Amidst calls for the City Engineer’s Department to be more firm with its employees, Assistant City Engineer Rasheed Kellman was yesterday given two weeks to submit an overdue report, failing which, disciplinary action will be taken against by the Georgetown City Council.
This is according to a motion that was passed by the city councillors at a statutory meeting yesterday.
Kellman was one of four engineers who were suspended in June for neglect of duty.
All but one of the five members of the City Engineer’s Department who appeared before the Mayor and City Council’s Human Resource Committee were suspended without pay in June. The decision was taken even as several councillors declared that if replacements were available they would have fired them.
Kellman, Deputy City Engineer Ron Eastman, Technician Engineer Kabila Hollingsworth, Senior Building Inspector Marlon Harris and Building Inspector Vaughn Canterbury were all placed before the committee for disciplinary action after City Engineer Colvern Venture accused the men of neglecting their duties by failing to submit requested reports and respond to memos and directives.
All of the men, except Kellman, were suspended without pay. While Eastman and Hollingsworth received two-week suspensions, Harris and Canterbury were suspended for one week each. Kellman was to receive a letter of caution.
“…Mr Kellman was one of them suspended for dereliction of duties and failing to submit reports… Something is not right and I think that the city engineer gotta be more firm. We ain get last month report, we ain’ get this month report, and the man still deh pon di wuk. Di man shudda gone home already. It’s not fair for us to be operating in a vacuum,” Councillor Junior Garrett stated.
Venture was also reminded by Councillor Akeem Peters that being the head of the department, the “buck stops” at him, and it was, therefore, his responsibility to ensure that the report is delivered.
Enquiries were made at yesterday’s statutory meeting about the status of the City Engineer’s reports, and it was stated that Kellman’s report was the only one outstanding on the last occasion. Up to yesterday, the report had still not been submitted.
City Engineer Venture told the council that Kellman was written to and it is expected that he will submit the information. He said that if Kellman failed to do so, the matter would be addressed.
When asked about a deadline, it was further explained that reports are required to be submitted by the 15th of every month, but a councillor pointed out that if the engineer was not given a date by which to submit (as it was already overdue), he can make the decision to submit at any time.
Garrett reiterated that the engineer be given a deadline to submit the reports, failing which, action should be taken.
Meanwhile, Deputy Town Clerk Sharon Harry Munroe, said that the complaints were brought to the Town Clerk’s attention, and that the report would likely go to the Human Resources Committee. She committed to having a report on the matter submitted.
“Town Clerk, I hear you. I hear you and I understand what you’re saying but too often we become a talk shop. Things are being shuffled back and forth, back and forth,” Deputy Mayor Lionel Jaikarran, who was acting as Chairman of the meeting at the time, stated.
He then “suggested” that Kellman be given until the next statutory meeting to submit the report, which did not sit well with Councillor Heston Bostwick, who reminded Jaikarran that they were there to make decisions.
“We either decide that the engineer bring the report or we don’t decide. We have to stop discussing. We are here to make decisions. And Mr chair, if you say you suggest then that suggestion may never be a reality…we need to decide what is being done and ensure it is being done, that’s what we’re here for, to make decisions,” Bostwick stated.
Following this, a motion was moved to give Kellman until the next statutory meeting, which will be held on October 9, to submit any outstanding reports, failure to do which will result in disciplinary action being meted out to him.
The room heard a resounding “aye” as the motion was passed.
Earlier in the proceedings, Mayor Patricia Chase-Green had alluded to complaints she has received surrounding the work of the City Engineer’s Department.
“…The engineer’s department has to have some proper system, all officers must carry their weight. They’re too many complaints coming out of the engineer’s department… every single day in my office I have received no less than four complaints for the engineers and for some of the officers and they are repetitive…,” she complained.
Chase-Green then made reference to an incident in relation to an estimate for works to be done on a bridge in Agricola, even as she criticised the approach taken by some members of the department.
“Councillor Samuels would have asked me to say that he would have made two requests to the Town Clerk, one to the City Engineer’s department for an estimate for a bridge to be done in Agricola … I’ve asked the Engineer’s Department—the engineer assigned officers to do these jobs—please ensure that the estimates are submitted on time. We cannot be lackadaisical in everything…councillors are trying to assist this council by getting help. We are getting help in the rehabilitation of a bridge that will serve the community in Agricola and just an estimate…the officer was on site…and to date, that estimate has not been sent to the councillor,” she said.
Questioning whether it was a “blatant sabotage,” Chase-Green stated that if they could not move forward in the matter, the officers would be brought before the council.