[Updated] Arlene Brock, Ombudsman for Bermuda, announced that she is launching a Systemic Investigation into the Corporation of Hamilton [CoH] 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 – generally [e.g. operational decisions made beyond remit of the Board] and particularly [regarding the proposed waterfront development project].
“The CoH had promised that for the waterfront project: ‘the entire process from early on planning to final construction will be conducted in full transparency and will be inclusive for all to participate at every step of the way’. However, there are concerns that this promise is not being kept.”
Ms. Brock stated: “21st century transparency must demonstrate evidence-based decision-making, adequate disclosure and public consultation on major developments.
“The continuing controversy and apparent growing loss of confidence in the Corporation, in addition to the centrality of the city of Hamilton’s role in Bermuda give me reasonable grounds to launch a systemic investigation in the public interest. Shedding light on governance at the Corporation can only be of benefit to the city of Hamilton and to Bermuda as a whole.”
Ms. Brock takes note of a statement [by a Canadian Court] that sets out the value of Ombudsman investigations: “the Ombudsman can bring the lamp of scrutiny to otherwise dark places, even over the resistance of those who would draw the blinds. If his scrutiny and observations are well-founded, corrective measures can be taken in due democratic process, if not; no harm can be done in looking at that which is good.”
Anyone with relevant factual information is invited to deliver a brief written summary [no more than one page] by 5:00 pm Friday 5 April to firstname.lastname@example.org or to 14 Dundonald St., Hamilton.
If more information is required, the office will contact persons who make submissions for follow-up interviews. All submissions are treated in the strictest confidence.
A newspaper report today indicated that a report commissioned by Hamilton Mayor Graeme Outerbridge and his City Hall team recommended they each be paid a five-figure annual salary.
In last summer’s election — which was the first under new laws which see one vote per resident — Graeme Outerbridge defeated incumbent Mayor Charles Gosling with 55.33% of the vote [109 - 88].
All of Mr Outerbridge’s fellow candidates in “Team Hamilton” were voted in, with the entire previous Corporation of Hamilton team ousted from power.
Update 12.16pm: In response to the Ombudsman’s statement, Deputy Mayor Donal Smith stated, “The City of Hamilton Council confirms that Office of the Bermuda Ombudsman has begun an own motion review of the City of Hamilton. All council members and staff have been instructed to fully cooperate with the investigation.”
Deputy Mayor Smith added, “The Council welcomes this inquiry into the governance of the City and particularly both the legacy and future aspirations regarding the proposed Hamilton Waterfront Redevelopment Project.
“We look forward to receiving her report, and reviewing any recommendations that shall be forthcoming at the conclusion of the investigation.”
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