Francesco extradited to Italy on Wednesday August 16, 2017

August 18, 2017
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Photo by The Daily Herald

AIRPORT BOULEVARD–Francesco Corallo was extradited to Italy on Wednesday afternoon. The 57-year-old casino owner left St. Maarten in custody of members of Interpol Italy on a flight by Air France to Paris, with a connecting flight to Rome. Corallo is suspected by Italian justice authorities of tax fraud, bribery, money-laundering and membership in a criminal organization. His extradition was requested by the Minister of Justice of Italy on December 30, 2016.

  The Joint Court of Justice ruled the request permissible on June 20. The Governor of St. Maarten signed the documents formalizing Corallo’s extradition to Italy on August 4.Corallo was arrested at the request of the Italian authorities in December 2016. Since then, he was held in detention at the Police Station in Philipsburg.



St Maarten Parliamentarians should get report card

August 18, 2017
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At the end of every school year, students are evaluated and promoted or not promoted based on their performance during the year. Conversely, at the end of a parliamentary year, Members of Parliament are not evaluated yet they continue in parliament without anyone questioning their achievements, their performance or their competency to function as a parliamentarian.

I have observed that in several countries around the world, political and interest groups are developing report cards for parliamentarians. The idea behind the report card is to provide the public, especially the voters, with information about the performance of a parliamentarian so that at the next election, voters can make an informed decision about who is best suited to represent them in parliament, based on their performance during the past years.

I sincerely hope that MP Ardwell Iron’s proposal to report on how Members of Parliament voted during a parliamentary year will be included in the 2016-2017 Parliamentary Report. If included, it will give the public additional information as to how our MPs are functioning.

SMCP is developing a parliamentarian report card that will comprise the following benchmarks: attendance, participation, representation, supervision, legislation and interaction. These six benchmarks are derived from the job description of a parliamentarian that, according to our constitution, consists of three main functions: representation (art. 44), legislation (art. 82, 85, 86) and supervision (art. 62, 63, 64). Since the people (voters) placed their trust in a parliamentarian by electing him/her to office, it goes without saying that they should know how their parliamentarian is functioning. Therefore, let us look at these benchmarks and explain briefly what each one entails.

Attendance at meetings is the most obvious and objective benchmark. It includes the attendance at the plenary sessions of parliament and at the meetings of the central committee. All MPs are required to attend these two meetings. In addition, we will also include the attendance at the permanent and ad hoc committees, which is a requirement for the members of these committees but is voluntary for the other parliamentarians.

It seems as if parliamentarians do not realize that the greater part of their work occurs in the small or standing committees. These committees are therefore the backbone of parliament. In a press conference given the first week of January 2017, President of Parliament, MP Sarah Wescot-Williams, told the press “the work of Parliament is being slowed down due to the lack of activity by the parliamentary committees”. In other words, she is saying that these committees are not functioning.

Parliamentary Committees do the groundwork for the Central Committee. They research and investigate issues and laws then make recommendations to the Central Committee, which in turn will eventually, approve these recommendations and send them to the plenary session of parliament. In addition, most of the oversight work by parliament ought to be done in the standing committees. There is where the chair and members review the policies and the decisions of a minister or the government as well as investigate reports, complaints and problems related to a ministry or the government. Further, there is where questions directed to a minister or the government ought to be formulated and the answers reviewed for depth, thoroughness and accuracy.

Sadly, previous Annual Parliamentary Reports and observations during the current parliamentary year show that the standing committees hardly ever meet. During 2016-2017, twelve standing committees were installed but as far as we know, only two of these committees actually held meetings, namely the Ad Hoc Integrity Committee and the Petitions Committee. The remaining committees have remained dormant throughout the parliamentary year.

We would also like to point out a serious flaw in the selection of the chairpersons of the various standing committees. Members of the coalition chair all twelve standing committees. No wonder that the supervisory function of parliament is seriously compromised. One does not expect a coalition member in parliament to readily scrutinize and criticize the policies, decisions and performance of his/her coalition partner in the government. For example, with all the problems surrounding the Ministry of Justice, the Chairman of the Committee of Justice, MP Frans Richardson, never felt the need to call a meeting of this Committee. Further, with all the problems associated with the dump, the Chairman of the Committee of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure, MP drs. Rodolphe Samuel, never called a meeting. The same goes for all the other standing committees.

