The parking meter deal …UK envoy knocks City Hall for lack of transparency, arrogance
Jun 24, 2016 , By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell, http://www.kaieteurnewsonline....nsparency-arrogance/
“It takes great strength and character to say sorry whenever you are wrong and offer comfort to the public by saying how you are going to make it right”- Quinn
Sticking faithfully to the principles the United Kingdom has been known to abide by, High Commissioner Greg Quinn has weighed in on issues surrounding the parking meters deal. The envoy opined that there is much to be desired.
Kaieteur News yesterday conducted an exclusive interview with Quinn that covered a range of matters.
UK High Commissioner, Greg Quinn
Speaking specifically on the parking meters controversy, the envoy touched on three issues identified in the media which he said do not comply with the standards that a transparent and democratic council should hold for itself. The envoy pointed to the lack of transparency; the lack of a democratic process in Council deliberations and the fact that in the face of it all, the public was told that no apologies will be offered.
Britain, the United States and Canada had strongly lobbied for the holding of Local Government Elections (LGE) that was absent in Guyana for over two decades. The ABC countries repeatedly called for LGEs as they held out that it is imperative for a State to make sure that democracy exists at all levels—Central and Local Government.
LGEs were held in March. Three months later, Kaieteur News asked Quinn whether he feels democracy is alive in the newly-elected City Council. The diplomat did not offer a yes or no answer in this regard. However, his response pointed out the lack of a key principle of democracy.
Inclusiveness is the main pillar of a strong democracy. The UK High Commissioner told Kaieteur News yesterday that all members of the council should be included in the decision-making processes.
Deputy Mayor, Sherod Duncan had told the media that he was largely left in the dark about the parking meter deal. It has been reported that the contract for the project was not circulated to members of the council.
Quinn said that fundamentally, “Every member of the Georgetown Council has the right to an opportunity to give his or her say on everything that the council does.”
The High Commissioner said that councillors should always be highly informed as ultimately every member of the council would be held responsible for everything the council does. “Therefore I would expect the council to operate in an open manner and to consult with all the councillors,” said Quinn.
The envoy added that decisions should only flow from processes that involve consultation.
At a recent press conference, Mayor Patricia Chase- Green told the media that she is not prepared to release the contract to the public out of fear that the parking meter idea would be stolen. The Mayor did not point finger as to whom she was worried would steal the idea.
Quinn said that the Council has to recognize the need for transparency.
He said that Chase-Green “may have a good reason for not publishing the contract. But I think if there is a reason, it needs to be made clear.”
Quinn said that good reasons for not wanting to make the contract public should harmonize with reasons usually offered by world leaders for keeping the public in the dark about a particular issue.
“As I said, she (Chase-Green) may have a reason, but she needs to supply a little more detail to make it come across clearly,” the High Commissioner stressed.
Quinn said that even if good enough reason exists as to why Chase-Green may want to withhold the contract from the public, Councillors still need to be informed.
Turning his attention to the “no apologies” statement made by Chairman of the Finance Committee, Oscar Clarke, Quinn said that those words should not be used by a public official.
As he addressed concerns made about the project and his trip to Mexico, Clarke said, “I have no apologies to make to anyone. I getting like Mr. Harmon.” Minister of State Joseph Harmon had expressed similar sentiments when asked about the salary increases given to Ministers who had spent just a few months in office.
Quinn said, “I don’t think you should ever say you would not or don’t have to apologize for anything.”
Further, Quinn said that public officials are given a glorious opportunity anytime they are allowed to apologize to the public.
“I think, in fact, it is a mark of your strength if you are willing to apologize whenever you do things. By apologizing, you demonstrate to the population that you are strong. It takes great strength and character to say sorry whenever you are wrong and offer comfort to the public in saying how you are going to make it right,” said Quinn.
The issues surrounding the impending implementation of parking meters in the City are becoming endless. The main issue, however, is the fact that the contract is being kept private.