I am very grateful to Phil Goff.
If Phil hadn't tipped his hat into the ring (I know he hasn't officially, but we all know how these things unfold) then my sneaking suspicion is that Len Brown might not have seen the writing on the wall and put us all through the humiliation of watching him flail his way through another mayoral campaign next year.
The writing was already on the wall for Len, but Len is not like the rest of us.
We learnt that after the unfortunate business of the mistress and the Ngati Whatua room.
Anyone in their right mind would have seen that for what it was and quietly slunk off into suburbia never to be heard from again.
But not Len.
Len thought he could bluff his way out of it.
He couldn't, of course, but there was no telling him that.
It showed a narcissistic tendency and it's that sort of tendency that might well have seen him hang in there for next year's race had it not been for Phil.
Since his announcement over the weekend, there's been some talk of legacy. Len won't have a legacy. To have a legacy you need to have done something profound.
Len has done nothing profound.
There were the platitudes about bringing the Super City together, there was the predictable talk of rail loops and buses and transport, but they're not legacies, especially given half of it isn't even real.
And that has been Len's biggest issue.
He's a fantasist, in my opinion.
He kept announcing things that were never going to pass.
I never understood why. Did he really believe they might?
Did he know they weren't but thought if he said them out loud that something magic may happen?
Was he looking to score points by embarrassing those who didn't support him?
Was he just a nutter who liked the sound of his own voice?
I never really quite got it.
But it didn't stop him - transport levies, congestion charges, motorway tolls, petrol taxes were all announced often with the flourish of some half-baked poll he'd dreamed up telling us how all of Auckland was behind him and we allegedly couldn't wait to be paying more tax to fulfil his wacky transport dreams.
All the while of course these ideas needed the support of central government, which was never coming. A number of times Len would announce a new tax or charge that needed government support and I'd have Steven Joyce on the programme, who at the time was in charge of such matters, and I'd ask whether any of this was ever going to get Wellington buy-in, to which Steven would answer the obvious, "no".
Len would call a press conference, the media would dutifully, yet naively, traipse along to listen to his latest fairytale, then report it as though it was real.
And no one seemed to ask why he kept making these announcements that weren't going to happen.
And that's before you get to what I believe is dishonesty.
I can't remember how many times I've interviewed Len about the rates staying within inflation.
He came up with a 2.9 per cent rates increase last time, which isn't remotely close to inflation, but that didn't seem to bother him ... it was close enough.
And that's before they eventually came out for many at 10 per cent.
And there was no acknowledgement, no apology, nothing except more flannel about trains and loops and putting Auckland right.
Then you have the debacle over the ports and the council's relationship with them. More broken promises there about studies and no decisions until studies have been conducted.
Len's legacy is a simple one. It's of a bloke who may or may not have done a decent job in Manukau before the Super City. I don't know because I didn't follow it closely enough.
But he used that popularity, leveraged against the cold, stark reality that local body politics is a cesspit of mediocrity and general disdain ... to launch himself onto a wider stage that was largely ignored by the populace and found himself in a job that was wildly out of his skill set.
And these are the specifics I've outlined, the tangible mistakes and gaffes. In there also are all the intangibles.
The innate sense people get that someone who's running something actually has a plan, actually knows what they're doing.
You might not agree with them all the time but great leaders show themselves over time to make brave calls ... intelligent calls, far reaching calls, because it comes naturally to them. They do the right thing by default because they're born to leadership.
You could never put Len in that category.
Auckland is serious business, it's a multi-billion dollar business, it's the engine of the national economy and it needs an expert.
Which brings us to Phil ... is Phil an expert?
He's better than Len, he's done more than Len, he has a breadth of experience Len doesn't have.
But a leader? Well if you look through Labour's leadership ladder I'd hardly consider him one of the greats.
Which is why we need a race, a genuine contest. We need at least three, if not four, proper names with proper resumes and plans and some history of success and leadership.
We need names to impress us, names that give hope and a genuine sense of direction and purpose.
Give us that and we might turn up to vote, and in doing so put the Brown era, which I believe is one of the most embarrassing, haphazard and farcical eras of modern local politics, to bed forever.
Debate on this article is now closed.