A ‘surgeon’ is on the loose City Council Round-Up
By Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
March 17, 2003

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A ‘surgeon’ is on the loose, secretly doctoring the minutes of meetings of the City Council.

This was how Good and Green, Guyana GGG councillor Patricia Chase-Green, who is a qualified nurse, phrased her conclusions after a lengthy debate by councillors on how the official records of statutory meetings are kept.

Mayor Hamilton Green was the first councillor to complain about the way in which the minutes are prepared for presentation to council twice monthly.

“I have not signed minutes for about two years,” he said, as he bitterly complained - not for the first time - about the accuracy of what is recorded and the quality of the language used.

But the ‘chief citizen’ was not alone in his criticisms. Deputy Mayor Robert Williams, who is also Chairman of the Finance Committee saw a new development taking place in the preparation and presentation of the minutes of the council’s statutory sittings.

He drew councillors’ attention to the reports in this newspaper’s City Round-up column of two weeks ago in which coverage was given to a number of issues which were raised but were left out of the minutes of the meeting in question.

The deputy mayor wants a system to be put in place to avoid the tampering with the minutes of meetings.

The leader of the Peoples Progressive Party/Civic, Councillor Fitz Agard, said the doctoring seems to be taking place at more than one level, adding that “important decisions are not being recorded; we must get to the root of this.”

Councillor Oscar Clarke, who heads the People National Congress Reform team said there is sufficient evidence of contamination of the minutes which were under discussion and suggested their withdrawal.

This was accepted.

The South African trip
Both the mayor and his deputy have admitted being left out of the arrangements which were made by the local branch of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) for a number of Guyanese including Town Clerk (TC) Beulah Williams to travel to South Africa earlier this month.

The Chairman of the Finance Committee, Deputy Mayor Williams said he was only made aware of the TC’s proposed visit when the city treasurer presented a cheque for his signature to take care of their per diem while in South Africa.

When told that one of the council’s committees had given approval for the trip, both the mayor and Councillor Williams requested the minutes of that meeting when the matter was discussed. The procedure is that reports by committees are usually brought before the full council for debate and approval.

The ‘chief citizen’ referred to the government dissociating itself from the composition of the Guyana delegation and urged councillors to insist things are done properly at all times saying the “lawlessness has infected the structure at City Hall.”

The discussions in South Africa dealt with a wide range of issues relating to local government and brought together representatives from several countries.

It would be interesting to find out how the Guyana delegation was selected and who or which agency identified those who should go to South Africa.

No more ‘comrade’
Things are a-changing: a former city mayor and PNCR Councillor Ranwell Jordan at last week’s statutory meeting objected to the use of the word ‘comrade’ by Mayor Green when addressing councillors. He told the mayor “you should address us as councillors and not comrades...” The response from the ‘chair’ was “you are wasting time...”

The turf skirmish between the city treasurer and the head of the IT unit of the council is still to be settled with preparations being made for an outsider to intervene and make a judgement on the role of Information Technology in the administration.

More than half of the thirty councillors were present at Friday’s budget presentation by Deputy Mayor and Finance Committee Chairman Williams, in the concert hall. Two angels in white flowing robes served as a backdrop to the head table which was occupied by the Mayor, Councillor Williams, City Treasurer Mr Edinboro and the Deputy Town Clerk. The angels were not the handiwork of City Hall; they belong to a religious body that uses the hall for church services.

While councillors, including members of the public and a spattering of senior and junior employees of the municipality, listened to the presentation of the budget, one city mother was otherwise engaged taping the proceedings with her handheld modern video camera. Was she filming for posterity or for immediate use in the news?

Once again members of the media were found wanting when they were invited to pose questions to the presenter of the budget or the Mayor. It was a repeat of last year when the reporters in attendance complained that they could not ask questions, since they had not been provided with the budget speech.

Last Friday it was PNCR Member of Parliament and party vice-chairman Mr Vincent Alexander who rescued the situation after members of the public were invited to fill the void.

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