… City being micromanaged by Min Bulkan – former Deputy Mayor
As the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) unfolds into the operations at the Mayor and City Council (M&CC), Alliance For Change (AFC) Councillor Sherod Duncan took the stand, declaring that the Town Clerk is incapable of performing his duties which has led to much interference from the Communities Minister.
Duncan stood before Justice Cecil Kennard as he made his testaments under oath, sharing some light into the activities which have been occurring at the Council under the leadership of Mayor Patricia Chase Green and the Town Clerk, Royston King.
He indicated that Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan has taken the liberty to interfere into the works at City Hall and in some cases, King was notified via letters that his decisions were not approved by Central Government. According to Duncan, it seems as though Bulkan “has taken up residence” at City Hall to look at all activities under a microscope.
“The city is being micromanaged by the Minister of Communities when you should have a competent Town Clerk who understands what he is doing and the Minister is writing to the Town Clerk reprimanding him. It boggles my mind,” he further added.
On one occasion, King was engaged by the Minister in relation to the dismissal of two officers who were attached to the City Constabulary. One of the officers had provided evidence of wrongdoing against another officer. However, King dismissed both of them even after the committee was asked to address the incident. He was later addressed by Bulkan for the way this matter was dealt with.
According to Duncan, he is under the impression the Mayor has relinquished all of her superiority into the hands of the Town Clerk and as such, he has been misusing his authorities and power. Duncan indicated that on many occasions, the Councillors were not briefed on the allocation of monies for contracts that were been awarded. An instance is the $125 million contract that was allocated towards the restoration of the Le Repentir Cemetery which was finalised after a unilateral decision.
When asked by Justice Cecil Kennard as to what would have been the outcome of the No-Confidence Motion that was filed against the Town Clerk if it was approved, Duncan explained that early interventions would have been taken by the Local Government Commission (LGC).
“One of the consequences of the motion would’ve been the registering or displeasure in the conduct of the Town Clerk and then following that subsequently, [actions on behalf of] the Local Government Commission.”
The motion was filed earlier this year but was disallowed by the Mayor after seeking legal advice from Attorney Maxwell Edwards, who is the spouse of Councillor Noelle Chow-Chee.
Rented bus parks
Cecelia Richards represented the University of Guyana’s branch of the United Minibus Union (UMU), to highlight a decision that was taken by the Town Clerk to collect monies from nine specific drivers of the Route 44 (Industry) route. She testified that King was collecting a monthly rental of $3000 from each of the drivers to occupy a stretch of the roadway that spans from the Avenue of the Republic to Hinck Street. Consequently, some 45 drivers are left to fend for themselves as the area remains occupied by the said drivers.
Prior to that, city Police Officers would arrive at the park every day to collect $200 from each of the drivers. When confronted, officials at City Hall denied implementing such a regulation. Efforts were made to reach the Town Clerk, but the affected drivers were prohibited from meeting with him.
“It was hard for us to provide for our families. We just stay there all day at the back of the line,” said Richards.
The inquiry is expected to conclude on October 31, where the necessary recommendations will be submitted after all evidence is presented before the Commission. Justice Kennard sought to point out that letters in the media will not be taken in account as testimonies. Hence, persons would have to take the stand under oath to submit their evidence.
Since September 21, 2018, the Town Clerk was instructed to proceed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.