City Hall Rift Escalates: Deputy Mayor and Councilors Challenge Administrator Appointment

City Hall Rift Escalates: Deputy Mayor and Councilors Challenge Administrator Appointment

Deputy Mayor Allan Pollard and five other city councilors have handed the main opposition some ammunition to target and ridicule City Hall.  Leader of the Opposition, Moses Shyne Barrow, wasted no time on capitalizing on the internal rift created over the last week as it relates to the appointment of a City Administrator.  Yesterday, our newsroom broke the story of Albert Vaughn’s appointment, but in recent weeks, our newsroom has been reporting the political tensions in the days leading up to the decision. Vaughan was not the only PUP eyeing the post.  Also applying for the seat were PUP’s Secretary General Linsford Castillo and one Stacy Swift. The rift at City Hall has reportedly created a divide among several government ministers. Tonight, the tensions have now trickled down to the municipal level as Vaughn is facing rejection from six councilors. Yesterday, a letter was fired off to Mayor Bernard Wagner, calling for a caucus meeting to discuss Vaughan’s appointment.  The group has taken issue with the City Administrator’s hiring since last week when they had asked to be included in the interview process.  Mayor Wagner responded by citing portions of the Belize City Council Act that give him (the mayor) the executive power to hire and fire at City Hall. He clarified that the city councilors are allowed to register their concerns, but the ultimate power lies with him, the mayor. Love News understands that the divide is so deep that Pollard and the others are seeking legal advice to see if an injunction on the appointment of a City Administrator could be achieved.  Amused by the entire situation is the Leader of the Opposition, Moses “Shyne” Barrow, who has thanked Pollard and the other councilors for supporting the opposition’s mandate.  On the other hand, however, Barrow says he welcomes Vaughan’s appointment as he will bring disaster to City Hall. 

Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Leader of the Opposition: “Again another failed promise to deliver on good governance and transparency and this is not coming from a political partisan figure this is coming from the six councilors that have written to the Mayor denouncing this appointment because of qualifications. Certainly Albert Vaughn served as a councilor, he served as a member of the BDF but other than that I don’t know what qualifications he has to serve as City Administrator to deal with the finances of the city and it is not an instance where he is an elected member of the House and let’s say you are elected Prime Minister you become automatically Minister of Finance and you have technocrats there to guide you and certainly where the councilors themselves are telling you that they question the qualifications of Mr.Vaughn and they question the process by which the Mayor has gone about appointing a crony this is certainly a sad day for the municipalities but no different from what has been going on. We saw this with Sharon Palacio in Belmopan. We saw a division in Punta Gorda and I spoke of the conflict between the Deputy Mayor and the current Mayor leading up to the municipal election so I expect more of this to come.”

Barrow also weighed in on reports suggesting that the issue is a fight among government ministers, who are looking out for their best interest. 

Reporter: It’s really not so much a fight between these councilors as it is between Francis Fonseca who is backing Albert Vaughn, other ministers I’m told Cordel Hyde is also supporting him and Anthony Mahler on the other hand who is supporting Lindsford Castillo. So it has Cabinet implications so it’s a real power struggle. So what would you make of that and would you also accept that when people have these types of fights it’s often not just for the personalities it’s for controlling the personalities who will be controlling resources. It’s really to determine who will eat and how the food will get served.

Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Leader of the Opposition: “I do believe when six councilors, that is the majority that is the letter that I saw that six councilors object to Mr.Vaughn, I think that speaks volumes as to where they are as far as transparency, as far as democracy and having the majority have it’s say. What it reflects is a dictatorship so the Briceno the boss says go with Vaughn because Vaughn is team us and we will run over everybody else that is what it sounds like to me when six councilors – I mean my goodness as leader there are times where I feel strongly about certain things but I read the room and if the majority of my colleagues are saying “not that one please leader let’s consider something else.” I don’t spend political capital like that I try to be as bureaucratic as possible. And I just think – but again why am I complaining because for us it’s good. Albert Vaughn is going to be a disaster at City Hall.”

Love News understands that there is a power play occurring internally where Deputy Mayor Allan Pollard has been challenging Mayor Wagner’s authority at City Hall.  Love News has reached out to Pollard, Stephanne Hamilton, and Javier Castellanos.  The only response was from Castellanos who returned our call but hung up when he realized he was being asked for comment.

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