July 31, 2021
-law says three-member quorum needed for binding decision
Chairman of the Local Government Commission (LGC) Julius Faerber is maintaining that he had the authority to unilaterally appoint junior staff member Candace Nelson to act as Town Clerk of Georgetown, although the law stipulates that any action taken by fewer than three members of the constitutional body is not binding.
“I am the Commission between meetings. I am the Chairman. I have that authority to make that decision between meetings. It’s stated in the Act,” Faerber told Stabroek News yesterday, following accusations by two opposition-nominated members of the LGC that he unilaterally appointed Nelson without consulting the other members of the body.
Asked to identify the section of the legislation which empowers him to act in such a manner, Faerber indicated that he was not in a position to do so since he did not have the Act with him.
Stabroek News examined the Act and found that none of its 31 Sections make any such provisions as claimed by him. In fact, both Section 12 and Section 15 of the Act suggest that any action taken by fewer than three members of the Commission are not binding. Section 12 states that if the LGC membership falls below three, the Commission shall cease to function while Section 15 (3) specifies that a quorum is three members.
On Wednesday, opposition-nominated commissioners Joan-Ann Romascindo and Nicola Trotman told reporters that members were asked at their statutory meeting on Tuesday to agree to have acting Town Clerk Sherry Jerrick revert to her substantive post of Assistant Town Clerk due to underperformance. Trotman explained that Jerrick was previously written to and asked to show cause why this action should not be taken over “her failure” to deliver an Assets Register to the Commission.
The 30-page response submitted by Jerrick, which included the requested register, was never presented to members for perusal but the Chair requested that the officer be reverted.
According to Trotman, her requests for information on who would replace Jerrick were dismissed by Commissioner Carvil Duncan, who claimed that the issue of a replacement was not on the table for discussion and would be addressed at a later date.
Several minutes later, Trotman said that she received information that not only had a letter already been dispatched to Jerrick directing her to revert to Assistant Town Clerk but that Assistant Human Resources Manager Nelson had also been appointed interim Town Clerk.
The letter sent to Nelson and seen by Stabroek News is dated July 27, the day of the LGC meeting.
In fact the letter was received by City Hall at 2.11 pm, less than one hour after the GC meeting began and several minutes before a vote was taken to remove Jerrick from the post.
In his letter to Nelson, Faerber claimed that the decision to appoint her was made by the Commission in keeping with the authority vested under Sections 13 and 14 of the Local Government Commission Act.
These Sections grant the eight member Com-mission, acting as a body, the right to appoint, promote, dismiss and discipline staff.
The two opposition-nominated Commissioners maintain that a replacement was never discussed nor was Nelson.
In fact, since the letter was dispatched and received on the day of the monthly statutory meeting the Chair could not have been acting “between meetings” as he claimed.
His position, however, is not supported by the Local Government Commission Act, which regulates the operations of the LGC.
“The Chairman is not an executive chairman; the chairman is an elected chairman. Therefore, he doesn’t have the powers to write letters to the officials of the Local Government arms, that has to come through the Secretary of the Commission…I don’t acknowledge that letter,”
Both Trotman and Romascindo said that Faerber eventually admitted that the letter had been drafted but was only to be dispatched after securing the approval of the Commission.
“How could you come, asking us to vote and support it and you have already issued the letter?” Trotman questioned.
Despite this, the Commission by a majority vote supported Jerrick’s return to her substantive post.
Currently the LGC comprises government-nominated members Clinton Collymore, Carol Sooba, and Norman Whittaker, opposition-nominated members Clement Corlette, Romascindo and Trotman, union representative Carvil Duncan, and Faerber, who nominated by the Minister of Local Government.