Mayor of Georgetown, Patricia Chase-Greene, appeared before the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Friday to answer to the disqualified no-confidence motion that was filed against the Town Clerk and in that progression, was also cautioned about the tone that was used during her witness statement.
Chase-Greene turned up to the Commission with two lawyers – Lyndon Amsterdam and Latoya Roberts – and defended the decision of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) to toss a no-confidence motion that was filed against Town Clerk Royston King.
From the Mayor’s side, an eight-page statement was tendered into evidence to defend some of the allegations which were directed at her. However, the lone Commissioner, Justice Cecil Kennard indicated that it would be unfair to the legal assistants – Everton Singh-Lammy and Sherwin Benjamin – since they were not briefed prior to the session.
Nevertheless, they proceeded to ask questions, focusing on the disqualification of the motion. The way she dealt with the matter as chair was also scrutinised and condemned since the Town Clerk was no doubt a judge in his own case.
In February of 2018, the motion was filed against King by Councillor Sherod Duncan, calling for the management of City Hall to be done in a “professional and competent way by a qualified Town Clerk”.
At that time, Duncan further went on to say that the Town Clerk acts in disregard to the Municipal and District Councils Act (Chap 28:01).
During her testimony, Chase-Greene gave a recap of what transpired on March 12 when the motion was tabled and “dealt with”. King personally sought legal advice from his lawyer, Maxwell Edwards, and recommendations were read at the meeting.
While Edwards had asked for several sections to be amended, Duncan refused to do so and as such, she acted upon the legal advice of the Town Clerk’s lawyer, and went forward to have the motion disqualified after deliberations by the Council.
“The Town Clerk not only looked at the matter but provided legal advice to the Chairman who was permitted to read it aloud in the Council chambers. Councillor [Oscar] Clarke stated that the legal advice could have been sought (after concerns raised by Duncan) and the Chairman advised that the matter did not qualify and was not to be placed on the agenda.”
The Mayor placed the blame on King, noting that he was the one that refused to put the motion on the agenda for the Meeting and further asked for legal advice to be sought.
“After he sought the legal advice, he said that the motion should not go on the agenda. I insisted that it be placed because it was circulated (to councilors and the media).”
As such, it was related that she acted upon the legal advice of the Town Clerk’s lawyer, Maxwell Edwards and then went forward to have the motion disqualified after deliberations by the Council.
Justice Kennard made his intervention, noting that the Mayor should have secured independent legal advice on such an important matter since King was a “suspect”.
“The Town Clerk offered legal advice in a matter where allegations were made against him? He was supposed to seclude himself from any participation. You acted on the advice on the Town Clerk. This is not a normal case. Duncan was making serious allegations” said Kennard.
Unsuccessful in proving her point, the agitated Chase-Greene said she did not accept the questions that were thrown at her by the legal assistants. At that instance, she was warned by Justice Kennard who responded, “Don’t attempt to be rude… take that sort of attitude to City Hall, not here.”
The Commission was unable to advance its probe after one the Mayor’s lawyers, Lyndon Amsterdam, continued his reiteration that she did not make that decision unilaterally. In that process, he failed to recognise her initial decision of trusting Edwards’s opinion meant that King was dictating what needed to be done in an investigation that was filed against him.
The Mayor’s testimony continues on Wednesday, but Royston King was subpoenaed for Monday’s public hearing.