Under the topic of attendance I would like to mention here that it is unacceptable that mature, honorable Members of Parliament still have to be chided by the President of Parliament for being absent at meetings without due notice. With today’s plethora of technology – and mind you our MPs receive a smartphone at the beginning of their term of office – it is inexcusable that an MP still does not care to inform the President in a timely manner of his/her absence.

So, with regard to attendance, an MP’s report card will summarize his/her absence or presence, with or without notice at all meetings. But the attendance score related to the standing committees will weigh much heavier than the attendance at the other parliamentary meetings.

In the following article, we will elucidate the other five benchmarks of the MP Report Card!

Wycliffe Smith

Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party



King rummer performs at Soca Monarch competition in Tortola British Virgin Islands on Thursday

August 4, 2017
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Photo by the Daily Herald

Rumari “King Rumer” Rogers competed  in the upcoming Soca Monarch competition in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Rogers travelled on Wednesday to get ready for the competition the following day , which was yesterday (Thursday). He is currently the three-peat Road March King of St. Maarten and was selected to represent St. Maarten in the show. Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport  wished Rogers much success in the Soca Monarch competition and encouraged him to continue pursuing his dreams and making St. Maarten proud.

Manager Devondre Jones (left) and King Rumer (right) stopped by the Minister’s office before leaving the island on Wednesday. Photo by the Daily Herald



New 3-year CLA may allow SMMC staff to get slight salary increase

August 4, 2017
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Photo by The Daily Herald

CAY HILL–St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) workers will be taking home a slightly higher salary and will receive a bit more in their Christmas bonus thanks to a new Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) signed between the hospital and their union on Thursday.

The CLA went into effect on July 1. The CLA was signed by Windward Islands Health Care Union Association (WIHCUA) representatives and St. Maarten Medical Center Manager of Patient Care Antonio Pantophlet and Medical Director Dr. Felix Holiday in the presence of hospital staffers. SMMC General Director Kees Klarenbeek, who is off island and was not present, had signed the CLA before and also sent an electronic message which was played for workers during the ceremony.

Numerous benefits were secured for workers in the CLA including slight increases in salary and Christmas bonus. Additionally, SMMC and the union have agreed to increase the maternity leave for workers from 12 to 14 weeks in the CLA. Changes were also made to the company’s Dental Vision Benefit Plan, which now allows family members of SMMC staffers to benefit from the Plan.

WIHCUA President Brunilda Illidge, who expressed satisfaction with the benefits that had been secured for the workers, said her smile was missing because Klarenbeek, who was instrumental in the negotiations, was absent. Looking back on CLA negotiating that she had been involved in over the years, Illidge said the talks with Klarenbeek to reach the CLA was a significant improvement. In the past, CLA discussions were extremely heated and would result in slamming of doors, pounding of fists on the table and throwing down of chairs. However, the negotiations with Klarenbeek were conducted with mutual respect and while they were not easy, they were peaceful.

She lauded Klarenbeek for this. “We met each other halfway and we understood that we cannot plunder SMMC, but we cannot leave the staff with nothing,” she said. “I am proud of Kees as a Dutchman, that he could have sat across the table and balance it out. We hope that God will follow through and lay his healing power and run through Kees’ body and bring him back,” she said, resulting in applause from the staff who had gathered to witness the ceremony. “We have a balanced out CLA and we are thankful for that.”

SMMC Human Resource Manager Sheila Hodge said parties began negotiations for the new CLA a year ago, unlike in the past when the negotiations were held for about three to four weeks and had been heated. Holding the negotiations a year in advance was to give parties sufficient time to meet every two weeks to iron out details of the agreement. “By taking a full year, we were able to go into detailed talks and the final package depended on what SMMC can afford and what is best for the staff,” Hodge said.

Holiday, who assumed the post of Medical Director as of June 1, said while he was not involved in the negotiations, reading through the document he realises that the CLA is “quite an accomplishment,” and an improvement for staff. He said also that parties took into consideration the family members of staffers as they will also benefit from the CLA. The agreement, he added, forms the basis for parties to provide care together and to ensure that quality care is available for the community.

Representative of SMMC Supervisory Council Robert-Jan James described the CLA as a major accomplishment for everyone. He said Klarenbeek had put “a lot of effort,” into the process. James said while talks can be tough, at the end parties were able to reach an agreement that “everyone can be happy with.”

