Category Archives: Uncategorized

Another Year : New cast of characters, new problems, same old politics

Unexpected Good News in 2008

The Olympics and the haul of gold won by our athletes

The wonderful celebrations of Independence Day

The Riu Hotel Group actually obeying Jamaica’s laws and regulations and knocking down it’s illegal fourth floor AND opening on time

The election of Barack Obama to President of the United States

Lewis Hamilton, son of a West Indian immigrant to the UK, becoming the youngest ever Formula One World Champion

The 2008 Bad News (and no end in sight)

The performance of Prime Minister Bruce Golding and his JLP Government

Take your pick from the scandals :

Corruption at the JUTC revealed after the murder of its Chairman Douglas Chambers

The firing of the new Boards of Air Jamaica (supposedly for incompetence), and of UDC (supposedly for not agreeing with the PM’s decision to bailout Government Senator Hyacinth Bennett and her Hydel Group of schools) and of the Tourist Board (supposedly because they didn’t agree to give Butch Stewart’s surrogate, John Lynch, the job of Executive Director).

The “disappearance” of $15 million dollars from a safe at the Financial Investigations Division

Or take your pick from the missteps:

PM Bruce Golding’s “No gays in my Cabinet” claim in a BBC interview served to inflame an already murderously homophobic Jamaica.

PM Bruce Golding’s assertion that schools are “extorting” money from students by charging auxiliary fees. Apparently teachers and Principals should offer extracurricular activities and maintain school facilities out of their own pockets, since the Government contributes only 50% of what is required to run a school.

Ministers Audley Shaw (Finance) and Edmund Bartlett (Tourism) asserting that Jamaica, alone among the world’s economies, would suffer no fallout from the global economic crisis, only to have to walk back those comments within a few days as the “facts” came in.

PM Bruce Golding keeping the gravely ill Derrick Smith as Minister of National Security until soaring murder rates forced his hand, and then turning over the Ministry of Mining and Telecommunications to the still gravely ill Derrick Smith as the bauxite industry implodes under the weight of debt and the global economic crisis.

The Sugar Company of Jamaica and Jamaica Cane Products Sales falling for a con and managing to lose $87 million of cane farmers money.

Yes, it’s true. In one short year the JLP has managed to make Portia and P.J.’s reign of error look like the good, old days.

Winner: Contractor General Greg Christie who’s showing he can sniff out JLP as well as PNP corruption

Winner: Edward Seaga, former Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, who warned us about Bruce Golding some time back. Whodathoughtit ?

The continued breakdown of community and civil society

DCP in charge of Crime, Mark Shields, says what went bad a morning can’t come good by evening and he ends his contract. A great loss to his Jamaican female fans, but apparently no loss to the Jamaica Constabulary Force : our murder rate goes ever upward.

The new Director of Public Prosecutions, Paula Llewellyn, reminded us that it’s impossible to successfully prosecute crimes without witnesses and nobody wants to risk their life to be a witness.

Jamaican women and children are dying in ever more horrible ways at the hands of Jamaican gunmen, as well dying at hands of their husbands, boyfriends and fathers.

An international organization, the World Economic Forum, tells us the-no-news-to-any-Jamaican-woman truth that Jamaica is no great shakes when it comes to improving the status of women; and Wayne Chen, head of the Jamaica Employers Federation, says this can’t be true because “anecdotally, I don’t see that to be the case”. And, you know, men thinking, anecdotally, that Jamaican women don’t suffer from discrimination, is the same thing as women actually getting a fair shake at jobs, promotion, money, status…..(N.B. Wayne Chen’s predecessor as head of the Jamaica Employers Federation, a woman, resigned the post earlier this year after receiving numerous credible death threats….)

Murder continues to be the leading cause of death for young Jamaican men. Young Jamaican men also continue to be the leading perpetrators of crime.

The stealing of a beach marks a new low point in the normal trials and tribulations of doing business in Jamaica.

Winners: Jamaican cops in the JCF who feel they were passed over for the Scotland Yardies, and are cheering the departure of Mark Shields.

