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Belize City Deputy Mayor defends terminations

Belize City Deputy Mayor, Oscar Arnold today addressed questions from the media surrounding the termination of six employees at the City Council, among them the controversial dismissal of former City Administrator Candice Miller. The Deputy Mayor says that the Council followed due process and stood by the grounds on which all dismissals were made. He adds that it’s all part of a larger restructuring of the staff at the City Hall.

Oscar Arnold, Deputy Mayor of Belize: “As you all well know there is an amount of information that I’ll be able to speak on because we do have a lawsuit pending based on the suspension of in the initial stages of Ms.Candice Miller. So what has happened there is that Ms.Miller came back in to get due process, she sat in a meeting in caucus to discuss the issues that were presented to her in the dismissal letter and based on that the councilors had to make a decision as to whether they felt it necessary that yes there is grounds for dismissal. Coming out of that caucus made a decision and it was unanimously supported that she be terminated and that is because of dereliction of duties as well and the other points that were listed in the dismissal letter- that is as far as Ms.Candice Miller is concerned. With the other dismissals that you spoke about every organization, every CEO, every head of government, every head of state, every head of municipality when there is a change and the residents of the City gave Bernard Wagner a mandate to come in and do what was necessary to try to get the City Council affairs back on track. Based on that because there is restructuring that needs to take place that is purely what happened. I know that the media was locked in on the dismissals but there was another part of the restructuring that took place. There were some resources where I saw capacity was there, human resources, were reallocated in other areas where they could provide a little bit more value to the City Council. So the restructuring process continues. I’m saddened that it’s only the dismissals that made it on the airwaves but there are also additional parts of it where the restructuring moves, human personnel human resources from unit to the other where they can make a difference and improve the service to the city residence.”

Candice Miller, in an interview with another media outlet, expressed her dissatisfaction at the way her case was handled saying that there was no dereliction of duties and she attempted to negotiate with the new City Hall bosses.  Miller added that she was willing to work under the new administration. She claimed that she was terminated because the new administration did not agree with her renewed contract. Deputy Mayor Arnold responded to Miller’s position.

Oscar Arnold, Deputy Mayor of Belize: “I didn’t expect Ms.Miller to say anything otherwise. I understand her situation but we also have the mandate from the people to try to fix whatever was wrong here at the council. Ms.Miller was given due process, there were some glaring allegations that were made in Mayor Wagner’s press conference that he gave a week and a half ago, he cited specific examples with documented evidence where it showed dereliction of duties. There is another item of lawsuit that was brought against the council that was not brought to the Mayor’s attention in time for the council to launch a defense and because of that the council can potentially be out of pocket in excess of a million dollars. Again because it’s a lawsuit and it’s a pending thing between the council and waste control that is as much information that I will be able to give on that matter, but as the CEO in charge because when the council was dissolved back in February Ms.Miller then was the person in charge for the entire affairs of the council. I think it was very disrespectful, I think it was very irresponsible to not then bring that to the attention of the mayor because this is not a thousand dollars of wine this is a million dollar lawsuit.”