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Head of PMO dismissed without cause - the Premier laments

Head of PMO dismissed without cause – the Premier laments

by Bennette Roach

It was shocking news that “the Head of the Project Management Office (PMO) has been relieved of his duties.” One witness to the action being conducted, described it as he was “frogged marched” by a person with military background who demanded that he follow and leave his office in the Ministry of Finance.

Carl Gomersall

This gentleman, head of the PMO had come to be very highly respected because of keenness to his duties and his great desire to see the work of his office bring results quickly for Montserrat. A very appreciative Premier Donaldson Romeo, had waited long for this kind of assistance, similar to that provided by the trio Kimbugwe, Greenaway, and Meade, not forgetting Governor Davis, arranged meetings where both Mr. Carl Gomersall and Chief Executive Adviser Raja Kadre explain to private sector and public sector personel the duties and expectations of his office. (See today’s Editorial)

Among his initial achievements he had already put in place in a short space of time, new high-transparency, high-accountability frameworks for project, programme and portfolio management through world-class standards based on the PRINCE2 project management system. (see: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part-13-2017-prince2-and-moving-towards-an-economy-transformation-programme/ )

 He had also been making contributions to developing key development projects such as the Sea Port breakwater initiative.

In our introduction story of Mr Carl Gomersall published last February, we said, “the head of the recently established PMO for the Government of Montserrat (GoM) is promoting that transparency and quality assurance are two fundamental principles that would guide the operations of the government…”

He had spoken to the principles that were to guide his office. He began saying “the PMO serves as an instrument within the Ministry of Finance with a mandate to support the government’s development agenda.”

He said in addition: Assisting, cooperating, supporting I think that’s more the role that the PMO will have because the PMO is in actual fact an instrument,” he said. “It’s a little bit like a tool that the Premier and the Office of the Premier will actually be utilizing in fulfilment of the actual vision, the mission and the strategies that have actually been put forward and how they will be cascaded down in to the deliverables,” he continued.

Gomersall said that his focus will be on the deliverables. “But,” he said, “at the same time these deliverables are not just construction projects. These deliverables are all part of the development, so, in terms of what we are here, we’re looking at providing the opportunity to people to learn more about project management, to learn more about program management and to assist them in understanding…”

In May, The Premier Donaldson Romeo, arranged meetings with stakeholders where both the PMO Head and the Chief Economist Mr Raja Kadre explained to private sector and public sector personnel the duties, plans and expectations of his office. He, Gomersall had already put in place new high-transparency, high-accountability frameworks for project, programme and portfolio management through world-class standards based on the PRINCE2 project management system. He had also been making contributions to developing key development projects such as the Sea Port breakwater initiative. 

But not atypical according to reports, concurred by two top officials, egos, hunger for power, corruption and the problem now so endemic, have reached unprecedented, surprising levels.

The Premier (overseas at the time when advised of the official firing occurred) has claimed ignorance to the eventual firing of Gomersall, said he had advised against any rash action without ‘due process’ in dealing with matters he had heard of. He said he was surprised when he was advised of the firing.

We confirm the ZJB report of the firing which said, among other corruptible stories we have learnt “sources told ZJB News that Carl Gomersall had been engaged in a number of breaches of protocol on several occasions.

That report went on to say that, “sources have revealed that Gomersall was found to be transmitting data and other confidential information of Government of Montserrat directly to the Department for International Development (DFID) and other unauthorized sources.”

We further learnt Gomersall had at some point resigned in protest and communicated his reasons to relevant parties. He was then persuaded to return. Such facts suggest that the manner of his recent firing by being frog marched out of his office raises questions of ‘whistleblower retaliation’, a suggestion from sources close to these matters.

Further investigation of the sources made a contrasting comparison where an earlier import employee had been dismissed for misrepresenting instructions, information and discussions of Government to London damaging the running of affairs in Montserrat. The judgment of these sources informed that was in stark contrast to that complaint that has surfaced.

It is however our information that Gomersall was not communicated with information for his being frogged marched from his office, but rather that the Governor’s office had indicated he was being dismissed under a ‘no fault clause’ of his contract.

In the end and while protests of one kind or another is ensuing, Gomersall has engaged legal representation to take the matter to the courts as necessary.

The Premier has expressed displeasure at losing an employee of the caliber and service GOM has already received from Gomersall, acknowledging he is aware of matters which had been dealt with, such as disagreements involving the Hon. Financial Secretary who officials say may have initiated ‘complaints’ that resulted in the firing of Gomersall.

Our further information is that underlying all that has been hinted to the public is the corruption that has been rife among some very top officials in the Government. Gomersall it is reported to have been quick to highlight wrong doings and potential wrong doings. It is said he is paying the price for wanting good for Montserrat.

TMR has been informed that Mr Gomersall has engaged legal representation to take matters to the court as necessary.

 

 

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PDM deceptors some - web

Premier Romeo fires Minister Hogan, replaced by Osborne

By Bennette Roach

Initially creating the potential for the dissolution of parliament and new General Elections

A storm more critical to the overall future of Montserrat ensued while this newspaper was about to feature the previous week’s disastrous visit of hurricane Irma that left deaths and near total destruction to some of our close neighbours and sister Overseas territories.

