Fixing T&T: Rowley must ask Marlene to prove Calabar Foundation exists

The following is a press release from Fixin’ T&T, which raises questions about Housing Minister Marlene McDonald’s interaction with the Calabar Foundation and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s own perceived reluctance to act:

Fixin’ T&T notes, in light of calls for ministers to be investigated or fired, Prime Minister (PM) Dr. Keith Rowley’s statement that: “…if people have evidence of wrongdoing, rather than them flagellate over calls and enquiries, put the evidence forward and let the person be judged on the evidence.”

Photo: President Anthony Carmona (right) swears in Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. (Copyright Reuters)
Photo: President Anthony Carmona (right) swears in Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
(Copyright Reuters)

We remind our Honourable PM of the mountain of evidence that has been before him since 2014 that raises many and serious questions about the conduct of Ms Marlene McDonald while holding public office.

Evidence he continues to seemingly ignore…

Dr Rowley promised a return to morality and decency in public office; to restore confidence in same. This is the first real challenge of his promise to do just that.

We refer to the issue allegedly involving Minister McDonald, the Calabar Foundation and Mr Michael Carew, who is supposedly her common law husband.

If he is serious, the PM would ask Ms McDonald for Mr Carew to provide the public with proof—other than the cheques paid to it by Government and incorporation papers—of the existence of the Calabar Foundation and any work it has done with the tax payers monies it received.

He could, as a start, simply ask them:

Photo: Housing Minister Marlene McDonald. (Copyright Andy Hypolite/Trinidad Guardian)
Photo: Housing Minister Marlene McDonald.
(Copyright Andy Hypolite/Trinidad Guardian)

1. To direct him, the media and the public to the building occupied by the Calabar Foundation in 2010 that was in dire need of repairs and for which funding was provided further to request via letter to Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs Minister Marlene McDonald dated April 27, 2010.

2. For the details of events have they sponsored; where and for whom?

3. A list of persons currently working or worked at the Calabar Foundation?

Dr Rowley, as the Leader of the Cabinet, Government and Country, has both a responsibility and the power to do at least that. We do not expect our Prime Minister to conduct a criminal investigation.

We’ve asked the Police to do that. We expect that they will follow the money.

Photo: Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams (left) shakes hands with US Embassy Security Policy and Assistance Coordinator, Juanita Aguirre, at the handing over ceremony of 18 forensic photography kits to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service by the US. (Courtesy US Embassy)
Photo: Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams (left) shakes hands with US Embassy Security Policy and Assistance Coordinator, Juanita Aguirre, at the handing over ceremony of 18 forensic photography kits to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service by the US.
(Courtesy US Embassy)

Our Prime Minister and Government must not be allowed to side step this matter as they seem intent on doing.

Marlene McDonald heads a mega ministry—one on which Trinidad and Tobago’s economic recovery apparently hinges. The allegations of unresolved issues surrounding her conduct in public office are too many and too serious for us to continue with business as usual. There is way too much at stake.

A copy of the mountain of evidence referred to is attached HERE: Calabar-foundation-docs.

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About Fixin TT

Fixin TT
Fixin T&T's mission is the realization of good governance to achieve healthy, holistic, and fulfilling lifestyles for all citizens through the study, promotion, and furtherance of strong democratic institutions; sound infrastructure; integrity in public and corporate affairs; and a culture of respect by all for the laws and regulations of the country to create a safe, secure, efficient and productive Trinidad & Tobago.

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  1. Warning: Undefined variable $userid in /www/wired868_759/public/wp-content/plugins/user-photo/user-photo.php on line 114

    No mention of Calabar Foundation

  2. I saw the address in the Express today as 10 Ariapita Road, St. Ann’s. I challenge any one of you to see if you can find it?

    • This issue takes me back to the elections of 1995. The Cotton Tree Foundation was formed under similar circumstances to this. The difference is that they are operating. In whose interest is another matter. We were promised a community centre at Ariapita Road in St. Ann’s as it is government property and was renovated with public funds. We got a private foundation controlled by our former MP. A lot of questionable transactions takes place just after a change in government. No one seems to be held accountable as these issues never see the light of day or are swept below the carpet hoping that the public interest would wane. It did with the Cotton Tree Foundation, will it be similar with Calabar?

