Plight of road workers

I wish to bring to your attention the plight of the people who are employed to work on our roads, debushing and cleaning drains. The conditions under which these people are forced to work are degrading and inhumane.

The majority of these persons are females and no provision is made for their health, safety and dignity. Many of them sometimes are accompanied by their small children.

These people use cutlasses, spades, shovels, forks and rakes…….the most primitive tools, yet no attempt is made to protect them from cuts, bruises and other injuries. I am quite certain that there is not one First Aid Kit provided!

The bushes along our roadsides serve as a dumping ground for all kinds of dangerous wastes, like bottles, tins, household waste, as well as human and animal waste. And God-knows – what! Yet not one pair of gloves or safety gear, including masks and goggles and boots is provided for them.

These workers at some point in time must sit  and eat and have a meal or feel the “call” of Nature to relieve themselves. Where do they go? There is no shelter from the sun and rain, no drinking water or water to wash their hands; no portable toilets! Is this how we treat our own workers, mothers, fathers, sisters and daughter, cousins?

There is always the talk of poverty alleviation. A key factor in achieving this utopia is raising human dignity. where all workers must operate in safe and secure and hygienic environment. It is, therefore, necessary that urgent steps be taken to address this disgraceful and degrading situation!

We drive past these people and never care or wonder about the nasty and dangerous conditions under which they are forced to work despite the weather conditions. They have no Unions or Church Group or NGO’s to speak for them. Even the Media doesn’t care, except to add to the News the Number of Gangs and people who are employed!

I have written on this issue before hoping that the TUC and other individuals and organisations would champion the plight of these workers. But no one has done or said anything about Road Workers and their degrading working conditions.
I wish to assure that I have no personal “stake” in this matter; I am merely concerned that these are workers too and deserve the same rights and privileges as any other worker.

Their employers MUST provide them with safety gears and other amenities so that they too work in safety and dignity to preserve their health and well-being.

Keen Observer

De Bourg Senses Victory

Finton DeBourg is happy with the Court of Appeal judgment

Finton DeBourg is happy with the Court of Appeal judgment

Controversial Banker, Finton DeBourg is rejoicing over a ruling handed down in his favour by the Court of Appeal.

DeBourg, whose local “Homegrown” bank known as Capitol Bank International remains in receivership, challenged the appointment of a receiver by a former Keith Mitchell-led government to oversee transactions of the bank and seeking to have full ownership of his company returned to him.

His fight for success came three weeks ago when three Justices of Appeal – Dame Janice M. Pereira, Davidson Baptiste; and Paul Webster ruled in his favour and granted him cost.

In a press release on Tuesday, DeBourg said the way is now cleared for Capital Bank to access its claim for compensation and damages against the Government of Grenada, for the unlawful appointment of a Receiver over its assets in 2008 by the Mitchell administration.

This court of appeal judgment stemmed from a decision of a High Court Judge delivered on May 7, 2008 declaring that the appointment of David Hollukoff as Receiver over Capital Bank by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Mitchell was unlawful and revoked the appointment.

The judge also ordered that, David Hollukoff,  deliver up possession of the business and premises together with, among other things, all books, papers records and keys, by noon the following day, May 8, 2008, and that the Receiver file a report of all actions taken by him during the period of the receivership. According to DeBourg’s release, an appeal was filed by the Minister of Finance and subsequently abandoned.

“Yet six years later the Minister of Finance and his self-appointed Receiver have failed to obey the order of the court and continue to unlawfully occupy the Bank while depleting its assets.

“The bank applied to the court for compensation and damages for the wrong resulting from this unlawful receivership. The claim was denied by the High Court and the Bank later appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal, the release said.

“It has taken six years but judgment finally came on June 17, 2014, in favour of Capital Bank. This is an important judgment for all depositors and other shareholders of Capital Bank who suffered greatly during the past six years while awaiting justice.”

The press release signed on behalf of shareholders says, “We are supposed to be living in a democracy under the rule of law yet since 2001 Capital Bank took the ECCB and the Government of Grenada to court for relief from the wrongful denial of the Bank’s access to the ECCB’s clearing House facility to clear its cheques.

