The executive director of BGLC needs to answer


Thursday, July 17, 2014

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AN article in yesterday's Business Observer told of the experience of entrepreneur Evan Williams, who took five years to get approval for the building of a new hotel in New Kingston.

The local authorities, the article said, objected to the plan, claiming that the building was "too dense" and was conceptually not popular for the vicinity.

The article, however, pointed out that a similar high-rise sits immediately across the road, which offers long-stay accommodation.

It has long been made obvious that getting anything done in this country is worse than pulling teeth without a painkiller.

Everything developmental is dragged out; quite possibly because the numbers of people in the civil service have to justify their job postings. And those who have no real use — in a system packed to the hilt with time wasters — create jams, because that is what they do to make their immediate bosses know they have some use. In truth, they create the little jams because they enjoy the feeling of acting out their roles as village tyrants.

For this reason it was pleasing to many that when Goodwill Gaming applied for a licence to operate another gaming operation similar to what Supreme Ventures (SV) had been operating there were some who lauded the speed of Goodwill's approval as it signalled to them that maybe there was a change in, at the very least, one area of the bureaucratic block.

To others, SV had enjoyed essentially a monopoly on gaming and gamers needed another major player to give the consumers added choice. As that unfolded, information began to come to me which indicated that there were aspects of the licence approval that needed to be questioned.

It is, of course, no secret that in Jamaica, where the community is small and the business competition is tight, areas like gaming are pretty much controlled by SV; any questions that would be asked of the Betting, Gaming, and Lotteries Commission (BGLC) about Goodwill Gaming would be seen to be in favour of Supreme Ventures.

When certain negative information was slipped under my door in relation to Goodwill Gaming, and I wrote a piece on it, I was called on my mobile and told that "it is obvious that you are being paid to write that article".

The week after, when I wrote a piece based on questions I had sent to the executive director of the BGLC, Jack Shirley, I was called by others -- apparently not those supporting Goodwill -- and told that I was "in cahoots with Mr Shirley".

In the time which followed, further information came to me and I sent a number of other questions to Mr Shirley.

The most troubling question was based on information sent to me that Mr Shirley, who once enjoyed a sterling reputation in banking and real estate, had been declared bankrupt. When I researched it and e-mailed him asking if he was indeed the Andral Shirley who was declared bankrupt, he responded that he was indeed declared bankrupt in 2010 in Orlando, Florida, but stressed that the bankruptcy was discharged in March 2011.

The other important questions I asked him concerned a director of Goodwill Gaming and some allegations that had been made against that director. In responding, Mr Shirley sent me a court document which indicated that the said director had indeed won his case in court and the comments of the presiding judge were summed up by the following statement: "The claim is disingenuous and insincere."

So, where does that leave us? There are many people in Jamaica who will support a particular business opportunity/entity and there are those who will have views totally opposed to it.

I had sent Mr Shirley a question to ask him if he, as a former banker and real estate businessman, was somehow seated on the outside looking in, how would he view the appointment of a man to the post of executive director of the BGLC who had been declared bankrupt, but eventually discharged, meaning that he had finally met the obligations of those people/entities he had owed funds.

At the time of writing he had still not responded to me, but had promised to do so.

Heinous murder of children

The sudden resignation of Police Commissioner Owen Ellington and the promised appointment of a new commissioner by September must fade into insignificance with the report of the terrible and tragic murder of two children in Trelawny.

This tells us that, at one level we are concerned with mainly political matters, while at the real level, where the security of the nation's children is concerned, not much has changed. We still have brutal people among us, and too many of them.

One of the so-called black marks against the outgoing commissioner, and all who went before him, is the reality of extrajudicial killings. This as there are many policemen who will tell themselves and their close associates that there are some types of criminals who can only be dealt with by skirting the borders of the law. They immediately get the support of many citizens in this country — even though many know that a civilised country cannot operate on that basis. The question is, on what basis do we immediately nab those who would do harm to our most vulnerable — our children? Unfortunately, there is no reasonable answer to that if the citizenry is not sufficiently charged up in one direction.

We cannot have 60 per cent supporting extrajudicial killings and 40 per cent supporting law and order. That's a recipe for chaos. In other words, the place where we are now.




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