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EDITORIAL - The mayor's parlour

Published:Monday | July 14, 2014 | 12:00 AM

No one, including this newspaper, can any longer claim that Angela Brown Burke, the mayor of Kingston, is on to nothing but organising the downtown handcart men, including her stab of having them pay a licence for operating their primitive, muscle-powered vehicles. She has been busy, we are now told, refurbishing her office, the mayor's parlour.

Maybe this adds value to Kingston and the efficiency with which Mrs Brown Burke, as chairman of the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC), manages the local government region that is under her charge. But like Jamaica Labour Party Councillor Duane Smith, we do not believe that ensuring the mayor's comfort is the best use of the city's limited resources at this time, even if part of the intent is to enhance the customer experience of people who attend business at the KSAC.

The city's safety, we believe, is more important than the mayor's or customers' comfort. The hurricane season, for instance, has officially started. But just recently, members of the council were in a quarrel, across the political divide, over the allocation of money, of which there is an insufficient amount, to clean drains and gullies so as to limit the likelihood of flooding in the event of storms.

Or, the money might have been allocated to pruning that unkempt ficus grove that has been allowed to run riot along King Street, outside the public buildings, without the notice of the mayor and with some danger to pedestrians and motorists. Trimming the trees would, at least, improve the aesthetics of the city.

RIGHT TO KNOW

Surprisingly, the town clerk, Robert Hill, who espoused the ideals of transparency and accountability when he came to the job earlier this year, declined to disclose to this newspaper the cost of the upgrade, saying that all would be known at the end of the month when the job was complete. That, of course, is unacceptable. For, the council's citizens have a right to know how their money is being spent. Perhaps embarrassed by this newspaper's reportage of the council's withholding of information, Mr Hill later revealed the bill was $1.7 million.

The KSAC is normally a lazy, effete and mostly somnolent institution. In some respects, it's more tolerable that way. For when its leaders are awake, it is largely to remind citizens of its incompetence.

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