This presentation is different as we have not been able to publish (in print or online) as a result of Hurricane Maria’s visit and passage, that finished off some from Irma’s visit and adding to the disaster to the northern Caribbean.

Some PDM team at the start of their governing stint – l-r: Hons. Ryan, Hogan, Lewis (ministers) Willock (standing Duberry un-elected) and Premier Romeo. On the Warren Cassell ZJB radio show

Romeo (with three Ministers) was sworn into office in September 2014, after leading the People’s Democratic Movement of Montserrat (PDM) to victory defeating the incumbent Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP) – 7-2 headed by Premier Reuben T. Meade. (None of the independents were considered. The result was mainly due to the top class winning campaign strategy conducted by Dr. Newton Isaac, which afterwards had been surprisingly discounted by some of the beneficiaries.)

I was seeking clarification from Premier Romeo about what the now relieved Minister of Agriculture and Environment, Claude Hogan had said on Thursday, Sept. 14 as reported by ZJB Radio regarding, “where there is smoke there is fire”; following reports that were rampant especially after the Minister had also denied there were plans afoot to replace Romeo as the party observed its third anniversary in office from Sept 12, 2014.

Hon. Claude Hogan speaking at Gap Analysis workshop

Premier Romeo briefly explained how he was accosted by members at what was supposed to be a ‘house party’ then showed me his statement prepared for the media as he waited for the Instrument of Revocation of Minister Hogan’s appointment to the said Ministry to be delivered to the Minister.

He announced he had just held a meeting with his Ministers and other members of his government, where he advised that he was revoking Minister Hogan’s appointment, and that he had asked one of the two Parliamentary Secretaries backbenchers to accept the vacant ministry. That was Hon. David Osborne who was eventually sworn in as a Minister, replacing Hogan on September 21, one week later as the Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Lands, Housing and the Environment in accordance with 33(2) of the Montserrat Constitution Order 2010.

Delmaude Ryan

Paul Lewis – CSA president at CPSA 2012 Convention in Montserrat

There had been several stories (rumours some turned out to be) of what transpired leading up to the firing of Hogan. This being correct, that a contingent of persons comprising On. Hogan, Hon. Minister Paul Lewis; Hons. David Osborne and Gregory Willock, to H E Governor Elizabeth Carriere where they informed her that they have among other things lost confidence in Premier Romeo and wish to replace his leadership. What was not correct is that Hon. Ingrid Buffong, independent, had failed to show to join these four, moments before she was on her way to exit Montserrat to pursue her Chevening scholarship. Nearer the truth is that she had actually turned them down and promised to the Premier, her belief in his efforts, but informing party leaders of the threat. Also dubious, with conflicting information, that Hon. Delmaude Ryan was named as supporting the four while with the Governor.

Earlier this had prompted a reminder of the post-election 2006 debacle when talks between Chief Minister elect by the NPLM group and the MCAP four elected members broke down. Following that one member of that party had then sought to put together a team of at least five persons to approach the Governor, Deborah Barnes Jones. That MCAP member, not the then leader Roselyn Cassell-Sealy, had approached former CM David Brandt who was then just reelected after he had not contested the 2001 elections to complement this new group. Reportedly Brandt gave his positive response but was at the moment preparing to join Lewis and the three NPLM members to form the new Government.

The four-member grouping on this occasion, according to one credible report had actually been waiting in expectation for the Premier to join them as he was to admit to the Governor his agreement to step aside, allowing someone else to take on the helm.

Investigations have shown that at least two of these persons, the numbers and individuals changing at times, do not attend some of the Party’s caucus meetings under new chairmanship since Hon. Shirley Osborne quit that position when she became the new Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

Further information, but uncorroborated, was that Hon. Dr. Sammy Joseph was later approached to make up the team, but declined as one had heard former MCAP leader R T Meade had said repeatedly his party would not be involved in any such ‘shenanigans’ and that the PDM party should get their act together (the real difficulty PDM faced from early) and try and get the island on a better footing. But who knows, circumstances change and opportunities when available, may see strange reverses.

ZJB carried the following conversation with Claude Hogan and also Gregory Willock. Hogan said: “I am not confirming anything like vote of no confidence or soon because that comes as a matter of Parliament. We have not gone there yet,” he said, even as he told radio listeners “where there is smoke there must be fire’.

He refers to the ‘caucus’ – “This is one of the problems I have in respect of some of my caucus members. It’s just like you cannot express yourself about reformation or changes that you think on this third anniversary would make us more resilient,” but continued, “Of course, you have to have these discussions. I don’t want the people to see it like we are trying to overthrow or remove anybody. We are having discussions about what we need to do different and we can’t fire the Premier. The Premier can fire each and every one of us, I want to make that very clear.”

“But we have to force him to come to the table with us to decide what does he think, what would he agree with in the context of our discussions that are the new things we need to do,” Hogan said.

