Above: Phil Goff has just been told that John Palino will run for mayor
It’s hard to know what John Palino was thinking when he decided to throw his hat into the ring and try once again for the Auckland mayoralty. I heard someone describe Monday’s campaign launch as a train-wreck, but I don’t think that’s at all accurate. The launch was such a disaster that I don’t think you could say the train even left the station.
Never mind that there are already two declared centre-right candidates, even if one is a nobody and the other doesn’t seem to understand that being mayor isn’t at all like being the CEO of a company. There’s also only so many times this blogger can hear someone talk about how “passionate” they are about Auckland before his bloodlust rises and he finally commences his long-delayed reaping.
So where does John Palino fit in here? Could he be just what the Super City needs? His plan to cut rates by 10% sounds like magical thinking, but maybe we all need a little bit of magic. Although why stop there? Why not 11%?
He is also promising a campaign that focuses on the issues, which will be why he is using Simon Lusk to run his campaign, Carrick Graham to do media and PR, and Cameron Slater to organise interviews. Given the track record of these gentlemen, it seems pretty clear what the issues will be: dishing the dirt, and then expressing shock and outrage when people challenge him on his team’s behaviour.
Or am I being unfair to Palino? Could he in fact be the victim here? The target of a savage smear campaign? I suppose it’s possible Palino didn’t have a clue what others in his campaign team were up to during the 2013 campaign, and is the victim of an ongoing and sophisticated campaign to shred his credibility. But let’s think that one through. This is a guy who wants to be put in charge of the most populous and economically important region in the country, and by his own admission he couldn’t even control the people in his small team. Didn’t have a clue what they were up to, apparently. Not the faintest idea. We should cut John Palino some slack for being unworldly and naïve, for being a nice guy without the faintest idea how to manage a team. Sure, John, of course we’ll give you control of a multi-billion-dollar organisation that directly impacts the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. What could go wrong?
So, anyway, let’s look at John Palino’s qualifications for office. He probably knows how to make a nice flat white. He can really shout when he gets worked up. He has nice hair. He had a TV show where he went into failing restaurants and cafes and tried to turn them around. He wears shoes. He has a house. And ears. He probably has a car, and a TV set, and a microwave oven. Oh, and he’s apparently a successful restaurateur, although I’m not sure that’s any more relevant than the other things I’ve just mentioned. He’d probably be good at running a restaurant business, but sadly for Palino the Auckland Council is not a restaurant. Maybe he could organise their catering.
But there you go, I’m being mean to Palino again. Maybe he’d do a good job, but I haven’t the faintest idea what he stands for or why he would do a better job than someone like Phil Goff who is a political insider, knows everyone, and is well connected. On the other hand, if you happen to think that what Auckland doesn’t need is another career politician in charge, then John Palino could be just the ticket. A rich outsider making extravagant promises he can’t hope to keep and saying things no-one believes to be true. Where have we heard that before? It sounds strangely familiar. Maybe Palino’s next policy announcement will be building a wall across the Bombay Hills to keep all the dirty Waikato people out of our wonderful city.