Citizens should worry that life of council being extended
City Council Round-Up
By Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
December 2, 2002

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Two reports in the Stabroek News and Guyana Chronicle newspapers published last Saturday should be of some concern and worry to us citizens who live in Georgetown, the Guyana capital.

The first story in Stabroek News was about a Bill to be placed before the next sitting of the National Assembly on Thursday, dealing with the postponement of local government elections.

There's no doubt that this Bill will be passed whether or not the People's National Congress/R opposition attends.

This means that we the citizens of Georgetown will have to be saddled with the same group of city 'fathers' and 'mothers' who sit around the horseshoe-shaped table, for at least another year. This cannot be a welcome Christmas gift from the government.

The city remains in anarchy....according to mayor Hamilton Green...who continues to complain about the constitutional straitjacket within which he has to perform his duties as 'chief citizen'. He has also railed against the quality of debates at statutory meetings and the poor performances of some of the senior officers of the council.

At least a majority of councillors would be delighted when the extension of their selection as councillors is approved thus allowing them to remain in office with nothing worthy of note to show to the ratepayers who have to provide them with a monthly stipend and twice-monthly snacks.

I am convinced that if there is one issue on which the political leaders of the PNC/R and the ruling People's Progressive Party/C could find agreement is that the present composition of the city council needs a through shaking up...

Mayor Green, the leader of the Good and Green Guyana was first elected mayor of Georgetown in 1994 and was succeeded by PNC/R councillor Ranwell Jordan one year after. He was again elected to sit in the mayoral chair in 1996 and is still there. The PPP/C had claimed that an arrangement or an understanding between the two major parties for the PPP/C to be given an opportunity to hold office of mayor never fructified.

While there are a few councillors from each of the three parties represented on the council who earn their keep - and I may be forced to name them at some future time - there are others who could only be described as 'seat warmers', who attend statutory meetings but make no contributions to the debates nor do they raise issues for the consideration of their colleagues.

The Georgetown D-Plan

The other item of note to citizens is the report that the Jagdeo administration "strongly" supports the Greater Georgetown Development Plan which was prepared by a foreign Town Planner.

According to the story in the Chronicle newspaper Mayor Green and his deputy and right-hand man councillor Robert Williams were invited to attend Cabinet meetings to `sell' the plan to the government. They seemed to have succeeded in convincing the ministers.

The Green-Williams combination is unbeatable in the sphere of local politics. Even during meetings of the council when these two Forbes Sampson Burnham proteges disagree on an issue, the end result is that from their body language and silent exchanges (the deputy sits on the right hand of the mayor) there is no winner or loser. It's Mr Mayor and Mr Deputy or Robert.

At the last statutory meeting of the council the leader of the PNC/R faction, councillor Oscar Clarke, another Burnham protégé quickly discovered that he was about to fall into a trap when he sought an explanation from the 'chief citizen' on the invitation to attend the Cabinet meeting.

Resorting to the Burnham wit, guile and cunning the mayor referred to councillor Clarke's middle name..Eleazer..which was most unusual.

I can well imagine the 'snake oil' performance by these two GGG councillors before the Cabinet.

But are the members of the Cabinet aware that apart from Mayor Green and his deputy and maybe the other two leaders of their respective political parties on the council, many other city 'fathers' and 'mothers' would be at a loss to explain the details of the plan which has never been thoroughly debated at any statutory meeting? Councillors had been provided with copies sometime ago.

Two other questions need to be answered ...... which agency would be responsible for implementing the plan and who would provide the funding?

A soft spot

Mayor Green himself has had to draw the attention of councillors to the chaotic situation at the corner of Savage and Robb streets in downtown Georgetown.

It seems as though someone has a soft spot for the proprietors of this business.... He was referring to the store at the corner of the two streets where the pavements have been taken over by vendors as well as goods and employees of the business entity.

It is impossible for persons to walk in peace and safety in this area, although there is always at least one constable on duty.

The Chief Constable Gail George has told the Legal Affairs and Security committee that ranks of the city police are faced with a "serious dilemma" because the radio sets are not working. She has denied that a mini arcade has been set up at Camp and Regent streets.

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