On September 17, the Local Government Commission (LGC) issued a statement, which, inter alia, declared: “Consequent on the receipt of several complaints on the administration and operations of the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown (M&CC), the Local Government Commission has constituted a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) that will examine, advise and report on any or all irregularities that may exist within this local government body.”
It announced that the Town Clerk Royston King had been sent on “administrative leave” and that the Terms of Reference (ToRs) of the one-man CoI, in the person of past Chancellor of the Judiciary, Retired Cecil Kennard were to:
“1. Investigate the administration and operations of the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown;
2. The reason for and the process by which a motion of no confidence on the Town Clerk was dealt with by the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown; and
3. Generally, to investigate any matter that may be brought to the attention of the Commissioner during the Inquiry that would adversely affect the administration and operation of the Municipality of Georgetown.”
Most citizens of the country breathed a sigh of relief that at long last some relief might be forthcoming from the daily litany of scandals and corrupt practices exposed in the media, but invariably swept under the carpet. From the time of their election, M&CC had operated as if they were a law unto themselves, even as billions were transferred from the Consolidated Fund by the coalition Government to bail them out.
After three months of hearings, which were riveting for their sordid and salacious details of venality and corruption, Justice Kennard submitted his Report to the Chairman of the LGC, Vibert Mingo. Citizens would now be turning their eyes to the LGE to take action since Justice Kennard did not mince words in his recommendations.
It was also a further indictment on the M&CC that the CoI recommended that the previous recommendations of the Keith Burrowes Report and those of the consultant firm, Sandra V Jones and Associates be implemented immediately. It is clear that the M&CC had no interest in running City Hall on sound management principles, but rather saw it as their private money cow. Kennard recommend a forensic audit be conducted into all transactions between April 1, 2015, and October 31, 2018.
Noting it was “the easiest of recommendation to make”, the CoI cited Town Clerk Royston King for gross misconduct, abuse of office, recklessness, dishonesty, conspiracy, and misappropriation of funds and recommended he be terminated, and criminal charges be laid against him in respect of his actions. It noted that the former Mayor, Patricia Chase Green appeared to have committed the tort of misfeasance and should be dealt with condignly.
The Acting Town Clerk, Sharon Harry-Munroe was cited for dereliction of duty and incompetence; Assistant Town Clerk Sherry Jerrick for dereliction of duty and incompetence; Internal Auditor Omodele Umojo-Newton for incompetence and conspiracy; Chief Constable Andrew Foo for dereliction of duty and incompetence; Human Resources Manager Paulette Braithwaite for incompetence; City Engineer Colvern Venture for incompetence and dereliction of duty; and Rashid Kelman for conspiracy.
The CoI found evidence that contracts were awarded to friends and associates of key officials of the Council, such as the son of the Mayor, the son of the Chairman of the Finance sub-committee, the friend of the son of the Mayor, and friends of the Town Clerk and the Mayor. It noted that under the Companies Act, Section 93, contracts can be set aside for the failure to disclose interest in same.
Finally, the Report charges that, “It also appears as if there is collusion between the Mayor, the Town Clerk and the Chairman of the Finance and Human Resource Management Committees”. Because of this we believe the former Mayor should be asked to resign immediately from the Finance Committee to which she had again being appointed.
The cleaning of the Augean Stables at City Hall must now begin forthwith.