Wed | Oct 21, 2020

MCC not daunted by corruption label – chairman

Published:Wednesday | May 20, 2020 | 12:08 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell.
Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell.

MANDEVILLE, MANCHESTER:

Mandeville Mayor Donovan Mitchell said the Manchester Municipal Corporation (MCC) is not daunted by the negative labels that have been placed on the council since the investigation that uncovered a $400-million corruption scandal, implicated eight individuals and found five, three of whom were workers, guilty.

On May 15, the approximately nine-month-long trial came to an end when senior judge, Ann-Marie Grainger, handed down her verdict which found former superintendent of road and works Sanja Elliott; former secretary/manager and director of finance David Harris; and former temporary works overseer Kendale Roberts guilty. Additionally, two co-accused – Tasha-Gaye Goulbourne Elliott, wife of Sanja, and Dwayne Sibbles – were also found guilty.

“It happens everywhere. In government, if one politician is found guilty of something or is found to be corrupt, they say every politician is corrupt. In church, if the pastor or church member behaves badly, people say only hypocrites go there, and it is that sort of society that one lives in. The staff is not daunted,” said Mitchell.

Amid what is deemed the biggest corruption scandal in local government, Mitchell said though the guilty verdict has been handed down, the system of justice in Jamaica gives defendants an opportunity to appeal.

“Up until that day (of appeal), people will continue to say a number of things. The staff are OK because they understand. We are not daunted because it is not the entire staff that was involved or went before the court. It was just three persons that worked at the parish council.”

Mitchell, who took over the reins of the MCC approximately five months after the investigations began in 2016, said he has since implemented systems to remedy the old mode of operation.

“I had my meeting with the accounting team and then secretary/manager and all things were put in place as we realised there were some flaws in the system. That has changed.”

MATTER OF INTEGRITY

He said, however, persons can always find a way to outsmart systems implemented for checks and balances, which is why proper conduct should be a matter of integrity.

“There is really no perfect system so we have to continue to monitor and do what is right. Persons need to understand that they are there to work and not corrupt the system. Corruption is something I don’t condone. We are dealing with the people’s money and one must know. If you sign up for a job and the salary is not what you want, then you have the choice to leave the job.”

Mitchell said the MCC is audited at least twice per year and he is confident in the systems that are now in place to prevent any possible reoccurrence.

When questioned about his level of satisfaction with methods of the investigators, Mitchell revealed that there is still a lot he knows nothing about, but trusts that the investigators did what they were mandated to.

“I have not seen the details. I keep hearing figures. Form where I sit in the council, I have not seen a document that says at the end of X year the council lost $400 million dollars. The investigators, who I think are trained and understand how to do their investigations, did so in the best way possible,” Mitchell said.