dem guh loot police station a look fi bullet an gun..

police ah run lef’ kyaar and gunman a drive..  POLICE CARS NO. 20, NO. 36 &  NO.91

dem bun dung police station..

helicopter and all a dem fufool police an’ souljah a run go a Tivoli fi meet dem Waterloo…

Crime Minister Golding come pon TV a twis’ up im mout’ an a talk like seh im nuh responsible fi wha’ deh gwa’an…

Dat man need more dan prayer. Im need fi tek whe’h imsself! 

What an embarassment!

What  a spectacle of incompetence and sheggery!

But, if ah so it fi go so di whole na’asy govament bwile can bus, den a so it affi go…

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From dodging to denial….

Just in case you don’t realise it yet Brucie, your days as PM are numbered less than 10.

When a political leader boldly LIES to both its citizens and those who make up the government that one is expected to preside over, purposefully misrepresents one’s relationship to criminals, abuses one’s access to power by using it to negotiate arrangements that have little to do with governance and national interest, and everything to do with preserving one’s political status and authority, and where the use of such power reflects a glaring conflict between two competing roles that the head of state does not acknowledge or understand as problematic, then there can be little confidence in that leader’s ability to govern.

Through his actions – from overt arrogance and disdain for the people’s point of view, to the bare-faced lying when even his colleagues felt it necessary to tell the truth  – all public trust has now evaporated and there is little left to assure Jamaicans that we have not been similarly misled in the past, and will not be treated in similar fashion in the near future.

Not only has Bruce Golding’s unethical behaviour disgraced the position of PM, but he has shown himself to be of questionnable character and a failure at providing the model of leadership that Jamaica needs right now.  And, at a time when we are struggling about what to do about the widespread crime – in terms of both direct violence and corruption – that is enveloping Jamaica, we can scarce afford to ignore the real damage that Bruce Golding’s conduct will have on such efforts.

The best think that Bruce Golding can do for the country right now is to resign, effectively immediately.

Thou dost protest too much

September 2, 2009

So, I was just reading today’s paper online, and I came across the headline “Hydel University Opens Its Doors.” I kiss my teeth.  Whe’h dem come wid university from now? Everybody getting into this business of education these days – starting a school and a church in this country guarantees a nice income from people desperate to be saved  – even and especially when they are members of the legislature.  I am reading the article and saying to myself, is how BG just up inna di ting so, making all kinds of pronouncements and talking as if Jesus Christ himself had come down and told him he wanted to host the next Last Supper in St. Catherine.  Does the PM, his wife and the Min of Ed. go to every university opening? Well, maybe the Min. of Ed.  Then I paused. Wait deh likkle bit!  Thought again, reached into my memory, called up google, and there it was:

The story that broke in November 2008 is that Hyacinth Bennett, a current senator and longtime friend and political ally of Bruce Golding’s, had somehow managed to get the government agency UDC to buy the property that her private school was located on, and to lease it back to her at less than market value.

When the Gleaner reported the story and suggesting that there was some impropriety in the deal, Bennett cried foul and Golding said, Oh, we always had plans for that property. Of course.

The Observer story had a PNP person saying that he thought that even the shady UDC wasn’t totally on board with it. Why? Probably because they wouldn’t make any money from this deal. As revealed in the July 2009 story in Sunday Herald, this “sweetheart deal” arrangement included all kinds of oddities, such as: tying HYDEL’s rent to the amount of tuition collected from students each semester. That’s like having the bank determine how much your rent/mortgage will be based on how much money you made this past month, not including your pardner draw or Western Union remittances. Very generous arrangement indeed.

So, reading today’s story, all I can think is, how these people brazen wid dem corruption so??? Dem really tek wi fi heediyat bwai.

Back in November 2008, The PM went on record to defend the school with more speculation and fear-mongering than fact.   But, to hear him at this event, it is very clear that he has had inside knowledge about Hyacinth’s plans for the expansion of the school.  His comments demonstrate that he has thought about what impact he wants it to have, and clearly intends to direct government monies and resources to support the expansion of this particular institution in the future.  Apparently, he sees this as a model school.  First mi hearing bout this revelation.  So, anybody who want to do something similar, the UDC will give them a sweetheart deal too, right? Ring your bell first.

This is all happening at the same time that Min of Ed. Holness has announced that there is not sufficient monies to build additional public (primary and secondary) school facilities that he promised – and which he probably shouldn’t have anyway – and clearly didn’t realize that the “new” schools coming onboard were not going to be public schools, but a private one run by a fellow labourite who’s real chummy with your boss.  I guess Holness wasn’t on board with diversion of monies to the HYDEL plan?  What a slap in the face.  So, who exactly is guilty of “political mischief” here, you tell me.

