Urgent consideration needs to be given to professionalising management of City

Dear Editor,

The records would show that over the last two decades or more all aspects of the City Council’s performance have been in substantial default.

When during the mayoralty of Hon. Hamilton Green, the consultancy report which he commissioned from S.V. Jones Associates revealed a comprehensive range of mal-performance and misconduct specifically by the senior management of the organisation.

 A summary of that Report was submitted to the recent Commission of Inquiry into the behaviours of the Council. The incumbent (or should it read encumbered) Town Clerk was then Public Relations Officer.

Then followed the Report of an earlier COI headed by Mr Keith Burrowes about which recommendations no specific action was taken, for then there was no Local Government Commission. (Incidentally a copy of the Burrowes’ Commission Report was made available months ago to the new Deputy Mayor-elect by the undersigned. Hopefully he and his team will benefit from lessons learnt.)

However, the Auditor General did undertake a comprehensive investigation around 2004 following which disciplinary action included the termination of the Treasurer’s service.

The submission made to today’s Commission of Inquiry, revealed how embedded has been the malfunctioning of every operational component of the age old Georgetown Mayor & City Council – a depressing example for the management of more recently established municipalities.

Those of the City’s newly elected Councillors, not unlikely are destined to learn the bad behaviours of the old membership, abetted by a substantive display of incompetence by almost every senior official. The performance deficits are indeed palpable, and cannot possibly be redressed by newcomers to public organisational decision-making, under-informed of the relevant legislation.

SN’s Editorial of December 4, 2018 is timely and very relevant.

The question therefore arises as to how long could citizens, public and private, have to endure this tradition of sub-standard performance?

The prospect is that we seem destined to endure an exercise in futility – in an environment that promises to be enveloped in new foreign businesses, methodologies, technologies, that will demand higher standards of performance, and consequently better skilled personnel to deliver.

Collectively therefore we need to ponder very seriously whether the current local management structure is still relevant, particularly given the lessons learnt from the performances of novices at higher levels of governance over these past years.

This COI, as other previous reviews, confirms that the wastage gap of financial and other resources is too costly to endure. Accordingly, as a matter of extreme urgency, consideration needs to be given to professionalising the system of management of this critical public service agency. It is by no means an unknown construct, as there are sister countries of the Caribbean who are not expansive enough to indulge in separate local government, and are therefore subject to the decision-making of the national governance system.

In light however, of our own history, views are invited about contemplating a construct wherein the Mayorship is but ceremonial, while the ‘council’ of decision-makers consists of professionals each responsible for assigned areas of responsibilities.

Admittedly this would involve a major organisational reconstruction that very likely would include the creation of a governance structure not dissimilar to that obtaining in some North American cities, with notable achievements.

Right now, with great respect to the elected newcomers, and their aspirations, nothing will change unless all the defective operational systems are completely overhauled, and the critical human resources are equipped with the skills (and honesty) to implement an efficient and transparent system of delivery.

Incidentally of high priority should be the matter of ‘Town Planning’ – to be comprehensively addressed in partnership with the private sector, and of course relevant public sector agencies.

Yours faithfully,

E.B. John

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