Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green on Tuesday agreed that the City Hall is a disaster but laid the blame on what he dubbed the unceasing assault by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on the council.
He was responding to a comment made on Saturday by President Donald Ramotar about the ongoing saga over the appointment of Carol Sooba as Town Clerk. The president said that from all the information he has gathered, the government-appointed Town Clerk was just trying to ensure accountability on the council.
“He is right. It is a disaster; Caused 100% by the constant assault on the duly elected Mayor and Councillors and citizens of Georgetown. His most recent salvo is the absurdity that all Ms. Carol Sooba is seeking to do is preserve the accountability,” Green, however, told a press conference at City Hall on Tuesday. “It is sad that a President of a country should make this untruthful and absurd statement,” he added.
Green also criticised the president over another comment about the opposition’s culture of no. “…Insofar as Georgetown is concerned, it is the PPP administration from the time it failed in Georgetown, [that] has practised the culture of no,” he said, while pointing out that the PPP/C administrations have said “no” to a number of initiatives the council had sought to initiate, including the proposal for a lottery, an operation to make money using a car park outside of the Stabroek area and several others.
Ramotar had also said the council has more than 900 people working with it and he suggested that “political patronage” was being given at the level of the City Council. “Yet our city is in the way that it is,” he stated.
Green, however, refuted these claims, saying, “The president is wrong. The council does not have 900 members of staff; we have less than 800… all the council’s employees are not field officers.”
Meanwhile, Green also spoke about the presence of Shawn Hinds, Sooba’s bodyguard, and revealed that Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker has instructed the Chief Constable to obey the instructions of Sooba and to allow Hinds and others the freedom to operate at City Hall.
Green, in a letter to both acting Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud and Chief Constable Andrew Foo had requested that Hinds be checked to ascertain if he carries a firearm or any illegal weapon as a matter of urgency.
Hinds, an ex-policeman, had been charged with murder but was acquitted in the High Court. He has also faced other charges but has not been convicted.
According to Green, a recent letter from Persaud had said that “security for City Council is the responsibility of the City Constable.”
Green also told Stabroek News on Tuesday evening that the Chief Constable had “indicated that he wanted to rein in Hinds because he has no business there and he (Chief Constable) told me that he subsequently received a call from Whittaker telling him to ‘back off’.”
Also on Tuesday, several councillors complained that they weren’t paid their stipends. Green said, “She (Sooba) has a strange methodology for what councillors should be paid and some are only paid when she sees it fit.”