Well, naturally, there’s plenty of other stuff to mull over:-

The Chinese workers “found” working at one of the Secrets hotel sites

The leadership contest in the PNP. Portia, winner and still champion

The Reggae Boyz. No trip to South Africa but a bright future with Mr. Barnes ?

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The Week: Bruce in charge

Crime plan # 4,109,347 : Can this one work ?

Yesterday, Bruce Golding, currently Prime Minister of Jamaica, announced the following measures to deal with crime:

(1) Amend law to allow a person to be detained for up to 72 hours without being charged once authorised by a police officer at the level of assistant commissioner or higher.

(2) Refuse bail for serious crimes and repeat offenders for the first 60 days with provision for the prosecution to appeal against granting bail.

(3) Right to non-invasive DNA, such as a mouth swab from a person charged with an offence.

(4) Establish a DNA database

(5) Amend evidence act to allow for witnesses to provide testimony via videotape. This system could provide protection for witnesses.

(6)Provide for majority verdict in non-capital murder. The law would be amended to allow for conviction by a minimum of nine out of 12 jurors.

All of the above seem fine to me. Now to wait and see:

If, When and How these measures are implemented.

Then we wait to see:

If they will make any difference at all…….


“Armed and Female: Twelve Million American Women Own Guns, Should You?” (Paxton Quigley)


Portia versus Peter : Should we care ?

Does it matter who leads the Opposition PNP right now ? Not really. Not when the choice is between Portia Simpson – Miller and Peter Phillips. Both are long time politicians who’ve held powerful positions in the Cabinet over the last 18 years. Anything that they were planning to do in government, or in their garrison constituencies, they should have done already. I don’t think either of them deserves another term in government.

I prefer Portia (she’s easier on the eye and seems to be a much nicer person) but if Peter becomes leader of the party in September and then loses a general election within the next year, the younger generation in the PNP will be poised to push the old guard (Portia, Peter, Omar, Maxine, Bobby, Roger etc) aside and take over the party in 2012/2013.

Pushing the old guard aside is a pre-condition for renewing the PNP. So if the start of the new brooms sweeping clean is predicated on Portia’s defeat in September, I guess I’m for it.

I’m also for Bruce calling a general election shortly after Peter Phillips takes over the PNP and trouncing him soundly at the polls. Then the PNP can get back to the business of cleaning up its’ act, and Prime Minister Golding can settle down to governing with a healthy majority without having to appease every single JLP don and every single JLP moneybags and every single JLP M.P…….


“The Power of Early Speed (Elements of Handicapping)” (Steve Klein)

Deserving our governments ?

About this time last year the big political news was the upcoming election, the polls showing that the PNP were ahead, and PM Portia naming Lisa Hanna as the PNP candidate for South East St.Ann. Also we found out that Bob Woolmer probably wasn’t murdered.

This year Portia is no longer PM, the polls are still showing that the PNP is ahead, and Lisa Hanna is the MP for SE St.Ann. Bob Woolmer is hopefully resting in peace.


“Cricket the Bob Woolmer Way” ()

So now we have a JLP government, we have free health care for all and we have slightly cheaper education (the government is paying tuition fees, but books, extracurricular activities and “school development funds” remain the responsibility of parents). Let it not be said that the new government has not kept its promises or that they have “done nothing”.

Still, it is pretty amazing how little the change of government has changed anything. This is partly because we have all been hit over the head with high food prices and gas prices.

And none of those “jobs, jobs, jobs” have materialized (unless you are a member of the new JLP administration).

And the murder rate has risen again.

And PM Golding’s innumerable Cabinet Ministers are sounding and behaving like they weren’t so much “shadowing” the PNP Ministers for all those years, as learning to faithfully imitate their words, bad habits and corrupt practices……

And Air Jamaica is still soaring to new heights (of debt).

