Is Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony ST. LUCA'S HAP­PI­EST EM­PLOYER?

Who would you pre­fer to watch on TV? Kenny’s An­gels or UWP mouth­piece Lionel El­lis?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - By Rick Wayne

Ahun­dred years ago it seems, hav­ing some­how ac­quired the du­bi­ous dis­tinc­tion of be­ing “the scourge of the John Comp­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion,” at any rate, “the scourge of John Comp­ton,” (in the 70s you couldn’t write a word crit­i­cal of “the mes­siah” with­out au­to­mat­i­cally ren­der­ing your­self a tar­get for his mur­der­ous min­ions . . . how sober­ing to note forty-some­thing years later that in this re­gard lit­tle has changed!) I re­luc­tantly quit as editor of Sir Gar­net Gor­don’s

Voice to be­come the premier’s press sec­re­tary, hatchet man, right hand man and all things in be­tween. Or so ran the tale.

In­escapable was the irony in the pub­lisher’s de­ci­sion to re­place me with one of the premier’s for­mer flak catchers, Wil­lie James. An in­ad­ver­tent co­me­dian who had imag­ined him­self the premier’s voice un­til cruel re­al­ity knocked the scales from his eyes, he had in­vented, doubt­less for the ed­i­fi­ca­tion and re­as­sur­ance of lost lambs: “This is Saint Lu­cia where we are happy!”

Ac­tu­ally, my new con­tract de­clared me the premier’s per­sonal as­sis­tant. I can­not be cer­tain af­ter all th­ese years but I seem to re­call it in­cluded such de­tails as could safely be placed on record. Only three peo­ple knew, or thought they knew, my true func­tion: to undo the dam­age to the premier’s pub­lic im­age—for which I was largely re­spon­si­ble (or so my pre­vi­ous em­ployer in­sisted) in readi­ness for the 1974 gen­eral elec­tions.

Un­for­get­tably stated in my con­tract was that I was an­swer­able only to the premier. In­deed I was free to do what­ever I imag­ined would guar­an­tee his re­elec­tion.

I had my own air­con­di­tioned premises on the plush top floor of the re­cently con­structed Mon­plaisir Build­ing on Brazil Street, well away from de­crepit Govern­ment Build­ings that housed gar­den-va­ri­ety civil ser­vants. I drove at pub­lic ex­pense my own Dat­sun hatch-back that I had brought with me from Cal­i­for­nia a cou­ple years ear­lier. My salary was paid out of the Con­sol­i­dated Fund, de­spite that the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion was as bliss­fully ig­no­rant of my em­ploy­ment as was Comp­ton’s Cab­i­net—save for Al­lan Bous­quet, the only mem­ber with whom the premier shared par­tic­u­larly sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion. (Does Earl Hunt­ley come to mind? Does Jack Gryn­berg?)

For pur­poses of the record, let me ad­mit I had given lit­tle thought to the rules of the pub­lic ser­vice when with per­verse glee I ac­cepted the job that had been cre­ated just for me, not­with­stand­ing my rep­u­ta­tion as Comp­ton basher extraordinaire. If my pub­lisher imag­ined my weekly crit­i­cism of govern­ment pol­icy was poi­son, it seemed the pol­icy maker had lit­tle trou­ble em­brac­ing the poi­son dis­penser. Not once dur­ing our two-day ne­go­ti­a­tions did the premier re­fer to my work at the Voice. For more on this in­trigu­ing episode, check It’ll Be Al­right in the Morn­ing, avail­able at Ama­ and from STAR Pub­lish­ing.

As I say, I knew noth­ing of the op­er­a­tions of the PSC and even less about the re­stric­tions on pub­lic ser­vice em­ploy­ees. I would learn soon enough, how­ever, and with equal mea­sures of amuse­ment and dis­may, when I sought to col­lect my first month’s salary at the Trea­sury, only to be cyn­i­cally in­formed by the ac­coun­tant gen­eral him­self that he was not au­tho­rized to hand me a red cent. When I con­fi­dently handed him my con­tract with the premier’s sig­na­ture a con­temp­tu­ous Frecks Fer­di­nand laughed in my face. Nev­er­the­less, I would be paid—if a lit­tle late.

