Mayor Green shouted down by councillors at heated session
‘Distasteful' letter at centre of row

By Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
April 27, 2000

Mayor Hamilton Green was shouted down by councillors from both sides of the horseshoe table at Tuesday's statutory meeting at City Hall when consideration was being given to an exchange of letters between two officers of the municipality.

At issue were the contents of a letter from the Systems Analyst Mr Wayne Orderson replying to one from Ms Letitia Babb, Assistant Town Clerk in her capacity as secretary to a sub-committee of the Social Development Committee, whose chairman is Good and Green Guyana (GGG) Councillor Mrs Patricia Chase-Green.

The general attitude and conduct displayed by Mr Orderson during the national Mashramani and Bar-B-Que events held for the year 2000 involving the M&CC steelband have been deemed unacceptable by management, said the letter from the Assistant Town Clerk. In the circumstances he was required to submit a report on the fund-raising Bar-B-Que. The systems analyst is one of the leading members of the city council's steel band.

In his reply three days later, Mr Orderson, called into question the position of the assistant town clerk on what he described as a "so called" Social Development Committee, telling her that the letter was impertinent and fatuous.

According to the systems analyst the letter "could only have been authored by an imbecilic person" and he was tempted to initially disregard the letter.

After questioning the work performance of the assistant town clerk, Mr Orderson made it very clear that "I have no obligation and absolutely no intention of providing any report to you or anyone associated with the supposed management committee..."

Following the intervention of Mayor Green and Town Clerk Mrs Beulah Williams, Mr Orderson subsequently appeared before members of the Social Development Committee at a meeting which was held in the Mayor's office and not in the council chamber.

During the deliberations the systems analyst offered to withdraw "those sections of the letter which he deemed as harsh.." He also withdrew his membership of the steel band. The committee rejected the offer and demanded that the entire letter with its contents be formally withdrawn, a written apology be forthcoming and a written resignation from the band be submitted.

When the full council deliberated on the Babb-Orderson issue on Tuesday, the scene was set for a heated and acrimonious debate which later turned into a rowdy shouting match between the 'chief citizen' and councillors from not only his GGG party but those from the PNC and the PPP/Civic.

The chairperson of the Social Development Committee Councillor Chase-Green of the GGG explained what had taken place at the closed door meeting with Mr Orderson present and the Mayor in the Chair instead of allowing her to preside.

Despite an intervention by the 'chief citizen' Councillor Chase-Green continued to make the point that the leader of the GGG in the person of the Mayor, was wrong to preside at the Social Development Committee meeting when she as the chairperson was present.

"You are insolent..." retorted Mayor Green to his party member who in her explanation described the systems analyst's letter as insulting and insolent not only to Ms Babb but to councillors.

PPP/Civic Councillor Carl Rogers said the contents of the letter smack of insubordination noting that in any other organisation Mr Orderson would have been dismissed. GGG councillor Gwen McGowan was also of the view that the systems analyst was way out of line and the council should be firm in dealing with him.

Former PNC Mayor Ranwell Jordan said the letter was a serious one and should be dealt with seriously and an apology must be forthcoming.

The leader of the PPP/Civic on the council Fitzgerald Agard described the wording of the letter as distasteful with its author deserving of a stiffer penalty. He wondered how a rational human being could pen such a letter.

"It is a painful issue.." said Mayor Green when it was his turn to speak. "It contained so many invectives", he said.

But when Mayor Green attempted to explain and rationalise at the same time bringing his perspective to the issue councillors from all three political parties joined in a chorus..."We have heard enough..." with former PNC Mayor Jordan accusing the 'chief citizen' of attempting to defend Mr Orderson .. and indulging in irrelevancies.

GGG Councillor T Anson Sancho rose in defence of Mayor Green by urging his colleagues to give the `chief citizen' a hearing but he was told to sit down. None of the councillors wanted to hear from the chair. If there was any councillor apart from Mr Sancho, willing to speak, they preferred to remain silent and let the Mayor 'twist in the wind'.

Although bloodied Mayor Green, an old political warrior was prepared to go down fighting. His 'call to order' went unheeded as councillors demanded an immediate resolution of the issue at hand. The 'chief citizen' chastised councillors who refused to allow him to speak. "I find it distasteful and unfortunate that councillors would sink so low by refusing to hear the other side"... "This council seems unwilling and afraid to listen to the truth" ... were his final words on the agenda item.

The report by the Social Development Committee calling on Mr Orderson to formally withdraw his letter to Ms Babb and submit a written apology and a written resignation from the steel band within seventy-two hours was passed without dissent.