“Thirteen years later the Bank is still awaiting justice in this matter, which is indeed the genesis of all Capital Bank woes over the years that ultimately resulted in the demise of the Bank at the hands of the authorities”.

According to DeBourg he is confident that yet another major judgment will soon be delivered by the court in favour of Capital Bank with the appropriate compensation and damages that would naturally follow.

De Bourg was slapped with four counts of falsification of documents, and three counts of fraudulent appropriation of funds that were laid against him in March 2009 in connection with the operations of the bank.

He was placed on $900,000.00 bail with two sureties with one of the sureties who signed the bail form being Parliamentary Representative in the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for Information, (former Labour Relations Officer of the main Opposition New National Party) Winston Garraway.

De Bourg is accused of fraudulently appropriating funds amounting to $15.6 million, $975,000, and $190.97, the property of CapBank.

A Roman Catholic Priest, Fr. Sean Doggett, security officer, Arthur Nedd, and farmer, Abraham Pascal who together had savings of just over $400,000.00 in the bank suffered immensely as a result of the loss of their funds.

The State has also claimed that De Bourg falsified the account records and minutes of the Board of Directors of CapBank where he allegedly took money in the form of a loan from the bank.

This was discovered by an audit conducted by the accounting firm, Wilson and Company.

De Bourg’s misery began on February 15, 2008 when the previous Mitchell-led government placed CapBank into Receivership.

Minister of Finance, Nazim Burke, revoked CapBank’s license in September 2008.

De Bourg was first arrested at his home in Westerhall, St David’s by members of the Financial Intelligence Unit on May 14, 2008 when they carried out an operation, which resulted in the seizure of several items.

Four charges of fraudulent breach of trust were then slapped on him, but were later dropped by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Christopher Nelson.

At the time of his arrest on May 14, 2008 it was alleged that De Bourg converted $18,227,902.60 of money entrusted to CapBank to himself between August 2004 and February 2008.

Ferguson Calls for Resignation of Magistrate Seales

GBA President - forced to speak out against a Magistrate

GBA President – forced to speak out against a Magistrate

Attorney at Law, Ruggles Ferguson has accused Magistrate Jerry Seales who currently operates the Traffic Court in the city of abusing his powers and should do the proper thing and resign.

Ferguson, the President of the Grenada Bar Association (GBA), held a press conference on Monday at his office at Ciboney Chambers to express his dissatisfaction over the way the Magistrate was fulfilling his duties.

According to Ferguson, the latest development between Bus Drivers/Conductors and Magistrate Seales has forced him to publicly speak out.

Last Monday, the Number 3 Magistrate’s court, which handles traffic offences was filled with Busmen plying the Grand Anse route with most of them expressing their disbelief over the harsh penalties handed out to them by Magistrate Seales.

THE NEW TODAY understands that in some cases, bus drivers were given fines that had to be paid instantly or suffer the consequences of going to prison.

The unfolding situation resulted in some bus operators threatening strike action because of what they call the injustice that was now being placed upon them by the Traffic Magistrate.

Seales has just taken up duties in the City court due to a recent reshuffle of the Magistrates.

Ferguson charged that over the years, this particular Magistrate has not operated his court in a way that is pleasing to the legal profession.

Jerry Seales - under fire from his one of his colleagues

Jerry Seales – under fire from his one of his colleagues

“It has been of deep concern to several attorneys, persons within the legal system, members of the public and certainly myself with the way Magistrate Seales has been conducting his court over the past few years,” he said.

“The developments last week suggest in no uncertain terms that he has no intention of changing his ways and he seems intent on continuing along a course that would cost the taxpayers of this country tremendous money,” he added.

Ferguson alluded to the huge sums that the Treasury has had to pay based on bad judgements delivered in the past by Seales.

He said it is already costing the State thousands of dollars in compensation because of the number of judgments against Seales at the level of the high court for basic errors committed and irrational decisions and steps taken in his capacity as a Magistrate.

“In a court you may have a person either dissatisfied with a ruling, you go to the appeal court and there may be instances where Magistrates and public officials are challenged on very unique and novel issues of law that you go to the court with but in the case of Magistrate Seales, it’s very basic errors of law that he makes,” the GBA President asserted.

