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The frequent trips abroad by Mayor Hamilton Green have at long last caught the attention of some city 'fathers and 'mothers' sparking off an acrimonious debate around the horseshoe-shaped table last Monday at city hall.
It all started with a report by the council's International Relations Committee concerning an invitation to the mayor and council to attend the 4th forum of the World Alliance of Cities against poverty scheduled for March 31st 2004 in Rome.
The two-day forum is being organised jointly by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the city of Rome with the support of the Italian government.
The committee, which is chaired by Mayor Green, includes People's National Congress Reform councillors Oscar Clarke, Good and Green Guyana (GGG) councillor Patricia Chase-Green, Rudolph Harris of the People's Progressive Party Civic, (PPP/C) and the PNCR's former mayor, Ranwell Jordan.
According to the report, at its last meeting the International Relations Committee (IRC) elected the mayor, and councillors Clarke, Harris and Chase- Green to attend the Rome meeting. The 'chief citizen' has recommended that his deputy Robert Williams be included on the team.
At last Monday's statutory meeting of the council, councillor Jordan revealed that he had received his notice of the meeting of the committee three days after the selection took place.
This was too much for the GGG councillor Gwen McGowan who is never afraid to question, whether rightly or wrongly, decisions from the 'chair'.
She wanted to know what is the purpose of the trip to Rome... and what is there to be gained "the city is at the crossroads... We should be taking care of the taxpayers instead of looking after ourselves...", she declared. "Self comes first for all those councillors who have been selected for Rome", she added.
She also wondered why no reports are forthcoming to the council after the end of such visits abroad. Also of concern to the GGG councillors is the cost of such trips undertaken by the mayor and other councillors.
The PNCR's Junior Garrett said the council should always be ready to take advantage of such opportunities, once the funds are available. Councillor Fitzgerald Agard who heads the PPP/C wing on the council also worried about the cost of such trips abroad, pointing out that only some councillors were presented with the details about the Rome invitation which had been discussed by the IRC.
Councillor Jordan first referred to the frequent absences from meetings by mayor Green without him notifying his colleagues and indicating whether he is on the council's business.
The councillor mentioned the absence of the 'chief citizen' from the last meeting during which an explanation was given by the deputy mayor as to why he was chairing the sitting.
The mayor had gone to Washington where he was scheduled to meet the head of the IDB for breakfast, to thrash out parts of a loan to the municipality. He has since returned home.
The council was asked to pay for the accommodation cost for one day of the mayor's trip while in Washington.
Other visits earmarked for Mayor Green are a symposium, Rally for Peace to be held in Jerusalem on December 19, 2004 and attendance at the World Summit on Leadership and Governance under the theme... Good Governance for a World in Crisis... to be held in Seoul from January 25th to the 28th, 2004.
The committee has recommended that Mayor Green attend the Seoul Summit at no cost to the council.
The PNCR's councillor Clarke in conclusion said that not only the citizens but the entire country should be told about the cost to the council for such trips abroad.
The council's street-lighting exercise which was launched earlier this year has encountered a snag.
When called upon for an update by councillor Chase-Green, the city engineer Cephus James told last Monday's statutory meeting... "there has been a problem... many of the lights are not working..."
In his explanation the city engineer said the photo cells of at least ten percent of the 500 new lamps received by the council from the United States are substandard.
The Town Clerk disclosed that 50 lamps which are now in storage are to be distributed at the discretion of the 'chief citizen' with another 35 still on hand.
On hearing that street lamps were still available several councillors raised their hands with requests to the 'chair' for their areas to be considered.
A citizen to the rescue... Queenstown resident and city businessman Ovid Holder is a man who never waits for the city council to act when he has the wherewithal to do the job.
After seeing the widening of two breaches across New Garden Street in the vicinity of his property, Mr. Holder diverted workmen who were at his residence doing cement work to fill up the breaches in the road with concrete which he supplied. The minibuses have taken advantage of the traffic ease.