Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Narine on Monday attempted to convince the council that his office should have control of the Public Relations department because he was “tired of going through several persons” when he requires coverage of the work he is doing. “The PR Department is not functioning as it is supposed to. I’ll have to write my schedule and give them in advance. You have to go through 20 people before you can get the PR,” Narine said, adding that he believes the Mayor’s office should have direct oversight of the PR department. Acting Town Clerk Sharon Harry-Monroe attempted to point out that the Mayor as political head cannot legal direct the functioning of administrative staff stressing that there is no Mayor’s department but a Mayor’s office which like the PR unit is a part of the Town Clerk’s Department.
However Narine was unmoved charging that the department members were being paid to do nothing.
As Harry-Monroe lamented that it was “unfortunate” that the Chief Citizen would make such a claim, Narine declared “Madame Town Clerk I am speaking! lease!”
He defended his position by arguing that a few weeks ago he visited the Carnegie School of Home Economics and though he informed the Town Clerk’s office he received no coverage from the PR department. The Mayor’s position was supported by Alliance for Change Councillor Ayodele Roach who stood to declare that the department was “trash”. She noted that the council currently operates a Facebook profile rather than a Facebook page which is not enough and admitted to being unaware of the work of council before assuming office. Roach’s statement was not surprisingly met with strong objection from the various council officers present with one senior officer declaring, “PR is more than taking out the Mayor’s picture.”
Notably instead of requiring that Roache retract her statement and apologize to the staff, Narine took exception to those councillors including Councillors Trichia Richards and Heston Boswick who stood to defend the department.
Richards argued that to bash the department without understanding fully what is happening is offensive.
“I take offence to that. To say the PR department is trash is very offensive,” she said explaining that councillors need to understand that the department is not fully funded.
Richards said that the Finance Committee is currently working to provide resources to the PRO and her staff and stressed that “questions should be asked before councillors make statements.” Bostwick in speaking on the issue urged councillors to refrain from using offensive language at the Horseshoe table since no rebuttal can remove from the record unbecoming comments which would travel out of the chamber.
Former Mayor Patricia Chase-Green also attempted to clarify the position of the department noting that “everyone was informed that the videographer, who is the lone field staff, is working with his own resources and not that of the council.”
“You can’t give a man basket to fetch water in and those councillors who were here before know we have been fighting with the PR department to reach a certain standard. The little that is being done is because of the tools we have given them. We must first determine if we want this department or we don’t and in the finance committee we have decided we do,” she said. Chase-Green reiterated that the department is not a Mayor’s PR department but a Mayor and City Council PR department and said that every Mayor before now has recognized this and engaged with the department accordingly.
“Activities of the day is by the personal assistant typed out and delivered to the PR department, the driver and whoever else is required to assist in its execution so they have an idea of what is going on,” the former Mayor noted before attempting to explain that as unionized workers members of the department are entitled to certain working conditions.
Narine however interrupted to note that he will no longer contact the PR department but do his work without coverage.