Deputy Hamilton Mayor Donal Smith urged the Ombudsman to investigate the two recent administrations, and also said the City is concerned that the Ombudsman may be acting outside her remit and they have retained legal counsel.
Yesterday Arlene Brock, Ombudsman for Bermuda, said she is launching a Systemic Investigation into the Corporation of Hamilton on her own motion in the public interest.
A statement from the Ombudsman said, “Allegations brought to her office include lack of transparency, inadequate governance and lack of public consultation.”
Speaking this afternoon, Deputy Mayor Smith said, “We the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Council and members, of course, welcome the long overdue investigation of the Corporation of Hamilton.
“However, we urge the Ombudsman to, in her purported systemic investigation, reach as far back to at least the last two recent administrations in order to get some perspective on where things are today.
“Of particular interest to her in the inquiry of the last administration should be the existence of a trust by the name of the Democratic Trust and all land assets which, amongst other matters, held taxpayer funds for the questionable purposes of defending itself legally against the previous government initiative to amend the Municipalities Act, 1923.
“The past Mayor should be extremely helpful in this regard in the interests of transparency and clarification. These anomalies and others have engaged the bulk of this present elected Mayor and Council’s time in its own efforts to right the maladministration and unaccountability of the past and to put in line-management structures and best business practices that it found wanting upon its arrival some eight months ago.”
Deputy Mayor Smith added, “There is a clear distinction between the overall policy and supervisory functions of the Mayor and Council and the day-to-day administration and management of the Corporation of Hamilton.
“It is in the latter department that we suggest that the Ombudsman ‘shine her lamp of scrutiny’. It is clear that the Ombudsman is proceeding on prior purloined documentation and information spirited away from the Corporation of Hamilton by some malcontent.
“In closing, let us say that we do have some very serious concerns about the conduct of the current investigation and the manner in which the Ombudsman has publicized it to date. We are concerned that the Ombudsman may be acting outside of the parameters of her remit and to that end we have retained legal counsel to address those concerns.
“Though the investigation must go on, it must not do so if its intent or by-product is to undermine the authority of this Mayor and Council or impugn or malign, inadvertently or otherwise, the character or professional competencies of same. This Council will not tolerate such action.
“Lastly, we the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and/or Council members will not, during the course of this investigation, entertain any questions nor make any comments in respect thereof. Please direct same to our legal representatives. We have a city to administer.”