Friday, February 23, 2018

Lee Sing under fire

Port of Spain Mayor Louis Lee Sing is under fire from within the Corporation he heads as well as within the party generally.

A majority of councillors are getting ready to pass a motion of no-confidence in the controversial Mayor. But there is no provision in the law for the Mayor to go if a no-confidence motion is passed. It would depend on Lee Sing.

Councillor Janelle Young, in an interview on i95 FM yesterday, said councillors told the Mayor at a meeting with him that in the event he does not resign they would have no choice but to move a motion of no-confidence against him. “He said ‘OK, if that is what you all want, go right ahead, I am going to fight you’. I said ‘Mr Mayor we don’t need that. This is not what we want. We are a council, we always support you. We want you to just resign and move out with dignity’. And he said: ‘No I am going to fight you all on this’. And that was the end of the meeting”.

They said that it was not because of the letter written criticising the timing of the no-confidence motion. What is driving the councillors’ actions is Lee Sing’s high-handed attitude.

Deputy Mayor Keron Valentine explained in a telephone interview yesterday the situation arose during a caucus meeting held at City Hall on Monday.

“At the start of the caucus meeting the Mayor said he decided to “bow out,” Valentine said yesterday. Lee Sing did not formally tender his resignation.

Lee Sing did not reveal the exact cause of frustration which led to his decision to resign, Valentine said.

However, Lee Sing’s resignation claim opened the door for councillors to voice their disapproval of his leadership style, Valentine said.

“After he raised the issue of wanting to resign we told him we wanted to bring him to task about his leadership style,” Valentine said.

Valentine said the councillors agreed “unanimously” about their disenchantment with Lee Sing at the helm.

Lee Sing’s leadership was described as “a one-man show” Valentine said with decisions being made and relayed to the public without the agreement of the council.

The caucus meeting ended without a resolution on the matter of Lee Sing demitting office, Valentine said.

The council decided to lay a motion of no-confidence against Lee Sing.

A letter organised by Jennel Young, leader of council business, was circulated and council members were asked to sign.

The council consists of three aldermen and 12 councillors.

Eleven signatures were affixed to Young’s letter.

Apart from Lee Sing, Congress of the People (COP) councillors Balliram Ramsuchit and Keisha Armstrong and People’s National Movement (PNM) councillor Deanne Boucaud did not sign the letter.

The letter requests that Lee Sing convene a special meeting of the council to “treat with matters pertinent to the office of Mayor” according to the Corporation’s standing orders.

Lee Sing has seven days from the date of the letter to convene the meeting.

Valentine said up to press time Lee Sing had not responded to the letter.

If Lee Sing refuses, Valentine in his role as Deputy Mayor could call and preside over the meeting.

Asked whether there was a move to remove Lee Sing, PNM's Political Leader Dr Keith Rowley conceded that based on reports he had received, there was a lot of dissatisfaction with Lee Sing. He said the charge was that Lee Sing had ignored and angered people in the conduct of his stewardship. “If members of the Corporation want to meet with the Mayor, I will attach nothing to it. They are his colleagues. Except Mr Lee Sing has to understand that those members are elected members. He (Lee Sing) is an appointed alderman and the least we would ask him to do, is to respect them and ensure that he doesn’t annoy them. All we are asking him for is respect. And if the elected members want to meet with the Mayor, out of respect for his office, he should meet with them to discuss whatever their concerns are,” Rowley said.

Rowley conceded that Lee Sing’s letter (criticising the timing of last week’s no-confidence motion against the Government) and the use to which it had been put (with members of the Government using it in the debate), had angered a lot of PNM people. But Rowley said the letter was a matter for the party, not the PoS Corporation.

Notwithstanding the fact that he was receiving lot of calls from party members expressing anger and unhappiness with Lee Sing’s actions, Rowley said the letter was merely an expression of a point of view which might have been more appropriately ventiliated at the General Council.

Lee Sing said yesterday that he was “staying put” and “letting the chips fall where they may”. He said for two years he and his councillors were working well together and all of a sudden they were now dissatisfied. In response to criticisms about his management style, he said he consulted before taking decisions. He said he has had challenges with his CEO, Winnifred David. “If they give me a job I will do it to the best of my ability,” he said.

“I am not worried, not lost, not disappointed. But Trinidad and Tobago is a lagahoo society. I have done as much as I could at this time,” he said. According to local folklore the lagahoo is a mythical shapeshifting monster.