Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Member of Parliament for North Central St Andrew Karl Samuda has confirmed that he booted one of his councillors, a supporter of Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leadership challenger Audley Shaw, from his Red Hills Road-based constituency office.
Samuda, a supporter of JLP leader Andrew Holness, accused Susan Senior of gross dereliction of duty when she failed to attend a "duly constituted" meeting of Area Council One, in her capacity as general secretary.
"Recent actions by Miss Senior have caused me to conclude that her continued presence there would be inimical to the harmonious relationship that exists at the office facility and throughout the constituency," said Samuda.
He said Senior opted to travel to Shaw's campaign launch on September 29. "We packed up her things and sent them to her yard, and she is no longer welcomed in my office," Samuda told The Gleaner.
But Senior has hit back saying Samuda's argument is without weight or merit. She said in her 18 years with Samuda and Area Council One, a meeting has never been convened at 3 'o clock in the afternoon.
"I didn't know about the meeting as I was never informed by the chairman or his deputy of the area council to provide an agenda or minutes. Isn't that unusual?" said Senior. "In all of my 18 years in the JLP, I have never seen a meeting held at that hour."
Senior charged that the only reason for the area council meeting was to clash with Shaw's campaign launch. She said that while she does not have a desire to play out the party's issue in the media, she was hurt by Samuda's action.
"It is simple. He has treated me that way because I chose Audley Shaw, but there is no turning back for me. No victimisation from any MP or anyone else will change by position."
Senior lamented that she has been a disciple of Samuda. "It has hurt my heart. All my life, everything I did was for and behind Mr Samuda."
However, Samuda dismissed allegations that Senior, the councillor for the Norbrook division, was sent packing because of her allegiance to Shaw.
He said his decision was based on Senior's conduct over the past two months, and vowed that he would not backtrack from his decision.
"In the words of a famous man with whom I have not always seen eye to eye - Edward Seaga: 'I will rise or fall on that decision, but it will not change'," said Samuda.
"To say I feel strongly about that is putting it mildly."
Samuda charged that Senior disrespected Area Council One.
"She has lost all my trust and confidence," he stressed.
shaw not the issue
"I cannot stop her from voting for whomever she chooses as that is her constitutional right," said Samuda. "But her conduct over the past two months has been unbecoming of anyone holding the post of councillor and having responsibility to protect the interest of the party through the constituency organisation of North Central St Andrew."
Samuda said he had no problem with the decision of another councillor, Lee Clarke, who has also thrown his support behind Shaw.
"Lee told me prior that he would not support Andrew Holness. He was also in Mandeville," said Samuda. "I respected his position as it has nothing to do with his performance of councillor. He did nothing to damage the image of the constituency or the party, so it is nothing personal."
He said Senior's situation was different. "It has caused embarrassment to the organisation with which she is involved."
However, an obviously upset Senior insisted that she was treated shabbily because she is not perceived to have the same clout and influence as Lee, in both the political and business domains.
Samuda also had strong words for Shaw whom he accused of encouraging disorder. "As a sitting member of the leadership of the JLP, he should know better than to finance the transportation of delegates to Mandeville on the day that the council is being addressed by the leader of the JLP," said Samuda.