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PPP’s call for City Council’s removal faces stumbling blocks

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 December 2015, 20:59 by GxMedia

Acting Town Clerk, Carol Ryan-Sooba

The Peoples Progressive Party’s (PPP) call for Georgetown’s councillors to be booted out and replaced with an Interim Management Committee (IMC) appear to be hot air because there is a pending court case against the establishment of an un-elected body to run the city’s affairs.

Opposition politicians in and out of City Hall on Sunday also said even if the legal green-light was given, the Local Government Minister first has to hold an enquiry to determine if there is enough reason for an IMC to be established.

Twenty years on since the last Local Government Election was held, A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU), Ronald Bulkan said  instead of politicking the PPP-Civic led administration should call the polls on or before August 1, 2014 in keeping with an opposition-approved legislation. “There is a mechanism if you want to get rid of the Mayor. The mechanism is called elections. Any other thing is a backdoor manoeuvre. We are dealing with a pack of gangsters here,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.

Veteran Local Government expert, Llewelyn John added that steps should have been long taken for the councillors to hold elections among themselves for the positions of Mayor and Deputy Mayor in keeping with the law.

Bulkan’s colleague MP, Basil Williams said a High Court action against an IMC would also prevent the minister from taking steps to remove the council. “If the case is pending before the court and there is an order, they can’t go ahead with that,” said Williams.

Reacting to the PPP’s accusations that the councillors were filling their pockets with proceeds acquired through corruption, Deputy Mayor Patricia Chase-Green called on controversial Acting Town Clerk, Carol Ryan-Sooba to produce evidence to prove that persons were prosecuted and convicted for stealing the municipality’s cash. “Let them identify whose pockets have been filled. Since Carol Ryan-Soon has sat there has Town Clerk, let her say to the public who she would have found corrupt and would have taken to court and was found guilty and how many employees have been disciplined for corrupt transaction,” she said.

Amid the ongoing brouhaha and legal wrangling over the legitimacy of Ryan-Sooba’s appointment as Town Clerk because she is unqualified for the post, Chase-Green debunked the PPP’s claims that the Council was perpetrating racism. “There is no racism. This Council, during my time in it, the persons who we had dismissed through the Ministry of Local Government were all Black people so it’s no race but suddenly they are pin-pointing race on one unqualified woman who can’t get this city clean,” said the Deputy Mayor.

Ryan-Sooba is a Guyanese of East Indian descent and the majority of the Councillors are Guyanese of African descent.

The Deputy Mayor echoed previous calls for Local Government Elections and added that the PPP should make its position clear on local democracy. “It is time they stop hiding behind that mask and come out in the public and say quite clearly they don’t want Local Government elections.

“They want to run the City. If they put an IMC it would be hand-picked people from the PPP government and we know what is that,” she said.

The Acting Town Clerk last week locked the door to City Hall’s Chamber where statutory meetings are held on grounds that the incorrect procedure was being used to inform and involve her in the process.

The Mayor then proceeded to chair an extraordinary council meeting in the City Hall compound and decided that Ryan-Sooba was no longer the Town Clerk and that she was being replaced by Public Relations Officer, Royston King.

King was one of four qualified applicants who had last year applied for the position of Town Clerk.  He subsequently challenged Ryan-Sooba’s appointment despite a unanimous recommendation by an interviewing panel.

Government has since ruled that the Local Government Minister enjoyed no authority to appoint the Town Clerk and that should have been a function of the Local Government Commission. That commission has not been established.