THE NEW TODAY understands that Attorney General, Cajeton Hood had made a move within Cabinet to remove Seales but it was blocked by Minister of Legal Affairs, Elvin Nimrod, considered a close friend of the Magistrate.

A Cabinet insider said that Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell had initially given support to the move against Seales but backed down in the face of opposition from Nimrod, who is the Deputy Prime Minister.

The source indicated that the matter resurfaced at a Cabinet session when Minister Nimrod was out of the country and was apparently endorsed by the Cabinet of Ministers in the presence of PM Mitchell.

She said the Legal Affairs Minister was present at the following Cabinet meeting when the matter had to be seconded to take effect but he raised issue with the Jerry Seales matter being discussed against.

The official quoted Nimrod as saying that he thought the matter was already dealt with before and the Prime Minister and others inside the room reportedly backed off.

An annoyed Ferguson took a swipe at the manner in which Seales was operating on the bench.

He said: “We are still a country governed by a constitution which is the Supreme law and we are a nation that is also governed by law, not the whims and fancies of particular individuals.”

The local bar president expressed fears that if something is not done about the manner in which Seales is operating in court, the taxpayers’ money will always have to be used to clean his “mess”.

He stressed that he alone has nine matters before the high court involving the Magistrate and Seales has been ordered to pay cost anddamages in certain instances.

“I’m not saying that persons who break the law must not be dealt with, that if bus drivers or conductors break the law that they must  not be dealt with and they must not face the consequences of whatever infringement of the law they would have committed.

“…Whether you are dealing with a bus driver, a conductor, a public servant, a minor, a professional, from whatever class or strata of the society that you come from, you must follow the rule of law.

“There are laws governing what we do, and you have more so when you are a judicial officer, you must adhere to the rule.

Ferguson accused Magistrate Seales of undermining the confidence in the administration of justice, adding that there is just so much an Attorney can do.

The attorney dropped strong hints that he was not satisfied with the manner in which the Magistrate was interpreting he law and handing down sentences.

He said: “…There are certain circumstances under which you can impose forthwith fines on persons and if those circumstances do not exist, then you cannot do it, in fact what it is, is a jail sentence.

“…Here we have persons admitting that they have assaulted the law and they are pleading guilty but you want them walk (with) their monies in their back pocket, just to avoid going to jail.

“That is just not right by way of common sense and that is just not right by way of law but what he does, he does it in any event, who cares, he does it because he happens to sit in a seat of power and he choose to abuse that power”.

Ferguson is contending that persons must be given an opportunity to pay the fine, if they cannot pay it right then and there.

“If the situation warrants it, you do it, if it warrants a jail sentence you do it, you can’t do it as a matter of course without giving persons the opportunity to be able to pay that fine”, he said

“…And the law says clearly that people must have the opportunity, if they can’t pay the fine and they say they can’t pay the fine, then you have to give them an opportunity to pay the fine because in effect what you would be imposing is not fine but a jail sentence,” he added.

The attorney-at-law also raised concerns with Seales’ approach in dealing with persons who are brought to court by way of Summons and have been put on bail for one reason or the other, which is not usually associated with Summary offences.

“From reports, what he (Seales) has been doing, when you come to court with a summons, the charge is read to you, you plead not guilty – what does he do, he puts you on bail and you have to get sureties so you go down in the cell until you can call all over the place to get sureties to come and stand your bail.

“… You came to court by summons – this is a total abuse of power, not only does he impose bail but cash bail so you have to have your money in your pocket so if that’s not an abuse of power, what is.

“This must stop because the nation will have to pay for it, the tax payers will have to pay for it and they are already having to do with all these judgments against him (in) the high court.

“ So the high court is saying in several instances that this is wrong but does he care, no because he has an ego to satisfy and therefore he has power so he feels he must use the power to his own end and this has to stop.

According to Ferguson, Magistrate Seales has been spoken to and written to many times about his manner of carrying out justice in court but to no avail.

“I do feel strongly that this Magistrate is not a fit and proper person to be sitting on the bench, given all the examples over the years about abuse of power”, he told reporters.

In his capacity as President of the Bar, Ferguson said the issue of Jerry Seales has come up in recent executive meetings and “the position of the bar is to collect all the information and prepare the relevant documents for submission to the appropriate authorities withall the complaints.”

