Govt To Assume Stewardship Over CoH Again

January 26, 2015

[Updated with video] Saying he has “grave concerns” about the Corporation of Hamilton‘s ability to perform its functions, Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy said the Government will assume stewardship over the Corporation, marking the second time this has occurred.

This follows after five members of the City Council signed a letter asking for Hamilton Mayor Graeme Outerbridge to resign, with Deputy Mayor Donal Smith, Alderman Carlton Simmons, Alderman Gwyneth Rawlins, Common Councillor Keith Davis, and Common Councillor George Scott saying they “have lost all confidence and “believe it to be in the best interests” if he resigned.

During today’s press conference, Minister Fahy referenced that issue, as well as other matters such as “uncertainty” over the Black Mayors Conference, and said the stewardship is being carried out as permitted under the Municipalities Act 1923 [PDF].

Update 4.43pm: 11-minute video of Minister Fahy’s full press conference today

This is the second time this has occurred, as in December 2013, Minister Fahy said the Government will “temporarily assume stewardship of the Corporation of Hamilton financial administration” due to “maladministration.”

That resulted in all financial matters being overseen and carried out only upon the authorisation of the Minister of Home Affairs, including tendering, accounts receivable, accounts payable, purchasing, and all other money management matters.

At that time, the Minister referenced numerous aspects in the 2013 report into the CoH issued by the Ombudsman for Bermuda Arlene Brock which said “maladministration that permeated the Outerbridge Administration.”

The Minister’s press conference is still underway as of this writing, and we will update with the full statement and video as able.

Update 3.52pm: Minister Fahy said the Chief Operating Officer will continue to run the day to day operations of the Corporation, and any major financial or operational decisions shall have the oversight of the Ministry.

The current Council will have no authority to make decisions, pass any resolutions or interfere with the day to day operations of the Corporation, although I will continue to consult with the Mayor during this period of temporary stewardship,” said Minister Fahy.

“The Mayor is supportive of this decision as he is quite cognizant of the larger picture,” added Minister Fahy.

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Good afternoon – thank you for joining me today.

You will be aware of the controversy surrounding the Corporation of Hamilton [the Corporation] during the tenure of this current Administration, “Team Hamilton”, dating back to 2013 when the Ombudsman reported grave concerns of maladministration relating to the Waterfront Development.

You will also recall the Ministry assumed temporary stewardship over the treasury functions of the Corporation – from 19th December 2013 to 13th March 2014. During that time my Ministry prepared a Code of Ethics and Conduct as well as a Municipal Council Meeting Guide, and the Ministry of Finance prepared a robust set of Financial Instructions, in accordance with amendments to the Act, in an effort to assist the Corporation in better managing its financial and day to day operations.

There was also a commitment by the Ministry to having ongoing meetings with the Corporation. I am pleased to report that the Mayor and I have met regularly to try and move the City in the right direction.

Notwithstanding those efforts, there has been no improvement in the overall management and administration of the Corporation’s affairs, and this has caused me to have continuing grave concern over the Corporation’s ongoing ability to function properly for any number of reasons, in particular the following:

  • a. A few members of the Council remain steadfast in their attempts to bring legal action against the Government in a number of areas despite there being a lack of unanimity and the Mayor’s consequent instructions not to proceed. The unauthorized actions of these few members of the Council make absolutely no sense and they have resulted in a misuse of the taxpayer’s funds – the very same funds the Government and the Council are expected to manage efficiently.
  • b. The Mayor’s curtailment of the day-to-day business of the Corporation as a result of the Council failing to abide by the Municipal Council Meeting Guide.
  • c. My concern relating to the subsequent open and very public call by certain Council members for the Mayor to resign,
  • d. The continuing cloud of uncertainty relating to the Black Mayors’ Conference,
  • e. Concerns relating to the Par-La-Ville development and the current financing arrangements;
  • f. The complete gridlock that now exists in relation to the management of the City by the Council which in turn has affected the ability of the Corporation to properly run its services;
  • g. The uncertainty among the staff regarding the direction and ongoing operation of the Corporation given the behavior of the Council, and
  • h. The Governance of the Corporation seemingly in complete disarray – with relations between the Council itself, as well as certain members of the Council and the Mayor, deteriorating to the point of them making open threats and allegations of racism and maladministration as well as engaging in acts of intimidation.

Since the Code of Ethics and Conduct, the Municipal Council Meeting Guide and Financial Instructions were put in place last year, it was hoped that the Council would get their affairs in order using these documents as their guide and that the Mayor would be able to properly exercise his authority over the Council. Unfortunately, this has not been the case as recent events have demonstrated.

Last Thursday I stood before you after meeting with the Council in an effort to bring a measure of calm which was sparked by the media release calling for the Mayor’s resignation.

In truth, I left Thursday’s meeting with the Council rather annoyed. Whilst there appeared to be common ground reached in respect of concerns relating to a number of issues, and whilst the conversations were frank, it was quite evident the Council was not operating in unison and the general conduct of the Council was certainly not in accordance with the established good governance principles.

More importantly, it was clear to me that the current Council is incapable of conducting its affairs properly with the result that the ongoing administration of, and provision of services by, the Corporation is in serious jeopardy and will continue to deteriorate in the absence of intervention by me.

