#PNPLectureSeries


 

 

Editor’s note: Thanks to Jamaican Twitter for making this hashtag what it was. Your sense of humour helps to keep us all sane.

Maybe you were as confused as I was when you saw this Jamaica Observer headline: “Bunting to deliver lecture on ‘Divine Intervention'”.

Yeeeeah.

The actual topic is: The Underpinning of Crime in Jamaica from Quant to Kartel: The Need for Divine Intervention. The report quoted Jamaica Theological Seminary president, Rev. Garnet Roper, saying that it “promises to be informative”.

Right.

So, last evening, myself and others conceptualized what other lecture series may be forthcoming from members of the current administration. Ladies and gents, here they are:

*****

“A Pinch of Salt” – presented by Lisa Hanna

 “Holding Your Breath…For Better Governance” – presented by Noel Arscott

“Just Gimme Di Light” –  a symposium hosted by Phillip Paulwell (for a flat fee)

“On Rare Earth Metals and Number Portability: A Strategy for Growth and Development” – Phillip Paulwell

“Engineering JEEP, Convincing the Electorate their Lives will be Better” – sponsored by the NEC

“Total Recall: How The JEEP Should have worked and lessons from GM” – The JEEP Secretariat

“Logistics Hub – How to Lead Major Development Projects without Being Seen” – Anthony Hylton

“Managing Scandals” (Guest Lecturer: Olivia Pope)

“The Cuban Light Bulb Saga – I Did It My Way” (workbook “How many ways to screw in a lightbulb?” included)

“Ask the PNP: Political Communication in the 21st Century”  

“Coping with Erraticism in Parliament” – Keynote Speaker: Lisa Hanna

“Five fish and a Lizard: Chinese Edition” – presented by Omar Davies

“Who Ate My Rice? Questions from the Electorate” – featuring Roger Clarke

“Climate Change: Wah Name Suh?” – hosted by Bobby Pickersgill

“Are Your Lights On?” – Information session hosted by Phillip Paulwell

“101 Ways To Cook Bully Beef” (entrance fee – bring your own key)

“Same Problems, Same Cast – Maintaining Power in the Era of Youthfulness and Betty-Ann Blaine”

 “I Got 99 Bulbs and a TeleComm” by Phillip Paulwell

“How to eat oxtail instead of chicken back” – Roger Clarke

“Gastronomical Joys Amid Inflation & Devaluation” – Roger Clarke

“The Business of Beauty In An Economic Downturn” – address by Lisa Hanna

“Falling Dollar, Rising Blood Pressure: Balancing People’s Lives”

“The Great Wall From China”

“Cousin-ship and Progress In Contemporary Jamaica: How I Stumbled Upon Jamaica’s Sports Portfolio” – Natalie Neita Headley

Acing Austerity. Passing IMF Tests: What Bruce Failed to Do   

“Beyond Stewing Goats: How Beijing Conquered the Goat Islands” – presented by Omar Davies

“Destabilizing your country’s economy using the method” – with Omar Davis

“Tax Dem! My Legacy, Making Handcarts A Luxury” – with intro by “di same likkle bobo yout wah name Fitzroy”

“Symbolic Fees: Re-imagining  Garrisons, Power and Entitlement in the 21st Century” – Phillip Paulwell

“Battery life for Jamaica at 21%: Finding an outlet”

“100 Ways to Dagger a Nation” (not approved by the Broadcasting Commission)

“Frequent Flyer Miles: How to placate them with the JEEP from around the world”

“Mega What? Energy Efficiency and Productivity for Prosperous Jamrock”

“Loving the poor and other delusions” – keynote address by Portia Simpson Miller (also available on audiobook)

“How the Jamaican economy outpaced my girth – 1994 -2014” – presentation by Lloyd B. Smith

“Shape Bad Like”: A Biomedical Approach to Economic Analysis

“Marvanomics – A Grassroots Guide for Economic Expansion” – Portia Simpson Miller