As for my re­place­ment at the Voice, his first pub­li­ca­tion on as­sum­ing of­fice took the form of a poll that in­vited his read­er­ship to com­ment on “the is­sue of Mr. Rick Wayne as the Premier’s Per­sonal As­sis­tant.” Fol­low­ing, some choice re­ac­tions that ap­peared in the 9 July 1973 is­sue of the Voice.

Bank Clerk: “The govern­ment wanted to shut the man up for good.”

In­sur­ance Ex­ec­u­tive: “I am un­able to as­sess it com­pe­tently, yet it might have dual pur­pose with mer­its and de­mer­its. It is a pro­vok­ing af­fair.”

School Teacher: “If the job is per­ma­nent and should ap­ply to ev­ery premier that’s fine. I am both­ered be­cause I can see that Rick’s func­tion will con­flict with that of the pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cers.”

Doc­tor: “I am shocked rather than sur­prised, know­ing his views and how he has bit­terly op­posed the premier. It is al­most un­be­liev­able that he could now be­come Comp­ton’s lieu­tenant. The longer you live, the longer [sic] you learn.”

Ho­tel Ex­ec­u­tive: “I feel the premier is damned clever be­cause he nor I can be­lieve that one man can change so rapidly. I be­lieve Comp­ton thinks that if you can’t beat a man, make him join you!”

Me­chanic: “I have one word for it: pap­pyshow!”

It had never oc­curred to Wil­lie that I was best placed to ex­plain my con­tro­ver­sial

volte-face. The truth would emerge, nev­er­the­less, thanks again to It’ll Be Al­right in the Morn­ing.

The above is of­fered as fur­ther proof that the more things change, the more they re­main the same. On this Rock of Sages, any­way. On Mon­day morn­ing, some­what late in the day (word had been in the air at least two weeks ear­lier), Ja­dia JnPierre-Em­manuel is­sued the fol­low­ing pub­lic state­ment: “By now you should be aware I no longer serve as press sec­re­tary to the prime min­is­ter. In­stead, I will be as­sum­ing du­ties as Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Di­rec­tor for the Saint Lu­cia Labour Party, ef­fec­tive to­day. I wish to thank you for your un­wa­ver­ing sup­port over the last four years. I look for­ward to our con­tin­u­ing re­la­tion­ship, even in my new role.” In the cir­cum­stances, a cu­ri­ous state­ment.

I was es­pe­cially drawn to the last two sen­tences; in the first in­stance, to the words “your un­wa­ver­ing sup­port over the last four years.” The un­de­ni­able re­al­ity is that the “un­wa­ver­ing sup­port”—for which Da Jade was so thank­ful on Mon­day morn­ing— had al­ways been pre­dictably par­tial to what­ever em­anates from a well-oiled red mouth. Throw in pearly whites spaced to re­mind of Spar­row’s ir­re­sistible Bag Ah Sugar and voila, un­wa­ver­ing sup­port on tap.

As for the other ar­rest­ing se­cond sen­tence with its con­tra­dict­ing ref­er­ence to “our con­tin­u­ing re­la­tion­ship even in my new role,” it begs the ques­tion: Can

con­tin­u­ing and new in the same sen­tence make sense?

What will Da Jade hence­forth be do­ing as the Saint Lu­cia Labour Party’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor dif­fer­ent from what she had

The prob­lem is all in­side your head

She said to me The an­swer is easy if you

Take it log­i­cally I’d like to help you in your strug­gle

To be free There must be fifty ways

To leave your lover

---Paul Si­mon

done—I dare to say not with­out use­ful ef­fect, if only on some of the peo­ple all of the time—dur­ing her four years as the prime min­is­ter’s con­tracted press sec­re­tary, when she was com­pen­sated, with ad­di­tional fa­mous juicy perks, by tax­pay­ers red, yel­low and green? Alphonse Karr’s

the more things change . . . here comes to mind.

