Even as the legal battle between Speaker of the House of Assembly, Julian Willock, and Fourth District Representative Mark Vanterpool officially concluded, their dispute manifested in another form moments after Vanterpool was sworn into the House on Tuesday, July 16.
This disagreement between the two clashing officials had to do with ‘when’ Vanterpool would be allowed to make his swearing-in statement in the House.
The Speaker told Vanterpool he would be allowed to speak under ‘other business’ – a segment that typically happens at the very last stage of the House’s proceedings.
Vanterpool requested to be heard earlier but the Speaker said his position remains the same.
“In keeping with what happened on March 12th where all the newly sworn-in members were allowed to speak under ‘other business’, I would prefer that you speak then,” Willock told Vanterpool.
Vanterpool, however, said the Speaker was being unfair. He further called for support from other legislators, who did not oblige.
He said: “On that day (March 12), the only business of the day was ‘other business’. Today it is a long list of things to be carried out and I think the people of the Fourth District — in the spirit of democracy — should hear from their member who has just been sworn in”.
“If I cant speak, I will walk outside and speak to the press. Please allow me to speak, Mr Speaker,” Vanterpool added.
Vanterpool, who kept insisting to speak, prevented the proceedings of the House’s Order Paper to continue. The Speaker, therefore, called the House into a short recess.
Up to press time, Vanterpool was outside the House delivering his speech even as the proceedings of the House resumed.
In the said speech outside the House, Vanterpool said he was concerned about the behaviour of the Speaker who he said participated in nepotism while serving in a different role of the public service. He also said Willock was imprisoned for “financial impropriety”.
“It is not for him to be in the Office of the Speaker,” Vanterpool said while addressing a group of residents gathered outside the House.
More to come.