Mayor's call for probe of City Hall timely

City Council Round-up
By Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
July 31, 2000

Mayor Hamilton Green has set the cat among the pigeons, with the call for an investigation into the administration of City Hall.

Although the 'Chief Citizen' had announced at the last statutory that he had an important statement to make at the end of the meeting, even members of his own Good and Green Guyana (GGG) party were taken unawares.

GGG councillor Llewellyn John, an attorney-at-law could not believe his ears countering that what his leader was suggesting is contrary to the Municipal and District Councils act.

Former Mayor Ranwell Jordan of the People's National Congress was quick to react, by telling Mayor Green not to expect the support of the other councillors "on your special course of action." "You are going about it the wrong way".

Getting in the last word before closing the meeting, the mayor replied, "this is a matter personal to me."

The 'Chief Citizen's' call seemed to have been well-timed, since many of the agenda items before councillors demanded responses from several heads of department, with many of them giving very poor performances.

For example the City Engineer could not immediately respond to a question from the Mayor dealing with the boundaries of Charlestown.

The Mayor also questioned the findings of a report by the public relations department on the incorporation of the city of Georgetown. Both officers asked for time to put themselves right.

At the same meeting last Monday the chief constable strenuously denied providing members of her staff to do duty outside a certain fast food restaurant on Lombard and Hadfield Streets. Although a spokesman for the fast food business denies any arrangement with the constabulary for the protection of its premises there is evidence that the chief constable is fully aware of monthly payments for the services of her staff and that these payments go to the constabulary's welfare fund.

The city treasurer's department is once again under the microscope with the departure of the city treasurer early last month to attend a course in Jamaica. The big question is how this officer obtained permission and the necessary funding to undertake the course leaving the department in shambles with the person who is appointed to act not immediately being given the authority to sign cheques. Apart from the departments mentioned all is not well at the city's markets, not forgetting the pavement vendors, and the mayor's office.

The mayor continues to complain about his relationship with the Town Clerk, Mrs Beulah Williams, referring to "unhappy developments taking place in the administration" at City Hall. Should the 'chief citizen' decide to put his call for the investigation into a formal motion, it would be interesting to see how members of the three political factions represented on the city council would vote. All of the councillors at sometime or the other have had to criticise the work performance of the senior officers and their immediate staff. Not one of them has been blameless.

Some councillors from a particular party always seem hesitant to chide officers whose performances are called into question either from reports or complaints from citizens. One instance is the chief constable who was not even 'slapped on the wrist' when certain monies earmarked for the treasury's department were not handed over in full when she had the responsibility to ensure that this was done.

The mayor's proposal for an investigation is not only timely, but necessary and I am sure it will get the support of at least two of the three political parties that have members on the council.

Covering statutory meetings at city hall especially under the chairmanship of Mayor Hamilton Green the gulf between the political directorship and senior officers has grown wider and deeper with no hope of bridges being built and a better working relationship an achievable goal.

This column would urge the local government minister to act swiftly, if and when the mayor's proposal is approved by the full council since the mayor has no power or authority to launch such an investigation. May I also suggest that most of the members of the investigating body should it materialise come from former members of the Interim Management Committee.

My choice for chairman is former IMC member and businessman/social worker, Mr Ken DeAbreu, Managing Director of Demico House.

The vendors and the city police
Mayor Green has urged members of the city constabulary to be even-handed in their dealings with streets and pavement vendors on the one hand and commercial entities on the other.

At the time councillors were considering a complaint from councillor Harold Kissoon about the operations of a business on the pavement on Robb Street where the BWIA head office was once located. Councillor Kissoon wanted to know how come this particular businessman known as Pablo, is allowed to block the pavement displaying his goods as sales girls and the public haggle over prices and product quality.

The councillor noted that the constabulary seem to be targeting the small street and pavement sellers by seizing their goods, for infraction of the by-laws while turning a blind eye to Pablo and those people who have taken up positions outside Guyana Stores on Main Street.

After further complaints from GGG councillor Patricia Chase-Green the 'chief citizen' once again told the chief constable to make arrangements for joint exercises to be undertaken between the constabulary and the police to clear the streets and pavements of vendors.

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