-High Court sets September 1 for hearing
THE Mayor and City Councillors (M&CC) of Georgetown has moved to the High Court to block the recent appointment of interim Town Clerk, Candace Nelson, by the Local Government Commission (LGC).
On July 27, 2021, the LGC demoted Sherry Jerrick to Deputy Town Clerk for reportedly not performing her duties satisfactorily. The LGC commissioners reportedly voted unanimously to revert Jerrick to her previously held position, and later made a decision to appoint Nelson as the interim Town Clerk.
Dissatisfied, the M&CC, through attorneys-at-law Teni Housty, Nigel Hughes and Konyo Sandiford, is asking 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.
The “Town Clerk of Georgetown” is listed as the claimant while the LGC is the respondent. The application is expected to be heard on September 1, 2021, at the Demerara High Court.
According to the claimant, Nelson, since her installation as acting Town Clerk, “has taken a number of disruptive actions which pose serious ongoing continuing breaches that compromise the sanctity of the operations of the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown.”
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 implantation 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.
Further, 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 claimant said that her actions has had a disrupting effect on the smooth and efficient functioning of the M&CC.
During a press conference held earlier this month, the LGC Chairman, Julius Faerber, had said the decision by the commission to revert acting Town Clerk, Sherry Jerrick to her former position as Deputy Town Clerk, and appoint Candace Nelson to act as interim Town Clerk of City Hall is in keeping with the laws of the commission. Faerber had said several meetings were held with Jerrick to clarify several redundancies that were occurring at City Hall.
He said that the commission subsequently came to the conclusion that Jerrick was not performing her duties up to par, and there was a “unanimous” vote among the
seven commissioners to have her appointed Deputy Town Clerk. A subsequent decision was made to appoint Nelson as the interim Town Clerk.
According to the Local Government Act, the commission also has the authority to revert an employee from one position to another. This, he said, is evident in Act 12 of 1980. Additionally, under Article 30 of the Local Government Act 18 of 2013, the chairman of the commission can unilaterally make decisions on behalf of the local government body. “The commission may make rules and regulations prescribing all matters which by this Act are required or permitted to be prescribed which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed by carrying out of or given effect to the provision of this act and particular for the procedures of the commission,” it states.
The LGC’s decision was rejected by Georgetown’s Mayor, Ubraj Narine, who said that Jerrick has proved herself to be competent to the councillors during her two years of service to City Hall. As such, he said the council will not recognise Nelson as the interim Town Clerk. This position resulted in the current legal challenge before the court.