RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHMV #0483 1890809
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 080809Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY MONROVIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1143
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS MONROVIA 000483
E.O.12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON SOCI EAID LI SUBJECT: NEW MAYOR CLEANS UP CITY HALL
REF: MONROVIA 134
1. (SBU) Summary: Acting Mayor Mary Broh has begun working as Monrovia's mayor without confirmation by the Senate. She has taken on efforts to rationalize city operations with the same vigor she has shown to clean up Monrovia's streets, clear some of the corruption from the port and reorganize the passport office. Broh has requested USG assistance in developing a computerized tax collection system. End Summary.
2. (SBU) Acting Mayor Mary Broh has taken on full responsibility as Mayor of Monrovia despite the fact that the Senate has refused so far to confirm her. Nominated by President Sirleaf in February (reftel), Broh acted as head of the Monrovia clean-up taskforce while awaiting confirmation. On June 9, President Sirleaf named her Chair of the City Council (which does not need Senate confirmation), effectively making her Acting Mayor to fill the vacancy.
3. (U) Broh took Ambassador on a tour of the Monrovia City Hall July 1, showing that she is cleaning up city hall both literally and figuratively. The halls have been scrubbed and the offices are being furnished with new desks and filing cabinets. The 50 year-old building appeared fresh and bright.
4. (SBU) The offices were filled with city workers, who appeared to be poring over papers or otherwise looking busy when the mayor and Ambassador walked in. However, from the brief inspection, the only people who appeared to be doing actual work was a six-woman task force who were reviewing documents and recording them into logbooks.
5. (SBU) Back in her office (which was noticeably clean and bright), Broh explained to the Ambassador that the city has no financial reserves (she presented a hand-written balance sheet from her comptroller showing several accounts with only a few hundred dollars) so she set up a task force to determine how all the city's funds were spent.
6. (SBU) Her initial investigations have shown that former mayor Ophelia Hoff-Saytuma had been receiving cash payments through checks written to third parties. Broh has ordered revenue collectors no longer to accept tax payments outside of City Hall, requiring businesses to come to City Hall to pay taxes. Broh said that the city does not have any computerized tax records and requested USG assistance to provide equipment and technical assistance for revenue collection.
7. (SBU) Broh has begun to look at the city payroll as well, cleaning the rolls of ghost employees, and forcing all employees to show up to work on time and sign in.
8. (SBU) Comment: We will explore ways to assist the new mayor in modernizing tax collection. Broh's efforts to revamp municipal government are laudable, but she may find it harder to clean up the old messes in City Hall than on the streets of Monrovia.