“Contract Negotiation,  Speedy Implementation Tactics and More” – by Richard Azan

“How to reduce your JPS bill: a bridge to electricity”

“The Vine Intervention:Crime Solutions for our times”

“Bovine Intervention: Election promises for our times”

“From Here to Inflation”

“Trafigura: a case study in transparency”

“Chairman of the board: An effective and legal channel for cronyism”

“Steady Dollar Devaluation: Modern Growth Strategies” – Peter Phillips

“Going the distance: reducing jet lag while remaining ineffective”

“Budget Schmudget: Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”

“The Dark Side: an analysis of Jamaica’s Energy Policy”

“Ni Hao: 5 letters to economic salvation”

“JEEP: Distracting the People Six Weeks at a Time”

“Giving Exports the Edge: Rapid Currency Devaluation”

“Jobs, jobs, jobs and other sound bites that win elections”

“We Love Poor People. An Exploration of PNP Economic Policy through  the decades”

“Jamaica Employ: A Practical Solution for Skilled Labour Employment” 

“Dry Cry: Solving Jamaica’s Water Crisis”

“Eat Your Oxtail! Protecting the Have-Nots, Preventing the Consumption of Chicken Back by the Haves” – by Roger Clarke

“Whispers in the Dark: Energy Options for Jamaica”

“Let Them Eat Oxtail: Food Security in a Non-election Year”

“Descent into Nastiness: A Study of (mis)Management” – presented by the NSWMA

“They Can Always Move… and other creative problem solving approaches” – Chaired by Noel Arscott

“Failing Full Circle: The Jamaican Story from the Riverton Landfill to the Jamaica Stock Exchange” – Peter Phillips

“Come on baby light my fire: Modern Waste solutions” – Intro by  the NSWMA

“From Kern to Kartel: Justice For All”

“Soft Landings: Why we Love the Party” – A panel discussion with Easton, Jennifer, Collin, Garnet and Kern

“Borrowing Our Way Out of Debt: A We Fi Tell Yuh”

Portia’s Platitudes: The Platform of Parliamentary Power

“I’m Staying. And You’re Gonna Love Me.”

“Devaluation is a good thing: Economics in the spin cycle”

“Free Homes Win Elections: Winning Campaign Strategies”

“Pull Up To Mi Bumpa: an evaluation of traffic congestion in Portmore”

“Enemies of the State: Protecting Country and Fellow Men from Cameras, Mics and Opposition” – Portia Simpson Miller

“I am Woman hear me roar” – Marva, Portia and Lisa tell their stories

“Catch me if you can : correlations, coefficients & other statistical alignment between our athletes & the exchange rate”

“How we satisfied the IMF and killed the Middle Class”

Winging It: A guide to public governance and policy formation”

“Get Into Shape: Stop Looking Like The Economy” Fitness Tips w/ Dr. Dayton Campbell

“Call the Contractor: Infrastructure development” by Richard Azan

“From PJ to Azan: The Law Is Not A Shackle”

“You light up my life: Energy Saving Initiatives” by Kern Spencer

“Hair for Today/Tomorrow & Beyond – The Bang”  – by Portia Simpson Miller

“Prayer Fasting and Crime fighting” – Peter Bunting

“The 110m Dollar Dash” (intro by Merlene Ottey)

“Let them eat oxtail: National Nutrition Policy”

“Build and Squat” – presented by Richard Azan

“Carry Your Candle, Go Light Your Home” – Guest Lecturer: Kelly Tomlin

*****

Hope you enjoyed the series! See you next time!

Think, Jamaica.

– @MizDurie, @THINKJamaica

 

 

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Merry Christmas to all…

Image

Twas the night before Christmas

And all through the house 

Not a creature was stirring

Not even a mouse.

 

See, the money was tight

And hunger was a threat 

Considering the burden

That was Jamaica’s debt.