Yup. We’re eating a big helping of same-old-same-old. Tastes very familiar……


“The X-Files – Fight the Future (Widescreen Edition)” (Rob Bowman)

Bruce Golding, crime and governing Jamaica: the harder he falls

For those of us living “on island” each week of 2008 seems to bring more bad news. Last week’s temporarily heart stopping news that the Commissioner of Police had resigned was followed by the “good” news that he’d withdrawn his resignation………leading some of us to remember the high hopes we once had of former Minister of National Security Peter Phillips – he who had fixed the local bus system and introduced some management to our health care system. Since Mr. Super Competent Phillips was unable to make a permanent dent in our ever rising murder rate, weren’t we fools to think that a new government and a new Minister of National Security – two so far for this JLP administration – would do the trick ?

Seems that we were fools. Far from denting the murder rate, the new administration has followed the path of every administration since the 1960’s and presided over a yet higher murder rate. Once again we have to recall that Prime Minister Bruce Golding represents a JLP garrison constituency – drugs, guns and dons rule his land, just as Portia Simpson Miller represents a drug, don and gun ruled PNP garrison. P.J. Patterson represented a rural western constituency and did he make a difference ? Not one whit………

In addition, to the Government’s fumbling management of the national security portfolio, Butch Stewart (he of the Sandals Hotels and owner of the Daily Observer) let the curtain fall for a moment and showed us how perfectly he controls Prime Minister Golding and the Cabinet: the Daily Observer said the Commissioner of Police should go and he went, albeit for less than 24 hours.

Butch is practiced at overreaching, and failing to understand the limits of his power. He it was who declared that he had seen heavy rains that wreaked more damage than last August’s Hurricane Dean, and he it was who had to withdraw that immediately and make a big contribution to hurricane relief. Back when he was a PNP supporter these gaffes and retractions happened so regularly that most of us ceased to notice.

The difference now is that Butch’s star is still ascending the JLP sky – this administration is 4 seats and a few court cases from oblivion and supporters with money cannot be dissed until after the next general election (scheduled for SOON).

The PNP is in disarray and fighting among themselves. Who could want them back in power ? And yet, I’m about to revise my New Year prediction that Jamaicans will never recover their enthusiasm for Leader of the Opposition Portia Simpson Miller.

Bruce seems determined to make Sister P look good.….and he’s also determined to do a disservice to Leader of Opposition Wannabe Peter Phillips….Because, after all, Bruce and Peter are supposed to have the same skill set (articulate, thoughtful managers who can deliver results)……This last week has reminded us that Peter Phillips spent many years (5 or 6) as Minister of National Security with very little (the Scotland Yardies and the locking up of PNP don, Zekes, apart) to show for it. And that while Portia was as absent from the controls as Bruce appears to be, at least she made warm, comforting inclusive speeches, while Bruce’s recent speeches seem designed to encourage hate and division (because we don’t have enough already…)

Forget food and fertilizer prices over which the government has no control……where is the leadership, where is the firm hand on the rudder, where are the good government promises ? This many weeks long sense of doom and chaos is what we elected the JLP for ?

P.S. Much thanks and blessings to Usain Bolt and Senator Barack Obama (Democratic Presidential nominee) for shining some light over our way……….


“The Harder They Come(Laserdisc)(Widescreen)(Criterion Collection)” (Perry Henzell)

Story Come to Bump 2

The overripe fruits of the last election have all dropped to Jamaican ground:

Tourism and the environment

Butch Stewart’s war with the Spaniards forced the Prime Minister to do what no environmentalist or planner thought possible : he has required a foreign hotel investor, in this case the Riu Hotels, to abide by local law and regulations. More power to Butch. I’m trusting Mr. Stewart and his deep pockets, (and Mr. Golding facing the prospect of another general election soon) to make sure that Riu’s fourth floor is actually knocked down….

How likely is this to actually to happen ? Well, the site is closed apparently. Doubtless to allow Riu’s architects and engineers to decide the best way to proceed….(or to allow for their lawyers and lobbyists to figure out how to twist the Prime Minister’s arm).