Dear fel­low time trav­eler, if you should lis­ten care­fully as you pe­ruse her fi­nal state­ment as the prime min­is­ter’s press sec­re­tary, you just might hear what sounded in my ear like Da Jade’s inim­itable know­ing gig­gle . . . Oh, but now I must pause. Ir­re­sistibly, I am drawn to Newsspin, with “spe­cial guest—the prime min­is­ter’s for­mer press sec­re­tary.” Like Arnold as The Ter­mi­na­tor, I prom­ise “ah’ll be back.”

And now, here I am again. Not un­ex­pect­edly, my dis­trac­tion turned out to be an in­ter­est­ing 30 min­utes or so. Un­de­ni­able are Da Jade’s nat­u­ral abil­i­ties. She has an un­canny way of know­ing which but­tons to press, and when. This be­ing the silly sea­son, she took full ad­van­tage of the prof­fered op­por­tu­nity for self-ad­ver­tise­ment, se­cure in the knowl­edge that the usual tun­nel-vi­sioned en­dorsers of en

rouge politricks had her back. Which is not to sug­gest she wasn’t care­ful to avoid such cards as might bring down the whole pack at the slight­est touch of a painted acrylic fin­ger­nail.

When her in­ter­viewer sug­gested her new as­sign­ment rep­re­sented some­thing of a de­mo­tion, Da Jade quickly switched to de­fen­sive hedge­hog mode. Upon be­com­ing his press sec­re­tary, she cooed, she had in­formed the prime min­is­ter— rem­i­nis­cent of Robert Lewis— that three years ser­vice was all she had to give. Her love for her work and her loy­alty to the SLP had nev­er­the­less in­ter­fered with her pledge. She had over­stayed for four years.

Of course, the more dis­cern­ing will re­al­ize Da Jade has come full cir­cle: from un­ti­tled di­rec­tor of SLP com­mu­ni­ca­tions (party pro­pa­ganda?) to the prime min­is­ter’s chief dis­sem­i­na­tor of govern­ment in­for­ma­tion (more pro­pa­ganda?) to the SLP’s di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions (still more party pro­pa­ganda?). A rose by any other name is still a rose . . . in the same way that a rouged-up porkie is still a porkie!

Da Jade took the op­por­tu­nity to con­firm her re­la­tion­ship with main­stream me­dia per­son­nel had al­ways been cor­dial, never mind her pub­lic state­ments had some­times been suit­ably para­phrased for con­sump­tion by FB-nat­ics and other so­cial-me­dia ver­min. Then of course there were the un­men­tion­able re­porters and oth­ers with (ahem!) per­sonal agen­das.

“Peo­ple are al­ways ask­ing me what is it be­tween Rick Wayne and me,” she chuck­led. Her Newsspin re­sponse was that she got along just fine with lo­cal press rep­re­sen­ta­tives, even some who are most crit­i­cal of the govern­ment. As for her em­ployer the prime min­is­ter, he re­mained, by Da Jade’s ac­count, as al­ways, ac­ces­si­ble to in­ter­view­ers.

With pal­pa­ble self­con­fi­dence she re­minded her in­ter­locu­tor that press sec­re­taries be­fore her had re­signed with­out any of the fuss that has ac­com­pa­nied her re­tire­ment, much of the crit­i­cism com­ing from Face­book mos­qui­toes.

RCI’s Cherry Ann had barely opened the lines when Da Jade took her first call, from a woman ever so grate­ful for Da Jade’s mar­velous ef­forts at ed­u­cat­ing Saint Lu­cians, es­pe­cially for al­ways hav­ing at hand “a pa­per” to val­i­date her pub­lic pro­nounce­ments. An­other caller, con­ceiv­ably from her party’s amen cor­ner, seemed to get car­ried away, to the ex­tent he de­clared him­self a ded­i­cated fol­lower of the red star.

I was her fourth caller. An un­abashed ap­pre­ci­a­tor of Da Jade’s more ob­vi­ous at­tributes, I re­peated ear­lier en­comi­ums in re­la­tion to her sense of duty and her un­de­ni­able loy­alty to her em­ployer. I also won­dered aloud how she man­aged not to be vis­i­bly em­bar­rassed by some of her reg­u­lar on-air pro­mot­ers, nearly all of whom sounded like bad read­ers of lousy scripts.

