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McKenzie raps KSAMC councillors in nasty political clash

Thursday, December 14, 2017

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DESMOND McKenzie, minister of local government and community development, has sharply criticised the conduct of councillors at Tuesday's meeting of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC).

Minister McKenzie said in a release from his ministry yesterday that while he has asked the mayor of Kingston Senator Delroy Williams to investigate the matter, it is clear that there are elected representatives who still lack a clear understanding of their purpose and collective mission as members of the KSAMC.

Exchanges of goodwill for the holiday season at Tuesday's monthly meeting of the KSAMC council were brought to an abrupt end when two councillors from opposing political parties engaged in a nasty, prolonged tracing match over alleged political misdeeds.

Deputy Mayor Winston Ennis, who was chairing the meeting when Councillor Susan Senior (JLP, Norbrook Division) and Councillor Kari Douglas (PNP, Trafalgar Division) clashed, described the incident as the “worst behaviour I have seen in my 14 years as a councillor”.

“Any conduct that is unbecoming undermines the strenuous efforts that we have been making to transform not only the functioning, but the image of local government in the eyes of the Jamaican people. When I took responsibility for this ministry, I emphasised the need for local government to be lifted into a position of national credibility and respectability, through improved service delivery and inspirational leadership at every level, including, from the elected representatives, McKenzie said in the release yesterday. “We went around the country engaging them in sensitisation sessions, in which procedures of and conduct in council meetings was a specific subject area. I am therefore extremely disappointed about the event that has been reported.”

The local government minister went on to say he will not allow the “significant gains” that have been made in local government to be eroded in any way, by any councillor, irrespective of the political ticket he or she was elected on.

“The councillors were not elected by the people in their divisions to engage in unwholesome conduct in meetings. The elected representatives in the KSAMC, in particular, are representing the capital city and its environs, and should be aware that all eyes are on them as civic leaders,” he continued.

The release said the local government minister says the public not only deserves, but expects better from practitioners in the system.

“I want to apologise to the people of Kingston and St Andrew and to the wider society for this incident. I take it seriously, as the person who is ultimately responsible for local government, and I await the outcome of the investigation that I have requested,” McKenzie said.

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