This morning, the 16th annual Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run 2014 took place in the city of Kingston. Organizers say 22,368 people took part and that it raised J$20 million. It’s certainly the biggest charity run in the city; these events have become very popular in recent years. Sigma is so big that I understand it’s a major social event, for those who aren’t so interested in exerting themselves: I saw reports of runners wearing “red Chanel lipstick” and marriage proposals, en route…
The Government completely dropped the ball on the Jamaican bobsled team. Yes, I know I am biased but since they first qualified for the Sochi Winter Olympics I have been so excited about them! As I noted in earlier blogs, this was a tailor-made marketing opportunity for the Jamaica Tourist Board etc to use our tax dollars for a good purpose. The bobsled team basically marketed themselves – and Jamaica - regardless, with a great deal of help from the media. The New York Times, LA Times and many other traditional and online media have written glowing reports. Volunteers have been begging photo-ops with the team and enthusiastic tweets from all over the world have been pouring in. What a missed opportunity. Oh, you don’t remember “Cool Runnings”?
The Contractor General has got his way and will now have meeting notes of the Constituency Development Fund committee for perusal. This despite the protests of MP Everald Warmington, who once famously said, “The contractor general’s office is a creature of Parliament. Parliament is not a creature of the contractor general.” He protested again, in vain this time. I wonder why politicians on both sides of the House of Representatives have such a niggling distrust of the Contractor General?
And yes, Minister Azan, bureaucracy is a real pain. But it cannot be used as an excuse to bypass the rules and regulations – isn’t that called corruption? The “re-energized” Junior Transport Minister, who returned to his job recently, assures us: “Whatever I am doing now, especially as it relates to the Government, everything has to be in writing.” That’s good to know, Minister Azan. Good to have things in writing. Wow.
Talking of corruption: What has happened to the Trafigura investigation by Dutch authorities? Weren’t government ministers subpoena’ed to testify in court, or did I imagine it? I see Trafigura made a hefty profit last year, and that questions are being raised about their dealings in Zambia.
Is this democracy? We have a Local Government Minister, but it doesn’t seem to have helped the situation in the Municipality of Portmore. The former Mayor, George Lee (the only Mayor in Jamaica to be directly elected) passed away last September. No council meetings took place for the rest of the year. Not sure if Opposition Local Government spokesman Desmond McKenzie has tabled questions on this in Parliament. It just doesn’t seem right, with no mayoral election in sight after five months.
The “frequent flyer” debate has taken on such a partisan political flavor that the key point – that of our Prime Minister’s accountability to taxpayers – has been submerged. Representatives of the Two Tribes did a lot of point-scoring on CVM Television’s “Live at Seven” last week. The Prime Minister continues to refer to the issue in every single speech she makes at various events round the island (she has been reading out more speeches, lately). It’s all too much.
The “too many kids” debate also drags on. You might want to consider youth commentator Jaevion Nelson’s response. He joins the chorus of critics of Senator Ruel Reid’s suggestion that there should be a limit on Jamaica’s fertility: http://jaevion.blogspot.com/2014/02/abort-that-idea-heres-some-info-you.html Mr. Nelson says Senator Reid based his comments on erroneous information and has shown his ignorance of sexual and reproductive health issues in Jamaica. Perhaps we should not be distracted from the fact that we have a growing aging population, and worry about that instead. But no one is discussing that, it seems.
Huge kudos to…
Jamaican writers and creative people in general, who attended the “Talking Trees” Literary Festival, as well as “Arts in the Park” - both in Kingston. We city-dwellers are lucky – I hope the rest of the island enjoys some live cultural events. I know “Fi Wi Sinting,” a fantastic annual celebration of our African heritage in Portland, which takes place in Black History Month. It has suffered from some rain today, I understand.
Helen Williams (pen-name Billy Elm) lives in Montego Bay, and she’s a children’s writer. She does a lot of readings in local schools. Here is her account of one on her blog: http://marogkingdom.blogspot.com/2014/02/reading-delroy-in-marog-kingdom-at.html Keep the book flag flying, Billy Elm! And special kudos to her daughter Clara Brydson, furniture designer and entrepreneur, whose VintEdge Swank is worth investigating! For more details contact Clara at www.facebook.com/vintedgeswank, email: email@example.com, or call (876)-771-7881.
Yolandie Bailey, a young mother in Islington, St. Mary, just because she is obviously a very kind woman. You can read her story here: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Young-Islington-mother-gives-back-to-community_16068680
Since yesterday, my Twitter timeline has been filled with commentary on a murder trial in Florida (the infamous “stand your ground” law, which has got to go!) I am, quite frankly, much more concerned about the flood of horrors right here in Jamaica in the past few days, including:
A mentally ill man cut the throat of another mentally ill inmate in the Dickensian (yes, it is) Tower Street Correctional Facility in downtown Kingston. Both the alleged murderer and his victim had already been charged with murder but were deemed “unfit to plea.” Then what were they doing in prison? They should have been in a mental institution. This is tragic and possibly the tip of the iceberg. How many mentally challenged inmates languish in our prisons? Does the government have a policy on this?
On Thursday evening, armed men invaded a Valentine’s Day party on Banana Street in Kingston’s McIntyre Villa (called “Dunkirk”) and killed a man and an infant. A short distance away and a short time after, armed men from Banana Street, seeking revenge, shot and seriously injured a couple who were trying to protect their two-month-old child from a “revenge infanticide.”
A woman was chopped and beheaded allegedly by a former partner in the Mountain View area of Kingston late last night. Since last year, there have been increasing numbers of women murdered by abusive partners or jealous former partners in Jamaica. Often the families are aware of the abuse but do not report it.
I think that’s enough, but I could go on. My condolences to the grieving families, who are left to suffer and mourn. The following names are of those Jamaicans who have been killed in the past four days:
“Damar,” McIntyre Villa, Kingston
Trejaun Harvey, 17 months, McIntyre Villa, Kingston
Unidentified man, Tower Street Correctional Facility, Kingston
Karen Rainford, 34, Backbush/Mountain View Avenue, Kingston
Damion Hemmings, 25, Southborough/Portmore, St. Catherine
Jimony Powell, 17, Bendon District, Clarendon
Roderick Murray, 27, Hopewell, Hanover
Cindy Campbell, 40, Hopewell, Hanover
Killed by the police:
Jason Williams, 22, Browns Gully/Morant Bay, St. Thomas
Jerome Williams, 20, Browns Gully/Morant Bay, St. Thomas
On the road: Retired Police Inspector Arnold Steer was a passenger in a car that went off the road in Philadelphia, St. Ann. He died from his injuries. A teenager Malcolm Whyte, a student of St. Andrew College, was reportedly hit off his motorbike by a police car and killed during a chase in Kingston.