In any case, what has happened to the effort to force the Riu at Mammee Bay to fix its waste water problem ? Presumably it was the Riu’s refusal to deal with this lesser problem that forced the Prime Minister to use the heavy artillery over their hotel still under construction.

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Riu Ocho Rios at Mammee Bay

Crime

The Cabinet has been reshuffled to make way for Colonel Trevor McMillan as the new Minister of National Security.We can only hope and pray that he can make a difference.

Dual citizenship cases

Phyllis Mitchell (PNP, losing candidate) has won her appeal in her case against Gregory Mair (JLP MP, Venezuelan citizen). The next general election is a few weeks closer.

Peter vs Portia and Jamaica vs Air Jamaica

Whose years of long service will come to an ignominious end sooner ? Will it be Portia or Air Jamaica ?

All in all, lots of serious things to take mek joke…..maybe next week.

As per usual for this year, it is contests and hope for the future that take precedence over grim realities. Yes, I mean, Obama finally winning the nomination (it can be as early as this Tuesday, May 20, when Kentucky and Oregon vote). Hillary Clinton’s determination is admirable, but, at this point, tiresome.


“Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance” (Barack Obama)


“The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream” (Barack Obama)

Racing to the finish line again : another general election for Jamaica ?

This morning the Breakfast Club asked if the Prime Minister should call an election now. The almost universal consensus from callers was No Way ! No Election Now !

But does PM Bruce have any choice ? Since Daryl Vaz, who claims to have U.S. citizenship through his mother, has been ruled ineligible to sit in the House of Parliament, this means that, although no judge has yet ruled on the cases against Gregory Mair (JLP, St. Catherine) and Shahine Robinson(JLP, St.Ann), these M.P’s – who are dual citizens by their own act – are definitely ineligible. And there are cases pending against Michael Stern (JLP, Clarendon) and at least one other JLP MP (anyone remember who this is ?).

No matter how many PNP M.P.’s also have dual citizenship, this cannot concern the Prime Minister since he does not have any cases pending against these M.P.’s re their eligibility. In any case, these PNP M.P.’s (whoever they are) can make sure they do what Daryl Vaz has done belatedly – go to the U.S. Embassy and renounce their citizenship. Since PM Golding has to give at least 3 weeks notice of an election they will have ample warning.

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Prime Minister Golding

Many callers this morning suggested that the Prime Minister just wait for each case to come up and then hold a by-election. He would be almost certain to keep his 4 seat majority if he does this.

But….But…..But…..I’m sure Mr. Golding would like to increase his majority. Some 31 of his 32 Members of Parliament are part of the government (18 Cabinet Ministers, 11 Ministers of State, 2 Parliamentary Secretaries). I think Gregory Mair is the JLP’s only back bencher…….. Which means that Bruce cannot discipline a single member of the Government without risking that person either crossing the floor or refusing to vote with the Government. Any unresolved Cabinet dispute could lead to the fall of the government.

His small majority puts some of the young men in the party – Daryl Vaz, James Robertson, Bobby Montague – in positions of overwhelming influence. Who or what can restrain them when they know that the Prime Minister cannot ?

Plus although there are PNP M.P.’s with tiny majorities ( D.K. Duncan) or small majorities (Peter Bunting, Derrick Kellier) there are also JLP M.P.’s who squeaked home (Tarn Peralto over Harry Douglas, St. Aubyn Bartlett over Trevor Munroe).

At this point, the pundits and pollsters agree that the JLP is unlikely to lose any election held soon, but all bets are off with (1) a new leader for the PNP (2) continued out of control food prices (3) continued out of control murder rate (4) any JLP corruption scandals – remember the first PNP scandals about furniture and such like, took place very early in the administration…….

I think Bruce has to call an election this year,whether he likes it or not, and this is what he has to figure out : When ?

When, will determine whether he runs against Portia or Peter Phillips.

And when may also determine whether the JLP wins or not.

So when will it be ? What’s your take on the date ?


“Lewis Hamilton: My Story” (Lewis Hamilton)