Auckland Council is always rushing off to the glass tower lawyers for expensive advice. Here's my penny's worth for free.
Stop wasting any more ratepayers' money hounding veteran protester Penny Bright and other departed Aotea Square Occupiers through the courts. They've gone. The square is now free for sunbathers and souvenir sellers. The council has won.

Dangling the promise of another day in court for Ms Bright in particular is like offering the keys of the blood bank to a vampire. The courts are Ms Bright's theatre, usually as encores to bravura performances at meetings of the old Auckland City Council.
The council is still upset that, last December, evicted protesters breached a court injunction by returning to the square and re-erecting their tents. In the Auckland District Court on Wednesday, council lawyer Ross Burns said some of the group needed to be fined to deter others from returning to Aotea Square. All heart, he abandoned an earlier demand they be jailed as well.


The court agreed to adjourn any action for three months to give the council time to personally "serve" some of the targeted one-time Occupiers. Ms Bright was in court to declare she would go to jail rather than pay a fine. One can be sure she'll make a fight of it.
When Ms Bright gets a bee in her bonnet, it's best to let it settle quietly back in its hive rather than swat at it frantically. Tough guy Auckland City Mayor John Banks learned that to his cost, as did his more mellow successor, Dick Hubbard. There's no doubt Ms Bright takes the concept of "public forum" at council meetings to excess. But a smart chair, knowing her track record, wisely gives her a few minutes to have her say and then she's on her way. The Banks/Hubbard confrontational approach now seems the method of choice of Auckland Council, despite its calamitous track record.

To begin with, council meeting upon council meeting was delayed for long breaks as the police were summoned down from their Cook St headquarters to bodily remove the shouting, squirming Ms Bright from the council chamber. Security guards were hired as well to protect councillors from this feisty stirrer.After the theatre came the embarrassing court cases. At last count, Ms Bright, a boilermaker, but unschooled in the intricacies of the law, took on the council's legal finest on her own and won 21 of the 22 trespass cases brought against her.

My first memory of Ms Bright is of her and her Water Pressure Group colleagues rolling up outside the Bolivian honorary consul's grand residence in Victoria Ave back in 2000 to show solidarity for locked-out water workers in that remote South American country. I have no idea why I went along; perhaps it was the promise of seeing their trademark antique fire engine in action.The highlight was an attempt to hose the consular residence - but Remuera driveways tend to be long, and the little fire engine's water pump was puny, so any spraying was symbolic. Which pleased the bemused constable who turned up. And the consul, who had no idea what was going on in his honorary country.

A year later, Ms Bright was in court with a petition to overturn the results of the recent local council elections, claiming that Citrat councillors had breached their election promises over water privatisation. Judge Fred McElrea wisely ruled that the place to judge a politician's credibility was at the ballot box, not in the courts. Still, it was an amusing interlude, and undeterred, Ms Bright remains the eccentric gadfly of local politics.

Meanwhile, back in Aotea Square, the Occupiers have long gone off to enjoy a summer break and plot new noble causes, leaving the broad open space free for whatever plans the bureaucrats might have for it. Which is the outcome the politicians and their officials desired.
A little glee at having moved them on is understandable. But chasing after them to pick off some of the ringleaders is vindictive. It's also counter-productive. The ensuing legal battles will not only be costly to ratepayers, they'll also pump new oxygen into a cause the bureaucrats wanted forgotten.