      • I do not know of what allegations you speak of regarding the Cotton Tree Foundation but I can say without hesitation I have received excellent legal advice and representation from the foundation FREE of charge, excluding affidavit fees…

        Said representation led to positive and successful outcomes, both times, for me….up to as recent as early 2015.

        I have also recommended the foundation to two of my friends and they were represented by the foundation in both their matters to successful conclusions.

        As I said above, I don’t know of the particulars of what you speak, but i can say, unequivocally, the foundation is still operational, it is still free (as far as my knowledge goes) and I received excellent legal advice and representation in the high court.

        • I am a resident of Ariapita Road. Members of the community worked on restoration of Spanish Acres (government property as far as I was aware in 1995) which The Cotton Tree Foundation currently occupies. Some of them worked 14 days a forth night and were paid for 10 days. The restoration was government funded via labour and materials. This was prior to the general election of 1995. We were told that we were getting a community centre which was promised and to date has not been delivered. After the election a lease(an assumption as I hope that they don’t own it outright after the election) was secured by our former MP for the property and a foundation established there. That is why in my opinion it is similar to the Calabar Foundation issue. These questionable transactions always seem to take place after an election. Several residents refuse to access services from the foundation as they remember how they were duped out of a community centre. We got a foundation that is occupying underutilized prime public space(with the exception of the preschool to date) with the community worst off for the loss. My view is that as citizens need to pay extra attention to public property and funds around election time. We get caught up in the hysteria whilst our public patrimony is carted off by private interest.

  3. I don’t believe people want this to go without investigation based on when the information came to light. Allyuh sad yes.

  4. People can question the timing of the information and even question his motive for releasing the information but that doesn’t change the fact that there are questions that need to be answered. The Minister has to prove that this foundation is real, and the tax payers money they got was used for the purpose it was given. Simple.

  5. When did that information came to him.strange

  6. It is very important that this issue not be swept under the carpet for one reason. Dr. Rowley and the PNM tells us that the last government was the most corrupt ever, corruption and allegations of corruption was a main issue on the campaign trail. So for Dr. Rowley to ignore this would be a slap to the face of every citizen who voted for the PNM. I grew up hearing that two wrongs does not make a right. Corruption is corruption no matter who does it or when it occurred. I hold no brief for Fixin TnT but in this instance I am supporting their call as should every right thinking citizen not blinded by party colors.

  7. what did he do he running scared no more contracts for him

  8. Here is a release from Kirk Waithe at a time when the People’s Partnership was leasing 14 cars from his TCL company:

    So I don’t understand the claims of personal vendetta.

  9. He only knows about it now because his contracts was down by one in HD. Under the former regime he didn’t have no problem then . things to make you say Hmmmm

  10. In April and May 2010, Funds requested, approved and paid to a company that was not registered till August 2010. The name reservation was not applied for till July 14th 2010. Doesn’t get more suspicious than that. Funds needed urgently, cheques written in May but cheques not cashed till September. Guess they wanted to make sure they had the funds before wasting money registering a business.

  11. The issue is whether a minister was involved in approving payments to a fake foundation run by her common law husband . I don’t know what Kirk Waith contracts have to do with that . Obviously the Big Mac is throwing out these documents to deflect .

  12. Well he did nothing illegal or unethical . He is running a business . This is not a fake foundation like Calabar stealing thousands of taxpayers dollars

  13. Give dem about five more wedding,dey go handle up everyting,doh worry….jes doh hold yuh breath…..

  14. It is just an attempt to shoot the messenger with a non issue

  15. So what did he do that was illegal or immoral

  16. As I’ve heard it Greer, TCM leased eight cars to the Ministry of Housing during the last administration. After a tender that was decreased to just two under the last administration.
    And, after the gov’t changed, it eventually moved to one.

    • As I said it may not mean anything but it rattles the cage a bit

    • But Lasana, while it does raise a small question, from the timeline and contracts awarded-I doubt he going after the Minister for moving from 2 to 1 vehicle. This really seems like a non-issue-or politics by distraction as we fondly practice. Seems every time this matter heating up, we have a Mayor or PM (if you catch that) talking nonsense to deflect. I think the nation needs answers-and should not stop at her. TThe country is fed up of governing by PR and do as I say not as I do. And ppl are fed up of these issues distracting from the serious issues of crime and the economy-but sometimes it may be useful to have them to fall back on if the government seems powerless to provide reassurance and guidance to a frustrated, cynical and impatient nation.