All I want to know is this:
$ If the country is so broke an no money n’aaa run, how could this deal with Hydel have been made in anything but shady circumstances?

$$ Given that even a blind, stupid person could recognize the conflicts of interest at all levels of this deal, why has the PM never been asked to explain these obvious ethical violations?

$$$  If the IMF deal requires that line items be cut from the budget, then shouldn’t a private school be expected to pull it’s own weight, including paying it’s own rent? (In case you missed it, the Golding administration is SUBSIDIZING the operations of the privately owned Hydel Schools and thus draining money on an entity that was not budgeted for). How can they even justify this to even the most hard of hearing person? Since when is paying the rent for a private institution a necessary expenditure, but building public schools is not?

$$$$  What are the legal provisions that govern how legislators and government officials participate in the private sector while they are in office? What are the rules governing how they can use their influence as well as access to information to maximize their own personal fortune? Was there not a big stink with Donald Wehby of GraceKennedy about his role in the corporation while also serving as a senator? So why has Hyacinth Bennett been allowed to use her time, status and access as a senator to build and advocate for her private corporation from which she draws a hefty paycheck?  Has she been living out the Caribbean dream i.e. securing a gov’t position so that she can use the gov’t’s resources to do her real job?

$$$$$  Are the HYDEL even accredited? By who? How do we know that there is anything of quality and substance going on in there in the first place? Just because you call a place a school and a university does not mean that it behaves like one.  How do we know this is not just another setup to hoodwink innocent people who think that an education is what will get them up the ladder, when in practice they paying to have a textbook read to them? Where are the procedures and documents to attest to the credibility of this place as an institution of higher education?

$$$$$$  Where the hell is Greg Christie? Or has he been told to stay out of this – “not his jurisdiction”?

Well, if he can’t ask questions, I sure can.

Don’t you just love…

December 7, 2008

when people do their jobs? Contractor-General Greg Christie has been at it at again, and our favourite company, Jamaica’s Undisputed Trailblazer of Corruption (JUTC), is again under the microscope. Memba seh ah dis a di same smaddy who has been appointed by Golding, only to be slapped and dissed by said Golding how much times about stepping out of line. Of course, that’s only when he tries to do his job, and his sniffing comes a bit too close to home. But the man does not give up, thank goodness. So who and who a resign now, and who fi go a jail, but dem probably not going to hang dem yah smaddy yah. No, dem too nice fi dat.

But wait likkle nuh? A gem caught my eye in today’s reportage:

“The report pointed to breaches in the procurement guidelines and identified the late chairman, Douglas Chambers, as having ignored the rules while awarding contracts to Simber Productions Limited, a firm in which he held majority shares.”

Ca-ca fa’at!! as my grandmother would say. Ah wha’ dis now?! Dem mean the same venerable Douglas Chambers, fi who everybody was up in arms about when dem kill im di odda day? Da’a deh Douglas Chambers?  Yuh mean seh fi im shit did stink to? What a prekkeh!  Well, look out for the admonishments and the how-dare-you’s (Mike Henry tried that one last week; you see how far he got…) as the walls come tumbling down.  I can’t wait for Christie to close the degrees of separation between some of these MP’s and the dirt they’ve been dealing.  I’m also keeping an eye on the cigarette/contraband issue that Danville Walker just brought up.  Ah deh so di ants’ nest deh.

Scurrilous?

November 13, 2008

I read the article. I wasn’t sure that my initial reaction (Bruce needs to learn to use a thesaurus!) was entirely correct, so I looked up the word:

Scurrilous (Adjective)

1. grossly or obscenely abusive: a scurrilous attack on the mayor.
2. characterized by or using low buffoonery; coarsely jocular or derisive: a scurrilous jest.
3 a: using or given to coarse language b: vulgar and evil
4: containing obscenities, abuse, or slander

Hm.

Then I looked up the word that provoked the response:

Nepotism (Noun)

1. patronage bestowed or favoritism shown on the basis of family relationship, as in business and politics: e.g She was accused of nepotism when she made her nephew an officer of the firm.

2. favoritism (as in appointment to a job) based on kinship

3. the showing of favoritism toward relatives and friends, based upon that relationship, rather than on an objective evaluation of ability, meritocracy or suitability. For instance, offering employment to a relative, despite the fact that there are others who are better qualified and willing to perform the job. The word nepotism is from the Latin word ‘nepos’, meaning “nephew” or “grandchild”. (Wikipedia)

I go back and read the article again.