“Magistrates are protected By the Constitution), once the complaints are made, the Judicial and Legal Services Commission in my respectful view has the ultimate authority to recommend to the Governor General
his removal from office,” Ferguson said.

MNIB supports Mt Rich Football

 Roderick St Clair - Marketing Manager of MNIB

Roderick St Clair – Marketing Manager of MNIB

The Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB) has donated two- dozen T Shirts to the Mt. Rich Football team to be used in upcoming sporting events.

The shirts were handed over to the Assistant Public Relations Officer of the team at a recent ceremony that was held at the MNIB Office.

During the event, Marketing Manager of the MNIB, Roderick St Clair said that there is a link between the Marketing Board being an agriculture organisation and Mt Rich being a farming community.

“It’s one of those gesture, where we interface with the community and provide the type of support that they need to keep things going, not just the fruits and vegetables but we expect the team to be eating healthy and supporting the products of the Marketing and National Importing Board,” he remarked.

St Clair was confident that the team, which has been around since 1986 will carry the brand and image of the MNIB very well.

“The important thing is not just having a logo or having branded material but it’s also about the performance of the team – they will carry the slogan naturally the best and they are naturally the best, they have showed it from youths right up and so that is the kind of spirit that we want.

“As I mentioned earlier, it is a community village so we always have increase in partnership so that to the farmers, their sons and daughters, when they go and see this team it’s basically Marketing Board they are supporting.

“… When the farmer sees his son playing the football it’s Marketing Board they’re supporting and in essence we also have an obligation to also continue to support the team.

Assistant PRO of the team, Michael Stanislaus welcomed the contribution as timely.
“We are in desperate need of this sponsorship, as we all know the club continues to dominate football over the past three seasons, we have won the second division unbeaten, we are in the premiere league,” he said.

“I think by Marketing Board taking this initiative, it will encourage the club to be more hungry for success and continue the dominance in Football in Grenada,” he added.

MNIB was created by the 1979-83 left-leaning government of slain Prime Minister Maurice Bishop to buy agricultural produce from the nation’s farmers.

“Mr. Killa” endorsed by Digicel Brand

Mr. Hollice Map aka “Mr. Killa,”

Mr. Hollice Map aka “Mr. Killa,”

Digicel Grenada and Mr. Hollice Map aka “Mr. Killa,” Grenada’s rising Soca sensation have announced a partnership in which “Mr. Killa” will now become a Digicel Brand Ambassador.

Mr. Killa known regionally and internationally for hits like “Spice Isle Rock” and “Warrior,” established his rising claim to fame when he tied for 2nd place with Neil Iwer George and Destra Garcia, at the 2014 International Soca Monarch competition held on “Fantastic Friday” at the National Stadium in Port–of–Spain, Trinidad with his performance of “Rolly Polly.”

Country Manager Patricia Maher said, “Mr. Killa is the perfect partner for our brand. Mr. Killa is exciting, innovative and clearly provides great value for his audiences, just as we seek to do as the undisputed leaders in the provision of innovative mobile telecommunications service in Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique.”

Digicel’s Marketing Manager, Kirk Seetahal, in his statement, said Digicel has always supported home-grown talent, and so making the decision to name Mr Killa an ambassador was an easy one.

“His positive attitude, humble personality, positive vibes and extraordinary talent make him a perfect fit as he continues to share the rich sounds of the Spice Isle with his growing fan base across the world.

“We are looking forward to bigger and better things to come from him in the very near future. As a truly extraordinary company, Digicel is pleased to be associated with and to lend support to such an accomplished artiste, who through his music continues to be extraordinary, distinguishing himself and by extension Grenada, as  major player in the competitive music business,” said Seetahal.

Date set for referendum on Constitutional reform

Deputy Political Leader, Hon Elvin Nimrod is optimistic that the recommendations made from the committee will do the job its intended to

Deputy Political Leader, Hon Elvin Nimrod is optimistic that the recommendations made from the committee will do the job its intended to

Grenadians will go back to the polls early next year for the second time in two years but not to elect a new government but to try and effect some changes to its 1974 Constitution.

Speaking to reporters at Tuesday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Legal Affairs, Elvin Nimrod announced that Cabinet has set February 10, 2015 as the date for a referendum to be held on proposed amendments to the Constitution that was handed down when the island attained its independence from Britain.

The ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell had set up a Committee to review the Constitution shortly after he won a 15-0 victory at the polls in February 2013.

Headed by leading Constitutional expert, Dr. Francis Alexis, a former Attorney General, the body has presented 24 recommendations to Cabinet for consideration but only twelve (12) are currently on table for approval by the people in the referendum.

The Alexis-led committee held a number of consultations across the country as it sought feedback from the public on what they would like to see amended in the Constitution.

According to Minister Nimrod, the first item put before Cabinet was for Grenada, as an independent country should make the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final appellate court.

“As you know presently we are going to (the) Privy Council (in England) for our final judgment, in other words a matter that goes to the high court here and then goes to the Appeal (Court), if its necessary to do so, the (OECS) Court of Appeal and then the final court would be the Privy Council”, he said.

“…We are saying as an independent nation we think that we should use our own court instead of going to the Privy Council in England  – that it would be better for us to use our local court, of course there are varying opinions on this,” he added.

Nimrod admitted that there are persons in the country who believe that Grenada should stick with the Privy Council for the time being but said the Law Lords in England have been signaling that they feel burdensome with Grenada’s legal issues.

“I should tell you that from recent utterings and other actions, we believe that they feel burdened with our matters and they believe it is time for us to find our own wings to fly and so taking that into consideration the fact that our local court will be much more competent in terms of knowing our culture and our ways of life and we believe that might be the better road to take,” he told reporters.

Local attorneys Lloyd Noel and Anselm Clouden have publicly expressed reservations about Grenada cutting ties with the Privy Council at this point in time.

Nimrod also said that one of the issues that will be voted upon during the February Referendum is the inclusion of Carriacou and Petite Martinique on the national passport and for an Oath of Allegiance to be taken in the name of Grenada and no longer to Queen Elizabeth.

The senior government minister pointed out that another important recommendation sent to Cabinet for inclusion in the referendum is the setting up of a committee in charge of the holding of general elections and not the Supervisor of Elections.

“Instead of having one person in terms of a Supervisor of Elections over such a very important function, a proposal is made that we now have an Electoral Commission which will be made up of several other persons rather than the one person and it will minimise that opportunity to lay accusation and blame on one individual,” he said.

Current Prime Minister Mitchell had raised concerns in the past with former Supervisor of Elections, Judy Benoit and the NNP regime moved quickly after the February 2013 polls to remove her from office.

Benoit who got a nod of approval from the Organisation of American States (OAS) for her handling of the polls, took legal action against Governor-General, Dame Cecile La Grenade over the treatment meted out to her in the wake of her sacking.

Nimrod also told reporters that the Constitutional Reform Committee also suggested that a mechanism should be put in place to ensure that there is always an opposition in Parliament.

“Even after an election such as this (2013) where one party took office, there has been some consideration as to how we could amend the Constitution to make sure that there is an opposition”, he said.

“…There are those that say it is not real democracy to have one side having all the seats in Parliament and others will say that is true democracy because pure democracy depends on what the people say and if the people wanted one seat for one party then that is democracy. You can’t ask for a purer form of democracy but at the same time it’s good to hear another side,” he remarked.

The NNP swept the polls 16 months ago as it recorded its second clean sweep of all 15 constituencies on the island – the first was in 1999.

According to Nimrod, he himself is not comfortable in Parliament without the presence of an opposition.

He said: “I’ve heard the Prime Minister said it and I feel the same way myself, I lose the steam and the enthusiasm in the Parliament when I look around and I don’t see an opposition that I can really pepper. It’s like you boxing but you alone boxing”.

Under the Grenada Constitution, changes can only be made to the document by a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament and a similar amount of support of the people through the casting of ballots.

The NNP “jig saw puzzle” on Ewart Layne

The OECS Court of Appeal was due to meet in St. Lucia on Wednesday to take a decision on an application made by Ewart Layne, one of the convicted killers of late Marxist Prime Minister Maurice Bishop to be allowed to practice law at the local courts.

Lawyers for Layne sent the application to the Court of Appeal Justices following a decision by high court judge, Justice Margaret Price-Findlay to turn down the applicant.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the Keith-Mitchell-led government in St. George’s had initially signaled its intention to join the case before the court and to object to Layne being allowed to practice law in the country.

