PORTIA, LISTEN TO THE SOUNDS OF FREEDOM!

My November 6 Column proposing the abolition of local government attracted plenty feedback but none more interesting than from one concerned citizen Twitter handle @RealDuttyMan.

I’ve edited the following conversation to pay due respect to the Gleaner God of word count:

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. 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……

Gordon Robinson@TheTerribleTout:

…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:

….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…

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:

….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?”

Jamaicans 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/Councillors, maybe it’s time to revisit PNP’s Appraisal of its General Election defeat. Under the heading “MP and Councillor Relationships”, the Committee found:

“(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, PNP doesn’t consider MPs/Councilors’ roles separate. If MP/Councilors’ relationship can cause general election losses despite no councilor running for election, their roles must overlap. So, @RealDuttyMan’s ideal that “The issues that elect MP’s are not the same as those for councillors…” although theoretically admirable, isn’t the reality.

Why continue the farce of these separate institutions/elections?

What is (2) above telling us? Rookie MPs have trouble controlling experienced Councilors especially those who 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 happening in South-East St Ann since Aloun Assamba, a decent, honourable, intelligent candidate (and a committed Comrade) was “parachuted” to replace political legend Seymour “Foggy” Mullings.  Internal constituency forces worked tirelessly to banish Aloun and, since succeeding, certain ambitions were encouraged.  A second “parachuted” candidate, Lisa Hanna crushed those ambitions. 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.

Now we witness the insanely incongruous caricature of a PNP Leader, apparent frustration boiling over, using threatening tone and language to hecklers exercising their constitutional freedom of expression including shrieking “ah soon come back & ah know who ah going bring!”.  She warned “This is one woman who never run from a fight from anyone. Don’t joke wid me…Don’t try it wid me! I don’t allow anyone to disrespect me anywhere!  I represent one of the strongest constituencies in Jamaica, DON’T PLAY WID ME!”  If these can’t be interpreted as threats, my mother is a man.

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 Georges 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 JTB)

THIS is at least the third occasion THIS woman has exposed THIS tendency towards public tracing in response to being asked to account for public stewardship.  She seems obsessed with proving 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, seems resolute to paint herself into the unfit-to-lead corner.

In this context, the seemingly ah-no-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 behavior which catalysed the cameraman’s endangerment.  Why’d you threaten the cameraman unless you feel he somehow at least embarrassed your leader?

As for Portia’s “Statement of regret” released late Thursday (and instantaneously “commended” by the Ombudsman as historic): Barf!  Regret? One regrets situations one didn’t cause. Portia owes Jamaica REMORSE (not “regret”) via a fulsome, unconditional apology. Note this senseless arrogance: “the notion that I threatened anyone wouldn’t be consistent with my own actions at the same meeting when I told supporters who were chanting ‘Lisa must go’ that I would not tolerate any disrespect of the MP’” DWL.

  1. Nobody accused Portia of threatening Lisa. It appeared she threatened the hecklers with future intimidation. Or was this a Freudian slip?
  2. If Portia threatened no-one what exactly does she “regret”? That people might have felt “discomfort”? Bah, Humbug!

Contrast Portia’s recidivist behavior with Mike Pence’s reaction to a scathing critique from the cast of popular Broadway Play “Hamilton” immediately following a performance that Pence attended with his children.  Pence was on his way to the lobby by the time Brandon Dixon began the statement but paused to hear it through before leaving the theatre.  Pence told Fox News “I did hear what was said from the stage. I can tell you I wasn’t offended…”  He said “My daughter and I and her cousins really enjoyed the show.  Hamilton is an incredible production; incredibly talented people. It was a real joy to be there. When we arrived we heard a few boos, and we heard some cheers. I nudged my kids and reminded them that’s what freedom sounds like.”

Portia pay attention. The Claremont hecklers were chanting the sound of freedom. You sounded like repression, fascism and narcissism.  If you don’t like the sound of freedom, Portia, it’s time to pack your bags and go.

Regarding (3) above:

Once again, PNP expressly acknowledges there’s no distinction among issues that elect Councilors and MPs. Furthermore, PNP is saying here that in “carrying out activities and spending resources” there should be “collaboration and transparency”.

So, why are we wasting over $2billion ($1.3b by EOJ alone) of limited resources on this desperate distraction called Local Government Election?  Already, we’ve pissed away $600 million on Crash Programme work.  WHY? Why not have one election with separate voting on the ballot for PM and MP (229 Constituencies; no Councilors)?  Thereafter allow PM to pick a cabinet from Jamaica’s best available talent regardless of political affiliation. MPs could focus on representation of smaller constituencies; monitoring Government; and passing laws for Jamaica’s good governance.

Why the stubborn resistance to change?  Is there a reason not spelt “C-O-R-R-U-P-T-I-O-N”?

Peace and Love

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