Sooba grilled over use of city resources, budget

-$409,000 sofa raised

City Councillors yesterday deferred consideration of a no confidence motion against Finance Committee Chairman Junior Garrett but they asked numerous questions over resources being used by Town Clerk Carol Sooba

The motion, due to be considered at City Hall’s statutory meeting, contained 10 whereas clauses and stated, among other things, that Garrett approved the release of money without consultations, including $500,000 spent on legal fees for the Town Clerk (ag) Carol Sooba and on non-priority items like a $409,000 sofa for the Town Clerk’s office.

Carol Sooba

Carol Sooba

Councillor Ranwell Jordan, who had moved the motion, was interrupted by Councillor Prabhudial Sattan, who said that he only received the notice on the day of the statutory meeting and in this contention he was supported by other PPP councillors. Jordan, however, maintained that he had submitted the motion on July 21st, within the stipulated 24 hours required for such a motion and it therefore should be discussed.

Councillors who objected to proceeding on the motion stated that they had no time to study it and prepare their presentations. After several minutes of bickering and outbursts, they finally agreed to defer the motion to next week’s statutory meeting.

Meanwhile, the meeting proceeded and councillors spent just under an hour amidst a series of taunts, name calling and other disruptive actions correcting the minutes of the previous meeting.

Mayor Hamilton Green, in justifying the level of time spent correcting the minutes of the previous meeting, charged that diabolical attempts are being made to distort the record of the statutory meeting. He added that incompetence plays a role in doing so as well. To reduce the time spent correcting the minutes, during announcements at the meeting he formally proposed that some arrangement be made for training note takers at City Hall.

During his announcements, which were interrupted at times for varying reasons, Green reminded that he is unable to perform some of his mayoral duties because fuel and other resources continue to be withheld from his office.

He also said he sent letters to officers of the council advising them that they are not compelled to respond to central government’s requests in relation to the $500M city clean-up campaign because they are employees of City Hall and not central government. He subsequently said that any officer willing to oblige the central government may do so on their own accord.

A major ruckus broke out after Sooba interrupted the Mayor for several minutes and persisted continually well beyond the next hour.

Councillor Kamla Devi Ross interjected, saying the interruption was unprofessional. She also demanded that the Town Clerk answer for not making available the 2014 budget to the Finance Committee for approval.

This caused a major row as several of the councillors started to heckle and bang on their desks. Ross also questioned the “abuse” of city resources in relation to the two full-time security officers, drivers and a city vehicle kept at Sooba’s home despite the council’s policy of having the vehicles parked in the compound of City Hall when not in official use. She also questioned the purchase of items not relevant to the council’s work and called upon the Treasurer to answer for this spending in light of her not approving a budget.

Sooba, who consulted with the treasurer, said that the budget was approved in accordance with the regulations of City Hall and promised to circulate the approved budget to the councillors at the next statutory meeting. This was objected to by Ross, Green and several councillors who said that a week is too much time for such an urgent matter. After more outbursts and heckling, the mayor calmly said that this is a fundamental issue and asked when the budget would be available. The Town Clerk declared firmly, “At the next statutory meeting.”



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