 

The sorrel soaked in wine

All throughout the year – 

It’s all some will be having

To drown out all their cares.

 

Forget the roast turkey

And ham with all the trimmings.

It’s Christmas on a budget

As we do compulsory “slimming”.

 

But the thing about Jamaica is

We never break under pressure.

This Christmas may be harsh

But we will always find the pleasure…

 

In sharing food and laughter

With loved ones so very dear.

We halt our troubles for a little while

And spread some Christmas cheer.

 

And yes, even though reality will set in again, 

And we’ll go back to lamenting our plight,

For now it’s “Merry Christmas to all…

And to all a good night.”

 

– @MizDurie, @THINKJamaica 

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Swearing-In Speech (Fixed) – by @cyopro

Photo credit: Jamaica Gleaner

Photo credit: Jamaica Gleaner

Editorial note: Most of us may have witnessed Prime Minister Simpson Miller’s inauguration address on January 5, 2012. In case you missed it, you may see it here, or read it here. However, since that time, the actions of the current administration under her leadership does not lend credence to the beautifully sounding words uttered that day. They say hindsight is 20/20. The short script below is what the speech may as well have been, given all that has unfolded over the past year and 10 months. This was done by writer and blogger, Claudia (@cyopro).

***

The Jamaican people have sent a clear message. They want better. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that. We will be a government that lacks transparency; that treats ppl with contempt. J’cans should expect nothing more.

By my watch, it is eat-a-food o’clock. We see your trust and we raise you our personal goals. Can you spell IWF?

If you don’t respect us? Pshhh! The nation’s biz is to mind its own business while we take care of our business. On my watch, we will turn a blind eye to corruption and stonewall every push for accountability. It is critical the J’can people understand we have our own agenda. (No Law & Order: SUVs.) A jus so di ting set.

Whether you want to believe this is up to you. Give us time. We are about to transform Jamaica.

***

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

THINK, Jamaica.

– @MizDurie, @cyopro, @THINKJamaica

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INDECOM

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Tweet by MP Damion Crawford

Between 1990 and 2000, according to official statistics, an average of 140 people were shot and killed per year by Jamaica’s police, a high figure in a country of only 2.6 million people. Between 2000 and 2002, the number of deaths rose to 150 per year and then, after decreasing slightly in 2003 and 2004, rose to 168 in 2005. With an additional 110 persons shot non-fatally by police in 2005, the total number of police shooting victims reached the highest level since 1991. All in all, between October 1999 and February 2006, at least 700 and possibly more than 800 persons died in the line of police fire. According to statistics of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, police shot and killed 272 people in 2007, 224 people in 2008, and 253 people in 2009.”

In 2010,police forces reportedly killed 385 persons; over one-fifth of those who died violently that year died at the hands of those with State-sanctioned authority and power

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: “Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Jamaica”, August 2012

***

The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) came into being on August 16, 2010, taking over the role of the Police Public Complaints Authority.

As the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) outlined, the situation in Jamaica has been tragic. Year after year, the number of reported deaths at the hands of the police increased. For victims’ families, there appeared to be little appearance of justice since, essentially, the police were left to investigate themselves. Before INDECOM, we were entrusting justice to those who allegedly committed the offence. Where was the assurance in this? Where was the objectivity? The oversight? The transparency?

This is what makes Member of Parliament for East Rural St. Andrew Mr. Damion Crawford’s tweet so unpalatable and unfortunate. It appears to lack sensitivity to people who are still grieving; people who are STILL waiting on justice.

Other Jurisdictions

The existence of an independent police oversight body isn’t unique to Jamaica.  Ours isn’t the only jurisdiction that saw the need for one.

Canada

Canada has at least 15 civilian oversight bodies for police conduct with Ontario alone having three.

