Decorator denies MoBay mayor’s claims in flag controversy

NOT TRUE - Says no undertaking to refund fee to council

BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large Western Bureau ?

Friday, April 13, 2012

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — The flag backdrop foul-up at the swearing-in ceremony for St James councillors at the Montego Bay Civic Centre plunged into a fresh round of controversy yesterday when the contractor who decorated the room at the function denied a claim by Montego Bay Mayor Glendon Harris that a shortage of green material led to the green being left out of the design.

In a statement to the media, Denton Edwards of Eddies Fabric Work & Décor, who is at the centre of the controversy, said the claim was unfounded.

"I wish to note that there was no shortage of green cloth to complete the task, and I would have been able to complete the backdrop depicting the Jamaican Flag if I was afforded the opportunity so to do," Edwards stated.

He also contradicted Mayor Harris’s announcement that the fee charged for the decoration would be returned.

"As it relates to published reports that I have committed to refund the contracted amount of $30,000, I wish to hereby refute such claim as I am currently out of pocket in terms of the cost of the project," he said.

Edwards said over the years he has provided sterling work to the St James Parish Council, which included Christmas Tree Lighting ceremonies, Heroes and Independence Day celebrations. Additionally, he said, he has done work for a number of private sector entities, including hotels.

Edwards claimed that he was instructed to leave the green out of the flag by Courtney Humes, whom he alleged is employed to the Western Division of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), in the interest of time.

But Humes, in a telephone interview with the Jamaica Observer last night, denied the claim, adding that he is not employed to the OPM.

Addressing the regular monthly meeting of the St James Parish Council on Thursday, Harris said that Edwards had accepted full responsibility for the foul-up in the decoration of the civic centre and had decided to refund his $30,000 fee to the local authority.

But Edwards said yesterday that he gave no undertaking for the return of the money.

Last night, Edwards’ attorney George Thomas said his client is not considering legal action at the moment, "but if there are counter actions and counter arguments then we will have to look at something".

He explained that his client is now concerned that the matter, which has attracted widespread publicity, might affect his business.

"That is his main concern right now: that it would affect him businesswise; people might think that he is incompetent," Thomas argued.

"He has done work for the council many times. He is a Jamaican and he knows what the colours on the Jamaican Flag are, and he is very competent," said Thomas.

Harris could not be reached for a comment on the matter last night, but he had made it clear at Thursday’s parish council meeting that he does not intend to make any further comment on the matter.

The omission of the green from the backdrop which was designed to depict the Jamaican Flag at the March 29 ceremony caused consternation among members of the public and the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party whose leader Andrew Holness described the action as "vulgar".

The PNP-controlled council has also been accused of deliberately omitting the green from the design because the colour is that used by the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party.

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