The question who everyone asks, all of whom believe he should have been dismissed long ago, “How can he say that (above) and end up going to the Governor seeking to replace him, (my addition – seeking to invoke section 33(1) of the Montserrat Constitution, which David Brandt in commenting on the ‘fracas’ noted. “The Governor shall appoint as the Premier the elected member of the Legislative Assembly who demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Governor that he or she commands the confidence of a majority of the elected members of the Assembly”

In addition, some persons who actually made comments mostly said also, that the minister did not and has never supported Premier Romeo, revealing that the firing had to be in the making for a long time. There have been people who said that from the time Hogan began campaigning before the election he had indicated he expects and will be the “next” Premier. I will say he told me that was never his intention and he would not do such. Hogan even denied earlier reports that he had been master-minding the move.

We gleaned from closed reports, is that the plan to replace the Premier broke down when two persons vied to be the Premier. One of these had been one of three who stood for leadership going into the election as Hogan had not been yet a part of the PDM candidate slate.

Hon. Willock on the other hand who also appeared on radio the same day, spoke about his expectations and their lack of responsibility as a group. “…my political opinion is that we have not been as effective as we could have been and it’s clear that the people on the ground has felt the frustration…So that’s what’s in front of us and we can’t hide it, we can’t run away from it. Unless we don’t care about the people and we just gonna  continue and ignore their concerns,” he said.

Only once there was a hint in the extract that was given of what he said as mentions ‘change’. “We are PDM team, we’re not telling you about going back to the polls and all this conversation that you’re having. We’re saying let us be honest. Are we being as effective as we could be with the talent pool that we have in this team and are we structured properly to deliver. Where are we going?…we are making this adjustment because we feel it is necessary to have a change of approach towards how we are delivering for you the people.”

It was after these activities, of which there were more, that Premier Romeo claimed he had to act. He informed that he had while advising his other government members of his decision to revoke Hogan’s ministerial appointment, he advised that he was willing to ask the Governor to dissolve parliament which would force a General election.

And the immediate reaction on the street to the possibility of a general election, were soundings of the people’s readiness, much more candidates for an election and the choice of political leadership for the future of Montserrat.

 

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Brexit: Boris Johnson ought to be fired, furious Tories tell May

Toby Helm, Michael Savage and Daniel Boffey in Strasbourg
 
Johnson infuriated Tory MPs on both sides of the European debate when he spelt out his own personal vision of a hard Brexit in a newspaper article, only days before May is expected to outline possible areas for compromise with Brussels in a speech in Florence.

Downing Street insisted that May still had full confidence in Johnson, although he had not informed her of the content of his article. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Johnson insisted that the UK must not pay any money to the EU for access to its markets after Brexit and made no mention of a transition period after 2019 to avoid a “cliff-edge” for UK businesses.

May is now understood to back a transitional deal that could involve payments to the EU for access to its markets during a period of two to three years after Brexit, and to accept that the UK will need to follow the single market rulebook in that time.

Johnson’s article was seen across the Tory party as the start of a leadership campaign to replace May, in which he would position himself as the champion of a clean break with the European Union, in contrast to May and the chancellor Philip Hammond who are pushing for a gradual exit.

 

Several former Tory ministers said yesterday it was clear that Johnson was setting out his leadership stall and tempting May to sack him, in the knowledge that she had not got the authority to do so.

One said it was “blindingly obvious” that May should dismiss him, but it was doubtful that she would, because she was too weak: “It is completely disgraceful. You do not write an article like that without consulting the prime minister and your cabinet colleagues. It is a complete abdication of cabinet responsibility. This is all about Mr Johnson, Mr Johnson, Mr Johnson, not about the interests of government or the country.”

Another MP said Tory colleagues would be writing to the whips demanding that Johnson be fired because he was a law unto himself and a liability. “He is deliberately tempting May to sack him but the awful thing is that she is too pathetically weak to do so. So we have a cabinet openly at war on the most important issue of the day and that is what we have to live with.”

Johnson’s dramatic intervention is clearly intended to win support from Brexit hardliners in the party. The Tory MP Crispin Blunt, who was ready to back Johnson for the Tory leadership last year, came to his defence, stating that the article merely repeated government policy. But another MP said: “If there was a chance of me supporting him one day, it’s gone now.”

© catalyst

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader and a long-standing critic of Johnson, made clear her disapproval of the timing of his article, the day after the Parsons Green bomb in London.

“On the day of a terror attack where Britons were maimed, just hours after the threat level is raised, our only thoughts should be on service,” she tweeted. In Brussels the response was immediate and furious. The Italian leader of the socialist bloc, Gianni Pittella, likened the tone of the intervention to that of Donald Trump.

Pittella said: “Boris Johnson is embarrassing his country once again by repeating the lies of the Leave campaign. He is jeopardising the Brexit negotiations by threatening to turn the UK into a low-regulation economy. And he insults the intelligence of the British people with his tub-thumping jingoism. It is more in keeping with Trump Towers than Whitehall.”

