Call for North Shore mayor to quit

BY JONATHAN MARSHALL
Last updated 05:00 28/03/2010
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North Shore mayor Andrew Williams
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'It's been clear for some time that Mr Williams is under a lot of stress and is not handling it well... it's time for him to go.' – Rodney Hide.

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Local Government minister Rodney Hide last night called for the "immediate resignation" of North Shore mayor Andrew Williams amid revelations the mayor urinated outside his council building after drinking at a nearby bar, then drove himself home.

The Thursday night incident is the latest controversy to engulf the father-of-three and justice of the peace. In December the Sunday Star-Times revealed Williams had been sending rude text messages to Prime Minister John Key as late as 3.30am.

"It's been clear for some time that Mr Williams is under a lot of stress and is not handling it well," Hide said.

"It's been a big disappointment for council staff and the people of the North Shore... it's time for him to go."

By chance, the Star-Times observed Williams drinking barside at Takapuna's GPK bar and restaurant around 10pm on Thursday. He talked to a couple at the popular eatery and could be heard referring to himself in the third person. He said he was North Shore's mayor and enjoyed his role.

Inquiries with two bar staff revealed Williams had been drinking red wine at the establishment since 4pm. Six hours later Williams left GPK alone and headed down Hurstmere Rd towards the offices of the North Shore City Council, where he has been mayor since 2007.

On his way he stopped, pulled down his trousers and urinated on a tree outside the council offices.

Williams then headed for the council underground carpark, collected his mayoral vehicle and drove home to Campbells Bay, a 6km trip.

Williams appears to have got home without incident.

Further inquiries that evening at GPK revealed the mayor was a "very frequent visitor", "possibly one of our most regulars", said one waitress.

Shortly after Williams arrived home he sent an email to members of his council's executive team in which he commented on a scheduled visit the following day by Hide and acting Housing Minister Maurice Williamson.

"These two individuals deserve any and all appropriate comments in relation to the rape and pillage of the North Shore by this Auckland takeover. I have only utter contempt for both of them," Williams' email, sent at 11.38pm, says.

The message said Williams would not be there for the ministers' visit as he was attending the Auckland Mayoral Forum at Eden Park. "They will be getting away lightly with me not being there."

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But eight hours later, when Williams appeared on TV1's Breakfast, co-host Paul Henry asked the mayor if he respected Williamson.

"Maurice is a good guy, I like Maurice," Williams replied.

Yesterday, outside his home, Williams told the Star-Times he had not been drinking on Thursday night but a few minutes later said he might have been, he just couldn't "recall".

He said he didn't know if he had been drinking at GPK, and when challenged he responded: "Oh really? That's interesting."

Asked if he had been working on Thursday evening, Williams replied: "I can't recall. I might have been. I go to meetings every day, every night."

Questioned about why he urinated on his way to collect his mayoral vehicle, Williams said: "I'm not going to talk about it."

Not once during the Star-Times' six-minute interview did Williams deny drinking at GPK, urinating or driving home.

In explanation of his email, he said he was simply empowering his unhappy staff to speak out about the introduction of Auckland's supercity.

Hide said the latest incident involving Williams was cause for the mayor to "consider his options".

"I think Mayor Williams should consider his options and whether this sort of behaviour carrying on is in the best interests of North Shore and Auckland."

It was concerning that Williams was using a council-owned vehicle to get himself home from what appeared to be a long drinking session, Hide said. "I think it's something the council itself needs to be asking itself about."

When news broke last year of Williams' early morning texts to Key – which the country's leader branded "aggressive" and "obnoxious" – the mayor blamed painkillers.

He denied suggestions the texts were sent because he was drunk, saying he had not been intoxicated since his 21st birthday.

In August 2008 Williams collapsed at a Devonport Naval Base function and lashed out at attending ambulance officers. He was hospitalised. Williams later insisted he had "no recollection" of it and was just "exhausted" from an overseas trip.

Mayoress Jane said at the time: "I think he had a couple of glasses of wine and didn't realise how dehydrated he was."

- Sunday Star Times

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