Should Green's team be allowed to continue holding office?

Stabroek News
August 9, 1999

It's a foregone conclusion that at this afternoon's sitting of the National Assembly, the bill for extending the life of the Georgetown City Council will be passed since both the People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/Civic) government and the main opposition...the People's National Congress (PNC) for different reasons are in favour.

The measure under the heading...Local Authorities (Elections) (Amendment) Bill 1999, seeks to extend the date for holding Local Government elections which are due this month, to December 31st 2000.

The government had first indicated its intention to go ahead with these elections, but the PNC gave the thumbs down to the proposal. After the Elections Commission said it would not be ready to mount such an exercise, parliamentary approval is now being sought by the PPP/Civic for the postponement.

The extension means that the present make-up of the council, with 12 councillors from the Good and Green Guyana (GGG), 10 from the PNC and 8 from the PPP/Civic would continue to sit around the horseshoe table. But whether Mayor Hamilton Green and his deputy, councillor Robert Williams both belonging to the GGG would be allowed to continue in their posts is another question, which needs to be asked at this afternoon's sitting of the assembly when the Bill comes up for debate. The present make up of the National Assembly includes four former city councillors who have served under the current 'chief citizen'. They are the PNC's Debra Backer, Raphael Trotman and Joseph Hamilton and the PPP/Civic's Mrs Philomena Sahoye-Shury. I expect that these former councillors would take this opportunity to enlighten and inform other MP's on the workings of city hall with special focus on Mayor Green and his deputy. Do they deserve another term in office...? If not would the assembly agree with the mayor that "there is now an urgent need to reconfigure the concept of the M&CC"?

I'm led to believe that both the Minister responsible for Local Government and the PPP's general secretary are in receipt of the 'chief citizen's' views with suggestions of what sort of structure should be in place during the interim.

Over the years the tripartite political system has failed miserably. With the exception of about half a dozen councillors coming from three political parties showing an interest and making a contribution in a positive way to the fortnightly deliberations of the council, the mayor's reconfiguration suggestion seems to be plausible. I will even go further and suggest reducing the number of councillors. A smaller group of committed persons would surely do better than many of the present seat-warmers who sit around the horseshoe table, at city hall, and who will be there to usher in the new millennium. The city and the citizens deserve better.

New committees needed
Careful attention also needs to be paid to the make up of the council's committees, which now only comprise GGG councillors. The PPP/Civic and the PNC have refused to serve on them... "It's a waste of time" one non-GGG councillor told me, when I enquired why his party has taken such position.

Among the committees are those overseeing Finance, the Markets, Public Health, Legal Affairs and Security and City Works. These committees meet and deliberate without inputs from the two other political parties on the council.

As I understand it, councillors apart from the mayor and his deputy each receive $15,000 per month as a stipend for transportation to all meetings not only the twice monthly statutory. Part of the council's problems is that the PPP/Civic and PNC councillors prefer to raise issues and make enquiries in open debate in the full glare of the media. This was not the way in which the Interim Management Committee under the chairmanship of university professor Dr James Rose, operated.

An embarrassment
An internal audit is now underway to find out why the American company engaged by the council to supply made to order uniforms for the city police, has failed to live up to its contract. The latest is that the Miami-based company, Metric USA has not been heard from recently. It is yet to supply more uniforms and accessories including skirts for the women constables.

The city administration had earmarked more than 63,000 US dollars for the purchase of the new uniforms.

Constables first donned their new uniforms at the opening of the constabulary's training complex on Water street last July 26th.

In his address at the opening, Mayor Green spoke about an old strategem no longer being used which "introduced the idea of an all seeing Providence, called God, Allah, Bahullah, Ram, Krishna, or whatever, in the hope of making children and adults believe that no lapse will go unnoticed...." All who neglected their duties, he continued...."will, at some unspecified time, be punished...The christians called it...hell." If there is something wrong in this transaction, the 'chief citizen' may be forced to apply this stratagem.

Breaking bread with the mayor
Mayor Green's invitation to church leaders or their representatives to meet with him in his office tomorrow appears to be a little too late. To attempt to close the stable door, when the horse or horses have already bolted, seems to be an exercise in futility.

It is no secret that the problem of church noise has nothing to do with the traditional churches...Anglican and Roman Catholic, and maybe it is the leaders of the pentecostal and faith healing churches and a particular Indian religious group now building a church in Laluni Street, Queenstown that should feel the heavy hand of the 'chief citizen' or listen carefully to his plea for a moral and spiritual revival.

It is obvious that this plea is yet to reach the ears and be acted upon by some members of the City Engineer's building inspectors section.

Mr Mayor do not blame the church leaders for breaking the city's building by-laws or breaching the elusive codes if they do exist...since no construction could begin until and unless the City Engineer's department gives the green light. Up to early Saturday night Pastor Browne of New Life ministries told me he had not received an invitation from the 'chief citizen', but after reading the newspapers he would be sending a representative.

New Life Ministries is at present constructing a church in Queenstown, which the pastor has promised residents in the area, would be air conditioned and sound-proof.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples