Deputy Mayor: ‘Concerns About Investigation’

March 21, 2013 | 73 Comments

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.”

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Comments (73)

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  1. Loquatz says:

    LOL - he says that the previous administration should be investigated because they hired lawyers. So he's going to hire lawyers.

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    • Hey says:

      It better be out of his own pocket, or the Ombudsman has already been given additional reasons to investigate.

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  2. O'Brien says:

    This is the same administration which recently handed over the entirety of the Hamilton waterfront to a consortium of developers without the slightest degree of public consultation or transparency. And as for Mr Smith, can he not recognise his own blatant conflict of interest?

    It is high time for an investigation. From the tone of this statement, it would appear that some are very concerned about what will be coming out in the wash.

    My advice to the ombudsman: follow the money...

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    • Toast says:

      Im confused, wasn't /isn't Mr Smith involved in the Par-la-Ville Park Hotel Project? What happened to that project! Wasn't there something in the daily just weeks after this group took over saying they were going to break ground in a matter of weeks? Did they forget about that and shift gears in place of the waterfront project?

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  3. Loquatz says:

    Funny how we never hear from the actual mayor. Makes you wonder who's in charge and who's "window dressing"

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  4. Paul says:

    LOL! Gotta love 'em throwing their toys out of their collective pram. Suck it up, ladies and gents.

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  5. US Observer in Pink Sand says:

    "Where this is smoke, there is FIRE." Just blow a little harder on the flame and watch it.

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  6. Mad Dawg says:

    Ah, he's "concerned" about being investigated.

    Not really a surprise. He probably has good reason for the "concern".

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  7. Y-Gurl says:

    I would think they would be "concerned" oh well let it rain let it rain

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  8. Watcher says:

    Wait we've gone from yesterday saying to we will assist fully with the investigation to hang on a minute now we're lawyering up! Chickens coming home to roost I hope.

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  9. Bermuda Male says:

    I wonder what document/information was purloined from the COH by some "malcontent " and passed onto the Ms. Brock. Another "son of the soil?"

    This is going to be interesting,

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  10. LaVerne Furbert says:

    I think the Deputy Mayor was quite correct to ask for the Ombudsman to investigate the two recent administrations. I have no doubt it was the former Mayor that asked for the investigation in the first instance. I should not be the only person in Bermuda who is sick and tired of these "requested investigations".

    In my opinion, it's time for all administrations (Corporation of Hamilton, Corporation of St. George's, BLDC, WEDCO, and the Bermuda Government (from 1963 - 2012 )to be investigated.

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    • Family Man says:

      Including the BIU for continuing to flout the law.

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      • Black Soil says:

        The BIU is hardly a union. It exists to provide a living to certain people. Just look at the expenses of the BIU. Very little goes to the workers. It all goes to an elite few.

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    • Mad Dawg says:

      What bollocks you talk LaVerne.

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    • nuffin but de truth! says:

      LV,
      you casually forget to mention the plp and the biu.

      go eat some more KFC.

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      • nuffin but bs sayin he truth says:

        She said until 2012 retard. Classic OBA supporter I'm sure.

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      • Impressive says:

        Didnt she say 1963 - 2012?? Unless I misread something. Does those years not cover the years the PLP where in Government?? If you are referring to the PLP as an organization, it doesn't receive tax payer money, (Not directly at least)..

        And your comment about KFC is really immature and insulting. If you want to make a point, its no need for that type of insulting, regardless of the fact that you feel that person you are insulting did the same to you. This is not a sandbox on the primary school playground.. Let's move forward..

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        • Impressive says:

          One thing I am going to say and its a worrying trend, and it seems to me that the majority of OBA supporters seem to have a hard time trying to be objective.. Many of the PLP supporters I talk to admit that the PLP made mistakes and need to change things going forward, and it didn't take the defeat in the most recent election to recognize that..

          Right is right and wrong is wrong. I am a PLP supporter, but I am not a blind loyalist. I have problems with many of the things done in the past by both parties and I always try to maintain a balanced approach in my posting.

          Imagine if Ewart Brown had walked out of a press conference in the manner that the current Premier did a few months ago??? I can only imagine the terms that would be thrown at him, (arrogant, thinks he doesnt need to answer the people etc etc). I am no big EB supporter by the way, I am only trying to make a point. for instance, him paying $1,000,000 to bring Beyonce here to perform for a few hours was simply crazy, (for lack of a better word).

          It seems everyone has so much emotion (comprised of hatred, depression, etc), that they fail to see the faults of their own side and the achievements of the opposing side.. Are we as a people not better than that????

