Are Ernest Hi­laire and the Cas­tries Mayor gear­ing up for some­thing big­ger than con­trol of the CCC?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - Dean Nestor

Last week this news­pa­per fea­tured a com­ment by Mayor Peterson Fran­cis that was his re­sponse to sev­eral un­savoury in­sin­u­a­tions tossed at him by South Cas­tries MP Ernest Hi­laire at the most re­cent sit­ting of par­lia­ment, among them this: “The Cas­tries Con­stituency Coun­cil has be­come syn­ony­mous with bad gov­er­nance and ir­reg­u­lar prac­tices, bor­der­ing, some might say, on cor­rup­tion.” We also fea­tured the mayor’s re­ac­tion: “The same Dr. Hi­laire, im­me­di­ately af­ter I as­sumed of­fice, came to me to see whether I could pass on left­over funds for a Marigot road

project. When has the coun­cil ever been in­volved in build­ing roads?”

This week Hi­laire told this re­porter: “To be hon­est with you, I’m not even sure what the mayor was try­ing to say. I don’t know that I was in­volved in any road project in Marigot. What­ever he meant, and he can al­ways clar­ify, if he is sug­gest­ing cor­rup­tion he should say so. If he is sug­gest­ing that the CCC ought not to be in­volved in road con­struc­tion and I con­doned it by ask­ing him for funds, then he should say so. I have no prob­lem with the CCC ful­fill­ing its man­date, as long as it is done the right way and the right pro­ce­dures are fol­lowed.”

An of­fi­cial in the Of­fice of the Mayor, promised to pro­vide proof of the con­trary but up to time of writ­ing has not de­liv­ered. Mean­while, Hi­laire had not dis­mounted the ev­i­dently tooth­less tiger: “The mayor must un­der­stand he is not a lone ranger on a horse just rid­ing through, crack­ing his whip and fir­ing his pis­tol to get or­der in the city. I sup­port what he’s done in terms of crack­ing down on uri­na­tion and things like that, but he should not feel of­fended when I say to him that there are too many re­ports of ir­reg­u­lar ac­tiv­ity in the CCC.”

Hi­laire also ac­cepted the chal­lenge is­sued to him by the mayor last week. “I’m go­ing to write the mayor and ask him for all the min­utes of coun­cils to see what was done. I’m go­ing to ask him for ac­cess to all the books and I will def­i­nitely go into a meet­ing to ask ques­tions. If he is claim­ing that every­thing he has done is above board, then I will go to the coun­cil meet­ing and ask the coun­cil­lors if they were aware of this. You see, the mayor seems to for­get I have a rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the coun­cil and when he comes out of those meet­ings I ask him ques­tions. There’s a lot that has gone on in the CCC. Does the mayor re­ally want me to come out with them in pub­lic? It will come out at the right time.”

Could the “right time” for Hi­laire turn out to be in the mid­dle of a cam­paign for the seat he now holds? “Ev­ery­body knows Peterson has po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions,” said the op­po­si­tion MP. “I’ve heard those ru­mours about a pos­si­ble Cas­tries South run, just as you have. I just have to do my work and do it to the best of my abil­ity. I’m grate­ful to the peo­ple of Cas­tries South for the con­fi­dence they’ve put in me. Since then, I’ve tried my best to rep­re­sent them, get to know and un­der­stand them. I’m from the con­stituency and grew up here. I will work as hard as I can to win the next elec­tion.”

He added: “I’m not re­ally wor­ried whether the UWP turns out to be Mary Isaac or Peterson Fran­cis. I am do­ing the best job I can and hope­fully that will carry me through. If it doesn’t, at the end of the day it’s the con­stituents who have the fi­nal say.” He paused, chuck­led, “The last time I was a po­lit­i­cal vir­gin. Ob­vi­ously the next time around I won’t be.”

Are the mayor of Cas­tries and South Cas­tries en­gaged in a war other than in­volves the CCC? Time will tell!

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