Len Brown has made his first post-affair public
appearance today, telling the media he has not abused his
office as Mayor of Auckland, but saying it will taking a while
to "reacclimatise" himself in the eyes of Aucklanders.
The Mayor attended the opening of a compact showhome in the
suburb of Ellerslie surrounded by television crews and other
media wanting answers to a two-year affair he had with Bevan
Chuang, a member of the council's ethnic advisory panel.
Details of the affair with the woman, 25 years his junior,
were revealed by the right-wing Whaleoil blog six days ago.
Since then, the Mayor has given one television interview, but
otherwise remained holed up at the Auckland Town Hall and his
Manukau lifestyle block.
He has asked for privacy to spend time with his wife Shan
Inglis and their three daughters.
Mr Brown was questioned about providing a reference for Ms
Chuang for a job she applied for and got at the council-run
Auckland Art Gallery.
"I did not abuse my position of power, there will be many,
many people around Auckland who have received similar letters
of recommendation," he said.
"At that point in time, this was very very early in the
relationship that I had with her so I wrote, as I do for many
people across Auckland, and that is just a normal letter of
support and reflection of what I knew of her at that time."
Mr Brown spoke at length about the effect of the relationship
on his family.
"Life is not without regret and you make decisions and when
you make a stupid decision like I did you have to live with
that and try to find a way to move forward.
"It's been pretty devastating on the family but I'm loved by
my wife and my children in particular and we are just working
this out," he said.
John Hawkens protested outside the event, yelling "Shame on
you" and "What you did has sullied the name of Auckland".
Mr Brown poked fun at himself at the opening of the show
home, by commenting on the photo-voltaic power generated on
the roof for water heating.
"I'm in a bit of hot water at the moment," he said.
Meanwhile, the scope of the independent review ordered by
Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay into the use of
council resources during the affair has been revealed.
Ernst and Young will examine the following:
* Any use of council resources within the Office of the
Mayor, in respect of the Mayor's relationship with Ms Chuang,
that contravenes council policies (eg payments and
* Any improper preferential treatment in relation to Ms
Chuang's engagement as an employee, contractor or an advisor
within the Auckland Council Group.
* Any other issues that the reviewers or chief executive
considers relate to, or arise out of, the above matters.
The review will cover the period between November 1, 2010 and
21 October, 2013.
The findings will be reported back to the chief executive as
quickly as possible, in no more than four calendar weeks.
The review has the support of the mayoral office, which will
co-operate fully with it, a council spokesman says.
Mr McKay said it was important that the public had full
confidence in the council's processes and that all
expenditure and activity was open to public scrutiny.
Last week Mr McKay confirmed he was not aware of any specific
information or anything contrary to the Mayor's assurances in
public and to him in person.
The review is not specific to the elected members' code of
conduct but will cover council policies and procedures and
will provide background information should any code of
conduct review be initiated.
Auckland Council and Ernst and Young said they will not make
any public comment on the substance or progress of the review
until its findings are released.
- By Bernard Orsman of the New Zealand Herald