Len Brown has promised so many things to so many people that it’s inevitable he’ll fail in at least some areas.
But the one thing I wouldn’t expect him to get a roasting for is taking the train to work once a week.
Jonathan Marshall (who else?) of the Sunday Star Times has reported that Brown takes the train to work once a week, while his mayoral car and driver make the same trip without a passenger.
David Farrar of course leaped on the story, and Cameron Brewer was happy to use Morning Report today to continue the line of attack, accusing Brown of misusing ratepayer funds. Brewer also said that the mayor has a huge workload and doesn’t have time to take the train, but then assured an incredulous Geoff Robinson that it wasn’t a big deal. So why was he whipping the story up?
It’s hard to know whether Marshall (a former writer for Investigate Magazine) is in active collusion with Brown’s opposition. Maybe he just goes sniffing out the quality dirt, wherever it comes from. Everyone knows the best filth is in the gutter.
It could just be a coincidence that a story broken by Marshall is again being seized upon by the usual suspects.
So what has Len Brown done wrong? He says he takes the train because it gives him the chance to talk to ordinary ratepayers, and because it encourages others to use public transport.
Brewer says it is a waste of ratepayer money having a car going into the city as well. But Brewer’s solution appears to be for Brown to never take the train. So it’s not really about the cost of the wasted car journey, because if Brewer had his way the mayoral car would still be on the road – but with Brown in it. Logically, then, the only objection can be to the cost of the train ticket ($5.10 a week). Is this even a ratepayer expense?
Things must be bad for Brown’s opponents if this is the best they can come up with.