Councillors serve stinging rebuke on Green over call for city probe

By Desiree Jodah
Stabroek News
August 15, 2000

Councillors of a Good and Green Guyana (GGG) yesterday teamed up with those from the People's National Congress (PNC) to carry a motion dissociating the council from a decision by Mayor Hamilton Green to call for a probe into City Hall.

Local Government Minister Harripersaud Nokta had earlier this month issued an order for the inquiry based on a request from Mayor Green. The Minister also ordered a probe of the city council.

However, GGG councillor Llewellyn John and PNC councillor Desmond Moses responded by filing a motion disassociating the council from the Mayor's request saying that it contravened the Municipal and District Councils Act Chapter 28:01.

According to the two, the aims that the order sought to achieve transgressed the provisions of the Act.

The motion said "the Council denounces and disassociated itself from the request made by the Mayor" and vowed not to cooperate in the inquiry which was "purported" to be ordered.

Yesterday, at the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) statutory meeting, four councillors of Green's own party joined those of the PNC to secure the passage of the motion by twelve votes to eight with three abstentions. The GGG has 12 seats, the PNC 10 and the People's Progressive Party/Civic 8.

Green at the last statutory meeting had indicated that he would make the request for an investigation stating that something was "amiss" with the administration of City Hall.

The councillors who voted for the motion were perturbed that the minister had ordered an investigation of them. The vocal GGG councillor Patricia Chase-Green said she was ashamed that after having been introduced to politics by the Mayor six years ago things have come to a position where an investigation has been ordered of her. She said she had nothing to hide from an investigation, but took offence to the way the request was made. According to Chase-Green, the matter should have come up before council to be debated before a decision was made. She noted that Green going by himself to the Minister and asking for an investigation was saying that he had failed as mayor.

John contended that the way the Mayor went about requesting the investigation was wrong. The councillor contended that the matter never came up for discussion before the Council and as such it was not deliberated on and therefore no authority was given to the Mayor to make the request.

John suggested that maybe there was a need for a fresh mind at the helm of City Hall. He threatened to mobilise public opinion on the matter. John noted that there was a difference in what the Mayor had requested and the Order of the Minister.

Moses' grievance was that Mayor Green had abandoned all procedure in his haste to deal with the matter. He said the mayor owed the councillors an apology.

Another PNC councillor Jean Smith was appalled at the haste in which the minister had responded to the Mayor's request and questioned whether there was a "hidden agenda."

GGG's Gwen McGowan in her presentation supporting the motion urged the Mayor to go to the minister and tell him that he (Green) had made a mistake. Harold Kissoon of the same party smelt "a rat" with the swiftness of the minister's response. He abstained from supporting the motion which he said he agreed with in principle. He added that he would like a forensic investigation into a number of things that are of concern to him.

PNC's Ranwell Jordan who had objected to the Mayor's announcement at the previous statutory meeting, urged Green to resign if he could not function as leader of the M&CC and let someone else take over.

Leader of the PNC contingent on the council, Oscar Clarke noted that the Mayor has open the door for the installation of another Interim Management Committee (IMC) to run the affairs of the city. He said the Mayor's action could lead to the overturning of the M&CC and the installation of a few hand-picked people to manage the affairs of the city. Clarke warned Green not to cry foul, if he (Green) was not one of the "handpicked" ones.

The Mayor's lone vocal supporter was T Anson Sancho of the GGG. Sancho said he was disappointed at the turn the debate had taken. He accused councillors of having personal vendettas and said it did not matter what was proposed, they would oppose it.

Mayor Green after quietly listening to all that was said acknowledged that there was a lack of adequate consultation. He however, maintained that his request for an investigation was justified. He said that the M&CC had not "moved on" in many years. The Mayor refer to the numerous times councillors complain about the ineptitude of the officers of the M&CC.

He said many unfavourable things were said about the M&CC in as well as outside of the council's chambers.

The mayor said his call for an investigation was to clear up once and for all the image of the M&CC. He noted that maybe it was time to change the structure of City Hall to make it more efficient.

According to the Order, an enquiry will be held into the affairs, practices and decisions of the Municipality of the City of Georgetown, inclusive of the City Council at a place and date to be fixed by the Minister, by a commissioner duly named.

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