The downward slippage at City Hall perpetrated by the President, Minister Whittaker and Ms Sooba triumvirate, continues unabated. In keeping with the law, Chapter 28:01 part iii – 51 and 52 a statutory meeting was fixed for Monday, February 9, 2015, but Ms Sooba locked the doors leading to the council chamber, in an effort to avoid the meeting being held.
To add salt to the wound, in keeping with the said law at 52 (i) “the Mayor and the Chairman may call an extra ordinary meeting of the Council at any time,” on Thursday, February 12, 2015, a meeting was summoned by the Mayor for Monday, February 16, 2015 at 1400 hrs, to deal with a number of urgent matters including our budget. Again Ms Sooba, offering no valid or acceptable reasons, failed to summon the said meeting, in clear violation of our laws. There was not a word from Minister Whittaker, yet we see a letter published in the Stabroek News by the said Minister on Thursday, February 12, 2015, titled ‘It would be highly irregular for the Mayor’s Office to manage the sale of “spots” for Mash Day.’ The Deputy Mayor offered a solid structured reply, published the following day, Friday, February 13, titled ‘The Minister of Local Government has no authority to dictate to the city council; the Town Clerk (ag) is the chief administrative officer of the council and not the CEO.’
The facts and information in that reply are unassailable as it exposes a strange and unacceptable pattern of behaviour on the part of Minister Whittaker, whose obsession seems to be the protection of his provincial protégé, Ms Sooba, at all costs. Mr Whittaker continues to show a bias in favour of this unqualified public official; nowhere else, my research has found, is anything like this happening.
Even at the risk of being tedious, citizens need again to be given examples of this unacceptable behaviour by a Minister. Not once has he addressed the umpteen transgressions of Ms Sooba. He deals with frivolous matters which perhaps in his opinion are directed against her, but ignores major violations committed by her on a daily basis.
- Last January 2014 he sent a letter to the media assailing the Deputy Mayor and others saying we were disrespectful and showing disdain to Ms Sooba, because the Deputy Mayor referred to her as acting Town Clerk.
- But when Ms Sooba sent an obnoxious and rude memo to the Mayor in reply to a request to summon a meeting, there was not a word from the Minister to the public, even though he admitted at a meeting in his office that the memo was so crude that he had asked Ms Sooba to withdraw it, and apologize to the Mayor. To date Ms Sooba has done neither and there has been not another word from the Minister.
- An order to purchase equipment is to be signed by the Mayor, Town Clerk, City Treasurer, City Engineer before same can be activated. The Mayor does not sign, but makes a note, that based on advice from persons in our workshop, he does not recommend the purchase of used equipment and we should purchase new equipment. Weeks later the Town Clerk states at a meeting when questions were asked that the Minister signed in the place of the Mayor. When the Minister was asked whether he had indeed substituted his signature for that of the Mayor, there was a deafening silence.
- I invite the media, taxpayers and patriots to visit the Stone Depot and the workshop in Princes Street, east of St Stephen Street and see the disgraceful heap of ‘junk’ littering the yard, including equipment recently purchased. The Mayor has over the past years attempted to put in place procedures to get rid of derelict vehicles and equipment in the Stone Depot and Workshop compounds, but Ms Sooba has routinely failed and refused with the connivance of Minister Whittaker to take appropriate action. This has been replicated in our markets and other municipal facilities. Not a word from the Minister.
- We hear of the half billion spent in the city, and I challenge the Minister to list the projects with individual costs, then invite the media and public on a tour to see how our money is being misspent.
- On Saturday I drove through Haley Street, and like so many others it’s a horror story. The National Assembly passed a resolution to restore Georgetown, but since it would have involved all stakeholders the government simply frustrated the process and came up with their own brain child to fool the people.
- At the Linden Town Day in April last year, I informed the Minister that Ms Sooba refused to supply fuel to the official vehicle assigned to the Mayor’s office, and he promised to have this absurdity corrected. We had to go to the High Court to obtain justice and even though the court ruled that she is duty bound to supply fuel to the vehicle, Ms Sooba has now decided to supply an inadequate quantity of fuel. This may require another court effort, not to mention, no newspapers and basic supplies to the Mayoral complex which has been going on from the time Ms Sooba took office.
Now we have another apparent vendetta against the Mayor and Councillors who dare to speak up. Ms Sooba has for several months been deducting monies from the meagre stipend of the Mayor and Councillors. To date no one understands the rationale for these deductions. Councillors Davi Ross and Sybil Basdeo pointed out that they have never missed any meeting of the council, and asked that the Town Clerk ag provide the ‘formula’ used to deduct monies from their stipend. A resolution of full council in November of 2014 requested Ms Sooba to provide within two weeks, the formula used for deducting monies from the Mayor and Councillors’ stipend. The deadline has passed and Ms Sooba cannot provide an answer, but continues on this rampage. Not a word from the Minister about the outrageous behaviour of this lady.
- The city is now faced with a serious garbage crisis. Facts: In November 2013 the Full Council by way of a unanimous decision directed the Town Clerk to advertise for the collection of garbage for groups 7 and 8 (Queenstown and parts of South). Ms Sooba was reminded to do this on several occasions, but she refused to advertise, so a particular contractor was engaged by Ms Sooba unknown to the Mayor and Councillors or any committee of the Mayor and City Council. The contractor worked, we believe in good faith, and must be paid. When I discussed this with the Minister I pointed out Ms Sooba’s grave dereliction of duty, and that she should be surcharged and have the contractor paid, but instead of dealing with Ms Sooba’s impropriety and illegality, he said that is not going to happen. The criminal neglect of our city is destroying our capital, and rapidly.
- I wrote about City Hall, but neither the Minister nor Ms Sooba has acted so we await a disaster. Not a word from the Minister, who found the time to write about spots for Mash Day, and whether Ms Sooba should be described as the Town Clerk or acting Town Clerk.
With the looming garbage and therefore health crisis in the city, every resident and visitor can look forward to a propaganda blitz by the state-controlled media or a repeat of the callous, but revealing statement by a Minister of Local Government that he would welcome a health crisis in Georgetown. Is this statement the guiding principle and philosophy of the Ramotar administration? It would seem so.
We are entitled to better governance.