Many believe May will leave Johnson in place until after the Tory conference in Manchester, which begins in two weeks, and then dismiss him in a subsequent reshuffle. Some speculated Johnson could fuel the crisis at the top of the party by staging a dramatic resignation after May’s Florence speech, in the hope of using the conference to rally the hard-Brexit wing of the party behind him.

In an interview with the Observer, Sir Vince Cable, the Lib Dem leader, whose party conference opened in Bournemouth on Saturday said: “He clearly thinks that Theresa May is on the verge of a U-turn which would lead to a transitional deal that would keep us in the single market.

“Boris Johnson sees this as his chance to bag the top job, so is pushing for a far more extreme Brexit. This might play well with hard-right Conservative MPs, but would be a disaster for the UK economy.”

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October 6,  2017

Knowledge is power, but useless to the corruptible

August 25, 2017

The Montserrat Reporter was to learn within the last week of a conversation reportedly taking place in Montserrat, that does more to exacerbate the ignorance exhibited by those responsible for the future of Montserrat, let’s say from all sides.

The conversation given in rough terms is that Montserrat should dump or separate from the UK.

Anyone can say anything but should be able to explain and offer some plan no matter how rough to achieve this.

Whatever the thought is behind that conversation, one thing is certain, if that reaches our ears, it reaches others and in particular HMG, DFID and related. At first there was little interest in the source of the conversation, but it sounds little less than some of the expressions we’ve head coming from would be or even leaders in our community, whatever they are hoping to be.

When we flashed back last week there was so much more to recall. The Montserrat dilemma is really a simple one. But the UK stiff upper lip syndrome is quite a big problem, which when understood and realised cannot be that difficult to overcome or deal with. It is obvious we do not deal with that very well. We can get current with what has gone on since 2009, 2012, aggravated two years later and other than what Ms Marshall can take responsibility for, Aide Memoire 2014, a simple study of that period, bring to focus the status quo prior to 1995, all HMG expressions since the crisis began, the 1999 White Paper which was claimed to come about because of Montserrat, these people who cannot explain themselves as to how and where they plan to take Montserrat, should be shunned.

Talk is nothing more than talk until the political leaders can be ‘honestly’ engaged. What kind of challenge is that? Waiting for two more years is backwardness as we suggested last week. Knowledge is power.

If what exists is not a preponderance of ignorance then let honesty and less corruptible conversations take place. We ask again. How did the plan for 2008 – 2020 fall by the wayside. Twenty-four months had gone by and when the Premier in December announced at the Financial Aid Mission (FAM) held two months earlier than usual, the final aid settlement which was to be agreed by early February, 2017.

It was then the Premier announced, “the most important results from this FAM relate to the Capital/Development Programme. GoM will submit a five-year Capital Programme on priority capital projects and the timeline for these projects.

Those included: “The Breakwater and the land side development for the port will be developed in stages, Geothermal energy, The Fibre Optic cable project;” and he concluded, “we have to worked together to lay a foundation for the economic transformation to come and to fulfil our national vision of a friendly, vibrant, healthy, wholesome, prosperous, entrepreneurial and peaceful, God-fearing, God-blessed community.”

So much from this report in February 2014 – a simple study of what has happened since then will turn heads if the corruptible can get a change of heart. “The meetings will also review the ho 2014/2015 budget estimates including domestic revenue projections and policy objectives, discuss an approach to multi-year recurrent budget settlement, performance of the capital projects portfolio, as well as agree a model and content for Sustainable Group Plan MOU Phase 11.”

Discussions will also focus on the review of retention issues, establishment and non-establishment numbers, Government of Montserrat public sector reforms and reviews, and pensions.

Who is paying attention. Any feedback?

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ramlogan

TRINIDAD-CRIME-Former attorney general formally charged

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Aug 30, CMC – Former attorney general Anand Ramlogan was on Wednesday formally charged with misbehaviour in public office more than 30 hours after he was picked up at his southern home by police.

ramlogan
Anand Ramlogan

A statement issued by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) stated that Ramlogan, who served as attorney general here from 2010-15, was charged “with misbehaviour in public office and obstruction of justice arising from allegations contained in a report made by Mr. David west to the Commissioner of Police on January 28, 2015”.

The statement said that the charges were laid against Ramlogan, 45, following consultation with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution and that he will appear in court on Friday September 1, “to answer the charges”. He was released on TT$750,00 (One TT dollar =US$0.16 cents) bail.

Earlier, one of Ramlogan’s attorneys, Senior Counsel Pamela Elder, told reporters that she was disappointed at the lengthy period it had taken to lay charges against him and that ““it is becoming oppressive now because he has been in continuous detention since 6o’clock yesterday and he has been cooperating fully with the police officers”.

The police picked up Ramlogan at his residence in Palmiste, south of here, early Tuesday morning as they continue their probe into allegations that he had sought to pervert the course of justice by asking West, the director of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) to withdraw a statement he had made in support of the then Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley in a lawsuit more than two years ago.

In 2015, then Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar fired Ramlogan and her national security minister Gary Griffith over the allegations.

