Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Electoral Office of Jamaica doing the right thing in the wrong manner

Published:Thursday | February 19, 2015 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ), in an effort to regularise the boundaries of Portmore, will be having a petition signing exercise on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at various locations throughout the municipality. This petition, according to the EOJ, requires a total of not less than seven per cent of the electorate of Portmore. I welcome the belated move to regularise the Municipality's boundaries and will be participating in the exercise even though I am of the opinion that the EOJ is doing the right thing in an incorrect manner. The EOJ, which is the operational arm of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) would be advised to visit Section 3 of the Municipal Act. This section outlines the process that is required for the Establishment of a Municipality. According to this section the petition should be signed by :

(i) Not less than seven per cent of the inhabitants of the area of the proposed Municipality whose names are for the time being on the official list of electors for the House of Representatives; and

(ii) Any community organisation representing inhabitants of the proposed Municipality and recognised by the Social Development Commission.

A careful study of this Section 3 of the Municipal Act will reveal, however, that the EOJ/ECJ is seeking to do the correct thing of boundaries regulation in the wrong way, as nowhere in the act does it speaks to an EXPANSION of the municipality, which is what is being done when you increase the boundaries. The only way the EOJ/ECJ would be correct would be if the Municipality of Portmore had ceased to exist for whatever reason that was never disclosed to the wider public. The two main features of the municipality which distinguished it from other councils were:

(1) a directly elected mayor and

(2) the Portmore Citizens' Advisory Council.

Following the death of Mayor George Lee, there was, for three months, no meeting of the Portmore Municipal Council and, to date, the minister has not seen it fit to explain to the residents why this occurred. At present, there is no directly elected mayor in place, plus the status of the Portmore Citizens' Advisory Council has not existed since February 10, 2014 and is still to be reconstituted .

I, therefore, call upon the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, the Social Development Commission and the Electoral Office of Jamaica to declare if Portmore is still a municipality or the status was lost and is now being re-established in time for local government elections, which are now due. Meanwhile, I urge all citizens of the Portmore who are entitled to vote to go and sign the petition at a location near you.

Howard D. Hamilton

Portmore Pines, St Catherine