Ontario’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) is a “civilian law enforcement agency, independent of the police, that conducts criminal investigations into circumstances involving police and civilians that have resulted in serious injury, death or allegations of sexual assault. In the course of its investigations, the Unit gathers and assesses evidence, and the Director of the SIU decides whether or not the evidence leads to the reasonable belief that a criminal offence has been committed. If the Director forms such a belief, she or he shall lay a criminal charge against the officer(s), and that charge will then be prosecuted by the Crown Attorney.  If the Director does not form such a belief, she or he cannot lay a criminal charge against the office(s).

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) is described as “an arms-length agency of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, staffed entirely by civilians“. Additionally, they outline that their goal is “to provide an objective, impartial office to receive, manage and oversee the investigation of public complaints against Ontario’s police. The OIPRD also investigates some public complaints.”

United States

It is estimated that in the U.S. there are over 100 municipalities with some form of external oversight for police conduct (Bobb, 2005)

For example, in New York City there exists the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which handles complaints regarding four types of alleged police misconduct – force (including deadly force), abuse of authority, discourtesy, and offensive language. The NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board was established as an all-civilian agency in 1993.

England and Wales

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is a body independent of the police and government, and sets the standard by which police complaints are handled. The nature of complaints that should be referred to the IPCC include conduct that has led to someone dying or being seriously injured, serious assault, serious sexual offence, serious corruption, criminal offence or behaviour that would lead to misconduct proceedings and that is aggravated by discriminatory behaviour on the grounds of a person’s race, sex, religion or other status (http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/complaints/referral).

(…and closer to home) Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago has the Police Complaints Authority, described as “an independent corporate body mandated, among other things, to investigate complaints within its remit without the involvement of the police“.

So what’s Jamaica’s problem? If the standard internationally is to establish independent oversight for police conduct, why are we attempting to avoid this?

Mawby and Wright (2005), in their report entitled Police Accountability in the United Kingdom, noted that accountability in the police force remains significant. They highlighted two main reasons pertinent to the context of human rights:

  1. The paradox of police governance: There is a need to balance the unwarranted exercise of coercive power by the police with enabling their effective operation
  2. Policing is political: Policing is about the exercise of power and there are competing options for policing priorities and style

In striking the tenuous balance in point #1, and especially given the context of power inherent in policing (point #2), it makes complete sense to have an INDEPENDENT oversight body to ensure that human rights are protected while high standards of police conduct are maintained during operations.

Between July and October 2013, 80 civilians were killed by agents of the State.

Think, Jamaica.

– @MizDurie, @THINKJamaica

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“Improved” and “Inspired”?

Achievement sticker

When I first heard that Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller would be inducted in the International Women’s Forum (IWF) Hall of Fame, the first thing that I uttered (and sadly so) was, “For what?” Friends, it was an honest question. I wasn’t clear as to the criteria for the award, and when I saw what they were my next (equally honest) response was “But…how?”

I didn’t get it. And to this point I’m still wondering what I have missed. Please, before the choir starts singing their latest rendition of “Bun Badmind” and the like, let me say this: to have become Jamaica’s first female PM is quite an accomplishment, and should  be acknowledged for the achievement that it is. The problem I have, however, is that the conversation tends to stop there. I have said it in a elsewhere, and I’ll say it here: Women did not push to break the glass ceiling just to settle for being mediocre.

It is reported that the award “pays tribute to the impact that women of courage, creativity and passion have made towards improving society and inspiring others” (Jamaica Gleaner, October 17, 2013). How has Jamaica improved as a nation under the leadership of Mrs. Simpson Miller? To what extent, exactly, have we been inspired? Too vague?

