can hit the nail on the head with a few short sentences.

Walker pointed to the loss of income to his Field of Dreams swimming programme from having more pokies at SkyCity, which contributes less to community groups than pokies in pubs and clubs.

The Auckland ambassador role given to him by Len Brown has not really worked. Walker has joined the right to oppose the mayor's big-spending plans.

Wayne Walker - C
Main responsibility - environment and sustainability forum

No-one doubts Walker's enthusiasm and sincerity on environmental issues, but he would be better to stick to fixing Auckland's under-funded stormwater infrastructure than saving the planet from global warming. The Albany councillor has a slightly cranky image, annoying habit of asking officers for reports and wanting to have a say on almost everything.

Penny Webster - C
Main responsibility - chairwoman strategy and finance committee

The former Rodney District Mayor, Act MP and farmer is a key member of Len Brown's inner circle, chairing the powerful strategy and finance committee.

That has meant putting aside her conservative roots to become a Brown loyalist and steer through the mayor's budgets.

Webster has not made friends on the right, but proven to be a fair and capable chair of the finance committee, albeit failing to stamp her own authority on the city's finances.
With a new rating system on the horizon she needs to be more pro-active selling the changes.

Des Morrison - C-
Main responsibility - chairman regulatory and bylaws committee

A gentleman whose mana and calm demeanour has failed to make a big mark. He is prone to asking long, narrative questions of officers. Thoughtful on financial matters, but lacks cut-through. Suggestions the C&R councillor will not stand for re-election next year.

Calum Penrose - C-
Main responsibility - deputy chairman community safety forum

The former Papakura District mayor is a case of a popular local figure who has struggled to step up to the Auckland Council. Penrose remains a work-horse in his community, passionate about youth and fighting crime, but comes across as a frustrated councillor. He was loyal to Len Brown at the outset, but has recently joined other right-minded councillors in opposing the mayor's long-term budget.

Alf Filipaina - D
Main responsibility - chairman culture, arts and events forum

The extremely likeable policeman and former Manukau City councillor should have a starry profile as chairman of the culture, arts and events forum. Instead, he has made an art of moving extensions of time and rarely makes his voice heard during debates. A Len Brown loyalist.

Sharon Stewart - D
Main responsibility - chairwoman audit and risk committee

Sharon Stewart is hugely popular in Howick where she out polled Jami-Lee Ross and Dick Quax at the 2010 elections.

Her contribution at the council table is minimal and would clearly be better suited on the Howick Local Board.

- NZ Herald

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