Mayor fails in attempt to remove Town Clerk from statutory meeting
The Local Government Commission’s decision to appoint Candace Nelson as the interim Town Clerk for the Georgetown Municipality was protested again on Monday by Mayor Ubraj Narine and Councillors, who claimed that she is not qualified for the post.
Some 25 workers of the Mayor and City Council protested with placards at the Kitty Market in Georgetown, where a statutory meeting was scheduled to be held at 14:00h. However, at around 14:45h, Councillors voted in favour of Mayor Narine having the meeting adjourned, as their attempts to remove Nelson were unsuccessful.
Before the meeting commenced, the Mayor and Councillors had said they did not recognise the appointment of Nelson and, as such, they asked her to “step down” to allow the meeting to be chaired by the Deputy Town Clerk, who was given such duties in the past.
However, Nelson, who was appointed after the Local Government Commission wrote to then acting Town Clerk Sherry Jerrick and instructed her to return to her substantive position of Assistant Town Clerk effective from July 28, refused to be moved.
“The law does not speak to an interim or illegal Town Clerk,” Narine said to Nelson, while urging her to withdraw from the meeting to allow the Deputy Town Clerk to take charge.
The Mayor told Nelson that legal proceedings have been filed before the Chief Justice, challenging her appointment, and he demanded that Nelson leave the meeting. Standing at their seats waving their placards, Councillors shouted at Nelson, “We do not recognise you!”
The interim Town Clerk then informed the meeting that she was not leaving, as her lawyers have advised her that there is no court order restraining her from participating in the meeting.
Narine also instructed the Chief Constable, a male, to remove Nelson from the meeting, but when the Chief Constable approached Nelson, she told him to “stand down”. She also told this to a female City Police rank, who was also given orders to remove her.
With all efforts to remove Nelson proving futile, the Council adjourned the meeting to later this month.
Nelson was appointed by the Local Government Commission in July, and Sherry Jerrick, who served as Town Clerk, was reverted to her previous position. Chairman of the Local Government Commission, Julius Faerber, said last week that the decision to remove Jerrick was a unanimous one.
“That decision was unanimously voted in favour of, and when I said unanimously, there were seven commissioners who were present at that time, and all seven of them voted in favour of having Ms Jerrick return to her substantive position. That was the situation that occurred,” he had told a press conference.
Faerber has pointed out that the decision to appoint Nelson is in keeping with the authority vested in the Local Government Commission under Sections 12 and 13 of the Local Government Commission Act.
Section 13 (2) states thus: “The Commission shall have power to deal with all matters relating to staffing of Local Government organs, and in particular shall be responsible for employment, transfer, discipline and dismissal of staff.” (G1)