Councillors in a tizzy over how they voted on motion
City Council Round Up
With Cecil Griffith
June 4, 2001
City councillors continue to 'talk the talk' instead 'walking the walk' over a decision on what to do about the vendors on Water street.
Running true to form the city 'fathers' and 'mothers' on Monday took some 30 minutes deliberating on how individual votes were recorded on a motion dealing with the Stelling View market. Even the argumentative People's National Congess REFORM (PNC/R) councillor Desmond Moses had to upbraid colleagues, telling them that they were spending too much time on this subject
With deputy mayor Robert Williams presiding in the absence of Mayer Hamilton Green, the argument was whether a majority of councillors had voted in favour of approving the expenditure of $15.5M for the rehabilitation of the Stelling View market which is situated close to the Fire Service operations on Water Street.
The deputy mayor after failing to get a consensus around the horseshoe table suggested that councillors take time off to look at a tape of the past proceedings which was recorded by the council's television technician. This offer was rejected with councillor Moses telling the meeting, "we do not want to see any tape which is doctored."
It was later agreed that a majority of councillors had voted in favour of the expenditure.
The city 'fathers' and mothers' were concerned about the way in which the sum required would be found by the City Treasurer. Both the leaders of the PNC/R and the PPP/C groups on the council, Mr Oscar Clarke and Mr Fitz Agard respectively, insisted that procedures must be followed and a document provided to show "where the money would be coming from."
In response, the City Treasurer Mr Edinboro said, "it would be treated as an emergency." Up to last Friday the situation had remained unchanged.
"The external and internal environment of Bourda market threatens the citizens of Georgetown." This warning came from PNC/R councillor Desmond Moses at last Monday's statutory meeting of the council. He was joined in his criticisms by another PNC/R councillor Albert Alkins.
According to councillor Moses, the Bourda market "is stink and vendors and stall holders are left soaking wet after a heavy downpour." He noted that if the market was owned by a private businessman under the municipal bylaws, it would be ordered closed. The drains on Orange Walk on the eastern side of the market did not escape the sharp criticisms of the PNC/R councillor who informed the meeting that the drains were last cleaned eight years ago.
Councillor Alkins' criticism focused on the way in which stall holders are treated and the type of protection they receive from the City Constabulary. He said "people defecate, fight and steal from legitimate occupants of the market, as the constabulary stands by impotently".
The council's attention was also drawn to the unhealthy conditions existing in Bourda market, especially the Regent Street section which was describe as an oven.
The debate on Bourda market moved the Deputy Mayor who is Chairman of the council's finance committee to announce that more than $30M is to be spent on drainage works in the Bourda/Alberttown/Queenstown area using prison labour, in the Bourda section. Among the other areas mentioned were North and South Cummingsburg, Lodge, La Penitence, McDoom and Agricola.
A letter from the Minister in the Ministry of Local Government Clinton Collymore dated May 23, 2001 to Mayor Hamilton Green was the subject of heated verbal exchanges across the horseshoe table with Good and Green Guyana councillors in the spotlight.
The letter which was copied to Town Clerk Beulah Williams was put on the agenda for discussion last Monday in the absence of the `chief citizen'.
PNC/R and GGG councillors questioned the first paragraph of the Minister's letter which read "The Ministry of Local Government has taken note of municipal disputes featuring prominently and consistently in the media. Note has also been taken of a stream of letters expressing general dissatisfaction about municipal matters."
The invitation to the Mayor from Minister Collymore that a delegation of councillors meet him on June 1st, 2001 "to find solutions acceptable to council" sparked a debate on who would comprise that delegation referred to by the Minister.
The PNC/R and GGG councillors wanted the Minister to be more specific on the agenda for the meeting and questioned how Minister Collymore could use the contents of the newspapers as the basis for his arranged discussion with councillors.
Two GGG councillors, Patricia Chase-Green and Gwen McGowan worried over the make up of the council's delegation.
Mrs Chase-Green said neither Mayor Green nor his Deputy Williams should be the sole representative of the GGG while councillor Moses was of the opinion that any councillor who wanted to attend should be allowed to go.
Councillor McGowan wanted broad-based representation from all the three political parties on the council and not only the Mayor and his deputy to represent the GGG.
In a second letter dated May 28, 2001 the Local Government Minister took the opportunity to suggest an agenda for the June 1st meeting in his office which included complaints against city officials, expenditures by the city council and co-operation with Central Government.
The minister's second letter also noted that he was inviting a "representative delegation of councillors."
Reports reaching this column said the meeting did take place and was described as very lively. The 'chief citizen' and his deputy were present so was a team from the PNC/R led by Mr Oscar Clarke and two councillors from the PPP/C
I've noticed that statutory meetings now attract a contingent of senior officers from the city constabulary. At the last meeting no less than six senior officers including the deputy chief constable were present in uniform and plain clothes. One explanation is that the chief constable, who sits at the table which department heads occupy, needs a strong backup when she is called upon to answer questions from councillors. What a waste of manpower. Your attention is needed here madam Town Clerk.
The Ramsaroop incident remains unresolved and he was seen attending the July 1 meeting with Minister Collymore. The PNC/R must deal with this matter expeditiously in the light of the strong representation which was made earlier by the two unions which speak for municipal workers.
A preliminary report on the restructuring of City Hall also known as the Institutional Strengthening of the same entity has been handed over to deputy mayor Williams in the absence of Mayor Green. The entire study which is to cost some two and a half million dollars is so far being conducted without the support of the council's senior staff. They say the two unions GLU and GLGOU should have been involved in the earlier stages of the talks to embark on such a study. This could go down as yet another report with ratepayers paying the bill and no action from City Hall. Let us not forget the Liburd report, the good gentleman has gone to the great beyond without seeing any concrete action being taken on his expert findings.