Stiffed by lo­cal gov­ern­ment erec­tions

Jamaica Gleaner - - IN FOCUS -

MY NOVEM­BER 6 col­umn propos­ing the abo­li­tion of lo­cal gov­ern­ment at­tracted plenty of feedback, but none more in­ter­est­ing than from one con­cerned cit­i­zen, Twit­ter han­dle @RealDut­tyMan.

It be­gan in­no­cently enough be­tween my­self and another Twit­terite (@just­mebrand) when @RealDut­tyMan en­tered the fray:

“Bran­don Mcneil @just­mebrand:

If we do [abol­ish] then what? Why not just re­form it?

Gor­don Robin­son @TheTer­ri­bleTout:

Some­thing mis­con­ceived can’t be re­formed. Lo­cal gov­ern­ment a mid­dle­man to fa­cil­i­tate cor­rup­tion. Cut out mid­dle­man & de­liver rep­re­sen­ta­tion in­stead @RealDut­tyMan jumped in: Griot @RealDut­tyMan: Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans aren’t sup­posed to be fix­ing roads and run­ning light & wa­ter. Their job is to make laws ... .

Gor­don Robin­son @TheTer­ri­bleTout:

Not Coun­cilors’ jobs ei­ther. Con­sta­ble P. Har­ri­son watches as his bal­lot is placed into a box in a vot­ing cen­tre at the Mo­bile Re­serve head­quar­ters in Kingston last Fri­day. Po­lice per­son­nel, some es­sen­tialser­vice work­ers and elec­tion work­ers cast votes as part of Ja­maica’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

Con­trac­tors fix roads. The cor­rup­tion is in the con­tract­ing; should be NWA not C’llors or MPs Griot @RealDut­tyMan: The point is, lo­cal is­sues are the re­mit of coun­cilors, not

MP’s. NWA et al, are im­ple­ment­ing agen­cies.

Gor­don Robin­son @TheTer­ri­bleTout:

Why ? Bcuz its al­ways been so? What are ‘lo­cal’ is­sues? Point is ‘lo­cal gov” sim­ply an

un­nec­es­sary cover for cor­rup­tion Griot @RealDut­tyMan: The roles have al­ways been de­fined, the thing is, MP’s have been ap­pro­pri­at­ing PC re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for years..For pop­ulist rea­sons, but ‘road, wa­ter and light’ is re­ally not their con­cern. Make pol­icy and write laws..

Gor­don Robin­son @TheTer­ri­bleTout: Pol­icy not MPs work .... Griot @RealDut­tyMan: Many par­ish coun­cilors win in PD’s that MP’s lose. Parochial elec­tions are much more in­ti­mate. That’s a fact

Gor­don Robin­son @TheTer­ri­bleTout:

We’re afraid to change any­thing. Why can’t MP’s rep­re­sent smaller ar­eas & elim­i­nate Coun­cllors? Griot@RealDut­tyMan: 1. I think we have too many MP’s. We don’t need more than 2 per par­ish. 28 max. 2. Coun­cilors are elected sep­a­rately with their own man­date. The is­sues that elect MP’s are not the same as those for coun­cilors ... .

Gor­don Robin­son @TheTer­ri­bleTout:

Oh yes they are. No “spe­cial” is­sues in any con­stituency not MP’s con­cern. C’llors help MP bcuz of con­stituency size. Griot@RealDut­tyMan: Ac­tu­ally, if you spent any time within the sys­tem, you’d know they are dif­fer­ent. MP’s get elected based on which party we want to lead, coun­cilors on their in­ter­ac­tion with the ppl.

Gor­don Robin­son @TheTer­ri­bleTout:

You’ve just ex­posed what’s so anti-demo­cratic about our pol­i­tics. MPs should be elected based on rep­re­sent­ing peo­ple, not party. Griot@RealDut­tyMan: Un­til we di­rectly elect a PM, it is what it is ... work with it or change it. Sim­ple. So then, we need to change it. There ex­ists a process...When it was govt roller and back­hoe, there was no ‘food’ to be eaten...No crumbs to have ..... Dis­man­tling PWD and us­ing con­trac­tors helped too... Coun­cilors used to be an un­paid po­si­tion, like a JP. When salaries got in­tro­duced is when cor­rup­tion started

I posit that there is NO con­stituency too large for ONE MP to han­dle. How many may­ors does NYC have?

I sup­pose I should’ve let @RealDut­tyMan in on the se­cret that New York City has only one mayor but also 51 coun­cil mem­bers (‘coun­cil­lors’ in Ja­maica); 27 rep­re­sen­ta­tives (“MPs” in Ja­maica), each rep­re­sent­ing a con­gres­sional dis­trict (‘con­stituency’ in Ja­maica), and two sen­a­tors. Not to worry: The good news is, cit­i­zens are think­ing and dis­cussing with the word ‘change’ fea­tur­ing in ev­ery dis­cus­sion. Po­lit­i­cal lead­ers might want to take note.

Re­gard­ing the al­legedly ‘sep­a­rate’ roles of MPs and coun­cil­lors, maybe it’s time to re­visit the PNP’s ap­praisal of its gen­eral elec­tion de­feat. Un­der the head­ing ‘MP and Coun­cil­lor Re­la­tion­ships’, the com­mit­tee found as fol­lows:

“(1) This was found to be a ma­jor cause of in­ter­nal dis­putes within con­stituen­cies and some elec­toral losses could be partly at­trib­uted to it.

