Removal of emigrants from voters’ list…PPP, APNU Commissioners back public scrutiny of statutory meetingsEarlier this year, representatives of the Carter Center had proposed that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) activate measures to cleanse the voters’ list without the need for House-to-House registration and thus, any undue delay in the hosting of General and Regional Elections.GECOM Commissioner Robeson BennHowever, during an appearance on Globespan 24×7 live show in New York on Sunday, government-nominated Commissioner at GECOM, Vincent Alexander, revealed that this suggestion was never followed up after Guyana’s Court of Appeal ruled the December 21, 2018 no-confidence motion (NCM) was not validly passed, thus handing the Government a lifeline on its time in office.But now, with Guyana still waiting for the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to confirm or reverse the Appeal Court’s ruling, there is a real possibility that GECOM will be called upon to fast track the holding of elections.According to Alexander, the National Registration Act Chapter 19:08 provides for the Chief Immigration Officer to submit to the Chief Registration Officer a list of Guyanese who have left the country and have not returned for three months.“The law further provides for the registration officer, in his deliberate judgement, to take those names off the list. It has never been done. The Commission has never taken the relevant action,” Alexander said.“I made the proposition that what we could do in the interest of time, was that we could seek to get from the Chief Immigration Officer those lists and we could then apply those lists to the register of registrants and by that way come up with a clean list. The Carter Center said, ‘well rather than do that, what you could do is create a parallel list of persons overseas’.”GECOM Commissioner Vincent AlexanderAccording to Alexander, the Center’s recommendation was that the list be placed at the place of poll to prevent substitute voting. But Alexander admitted that even though the suggestion was brought to the Commission, there was no consensus.The Government-nominated Commissioner further admitted that the number of deceased persons on the voters’ list is a minority, compared to overseas voters. But despite this fact and the Carter Center’s proposition aimed at removing these overseas voters, he said the proposal died a natural death at GECOM.“That happened the day before the Appeal Court gave its ruling and once the Appeal Court gave its ruling, that issue was never raised again. But I was not averse to the fact that we ought to be able to produce a list as quickly as possible. I was equally concerned about the bloated list,” Alexander posited.Back in March when the Carter Center made its suggestion, the Georgia, USA-based advocacy, which has a long history of supporting free and fair elections locally, had sent a delegation to Guyana to seek a resolution to election preparation delays. The group met with GECOM Commissioners from both sides of the political divide.“I think ultimately our role here, of course, is limited. We’re not Guyanese, [but] we care about this country. The Carter Center has been here for many, many years, almost 30 years. This country is important to my grandfather. It’s important to me and my family as well, but ultimately the issues that are being confronted right now (are) going to require the cooperation of political leadership of this country and we are optimistic, and we have had a very productive meeting with GECOM,” Jason Carter, a member of the group and grandson of former US President Jimmy Carter, had said after their meetings.GECOM has since moved ahead with its House-to-House Registration exercise, which would further delay the holding of elections. This is despite a court challenge filed by a private citizen who contends that the exercise would disenfranchise her and many others. It is a concern the parliamentary Opposition has previously expressed.Public disclosureTo minimise contention in the public domain and in the interest of transparency, Alexander (who was nominated by the coalition A Partnership For National Unity (APNU)) and fellow Commissioner Robeson Benn (nominated by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP)) were asked during the live programme whether they were in favour of GECOM’s statutory meetings being open to the public.Here, the two Commissioners found common ground, with both agreeing to the suggestion. According to Alexander, however, acceptance of this suggestion was entirely up to the Commission. But according to Benn, his previous efforts to bring transparency to these meetings through this measure were thwarted by successive Commissions.“When [Dr Steve] Surujbally was Chairman, at one of my first interactions I said the meetings of GECOM should be public … that there should be a gallery that the media and the public should be there, so that all that is said and done would be free and open. This was rejected,” the PPP Commissioner stressed.“I said this more recently at a meeting of the present Commission (headed by retired Justice James Patterson). They don’t want to hear about that, because they don’t want to put the discussions out there and the constitutional requirements of GECOM, to be out there in the public,” Benn contended.
