Richardson questions Simonet’s replacement

POSTED: 11/22/11 9:29 AM

MARIGOT, St. Martin — The removal from office of the Préfet Délégué Jacques Simonet after just 18 months on St. Martin has caused some concern to opposition leader in the Territorial Council Alain Richardson. According to Richardson, the French Council of Ministers decided to replace him with Philippe Chopin, the Sous Préfet of Beziers and appoint Simonet as a préfet without a portfolio.
Richardson said that in most cases such replacements are done when there is a change in government in France whereby that new government wants to place its own people in authority. The replaced functionary will remain without a portfolio until he or she is appointed again. Richardson said that Simonet was supposed to finish his career in Saint Martin. “The decision to remove him just four months before the March-elections, six months before the presidential elections and eight months before the legislative elections is a bit intriguing.”
“Everyone will recall that between May and September there were several situations where Richardson’s party asked Simonet to address the matter of the supervisory body that deals with the finances.” The department that looks after the Collectivité’s budget had indicated that there was a deficit and recommended doubling the TCA tax.
A motion was prepared by opposition parties in the Territorial Council rejecting that proposal and requesting that the state services in charge of collections do the work they are paid to do. “The decision was taken unanimously in the Council. Simonet said that the Council-members were irresponsible; that created uproar. He is known for sometimes putting his foot in his mouth,” said Richardson.
“He forgets sometimes his function as the representative of the French Republic; since his appointment he has been making statements that are unbecoming of his position.”
Following that incident Simonet had some calls “which pulled up his socks” or as it is said in English “called him to order.” Richardson said he understands this as a sanction. He was described as the Préfet that did not participate in the any of Saint Martin’s cultural or historical events. Simonet did for instance not attend the St. Martin Day celebrations.
Richardson said it was a public secret that Simonet and the former Préfet of Guadeloupe “did not get along” even though the latter is his superior. “These elements were not in his favor,” Richardson said. Simonet also has a close relationship with Senator Louis Constant Fleming in recent months it became clear that Fleming acted as an advisor to Simonet, who in return was be very protective of Fleming.
“Must we read on a political level that he will not “ruffle the Senator’s feathers?” questioned Richardson.
Richardson said that Simonet’s replacement, Philippe Chopin, does not seem to be the ideal candidate because he has no experience overseas. “All his appointments were within metropolitan France, he has no experience in foreign affairs and no experience in cross-border cooperation. He comes from the Ministry of Home Affairs.”
Chopin’s profile “gives one no indication that he has the ability to deal with the issues regarding both sides of the island,” Richardson said. “He has no profile that can assist Saint Martin in its serious financial battles especially with the state and with Europe. I am not seeing him making any difference, especially since he is coming here just before an election.”

Did you like this? Share it:
Richardson questions Simonet’s replacement by

Comments are closed.