Home / View Point / Rowley sacks Marlene; Randall Mitchell gets Housing portfolio as PM acts

Rowley sacks Marlene; Randall Mitchell gets Housing portfolio as PM acts

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has revoked the appointment of Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Marlene McDonald.

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

Rowley’s decision, which was communicated to President Anthony Carmona, follows intensified scrutiny on her behaviour during a previous stint as minister under the Patrick Manning administration and as an Opposition MP under the current PNM political leader.

McDonald, who is the MP for Port of Spain South, served as Chief Whip for Rowley.

Minister of Public Administration Randall Mitchell now inherits McDonald’s portfolio while Maxie Cuffie now has an increased portfolio from Communication Minister to Minister with responsibility for Public Administration and Communication.

Stuart Young, who is a Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General, has also received wider job responsibilities as he is now also a Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister.

The following is the press release from the Office of the Prime Minister:

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)

Please be informed that His Excellency Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister under subsection (3) of section 76, subsection (1) of section 79, subsection (9) of section 3 and subsection (3) (c) of section 77 of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has revoked the appointment of Ms Marlene Mc Donald as Minister of Housing and Urban Development.

The Prime Minister has also advised His Excellency on the following:

· to reassign Mr Randall Mitchell from Minister with responsibility for Public Administration to Minister with responsibility for Housing and Urban Development.

· to reassign Mr Maxie Cuffie from Minister with responsibility for Communication to Minister with responsibility for Public Administration and Communication.

· to assign Mr Stuart Young as Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister. This is in addition to his current portfolio as Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Photo: Minister of Housing and Urban Development Randall Mitchell. (Courtesy IRCP.Gov)
Photo: Minister of Housing and Urban Development Randall Mitchell.
(Courtesy IRCP.Gov)

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  1. Until the consequence of white collar crime is jail, this type of behaviour will continue and I always say firing them alone is the easy way out.

  2. Can anyone tell me why Waithe didn’t start hounding Marlene and digging for evidence as soon as she was appointed minister of housing in September 2015?

  3. Don’t just fire them, they should be charged and hopefully JAILED. Dishonest people have no place in running our country.
    Well done Prime Minister. Show them that you are prepared to take the next step and put them in the hands of the courts.
    When found guilty, they should be banned from ever holding office.

  4. Rowley should have all his ministers sign an Integrity pledge. He should also help facilitate a culture where if you are aware of corrupt activities you must report it. And there can and should be no repercussions for those ratting on others.

  5. Kirk Waithe is bright. He raised issues but NEVER persued them, Marlene, he HOUNDED

  6. I doubt I’ll ever get over the “If UNC do it’s wrong, but if PNM do it it’s OK cuz UNC doing it too” syndrome nah

  7. Brent, the FOI request that Kirk Waithe made that got him the information was stamped March 14, 2016. So I don’t know if Melina is making her “facts” up on the spot.
    And go in Wired868 and search “Fixin T&T” and you will see how long they have been hounded Governments.

  8. I am just disturbed about the fact that the UNC thieves are still roaming our land and spending our money.

  9. Perhaps.. but we may never fully know… at the end of the day she have only herself to blame as the rules are clear and I’ll bet she knew them.

  10. I am not condoning her wrongdoing Brent Bennett.
    I am simply saying that Kirk Waithe knew that all along but only pursued Marlene when he felt that she had done him wrong.

  11. I am saddened that corruption continues to raise its ugly head in T&T. Amazed that so many have first hand knowledge of wrongdoing and chose to say nothing to the people who could take appropriate action. Or is it that those people are corrupt as well? Regardless, I am pleased of the speed at which action was taken.

  12. Grasping at straws Melina Hutchinson…. She got caught with her hand in the cookie jar. It matters not what others did. The fact is you have to start somewhere and unfortunately it happens to start with her…

  13. The fact is Lasana, even though Waithe may have criticised UNC ministers, he never hounded them and searched for evidence against them.
    He knew about Marlene all along and only took up her case when he lost the contracts.
    Hell hath no fury like a businessman who loses money.

    • Melina, how on earth do you know that Waithe never searched for evidence on UNC Ministers? Was there evidence in the first place? Accusations aplenty. Nonetheless, there may have been evidence but it seems that you are “hounding” Waithe more than anything else. You are behaving as if he was hounding you. ‘llow the man”.

