The Island Council is the competent authority to decide on the appointment and dismissal of commissioners.
So says the chairman of the Island and Executive Councils, Governor Franklyn Richards, in response to calls made by National Alliance leader William Marlin, that all remaining commissioners in the present Executive Council resign immediately.
The N.A. leader has requested Richards to call on commissioners who submitted their resignations effective June 8, to give up their seats in the Executive Council immediately.
The N.A. leader has referred to correspondence addressed by Richards to Councilman Louie Laveist on January 3, 2009, calling on the latter to step down as a member of the Executive Council.
The governor however sees no reason to consider the request of William Marlin, among others, considering the developments preceding the January 3 letter.
As is known, Laveist had sent two letters to DP faction leader Sarah Wescot-Williams on November 6, 2008. In the first letter he announced that he is assuming the role of a non-active member of the Executive Council. In the other letter, he disclosed that he is now an independent member of the island council.
On November 10, 2008, Laveist sent three letters to Governor Richards:
– A letter withdrawing his support for the DP faction
– A letter (signed as Commissioner Louie E. Laveist) announcing his non-active role in the Executive Council
– A letter announcing that he is an independent member of the island council.
On November 16, 2008, the governor (in his capacity of chairman of the island council) received a letter signed by all DP members in the island council as well as Laveist voicing support for the Executive Council of St. Maarten, comprised of DP members Maria Buncamper-Molanus, Theodore Heyliger, Roy Marlin and Sarah Wescot-Williams.
It was generally known at the time that Laveist was the subject of a criminal investigation. With the premise that any accused is innocent until proven guilty, the governor issued a public call to Laveist to resign as member of the Executive Council on January 3. That call, which had been substantiated in detail, was made in the general interest.
Shortly after that, Laveist reacted by letter of January 9, noting that he is a full fledged member of the Executive Council.
Following his conviction by the court of first instance, Laveist indicated on May 5 that he resigns from the Executive Council ‘effective immediately’. As could be recalled, the court found Laveist guilty of a number of charges and has prohibited him from holding the public office of commissioner. The verdict is however being appealed and thus the sentence cannot be carried out at this time.
The island council is the competent authority to decide on the appointment and dismissal of commissioners. The island council has the power to end its confidence in a commissioner.
Should the island council take such a decision, a period of 14 days must be observed before going over to a definite dismissal.
This procedure has not been instituted and is thus not applicable, in this case.
Another option is that commissioners resign voluntarily. In that case, regulations prescribe that they continue carrying on their tasks until a successor is appointed and that the successor has accepted the appointment.
Ultimately, the island council may also decide to appoint fewer commissioners, as long as one remains within the confines of the law. With regards to Laveist, the island council has, up to present, not yet taken a decision. This, in essence, entails that Laveist is still a commissioner.
At the moment, the situation is such that commissioners Laveist and Heyliger have tendered their resignations effectively immediately.
The island council may, as per immediately, resort to naming their successors or eventually decide that no successor is appointed. The remaining commissioners have tendered their resignations as per June 8.
In the event that this is acceptable to the island council, successors cannot be appointed for these commissioners prior to June 8.
In practice this would mean that should the remaining three commissioners still decide to step down effectively immediately, the island council could appoint an entirely new Executive Council on Friday.
The governor is of the opinion that the commissioners must individually assume their responsibilities for their actions and thus sees no reason to honor the request of the N.A. leader, to make a public appeal on commissioners to resign immediately.