PNCR-1G Councillor Dexton Copeland was yesterday barred from a statutory sitting of the Region 10 Regional Democratic Council because of disorderly behaviour.
A majority of the 10 councillors present for the meeting voted in favour of a motion to bar Copeland for the remainder of the day, after which he and colleagues later staged a brief demonstration in front of the RDC office.
Those present at the meeting were the PNCR-1G’s Mortimer Mingo who is Regional Chairman, Samuel Hooper, who is Regional Vice-Chairman and Valarie Sharpe, Renis Morian, Compton Fraser, Jacqueline Kitt and Byron Lewis, in addition to AFC councillors Judy Rogers and Gerald Whittington and PPP/C councillor Andrew Forsythe.
The motion against Copeland was brought as a result of his behaviour during the examination of minutes of the last RDC meeting. Copeland recently split from the PNCR and announced he would contest the regional elections with a new movement, the Guyanese Youth Congress, and the legitimacy of his continuing as a PNCR councillor was an issue raised by Mingo.
What Stabroek News arrived at the meeting, Mingo was constantly hitting his desk with the gavel, and ordering a cross-talking Copeland to discontinue and to be seated. “I am not going to take my seat until I get a chance to make my contribution. I was elected to do that. I am not disrespecting the chairman. I am saying to you that the scribe is doing a very vindictive thing,” yelled Copeland, as Mingo repeatedly ordered him to take his seat.
This continued for sometime, forcing Mingo to move a motion to have Copeland barred from the meeting for the rest of the day. The motion was passed on a vote of 5 to 3. In favour of the motion were Sharpe, Morian, Fraser, Lewis and Mingo, while Kitt, Rogers, Whittington and Hooper were against it and Forsythe abstained.
Giving their justification for supporting the motion, Sharpe was the first to rise, saying that councillors should respect the chairman of the meetings and that Copeland’s display must not be condoned.
“Sitting here, I have come to realise that we have a big job when it comes to the council,” added Morian, who said while Copeland might have had legitimate arguments and points to make, it is the chairman’s right to say who sits and who speaks at any given stage of the meeting. “I will argue that in the court of law, in the high court or anywhere. The chairman has the right to bring the meeting to a close or adjourn it and if you don’t know it than yah dunce, you need to know it,” Morian declared.
Copland later said that he found the matter to be frivolous and uncalled for. He said that earlier in the meeting Mingo stated that he should not be allowed to speak because he was no longer a member of the PNCR and he had since been a part of a newly formed party which is headed by Denton Osborne. “It’s strange how he said he learnt of this from the Stabroek News and I was present at the previous statutory meeting as evident in the minutes and this was not an issue at that time. This has to do with serious issues that I intended to address here today,” he said.
Copeland accused Mingo of being tardy in addressing developmental issues for Region 10. Reference was made to the BOSAI dust collector which should have been in place months ago as well as the imminent closure of the Linden Legal Aid Centre.
With the support of Kitt, Whittington, Rogers as well as Osborne, he later staged a short demonstration at the front of the RDC. They said Mingo must go, while adding that he was unfair and accusing him of attacking and disrespecting Copeland, who they maintained had a right to be heard. “Myself and three two other councillors walked out because we thought that it was not right for the chairman not to allow councillor to speak,” said Whittington.
Kitt said that she was not of the view that Copeland was being disrespectful in the meeting. “He is supposed to be allowed to speak to represent the people and chairman was debarring him from speaking and he stood up and said that he has to make his representation,” she noted. Rogers, meanwhile, said, “All ah y’all know that I say the chairman does put a deaf ears on all the issues in Linden. You don’t know if the chairman is a PNC Chairman or a PPP Chairman because the whole of Linden is in confusion right now.”
Speaking with Stabroek News, Mingo later refuted Copeland’s charges, stating that he had brought it to Copeland’s and other councillors’ attention that the RDC is made up of 18 representatives divided among the PNCR, PPP/C and the AFC. He said that since the party which Copeland now represents did not contest the last regional elections, it puts him in a compromising position as it relates to his representation. “What I said to the councillor is that since he was placed as a councillor having been extracted from a list of the PNCR, it would be the decent thing to do is to withdraw from the council as a representative of the PNCR.”