  14. The fact, Melina Hutchinson, is that Kirk Waithe had 14 vehicles under PP. Who he criticized openly and frequently from, at least, the time of their SOE.
    That fleet was reduced from 14 to 8 to 2 long before the Government changed.
    Under Marlene, it went from 2 to 1.
    To say that Marlene cutting it from 2 to 1 sent him on a mission of revenge or to say that he didn’t criticise the PP is just absurd logic.
    And you know what? Doesn’t even matter.
    You commit a crime and get caught. You leave.
    Pointing fingers at person who proved your wrongdoing is pathetic. She has nobody but herself to blame.

  15. Marlene was also investigating the purchases of road paving machinery for the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry does NOT pave roads. So who were the machinery actually purchased for? These questions and many more is what Kirk Waithe and others don’t want us to find out about.

  16. I would like to know exactly on what grounds Mc Doogle was fired though. If it was on the ground that she used her Office to favour a relative with monetary gains, then the Minister of Energy should be next. Different strokes for different folks? Should the mythical ‘good governance’ have consistency?

  17. Who did she treat badly out of malice snd spite?
    Kirk Waithe I presume.
    He got contracts from the UNC in return for not hounding them.
    She reduced those contracts to cut down on waste in accordance with the instructions given by Dr. Rowley to all of his ministers!

  18. This was a long time coming…. trust me when say this apart from all the allegations that is now in the public forum. To all the ppl she treated badly out of malice and spite it would have back to her full circle….. no one wishes bad on ppl but there is a saying do so doh like so

  19. If you could make God bleed, people would cease to believe in Him. There will be blood in the water, the sharks will come. All I have to do is sit back and watch as the world consumes you.

  20. Someone in this group promised to get the staff info on all MPs. Let’s see if that happens and if it goes anywhere.

  21. Not sure I agree with those statements Melinda. We tend to have short memory. Kirt’s behavior with respect to those misbehaving in the PNM government is no different to his behavior when the PP was in power. The difference here is that he got easier access to key evidence. The PP was very good at delay tactics and blocked access to critical evidence. My hope is that the PNM government will now revisit some of the many corrupt activities that he unearthed during the previous regime’s time in office. They have a lot to answer, including Mr Two Pull.

  22. It is obvious that Waithe was taking revenge on Marlene.
    She took bread out of his mouth when she reduced his contracts and he decided to take bread out of her mouth too.
    He has never pursued anybody else so vigorously even though there was much worse and widespread wrongdoing under the UNC.
    I am certain that if he hadn’t lost his contracts, Marlene wouldn’t have lost her portfolio.
    An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

    • Melina Hutchinson yuh know i will defend you but you need to stop and think about it lets put aside the kirk waithe debacle and focus on the individual marlene …… she is not a nice person to deal with her attitude is appalling.

    • I like Marlene despite her attitude, no one is perfect Joao.
      Sometimes you have to be a blasted bull dog to deal with some of the ruffians who come to your office to harass you for a HDC house.
      Her attitude had nothing to do with her reducing Waithe’s contracts.
      Dr. Rowley instructed his ministers to cut as much waste as possible due to the economic situation in the country.
      We all know that the UNC gave Waithe these contracts so that he wouldn’t hound them.

    • True but i have dealt with her in a professional and official capacity aside from constituency affairs she is very demeaning …. we know waithe was sellout long time but what made marlene think she could get away with what she did…. the fact is she ought to have known better … she’s not a neophyte politician

    • I agree, to whom much is given, much is expected

  23. My bet though is that the other 40 FOIA requests Kirk Waithe claimed to have made on the hired staff at the other constituencies may never see the light of day.

    • I disagree. They have been consistent in pursuing justice for the public. However, I read the guideline was amended to be limited to hiring of immediate family for constituency offices-so if allegations are true the ex PM has two nieces working at her office, nothing can be done?..Maybe it depends on when they were hired and when the guidelines were amended, but you see what we dealing with.

  24. Dr. Rowley set that standard of zero tolerance for wrongdoing when he was in opposition and now he has to practise what he has been preaching.
    It was Dr. Rowley who pursued the UNC and dug up dirt on them.
    When you do that, you have to ensure that your govt is squeaky clean or else your past will come back to haunt you, and this is what is happening.
    New evidence came to light and Dr. Rowley was duty bound to act on it.

    • Hutchinson:
      This ‘new evidence’ of which you speak, was in the public domain and before Dr. Rowley prior to him screening her in 2015. It was not a matter of him doing the right thing, but that he was under public pressure to act. He sacrificed one for the rest.

      This has nothing to do with zero tolerance, and what dirt did he dig up but for some fake emails? Indeed, the past Government did many wrongs and they paid, but don’t think that Dr. Rowley is a ‘squeaky clean’ because there are things you do not know.

