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Trinidad & Tobago: The Hart of the Matter

News broke late yesterday that Calder Hart, the Canadian-born head of The Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (UDeCOTT), the company pegged as “Government's primary developer of choice” with the power to award billions of TT dollars worth of construction contracts, resigned from his post as Executive Chairman of UDeCOTT, as well as his positions on several state boards. Bloggers, who have been weighing in on the issue for a while now, were again on the ball.

Trinidad and Tobago News Blog republished several local mainstream media news stories as breaking news and continues to update the page. Interestingly, The Secret Blog of Patrick “Patos” Manning – written from the point of view of the country's “fake” Prime Minister – was one of the earliest blogs to comment on developments, inventing a conversation between the PM and Mr. Hart:

“I know you’re in London, you know. No need to pretend. How times have changed, eh? In the old days you barely made a move without calling on Uncle Calder for advice.”

“And a lot of good that advice did me! Remember: ‘Patos, it’s only $30 million. Nobody’s gonna miss it. And if they do, tell them it’s to build a church and everybody will say it’s okay, because Trinis loooove their churches.’ And what about: ‘Patos, you know who I think would loooove to meet your prophetess? Benny Hinn!’ Look where that got me.”

“Whoa, Patos. Calm down, buddy. How’s about we make us a deal?”

“Between you and me, Calder, I’ve had enough of your deals.”

“Photos, Patos, pho-tos. And I should add that the Swiss bank account number I gave you is false. In fact, it isn’t even Swiss.”

“Argh! OK. Let me hear about this deal.”

“The deal is simple: you get us both aslyum. Or should that be “asyla”?”

Israel Khan was right. Hart was unintelligent. But the man knew how to play hardball.

Nicholas Laughlin, meanwhile, credits the placard that accompanied his Carnival Monday portrayal with “help[ing] to turn the tide”:

The face of Calder ‘Cobo’ Hart — head of the powerful state construction agency Udecott, widely suspected of massive financial improprieties and thought by some to be Prime Minister Patrick Manning’s bagman, subject of investigation by the Uff commission of enquiry — replaced the national coat of arms in the middle of a giant $100 bill.

Last night the news broke that Hart, formerly protected by Manning, was forced to resign from Udecott and his positions at other state agencies, and has fled the country with his family. This morning everybody asking how many blue notes this cobo managed to pack in his luggage.

This Beach Called Life, tongue firmly in cheek, laments the fall of a “true family man”:

Our local newspapers and those opposed to the tall and sometimes Chinese direction the country was heading, decided to gang up on a man who was legally here and banish him from the country; away from both persecution and prosecution. A man, who by his own assessment, did the country proud by ensuring his boss’s will be done on time and within padded budget. A religious man who collected offerings on behalf of his boss has left, not only the buildings, but the country.

Diaspora blogger Jumbie's Watch gets a bit more serious:

The unthinkable has happened. Calder Hart has resigned…Hart was a ‘blue-eyed’ boy, protected, nurtured, given a free pass to the PNM elite, the public coffers and inside the political and financial affairs of the nation.

The newspapers have revealed that within 24 hours he was asked to resign, and within this time frame his wife and last child also left the country to Canada.

Now, this may not be the end of the story. He can still be held liable under several legal conditions, not the least of which would be lying under oath, and also under the Integrity Act.

More on this later, at the moment, I am happy taking in a few celebratory drinks. (^_^)

Twitter users were also in a celebratory mood, although @georgiap warned:

Resig. of Calder Hart may feel like the defeat of Voldemort, but remember how many books it took before V-mort finally snuffed out for good.

Many tweeple went the route of humour to have their say – Fake Patrick Manning was even forced to complain about his Wikipedia page being vandalised. When he posted this update:

Fellow C'wealth head of gov't just asked me what I planned on doing “after the impeachment”!

Jamaican Annie Paul replied:

LOL just don't come here

Then she got serious:

How can Trinidad's Patrick Manning govt survive this political earthquake? http://bit.ly/ab4Iz6

The fallout remains to be seen.

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