Info leak on mayor's trip sparks investigation
City Council Round-Up
with Cecil Griffith
May 3, 2004
The disclosure in this column last week about Mayor Hamilton Green's latest trips to South Korea and the United States has left Deputy Mayor Robert Williams bothered and bewildered.
He could not understand how news of the round-robin letter sent to some councillors seeking their approval for the visits could have appeared in the Stabroek News 48 hours after it was circulated for the required signature. The letter was sent out on Friday.
The deputy mayor, who is also chairman of the Finance Committee, presided at the last statutory meeting of the council where he instructed the administration to find out how the information leaked out.
"Was the information privileged..." asked People's National Congress Reform councillor Ranwell Jordan… (no answer) while Good and Green Guyana (GGG) councillor Harold Kissoon wanted to know if fingers were being pointed at councillors again (no answer).
People's Progressive Party/C councillor Ronald Mann, a severe critic of the mayor's visits abroad again complained that the 'chief citizen' goes on these trips leaving councillors in the dark.
Good and Green Guyana councillor Patricia Chase-Green introduced a new dimension to the debate by telling councilors that although she had taken part in a meeting which gave the mayor permission to travel, she was unaware of the round- robin letter until she read about it in the Stabroek News.
Another councillor questioned the way in which such letters are sent to city 'fathers' and 'mothers'.
According to the Deputy Mayor the issue is not about the round-robin letter, but how this newspaper was able to get the story so quickly.
Stabroek News was again mentioned when questions were asked why a certain advertisement was not carried by this newspaper but appeared in the Chronicle and the Kaieteur News newspapers.
The council's Public Relations Officer, Royston King, who was called upon by the Town Clerk to explain, said Stabroek News was not prepared to give the council credit up front.
"I am puzzled by this explanation…" said the Deputy Mayor.
The Town Clerk Beulah Williams explained that the council is bound by the law that such advertisements must be carried by at least one of the daily newspapers and the Kaieteur News and the Chronicle had facilitated the council.
But councillor Chase-Green was not satisfied, arguing that the Stabroek News has the widest circulation in the country and there is where the advertisement should have been placed.
Not so responded, the PRO, who said the Kaieteur News has a larger circulation, pointing out that a time factor in getting the advertisement published was also involved.
"I cannot accept your reasons for keeping out the Stabroek News", said the Deputy Mayor as he called on the administration to provide the evidence of the council's indebtedness to this newspaper.
Supervisors and foremen who are tasked with ensuring the workers under their control perform at their optimum by maintaining kokers and outfalls, drains and parapets especially at this time of the year have been put on notice...Do a better job or else…!
Those responsible for road gangs have also been given a stern warning by the deputy mayor... "The citizens are not happy with what is happening after a heavy downpour in Georgetown…"
Even the senior staff at the City Engineer's Department have been warned to exercise greater supervision. Mention was made of instances in which weeding gangs are usually seen malingering on the job ending the working day long before 11 o'clock in the morning.
The situation in the cemetery did not escape the fierce criticisms of GGG councillor Harold Kissoon, as he sought clarification of a report, which had reached him, that weeders in Le Repentir were digging graves.
Some of the supervisors and foremen were present at the statutory meeting having been invited by the assistant city engineer Mr Lloyd Alleyne, to face the music delivered in no uncertain terms by the Deputy Mayor.
A meeting is being arranged to be attended by staff of the City Engineer's Department to let them know that more is expected of them, especially at this time when the council has found itself in a financial bind.
It is heartening to know that although Mayor Hamilton Green could be hundreds of miles from Georgetown he keeps in touch with what is going on at city hall. Take for example the round-robin letter to some councillors and the quick response by a M. Percival in the letter column of this newspaper, raising a number of points and questioning the veracity of the reports last week which dealt with the 'chief citizen's' recent trip.
Since an investigation has been called for by the Deputy Mayor, I am duty-bound professionally to await its outcome before responding.
As for the letter writer who sent his or her missive on behalf of Mayor Green... I know not the man/woman.
However I find it strange that neither the Public Relations Officer of the Mayor and City Council nor the mayor's political assistant both of whom regularly attend statutory meetings was given this assignment by the absent Mayor Green