Okay, quite simply then – what are we proud of? Is it the dollar that is JMD$105.16:USD$1 (at this moment, because it will change again tomorrow. #Unstable)? Hmmm? Is it the stench of alleged political impropriety that currently plagues members of the PM’s party (herself included *cough* TRAFIGURA *cough* – #DontAskMe)? Is it the jalopy called “JEEP”, or its underdeveloped cousin “JE” (Jamaica Employ)? Is it the plummeting consumer and business confidence? It’s not the 16.3% unemployment, is it (story here)? Or is it her “coy way of dealing with the media” (read: silence). Perhaps it is her regard for those whom she was elected to serve, choosing to speak to them only if it is “absolutely necessary”. (Ugh! Minions! *rolls eyes*) Oh! You know what it is? It HAS to be Jamaicans’ new exotic palette for delicacies such as mongoose and (endangered) crocodiles. Or maybe, just maybe it’s for her advocacy for gay rights, as this video tells us…

Or maybe not. :-/

Speaking of which – remember that TIME Magazine “People of the Year” award? As it turned out, sometime in May 2012 the PM’s press secretary Lincoln Robinson suggested that the premise for which the PM was nominated “did not accurately reflect the prime minister’s response on the issue during the leadership debate prior to the December 29, 2011 general election.” You may find the story here.

So…there’s also that.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this isn’t another case of the statement not “accurately [reflecting]” the PM’s intent, response, dream, wish, desire, leadership capabilities…

*catches breath*

But then again…

And as I write I’m really trying to think of what her legacy will be. What will it be???

Jamaica, YOU be the judge.

– @MizDurie, @THINKJamaica

#THINKJamaica #AreYouProudMadamPM #IWF2013

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The Writing on the Wall

wall-writing

“Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting” – Daniel 5: 27 (The Bible, NIV)

The ugliness of the state of governance in Jamaica was captured in news headlines this week. Back-to-back news reports uncovered the true nature of the beast, which could no longer hide behind platitudes of “commitment to transparency and accountability”.

On Tuesday, September 17, 2013, The Office of the Contractor General (OCG) tabled two reports in Parliament highlighting that two members of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller’s Cabinet acted with impropriety in recent matters of public affairs.

Richard Azan, Junior Minister in the Ministry of Transport and Works was said to have acted in a “politically corrupt” manner (according to the OCG report) when he made arrangements for, and facilitated the building of ten shops in the Spalding Market without proper authorization.

In a separate report, the OCG concluded that Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM), Phillip Paulwell, improperly interfered with the bidding process for the right to supply 360 megawatts of power to the national grid.

It’s bad enough that these events actually happened. And a fair expectation of the Jamaican people of these public servants is that they excuse themselves of the honour of serving having brought DISHONOUR to their office. But this conduct is only the tip of the iceberg of contempt for Jamaicans.

The response to these matters of national (and critical) importance by the Government of Jamaica is repulsive. The OCG reports were tabled in Parliament on Tuesday. These reports implicate two Cabinet Ministers. The job of a Government Minister is not a 9-5 one. One could reasonably expect that an emergency meeting would have been called Tuesday evening into Tuesday night (or even early Wednesday morning) in order to address, in short order, a nation that has heard the utterly embarrassing news that TWO GOVERNMENT MINISTERS acted in a manner that dishonoured their office. How could the Government deem it acceptable to tell the nation on Wednesday, September 25, at the weekly Jamaica House Press Briefing that they are not able to comment at this time? Instead, we hear that they are still reviewing the reports, and at least one of the gentlemen (Mr. Azan) is being GIVEN TIME TO CONSULT WITH HIS LAWYERS.

In a CVM TV news report on Wednesday the PM reportedly said “I can’t say as I do not know what is going to happen. It is referred to the DPP so I have to wait and see what happens”. So much for “zero-tolerance approach to corruption”. I guess that was all drivel, then.

