Sunday Brew — May 31, 2020

Sunday Brew — May 31, 2020

with HG HELPS
Editor-at-Large
helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 31, 2020

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Was Leon Bailey misled by Craig Butler?

If information which surfaced over last weekend that there could have been manipulation of Leon Bailey to openly criticise the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is true, then it would be most unfortunate.

It emerged that Bailey, who lashed out at the JFF the week before, may have been pushed to utter the sentiments by his stepfather, Craig Butler, a man who has been at virtual war with the JFF. And if that is true, then Butler should face some amount of heat for it, as he would have taken advantage of a youngster, who clearly cannot act on his own, despite being a professional footballer. Of course, if it's not true, then more power to Bailey for being forthright.

It is no secret that Butler has expressed an interest in becoming technical director of the Jamaica national team, and lately, of the national youth teams. For whatever reason, he has been ignored by the JFF for both tasks.

Based upon his arrogance over the years, it is not hard to see why the JFF would not want to work with him.

All of this does not mean that the JFF is in the clear though. There are lots of issues involved in the administration of Jamaica's football that the present crop of leaders cannot fix, even if money was flowing like the river Nile. The JFF has too many misfits involved in its running, some of whom have been around for several decades, and have no idea how to lift the sport.

Jamaica's football is still very much like a forester cutting down trees with a machete, rather than using a power saw.

It is time that the best people are chosen to lead the affairs of these organisations, rather than pushing people up the ladder because they are friends. That's what's happening with Jamaica's most popular sport.

Cameron and that audit report

It seems quite mind-boggling that Cricket West Indies (CWI) continues to guard the audit report that it commissioned last year as close as my granny used to guard her thread bag under the mattress.

But, despite its best efforts at hide-and-seek CWI has dropped the straightforward catch by failing to budge, even after the same report was leaked to journalists and retired cricketers. Now, the man who was mentioned as the lead actor in what seems like a high-budget film, Whycliffe Cameron, who lost in his unrealistic bid to preside over the affairs of West Indies cricket again last year, is taking CWI to court to squeeze the report out of the organisation's hands.

It should not have to be so.

Clearly, the audit was commissioned by CWI to simply determine if there were operational breaches within the organisation, and maybe to make recommendations for improvement. Why on earth then, after former cricketer Michael Holding disclosed that he had a copy of the document, and the Stabroek News in Guyana carried extracts from it, did CWI not move to share the information with cricket's stakeholders across the region, which includes the declining number of fans?

Although Cameron is arrogant and carries an ego on his shoulder that is three times larger than Donald Trump's, it is only fair that he should get a copy of the report, as I am sure that accusations, directly or indirectly, have been made against him by the auditors. It's called natural justice.

CWI, led by Ricky Skerritt, has not set alight the administration of the game in the Caribbean region in the past 14 months, since it has been in charge. It's not a long time to judge anyone, or group, but there is no time to waste. Administrators have been feeding first class and Test cricket dosages of slow poison for several years now, which has resulted in the mediocre cricketers that we have around.

A bolder, more revolutionary approach is needed.

Sad to see Shahine go

It is always sad when someone who means Jamaica well and contributes to the development of the island has to go on a date with the great architect of the universe.

The late Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson will not go down in local history as the finest Cabinet minister, but she was a champion human being who cared for people. Her death last Friday marks the end of a chapter, in life's mystical book, about a woman who entered the political ring in 2001 and demonstrated the kind of steely resolve that allowed her an unlikely victory in a by-election that year, in which many expected her to be torn to bits.

The Jamaica Labour Party disciple entered the race in St Ann North Eastern, which was before then People's National Party territory, and created the upset of the decade by beating the PNP's Carol Jackson in the seat left vacant by the resignation of businessman Danny Melville, who was really not cut out for elective politics. She won subsequent elections in 2002, 2007, 2011, and 2016, which must mean that the majority of the people in that part of Jamaica believed in her.

I met the Immaculate Conception High School graduate formally, at an event at Lime Tree Garden Primary School, near Watt Town in the adjoining St Ann South Western, a mere two years and three months ago, and the warmth that she exuded was enough for me to see why she had won five elections on the trot.

Respect due to Hugh Shearer

One of Jamaica's early political heroes, Hugh Lawson Shearer, was recognised on his birthday, May 18, with little fanfare; I suppose that the effects of COVID-19 will be blamed for it.

Prime Minister Holness, Cabinet minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange, and Member of Parliament Pearnel Charles Jr were at National Heroes' Park to mark the 97th anniversary of the birth of the humble Jamaican man from Martha Brae in Trelawny.

If my sometimes unreliable mathematics are correct, in three years' time it will be 100 years since Shearer's birth. Who was this man? Well, apart from serving as Jamaica's third prime minister (PM), he was one of the finest men to have walked the length and breadth of this north Caribbean island.

Shearer served as prime minister from 1967, following the death of Donald Sangster, to 1972. Like all leaders of this country he made mistakes, among them were preventing Guyanese left-wing activist and historian Walter Rodney from entering Jamaica in 1968 and banning from the airwaves the festival song Better Must Come by Delroy Wilson, which was used by the PNP as its campaign song for the 1972 General Election, which it won.

But Shearer rose above those. His legacy as PM will include the building of 51 schools, three alumina refineries, and four major hotels. He truly had the common touch, and will go down in my book as the most down-to-earth prime minister that I have met.

As a trade unionist and president general of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), he was the real boss. Members of the Union of Journalists and Allied Employees could always rely on his opinions, even though he was the union man for production workers at The Gleaner and had nothing to do with editorial runnings, during the 1980s.

He gave the most telling jokes, sometimes raunchy. And it was best to try and find him at the BITU, because he hardly ever answered his house phone. Those close to him who found it difficult to reach him after hours often teased him that he was never at his home.

My hope is that a fitting tribute is planned for this giant by the time we get to 2023.


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