Attorney for Belize Waste Control says Mayor Darrell Bradley is “mal pago”
Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley was back in court today representing himself and once again he seems to be heading down the rocky road leading to his possible incarceration. The Mayor dodged that bullet in July 2013 when he managed to reach a settlement with Belize Waste Control at the eleventh hour. But now, he’s back in a legal pickle. He’s being taken to court once again by Belize Waste Control…and once again, it’s over money owed to that company. Last year, the issue was monies unpaid even after the Mayor was ordered by the Court to make good on a long time debt. This time its arrears owed to BWC by the Council for sanitation services. Mike Rudon was at court this morning and has the story.
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Mike Rudon, Reporting
This story is one that’s been told before on numerous occasions. City Hall has fallen into arrears to Belize Waste Control, and that company wants its money. Mayor Bradley has never denied that the Council remains in perpetual arrears, and he seems willing to accept it for what it is. But Belize Waste Control is not as understanding.
Darrell Bradley, Mayor, Belize City
“This is a perennial problem. We always equalize in the months of March and April and we widen when the City Council has our slow season. So that when August comes around the gap widens. We are able to bring it to within the four week period but when we are not collecting tax revenues then it goes up. Last year it went as much as I think eighteen weeks.”
Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for BWC
“I think the Mayor is in a parallel universe. The Mayor believes that he owes money and he will pay it when he wants. The Mayor believes that everybody must wait until he is ready to pay. The only reason the Mayor paid the amount that he had to pay was because he was threatened with incarceration. The situation is that once again the Mayor is here telling the public of Belize City that he has a contract, that he is in arrears, and he is going to be in arrears again and that Belize Waste Control, my client, must just accept that. That is not how the world turns. He has an obligation, he owes money and he must pay the money on time.”
Just a few weeks ago, Mayor Bradley had indicated that because of his commitment to making good faith payments, BWC had agreed to withdraw legal action against him. So how did it get from that point of amicable discussion to this point when velvet gloves were thrown to the ground?
“We stood up right here, reached an agreement with the Mayor, walked into the Chief Justice’s chambers and asked the Chief Justice permission to withdraw the claim based on a settlement agreed by the Mayor. It took less than a week for the Mayor to breach the settlement. Thank God because I had confidence in his failure I did not file the notice of discontinuance. So what we are back before the court is with the very same claim saying to the Chief Justice that we were led up the garden path believing that he was going to live up to his obligation but he has not and so we want the matter tried.”
At this point, the Mayor isn’t even talking about clearing the debt…just getting it to within four weeks which he says is allowed in the contract. But it’s going to take more than that gesture to mollify BWC.
“We just came out of court. We’re supposed to go back in on Friday. I estimate by Friday we will be able to bring it within the four week period. It’s our position that under the terms of the contract we could lawfully be in arrears for four weeks. That itself means we do owe for four weeks but it does not constitute a breach of contract and so our position is that by Friday when we are at this four week precipice, then that would ameliorate some of the issues in terms of the litigation. And we are making good faith efforts to try to see that we can maintain that four week period.”
“Now he is attempting to say that he has a right to be four weeks in arrears. There is no contract in the world that gives anybody the right to be in arrears. Money is due on a weekly basis, and the Mayor needs to understand that he must pay on a weekly basis or there is going to be a consequence for the Mayor personally.”
As you can see, Mayor Darrell Bradley departed the scene when BWC’s attorney Eamon Courtenay came out swinging. But his position has remained unchanged. The Council cannot afford to pay, end of story. Now whether that stance will get him out of the legal cauldron is another matter entirely.
“Let me be clear. This is something that we could never get under control. Because of how the regime of sanitation is structured, it is forty-five percent or forty-five cents out of every dollar…that is unsustainable. So there is no getting anything under control. I have made this point before that what we are doing is that we are putting a band-aid on a very bad situation. The reality is that the city pays too much money for the collection of garbage and we cannot control that situation.”
“The Chief Justice has told us to come back on Friday with a definitive position. The impression I have is that the Court itself is getting fed up with the Anansi story every time we come to court. As you just put to him, every time it’s the same story. He is taking comfort in the arrogance of his incompetence and maladministration. He must pay his bills and pay them on time or there will be a consequence. It’s very simple as far as we are concerned.”
The Council is currently in arrears to Belize Waste Control for six weeks, which works out to about three hundred thousand dollars.
Reporting for News Five, I am Mike Rudon.