On a more se­ri­ous note, I re­minded her of my Thurs­day evening habit of openly invit­ing the prime min­is­ter to be my guest on TALK, to no avail. Da Jade laughed that off, as only Da Jade can laugh off mis­sions im­pos­si­ble. When I jok­ingly chal­lenged her as­ser­tion that press sec­re­taries be­fore her had re­signed with lit­tle pub­lic com­ment, she quickly re­called Ge­off Fedee.

“He left on com­ple­tion of his con­tract,” I pre­tended to counter. And Da Jade added: “You mean his con­tract was not re­newed. You for­got about Fedee, just like most peo­ple, be­cause he never made a mark.” I was tempted to cite two other names, both close to home, who had de­serted their prime min­is­ter, but I de­cided to save that for an­other show.

In­stead I asked Da Jade whether she had ever di­vulged to the par­tic­u­larly cu­ri­ous what lay be­tween her and a cer­tain jour­nal­is­tic horse­fly. Again she laughed that inim­itable laugh, then tossed the ball into my court. “Why don’t you tell them, Rick?” And I said: “The an­swer is ob­vi­ous. Ev­ery­one knows what lies be­tween you and Rick Wayne is your boss!”

Ear­lier there had been a to and fro about her suc­ces­sor who, as co­in­ci­dence would have it, is named Jade; Jade Brown. Un­til she re­lo­cated to the prime min­is­ter’s side, she had been a reporter and news pre­sen­ter at He­len Tele­vi­sion Sys­tem. Re­port­edly the move had in­spired much so­cial-me­dia buzz. Many con­trib­u­tors to the some­what sala­cious de­bate seemed to share the view that Ms Brown had never been a straight­shooter jour­nal­ist any­way; that she had merely con­firmed the pop­u­lar sus­pi­cion. Should I now say, bin there

dun that? Then again, as ear­lier in­di­cated, in my case the re­verse ap­plied. I had moved (in the pub­lic mind) from the sever­est of Comp­ton crit­ics to the premier’s be­hind-the-scenes ad­vi­sor. The un­proven case against Jade Brown was that fi­nally she had come out of the closet!

I doubt we’ve heard the last of this lat­est brouhaha. Me­dia As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Clin­ton Reynolds has ap­par­ently fu­eled the fire with his pub­lic state­ment that seemed to ques­tion whether Ms Brown is equipped to oc­cupy Da Jade’s va­cated seat—a shocker that prompted the lady to re­mind Reynolds it was for the prime min­is­ter alone to de­cide whether or not she was ap­pro­pri­ately equipped.

Mis­chief danc­ing in her eyes, Ms Brown added, on­cam­era: “Ob­vi­ously, the prime min­is­ter is sat­is­fied I have what he wants.”

In all events the rest of us had bet­ter stay in touch, if only to de­ter­mine how good a judge is the prime min­is­ter. It re­mains to be seen, too, whether Jade Brown turns out to be Ja­dia Lite!

Thou shalt not covet thy neigh­bor’s staff! Ad­mit it, you in­cor­ri­gi­ble Kenny An­thony de­trac­tors, your daily ex­co­ri­a­tions of the prime min­is­ter’s re­la­tion­ship with Walid Juf­fali, Jack Gryn­berg and Gil­bert Chagoury have less to do with ac­count­abil­ity than with a burn­ing de­sire to have Ja­dia ‘Da Jade’ Em­manuel and Jade Brown al­ways at your ser­vice!

Thou shalt not covet thy neigh­bor’s staff! Ad­mit it, you in­cor­ri­gi­ble Kenny An­thony de­trac­tors, your daily ex­co­ri­a­tions of the prime min­is­ter’s re­la­tion­ship with Walid Juf­fali, Jack Gryn­berg and Gil­bert Chagoury have less to do with ac­count­abil­ity than with a burn­ing de­sire to have Ja­dia ‘Da Jade’ Em­manuel and Jade Brown al­ways at your ser­vice!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.