An upcoming court case in the United States in early 2013 could have some bearings on the next general elections in Grenada.
The case was brought against former Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell, who is the current Leader of the Opposition, by a member of his own family from the Happy Hill area of St. George North-west.
THE NEW TODAY got oversight of some of the documents that were filed in a court in Brooklyn in New York by one Rodge Jones against Dr. Mitchell and his wife, Marietta Mitchell in connection with a dispute over a property owned by the Mitchell’s’ known as MK Manor.
Mr. Jones is accusing the former Grenadian leader and his wife of trying to renege on a contract agreement signed with him in 1982 to act as “The Super” of their building estimated to worth US$8 million in the heart of Brooklyn.
“The Super” has instituted court proceedings against the Mitchell’s to seek compensation, believed to be in the region of EC$1.08 million and a judge in New York has issued an order for the defendants to appear in person in his court on February 18 to defend themselves against the allegations.
What if Prime Minister Tillman Thomas in asking the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament was to set the same February 18 as the date for Nomination of Candidates wishing to contest the general elections?
Will Dr. Mitchell defy the order of the high court judge in New York and remain at home to file his nomination papers so that he can contest the elections to get a shot at the Prime Minister ship once again?
The issue of immunity from prosecution for Dr. Mitchell in the upcoming court matter in New York is not a possibility since he no longer enjoys the status of being a sitting Prime Minister. He would have to appear in court in his own defense.
However, on a more fundamental note, the Rodge Jones case now before a judge in New York raises serious questions about the character traits of Dr. Mitchell who is seeking a return to power after nearly five years in the political doldrums in the country.
Here is a man who is prepared to hound down his opponents for monies owed to him but is not prepared to pay his “Super” for work done on his multi-million dollar apartment block in New York.
Mr. Jones is quite naturally upset with Dr. Mitchell and feels badly let down hence the reason for the court case.
He took the gamble of working for Dr. Mitchell for pittance at the end of each month on the understanding that at the end of the contract, the former Prime Minister would pay him a retirement package of 5% of the value of the property in the form of a gratuity.
This is a man who was attacked by bandits in New York and was hospitalised because the perpetrators thought that he was collecting huge sums of monies from the tenants occupying MK Manor when in fact the true owners are the Mitchell’s.
This gentleman has given 27 years of hard work and a lot of sweat for Dr. Mitchell and his wife and is quite naturally upset that he is being thrown out with little or no compensation to enjoy his retirement.
The New York case Rodge Jones vs. Keith and Marietta Mitchell also brings back into sharp focus the Call Centres debacle.
Here is a man (Dr. Mitchell) who committed State finances to members of his family in the failed Call Centre deal and reneged on a promise made to Parliament to ensure that his family members pay back their share of the millions owed to the State.
The February 18 case involving Dr. Mitchell and his wife pitted against his own relative could leave a bitter taste in the mouths of foreign investors wanting to do business in Grenada.
It raises the issue of trust. A serious investor would not want to put money into a country if there is a possibility that its leader might go back on his words or a signed agreement.
The Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan was a victim of Dr. Mitchell’s double-dealings at the international level.
Former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Dr. Brian Francis stated that as Prime Minister of the country, Dr. Mitchell used to virtually blackmail Taiwan into giving more monies to his government by always threatening to break off ties and going with Mainland China if they did not give him more monies.
The Taiwanese eventually felt the wrath of Dr. Mitchell when he dumped them in exchange for a more lucrative offer from Beijing.
Is it any wonder that today the Taiwanese are putting on the squeeze to recover the EC$70 million plus that Grenada owes them in long outstanding loans?
The EC$1.08 million, which Mr. Jones is claiming, is chicken feed money for Dr. Mitchell who is widely suspected to be a millionaire in his own rights.
Would the Mitchell’s’ pay up before February 18 to avoid possible embarrassment in the New York court? This is anyone’s guess.
The Rodge Jones case brought against Dr. Mitchell and his wife is for real and not any propaganda by his political enemies aimed at creating mischief.