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Royston King takes Local Govt Minister to court over Sooba’s appointment

Town Clerk Carol Sooba

One of the unsuccessful applicants for the post of Town Clerk for the Georgetown Municipality on Friday moved to the High Court to challenge government’s appointment of Carol Sooba.

The High Court granted a temporary order that essentially reverts Sooba’s appointment to that of acting Town Clerk until Local Government Minister, Ganga Persaud can show cause why the decision to appoint her substantively was just.

The matter comes up again in the High Court on December 23.

In court papers seen by Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com), Royston King wants the High Court to grant several orders including one for Persaud to show cause why his decision to appoint Sooba should not be quashed because it “is contrary to the legitimate expectations of the applicant created by the publication of an advertisement in the daily newspapers of the minister’s intention to fill the position of Town Clerk by a person who was best suited and qualified for the said position based on criteria established by the minister.”

King, a long-serving Public Relations of the Mayor and City Council, also wants the Court to find that the Minister of Local Government’s decision to appoint Sooba as one that is “unreasonable and/or perverse for reason” that he “wrongfully failed to apply the criteria which he had established for the identification of the candidate best suited for the position of Town Clerk.

The applicant charged that the minister “used extraneous unrelated criteria which criteria were not in the public interest.”

The Ministry of Local Government invited applications for the post of Town Clerk on September 19,22,27 and 29. King said he was invited to attend an interview by a panel that was made up of Deputy Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green; representative of the Guyana Local Government Officers Union, Dale Beresford; Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, Colin Croal; Personnel Officer of the Ministry of Public Service, Andrew Grant and a representative of the Audit Office of the Ministry of Finance.

King said he was advised by Chase-Green that the Ministry of Local Government provided the panel with a rating schedule that dealt with general physical fitness, appearance and articulation; special qualifications and special current training; work experience; knowledge of the job applied for, aptitude and service in present position; relationship with colleagues, supervisors, subordinates, members of the public, workers’ representatives et al and general knowledge and special interest in community development.

The applicants also included Paul Clark, Darren Khan and Sooba  However, King said he was informed by Chase-Green that when Sooba attended the interview she failed to provide any academic qualifications and “her general attitude was hostile and belligerent.”

King said he was informed that he came second to Clark who was unanimously recommended for the position of Town Clerk.

The plaintiff noted in the court papers that the Minister of Local Government had sought to justify Sooba’s appointment by saying that “She is qualified and that is the reason why she was appointed. Based on our criteria she is qualified,” The job description would have listed academic qualifications and Ms Sooba is not without academic qualifications. We invited every individual that applied because we were determined that we had to make sure that we cleared this business and move on. Every person was identified and then we sought to identify the best of those who applied. That’s what we did. What is wrong with that, I don’t know. If you find something wrong with that then that is not our problem.”