      I don’t expect you to see that though.

  25. So is that it? She gets fired …no lawsuits or penalties?

    • That is not up to the PM. That responsibility falls to other agents of the state. The honourable PM did what he had the authority to do. Let the other state agencies and agents do what they have the authority to do.

    • @malik Johnson…I believe Fixin TnT had reported the matter to the Fraud Squad. As Lester Logie stated above, up to them now. But the information is in the public domain, how long does it take to lay charges? This may very well be a test case. If they can’t deal with a relatively straightforward matter, then charges are doomed to fail in more complex ones.

  26. wld Isha Wells b groomed for the constituency now?

  27. Well done Dr. Rowley. Next time please be a bit more decisive. Let your ministers know that you’ll be implementing a zero tolerance policy where corruption is concerned.

    • Support this 100% but this is an issue that Rowley should have probably known about if the individual was vetted correctly. In that case, she should not have been selected to run for any post… agree or disagree? How many more embarrassing moments like these are on the horizon?

    • Give the PM some credit at least he did the right thing even though she was his right hand during the election.

    • Agreed Debbie Espinal… it’s scary to thing what else is out there

    • That’s a tough one Brent. I doubt Marlene volunteered such information during the vetting process, so unless someone knew about it and raised it during the vetting process, Rowley likely knew when we were informed by Kirt Waite. Remember the fella was not her husband. And I doubt Rowley macoing all he ministers and who they living with?

    • Los, guaranteed people knew about that. It just so happens that talking tough leads to having to walk the talk. Granted she is an old PNM stalwart so you never know why she got the post. Nonetheless point well taken

  28. Fascinating to me is how people who were defending McDonald, saying that she did nothing wrong, are now congratulating Dr Rowley on making the ” right” decision. We still have ways to go. (But we are definitely moving)

    • Some are but from the comments I’ve seen some are calling Dr. Rowley a weak man for giving in to the Opposition

    • Don’t understand why people would see his actions as giving in to the opposition. This has nothing to do with the opposition. This is about right vs wrong. He had an unethical minister in his cabinet and he fired her. The opposition didn’t influence Marlene’s behavior. Those who see his actions as giving in to the opposition don’t care about the country. They don’t care about good governance. They don’t care about integrity. Smh

      • The crux of the matter, Carlos, is not whether THEY care about the country, about good governance or about integrity; the real issue is whether the PM’s action was spawned by HIS concern for these things rather than by a mere desire to placate a displeased electorate.

        Remember the claims in this same thread about Marlene’s issues having been raised during the screening. Who chaired the PNM’s Screening Committee? Was it not the Honourable Dr Keith Christopher Rowley, current Political Leader of the PNM and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago?

        Trinidad is nice, sang the calypsonian, Trinidad is a paradise…

    • Well maybe it’s severe to say they don’t care Carlos Lee. I think it’s an issue of bias blinding correct perspective. In their hearts they probably care.

    • And that applies to both sides of the political divide I think. What historians would write about this era inTT history is that it’s the beginnings of the movement away from party and race politics and towards addressing the ISSUES clamping down of corruption and nepotism etc etc…. I hope

    • Yes – absolutely Afiya (love that name by the way). I had always hoped Rowley would be a no nonsense type politician, who could bring in a new era of good governance to the people of Tnt.

    • Exactly Carlos and these ppl were among the majority who were voicing their displeasure when Kamla wasn’t acting on the then AG. So now then shoe on the other foot it must be ignored? Foolishness

  29. Marlene was definitely too much baggage to tote. Hope the other ministers neophytes and experienced alike take note. This rounds people want to see zero tolerance to corruption. We also want to see the life sport money recovered and criminals from Tanty Kamla’s stint brought to justice

    • Rose-Marie, In the interest of accuracy -and fairness! – you need to add a few words thus: “We also want to see the Life Sport money recovered and criminals – INCLUDING THOSE from Tanty Kamla’s stint – brought to justice.”

  30. Sacking people doesn’t really get to the core of the matter, the fact is there are structural and systemic issues that support certain kinds of behaviour, and these must be addressed … it does not matter who is in power, more and more we see that once people have accesst to public funds the bheaviour is the same, so institutional strengthening is key to reducing the levels of corruption ….

  31. Seems the PNM vetting process needs to be revised. This flaw in integrity and ethics should have been caught before election.

  32. And don’t hire ministers who tend to be always batting away questions on integrity in the first place. :-/