However, a well-informed member of the government has said that the regime has decided to shy away from the case and to take up a neutral position.

She said the decision to back down came in the face of strong lobbying at the highest possible level of the government by leading figures of the ill-fated 1979-83 Grenada Revolution.

Two prominent persons associated with the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) – former Foreign Affairs Minister Peter David and trade unionist, Chester Humphrey – have decided to support the 16-month old Mitchell government under a scheme known as “Project Grenada”.

David, a former General Secretary of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), has since taken up member of the ruling New National Party (NNP) and is tipped for a possible Cabinet posting.

The once powerful Congress member recently accompanied Prime Minister Mitchell on a tour of North America to meet Grenadians living in the diaspora.

The source said that Government’s position was to oppose the appeal by lawyers for Layne but in recent days has shifted position and indicating that they do not want “to express any opinion on the appeal”.

She feared that the Mitchell administration might be playing a dangerous game with the hardline remnants of the Grenada Revolution aimed at garnering their support to keep Congress out of power forever.

According to the regime member who did not want to be identified, the Grenada left could be “very cunning” and she feared that they might seek to use the NNP to put their people in positions of authority in the country and then undermine Mitchell and his government.

Layne and sixteen former government and military officials were convicted of the October 19, 1983 murder of Bishop and three Cabinet ministers on Fort George amidst a power struggle for control of the New Jewel Movement (NJM) that created the Grenada Revolution.

During the trial, the court heard evidence that Layne was the one who ordered troops to the fort where Bishop had taken refuge after being freed from house arrest at Mt. Wheldale.

The Prosecution contended that the decision to execute Bishop and his colleagues was taken by the Central Committee of the NJM but Layne and the other convicts denied that any such thing happened.

A key witness for the Prosecution was Bishop’s former Chief of Security, Cletus St. Paul, now serving as a Security Co-ordinator within the Mitchell-led government in St. George’s.

St. Paul who was arrested by forces loyal to Layne and former deputy Prime Minister, Bernard Coard and held prisoner at Fort Frederick where the NJM CC members had take haven after Bishop was freed.

The former bodyguard told the court on oath that he heard the CC members deliberating on what to do with Bishop after he was captured and there was a vote in which the majority agreed to execute him.

St. Paul said that after the bloody carnage on Fort George, he spoke with one of the convicted 17 – Cecil Prime – and asked him if they really killed the late Prime Minister.

He spoke of Prime retorting to him that, “we had to cut his f…. throat”.

In rejecting Layne’s application to be admitted to practice law in Grenada, Justice Price-Findlay said that she was being guided by the following:

(a). The point of admission is to select the persons who will handle the law with honesty and with competence, but also not to diminish the role and reputation of the legal profession.

(b). The test which the Court has to apply is whether there is a potential risk to the public or, more importantly, whether there will be damage to the profession’s reputation.

(c) The public must have confidence in the Bar, as admitting an Applicant to practice sends the message that the Applicant is worthy of the public trust.

(d). “Lawyers play a critical role in sustaining the rule of law and thus it is necessary that the legal profession maintain its unique ability to do so by earning the respect and confidence of society.

(e). Had this Applicant committed these acts while a practicing attorney, this Court has no doubt that he would have been disbarred. Disbarment has occurred for less egregious conduct.

(f). To allow this Applicant to be admitted would send an inconsistent message to members of the public and to the profession as a whole.

(g). The reputation of this profession is more important than the fortunes of any individual member.

(h). The Applicant here is a man who has accomplished much. But having reviewed the evidence and taking into account all the relevant considerations, and the authorities in England, the United States, the OECS and other jurisdictions, I am constrained to refuse this application for admission.

Layne had managed to get a wide cross section of local lawyers to join his campaign to get admitted to the local bar.

Among the lawyers who appeared on his behalf were Ruggles Ferguson, Denis Lambert, Claudette Joseph, Cathisha Williams, Ian Sandy, Deborah St. Bernard, Deborah Mitchell, Anyika Johnson, Francis Paul, Derrick Sylvester, Ayanna Nelson, Dr. Lawrence Joseph, Lou-Ann Harford, Peter David, & Ashley Bernadine.