But the contempt did not stop there. Mr. Phillip Paulwell did not miss a beat in rebuffing the OCG’s report stating that, “We cannot have the OCG derailing this matter again. It has to go forward” (as reported in The Jamaica Gleaner). Sounds familiar? It should. In April 2012 the Jamaica Gleaner reported that Dr. Omar Davies “has declared the administration will not allow the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) to be a stumbling block in the engagement of private entities as the state moves to take advantage of investment opportunities”. I assume we’re familiar with the court matter that ensued as a result. The OCG is once again viewed by this administration as a stumbling block. Never mind that in the leadership debate of 2011, Mrs. Simpson Miller had promised to strengthen the OCG. Her exact words?

“When I’m returned to power as Prime Minister, I will ensure the strengthening of these institutions like the Office of the Contractor General, and all the institutions having to investigate corruption and deal with corruption when they are reported.” (Jamaica Leadership Debate – comment at 9:15)

And Richard Azan? His response to his matter was, “They [constituents] are in a better place today, and if I was politically corrupt in doing that, I don’t mind it” (as reported in this Jamaica Gleaner report today). Right. So if I am hungry and I walk on a man’s property and steal some mangoes off his tree, as long as I am fed and “in a better place” nutrition-wise, there is nothing wrong, correct? How about if I don’t have a place to live and I see an open property available. It’s been vacant for years and I don’t know of anyone claiming ownership. I can just go ahead and build a little shelter there without authorization – a place to live and call home, right? Because, after all, I’ll be “in a better place”. There’s a place for laws and regulations. I am now beginning to wonder if Jamaica is such a place considering the actions of our own legislators.

But the icing on the cake? The ghost of Trafigura (here is one news report back in October 2006 on the matter, if you needed a quick reminder). Today news broke that “The Constitutional Court has just dismissed an application challenging an order for the Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and other People’s National Party (PNP) members to answer questions under oath in court in the Trafigura case” (Jamaica Gleaner, September 20, 2013). After all the stench of corruption we’ve had to endure this week, this one comes back to remind us of past misdeeds. It’s like an omen, really.

The writing’s on the wall for your administration, Madame PM.

“You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting”.

TEKEL.

@MizDurie, @THINKJamaica

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On the OCG’s findings on that (troublesome) Azan matter

On Tuesday, September 17, 2013, the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) released a 140-page report on its investigation on the construction of wooden shops at the Spalding Market.

A few things from the report:

  • Bryant’s construction won a bid to rehabilitate the Spalding Market. However, this rehabilitation did not include the construction of wooden shops (pg. 13).
  • The construction of the shops occurred without the knowledge and approval of the Clarendon Parish Council (pg. 14).
  • The OCG concludes, based on the testimonies of Mr. John Bryant, Councillor Trevor Gordon and the Hon. Richard Azan, himself, that “the Hon. Richard Azan, invited the Contractor to erect the shops or facilitated the erection of the shops without the consent and/or approval of the Clarendon Parish Council” (pg. 14).

The OCG directed our attention to Transparency International’s definition of political corruption, and added that:

A such careful consideration must then be given to the incidence of the perception of political corruption and the degree of political interference which forms the basis of the erection of the shops at the Spalding Market. Whilst the Jamaican legislative framework and regulations do not make reference to the issue of Political Corruption, its relevance and foreseeable implications to the governance framework in Jamaica can neither be discounted nor ignored.

I will not attempt to determine what the intent of Mr. Azan was in facilitating the arrangement of the unauthorized construction of wooden shops at the Spalding Market. Based on what we have seen in the report, it appears that there was “a manipulation of policies, institutions and rules of procedure in the allocation of resources…” And it appears that there was an “abuse of power” (Transparency International, “FAQs on Corruption“). But the why…was it “to sustain power, status and wealth”? This, I cannot determine.

I will ask this, however: Why didn’t Azan simply facilitate the construction of wooden shops at the Spalding Market in line with current laws and regulations? And if the issue is time it would take due to the bureaucracy involved, why not address this in parliament and facilitate the passing of legislation which would better facilitate doing business in Jamaica? You know…in line with the PM’s spiel about “Jamaica: open for business” (or something to that effect)?

Something to ponder…

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