There's a novelty card in a gift shop down the road from me that reads, "I am sorry to inform you that your childhood has expired." I thought about buying it for Leo Molloy.
Molloy is the Auckland mayoral candidate who was on TV last week losing his temper and swearing repeatedly at the programme presenter, Guy Williams, abusing him as a "soft cock", threatening him with his fists and then actually fighting him in a boxing ring.
With outsize gloves, you understand. Because it was a comedy show. All just a bit of fun, you understand. But really?
The point isn't whether it was funny. The point is that when Molloy is asked to be entertaining, he turns into a petulant little boy who takes a swing at you. You calling me a dickhead? he basically said to Williams. I'll show you dickhead. His superpower is being a bigger dickhead than everybody else.
I suppose there are some people who think that's a fine thing in a mayor. I doubt there are many.
Perhaps he thinks he's doing wedge politics. That's when you say things deliberately to inflame a minority who will never vote for you, in order to deepen and broaden your support base, thus isolating the outraged minority.
Wedge politics is the opposite of consensus politics, where you try to find the middle ground. It's wedge politics to argue bike lanes are the cause of traffic congestion.
The thing about it, though, is that it doesn't work if the people you're inflaming are the majority. There's no evidence most people think cyclists are the villains of our transport crisis. And except in Leoland, dickheads are not popular at all.
Molloy told Williams that as long as people are talking about him, he's winning. Doesn't matter what they're saying. Len Brown, Jami-Lee Ross and Judith Collins might all beg to differ.
Molloy's dark on climate action too, by the way. Asked about it at campaign meetings in Takapuna, Grey Lynn and Mangere Bridge this month, he talked about the need to deal with "extreme weather events".
In Grey Lynn he listed some examples of what he means: sea walls and floodplain protection in Kumeu. Molloy believes in adapting to withstand the impacts of climate change, but he doesn't see the point in trying to reduce emissions.
"Virtue signalling" and "emissions gossip and garbage", he calls that. He told his Grey Lynn audience that while we are experiencing extreme weather now, he's old enough to know these things are cyclical and it will pass.
Molloy is not the only mayoral candidate making odd pronouncements. At the candidates' meeting in Mangere Bridge last Wednesday some of Wayne Brown's statements were so surprising, I went to ask him about them the next day.
Brown is an engineer and he likes to say he understands numbers. "Most people don't," he told the audience that night. "But I've built things. I do understand numbers."
For example, the Auckland Light Rail (ALR) proposal from downtown to the airport was costed at $14.6 billion "and yet 14 days later it was $29 billion. The cost was rising at $1 billion a day."
But that was nonsense. The cost did not rise by a billion dollars a day, or even a dollar a day, long before construction has even begun. Brown had simply misunderstood the numbers.
ALR is costed the same way all such projects are costed. They calculate what's called a P50: the value where there is a 50 per cent chance the cost will be less and a 50 per cent chance it will be greater. The P50 is also known as the "most probable" cost.
The P50 for light rail to the airport is $14.6 billion. It includes a July 2021 base figure of $8.4 billion, a "risk factor" of nearly $3 billion and "escalated" costs of $3.2 billion. That is, cost surprises and inflation are anticipated.
There is also a P90, where there is a 90 per cent chance the cost will be less. The P90 for the ALR line has not been revealed but will be much higher than $14.6 billion.
The $29 billion figure comes from a Treasury report noting that ALR projections don't include infrastructure costs for building more homes along the route. But nor does it include the many benefits of having those homes close to the route.
They're all costs and benefits of the homes, not of light rail itself.
Should a mayoral candidate who prides himself on his facility with numbers understand these things? When I asked Brown about it, he told me he was merely reporting "the figures they used".
Later, he texted to say, "Private enterprise doesn't do P50 and P90 so I am not familiar with this concept which is just an excuse for lazy project preparation."
But P50 and P90 are used in the private sector. And Brown is familiar with the public sector: he stakes his bid for mayor on having headed up major public utility and health projects. The ALR information is contained in the indicative business case for light rail, an easily readable public document, although the P90 amount is redacted.
There was more. He claimed the Three Waters reforms are "all because of one badly installed bore" in Havelock North.
I asked him if he really thought there were no problems with the supply of safe drinking water in New Zealand. He said yes. According to him, an isolated bit of incompetence in one small town is "the reason they give" for the reforms. Reports of dangerously low water in several parts of the country are "misrepresented".
Most opponents of Three Waters wouldn't dream of saying this. They argue the problem is real but there are better fixes available.
Brown told the Mangere Bridge meeting the council is "not in control of their finances". I asked what evidence he had for that and he pointed to the 2020/21 "emergency budget", that dealt with a sudden, Covid-related shortfall in income of $900 million.
But didn't that show council was actually in control? It stayed within its debt ceiling and found ways, including staff cuts, to deal with the shortfall. He didn't agree.
You might think council has too many people on high salaries, shouldn't spend money on Matariki festivities, should raise bus fares or charge more for rubbish or close some libraries. You can argue it's wasting money any way you like. But there's not much evidence the spending is "out of control".
They're doing what they say they'll do in their budgets, and when the pandemic decimated their income, they cut spending accordingly.
Brown said at Mangere Bridge he was concerned about the Tūpuna Maunga Authority (TMA), a statutory body set up in 2014 following a Treaty of Waitangi settlement that returned 14 volcanic cones to iwi ownership. The TMA is a co-governance arrangement between council and iwi to manage those maunga.
"If we were only eating kumaras that would be all right," said Brown. "I understand the cultural theory behind it, but it doesn't make any sense to me."
No, that second sentence doesn't make any sense either.
Brown, who is a pub owner, also complained about Chlöe Swarbrick's bill to ban alcohol sponsorship and advertising in sports. "There's a wowser group out there making things hard for everyone," he said.
Does he really think we don't have a problem with the association of drinking and sport? "Is it a real thing?" he asked. "I think it's been overexposed."
All of these things are attempts at wedge politics. But I'm not convinced Wayne Brown is very good at it.