– Minister Bulkan silentIn clear violation of the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01, Linden Mayor Carwyn Holland on Thursday decided to unilaterally send Town Clerk Jenella Bowen on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, which is before Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan. Only the Communities Minister in the absence of a Local Government Commission is vested with the power to make that decision.Holland and the Linden Mayor and Town Council (LMTC) had passed two no-confidence motions against Bowen and subsequently wrote Minister Bulkan requesting she be removed. But Minister Bulkan is still to make a decision, which seemingly angered Holland, prompting him to decide to take his own action against the Town Clerk.Linden Town Clerk Jenella BowenGuyana Times has seen a letter dated October 6, 2016 that Holland wrote to Bowen, instructing that she proceed on administrative leave with immediate effect until the conclusion of “the hearing”.“Please be informed that the Ministry of Communities has reviewed the Council’s recommendation and granted no objection,” the letter copied to Communities Ministry Permanent Secretary Emile McGarrel and the LMTC Personnel Officer stated.It went on to highlight that the LMTC proceeded in accordance with the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:0, Section 8 A, Subsection G, which states that the Council shall “ensure that the municipality is managed in a professional and competent manner by a qualified Town Clerk” and Section 8 A, Subsection H, which states that the Council “shall perform any other duties or functions imposed on the Council by this or any other law or by the Council”. Subsequently, the Mayor; his deputy, Waneka Arrindell and two senior Police Officers reportedly showed up at the home of the Town Clerk and demanded that she hand over all of the Council’s belongings to them.However, nowhere in the cited act is the Council given the authority to discipline or remove from office the Town Clerk.When contacted, Bowen told Guyana Times that she made attempts to contact Minister Bulkan, but those attempts were unsuccessful; however, she was able to speak with Permanent Secretary McGarrel who advised that she comply with the instructions of the Council.McGarrel confirmed this to Guyana Times , but stated that his advice was to defuse any possible “physical” confrontation. He declined to answer any other question on the issue.Efforts to contact Minister Bulkan proved futile, as calls to his office and mobile phones went unanswered. But a call to his residence was answered and after a prolonged delay, Guyana Times was told he was not at home at that time.Bowen said she has since sought legal advice on the way forward, but could not say if she would report for duty today.The Mayor’s action was deemed unconstitutional, since Section 118 of the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:01 clearly states that in the absence of a Local Government Commission, the Communities Minister holds the power to appoint, discipline and disappoint any Local Government Officer.Section 120 of the Act states; “The power to exercise disciplinary control over Local Government Officers (including the power to remove them from office) shall be exercised by the Commission or other person or authority in whom such power is vested under Section 118 or Section 119 in accordance with any rules pertaining to discipline made by the Commission under Section 114.”Section 121 adds that where a Local Government Officer is disciplined, including removal from office by anyone other than the Commission or its designate, the officer can appeal that decision, which the Council or its designate can confirm, set aside or vary any finding on such persons or authority and to confirm, quash or vary any penalty awarded.Former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, in an invited comment on Thursday evening, said that Town Clerks, like Regional Executive Officers (REOs), are creatures of the Minister and it is only him who can discipline or dismiss them.He said what was playing out at the Linden municipality was purely authoritarian action by the Mayor and his gang.“Again we are witnessing authoritarianism and a clear violation of the rule of law. The municipality has no authority to discipline or dismiss the Town Clerk: the Town Clerk is a creature of the Minister,” Nandlall, a respected lawyer, opined.He said the actions by Holland and others in Linden and the silence of Bulkan may very well be a sign of the Minister’s weak leadership skills.The spat between Bowen and several Councillors, including Holland and Arrindell, began after she accused the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of spending over $500,000 on travel expenses from the already depleted coffers of the Town Council.The Linden Town Council has not met in more than two months and when contacted last week, Holland told Guyana Times that he was unable to get a quorum for the meetings as Councillors were anxiously awaiting Minister Bulkan’s ruling on the Town Clerk.