Protests, heckling for mayor

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 05:00 19/01/2014

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Auckland mayor Len Brown refused to be drawn into talk about his "tough" year during his first public appearance in 2014.

However, that didn't stop a heckler yelling at the mayor: "Resign. You disgrace this event."

Brown preferred to focus on one of his favourite topics - transport - during the opening of the new $17.5 million Panmure interchange station yesterday.

The mayor has been noticeably absent from public events since councillors censured him on December 19 for his actions during a two-year affair.

Back in the public eye yesterday, Brown refused to answer questions about legal papers filed against him in Auckland District Court last week.

However, he did say he had enjoyed a relaxing Christmas holiday with his wife and children.

"We spent a lot of face time, it was great.

"Last year was tough . . . but this is a new year."

Aucklanders were telling him over the summer to get on with the job and make the city buzz, he said.

Brown was greeted with a mix of family photo requests and protest action at yesterday's event.

When asked about the legal proceedings, Brown declined to comment.

"We'll just see what happens."

Retired Wellington accountant Graham McCready brought the private prosecution against Brown.

He alleged the mayor broke the law by not declaring five free room upgrades from SkyCity for himself and his wife between November 2010 and November 2013.

Brown's acceptance of the gifts led to "favourable consideration" towards SkyCity, McCready said,

He estimated the SkyCity upgrades were worth about $4500.

The papers were filed last Wednesday by activist Penny Bright, a friend of McCready. Bright held up a "love rat" protest poster at the transport interchange opening yesterday.

"This is the first time mayor Len Brown has crawled out from under his rock. I personally don't think he is fit for duty."

Brown's phone, car and hotel habits were revealed in December following the release of a review into his affair with junior council adviser Bevan Chuang.

The review found Brown did not abuse his role or use ratepayer money inappropriately.

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