Minister Lall declares King appointment null and void
MINISTER of Local Government and Regional Development, Mr. Kellawan Lall said, yesterday, that the motion, passed by the City Council at its last statutory meeting, to have its Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mr. Royston King appointed new Acting Town Clerk with immediate effect, is null and void. Speaking at a press conference, to deal with the controversy, in his ministry’s boardroom, on Fort Street, Kingston, Georgetown, he said: “The motion collides with the Municipal and District Councils Act. You cannot appoint someone with immediate effect when, in fact, you have to make a recommendation to the Minister…I cannot understand why this motion was allowed. It cannot stand scrutiny.”
Lall accused King of trying to usurp the functions of the Town Clerk and added: “I believe there are some political shenanigans going on in the Council and this will have some serious implications.’
The Minister, stated that he has information King tried to install himself as the Town Clerk, said: ”I have to get some legal advice as I believe this is an offence.”
Lall said, should King be found guilty of making the attempt, his application for the post would no longer be considered.
Furthermore, the Minister said an investigation, which is underway, could very well affect King’s position as PRO. “He dealt with the matter in an undignified manner. He will have to pay the penalty.”
Lall also warned the Personnel Officer, Ms. Paulette Braithwaite, who attempted to install King, on Tuesday, by instructing Acting Town Clerk Yonnette Pluck to remove herself from office, that, by the end of yesterday, she would have had to show cause why she should not be dismissed.
The Minister said: “I wish to mention that the deliberations of the Council were brought to my attention by means of a letter that was sent to my Permanent Secretary, from Ms. Braithwaite, signing on behalf of Ms. Pluck, stating that King has been, with effect from March 1, appointed Town Clerk and asked that the Minister give his approval.
“I found that to be a very strange manner of approaching the Minister for his approval. It has never been done that way before and I got the impression that Ms. Pluck did not know of this letter. Any letter to address such matters should be done through the Clerk of Assembly, who is the Town Clerk,” he explained.
The Minister, in a letter to Mayor Hamilton Green, said he proposed that a new panel be constituted to examine all the applications for the Town Clerk and Treasurer positions, to undertake interviews and make a final recommendation.
“This would presuppose that the Acting Town Clerk Pluck remain in position,” Lall said.
Furthermore, the Minister said he proposed that the panel consist of a representative of the Georgetown Municipality, one from the Ministry of Local Government, one from Guyana Labour Union (GLU), one from Guyana Local Government Officers Union (GLGOU) and one from the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Minister said the panel should be more broad-based, help resolve the matter in a dignified manner and remove any doubts of prejudice.
“I can forego that process and appoint but I want it to be something that is mutually agreed,” he remarked.
The Minister said the City Council went ahead and conducted interviews even though it knew that he had already solicited applications from the public for the two positions.
According to him, Pluck, who did not show up for an interview, was asked for an explanation and was able to provide one.
Continuing, he said: “I am, somewhat, appalled at an attempt to create mayhem. The current position of the Town Clerk has not been rescinded by the Minister. The process of advertising for the positions was being duplicated by the Council,” Lall wrote to the Mayor.
Meanwhile, Minister Lall said, to date, the Implementation Committee (IC) that was established by his ministry to investigate the operations of the M&CC has done a tremendous job.
He said significant improvement has been seen in the workings of the Council since the IC, chaired by Commissioner Keith Burrowes, was named.
The Minister said he sought not to make any appointments at the municipality but gave the IC some more time to deal with other aspects, especially the preparation of the budget.
Asked to comment after the press conference, King said he was in no position to do so as he did not attend it.
“I have to have a professional position. All I am doing is carrying out the decision of the Council,” he maintained.
King said he was performing the duties of Town Clerk as that was the decision made by Council. “There’s nothing else I could do.”