Columns

Distractions can be deadly

Jean LOWRIE-CHIN

Monday, July 22, 2013    

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We are still punch drunk from the stunning news that two of our brightest stars -- Asafa Powell and Sherrone Simpson -- returned positive drug tests, and that Tyson Gay had a similar result just a day before. We have been asking ourselves how such a thing could befall well-established athletes with experienced managers. We got some clues from an interview conducted by Nationwide's Emily Crooks with Powell's manager Paul Doyle, in which he was not able to pronounce the surname of the man he had hired to assist with recovery from injury of the former fastest man in the world. It turned out that the masseur, Chris Xuereb, had absolutely no qualifications except a recommendation that he had 'good hands'.

A Jamaica Observer report quoted Doyle: "In hindsight, we should've been given a list, made sure we got a list. The extent of what I did, I said to (Xuereb) in a text message, that all supplements have to be cleared by me first. He never cleared them with me. He did send them in an invoice that had the names of supplements in there that he had purchased. But that was it. I didn't have the ingredients list."

Inattention is a global issue -- we need to insist on due care to prevent dangerous consequences. Hindsight is being experienced by engineers in Quebec, who must now be establishing new safety measures after a parked train, with 73 tank cars of crude oil, rolled down an incline into the town of Lac-Megantic, creating a conflagration in which 50 persons perished.

In Sanford, Florida, inattention to his history of violence resulted in a volunteer home-guard named George Zimmerman being allowed to carry a concealed weapon. Huffington Post reporter Ryan Grim, in an article headlined 'The Six Decisions that could have saved Trayvon Martin's Life', noted: "Zimmerman could have been barred from carrying a weapon. Zimmerman had a long history of violence, including a restraining order for domestic violence, felony charges of resisting arrest, and assaulting an officer (the charge was pled down to a misdemeanour and then closed; Zimmerman's dad was a magistrate at the time). He was bounced from a job as a bouncer for being too aggressive with patrons, the New York Daily News reported. And a family member accused him of a pattern of sexual molestation. He wasn't convicted of any felony charges, which could have barred him from a gun licence, but in some societies, people would determine that such a history makes someone less than an ideal candidate for the right to carry around a hidden loaded weapon."

In the discussion that followed a Jamaica 50 presentation last year of past and present chiefs of staff of the Jamaica Defence Force, Commander John McFarlane commented on the importance of process in all aspects of the JDF. This respect for process, and the expertise to develop and monitor such processes will lead to less danger, less heartbreak, and greater order.

At the opening of the N W Manley Museum in Manchester, former Prime Minister P J Patterson commented on audio issues by sharing the attention to detail paid by the late national hero, who "always travelled with his own microphone in his own car and he always pulled up the car before the platform so there would be no power interruption... because he used a battery".

Last Thursday evening Mr Patterson delivered the inaugural P J Patterson Lecture to the PNP Youth Organisation. It was rich with history, and is published in its entirety on my blog. One of the things he warned about was apathy, and challenged PNPYO members to use social media more effectively.

We have so many efficient tools to communicate, to research, to fine-tune, to empower. One is led to ask, how did Mr Xuereb get such an important job with Jamaica's elite athletes without a single qualification? How was one driver put in charge of parking a train carrying over 7,000 tonnes of crude oil? Why do laws take so long to pass, and implementation so slow in a country that has a Government workforce of over 100,000?

Our brightest are those who have the best ability to work as well as to play with the Internet -- only the most disciplined will be able to maintain a balance, so they can develop and honour best practices for a less dangerous world.

'Et tu, Jean?'

I received the following letter with the above headline - Since I am no 'Brutus', here goes: "Good morning Mrs Lowrie-Chin. My name is Sonny Dawkins, I was in the same class in high school with your cousin Lona Omess-Brown [our brilliant Administrator General]. I hope that certifies that I am not a total kook [It sure helps]. My beef with you today is over your recent article praising that one little lion in Hope Zoo. Do you know that there have been at least TWO big lions at Jamaica Zoo in Lacovia, St Elizabeth for quite a while? I am leading a one-man campaign to get them at least some of the fame that their 'town' brethren is receiving. I believe that you would understand the feeling of being overlooked once one is outside of Kingston and would want to do something to correct that imbalance. Please share some of the fame with our lions in the country."

Sonny says the lions are owned by his friend Paul Fearon who operates Jamaica Zoo, and more information is available on their Facebook page.

Jamaica Women's Political Caucus 21st anniversary

The Jamaica Women's Political Caucus, who have trained over 800 women in campaign management and candidacy over the years, celebrated their 21st anniversary last week by honouring 21 outstanding Jamaican women. Among them were Blossom O'Meally Nelson, Joan Browne, Merlene C Daley (current president), Beryl Ennis, Maisie Gore, Jeanette Grant Woodham, Maxine Henry-Wilson, Gloria Langrin, Essene Lewis, Rev Dr Marjorie Lewis, Dorothy Lightbourne, Beverly Manley Duncan, Hermione McKenzie, Gloria Millwood, Violet Neilson, Dr Beverley Pereira, Dorienne Rowan Campbell, Donna Scott Mottley, Evelyn Smart, Marie Thompson, and Faith Webster. Congratulations to all worthy recipients.

Colm Delves relocates to Dublin

After working out of Jamaica for 10 years, and rolling out over 30 networks worldwide, Digicel Group CEO Colm Delves and colleagues Lawrence Hickey and Pat Casey are relocating to offices in Dublin, Ireland. In his tribute to Colm at a farewell event on Thursday, Citibank's CEO Peter Moses mentioned his calm but strong demeanour. Another guest commented on Colm's rock-solid integrity. Indeed, Colm has been one of the least egocentric and most respectful leaders we have ever known. Knowing her boss was not one for ceremony, Digicel Group administrative manager Heather Asphall had to keep the event top secret.

We will certainly miss him, his generous wife Paula and talented daughter Hannah who is a young ambassador for Mustard Seed. Monsignor Greg Ramkissoon related that for Hannah's last birthday party, she asked her friends not to bring gifts, but donations instead for Mustard Seed -- totalling some $30,000. That is the spirit of the Delves family who have earned the deep affection of their Jamaican colleagues. Walk good!

lowriechin@aim.com

www.lowrie-chin@blogspot.com

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