Sep 08, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – The arguments in the court case filed over the appointment of the Georgetown Mayor and City Council’s (M&CC) Interim Town Clerk, Candace Nelson, got underway on Monday before Justice Joann Barlow at the High Court.
During the proceeding, lawyers Teni Housty and Pratesh (CV) Satram raised contentions over the process used to appoint Nelson to the interim position.
In his presentation, Satram who is representing the interest of the Local Government Commission (LGC), the body responsible for appointing Nelson, submitted that though the decision was initially made by two officers of the LGC, it was subsequently ratified by the committee at a meeting on August 23, 2021.
Satram claimed that the procedure for appointment by the LGC as an independent body allows it to make the decision, without any consultation from the Georgetown Council. The lawyer claimed too that the LGC would have made the necessary considerations based on “eligibility and suitably” of the candidate before appointing Nelson to the position.
As such, the attorney asked the court to respond affirmatively to his application filed to strike out the legal challenge over the appointment of the interim Town Clerk at the earliest possible time.
However, in response to Satram’s contentions, lead attorney for the City Council, Housty, argued that the LGC is liable to consult with the M&CC before any appointment is made. According to Housty, the cooperation between the Council and the LGC is enshrined in the Municipal and District Council’s Act. The lawyer told the court that a section of Municipal and District Council’s Act indicates the role, and the process for identifying such a person to sit as Town Clerk.
He claimed that the consultation does not take away from the independence, rather it is in keeping with the “fundamental principles or due process,” that is undertaken in such appointments. On behalf of the M&CC, Housty, along with attorneys Nigel Hughes and Konyo Sandiford, had asked the court to grant an interim order staying or suspending the implementation of the LGC’s appointment of Nelson until the hearing and determination of the application.
On Monday, Justice Barlow told the attorneys that she will not be granting interim application but will look to rule on the merits of the case, as soon as possible. As a consequence, Justice Barlow scheduled the decision in the matter for Monday, September 13, 2021.
On July 27, 2021, the LGC demoted Sherry Jerrick to Deputy Town Clerk for reportedly not performing her duties satisfactorily. LGC commissioners reportedly voted to revert Jerrick to her previously held position, and later made a decision to appoint Nelson as the Interim Town Clerk. The Council had moved to the High Court to block the recent appointment of Nelson as Interim Town Clerk.
According to documents filed through the Council’s legal team, the claimant, Nelson, since her installation as Acting Town Clerk, “has taken a number of disruptive actions, which pose serious ongoing breaches that compromise the sanctity of the operations of the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown.”
Furthermore, according to the court documents, Nelson sought to suspend a tendering process commenced months prior to July 28, 2021, and has allegedly sought to influence the records of statutory meetings of the M&CC of Georgetown by deleting matters from minutes of meetings, as well as seeking to dictate the contents of the agendas for subsequent meetings of the council. “It is feared that if the implementation or further implementation of the decision is not suspended, Candace Nelson will further disrupt the activities of Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown,” the grounds for the application stated.
Moreover, it is being claimed that the conduct of Nelson, who is purportedly acting under the power of the LGC is “inimical” to the best interests of the M&CC, the infrastructure of the City of Georgetown, and the residents of Georgetown.
Citing that Nelson is acting without proper authority, the Council said that her actions have had a disrupting effect on the smooth and efficient functioning of the M&CC.
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