Town Clerk can only implement properly approved decisions
-Public Relations Office
Stabroek News
January 9, 2002

A statement from the Public Relations Office of the Mayor and City Councillors of Georgetown says that Town Clerk Beulah Williams has to implement decisions which have been approved by the council and is not authorized to depart from this even if Mayor Hamilton Green requests this.

The statement was issued on Monday in response to an attack by Green on Williams and other officers.

The statement noted that since 1994 Green has been consistently attacking three officers - Williams, public relations officer, Royston King and city engineer, Cephas James.

Last week at a press conference the mayor charged that the officers do not implement decisions taken by council. While he criticized all the top officers, the mayor singled out Williams, King and James.

The statement issued by King made mention of the mayor's 1994 delinking plan to remove the town clerk and other officers from their appointed offices. "There were other public pronouncements and threats to remove certain officers from the employ of the municipality," the statement said.

King's statement acknowledged that there are many shortcomings and inhibitions such as the lack of appropriate resources, but noted that officers have been doing their best, in very "unpleasant and often harsh circumstances, to cooperate with the council to improve conditions in the city of Georgetown."

The statement also listed three points which it said citizens need to note:

(i) The mayor and city council is managed by a system of committees - Section 58 (1). All matters affecting the city are discussed and deliberated on by these committees, which make recommendations under their various reports to council for ratification or otherwise.

(ii) The mayor is chairman of the council. He has one original plus a casting vote in the decision-making process with the other twenty-nine councillors.

(iii) The law, (Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01) does not provide for the mayor to make any decision on his own. This is generally done by a majority of councillors via statutory meeting - Section 56 (3).

According to the statement, the town clerk is constrained to implement only decisions that were approved by council and is not authorized to go outside of such decisions even if the mayor were to request her to do so.

In support of this point, the statement drew attention to the request by the Guyana Bank for Trade & Industry (GBTI) to use a portion of the council's reserve.

At the press briefing last Friday the mayor had mentioned the incident, stating that it took a long time to get approval from the council on the request and he had issued a letter to the bank giving them a go-ahead. But the town clerk had objected to his actions.

The statement noted that the mayor sought to give permission to the bank to proceed with the work, without the intervention, direction or recommendation of the relevant committee - the City Works Committee (a Standing Committee of Council). According to the statement, in order to ensure the integrity of the procedures and regulations governing such matters, the town clerk was constrained to advise the mayor that his action was, in fact, ultra vires because only the council could approve such works.

"Worse, in spite of the advice of the town clerk, the mayor publicly advised the bank by way of the press conference to proceed with the work, breaching the appropriate protocol and undermining the authority of the council," the statement said.

Generally, the statement said, the town clerk has no wish for it to appear that there is a fight between the officers and the mayor. In fact, the officer corps has always cooperated with His Worship himself and the council of which he is chairman. It stated that this is the reason why the officers regret the perception of a battle between the mayor and senior officers.

"There has always been a strong and demonstrative collective desire, on the part of officers, to provide a more qualitative and quantitative service to the citizens of Georgetown," the release said.

The statement added that the officers continue to do their best, within their professional, technical and other fields, to work with the council, to restore and develop the city.

"We regret that this does not appear to satisfy His Worship the Mayor. We regret even more, this appearance of disharmony and confrontation", the statement added.