Editorial | Mr Troupe’s appalling lack of remorse
Are we seeing the tip of the iceberg in the Michael Troupe suspension? The councillor and former deputy mayor of Montego Bay has been slapped with a three-month suspension for bringing the Montego Bay Municipal Corporation into disrepute.
Section 44 of the Local Government Act states that a council may, by resolution passed by a two-thirds majority of councillors present at a meeting, expel for a limited time, or for the remainder of the member's term, any member of such council for "persistent obstruction or other misconduct tending to prevent the conduct of business or to bring the council into disrepute".
Voting on the resolution, which was introduced last year, took place strictly along party lines. All 13 Jamaica Labour Party councillors supported the motion, while the four People's National Party councillors voted against it.
What little fact we know is that Michael Troupe authorised payments to his former secretary/assistant for work undertaken more than three months after she had allegedly walked off the job.
Mr Troupe's ex-assistant was a person of interest in relation to investigations into a massive arms and ammunition shipment from Miami destined for Montego Bay. She was questioned but never charged in connection with the shipment. In fact, no one has so far been held responsible for the illicit cargo.
Given the paucity of information into the circumstances of the former employee's engagement, we submit that the situation requires deeper investigation and perhaps an audit of the corporation. For example, if indeed the employee had walked off the job, under what circumstances was she reassigned additional duties? What was the nature of the work she was given? Did the corporation receive value for the work undertaken?
Reforming our democracy
After the declaration Thursday, a smiling and seemingly unrepentant Troupe said he would now have more time to spend with members of his Granville division. Was there remorse? As far as we can tell, there was not even the hint of an apology from Mr Troupe. In fact, Mr Troupe appeared to trivialise the issue and exuded a triumphant air, certain that he could find succour among his constituents who would demand no accountability from him.
A man of Mr Troupe's political experience must understand that an effective apology may even succeed in protecting one's legacy - by admitting wrongdoing and making amends.
Does Mr Troupe's suspension put an end to the controversy? Is a criminal investigation into these bizarre circumstances warranted?
The Montego Bay Municipal Corporation conducted its own investigation into Mr Troupe's conduct but it has not publicly revealed the findings. In light of the seriousness of the circumstances, it should now take the opportunity to state whether the grounds exist to turn over the matter to the police for further investigations.
The wider public would like to think that the actions by the Montego Bay Municipal Corporation will go even a small way in helping to clean up the body politic and perhaps provide for the young and upcoming politicians an opportunity to undertake the tough job of reforming our democracy to make it more accountable by improving performance at the local level.