I was betrayed - Benny White shocked after being booted as mayor
Gareth Davis Sr, Gleaner Writer
Port Antonio, Portland:
Former Mayor of Port Antonio Benny White has labelled his booting from the post in the Portland Parish Council following the passing of a no-confidence motion yesterday an act of betrayal on the part of one of his colleagues.
White was booted during a 5-3 majority voting by councillors, including that of veteran People's National Party (PNP) councillor Dexter Rowland, who pleaded with acting Secretary Manager Jennifer Brown-Cunningham, just before the ballots were tallied, that he made an error.
Rowland's pleas, however, fell on deaf ears, as the voting process was deemed to be final and transparent.
The councillors unanimously agreed to casting secret ballots, while Brown-Cunningham supervised the process.
"I know there was plot against me," commented White. "While I hold no ill feeling against anyone, it was shocking to discover that one of our own actually sided with four rival councillors of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), especially with local government elections just around the corner. We will be meeting with the party's hierarchy shortly to review this unprecedented move."
NEW MAYOR INSTALLED
The booting of White saw Deputy Mayor Wayne McKenzie of the Prospect Division being duly installed as the new chairman of the council. His ascension was met with cheers of approval from the four JLP councillors, including Minority Leader Derron Wood, who first served notice of the no-confidence motion during last month's sitting.
There was a brief period of deafening silence following the counting of the ballots, after it was revealed that White's tenure had ended. Dozens of onlookers, who clearly came to view the outcome of the motion, were also overheard whispering that it was an act of God.
A similar sentiment was also echoed by the JLP councillors, who jumped for joy after realising that they were successful in their quest to remove the mayor from office.
"Today, we feel justified," commented Wood. "We lost all confidence in his leadership style, but the straw that broke the camel's back was his utterances during a finance meeting in December last year, where councillors, including those from the PNP side, walked out to show their disgust at his dictatorship. I have evaluated his performance at 2.5 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest."
A revelation at yesterday's meeting, which seemed to be a shocker to most, if not all, the eight sitting councillors, was that a document obtained through the council's accounting department showed White's personal allocation for the township (Port Antonio) over a three-year period, not including his divisional allocation, stood at a staggering $38.25 million.
White sought to justify the allocation, pointing to a number of roads works, including the Bonnie View road, which was repaired for approximately $4 million. But several councillors were overheard murmuring about where that large sum was spent, given the fact that two sitting PNP councillors, McKenzie and Rowland, also provided assistance from their allocation to the township.
Amid yesterday's booting, White got some consolation as he was elected deputy mayor, after Rowland declined to accept that post.