Lie to me, Mama P

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

AT THE last lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions on March 26, 2012, then Prime Min­is­ter Por­tia Simp­son Miller gave an in­ter­view in which she called on vot­ers to give the Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party (PNP) a mas­sive win at the polls.

Ac­cord­ing to Mama P, the PNP needed a huge man­date at the parochial level so it could un­der­take cru­cial lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­form. She said then that more PNP coun­cil­lors would mean a greater num­ber of per­sons who un­der­stood lo­cal gov­ern­ment. By im­pli­ca­tion, she sug­gested that fewer Ja­maica Labour Party (JLP) coun­cil­lors would mean fewer per­sons who would act as a de­ter­rent to the progress of the lo­cal gov­ern­ment agenda.

Politi­cians are at their op­ti­mistic best on the eve of ev­ery elec­tion. But per­haps not even Por­tia’s op­ti­mism could ac­com­mo­date the re­sults of elec­tion day. The PNP took 149 of the 228 di­vi­sions, 12 of the 13 par­ish coun­cils, re­claimed the Port­more mu­nic­i­pal­ity and got 327,000 more votes than a JLP which, through­out cam­paign­ing and on elec­tion day, re­sem­bled a dog in a horse race.


Armed with this huge man­date and an almost blan­ket PNP pres­ence through­out the lo­cal gov­ern­ment tapestry, what has the PNP de­liv­ered since be­ing sworn into of­fice in April 2012? Has the PNP ex­celled in man­ag­ing pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties such as parochial roads, wa­ter-sup­ply sys­tems, drains/gul­lies, parks and recre­ational cen­tres, mar­kets, trans­porta­tion cen­tres, ceme­ter­ies and pub­lic san­i­tary con­ve­niences?

Can you go to a park in any town cen­tre and lounge with­out feel­ing as if your nasal pas­sage and the lin­ing of your lungs have been dipped into a vat of stale piss? Can you nav­i­gate your way, whether on foot or by mo­tor car, through any bus park with­out se­vere de­lays and an almost crip­pling fear that you may scratch the ‘ve­hi­cle’ of the wrong hand­cart man who could re­tal­i­ate by dam­ag­ing you or your property?

Have you ever seen a brawl at a funeral when a fam­ily turns up to con­front mem­bers of a mourn­ing party af­ter be­ing told that the spot where they laid their loved one to rest is now the floor for the tomb of a new duppy? Has the PNP ex­celled in the pro­vi­sion of ser­vices such as street light­ing and pub­lic cleans­ing?


Or have you ever been afraid to ap­proach your own home af­ter dark be­cause the street lights on your lane or av­enue sup­pos­edly paid for by your tax dol­lars have not been work­ing?

Has your par­ish coun­cil ex­celled in reg­u­lat­ing the grant­ing of build­ing and plan­ning ap­provals, li­cens­ing of trades and busi­nesses, street park­ing and the con­trol of vend­ing in the streets?

Or is the man who be­gan sell­ing juice and cig­a­rettes on the street cor­ner now run­ning a restau­rant of­fer­ing three cooked meals daily with no run­ning wa­ter or san­i­tary con­ve­nience avail­able? How many more street­side kitchens must spring up in Kingston be­side gas sta­tions, banks and in res­i­den­tial ar­eas for the KSAC to take ac­tion?

So for­get for a minute the high-flown idea of lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­form. All that I’ve men­tioned just now deals with bread-and-butter is­sues that de­fine the rea­son for the ex­is­tence of lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials at the po­lit­i­cal and ad­min­is­tra­tive lev­els.

So with the huge man­date asked for, and given, to the PNP in March 2012, how many of the day-to-day ser­vices and ac­tiv­i­ties have they man­aged to ad­dress even semi-ad­e­quately? On the morn­ing of the last parochial elec­tions, Mama P told her in­ter­viewer that lo­cal gov­ern­ment was not a joke. She said that then Op­po­si­tion Leader An­drew Hol­ness could tell her noth­ing about lo­cal gov­ern­ment. She as­serted that given her past ex­pe­ri­ence as a coun­cil­lor and min­is­ter of lo­cal gov­ern­ment, she un­der­stood the thing.

Such talk only leaves her with nowhere to hide when con­trasted with the PNP’s record of ser­vice de­liv­ery over the past four years. As PNP pres­i­dent and some­one who needs no coun­sel on how to run lo­cal gov­ern­ment and cause it to yield pos­i­tive re­sults, Mama P must surely take the blame for her party’s fail­ure to de­liver.

So af­ter fail­ing to de­liver last time, Mama P re­turns to whis­per in our ear, jus­ti­fy­ing her de­mand for an­other chance to get things done. Go ahead, Mama. Lie to me.


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