During the second day of her testimony before the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the administration and operations of the City Council, Georgetown Mayor Patricia Chase-Green continued to argue that the laws governing local government do not grant her the power to seek independent legal advice.
“I on my own could not have sought the services of a lawyer,” she repeatedly noted in response to questioning from lone commissioner retired Justice Cecil Kennard.
While Kennard questioned the Mayor he took pains to maintain a conciliatory tone noting that he would not like to have a repeat of Friday when his exchange with the Mayor turned testy and he told her to “shut up and listen” as well as take her “rude…attitude to City Hall.”
Kennard’s outburst has been the subject of both praise and condemnation and while on Monday he stressed that he would not apologise yesterday’s exchange was much more pleasant.
“We are not here to embarrass anybody we are here to get information,” he declared.
Legal Counsel for the CoI, Everton Singh-Lammy continued his questioning of Chase-Green by returning to council’s handling of the no confidence motion brought against Town Clerk Royston King by former Deputy Mayors Sherod Duncan and Lionel Jaikaran, both of the AFC.
On Friday, the Mayor spent in excess of an hour explaining that the legal advice from King was accepted and the motion disallowed based on majority vote.
“I cannot unilaterally make decisions…it was a majority vote of council,” she had repeatedly stressed.
Yesterday, she again noted that while she presides over Council meetings the law guides how she should act.
“There are rules and regulations under 28:01 which guide my actions,” Chase-Green noted drawing attention to the Sixth Schedule of the Municipal and District Councils Act, which gives the Town Clerk the power to not only to convene all meetings and prepare all agendas, minutes and reports but to give council general advice on all matters where his advice is necessary, including Standing Orders and by-laws as well as offer legal advice.
According to the Mayor, King had indicated to her before the Statutory Meeting of March 12 that he had received advice which stated that the motion was improperly drafted and would therefore not include it on the Agenda.
“I said regardless of your advice put the motion on the agenda and the advice too,” she testified. This decision she explained was because the motion had been widely circulated including to the Media and therefore she felt it needed to be dealt with by Council.
Chase-Green maintained that she was familiar with the concept of natural justice and would’ve required that King recuse himself if the motion had actually been addressed rather than disallowed.
She further reminded that several Town Clerks had sat in situ when motions had been brought against them. The most recent former Town Clerk, Carol Sooba sat through six no-confidence motions brought against her over the three years she held the post.
Sooba who was installed as Town Clerk in 2012 by the Former Minister of Local Government consistently clashed with the Hamilton Green-led council which tabled and passed motion after motion. It was not until a change of government in 2015 that the sixth motion passed and sent to Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan led to Sooba being sent home.
According to Chase-Green who has been a member of council since 1994 at no time during her tenure has another other Mayor been held accountable for a decision of council in relation to a motion not being debated.
Former magistrate Maxwell Edwards who has repeatedly been referred to as the personal lawyer of King was yesterday upgraded to a lawyer for the Georgetown Mayor and City Council as Chase-Green testified that she was recently informed that Edwards is a lawyer advising the council.
“I was recently informed that Edwards is a lawyer advising the council when he was added to the list I don’t know but I know that the Town Clerk told me Edwards is one of the [Council’s] battery lawyers,” the Mayor said adding that she can’t recall the time when King made this disclosure to her.