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          • Toodle-oo says:

            EB on many occasions performed the political equivalent of eating a baby on stage and got away with it. PLP diehards loved it.
            Now you seem to find it offensive that the OBA leader 'concluded' a press interview when the questioning went off track and became irrelevant to the intent of the interview ? ? It was a media set-up and he refused to take the bait.
            That's like comparing apples and watermelons.
            Self righteous at all ?

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            • Impressive says:

              Political equivalent of eating a baby on stage,, wow that is a dramatic statement to say the least.

              Self Righeous?? Did you read what I said, or did you just see the part about the current Premier walking out of a press conference? In addition, whether he had a valid reason for doing or not as you suggest, shouln't one aspiring to be the leader of a country be able to handle himself and maintain composure in adverse circumstances?

              If he felt it was a media set up as you suggest, etc, Shouldn't he at least have the professionalism and communication skills to state that and show the country how he can defend himself when the chips are stacked against him (Again as you suggest) instead of just walking away.. There are plenty of times when I am tough situation that I would rather not deal with, but I can't just walk away every time.

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  11. Future says:

    So Mr. Smith "is concerned that the Ombudsman may be acting outside her remit" ....yet he "urged the Ombudsman to investigate the two recent administrations" yet "they have retained legal counsel."

    Triple contradiction.

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  12. Family Man says:

    Didn't take them long to get lawyered up did it? Only yesterday we had one of them say they welcomed the investigation and offered their full cooperation. Today its "talk to my lawyer".

    Do those 'best business practices' you've implemented include signing the code of good governance or is that still out for review?

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    • Paul says:

      I wonder if those 'best business practices' involve leasing the city waterfront to a secret developer in mysterious circumstances?

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  13. jt says:

    Does the mayor speak?

    The entire quote from the deputy mayor sounds like it came straight from the PLP data base for media releases.

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  14. Paul says:

    That Corporation Of Hamilton statement summarised: "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"

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  15. Tired Mum says:

    Strange, isn't it? Whilst things were going along fine, no word about previous administrations. As soon as this one is threatened, the canaries start singing. That, and I have whiplash from the quick turnaround Family Man so rightly points out. Attack is the best form of defence, and get a good lawyer on board quick seem to be the actions of the day - something to hide, maybe? If I wasn't before, I'm sure as hell suspicious now!

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  16. What is going on? says:

    Why is the Deputy Mayor speaking for the Mayor.......something wrong here...... does Mr. Smith have something to hide. I think so!

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  17. Huson says:

    They sound scared!!

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  18. Pool Cleaner says:

    LOLOL This is literally the guiltiest-sounding statement I've ever read. He might as well have just said "Please don't investigate us, because you're definitely going to find some dirt."

    Seriously, he should have just kept his mouth shut...maybe he doesn't realize that he sounds like the cat who swallowed the canary.

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  19. Truth is killin' me... says:

    Deflection...deflection...deflection...blaming previous administrations

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  20. W says:

    Why is everyone always off the island When they are being investigated? Someone gave them the heads up...

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  21. the truth says:

    Mmmmm,,,,,,,,, ,Interesting !

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  22. Soooooo says:

    Sounds to me like someone is worried about what could be dug up.... Up until the PLP government hijacked the C of H the city ran at a profit and had significant funds to invest in the city (and no begging for pay). Maybe where all the cash went should be part of the investigation!

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  23. Oh this is Funny says:

    I love how everyone is ready to say the black man is a crook, but NO ONE even questions the fact that the former administration transferred the assets of the corporation into a trust!

    You all are so transparent. Yup, he's black, he's a crook. The White man who transferred assets, all legal.

    SMGDH!

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    • Ringmaster says:

      What are you talking about? From photos and seeing him in person, Mayor Outerbridge doesn't look black to me.

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    • sandgrownan says:

      uh ho..race card...you fail.

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    • Paul says:

      *Yawn*

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    • Bermuda Male says:

      Isn't the Mayor white?

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    • No distractions says:

      Seems more like you don't have any real reasons so it must be race .
      I recall five men of color , two women and two white men in the last administration.
      If I heard correctly a trust leased the assets and then leased them back to provide a buffer if anyone
      Tried to just walk off or claim the assets. Slinging ignorant Veiled implications won't make it any more than it is.
      If you read the last two published financial statements you would read the note on the trust.
      Still don't se how this has anything to do with micromanaging justifying an excuse for a salary and not giving the government the information it wants or not being transparent or following good governance.

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      • Measure Twice says:

        I wonder if you'd have been so kind if ewart did such a thing. Set up a trust and leased public lands to it and leased them back.

        What's that saying, unethical but not illegal. Commenters have double standards and rabid hate.

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        • Bermuda Male says:

          The trust was audited at least twice ith an unqualified audit opinion issued by the auditor. Stop with the pathetic attempts at deflection and distraction.

