City rings in new year in debt
City Council Round-Up
By Cecil Griffith
January 1, 2007
The blighted Georgetown city council will enter 2007 still deep in debt amounting to millions of dollars and owing a part of its work force for outstanding wages and benefits due last year.
This council still owes the bank some $70M - this is in an overdraft - while there are outstanding payments to the garbage contractors amounting to millions.
The acting city treasurer has been able to convince the Jagdeo administration that there are good reasons for it to pay over next year's subvention, which has been increased, to meet the municipality's liabilities for 2006.
At the last statutory meeting of the council held on Wednesday last, the recent strike and the attitude of the leadership of the Guyana Labour Union, which represents municipal workers once again attracted the attention of the city 'fathers' and 'mothers'.
The council is standing firm that there will be no money for those workers who went on strike in late December.
People's National Congress Reform councillor Oscar Clarke has argued that it would be illegal and immoral for the council to pay these workers.
He suggested that the council call in the union leadership for talks because the time has come to take an in-depth look at the way the council does its business.
Don't blame me
In a paid advertisement in the daily newspapers headlined `Facts every citizen should know about the Georgetown municipality… The sorry state of affairs', Mayor Green blamed the government, councillors and the administration at city hall for the woes which the municipality now faces.
The opposition political parties have been warned that if they become diffident 'cat will eat their dinner' they will also run the risk of becoming irrelevant. Over the past months the 'chief citizen' had been hinting that there are forces which he did not name working secretly to undermine and destabilize the council. This is the first time the mayor has publicly mentioned the head of state and his government.
This approach by Mayor Green indulging in the blame game is still to win support from a majority of councillors most of whom realize that the council needs the support of President Jagdeo who has intervened on many occasions to save this council from financial embarrassment.
It seems as though the mayor has 'lost it' and his frequent absences from sitting in the mayoral chair at city hall is proof that he is being marginalized. Mayor Green, who was just back home for the holidays, is preparing yet another trip to Trinidad and Tobago to give a lecture. He has asked councillors for permission to attend, noting that it would be in the interest of the council.
Not for the first, second or last time the work performances of the Chief Constable Gail George and that of the personnel officer (PO) have failed to pass muster under scrutiny at statutory meetings.
The PO's department seems to have a penchant for misplacing important documents and files whenever they are needed for perusal by councillors.
Only in December the PO was compelled by councillors at a statutory meeting to go to her office which is within the city hall compound and search for a file which was the subject of much heated debate.
This department, together with the town clerk's office, is still to produce the conclusions of a decision by council earlier this year directing that all staff must take their annual leave within the year specified.
The PO is yet to produce the files on a female clerk who it is alleged was promoted improperly. The employee up to last Wednesday was out of the country.
At last Wednesday's statutory the chief constable was once again not present to answer questions relating to her department, leaving her deputy, Winston Crawford to face the onslaught from councillors who found it difficult to have any questions answered.
It was obvious that he was not properly briefed and unprepared to respond to queries about the way in which members of the city police are deployed and managed. Take for example one inspector who had been assigned to drive the substantive town clerk (TC) Beulah Williams. The TC is still on leave. He does not perform similar duties for the person who is acting as town clerk, she has to fend for herself. This inspector is not assigned other duties.
This column wants to know why the chief constable had to be driven out of the compound where her office is located just minutes before the meeting took place? There were no excuses for her absence.
To the readers of this column, a fruitful and rewarding 2007