Auckland City proposes takeover to Royal Commission
Auckland's answer to Judith Tizard's last career failure is three weeks away from public submission deadline. Auckland City's (C&R's) ideas are already out there:
Under the supercity proposal, a Greater Auckland Council would be made up of an elected Lord Mayor, four area mayors based on the Auckland City, North Shore, Manukau and Waitakere city councils and 21 neighbourhood councillors.
Neighbourhood my arse, these will be huge constituencies. Without Community Boards a more powerful unified Council could be easily captured by minority or sector interests (or major interests for that matter) and prove undemocratic in reality. What the plan really represents is a "Super-City" concept with the current council areas being the only community boards. It would be a breeze for thew bureaucrats - you could at least reduce the "Democracy" budget item - but local decisions based on local knowledge and grassroots contacts and street-level informal meetings with those concerned would be lost.
Bhatnagar has a go at the left opposition and reminds us this is the officers' report. I'm sure David Hay had nothing to do with it. But he too easily dismisses the criticism. If Councillors could ever be accused of being out of touch it would definitely be under the proposal. They want to use the Parliamentary boundaries and run an FPP single-member "democracy". Ha! In name only. Joh Beijelke Petersen would have been proud. Very simple for the bureaucrats once again - so maybe they did dream it up - or should that be calculated it out. Problem with Parliamentary boundaries is they have about 60,000 people in them and they are drawn (despite the intent of the law) in many cases without regard for the local communities. The suburb of Avondale for example is split between Mt Albert, New Lynn and Mt Roskill seats - and after every census they get moved around again. Undesirable.
Ending multi-member seats and having them cover large areas will kill off independents and promote the sort of one-party regime that the Council officers must find reassuring and comfortable given that is how the City of Auckland has been run for most of the 20th Century. But trying to impose their Tamaki Tammany on the whole region?
Alternative - more representation
I would have far more community boards than at present. If a suburb or district has its own name and has some history of being its own distinct community then they should be delineated and the people therein can decide if they wish to become a community or join with others to become one - rather than being carved up from on high. Maori especially will want this acknowledged as the Tangata Whenua. In Orakei and in Mangere and in South Auckland and on every piece of Maori land in the region their autonomy (Tino Rangatiratanga) and self-management of their territory ought to be confirmed within the governance framework.
I don't think Community Boards have to be responsible for most municipal activities, but the option should be retained. In practice they can delegate just about all functions to the City Councils of which they are constituent members. And an Uber City could be useful if it had the trust and confidence of the communities - that the relationship between the groups were complimentary and not in competition with one another. A single transit authority to manage construction and operation of a proper rail system would be progress. There will no doubt be endless case studies: Americans have City Commissioners, Ireland has quite large councillor numbers etc.
ACC plan recap:
21 Councillors + 4 Mayors + Uber Mayor.
Uber City divided into 4 areas with own Mayor.
21 Councillors for the whole of Auckland? People don't want to see someone's bloody staff lackey, they want to see the person accountable. The politician. You just can't get responsiveness to the community if you do that. They will end up having an even bigger Comms and Marketing staff than now because the politicians will rely on them to do the contact and meeting work that the entire community board used to do. OK, maybe it does sound a lot like the officers wrote it.
And being one city the ACC know all the office space and staff etc. will end up with them. Because there's only one city all major projects will end up being in the ACC area. It is the natural compromise of it being in the geographic centre - where people cannot get directly from North to South without going through them. Sounds real tidy. But the North Shore, Waitakere and Manukau better understand that nothing of any significance will ever be constructed in their "areas" if the ACC get their way.