The lawsuit followed statement allegedly made by Rowley during a news conference relating to the failed extradition involving businessmen Steve Ferguson and Ishwar Galbaransingh, who are reported to be financiers of the United National Congress, and are wanted to the United States on corruption charges.

Ramlogan has denied that he asked David West to withdraw his witness statement in support of Rowley six days before the PCA director took up his new post.

Persad Bissessar said that Griffith had failed to inform her that he had been allegedly asked by Ramlogan to telephone West asking him to withdraw the statement.

Meanwhile, the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) Wednesday urged members of the public to refrain from making comments on the detention of Ramlogan. As it chided two politicians for expressing an opinion on the matter.

In a statement, the LATT sought to remind the public of the importance of the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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Rev Jesse Jackson: Trump's approach 'not working'

Donald Trump slams removal of historic statues as Confederate figures come down

The US President predicts that monuments to George Washington could come down next – a claim historians say is “ridiculous”.

The far-right rally in Charlottesivlle was a protest against a statue’s removal
 By Aubrey Allegretti, Political Reporter

Donald Trump has said US history and culture is being “ripped apart” by the removal of statues.

The President, whose intervention follows the planned removal of a Confederate monument in Charlottesville that sparked a violent far-right rally, said such actions were “foolish”.

He wrote on Twitter: “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.

Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Image: KKK members waved Confederate flags at the Virginia protest

“You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!

“Also the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!”

The Charlottesville statue is one of multiple memorials across the US – many depicting military figures who fought unionist troops in the American Civil War – planned for removal.

 
 
 
 

President Donald Trump delivers remarks following a meeting on infrastructure at Trump Tower, August 15, 2017 in New York City. He fielded questions from reporters about his comments on the events in Charlottesville, Virginia and white supremacists. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Both statues referred to in Mr Trump’s tweet were taken down overnight after the violence in Virginia.

Monuments to Robert E Lee, a commander of the Confederate army, and Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, a Confederate general, were dismantled from the Wyman Park Dell in Baltimore.

Historians have suggested that while George Washington had some similarities to the two leaders, it was “ridiculous” to conflate him with them.

Of Robert E Lee, Professor Alice Fahs from the University of California said: “He’s not a founding father, and it’s as though Trump thinks he is. It’s really astonishing. It’s amazing.”

 

Historians said conflating Jefferson with Lee and Jackson was ‘ridiculous’

Gregory Downs, a history professor also of the University of California, said: “It is obvious that traitors in arms to the nation are not equivalent to those who created it.”

He added that statues of founding fathers, who despite being unionists were also slave owners, “force us to contemplate the centrality of slavery to the making of the nation”.

Civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson has called for all Confederate status to be removed and described them as “unfinished business in our country”.

He told Sky News: “There are no Hitler statues in Germany today or neo-Nazi material flying around.

 

Rev Jesse Jackson: Trump’s approach ‘not working’

“These guys sought to secede from our union, maintain slavery and secession and segregation and sedition, and so these statues are coming down and they should come down.

“When you lose the war you vanquish your symbols. Their symbols should exist in a museum someplace.”

But the governor of Maine has rubbished such calls, saying dismantling Confederate statues would be “just like” removing a monument to 9/11 victims.

For this and More related articles from SkyNews: Visit: http://news.sky.com/trump

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frog

How do we deal with “Cocobeh”- tainted big frogs in our region’s small ponds?

Contribution – Part 19/2017

 

 

The Caribbean’s tainted leadership challenge

 BRADES, Montserrat, July 13, 2017 – One of the old-time Caribbean superstitions is the one about how “frogs” (especially toads) carry “Cocobeh,” leprosy. Many an innocent frog has paid with its life for this myth. And even that crime against ecology is part of how useful “the Cocobeh model” is for understanding and solving the region’s tainted leadership challenge. For our governments, for our businesses, for education, media, even churches, regional/international bodies and sports.

Too many leaders in our region and far beyond seem to be part of a toxic leadership culture of being big frogs in a dirty, tainted pond. They have Cocobeh, they spread it to the pond, they infect those who work with them, they even use it as a weapon, spitting it on those who challenge them. So, Cocobeh is too often deeply embedded in our regional leadership culture. That is, a toxic brew of corruption, deceit, selfish ambition, envy, greed and too often critical gaps in character and capability that predictably turn promising projects into damaging failures. Under these circumstances, just getting into or living near the pond is a hazard, much less having to deal with infected leadership at close hand day by day.

This is a tough challenge, but it is hardly a new one. Nor is it unique to our region. Indeed, our region’s most common history book has in it a key case study from 3,000 years ago. Namely, the transition between the Saul and the David generations. Saul started well, but became tainted and was troubled with depression, jealousy and more. David first came into his life as a young talented musician who could help calm his troubled spirit. Then, one day the lad killed a giant, stirring jealousy as Saul heard the people praise David for a feat he had been too demoralised and tainted to attempt. So, even though David was now his youngest General, son-in-law and even head of his bodyguard, in his fits of rage and envy Saul began to throw javelins at him and to scheme against him. Ironically, the Crown Prince (Jonathan) Saul wanted to promote became David’s close friend and mentor. Eventually, David had to flee for his life, ending up at the cave of Adullam. Then, we read how:

1 Sam 22:2 “ . . . everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to [David]. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.”  [ESV]

This seemingly unpromising group became David’s mighty men and the core of the greatest generation of leadership in Israel’s history. They stood with him through thick and thin, even when he had to flee to exile among his enemies. And when Saul and his sons fell in battle at Mount Gilboa in the Jezreel region, they were joined by six hundred Philistines when David first returned to Hebron. (These, brought with them the key breakthrough technology of that day: Iron-making.)