ARCADIA – Balance was named best 3-year-old filly at Santa Anita last winter and on Sunday was the best 4-year-old filly in the $200,000 La Canada Stakes after winning the 1 1/8-mile race by 4 lengths over Bai And Bai. In May of 2006, Balance finished a dismal 11th as the 8-5 favorite in the prestigious Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. After the race, the daughter of Thunder Gulch underwent ankle surgery to have a bone chip removed. “She was in the bridle when she came out of the gate and was dragging me all the way to the first turn,” winning jockey Victor Espinoza said. “She settled down from that point and after that, it was over with.” Hofmans said Balance’s next race will be the Grade I $300,000 Santa Margarita at 1
Still, every Southland Republican has backed Bush’s veto of the bills, despite the possibility of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars for their own districts. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, is among them. The congressman’s vote against the bills may mean forfeiting about $750,000 he secured for museum and hospital transportation programs, but McKeon said he can’t support rampant overspending. The Labor/HHS measure alone busts Bush’s budget by nearly $10 billion. “A billion dollars is a lot of money, and I think it’s about time we start thinking about it here,” McKeon said. But when Republicans were in the majority, McKeon and his GOP colleagues routinely voted for bloated spending bills, and Bush signed every one of them. For example, the 2005 Labor/HHS measure – the last time the House passed that appropriation – was $3.7 billion over Bush’s request. Asked what makes him more fiscally steadfast this year, McKeon smiled and noted that Democrats made unchecked spending a winning issue in the 2006 campaigns. “We finally learned our lesson,” he said. “I think the president learned, too. I thought the Democrats learned, but it looks like they didn’t.” Not that Republicans are getting the kind of cash they used to reap for pet projects. In previous years, GOP lawmakers like Dreier and Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Thousand Oaks, would issue press releases announcing $14 million worth of funding in a single bill. Now – according to a compilation of funded earmarks created by the Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense – the average Southland Republican brought home a total of $1.5 million from the 10 House-passed spending bills. But things are very different for Democrats, who for the first time in years are funding with ease projects that they had to fight for under GOP control. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, for example, secured a total of $14 million – including $3 million for Cedars Sinai Medical Center. For his part, Berman obtained $10.4 million, including money for the San Fernando Valley Family Center; and Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, brought in $9 million, including money for gang prevention in Van Nuys and the Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda. And few have discovered the privileges of membership in the House Appropriations Committee as much as Schiff. In his first year on the funding panel, the Pasadena congressman brought home $9.7 million for projects in his district and helped secure another $1.9 million with other lawmakers for regional programs. They range from $1 million for California’s gang-reduction program to $350,000 for Glendale Adventist Medical Center for facilities and equipment. Some, he said, are projects that for years he was unable to fund while the House was under GOP control. “It’s nice to be able to help them,” he said. Not every Democrat is awash in funding, however. According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte, brought in about $1.6 million from solo requests for funding and another $2.4 million from joint requests with other lawmakers. Similarly, Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Santa Fe Springs, secured $1.6 million for her district and another $5.7 million in joint projects. Steven Ellis, vice president of the taxpayer group, said that’s because – despite GOP contentions of vastly overstuffed spending bills – Democrats actually are funding slightly fewer pet projects. “There are fewer earmarks,” Ellis said. “I’m not na ve enough to think that everything was going to change overnight. “It’s really easy to pack on the pounds, but now it’s time to work out and cut some calories and cut some fat.” The Southland lawmaker who most breaks the mold is Lewis, who secured about $126 million for local projects – more than even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who secured a total of $81 million for California. “That’s not right. You had better check your information,” Lewis said, when asked how he, now in the minority party and no longer chairman of the powerful spending committee, managed to secure so much. Yet a close examination of the earmarks – which for the first time now under House rules must be made public along with the lawmaker requesting the money – shows that Lewis is indeed the Southland’s big moneymaker. Not only did he bring in more than Pelosi, he is among the top three pork-bearers in the entire House. Only Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., and Bill Young, R-Fla., brought home more money. [email protected] (202) 662-8731160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat Kings“He’s trying to overcome a six-year legacy of borrowing money, and I think he’s finding it difficult to have credibility on the issue.” While Bush signed off on a $460 billion defense bill, he vetoed a $150 billion bill funding the Labor and Health and Human Services departments. And he also has set the stage for rejecting a $105.6 billion transportation bill that exceeds his budget by $2.3 billion. But the two measures alone include more than $36 million for pet projects in Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Chief among them: $2.3 million that Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, obtained for Needles Highway improvements; $1 million that Rep. Howard Berman, D-Van Nuys, secured for the Southern California Regional Rail Authority; and more than $500,000 that Rep. David Dreier, R-San Dimas, got for the Methodist Hospital of Southern California in Arcadia. President George W. Bush has placed himself squarely between the Southland and millions of dollars for transportation and social services, blocking two appropriations bills in an attempt to rein in spending. Congress is gearing up for a battle, with House Republicans upholding presidential vetoes and Democrats accusing their GOP counterparts of ignoring the poor while suddenly rediscovering fiscal conservatism. But caught in the middle are dozens of Southern California legislators’ pet projects – known as earmarks – for everything from roads and hospitals to job-training programs, museums and after-school groups. “I think the president has decided that politically, it’s better digging his heels in,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, who is on the House Appropriations Committee.