There is a scandal brewing at the City of Freeport Council, which involves the disbursement of $10,000.00 of taxpayer’s money, which, at the time of disbursement, did not have the proper approvals of council.
A memo sent to the City of Freeport Council, on the 30th September 2009, by the Administrator, Mr. Alexander E Williams, indicates that he (the Administrator) acceded to a request from Marco City Councilor, Mr. Kevin Ferguson, requesting him to investigate all matters appertaining to a partnership, in the development of a community park in Arden Forest, with Kenneth Russell, the member of parliament for High Rock.
According to the memo, the sought after investigation was conducted and the findings were astonishing. The Administrator found that:
(1) There was no letter or written communication on record to indicate that the city of Freeport council and the Member of Parliament for the High Rock constituency had an agreement.
(2) There was no memorandum of understanding duly executed and lodged between the two parties.
(3) There was no record of any drawings relating to the proposed park.
(4) The partnership was approved on a motion tabled by one of High Rock’s councilors, Mr. Thompson, for a $10,000.00 expenditure by the council, to be expended from the reserve account as was previously approved in the minutes DLG/FPT/DC/18 AND DLG/FPT/DC/16.
(5) There was no record of an additional $10,000.00 ever approved by the council. However the Administrator noted that after several inquiries made by councilor Ferguson (Marco City) on 14th July 2009, via the minutes DLG/FPT/DC/24, councilor Martinborough tabled a motion, purportedly to bring absolute clarity, for an amount of $20,000.00. The motion was carried. The Administrator noted that this action was clearly taken after the fact.
Very clearly, the partnership between the City of Freeport Council and the member of parliament for High Rock, Kenneth Russell, was never formalized and as far as the official records of the council are concerned, said the Administrator, $10,000.00 only was approved; nothing more. Further, the Administrator, in his memo to the council, informed the body that for them to suggest that an additional $10,000.00 was approved was misleading and may be interpreted as an attempt to deceive and circumvent due process. “Let it be noted that it is a criminal offence, under the penal code chapter 84 section 243 to deceive or mislead any public officer” opined the Administrator.
In wrapping up, Mr. Alexander E Williams, told councilors that the second payment of the additional $10,000.00 made to Kenneth Russell’s project, in Arden Forest, was not duly authorized by the City of Freeport Council and therefore should not have been disbursed. The motion referred to in his memo paragraph (5), he said, was “an obvious attempt to cover up the manipulative evasive actions taken previously” unquote. In other words the council, he was saying, is guilty of a cover-up in their attempt to deceive a public officer, which carries, I am sure, a severe penalty under law.
This is a most disgraceful happening at a time when the public purse could barely meet its monthly obligations for it’s recurrent expenditure. The buck stops with the chief councilor and he is to be blamed for what happens on his watch. This is the kind of nonsense that former chief councilor Marva Moxey had to fight, tooth and nail, and they labeled her everything, but a child of God.
I call on Mr. Alvin Smith, chief councilor, to get his house in order and stop facilitating his FNM colleagues to the detriment of the City of Freeport Council.
Forrester J Carroll J.P
Freeport, Grand Bahama
2nd October 2009.