    • We need answers but Mr. Waite needs to keep himself above board to avoid any questions of impropriety.

  17. Hmmm. Well, I hope that Mark finds out whether it is indeed a “substantial amount” or just a normal price for the vehicles in question.
    Last year, I found out for the first time that I have vehicle servicing with Kirk Waithe too. TCM assistance comes with Maritime Insurance deal so I’ve had them for years. And they are excellent too.
    So, I hope Bassant has his ducks lined up in a row and it is a story that has teeth and not just innuendo and conspiracy theories.

  18. Now saw in tv6 news that Kirk Waite apparently was leasing vehicles to HDC at a substantial amount. It alleged that the Minister cut down on the number of contracts so tv6 Mark Bassant was quering whether this was the reason for his concern. To which he responded it wasn’t. That could all be true but it does throw a spanner in the wheel

    • According to his response to this issue on i95.5 yesterday , he said the contract was not renewed since 2014 under the last gov’t. Invited people to do a freedom of information query. My concern was he said he didn’t know how much business his company was currently doing with the HDC, found this odd. Would one not want to know or at least confirm info.

    • That is strange, cause that’s something he should know especially in light of his stance in the Minister

    • Which raises the question: does Fixin TnT have the moral authority to ask for the resignation of the said Minister? Or, in spite of that, a valid concern is being raised? Do we kill the messenger or listen to the message? Although if the contract was terminated or whatever since in 2014, it might be easier to digest.

    • We should separate all the issues as he had also challenged the last regime. If he has questions to answer then let it be so and don’t try to side track members of public who are demanding answers. I would also maintain that the public servants should also be held to account as neither Kirk can award himself a contract nor the Minister issue those cheques to Calabar Foundation. They should not be the only ones called on to account. It might also be the very reason why they may not have a case to answer in court. They are not the ones to action the contract or payment. Our public officers who took an oath to serve in exchange for salaries and should appear to be independent no matter their political affiliation should also answer fir several of these allegations in the public domain. If they are not then the madness will continue. We complain about bureaucracy in the public service but the Calabar Foundation received those cheques in quick time if the documents published in the Express today are correct. The payment was much faster than a Public Servant receives gratuity or the public get certain approvals, services or documents from state agencies. No one is speaking up on the time lines these things occurred. After May 24th General Election. UNC was in power therefore Public Servants must also account for these cheque disbursements. It also leads to another question of how many more incidents like these exist? What is put in place by Public Servants for the protection of state assets when governments change after election? Who accounts for our money and property during this transition period? To me it shows a lack of controls system to prevent leakages.

    • Lester thoughts exactly! Was looking at the Public Accounts Committee discuss the Auditor General 2014 report and I am concerned, as that body just flags items but there is no prescribed follow up action-so Ministry, Minister of Finance or PAC may take follow up action, but if it is not mandatory/compulsory, we see how many ppl are being help culpable-none! Whether through neglect/derelection of duty/malfeasance/misfeance in public office/breach of financial regulations-our nation’s money spilling down the drain with no value for it and nobody to answer.

    • I agree. We may need to abolish these independent institutions as they cannot hold anyone accountable. This issue raises serious questions on our system of governance. Ms Mc Donald was not in government when these cheques were issued. How can a MP wield so much authority out of government? Were these documents put through after the election was lost and back dated?

  19. Lots of work to be done in T&T and CARICOM. Do not waste time with idle people. Sorry you don’t have a hearing aid. We are dealing with a Global Village.

  20. Our systems fail us, if money can be disbursed so easily without accountability…the Calabar foundation is surely not the only beneficiary of such largesse…

  21. Time to walk the talk Dr Rowley. Let it not just be campaign promises. We are watching and waiting for you to display your leadership.

  22. “Dr Rowley promised a return to morality and decency in public office.” Since when are campaign promises taken seriously in this country? Look at the basis on which the candidates were apparently selected and tell me if you really believed that the PNM would keep its promises. Please!
    Of course, I agree that there are questions for Marlene to answer but heads will only roll if the costs of defiance is too high, not because of any principle.
    Ask Tim Kee.

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