On Friday, Cabinet determined that, in accordance with Section 7B(6) of the Municipalities Act 1923 which reads “Where, due to the poor state of any of a Corporation’s infrastructure or services (as a result of force majeure, maladministration, disrepair or lack of funding), the Minister believes that it is in the public interest for the Government to temporarily assume stewardship of a Corporation’s infrastructure, function or service, in order to repair or maintain it, those particular items may, with the approval of Cabinet, be temporarily removed from the stewardship of the Corporation”, effective immediately I, with Cabinet’s authority, should assume temporary stewardship over the Governance of the Corporation of Hamilton. So what does this mean in practice?

1. The Chief Operating Officer will continue to run the day to day operations of the Corporation. Any major financial or operational decisions shall have the oversight of the Ministry. Anything outside of the Corporation’s policies will require consultation with the Ministry.

2. The current Council will have no authority to make decisions, pass any resolutions or interfere with the day to day operations of the Corporation – although I will continue to consult with the Mayor during this period of temporary stewardship.

It is my hope that the decision to assume temporary stewardship of the Corporation will be respected by the Council…. and that the COO and his team will be left free to manage the day to day operations of the Corporation without interference.

The Mayor is supportive of this decision as he is quite cognizant of the larger picture which sees Bermuda now placed on the international map with the prestigious America’s Cup heading to our shores…..along with many other projects of National importance in train in an effort by this Government to get our economy on track.

Before I conclude I would like to confirm that Cabinet’s decision that I assume temporary stewardship of the Corporation of Hamilton will have no impact on the Corporation of St. George’s as I am quite happy with what the Mayor and his team are doing in the Town of St. George’s.

Thank you.


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Comments (24)

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

    Make it P-E-R-M-A-N-E-N-T!!!

  2. Family Man says:

    Too bad its $18 million too late.

  3. somuchless says:

    The COH is a disgrace to mankind. Lol

  4. Cow Polly says:

    Good lord! I hope voters take all of this into consideration when it comes time to vote again.

  5. mike says:

    They did it to themselves.

  6. FINALLY says:

    FINALLY, good job OBA

    But please don’t move the DPP though over there as he needs to get crackin!

  7. Sky Pilot says:

    FIRE the bloody lot of them and do away with the C of H forever,it is NOT required in this day and age.

    Investigate where ALL the money has gone and lay criminal charges where required.

    Anyone want to take bets the Black Mayor’s Tea Party will NOT happen?

  8. Independent says:

    When the PLP did this, it was a takeover wasn’t it?

    • aceboy says:

      The PLP never did it. They never had reason. What they did was to take away the ability of the tax payers in Hamilton to vote and then Team Hamilton won the lowest turn out election EVER in the history of the Corporation.

      If you support these clowns then I have a really nice bridge to sell you. Happy to paint it green if that helps.

      • Northshore says:

        I don`t think Independent will fathom a word you said !! And never will, its called stuck on stupid !!

  9. Jess says:

    Do you hear the people sing?
    Singing a song of angry men?
    It is the music of a people
    Who will not be slaves again!
    When the beating of your heart
    Echoes the beating of the drums
    There is a life about to start
    When tomorrow comes!

  10. Common Sense says:

    Of all the scurrilous actions of this present group running the COH the most egregious event had to be the theft, and that is exactly what it was, of all the parking signs that were erected when the COH passed legislation to extend the paid parking zones. The COH members responsible for that theft robbed the COH of revenue, and that also stole the signs, plain and simple. Mayor Outerbridge should have insisted that the Police complete their criminal investigation and take the matter before the courts. Once they relaized they could get away with a crime without consequences then it was open season to do whatever they felt like doing. We are now suffering the consequences.

  11. Navin Johnson says:

    The Black Mayors Conference was never ever going to happen. Money is gone gone gone. Now get rid of everyone in the COH as soon as possible And nail everything down

  12. Triangle Drifter says:

    Gosh Minister, what took you so long? Don’t let any of them back in the door.

  13. Dreadlocks says:

    Chase dem crazy bald heads out of town!

  14. jt says:

    What a steaming pile the OBA have inherited.

  15. Full moon in Paradise says:

    The whole lot of ‘em in the corporation deserve each other! Wannabe’s in key positions and without the necessary skills to gain the credibility of all.
    Put ‘em all on a boat and send them out to sea …..we won’t miss ‘em.

  16. MB says:

    Sorry I am confused. Fahy rides in and makes a big todo
    about ‘crisis talks’ and taking over CoH AFTER it’s front page news. Well havn’t Govt had effective oversight of them for the past year???
    FAHY ALLOWED the money for the Black Mayors conference deposit (when we all were like wt*??? and what is he thinking???)
    Now he is concerned.Where has Govt been all this time???Same for the parlaville deal, Govt could have dealt with it
    and the 18 mil woudln’t be missing.
    Wake up Government, you have a country to run.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Since the very begining Hamilton has been run by an effective board. It was not until the PLP changed the voting qualifications dienfranchising the rate paying business owners that Hamilton got the bunch of misfits that is has today.

      The Minister could have stepped in soon but had he done so you can imagine the hue & cry that would have come from the PLP. Why they would have been absolutely appalled!

      At no small cost the COH has demonstrate what an incompetent lot that they are. They are indefensible, even by the PLP.

      Lets hope that the keys to City Hall have been taken from them & all files are sealed.

  17. MAKE MY DAY says:

    Outerbridge and his band-of-comedians should be taken to court over ALL the financial shenanigans!! Where is the beef ($$$)???