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          • Family Man says:

            Anyone else notice that the CoH has been shopping around for a new auditor? I wonder which one man operation will get the audit this year.

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    • Bermuda Male says:

      I remember when everyone questioned why a BLIND TRUST was in place concerning the building of the Dame Lois Browne court building. When it was revealed that a blind trust was being used and the public outrage as to who exactly was benefiting from a tax payer funded capital project, we were treated with the exact same boring argument as the poster above.

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      • Family Man says:

        No. We know who the settlor and beneficiary of this trust is. It was done strictly to protect the ownership of the assets held by the CoH from greedy, sticky little fingers. The trust is open and fully disclosed and has been audited.

        Now Patrick, go ask Spongebob if he can cover your shift while you read the audited accounts again.

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    • Common Sense says:

      Why is it not surprising that "Oh this is funny" decides to play the race card and claims that EVERYONE is saying "the black man is the crook" despite the fact that current Mayor of Hamilton is white. Has anyone alleged that those blacks in the last COH adminstration were crooks, or that the former black Mayors were crooks?!

      From what I can see the major concern about the present administration is that they have conducted business under a veil of secrecy, and have committed the COH to deals such as the leasing of our waterfront without proper consultation with the tax payers, the wider public or either the former Government or the present Government, both of which have expressed serious concerns about this lease.

      Before going on about "crooks" perhaps "Oh this is Funny" should remember that it is not the Police who are conducting an enquiry. It is the Ombudsman who just happens to be black and who has done a superb job in her other investigations including her excellent report on allegations of racism at King Edward Hospital.

      What is very concerning is that despite initially expressing full support for the Ombudsman's enquiry we now have someone from the COH stating "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." This is not a criminal enquiry but the COH is now hiring a lawyer at the taxpayers expense? What a difference a day makes!

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  24. tidbit says:

    I hope the Ombudsmen engages the services of the Auditot General! You will be surprise to what you will find!

    This is long overdue, one could see their arrogance right from the start! And they might try to put on a good face but they are surely not "THE TEAM" that they ran on, there is dissention amongst them. A little pressure and everyone will start trying to cover their own back.
    So

    LF need be quiet on this one unless she trying to have her former Premier cousin (EB) cousin (DS) back on this.

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  25. PPP says:

    This is the standard answer. When calls for an investigation of the past government it was "welcomed" by EB as long as they investigated previous administrations going back more years than possible. This is a tactic. If something is found they can cry foul.

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  26. Truth is killin' me... says:

    I'm sure Michael Misick and McKeeva Bush had "concerns about their ivestigations" as well!

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  27. Malachi says:

    Thou protest too much Mr. Smith

    Maybe Ms Brock should do a little investigation into the TCD project a few years back!

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  28. d.o. says:

    Shoes must be getting a bit tight. Suppose the tax payer will pay for the "legal representative"as well. By the ay nice smoke screen attempt Deputy Mayor nd others.

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    • jt says:

      Only those eligible to vote in corporation elections should expect to pay legal fees or salaries. That'll be a significant tax hike. Wonder if that would change perspectives on who votes.

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  29. Amazed says:

    While I think that a review would be a good thing I have to question how the Ombudsman has approached it. I do not believe that a single complaint would be enough to justify a Systemic review and from the comments above there is already the perception of wrong doing which I believe is in part due to the manner in which the review was announced. City hall has never been transparent, by their own admission and only recently started to hold open meetings.

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    • We See Behind The Curtain Fahy... says:

      So shall we continue to kick the can down the road in this fashion then?

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  30. Deliverance says:

    why aren't the voters in the City marching down there and demanding to see the paperwork THEY are entitled to? the VOTERS are entitled to see all the documents regarding the new (doomed) waterfront and more importantly to see the money trail of what has happened to the ASSETS OF THE TRUST that has been secretly dissolved! VOTERS of the City of Hamilton, these assets belong to YOU. Do not let these dopey byz take them from you. good day.

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  31. Pastor Syl Hayward says:

    Since we don't know how many complaints the Ombudsman received, we are engaged in mere speculation. What we do know is that she plans to investigate. She has no punitive powers, she can only make her findings public. Perhaps she will find enough to interest the Auditor General. Giving away the harbor front was a bad move. People are ready to be angry about anything that looks like a secret from the public when public funds and public well-being could be affected...and rightly so.

    @ LaVerne, don't get tired of investigations and calls for investigations, not yet. There's a whole lot more we, the public, want to know.

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  32. Legal Eagle says:

    Haaa!! Hamilton's Deputy Mayor is more comical than Jay Leno!! Lolol!!

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  33. Rockfish#2 says:

    This saga has the former Government's fingerprints all over it. Just look closely at the players and the MO.

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