Mayor accuses top city officers of ignoring council
Calls again for investigation By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
January 5, 2002

Mayor Hamilton Green yesterday said that he and the city council are being rendered useless by Town Clerk Beulah Williams and other high-ranking officers at city hall who are not carrying out decisions taken.

The mayor yesterday mentioned a number of incidents where decisions taken by himself and the council were ignored by Williams and her officers. While the mayor spoke about all the high ranking officers he made specific reference to the Public Relation Officer, Royston King and the City Engineer, Cephas James.

Green was speaking at a press conference he called at City Hall. In response to a question admitted that he and the council at the moment are useless and are serving no purpose.

He said that he has since contacted the Ministry of Local Government to investigate the present structures at City Hall.

This is not the first time such a request has been made and the ministry had indicated that an investigation would have been conducted when a similar complaint was lodged by Green previously. The current council has been in office since 1994.

Stabroek News was unable to ascertain the status of the earlier promised investigation as minister within that ministry, Clinton Collymore was out of his office.

Green yesterday argued that the town clerk and her officers are protected under Chapter 28:01 of the Municipal and District Councils Act and as such there is really nothing he can do.

Williams and James could not be reached for comment yesterday but Public Relation Officer of City Hall, Royston King said that it has not been the practice of his office or of any officer to trade words with the mayor in public. He pointed out that doing this would be highly disrespectful, noting that he and the other officers, including the town clerk, respect the mayor's office and hold him in high regard and esteem. However, King pointed out that there were several inaccuracies in the statements made by Green.

According to King, Green is in the habit of making announcements at statutory meetings of decisions which had not been properly ratified. He noted that the decisions must be made by the full council and according to him some are implemented instantaneously by the officers. King said that the implementation of some of the decisions depends on cash flow and the mobilizing of resources. "It is not that the CEO (Williams) refuses to implement any decisions made by the full council," King noted. He said he is not aware of any decision made by the council which was not implemented noting that some of them are in the process of being executed.

He pointed out that the Town Clerk is guided by the decisions made by the council in the context of Chapter 28:01 of the laws which he said also protects her.

Yesterday's press conference was called mainly because of recent statements made by leader of the opposition, Desmond Hoyte.

Hoyte had said on a GTV 11 one-hour interview programme that given his way all 30 councillors, including the mayor, would be off the Georgetown City Council.

"They should go, they have achieved nothing," he said. These statements were also reported in the December 24 edition of Stabroek News. Hoyte had pointed to the canal just outside his residence, which has not been cleaned for sometime and is now a haven for mosquitoes. He had also said it would appear as though the city `fathers' and 'mothers' are tired both mentally and physically.

Green yesterday said that taking into consideration the unfavourable environmental conditions near Hoyte's residence he believes that his expression that the councillors are unless is not without merit.

However, he pointed out that there are many complex issues that have contributed to the crisis at City Hall which the public and taxpayers are entitled to be made aware of.

Green could not resist pointing out that one of the persons Hoyte - leader of the PNC REFORM - wants to resign because of his uselessness is the third ranking member of his own party, General Secretary, Oscar Clarke.

But Green does not feel that he and the council are useless as they come up with some sharp ideas and make decisions that are not heeded by Williams and her officers.

Mayor Green contended that the Town Clerk refuses to respond to queries from the mayor sent to her by way of memos.

"We are drifting towards anarchy as certain people feel that they are untouchable," the mayor said.

Deputy Mayor, Robert Williams, who was also at the press conference, noted that the council having made decisions has no say in the implementation as execution is left strictly up to the town clerk and her officers.

President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Eddie Boyer, who was present at the conference along with several other businesspersons, noted that there should be a serious revision of the council's motto which is `Advancing the citizens, advancing the nation' as this is not happening. He noted that the business community is willing to do numerous things for Georgetown but is not encouraged by the attitude of some at City Hall.

Boyer said he feels that there should be some intervention by the local government ministry as he doesn't think the mayor would want to leave office without accomplishing something. He noted that mayor Green has had several sound ideas and as such appealed to the officers at City Hall to give the mayor a fair chance. He also made a public appeal on behalf of the business community for the local government ministry to make a serious intervention in addressing some of the problems in the council.

"We have to start figuring out what we are going to do and do it," Boyer said.

He suggested that the council should focus on reducing the interest rate on taxes owed as persons would be unable to pay the amount.

Another businessman, Ovid Holder said that while he sympathizes with the mayor and his deputy he feels that there should be a change in the political make-up on the council. Presently there are 12 Good and Green Guyana (GGG) councillors, 10 PNC/R and eight PPP/C councillors on the council.

Holder said that citizens should be allowed to sit on the council and be involved in the decision-making. Holder made mention of the May 31 ruling of the then Chief Justice, Desiree Bernard, that vendors should be removed from Water Street and the fact that they are still there. He also made mention of President Bharrat Jagdeo's announcement soon after the ruling that the land owned by Toolsie Persaud Limited on Water Street would be made available for the vendors. Holder is of the opinion that this would only turn the area into a "shantytown" and suggested that a mall be built to accommodate the vendors. He also made mention of the fact that businessmen are in the practice of blocking the pavements and streets with containers and nothing is done by the council to curb these practices.

Holder also noted that President Jagdeo transmitted a bad signal when he had said that he was only going to hand over taxes owed by the state when structured proposals are shown to him on how the money would be spent.