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Valentine takes over as city mayor

Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Tim Kee finally resigns…
Deputy Mayor of Port-of-Spain Kieron Valentine leaves City Hall after yesterday’s resignation of Mayor Raymond Tim Kee. Valentine will be sworn in as the capital’s next mayor in the coming days. PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON

Keron Valentine, who has held the post of deputy mayor for the past six years, is now the mayor of Port-of-Spain.

Today, the council will hold discussions on a number of issues, including selecting a new deputy mayor.

At 3 pm yesterday former Port-of-Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee tendered his resignation to the Chief Executive Officer of the Port-of-Spain City Corporation.

It came two days after he announced his intention to resign in the face of a public outrage, endorsement from Prime Minister Keith Rowley and chairman of the People’s National Movement Franklin Khan, over his victim blaming comments in the wake of the murder of Japanese visitor Asami Nagakiya.

At noon yesterday he had revealed his intention to Sky 99.5 fm announcer Jessie May Ventour.

Last Friday, activists protested outside City Hall calling for Tim Kee’s resignation. Social media was bombarded with calls for this termination and activists also protested outside this country’s High Commission in London.

While speaking to media, following the discovery of Nagakiya’s corpse, Tim Kee raised questions about lewdness and vulgarity in Carnival.

He later said his words were taken out of context by media professionals.

This past weekend, Tim Kee first announced plans to resign but there was speculation on Monday after a Facebook post from his spouse defending his action and stating he had more to do as mayor.

While speaking to Ventour, Tim Kee said he had never announced any reversal of his decision to resign but had used Monday to say goodbye to colleagues and friends at the corporation.

In an interview, shortly after 5 pm, following the meeting, Valentine, 31, confirmed Tim Kee’s resignation and the provision in the Municipal Corporation’s Act which made him Tim Kee’s replacement.

He said the meeting was used to discuss the way forward and for the former mayor to hand over projects he had started.

“It was really a sad moment, an uncomfortable feeling to take over the mayorship under such circumstances but in politics these things do happen and we are all saddened by it,” Valentine added.

He said the mood of the meeting was a sombre one but added the business of the city must go on.

“We assured Mayor Tim Kee that the work of the city will go on and we will stick to his projects.

“I gave him the commitment that the projects we have started in terms of development, I will press on with the support of the council,” Valentine added.

These projects include the completion of the West Park Savannah, the changes to vending at the Queen’s Park Savannah and in the city and the installation of parking metres and wrecking.

Valentine is expected to remain in office until local government elections which is due in eight months.

Asked about the two councillors who misled the public when they told media the council had met on Monday, Valentine said the issue would be discussed.

“We are going to discuss that at the very first caucas meeting under my chairmanship but my personal take is that it was a matter of loyalty and emotions were high.

“I do understand the sentiments expressed by my colleagues,” he added.

According to the Act, the council may appoint to the office of deputy mayor “an alderman or councillor who shall hold such office until the date when the deputy mayor whom he succeeded would have gone out of office by effluxion of time.”

Tim Kee, who remained in the mayor’s office and was seen peering out a third floor window, did not speak to the media.

Instead, in a press release from his office, he accepted full responsibility for making the reference that cast a shadow on the death of Nagakiya whose body was found in the Queen’s Park Savannah on Ash Wednesday in her Carnival costume. 

“I once again extend my sincerest condolences to her family, friends and countrymen and wish that they be comforted by the outpouring of love which has been demonstrated by so many. 

“Her loss is keenly felt as if she were one of our own, as over the years she has shown a deep love for the culture of this country and the national instrument in particular,” the release stated.

He said public officials must be held to a high standard of transparency, good governance and accountability.

“I did my best and I accept full responsibility for my actions and utterances. To the people of this country who feel they have been let down, I unreservedly apologise. 

“As I demit office, I wish to encourage all of us as citizens and leaders to act in a manner that would best serve Trinidad and Tobago. To the residents of Port-of-Spain, I am indeed grateful for the opportunity to have served you,” he added.