Nope. I don’t see how the trisyllabic word even remotely applies.
Sorry Bruce, the problem is as plain to see as that garishly painted wall. I think that thou dost protest too much. Besides, doesn’t it take nepotist to know another?

Portia-Pot calling Bruce-Kettle Black

Portia-Pot calling Bruce-Kettle Black

If the PNP folks say its there, I can assure you that it’s there.

Details, details

October 30, 2008

What happens when one overlooks the “details” involved in one’s work, like, I don’t know, noticing that the ground below the scheduled construction site is actually hollow and replete with caves, rendering any building constructed there useless and dangerous. You know, small details like that.

Well, first, your identity will be protected – we still don’t know who the surveyor was because the esteemed Observer chose not to report this information. People will excuse rather than condemn your behaviour, and if you work your networks sufficiently, you might actually get to walk away scot-free. Maybe.

A most-embarassed Bruce Golding who was part of the committee overseeing the construction of new school facilities in St. Ann, “admitted that the consultants employed to the project had fallen down.”  Fallen down.  Now that is an interesting choice of words.

Golding continues: “The consultants we employed, I must confess, didn’t do a good job so they did not identify the caves that were there, also the geotech survey only indicated rocks, they did not indicate that we had these caves.”   Didn’t do a good job.  Hmmm. Is that all now?  Why does this stink of nepotism and some backdoor deal gone bad? Ah one o’ im fren dem sheg up di project so?  I’m roundly suspicious.   We await more news on the topic.

Then we find out that “there was no penalty clause in the consultant’s contract for matters of this nature.”  In other words, the assumption is that there is no recourse for when so-called experts fail to do their jobs properly and jeapardize people’s lives with their inept behaviour.

Golding plans to sell the land to someone else; I wonder if they will bother to disclose the caves to potential buyers?  Apparently, when the government was buying the land, the seller did not disclose this information, and the buyers clearly didn’t pay attention to broader geographic/geological knowledge that suggests that the existence of caves is a distinct possibility.   So, someone sold govament useless land.   Why am I not surprised?  Wasn’t there a recent problem with some illegal arms trader selling guns to the ministry of national security just recently?  Hmmm.  What we have here – a bunch of not so smart folks making decisions that end up wasting taxpayers’ money?  Now they plan to pass it on.   But, Ii you can’t put up a school  building on the land, then you damn sure can’t put any other building on it.  Although, one could explore whether there was a way to incorporate the cave structures into whatever physical building was being constructed on the land.  Now there’s an idea!

Meanwhile, whoever did such a shoddy job of surveying and approving the building of the school should lose their license to practice in Jamaica and banned from any professional association.  They should also be sued for the cost of the partial construction, as well as the cost of creating a new project, including the acquisition of new land.  That ought to teach them fi ‘top treat govament money like is freeness.   That’s my pipe dream anyway.

P.S. Just so you don’t think is only we do dem sort a foolishness ya. Check out what happened in Barbados.

I had a bit of downtime today, so I decided to write the following letter to the Gleaner.  The letter is in response to the claims of innocence by Rae Barrett, regarding the JUTC’s board which authorized the use of NHF monies to provide private security for him, using the company for which he is chairman, Marskman.  Nice, neat, convenient arrangement isn’t it?  Except, as Rudy Spencer points out, it has turned out to be a rather messy affair.  Really now? Who’d a thunk it? In Jamaica of all places? Perish the thought!

But wait nuh! ‘ear di one Rae Barrett nuh inna one long piece o’ memo:

“The company used to provide the security was Marksman Ltd where I have been chairman for over 20 years. Security was provided for my person and home. Note, I had nothing to do with the appointment of this company.”

Hmmm.  He seems like a bright man, but I guess he really doesn’t understand what “conflict of interest” means.  Maybe I should explain it to hm?

No Rae, you did not choose the company that would provide protection for you.   Nor did you sign the check paying for the services.  But you had something to do with accepting the services that were being negotiated with you in mind, and on your behalf.   You chose to accept and to use the services of  Guardsman.  Nobody held a gun to your head, or inferred that this was a condition of your employment.  YOU alone also chose not to make your 20-year relationship with Guardsman part of the equation and a deal-breaker.  Yes, the board members inappropriately put the issue on the table, but you lapped it up and kept right on stepping.  You didn’t stop to ask ‘ow it go look?  You just relied on the notion that since the board approved, then nobody could say it was not ok.   At least you couldn’t be accused of using the monies to provide your own security without anybody’s permission.  That would clearly be tiefness bizness.  But what you did was also another kind of tiefness.   The vagueness of the letter from the board also suggests that they don’t know how to say that you are a crook without implicating themselves.  Yes, you’re going down, but you could choose to take them with you.  What a prekkeh!

