Commissioner Johnson Responds to SLP Allegations

Commissioner Chris Johnson has responded to allegations issued by SLP leader Akilah Levenstone in two recent articles in the Daily Herald. He stated that Levenstone seemed to be "throwing in the towel" a week before the Central Elections, but in the process had resorted to making a variety of claims that ranged from below the belt to complete falsehoods. 

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Johnson stated that he has held back on numerous occasions over the last year and has refused to run a government based on rumors and hearsay. He stated that her allegations of government exercising threats for votes were not only false, but were being made up to distract people from the real issues. He said that allegations had been widely circulated about her before postulation saying that she had misused her position in the office of the island secretary to attempt to recruit candidates for the SLP. It was widely accepted that Levenstone had cited detailed decisions made by the Executive Council to try to convince potential candidates to run on the SLP slate.

Johnson went on to say that the only standpoint of the Executive Council which could be looked at as "threatening" was the fact that he had publicly questioned her position in the office of the island secretary during the recent budget meeting. During the meeting he discussed the fact that numerous reports had come to light pointing out the undesirable situation in Saba’s island government. Reports issued by both the ARNA and BES commissioner Henk Kamp have pointed out the conflict of interest in a situation where the leader of the opposition was also a member of the staff of the Island Secretary and was charged with all correspondence to and from the Executive Council. "In fact, in the budget the cabinet of the Executive Council includes the workers of the Island Secretary’s Office, meaning that she is both opposition and supporting staff of the EC at the same time," stated Johnson. "This fact always astonishes public office holders of the other islands, but was done by my administration to show that we believe in transparency and unity. Obviously this has not worked out as we intended."

Johnson stated that Levenstone is well aware of this and is interested in seeing what she intends to do with her role. He said that she even claimed that the Lt. Governor had been politically influenced and had relieved her of her duties of being in charge of the Executive Council’s correspondence. "It needs to be known that the Lt. Governor played no role in this decision whatsoever. This was a policy decision made directly by myself and Commissioner Zagers and, like all EC letters, is signed by the Island Secretary and the Lt. Governor," commented Johnson. "She of all people should know the procedure of Executive Council correspondence." Johnson made it very clear that Levenstone has not lost her job, but rather has only been assigned different duties and still holds her position as assistant to the island secretary.

With regards to both the funding problems of the SLP and the issue of holding Public Meetings, Johnson admitted that like the public, he too is confused. He stated that the W.I.P.M. Party would be holding two meetings for the public, but only one of these would come at an expense. "I understand that holding a rally such as ours on Wednesday can come at an expense, but our Monday meeting is an information session at which no alcoholic beverages will be served. In reality an information session can be held by simply buying a few cases of water," said Johnson. He went on to say that he hoped Levenstone hadn’t assigned her campaign mangers to manage the party’s funds or as treasurers, because this could also explain the funding problems.

Commissioner Johnson also reassured the public of Saba that he will have the tapes of the budget meeting of last week aired as soon as possible. He said that during the meeting he had offered to wait until after the election to air the session so that it didn’t seem as if he was only campaigning on the floor of the council. Based on the insinuations of Council member Levenstone, Johnson said he will have G.I.S. prepare the tapes as soon as possible and aired before Friday’s election.

Johnson went on to say that it seemed as if the SLP campaign had taken a serious downhill spiral. According to Johnson many on the island have attributed this to the increased involvement of some of her former advisors whom have decided to turn the campaign to a full negative onslaught, but the people of Saba are aware of the importance of this election and know that it is not politics as usual.

In his closing remakes Johnson stated that it seemed as if Levenstone had become quite emotional in many of her accusations and said he hoped she remembered this was politics and not personal. He said he felt sure the people of Saba would focus on the big picture and the importance of this election and not on the distraction efforts of the SLP. "This election is about bringing an end to the Netherlands Antilles and starting off our new status in the right way," he stated. "Just to show there is no bad blood on my side I would like to extend an invitation to Miss Levenstone to put politics behind us and join me at my residence for a victory toast on Friday Night."