No diaries yet, calendars have two Octobers -councillors worked up City Council Roundup
by Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
January 19, 2004

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Another year has come with City Hall sticking to its old ways of doing business and not for the first time the blunder is over the ordering and distribution of diaries and calendars for the year 2004.

Up to last Monday councillors including Mayor Hamilton Green and officers of the municipality were still to receive these items from the Town Clerk's office and as if anticipating the storm which was on the horizon Town Clerk Beulah Williams apologised to the statutory meeting for not being able to deliver the goods.

Mayor Hamilton Green could not understand how something like this could happen again, pointing out that diaries and calendars are normally ordered and made available in the November/ December period. This was standard operating procedure he said, adding that he is already in possession of diaries and calendars delivered to him last month. He suggested that the order for the diaries be aborted.

"Someone in the administration must be held culpable, when such infractions occur. I made my own arrangements to get my diaries."

But councillors were hesitant to go along with the 'chief citizen's' suggestion.

Councillor Ranwell Jordan of the People's National Congress Reform (PNCR) wanted to know what is causing the delay and called for an explanation from the Town Clerk (TC). She explained that the council has an arrangement with a printing firm in Barbados, but was unable to give more details, promising to get the facts from the officer who would have the information.

Deputy Mayor and Chairman of the council's Finance Committee Robert Williams wondered how such an order could have been placed, in addition to another expenditure for calendars, without the approval of his committee whose vice- chairman is councillor Oscar Clarke of the PNCR.

Good and Green Guyana councillor C.M.L. John urged councillors not to do anything which would damage the image of the council.

Councillor Jordan said if it is a fact that the diaries were ordered then the council is duty bound to accept them.

The mayor could not comprehend how the Town Clerk, whom he described as the council's CEO, bringing a matter before the council not being properly briefed and in possession of the relevant information.

A recess was taken to allow the TC to get her act together, but not before the 'chief citizen' had remarked, "I do not intend to go down with the ship ... officers were taking councillors for granted ... it is time to act." On the resumption, the systems analyst Wayne Orderson appeared with a printed sheet of paper and after showing it to the TC took it to the mayor. Mayor Green seemed to have encountered some difficulty in interpreting its contents, handing the document to his deputy seated on his right.

It was revealed that the diaries were ordered on December 21, 2003 by the systems analyst at a cost of US$1,653 and to be delivered by January 19, 2004. The amount ordered from the printers in Barbados was 133 and the public relations officer was requested to provide certain information for insertion in the diaries.

With the reading of the paper from the systems analyst the Town Clerk found herself a sitting target. Questions were again asked about the transparency of the transaction and the PNCR's Junior Garrett asked how Mr. Orderson was singled out to undertake such an assignment in place of the council's procurement officer who was on the job.

The PNCR councillor said the systems analyst has been getting involved in the work of other departments when he should be overseeing his own unit.

The GGG's Gwen McGowan wanted to know why Mr. Orderson is the only officer assigned to carry out overseas purchases for the council and going on foreign trips. She said if the procurement officer is not up to the job, then close down the section.

Councillors were reminded by the mayor that last year's diaries were purchased locally, with the GGG's Patricia Chase-Green noting that "what has happened has been going on for several years", the problem now "is finding the cat to bell."

It was finally decided by councillors that the 2004 diaries be paid for when they are delivered.

The 2004 Calendars

The Town Clerk was still in the firing line when councillors turned their attention to the 2004 calendars.

Once again the chairman of the Finance Committee was unaware of any monies being made available by his committee for the purchase of calendars for the council and asked where and when quotations for such expenditure were authorised and by whom.

The Deputy Mayor said his office did receive one of the calendars which were being shared around but his secretary gave it to a friend of his who was visiting from overseas. Councillor Williams said he was later told that there are several major flaws in the calendars with two Octobers included for this year, January carrying 29 days and December 2004 having 30 days. The Town Clerk explained that the calendars were rejected although some had already been distributed. Councillor Garrett said the calendars were an embarrassment to the council and whoever was responsible should be surcharged.

Making his final intervention the 'chief citizen' begged the TC to allow him to share his views with her, adding ... "sometimes we may not agree", but she was warned that "shepherding and protecting her staff could be her downfall."

When the TC in response accused the council of working diligently to embarrass her, Mayor Green remarked: "I am not being harsh, we are trying to help you, and we will not succeed if you continue to defend incompetence."