A decision by a large group of PanTrinbago members to remove the organisation’s central executive is now set to be the subject of a legal challenge.
During a special meeting at the CWU Hall in Port-of-Spain on Tuesday evening, 130 members reportedly voted to remove the executive and establish a caretaker committee to oversee the organisation until elections can be held later this year. Only one member reportedly dissented.
The central executive consists of president Keith Diaz, secretary Richard Forteau, treasurer Andrew Salvador, PRO Michael Joseph, external relations officer Darren Sheppard and trustees Allan Augustus and Trevor Reid.
The committee will comprise two representatives from each of the organisation’s four regional zones, with two other members being selected by it. The members also voted to allow Diaz and Salvador to join the transitional team.
Speaking on behalf of the steelbands who were at the meeting yesterday, PanTrinbago Northern Region chairman Gerard Mendez, also confirmed the committee was mandated to work on amending the organisation’s constitution in order to bring up to date for the executive election, which was originally carded for October.
In a telephone interview yesterday evening, however, Forteau strongly objected to the action and said his attorneys were currently working on a lawsuit to challenge it.
“It is a power grab. I am not about that. We are here to protect the constitution of the organisation, not to prop up an individual,” Forteau, who did not attend the meeting, said.
Forteau claimed that Diaz’s decision to call the meeting and one before it on March 27 was in breach of the organisation’s constitution, as such decisions fell under his (Forteau’s) remit.
“The president can call a meeting, but it must be done through the secretary of the organisation. The constitution is clear,” Forteau said.
He also questioned whether the result of Tuesday’s vote was valid as there were 131 votes cast but only 91 steelbands represented. While each band is represented by two representatives, they are only allowed one vote, he said.
“If you have 91 bands, then you have should have 91 votes,” Forteau said.
Forteau also questioned a petition for Tuesday’s meeting that was allegedly signed by 60 per cent of the membership and sent after the first meeting called by Diaz last month.
Stating that PanTrinbago has 295 members, Forteau said: “When they brought the petition, I would have written the person who requisitioned it informing him that they did not meet the threshold.”
He also claimed some of the signatures on the petition were duplicated.
Forteau suggested that the vote was moved to deflect the real issues affecting the organisation.
“We are concerned with paying our member steelbands. The small, medium and large bands that participated in Panorama are still to receive their prize money. The pannists are yet to receive their $500 which we promised them for participating,” Forteau said.
He claimed the National Carnival Commission (NCC) is holding $9 million in Government subvention for the organisation, which requires almost $16.5 million to cover prizes and pannist fees.
Asked what he felt was the catalyst for the move to dissolve the executive, Forteau claimed it stemmed from a decision to allow the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) to sell tickets for its events this Carnival, as opposed to a private company that would usually get the contract.
NLCB was selected by the NCC to sell the tickets last year, after a decision was taken by Government to not allow PanTrinbago to collect the gate receipts of the Panorama competition due to allegations of long-standing financial impropriety within the organisation.
The decision was challenged in a lawsuit which was determined in PanTrinbago’s favour in December last year.
Efforts to contact, Diaz yesterday were unsuccessful as calls to his cellphone went unanswered.