The glass is half empty, Len

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Ok, so it’s rather a cliche but I feel it’s highly top­i­cal at this mo­ment.

Two peo­ple look­ing at a glass, one rather ad­mir­ingly sees it still half full. The other dis­ap­pointed one sees it as half empty.

That was my next-morn­ing re­ac­tion to Satur­day’s poll and it still stands.

It seems it’s a time for re­turned may­ors to talk of them­selves as be­ing ‘‘hum­bled’’ by their re­elec­tion.

That’s the way Len Brown talked about his sec­ond term head­ing the not-so-su­per-city – a glass still half full.

But the one who tal­lies our house­keep­ing did quick sums and set the Brown vote of 162,675 as trail­ing the to­tal votes of around 189,000 for all the other mayoral can­di­dates.

So out of the 995,206 pos­si­ble votes Len got 162,675. Len, that glass was re­ally two-thirds empty.

Let’s not dis­re­gard that John Palino, far from well-known as a politi­cian, from a stand­ing start won a cred­itable 107,672 votes for him – and against Brown.

I know there’s been a the­ory re­cently that the low poll meant the non-vot­ers had given him a con­fi­dence tick in their mind – but not on the vot­ing pa­pers.

In my glass the­ory, Len Brown was voted against or ig­nored by a ma­jor­ity. Sim­ple as that.

Why? One suc­cess­ful can­di­date summed up ex­actly.

Denise Krum, who


ex- Labour MP Richard Northey’s seat in the Maun­gakiekie ward, summed up: ‘‘Peo­ple need to see more value for their money – where are my rates go­ing? What’s it been spent on?

‘‘We see rates go­ing up, a lot of things go­ing up.

‘‘Do we feel that we are get­ting a re­turn on our in­vest­ment?’’

And she be­rated lack of pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion over the uni­tary plan (bet­ter la­belled ‘‘the di­vid­ing plan’’), soar­ing debt lev­els and the need for trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity, the need to put a hand brake on the Brown po­lit­i­cal pro­gramme.

Like that $20 mil­lion on a white wa­ter raft­ing scheme in South Auck­land – Brown coun­try. Right on, Denise! Go for it. And then there was com­ment from the man who laid – and per­haps scram­bled – the not-so-su­percity plan: Rod­ney Hide opened a largely ap­prov­ing post-vote com­ment on Brown’s vote with a sus­pect as­sess­ment: ‘‘Len Brown is good for Auck­land. He was the first mayor of a united Auck­land and has been re-elected with hardly a rip­ple of dis­sent or op­po­si­tion. It’s no mean achieve­ment.’’

Which it would be – if it was true. See the glass the­ory above. Count the sta­tis­tics again.

Then read a para­graph fur­ther down the Hide hymn of praise: ‘‘Brown’s pol­i­tics are my pol­i­tics. Spend­ing is still too high, there’s too much red tape and the spend­ing on trains is only the third best op­tion for ad­dress­ing Auck­land’s trans­port prob­lems. But ev­ery­one knows where Brown stands on th­ese is­sues. And he has been elected on them.’’ Wrong. He won the of­fice on a mi­nor­ity vote which did not match the to­tal of may­oralty votes for other peo­ple, plus those who are so unim­pressed with his ca­reer so far that they chose not to vote ei­ther for him, some­one else or not at all.

He re­mains an un­known or re­garded with sus­pi­cion in the far fields sur­round­ing his makeshift­not-so-su­per-city, and by sub­ur­ban­ites who no longer get their berms mown, etc, etc.

The fact is that many citysiders and many of the out­liers are in de­spair and feel sec­ond-class cit­i­zens, that no-one lis­tens to them much, let alone acts on their be­half, that rates rise with­out any ob­vi­ous rea­son, that the coun­cil Len Brown leads and speaks for is ob­sessed with un­der­ground rail links and trains to the air­port, mo­tor­way de­vel­op­ment and the like.

The talk­ing points of those who did not vote for him are not some dis­tant un­der­ground rail links but the day-to-day un­der­cur­rent of con­cern that they have to cope with.

They largely left their vot­ing pa­pers in the kitchen drawer.

Plus those who are neigh­bours of the Left, who would have nod­ded sagely and not sleep­ily at Matt McCarten who ripped through Brown’s record for his first three years:

‘‘Sit­ting on the fence when his Ports of Auck­land work­ers were be­ing shafted was a disgrace. De­fend­ing ob­scene man­age­ment salaries and di­rec­tor’s fees while hav­ing to be coaxed to sup­port a liv­ing wage for other work­ers, sends the wrong mes­sage.’’

And what of­fi­cial re­ac­tion do we get over those un­cast votes?

One mas­ter plan: ‘‘ Make the sys­tem a com­puter item and all will be well!’’

Re­ally? If you think the vot­ing process was dif­fi­cult this time, think through to the next lo­cal body elec­tion.

How will el­derly, non-com­puter peo­ple cope with gad­gets they are un­fa­mil­iar with and don’t own?

Par­tic­u­larly if the pow­ers that be per­sist in that ridicu­lous Sin­gle Trans­fer­able Vote sys­tem which hyp­no­tised some­one in the plan­ning waste­land which is Wellington.

This year, for ex­am­ple, you would have had on your screen a list of 37 can­di­dates for the Waitem­ata Dis­trict Health Board to se­lect and rank seven of them.

The re­sult over the last nine years has been that thou­sands have had their votes trashed be­cause they ticked their cho­sen can­di­dates rather than ranked them by num­ber.

One caller ring­ing me be­cause of dif­fer­ences on some topic or another de­liv­ered his fi­nal thrust: ‘‘And I voted for you – put a tick against your name I did.’’

I couldn’t wait to tell him the ‘‘vote’’ he wished now he hadn’t made was invalid any­way with­out a num­ber.

Last week peo­ple say­ing how they had voted for me were shocked to find they also had been dis­en­fran­chised through health boards’ vot­ing hav­ing to use a dif­fer­ent vot­ing sys­tem from the other forms in the same book­let.

They too had sim­ply ticked and not num­bered.

Think of the uproar if na­tional politi­cians faced the same loss of votes – and worse still a ma­jor­ity – through an in­com­pre­hen­si­ble vot­ing sys­tem like that.

Heads would roll.

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