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Council history book causes major embarrassment

Council history book causes major embarrassment

Auckland City Council was today left with egg on its face after working party recommendations on who is to write the controversial $120,000 history book were rejected by the Finance & Strategy Committee because the working party failed to meets its quorum.

A three-member working party comprising Deputy Mayor David Hay, Councillor Aaron Bhatnagar and Councillor Mark Donnelly was set up in June to review expressions of interest (EOIs) from interested authors. However, both Councillor Bhatnagar and Councillor Donnelly declared conflicts of interest and in the end, only the Deputy Mayor reviewed the EOIs and produced a set of confidential recommendations on who should write the book and how many tens of thousands of dollars extra (above the $120,000) would be needed to pay for its printing.

Further embarrassment was to follow when the Finance Chair Doug Armstrong tried to reconstitute yet another working party when he learned that none of the five City Vision-Labour Councillors wanted any part of the secret review. That left Councillor Armstrong leaving the chair to whisper in the ear of the only other Councillor present (Councillor Bill Christian) to flatter him into accepting the nomination to save the day.

Councillor Cathy Casey said “We reached a new low today with regard to the secret decision-making process on who will write the history book and its cost. This Council needs to come clean. $120,000 is just the writing cost. This John Banks-led Council is so hell-bent on getting its dubious name into the annals of history that it is prepared to throw another $35,000 at it to get it into print.”

Councillor Northey said “I consider it a profoundly sad day for the reputation of Auckland City Council that the C&R Councillors have not taken the heaven-sent opportunity to abandon the history book project. A premature, biased rushed hagiography and a scandalous waste of public money is all that results from this desperately ill-conceived project.”

Councillor Fryer said “Family friendly street furniture such as New Zealand critters in Aotea Square would be a more valuable legacy than a history of Auckland City Council which may well end up no better than a historical bodice ripper.”


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