The pattern is clear enough: in and around a tainted pond, genuine breakthrough leadership will always be under attack by javelin throwers and will be spied on and schemed against. Such alternative leaders therefore need to have support teams with a critical mass of capability, and opportunity to grow. Key technologies may be a big part of their secret sauce. They may need to go into exile to come into their full potential. They may need to bring in outside expertise. And, they will need to be purified from the taint of the dirty pond.

Big frogs will know this and they will fight dirty to protect their turf. They will try to lock out promising young people they don’t favour. The tempting offer of tainted funding or the tainted “compromise solution” or the dangerous “promotion” are obvious tricks. They will create false but persuasive stories. They will try to stir up scandals and will try to put up street theatre stunts, all to be barked up loudly far and wide by their media wolf-packs. They will throw javelins – whether rhetorical or real. They will drive out those they promoted but cannot compromise, capture and control. They will hunt them down after they have fled, driving them into exile. They will find every excuse to undermine and discredit expertise that is not under their tainted control. Lastly, it may take devastating failure, defeat and a long, confused leadership struggle before a David generation can come into its own. All of which seems all too sadly familiar.

So, we need to learn how to tell the difference between the Saul Generation trying to capture the future and an emerging David generation. The track record that shows Cocobeh-taint is a main clue. Character shown by diligent stewardship is a key test, as he who is untrustworthy with what is little will also be untrustworthy with what is much. Jealousy and dirty favouritism games will also speak. So will a track record of tainted projects. As will bad attitude towards truth, fairness, the right, the just. All across our region, it is time to move beyond the tainted culture of a dirty small pond.

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GonsalvesPM

Speculation rife about snap poll in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

By Kenton Chance

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Aug 11, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has fuelled speculation that he may be contemplating a snap general election in St. Vincent and the Grenadines after disclosing the results of a recent poll conducted by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES).

“All I have to tell you is that I’m in a far better place than the other fellas. I wouldn’t tell you where I am,” he told reporters after indicating that the poll was conducted in July and involved 963 people in12 constituencies.

GonsalvesPM
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (File Photo)

The speculations of a snap election have come amidst repeated court rulings in favour of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in the two election petitions challenging the results of the December 2015 general elections in two constituencies.

The ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) won the elections by an 8-7 margin for a fourth consecutive term in office and the High Court is expected to hear next month an application by lawyers for the NDP to inspect the 2015 election documents, including the ballot boxes.

It is the first poll that the ULP is known to have conducted since Godwin Friday became NDP president and Opposition Leader replacing Arnhim Eustace, who held both positions for nearly 16 years.

He said the new figures were “not really” a shift from what other polls have found.

“What I notice with polls, outside of an election season, the number which they have for leadership, though significant, is lower than what they would normally put as they get closer to an election.”

Asked if with this poll there is an election on the horizon, Gonsalves said, ‘No, no, no, no, no.”

Gonsalves told reporters that the ULP had asked CADRES to conduct the poll on several issues including health, politics, employment, education, housing, water and electricity.

He said six per cent of the population had responded to the health concerns adding “we have to take regard of that”.

He made the remark in the context of added focus here on health care following the death of 75-year-old social and political activist, Oscar Allen.

Allen died at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital two weeks after warning in a letter to hospital officials that the postponement, twice, of an urgent surgery to his large intestines could have “fatal consequences”.

Gonsalves said that the poll showed that persons are also concerned about jobs and crime.

“In fact, our success at so many of these things, like health, youth concerns, education, housing, water and electricity, garbage collection, these numbers recede as matters of greatest concern.”

When respondents were asked about the constituency issue of greatest concern, job and crime rose to 10 per cent and healthcare to eight per cent, said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance and National Security.

Prime Minister Gonsalves said that the issues most likely to influence a person’s vote are employment, cost of living, and crime.

“Because people want responsible leadership, which is what I am providing here… I am not being demagogue on the issue of health. I am saying what are the issues, where we are strong, where we have some weaknesses, and people must not go about drawing some conclusions which cannot be drawn on the facts.”

He said the pollsters have also found that a majority of Vincentians now support either full or partial decriminalisation of marijuana, adding this is “an improvement of nine per cent in terms of complete” decriminalisation, but did not give the comparative figures.

“So that I guess that with the discussions that are going on – still there is a significant number of people who’re opposed to it: 35 per cent, for instance.

“I have to test what is happening on a number of issues. I am a scientific person,” Gonsalves told reporters.

