Jamaica Observer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/ JamaicaObserver.com, the most concise and in-depth website for news coverage on Jamaica and the Caribbean. Updated daily 7 days a week, 24 hours a day en-us copyright Jamaica Observer, 2011 Phillips misleading public sector workers http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Phillips-misleading-public-sector-workers_18639054 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Peter Phillips is attempting, either through ignorance or deception, to cheat public sector workers out of a fair wage increase.<br /> <br /> He is quoted as saying: "The lowering of inflation has been making it easier for Jamaicans to survive." There is a strong implication here that the lower inflation will make people's limited incomes go further, which is very misleading. Even the much-touted inflation figure of 6.4 per cent for 2014 means that prices in 2014 went up 6.4 per cent not that they somehow went down. We would need dis-inflation, or negative inflation, to make our money go further. All that 6.4 per cent represents is a slowing down of the rate of increase in prices.<br /> <br /> Given the now five-year freeze on public sector salaries, an average of 8-9 per cent inflation during that time amounts to a 50 per cent increase in prices when compounded. Thus, public sector workers got a nominal wage hike of 50 per cent the real increase in salaries when compared to five years ago, would be zero.<br /> <br /> If the unions are asking only for 30 per cent, they should be congratulated, since this means a sacrificial cut of 20 per cent in their spending power. Can Phillips ask for more sacrifice than this on the altar of IMF economic orthodoxy?<br /> <br /> Five years of sacrifice and still no real signs of meaningful growth, no real light at the end of the tunnel, no real improvement in employment -- unless we count the increase in unsecure, low-paid, informal and contract work.<br /> <br /> The 7.5 per cent primary surplus demanded by the IMF on behalf of the wealthy creditors, including the banks, must be relaxed. It is sucking the economy dry, preventing demand-led growth and impoverishing our people -- confirmed by the 2012 Survey of Living Conditions.<br /> <br /> We cannot improve lives without spending, including capital spending, on education, health and infrastructure; nor can an economy prosper when even trade unions are suggesting overseas employment as an answer to our overqualified, unemployed young people.<br /> <br /> Paul Ward<br /> <br /> Campaign for Social & Economic Justice<br /> <br /> Kingston 7<br /> <br /> pgward72@gmail.com <br /> <br /> Phillips misleading public sector workers<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11632709/Peter-Phillips_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, March 26, 2015 12:00 AM Yard sale in Ja! Everything must go! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Yard-sale-in-Ja--Everything-must-go-_18639051 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I've never seen a country with leadership that finds joy in selling income-generating assets like Jamaica. It pains my heart.<br /> <br /> According to the news report, the Government has made the decision to sell the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT). It is said that the "concession...will result in all positions being made redundant", but "workers should not view the development as a bad thing". What is really wrong with the PM? Is she for real? What's so good about a person losing his/her job, especially in this economy? Utter rubbish!<br /> <br /> The PM feels our pain and is sorry, perhaps, but apparently could care less about what people do about their families, loans and bills as she has given the Port Authority of Jamaica the go-ahead to sell us out some more.<br /> <br /> This has been our governance and economic growth formula: Airports need management = sell; roads need building = sell; need efficient sugar production = sell; power company needs upgrade = sell; telecoms need upgrade = sell; bauxite needs processing = sell; water is next!<br /> <br /> The GoJ touts the logistics hub as an economic growth engine, yet they are pleased to announce they are selling our existing logistics infrastructure. What kind of nonsense is that? What will we have left that's owned by us, the people? There are no problem solvers in government, just a bunch of white collar hustlers, it would seem. We are on a path to Blurred Vision 2030 at this rate.<br /> <br /> "The prime minister described the move to divest the 40-year-old container terminal as a major development, which should bring significant benefits to the country," the article read. Benefits to the country, Madam PM, or just to our shores? At which point the revenue streams will be diverted to the land from which the investors came. We need to start taking on the hard work of long-term development for ourselves. We simply can't be outsourcing everything as if Jamaica is just one massive BPO hub. We can surely do more for ourselves, Madam PM.<br /> <br /> As an independent nation, we have become inordinately dependent on foreign purses for our survival. This is simply not good. The loss of jobs and livelihood will only worsen Jamaica's socio-economic situation and the outlook for the future marked with even more gloom. A man can't sell his land to build a house. The taxi man can't sell his tyres to buy fuel. The jelly man can't sell his machete to buy a cart. The sky juice man can't sell his ice shaver to buy ice. A carpenter can't sell his saws and chisels to buy lumber. In the same way, the government can't sell the revenue-generating assets and expect to earn revenue. The tools of our trade is in someone else's hand. Borrowed money should be used on investments that will generate a steady, reliable, guaranteed stream of revenue that will pay back loans and allow us to reinvest in the domestic economy. Jamaica has Singaporean potential, but no Lee Kwan Yew, so we will suffer.<br /> <br /> Derville Lowe<br /> <br /> Kingston 19<br /> <br /> drvlllowe@yahoo.com <br /> <br /> Yard sale in Ja! Everything must go!<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, March 26, 2015 12:00 AM PM in Wonderland http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/PM-in-Wonderland_18638312 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I actually took the time to listen to the prime minister of Jamaica's Budget presentation to Parliament and, as always whenever I hear her speak, I had to wonder if this is really the best Jamaica has to offer in terms of leadership.