Two other attorneys who signaled their support but were not present in court were Anselm Clouden and former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.

Toni Tuff knocked out

Toni Tuff

Toni Tuff

A new King will emerge from the 2014 CC6 Carnival knockout competition as organisers of the event have put in place a new policy, which prevents the 2013 King from defending the title.

However, last year’s winner, Toni Modeste whose stage name in Toni Tuff is crying foul over the decision that will prevent him from making a defence of the title.

Toni Tuff who is distraught over the policy spoke of being embarrassed as he was well into his final stage of preparations for the competition to be held today (Friday July 18).

In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper, the budding soca artiste said he only learnt of the change in policy after getting in touch with one of the producers of the competition by way of text.

He pointed out that only a mere five days before the competition was to take place, he was informed of the policy to exclude the winner from taking part once again in the competition.

“If they had notified me with due time I would not have went and prepare myself and invest in my presentation,” he said.

Toni Tuff disclosed that he already spent close to $2000 for his preparation including the production of his song for the competition and getting someone to prepare his costume.

He spoke of spending $800.00 on studio time in producing his song “Place Mash UP”.

The song is on the Crab Innah Barrel riddim and is produced by Timmy Trigga Noel of Diamond Cut studio in Victoria.

The 2013 CC6 Carnival Knockout champion said after meeting with the organisers he was informed that he could participate in the final preliminary round of the competition that took place last week Friday to see if he could make it in today’s final, or he can sing as a guest artiste at the final.

He is suspicious about the sudden change in policy since in 2012, Black Dan won the competition and was allowed to defend it in 2013.

In addition, previous winners were also allowed to defend the title.

According to Toni Tuff, he was informed that the organisers of the competition have taken a decision that from hereon a different person would be given an opportunity to win the title.

Toni Tuff said that while he respect that decision he sees it as felt unfair to him as he was only given five days short notice of the new policy direction and it was only made known to him because of his own initiative after making contact which the producer of the show.

He added that it was very easy for the organisers to contact with him as they have his telephone numbers, and the main Producer is one of his friends on Facebook.

The budding soca artiste indicated that he would not allow a bad experience to break him as he has learnt in life that even out of bad experiences good things emerge.

He said he has already lined up to participate in the Happy Hill soca monarch competition and also the North-east soca monarch contest.

Toni Tuff is one of the calypsonians in the cast at the North West Calypso Brigade.

Toni Tuff won last year’s competition with the song “Represent”.

The 90% attrition policy

The Keith Mitchell led administration has approved an attrition policy which sees vacancies in the public service being cut by 90%.

Minister with responsibility for Economic, Trade, Planning and Co-operatives, Oliver Joseph, said that the Cabinet decision would see only 10% of vacancies within the service being filled by government.

The Mitchell regime’s attempt to decrease the wage bill was first disclosed during the delivery of the 2013 Budget of Revenue and Expenditure when it was disclosed that 70% of the jobs will not be refilled.

Prime Minister Mitchell said then that “for every 100 persons who retire from or exit the Public Service, no more than 30 such persons will be replaced”.

He also said back then that his administration plans to abolish at least 100 vacant posts in 2014.

Addressing the media during last week’s Post-Cabinet Briefing, Minister Joseph said that government’s attrition policy falls under its Structural Adjustment Programme (Homegrown Programme) signed two
weeks ago with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with support from other development partners such as the World Bank, European Union, Caribbean Development Bank, and the Department for International Development, Canada and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.

According to the senior government minister, the attrition policy gives officers within the pubic service the choice of retirement or resignation.

He said the vacancies created will not be replaced at the same level.

“So in other words, for every 10 persons that resign or retire you would only fill three posts, and that’s where you will get a reduction (in staff levels), he remarked.

“So that policy was approved by Cabinet because under the Structural Adjustment Programme, we have committed to reducing the numbers in the service by attrition. Also under the attrition policy you would see the giving up of 90% of vacant positions,” Joseph told the media.

The senior government minister said that a number of vacancies presently exist within various government ministries and that 90% of them would be eliminated.

He said that the Department of Public Administration would carry out an analysis to determine which 10% of the available vacancies would be kept.