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Tennyson Joseph

UWI lecturer against the rise of businessmen-politicians in the Caribbean

By Kenton X.Chance

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Aug 11, CMC – A University of the West Indies (UWI) lecturer is warning against the rise of the businessman-politician in the Caribbean identifying St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and U.S. President Donald Trump as examples of why businessmen as politicians are bad for society.

Head of the Department of Government, Sociology and Social Work at the UWI Cave Hill Campus in Barbados , Dr. Tennyson S.D. Joseph, said that the region should regard the development as “a new window for the re-emergence of the left”.

However, his theory was rejected out of hand by St. Clair Leacock, a two-term elected Member of Parliament, businessman and vice-president of the right-wing opposition New Democratic Party, who attended the public lecture on the topic “‘Any Cook Can Govern?’: Plato, Donald Trump, and the rise of Caribbean Businessmen Politicians”.

Tennyson Joseph
Dr. Tennyson Joseph

In the lecture, Joseph, who unsuccessfully contested the 2006 general election in St. Lucia against Chastanet’s United Workers Party (UWP), rejected 20th  century Trinidadian intellectual CLR James’ theory that any ordinary person can become a leader and argued instead in support for Greek philosopher Plato’s view that business people should not be political leaders.

“There is much evidence in the politics of the USA, the Caribbean and elsewhere that the election of persons with business experience, and the election of persons who fail to understand that political leadership requires a specific nobility of character, has compounded, rather than resolved the challenges of governance or development.  It is clear that not any cook can govern,” Joseph told the audience attending the second in a series of lecturers organised by the UWI Open Campus, and LegalEase SVG Inc.

Joseph said he was moved to think about the specific questions that he addressed in the lecture when in April 2016, “an untried and untested son of a St. Lucian businessman, Allen Chastanet, emerged as Prime Minister of St. Lucia after successfully wresting power from Dr. Kenny Anthony”.

Joseph sort to present Chastanet as an incompetent leader and showed a news clipping of the prime minister experiencing great difficulties piloting a bill through the nation’s national assembly.

He further said that among “the clearest examples of his narrow association of politics” was Chastanet’s decision to contract a private accounting firm to prepare St. Lucia’s 2017 budget.

Joseph further said that the prime minister justified the decision on the basis that the public sector had limited knowledge of new and modern approaches to taxation.

“Whatever the explanation, this begs the question of the appropriateness of conceding such wide swathes of public responsibility to a private firm to determine the revenue and expenditure priorities of a democratically elected government.  Further, whilst an elected government would be guided by notions of public accountability, a privately contracted accounting firm is not obligated to be informed by similar considerations,” Joseph said.

Joseph, who confirmed that he had work as Anthony’s political attaché between 2000 and 2003, said that on sober reflection “both Chastanet and Trump’s victories were the result of the same architectonic structural and ideological issues reflecting themselves in contemporary early Twenty-first century politics”.

Joseph said that both the St. Lucia and United States elections were fought on the basis of “an electorate frustrated with established politics, with voters opting to vote for ‘something new’”.

He further posited that on the basis of the ideological hegemony of neo-liberalism, both the St. Lucian and U.S. electors assumed that their countries’ challenges could be resolved by business persons rather than by so-called “professional politicians.

“However, since the elections both countries have experienced ‘disnormative’ political developments largely arising out of the political inexperience and the crude application of the ideological “business-oriented” concerns of the respective leaders, but these failures themselves are symptomatic of deeper crises confronting capitalist democracies in the present and are manifesting themselves most clearly as failures of leadership,” Joseph said.

Regarding the future, the UWI lecturer said that he believes that the current moment calls for “a more heightened degree of political activity from the historically progressive social democratic forces of the Caribbean.

“The present moment, in contrast, is one of both of optimism and pessimism.  The pessimism lies in the concrete reality of the actual takeover of our politics by the business class and represents a moment of triumph of neo-liberalism in which its theoretical claims are being backed up by political victories.”

Dialectally, however, Joseph said, the moment presents itself as a simultaneous moment of collapse and defeat of neo-liberalism, noting German philosopher Friedrich Hegel’s reminder that the highest stage at which something can reach, is the stage at which it begins to perish.

“We are also informed that something — an idea a social formation or an institutional principle — can only be said to reach its highest stage when all its principles are taken for granted.  The full negative effects of capitalism had always been mediated by its social veil in which political power was transferred into the hands of the non-bourgeois technical managerial class.

Leacockt
St. Clair Leacock

“However, when, as in the present moment, the bourgeoisie seeks to govern directly without the mediation of the technical managerial middle class, we are indeed in the highest stage prior to the moment of collapse,” Joseph argued.

He said that there are myriad signs to suggest that Trumps moment of victory, coincides with the moment of the collapse of the United States’ capitalist world leadership.

“Similarly, the emergence of the CEO politician in the Caribbean is coming after several decades of crisis of post-colonial development when the independence project appears to have lost its steam and has entered crisis.