<br /> <br /> For a moment I thought I was present at the funeral of someone whose life had no purpose and the person delivering the eulogy was trying very hard to give some kind of purpose to that person.<br /> <br /> I had high expectations of hearing her mention the brutality of what is happening to the children of Jamaica, and had hoped that during her speech she would have mentioned a way forward in protecting these children. But sadly, that was not to be.<br /> <br /> Instead, I came to the sad conclusion that our dear prime minister is still lost in Wonderland somewhere, and even the white rabbit has grown tired of her shenanigans and has left her out of fear of actually going stark raving mad.<br /> <br /> Add the leader of the Opposition to the fiasco we call leadership in Jamaica and I fear that, under these circumstances, it probably would suit Jamaicans to join the fair queen in Wonderland as the reality of what is facing the country calls for serious mental health evaluation and care.<br /> <br /> Kudos to the MPs who actually took the time to have a well-needed nap during her presentation as what they do not hear will hopefully have no effect on them and further prove them all as clowns present at a Mad Hatter's party.<br /> <br /> After listening to the PM's speech, I would suggest that when the president of the USA stops by the land of crime and injustice that, instead of having her give a speech, they, out of respect for him, play a Bob Marley tune so that he does not lose his presidential mind.<br /> <br /> Michelle Bradshaw<br /> <br /> michelleannmariebradshaw@gmail.<br /> <br /> com<br /> <br /> PM in Wonderland<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11628032/portia_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, March 26, 2015 12:00 AM Retire the monarchy! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Retire-the-monarchy-_18639057 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It was reported in the news recently that the Barbados prime minister has announced plans to remove The Queen as head of state and transform Barbados into a republic by November 2016 as the country celebrates its 50th anniversary of Independence.<br /> <br /> Barbados will, however, remain a member of the Commonwealth. The reasons are very similar to those expressed by Portia Simpson Miller back in 2012, when she also announced plans for Jamaica to replace The Queen with a ceremonial President. Years later, we haven't heard a word from Simpson Miller about the transition, and understandably there might be other priorities.<br /> <br /> However, if little Barbados is able to do this, in the time frame given, this would really show up Jamaica.<br /> <br /> We can't seem to get things done, we don't set goals, timelines, objectives, and move forward to achieve them.<br /> <br /> The announcement by Barbados was surprising, considering the very strong ties which exist with Britain. Barbados already has one of the highest GDP per capita in the Caribbean and its population is generally well educated. However, the younger population, we understand, has little or no connection to the monarchy and see no advantage remaining a part of a dominion. It is also 2015, and the way forward for a progressive country is to sever these colonial links.<br /> <br /> With all due respect, it is time for Jamaica to retire the monarchy as well. I believe the legal costs would be recouped by huge savings over the long term by not having a foreign head of state and a boost to our national self-esteem. King's House, for instance, has a history, but this massive piece of prime property also has potential to be transformed into something else, the property must be quite costly to maintain. I strongly believe Jamaica would be much better off with its own president, and both political parties already agree on this. Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago severed ties with the monarchy years ago, and it looks as if very soon Barbados will too. Let us not be the last to act.<br /> <br /> P Chin<br /> <br /> chin_p@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Retire the monarchy!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11101788/Freundel-Stuart_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, March 26, 2015 12:00 AM It's really time for a Portmore hospital http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/It-s-really-time-for-a-Portmore-hospital_18633523 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The continuing state of affairs which sees the Riverton dump being set ablaze with an almost surgical precision yearly has once again catapulted a number of local issues into the spotlight of public scrutiny. Among these issues are the recycled opinions and views as to what to do with that former landfill as well as how to go about ensuring that the dump doesn't continue to burn with such regularity. All of these views, important as they be, sadly may be continue to be returned to for years to come.<br /> <br /> One issue which has been brought back to the fore by this suffocating mess is the need for the municipality of Portmore to, once and for all, have its own hospital facility. The frantic scenes of young children, high school students and adults being rushed to various health-care dispensing facilities across the Corporate Area and St Catherine served, in the watery eyes of many, to forcibly resubmit the point that the need for a first-rate hospital complex/facility within the confines of the biggest residential community in the English-speaking Caribbean is more necessary now than ever before.<br /> <br /> One understands that it will take more than a letter to trigger the activities which will re-engage the thought of a Portmore hospital. In fact, it will take vision, financial support, and community acceptance. However, notwithstanding the potential difficulties, it is clear that this idea is one whose time has long come.<br /> <br /> Noel Forbes Matherson<br /> <br /> noelmatherson@gmail.com<br /> <br /> It's really time for a Portmore hospital<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11629438/hospital_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, March 25, 2015 2:00 AM No apology for transfer policy http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/No-apology-for-transfer-policy Dear Editor,<br /> <br />  The Ministry of Education is puzzled by C Barrow Williams' assertion in his article on March 13, 2015 titled 'Thwaites' iniquitous regime strips parents of their rights', stating that the ministry is &ldquo;circumventing my right (as a parent) to make decisions in the best interest of my child&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Williams further argued that &ldquo;in an attempt to curtail the 'buying' of students, my inalienable rights as a parent are to be stripped of me&rdquo;. The minister has not announced any such policy. <br /> <br /> The transfer policy framework is aimed at promoting the interest of students, that is, their education. The Ministry of Education makes no apology for this.