Tuesday , March 28 2023

Levenstone asked to leave Island Council meeting

The Daily Herald writes that the public Island Council (IC) meeting held on Thursday, chaired by Governor Jonathan Johnson, commenced with a colourful political scene. In the absence of Councilman Rolando Wilson, who is abroad, and Councilman Ishmael Levenstone, the chairman started the meeting with a quorum secured by Windward Island People’s Movement (WIPM) council members Carl Buncamper, Amelia Nicholson and Eviton Heyliger.

In several past sessions, opposition Saba Labour Party (SLP) Councilman Levenstone used the lack of WIPM quorum to delay commencement or even force postponements of the meetings. This backfired this time. While Levenstone was in the building by the time the Saba Song was played, he delayed his entrance.

The meeting started with the approval of the agenda, review of seven incoming correspondence items and the request of the Island Council to meet with Saba Comprehensive School Principal Hemmie van Xanten separately. During these proceedings,

Levenstone entered the hall. On seeing him approach his chair, Commissioner Johnson, who attended the meeting together with Bruce Zagers to provide any needed additional insights to the proposals, made a point to repeatedly ask the Chairman, if the meeting had already started. The chairman confirmed it and that Levenstone cannot participate in the meeting. Levenstone followed up with some colourful remarks, which could not be heard in the live radio stream of the public session, but the chairman reprimanded him for the remarks. Governor Johnson asked the councilman to leave the hall and deplored the councilman’s use of foul language in public proceedings. Chairman Johnson cited Article 15 of the rules of procedures in answering Levenstone why he cannot take his seat. “I’ll catch you one day, when you ain’t got quorum,” said Levenstone.

Governor Johnson proceeded with the approval of the minutes of previous meetings. He read the Island Council’s proposal for the appointment of Ernst and Young Dutch Caribbean as accountant for Saba for the fiscal years 2014, 2015 and 2016. The proposal was unanimously adopted. The 2013 Year Report, which had been made available for public viewing upon request, was adopted after much discussion in the Central Committee meeting of the Island Council. The first Budget Amendment for 2014 was also approved by the council.

At the close of the session, Governor Johnson said in the six years he has served the Island Government, he has had a good working relationship with the Island Council. “I have never had to, as they say ‘throw the gavel’ on anybody. On the island of Saba, we deal with each other respectfully.”


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One comment

  1. Chris Meijvogel

    Levenstone asked to leave Island Council meeting
    (Published in The Daily Herald and Saba News June 27th, 2014.)
    On purpose I waited a week to see if any comments would come.
    So far I have seen none. Even the Island Council member himself prefers not going into it while knowing that the followed procedure was unlawful.
    Let me explain.
    August 29, 2011 the Island Council adapted the “ Rules of procedure for the meetings and other activities of the Island Council of the public body of Saba”.
    September 21, 2011 these rules of procedure were promulgated (published) by the Governor.
    While all Saban people has to obey all type of (new) laws, one can expect that the local authorities does that also, especially their own rules. This did not happen.
    What happened: when IC member Levenstone entered the meeting room, commissioner Johnson, for the second time, interrupted the meeting with a question and a remark. This is not allowed according the Rules of procedure. According the WOLBES a commissioner can attend an IC meeting and can join the deliberations but a commissioner cannot make a so called procedural motion. (article 32 of the Rules of procedure). And because this question and remark had nothing to do with the deliberated subject at that moment, this interruption was such a motion. Procedural motions are reserved to the chairman and each member of the Island Council.
    After that the council member was not allowed to take his seat, the Governor, as base of his decision, read article 15 of the Rules of procedure. But this article does not mention anything about joining an in-session meeting. Article 15 regulates the opening of the meeting after having a quorum and what to do if the the required number of members is not present. Article 15 was completely irrelevant.
    The Rules of procedure does not mention anything, nowhere, stating that it is not allowed to enter an in-session meeting and sign the attendance list.
    Because this happened in a public meeting, aired by radio and streamed on the internet, I think that IC member Levenstone deserves a public apology in the next public IC meeting.
    What I intend with this article is to prevent a next time that an elected representative can be unlawfully withhold from his democratic duty.
    Because I do not support the use of foul language anywhere, I have no problem with the ‘removal’ of Levenstone as part of the public. But this would not have been necessary if procedures had been executed properly.

    Chris Meijvogel.