(2) This par­tic­u­larly af­fects new MPs, es­pe­cially those who may not be grounded in the party’s tra­di­tions or who are parachuted into a con­stituency at ‘the last minute’.

(3) In many in­stances, there was very lit­tle col­lab­o­ra­tion and trans­parency be­tween MPs and coun­cil­lors in car­ry­ing out ac­tiv­i­ties and spend­ing re­sources ... . ”

Re­gard­ing (1) above, ob­vi­ously, the PNP doesn’t con­sider the roles of MPs and coun­cil­lors sep­a­rate. If MP-coun­cil­lor re­la­tion­ships can cause gen­eral elec­tion losses de­spite no coun­cil­lor run­ning for elec­tion, the roles must over­lap. So, @RealDut­tyMan’s ideal that “The is­sues that elect MP’s are not the same as those for coun­cilors ...”, al­though ad­mirable in the­ory (if Ja­maica was large enough to pro­duce such a mul­ti­plic­ity of ‘is­sues’), isn’t the re­al­ity.

Why con­tinue the farce of these sep­a­rate in­sti­tu­tions or elec­tions?

What is (2) above telling us? Rookie MPs have trou­ble con­trol­ling ex­pe­ri­enced coun­cil­lors, es­pe­cially those who may’ve ex­pected to be­come MPs but in­stead find them­selves hav­ing to play nanny to last-minute in­ser­tions (‘parachuted’) of po­lit­i­cal in­fants.

This is EX­ACTLY what’s been tak­ing place in South East St Ann since the re­tire­ment of po­lit­i­cal leg­end Sey­mour ‘Foggy’ Mullings and the “parachut­ing” of Aloun As­samba, a de­cent, hon­ourable, in­tel­li­gent can­di­date (and a com­mit­ted Com­rade) who was re­peat­edly vil­i­fied and un­der­mined un­til she sur­ren­dered. Since then, cer­tain am­bi­tions, en­cour­aged by “success” ban­ish­ing Aloun, were again crushed by a sec­ond “parachuted” can­di­date, Lisa Hanna. Un­for­tu­nately for the bit­terly dis­ap­pointed, Lisa has proven her­self no cream puff. She not only with­stood the vit­riol, but ce­mented PNP’s hold of a ‘safe’ seat.

When a party leader reaches the in­sanely in­con­gru­ous stage of: pub­licly cam­paign­ing for dis­si­dent coun­cil­lors in a con­stituency where the MP is solidly en­trenched; ap­pear­ing to threaten heck­lers ex­er­cis­ing their con­sti­tu­tional free­dom of ex­pres­sion; shriek­ing “ah soon come back & ah know who ah go­ing bring!”, sound­ing like in­tim­i­da­tion promis­ing stron­garm tac­tics to men­ace heck­lers, SOME­THING is surely rot­ten in the state of Den­mark AND the town of Clare­mont.

Re­mem­ber: “... If you want to dis­turb, you can dis­turb, BUT this woman come here with the blood of Nanny of the Ma­roon, the spirit of Mar­cus Mosiah Gar­vey, and this woman is not afraid of no man, nowhere, any­where ... “? (March 26, 2015; St George’s Epis­co­pal Church, New York City, in re­sponse to ‘gay-rights’ heck­lers).

Re­mem­ber: “Don’t draw my tongue! And don’t trou­ble this girl, be­cause I don’t ‘fraid a no man, no girl nowhere!”? (Septem­ber 15, 2002, in re­sponse to Aud­ley Shaw’s queries re­gard­ing al­leged ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties at the JTB)

THIS is at least the third oc­ca­sion THIS woman has ex­hib­ited THIS ten­dency to­wards pub­lic ‘trac­ing’ in re­sponse to be­ing asked to ac­count for pub­lic stew­ard­ship. She seems ob­sessed with prov­ing that she’s not afraid of any­body, but it’s be­gin­ning to sound like the lady doth protest too much. Me­thinks. THIS woman ap­pears to have mis­placed her self-con­trol. THIS woman, twice re­jected as PM, is dan­ger­ously close to paint­ing her­self as un­fit to lead.

In this con­text, the seem­ingly a-nuh-nut­ten ap­proach of the po­lit­i­cal om­buds­man, con­trast­ing starkly with her strong lan­guage against those threat­en­ing a CVM cam­era­man who filmed the incident, was ex­tremely re­veal­ing. Some­how, she ar­ranged her mind to miss the con­nec­tion be­tween those threat­en­ing the cam­era­man and the op­po­si­tion leader’s be­hav­iour, which catal­ysed the cam­era­man’s en­dan­ger­ment. Why’d you threaten the cam­era­man un­less you felt that he some­how at least em­bar­rassed your leader?

Con­trast Por­tia’s re­cidi­vist be­hav­iour with Mike Pence’s re­ac­tion to a scathing cri­tique (read by Bran­don Dixon) from the cast of pop­u­lar Broad­way play Hamil­ton im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing a per­for­mance that Pence at­tended with his chil­dren. Pence was re­port­edly on his way to the lobby by the time Dixon be­gan de­liv­er­ing the state­ment, but paused to hear it through be­fore leav­ing the theatre. Pence him­self told Fox News: “I did hear what was said from the stage. I can tell you, I wasn’t of­fended ... . ” He also said: “My daugh­ter and I and her cousins re­ally en­joyed the show. Hamil­ton is just an


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