Government has been complaining about a high monthly wage bill with 70 cents of every dollar collected in taxes going toward wages and pensions.

Public sector union officials do not anticipate any significant reduction in the monthly wage bill through the attrition policy.

Something underneath the surface

Some things are happening underneath the surface that very few Grenadians are aware of these days as it might be in the interest of those in power to keep “the masses” in darkness.

THE NEW TODAY has been made aware of a decision that was taken by powerful forces within the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government to oppose efforts by one of the convicted killers of late Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop to get admitted to practice as an attorney-at-law in the local courts.

The Justice of the OECS Court of Appeal were due to sit in St. Lucia this week to hear an appeal from former Lieutenant-Colonel, Ewart “Headache” Layne against a decision by high court judge, Justice Margaret Price-Findlay to bar him from getting admitted as a lawyer.

The information in our possession is that powerful elements within the regime had signaled their intention to join the case with a view to blocking Layne’s application.

It now appears that behind the scene manoeuvres and pleadings by leftist forces now giving tacit support to the government might have won the day and got the officials to now adopt a neutral position on the issue.

These “under the surface” happenings are unknown to the vast majority of the population, however, they can have wide and far-reaching implications for the future of the country.

An anti-Layne lobby could lead to distrust between Prime Minister Mitchell and the promoters of the “Project Grenada” idea like former Foreign Minister, Peter David and trade unionist, Chester Humphrey.

THE NEW TODAY is of a similar view although there is a school of thought that the two former left-wingers in the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution are more in favour of advancing their own personal agenda and cause and not necessarily those of their former Comrades of yesteryear.

If the government had joined the battle to keep Layne out of the law courts, it would have been a slap straight in the face of Attorney-General, Cajeton Hood who was involved in the fight to clear the way for the former Army man to be admitted to the bar.

It was Hood’s law firm that took Layne in and allowed him to do some of the work needed to advance his cause to seek permission to approach the court to get qualified as a barrister-at-law.

Before accepting the job as AG, Hood, while in private practice is said to have filed affidavits in support of Layne’s bid to get admitted to the judiciary.

The NNP leadership has been giving too many mixed signals  on its true position with respect to the so-called Bernard Coard Gang of Prisoners who are now out of prison and back in the society.

During the 2003-08 period in government, the then Mitchell administration was vehemently opposed to the Coard Gang being released from the Richmond Hill prison.

Prominent members of the government including Legal Affairs Minister, Elvin Nimrod made public statements intimating that they will not be releasing the defendants from prison despite an order from the Privy Council in London for a re-sentencing of the so-called “Men on the Hill”.

The sitting judge, Justice Francis Belle recalled in his ruling that Nimrod who was the AG at the time told a public meeting in Carriacou that even if the court said the Coard Group of Prisoners should be released that the New National Party is standing firm to keep them there.

The judge highlighted the relevant part of Nimrod’s statement which was reported verbatim in an affidavit filed by one Chester Humphrey, which had been copied from the New National Party’s Website.

It states: “We have spent millions of dollars to make sure that we protect this country. But is the opposition. The opposition that is fighting to release the people on the hill; let me say when the time comes, if the court decide that they must be released, let us make it clear that Keith Mitchell and the New National Party is standing firm to make sure that we keep them there, because they have committed crimes against our country, and we will do everything necessary and appropriate – because now, as of today we have employed the best legal minds to fight with the opposition because the opposition with Ruggles Ferguson, Peter David, Nazim Burke – they’re trying to release the guys on the hill. We are saying that we cannot afford to do this. We are fighting to keep them on the hill my dear people; help us to keep them there.”

These are the words that reflected the view of those wielding power within the NNP Camp.

Now today, at least one revolutionary member of the then Opposition who was accused of fighting to release “The Men on the Hill” is now a member of the Mitchell-led NNP outfit.

Furthermore, the very said persons who in the words of the NNP government “have committed crimes against our country” are now put in charge of a state farm by PM Mitchell and company.

The NNP signals are confusing – oppose Ewart Layne on one hand but give support to some of the remnants of the Revo on the other hand.

What is really happening? Is all the manoeuverings taking place only just politicking or part of the so-called new configuration called, “Project Grenada” in which the masses are kept in total darkness to achieve personal political ends?