WIHCUA representative Christina Jacobs-Berkel urged workers to read the CLA. A copy will be made available online and will be available to staffers on a shared platform. It will also be provided to workers in hard copy. The CLA which is officially in Dutch will also be translated so that workers, who are not proficient in the Dutch language can also get a copy that they can understand.

The negotiating team from WIHCUA comprised Illidge, Jacqueline Berkel, Rein Torrenga, Charline Arrendell, Marguerite Priest and Jacobs-Berkel. The negotiation team from SMMC comprised Manager of Patient Care Tony Pantophlet, Hodge, Klarenbeek and SMMC Finance Manager Davinia Carbière.



Latino autopsy leads to accidental drowning say the Gendarmerie

August 4, 2017
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MARIGOT–The Gendarmerie said Thursday the Latino man whose body was found floating in the water near the whale observatory on Coralita Road near Oyster Pond most likely died from drowning. The autopsy was carried out on Wednesday, August 2, and showed water in the lungs of the deceased.

“There was no evidence on the body of any injury or trauma consistent with a struggle or assault with a weapon,” Capitaine Régis Turlan Arto disclosed. “We haven’t ruled out homicide yet, but the preliminary indications suggest death by drowning.”Walkers in the area spotted the body, semi-submerged with head facing down, around 50 metres from the shore line at 12:25 pm on July 26, and immediately called the Gendarmes. According to the press release issued, the body was of a “Latino” man recently deceased, aged around 35 years old, 1:80 metres in height.

He was wearing Bermuda shorts, a T-shirt and a distinctive belt buckle. No shoes, identity documents, cell phone or car keys were found on or near the body. However, one red-and-white basketball shoe was found on the bank, but it was not known if this belonged to the body.

Anyone who thinks the description of the man who was found corresponds to a missing person is asked to call the number 17; persons with any useful information to assist the investigation can call the same number.



Cuchi remains in St. Kitts as he faces more charges

August 4, 2017
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Commissioner of Police Ian Queeley

SAINT KITTS – Information coming out of St. Kitts and Nevis indicates that wanted man Kathron “Cuchi” Fortune will likely see additional charges levied against him.

Sources on the island confirmed to 721news that Fortune is currently on remand pending the additional charges, which are likely to come before the week is out.

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Commissioner of Police Ian Queeley told a news conference in Basseterre that the wanted man disembarked a boat by himself along a beach in the Newton Ground area.

It was during an observation by citizens, that sleuths on the island were notified of unusual activities in the area.

Upon presenting themselves to the suspect, Fortune was found with a number of illegal items in his possession including a “bus master pistol” with a telescope, a bullet proof vest, compressed marijuana and a quantity of cash. He was subsequently taken into police custody.

The St. Kitts and Nevis Top Cop described the Grenadian-born Fortune as being “very dangerous.” While addressing reporters, Queeley stated that when the authorities in St. Kitts made contact with their St. Maarten counterparts, they indicated that “they were very happy that we [SKN police] were able to lay hands on him, as he escaped from prison serving some time for murder.”

During the time he was out, the Commissioner stated that the fugitive was suspected to be involved in at least five murders, “and so they [St. Maarten police] were very heartened by the news of his capture.”

“The St. Maarten authorities were alerted and we had some discussions with them and they clearly wanted to speak with him. So, a team visited us and we had some discussions and they would have left the Federation and the gentleman is remanded to custody at Her Majesty’s Prison,” Queeley continued.

Fortune was charged with a number of offences, including the possession of a firearm; importation; possession of Cannabis; possession with intent to supply; and illegal entry.

He will likely face customs and several additional charges, according to the Commissioner of Police, and would shortly be taken to the Magistrate’s Court.

It was back in February 2016, that the Grenadian fugitive escaped from lawful custody.

On the afternoon of February 15, 2016, Fortune escaped after he was taken to a Cay Hill clinic. It was reported that he pulled a gun on two guards that accompanied him and was not seen since.

In a recent statement, Queeley called on citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis to report any suspicious or abnormal activities that they may see occurring along the country’s coastline.

Fortune will remain in St. Kitts and Nevis to serve his time when sentenced before being deported to St. Maarten.



President Trump help Chicago to fight gun crime, sends

June 30, 2017
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SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE – In January, President Donald Trump tweeted that he’d “send in the Feds!” to Chicago, citing the city’s miserable statistics on shootings.

Well, his administration has done just that.

On Thursday, authorities confirmed that about 20 additional agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have been sent to Chicago to combat gun violence here, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

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