GECOM could be asked to hold separate elections for Georgetown, the issue of the people’s readiness is only a ruse

Dear Editor,

It is worse than disgusting to know the facts and at the same time be subjected to repeated broadcasts and newspaper articles that are quite the opposite. Even worse is that one`s contributing to the State`s revenue (taxes) is abused to facilitate those excursions into fiction.

It is one thing to be a smart politician; but it is quite another to be blatant in the misrepresentation of the facts. For me that is unacceptable politics. The following demonstrates the reasons for my disgust.

Big in the news, these days, are the events at City Hall and the attendant political posturing.

The PPP/C once again called for the installation of an Interim Management Committee in Georgetown and in the same breath contended that an election is not a solution to the problem. That might be true; but what makes the imposition of an Interim Management Committee superior to constitutionally due elections? What makes the view of the Government on who should administer the affairs of Georgetown superior to, or more legitimate than, the view of the electorate? All of this posturing is occurring at a time when the elections are long overdue and the mechanism for them to be held has been in place even before the 2011 national elections. In fact, GECOM was preparing for local government elections in 2010. Hence, if Georgetown is in crisis, GECOM could be requested to hold those elections immediately and separate and apart from the other elections that are also due. This may also serve GECOM, well, as a dry-run for the subsequent holding of the other 70 elections, given the newness of the system.

As for the cry that the people are not ready, there is no public evidence of any mass education that is being undertaken, notwithstanding the Minister’s pronouncement. Worthy of note is the fact that the Government declined Canadian funding, in 2005, for the conduct of public education on the local government electoral system, an element of the reform which had already been agreed to, at that time, by the major parliamentary parties, and which the Joint Task Force had agreed to conduct. This issue of the people’s readiness could only be a ruse.

Associating APNU and AFC with the state of things at City Hall is another act of deception. APNU and AFC have nothing to do with the composition of the Council. Both organisations came into existence long after the last held elections in 1994 and are not represented in City Hall. It is the PNCR, quite distinct from the APNU, the GGG and the PPP/C that make up the present council. The silence of the PPP/C councillors is deafening, while central government and the PPP/C pollute and monopolize the media on issues pertaining to the Mayor and the Council.

The PPP/C was singularly responsible, from 1997 to recent, for including the postponement of the mayoral elections along with the, generally agreed to, postponement of the elections of councillors, in the Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Acts, thus guaranteeing Mayor Green and other local government leaders, across the country, a prolonged lease on life, when in fact had they not specifically postponed mayoral elections, (check the Hansard, the Parliamentary record) Green may have been long gone or retained at the behest of others, whose views were voted down or suppressed, but are now blamed for Green’s presence.

To add salt to the wound, the PPP/C Government has prevailed over the administration of the City of Georgetown by virtue of its relationship with all of the Town Clerks from 1997 to present. From Williams to Sooba, all of whom have been at loggerheads with the Mayor and/or Councillors but have been retained at the behest of the Minister. It is those persons, who have effectively administered or mal-administered the City, while the Council remained in place as an obstacle or lame duck in relation to the actions of Williams, Pluck and Sooba. Treasurers and City Engineers, who did not find favour with the Minister, have been replaced by pliant officers, who in most instances were not the choice of the Council.

So, for much of the period, the Council has been stymied but has been blamed for the failure of the administration / officers, not to mention the inadequacy of the funding for the conduct of the work of the council, including the withholding of permission for the generation of additional revenue and the non-implementation of the new valuation of properties, in Georgetown, all of which have been held up by Central Government.

There is much that is wrong with City Hall but the action of the Central Government has been a major factor in not allowing the electorate to see its electees/councillors at work; or the Council to operate as it should. So, elections alone, indeed, would not be the answer, but much of the answer lies outside of City Hall.

As a litmus test of the government’s commitment, it may be noted that while the electoral system was determined sometime ago, three elements that are provided for in the Constitution were excluded from the legislation.

The provision for the recall of non-performing councillors has been omitted. The representation of lower organs on higher organs has not been included in the legislation, and the provision for village councils and their elections have been omitted. These are all indicators of how much the re-birth of democracy has been embraced in relation to local government and its governance.

The aforementioned are fact-based contentions that can stand scrutiny, unlike the daily blame game to which we are exposed, while Rome burns.

Yours faithfully,

Vincent Alexander

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