Resigning is the proper thing to do.
That was Government’s position regarding Port-of-Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee last night as an expected resignation from him failed to materialise yesterday.
Rural Development and Local Government Minister Franklin Khan who is the corporation’s line minister and who’s also chairman of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) made the point when Tim Kee’s resignation failed to materialise up to late yesterday.
Up to 5 pm, Port-of-Spain city councillors were still said to be in a emergency meeting deliberating on Tim Kee’s expected resignation and whether to accept it.
But sources said the council was not accepting his resignation.
Councillors of the PNM-controlled corporation met on the issue yesterday at the same time a group of people was staging a demonstration in support of Tim Kee in Woodford Square, Port of Spain, opposite City Hall.
Mind Changers of T&T group, headed by former councillor Rudy Williams, also delivered a letter to City Hall petitioning the council to reject Tim Kee’s resignation.
Councillor Farai Masaisai, who emerged to thank supporters, said around noon: “The position of the council is we support our mayor and we hope he continues as mayor of Port-of-Spain. He hasn’t resigned, the meeting is still going on.
“I don’t think we would make a final decision today but at the end of the day half of it is up to the mayor and half of it is up to the council as a whole,” Masaisai added.
Political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath said the Municipal Corporations Act doesn’t allow for Government to remove Tim Kee.
The Council, or at least three fourths of its members, has to pass a motion of no confidence in the mayor for him to resign.
Tim Kee has been under the gun since last week following comments he made when asked about the death of Japanese masquerader Asami Nagakiya. Her body was found in the Queen’s Park Savannah in Carnival costume on Ash Wednesday. She was strangled.
Tim Kee’s reported comments appeared to link the situation with perceived lewdness in T&T Carnival. He later claimed his comments were taken out of context.
Groups protested outside his office last Friday seeking his removal. Tim Kee subsequently indicated intention to resign. On Saturday, he said he would call an emergency meeting of council on that. Via a separate statement, however, he said he still had work to do.
Prime Minister Keith Rowley initially said there was no need to dismiss Tim Kee but he distanced his Government from “victim blaming” which Tim Kee was perceived to have done.
On Sunday, however, Rowley said after reviewing the full statement on television he realised Tim Kee’s statements were unacceptable and that Tim Kee did the correct thing in responding to criticism from the national community and offering to resigning.
Speaking on the eve of his departure to Belize to attend Caricom meetings, Rowley said certain concerns were “conveyed to Tim Kee in a text message conversation early Thursday.” Rowley said as far as he was concerned the matter had been addressed.
Councillor Farai Masaisai said there had been a lot of support for him not to demit office.
Masaisai said council members were deliberating on the Municipal Corporations Act as there were procedures to follow and was deliberating on whether to accept the resignation or not.
“It’s not a procedure that will happen overnight,” he added.
He said Tim Kee would make a decision either “today (Monday) or in accordance with whatever procedure there is to follow.” Masaisai, an attorney, added Tim Kee was being advised by counsel in his office.
However, Khan told the T&T Guardian last night: “As line minister, I think Mr Tim Kee did the right think in offering his resignation and I support the Prime Minister’s view that was the way to go.
“He had said that resigning was the way to go and I supported that move and the PM supported that also and we still stand by that, that he felt the resignation offered by him was the proper thing to do. We continue to stand by that, that it’s (resigning) the proper thing to do.”
Up to 5.30 pm, a City Hall spokesman said the meeting was “still going on.” There was no word on a resignation from Tim Kee. Calls to his phones went to voice mail.
At 6.30 pm, Masaisai said via another party that he was “unable to speak.”
Council sources said it comprises 16 members and about six councillors were absent from yesterday’s meeting including one who is overseas.