A senior worker at the Belmopan City Council is out of a job after the new Mayor, Khalid Belisle and his council have made several changes. One of those changes includes the non-renewal of contract of Javier Novelo. Novelo worked for over 9 years at the Engineering Department of the City Council and one and a half years as head of that department. He served under the tenure of former Mayor of Belmopan Simeon Lopez. According to reports, on Tuesday the 31st of March, when his contract was to have expired, Novelo was called into the office of the City Administrator and was told that the Mayor will not be renewing his contract. He was then reportedly given until the end of the day to pack up his things and leave. News of this came as a surprise to Former Mayor of Belmopan Simeon Lopez who says Novelo was a good worker.
“Mr. Javier Novelo took over that post when Mr. Robinson left the post, to join the Road Safety Project, and he became the head of the section. I had no problems with Mr. Novelo, so I was quite surprise and shocked when I understood that his contract was not renewed as of the end of March. Of course you know that I am not there anymore. I consider him to be really a good worker and they have their reasons, I don’t know. I don’t know why so abruptly his contract was terminated because the contract specifies that you need to express your interest or renewal at least three months before your expiration date, and he did that. Why it was not renewed, that’s out of my hands right now.”
Sources from within the council say that Novelo had conflicts with one of the contractors hired to cement some of the streets in Belmopan. According to credible reports, Novelo was hesitant to sign off on the payment certificates for one of the larger concrete companies because of a dispute over the total street length for cement works done by this company. Novelo reportedly also had conflicts with the former City Administrator, Angela Wade, during her tenure, as former Mayor Lopez explains.
“I know that he had been experiencing some difficulty with one of the City Administrators who was there, and at the time I was the one who was protecting him more than anything. And then after the new Council was elected, I know the same City Administrator had come in to do what they call a transition p eriod, and that was one of her recommendations to not renew the contract of Mr. Novelo. It was sad and it was shocking. I understand it was done by a round robin of phone calls from the office of the Council to the other elected Councillors to give their opinion on it. It was not really a meeting of the Council to approve it. It was a round robin telephone thing.”
“Sir I don’t mean to put you on the spot or anything, but I know that you have gone on record before to talk about political interference, political manipulation in the council, even when you where there. Do you feel that there is something of that, happing right now, especially with Minister John Saldivar, for whom I know there is no love lost between you two.”
“Yes I have been on record. It’s not interference too much from my council, because I did not tolerate it. That is why we were mainly apart. It could be that, it could be personal relationship, so I don’t know what caused the non-renewal of Mr. Javier Novelo’s contract. None of the councillors knew him except councillor Anna Guy, who was re-elected. The mayor and 5 other councillors were all new so they had no knowledge of how Mr. Novelo worked. Apparantly they approved the non-renewal of the contract for him.”
Angela Wade, the former City administrator, is Hon. John Saldivar’s sister. Reports from within the City council indicate that this same Angela Wade’s husband and John Saldivar’s brother- in –law, has replaced Javier Novelo as the head of the Engineering Department. Part of his job is to sign payment certificates to contractors for works done.