“Chastanet and the business class represent the symptom and not the solution to that crisis.  For the last four decades Caribbean social democracy has been beaten back and lost its voice.  My message to the Vincentian and Caribbean progressive forces, is that we should see the moment, not as one of defeat, but as the opening of a new window for the re-emergence of the left, as the business politicians demonstrate concretely that they cannot resolve a crisis which was caused by the very class to which they belong.  It is now time for the left to re-emerge,” Joseph said.

But, speaking in the open forum, Leacock told Joseph that he rejects all his conclusions “totally out of hand as an absence of serious political science”.

Leacock told Joseph that he found great difficulty “finding the triangulation”.

“The expansive detail on St. Lucia’s situation, unfortunate, regrettable — Chastanet’s challenges, I am not here to defend or promote — but it is difficult for me to accept that the St. Lucian experience finds a generalisation in Caribbean politics or international politics.”

Leacock told Joseph that he found his treatment of leadership to be “very shabby and totally absent of academic research. It is different for me to find how you can ground that. I don’t find the triangulation that should be present and the conclusions are very, very narrow.”

But Joseph said that Leacock gave “an emotive response” to the lecture and not “an intellectual critique of it”.

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Governor Carriere and Martin Dawson leave doubtful impressions

Governor Carriere and Martin Dawson leave doubtful impressions

August 11, 2017

The news a week ago coming out of Government House was for many quarters surprising. That was so because there were those who believed that Governor Carriere was serious and at times seemed aggressively pursuing a course of doing something meaningful before she leaves next year, if indeed she would.

There are also those who recall the departure of Dr. Kato Kimbugwe whom every-one will quickly say, the on-island DFID representative worked hard and for the most part with good intentions. So much so that some of us refrained from recounting his work while here, knowing that there were efforts on his part to leave a legacy of very positive change behind.

Two things that were major for him was geothermal and fibre optics, both key to the future development of economic growth to include tourism. He had seriously hoped that tourism would have been well underway along with the development at Carrs Bay and Little Bay pretty much in keeping with the Master Plan, which fed the SGP that he had ‘master minded’.

But for Kimbugwe things did not pan out so well come February and onward to his departure and since for his tenure. It was almost like he was never in Montserrat. There was the rush to break ground for the new power plant which still never came to fruition until recently even though the jury may still be out as whether that was a successful project, with the difficulties experienced of syncing it with the old and tired temporary generators that have continued to fail.

Governor Carriere arrived seemingly with a fairly good knowledge of what may have been lacking in the end with the tenure of her predecessor Anthony Davis who was too defeated or deflated to hold a final press conference which would have given him a chance to lay better grounds for her to step onto.

So, she too walked in to meet a totally green government, politically to some extent and administratively. She found a government who came into power from the disappointment of a frustrated and dissatisfied people who really had almost a single hope of better treatment rather than concern about economic development both of which had to go hand in hand.

She came almost the same time with or just after a new DFID rep arrived in Montserrat to meet the same circumstances she was likely aware of.

While focussing on her and the rather odd and surprising announcement of her departure, this came at the same time Martin Dawson the DFID rep was coming to the end of a not so fruitful tenure of three years which was extended for a year just about the time there were discussions and even a rumour over whether he would have continued to serve in his position to the end of 2016.

It was during both their tenure that we wrote a quote from Jean H. Charles about corruption. He said: “Corruption has been designated as the number one hindrance to a country’s development.”

Do I see some eyebrows going up or some eyes rolling? In that editorial you will find: “Does ignorance play a part in this? Dishonesty, secrecy and the lack of goodness are soft terms but all support the culture of corruption, which all help to retard the progress of any country.” Perhaps this will open some eyes and ears.

One of our well-known communication specialists wrote seriously in a medium, social though it is, that both HE Governor and Martin Dawson had to account for the lack of positive progress and development of the island for past few years, but also joined the government also in his criticisms.

“In my view, these two British appointees must be surely be held at least partly responsible and accountable for the moribund and stagnated state of Montserrat’s post-eruption rebuilding. They have presided over this dilemma, regrettably aided and cluelessly abetted by the present government of Montserrat under the leadership of Mr Donaldson Romeo,” he wrote.

The Governor gave a positive review of success over Dawson’s tenure on the island. That was in the face of him struggling at her press conference to give any real and meaningful suggestions of his achievement while serving here. In fact, there was also one comment which suggested that he blamed the government squarely for him not having much to say in that regard. “Martin Dawson, responding to questions by Nerissa Golden (Gov’s press conf) laid the blame squarely at the feet of Mr Romeo and his government, when he said: “Our role has been to help the government to develop these strategies but ultimately the decision is theirs to move to the next phase.”

He has over the past few weeks struggled to articulate what he has done “to help the government develop…” As a matter of fact, the suggestion is that he has not only not done so, but has attempted to or thwarted progress.

The Governor’s announcement of her early break of her tour of duty here and Dawson’s departure, which some probably mistakenly or mischievously say was also under a cloud of being asked not to continue, do raise some questions. The Governor has promised to say more about her surprise announcement and it will surely be interesting to learn how she views her performance to date and what she believes will happen to her ‘efforts’ during her next few months and after she leaves.

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