Barrett goes on in the memo to detail how, as the take-charge kinda guy he is, he was the one who terminated the security services this month.  I guess he finally figured out that something was not quite right with the arrangement?  Why?  Because it was leaked to the media.  How long did it take him?  Over two months?  I guess we should be glad that it wasn’t five years before we even found out.   Even so, nice job, Tyrone Reid!

Clearly the board was completely complicit in this arrangement – they probably thought they were doing Barrett a favour.  However, Barrett also had a responsibility to act in an ethical and professional fashion.  Thankfully, at least one person in this hoo-ha has seen that they did something wrong, at least in our eyes; Ryland Campbell, the chair of the board resigned.  I bet the rest of them are claiming innocence too; that’s so childish. Yep, I can hear the chorus already. Anno mi! Anno mi!  Mi neva know seh anno so mi fi dweet!  If nobaddy nuh tell me seh anno so i’ fi go, den a  ‘ow me whe’ fi know?   Makes you wonder what other kinds of decisions like these they have made in the past.  Given all the other problems with JUTC, I think someone should study their minutes carefully.  Anyway, here goes:

To the editor:

Regarding the latest practices of malfeasance at the JUTC: it seems prudent to suggest that the decision to fire Rae Barrett as CEO of the National Health Fund was a reactive one, aimed at demonstrating responsiveness to the problem, rather than to show that there is any serious awareness of and concern about corruption practices on the part of the board of directors.  Nonetheless, it was the correct decision, in my view.

In fact, Rae Barrett should be removed as CEO because he was aware of the conflict of interest between his role at Marksman and receiving services from Marksman, but chose not to make that conflict a part of the board’s decisionmaking.  Monies were being removed from the fund he was supervising to be paid for private security using a firm for which he is chairman, and thus funnelled back into his pockets.   While Barrett is claiming ignorance, I believe that the public sees through such tactics quite easily. The board’s decision did not bond him to accept the services of Marksman; he chose to do so, and thus acted in a self-serving way, at the public’s expense.

Barrett should also be removed from his position at JUTC because he used his influence and position in one area – as deputy Chairman – to usurp monies and public trust in another area – NHF funds – over which he also had jurisdiction.  In other words, he figured out a way to have his left hand communicate with his right hand, and is now blaming his head – the board – for making the decision, and thus refusing to take responsibility for the actions of his hands.

The Board of Directors of the JUTC should also be fired for authorizing such a decision to remove monies from a protected fund and to use it to pay for Barrett’s personal security using his own company.  They knew that they should not touch that money, and yet they chose to do so, not believing that the public would find out, or that we would have the intelligence to discern that their practices were unethical.  No matter how much they might want to deny that they knew that Barrett was a chairman of Marksman, there is no way they could not have known this information. The circle of corporate elites is quite small in Jamaica.

The issues raised in this particular situation should be instructive to all of us. Much of the corruption and the usurping of public resources for nefarious purposes operates through the decisionmaking processes of boards of directors of private and public corporations.  Many of the directors on the boards are members of interlocking networks. That is, a single individual often sits on multiple boards, often in both private and public entities, and has overlapping personal and professional relationships that are of consequence to how and why they make decisions. Sometimes those personal networks and affiliations are the reason they became board members and are seen as useful to the institution.

However, because there is no shared understanding or agreement about what accountability and ethical conduct looks like in Jamaica, the personal networks of individual directors are often conduits for activities that are not necessarily in the interest of the institution. Likewise, the silence and complicity of other board members creates a kind of conspiratorial environment that promotes the very kind of unethical decisions and practices that we see in the case of the JUTC. For those who are so inclined, they know and believe that they can get away with these kinds of behaviours because their fellow board members may have done similar things, or are waiting their turn to do the same.

The language of “good governance”, “accountability” and “transparency” are often thrown around as if it is clear what we are talking about, and that there is broad commitment to the principles they are based on. But everyday we see examples of how such jargon is precisely that, and hardly touches the way things actually work in Jamaica. Organizations don’t make decisions; people do.  This JUTC case, like the case of Mark Wehby and GraceKennedy last year, reminds us that there ought to be serious scrutiny of the boards of directors, and how the constitution of these boards affect public life.  It’s well past time that we removed the veil around boards and recognized them as critical centers of powerbroking in this society.