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Power Struggle at the San Ignacio/Santa Elena Town Council

A power struggle and all-out political war is ensuing in San Ignacio/Santa Elena. As you will remember, the town council is a mixed one: a UDP Mayor, a UDP councilor and five PUP councilors. They’ve not been seeing eye-to-eye over a number of issues and the municipality has had to put several projects on hold due to the internal power struggle. It got to a point that on April twenty-nine, following a heated town council meeting that Minister of Local Government Oscar Requena had to be called in – and he threatened to intervene by installing a financial controller. He did not act on that threat, but it seems the political differences have spiraled over terminations that the council has undertaken without Mayor Earl Trapp’s approval. Mayor Trapp is hosting a press conference tomorrow at the San Ignacio Hotel after the PUP councilors stopped the Mayor from having his press conference at the town hall. Today, we asked the Leader of the Opposition, Moses “Shyne” Barrow about his views on the impasse between the PUP councilors and the Mayor.

Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Leader of the Opposition: “Mayor Trapp has been complaining to the shadow cabinet and to other colleagues since November and we’ve tried wether by dispatching legal counsel to him and just guidance as far as past mayors I know Mayor Bradley Senator Bradley is to convene with Mayor Trapp to offer guidance and counsel because what happens is the understanding I have is that the PUP councilors for the twin towns are not respecting the will of the people. The democracy has prevailed in favor of Mayor Trapp leading the council, he’s the CEO of the council, he’s the person that should direct the council and so at every step of the way my understanding is that they have tried to undermine that leadership, undermine his executive authority. But again the people have spoken if they did not want Mayor Trapp to be the mayor they would have decided otherwise. But my understanding is that the PUP councilors have fought Mayor Trapp every step of the way and now it has come to a halt, screeching halt. I believe the straw that has broken the proverbial camel’s back is the attempt by the PUP councilors to fire twenty or thirty town council employees, hard working town council employees and during this time where we are facing an economic crisis the likes of which we’ve never seen people losing their jobs is just something that we have to do our best to prevent.”

As for those workers the councilors terminated, they are yet to receive their benefits. While the Opposition Leader says he supports the Mayor’s position on this matter, he says the PUP has got to work with Trapp, adding that the hiring and firing of people should not come with partisan political undertones.

Moses “Shyne” Barrow, Leader of the Opposition: “It is in the best interest of people in the twin towns for the PUP councilors to hold fast to their initial promise to work along with Mayor Trap. It is not for them to keep passing resolutions to undermine his executive direction. I’m sad to hear that they’ve already fired people I thought that they were attempting to fire people but I’m sad to hear that they’ve already fired people only as I understand it to rehire people who are their supporters. Again I always commend the elected officials who are there to serve all people and I don’t think that we need to continue the practice of rewarding our people versus starting anew. Let us have a new era of governance where we serve all people. So if people are working, allow them to work until  there is some type of violation of their labor agreement and certainly if that happens you take the necessary steps and if other qualified people apply then you allow that process to take its course but this idea that we need to purge the workforce and bring in our people is certainly misguided and I believe unethical and we need to discontinue that practice.”

When we contacted Minister of Local Government Oscar Requena today, he told us he has once again reached out to both sides and is hopeful for an amicable solution. Meanwhile, Mayor Trapp’s press conference, which is happening alongside UDP Leader Patrick Faber will go on as planned at ten tomorrow morning. We will cover it for you in the news tomorrow.