ADMITTEDLY, the headline on this editorial is intentionally melodramatic. Because nowadays no well-run fry fish shop is going to operate like the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC), the main municipal authority in Jamaica.
We had heard that the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillors had threatened to boycott the swearing-in ceremony for councillors that took place yesterday at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston. But we felt certain that good sense would have prevailed and the body responsible for the affairs of the city would have found a way to put their little skirmish behind. No such luck. Clearly we were naive.
Boycotts should be made of sterner stuff. The JLP used two complaints as the basis for showing their contempt for the citizens of this capital city.
First, they disagreed with the plan to move the swearing-in ceremony of the councillors from the KSAC’s Church Street headquarters to the Jamaica Conference Centre. The most one can give the Opposition party is that they have a sense of history and tradition. But the last time we checked, the People’s National Party (PNP) was put in charge of the Council by the voters who gave the JLP 14 divisions to the PNP’s 26 in the March 26 Local Government Elections.
Second, the JLP complained that it had come to their knowledge that PNP councillors were told they could each invite 10 people to the ceremony, but no such offer was made to JLP councillors. This is petty, both on the side of the PNP, if it were true, and the JLP, if they believed that was something worth a boycott.
If in fact there is going to be a boycott over every little disagreement, woe betide the KSAC! We certainly expect there to be many disagreements between the councillors of the two political parties throughout the tenure of the Corporation. This would be so even if only one party had won all the 40 seats, because these, we presume, are all thinking people and not automatons.
We are left to wonder aloud just what is going on in the minds of the JLP leadership. Of course, they are naturally punch drunk from the 42-21 seat hammering they took in the December 29, 2011 General Election, followed by the loss of all the parish councils and the KSAC.
We saw a glaring example of this when the JLP leader would only take three questions from journalists at the post-Local Government Elections press conference, giving up a costfree opportunity to speak to his supporters and the country on live television.
But those who have a vested interest in Jamaican democracy and the quality of governance know that a strong, sensible and vibrant JLP is a no-brainer. And this is at all levels of leadership, including local government.
Perhaps the JLP has not learned from its trouncing at the polls that the Jamaican electorate is clamouring for intelligent, sober leadership. If the party wants to remain relevant, it needs to grasp this fact.