<br /> <br /> We assume that the education of children is also the priority of parents. As responsible servants of the people, the minister and other education officials will not sit idly by and allow parents to treat their children as commodities that they exchange for economic gain. <br /> <br /> We outline below for the benefit of your readers the salient sections of Ministry Paper No G784/139 that Education Minister Ronald Thwaites tabled recently in Parliament: 1. The transfer of a student for any reason must follow the normal procedures as determined by the Education Regulations (28).<br /> <br /> Principals of both sending and receiving schools, along with the parent, must sign consent forms before presentation to the Ministry of Education for approval of the request to transfer a student. <br /> <br /> In considering the request for transfer of a student athlete the Ministry of Education will determine if the student's academic standard will enable him/her to cope with the curriculum of the receiving school.<br /> <br /> Before granting approval, the Ministry of Education will insist that adequate arrangements are in place to ensure the academic advancement of the student athlete in the receiving school. 2. The transfer of students between schools must not involve economic gain to the student, parent or guardian. <br /> <br /> Scholarship proceeds must approximate the cost of providing and accessing the student's education and not result in profiteering. 3. Students' academic advancement must not be compromised by their involvement in sports or any other co-curricular activity. <br /> <br /> Schools must comply with the current ISSA requirement that a student must attain an 80 per cent attendance record and a minimum grade of 45 per cent in four subjects during the preceding term to be eligible to participate in an ISSA event. <br /> <br /> Put simply, parents like Williams retain the right to request a transfer of their child between public schools, but approval was always, and remains the remit of the Ministry of Education as authorised by the Education Regulations. As Minister Thwaites pointed out in his statement to Parliament: <br /> <br /> &ldquo;The Ministry is not against a parent wanting to place a child in a school that has a sports co-curricular programme that can enhance his career goals (or in a school with a good music programme). However, we are insisting that this must not be done for monetary gain and to the detriment of the child's education.&rdquo; Byron Buckley Director, Corporate Communication Ministry of Education<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11626132/Thwaites_w300.jpg Letters to the Editor Tuesday, March 24, 2015 2:17 AM Solving the high school poaching problem http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Solving-the-high-school-poaching-problem Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Yesterday morning I was feeling mischievous, so I called up one of my Calabar friends, ardent athletics fan, and asked if he had heard the latest news that Usain Bolt was now running for England. I could sense the anguish in his tone as he asked if I was serious or joking.<br /> <br /> "It's not even April 1 yet," he opined. Well, after a few minutes he realised I was joking. So I got serious and said: "Now you see how it feels for Calabar to take the best athlete from my old school, Cornwall College." <br /> <br /> In fact, after many years of not scoring many points at Champs, last year, through the efforts of Warren Barrett Jr and his teammates, we placed a commendable 11th. <br /> <br /> This year he has transferred to Calabar &mdash; the champions &mdash; where, as my friend tried to put it nicely, he will get better coaching and better opportunities. So presumably it was all done in his best interest. <br /> <br /> I pointed out to him: "He won it all last year without your big coach, and I am sure you guys took him with open arms to bolster your chances of winning again this year."<br /> <br /> He finally admitted that Calabar did recruit athletes to compete with their rivals who are doing the same thing. All of this, to me, is a bit sad because if all the best athletes competed for two or three schools, what purpose would that serve? What about teaching loyalty? The minister of education has weighed in on the issue and it has been debated to death by many. <br /> <br /> The answer is, however, quite simple.<br /> <br /> In a similar fashion to international athletes, schoolboys should be allowed latitude in where they train, but when they run or throw (in the case of Barrett) they should run in the colours of their original schools and the points should go to that school, as happens with our athletes who train in the United States. <br /> <br /> This should not be a problem for the big-shot schools who are looking out for the best interest of the athletes. Or is this sheer hypocrisy? Horace Fletcher fletcher.horace@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Letters to the Editor Tuesday, March 24, 2015 2:22 AM Was Lee Kuan Yew really our friend? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Was-Lee-Kuan-Yew-really-our-friend-_18629219 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> When people die our brains can become really fuzzy; either in the extent of our relationship with the deceased, how perfect a person he/she was, or our fictitious memories of things they said or did.<br /> <br /> I have been to funerals where the departed was anything but all the glorious things being said about him or her. While the person is being painted as the best person since Mother Teresa, the crowd of mourners are snickering and wondering if they are at the right funeral.<br /> <br /> Now, did someone say the late leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, was their friend and they are going to miss him? Really! If Jamaica is claiming him as our friend, we must not have been very close. Friends pull on the strengths and successes of their friends. Friends have things in common. Friends may differ, but the gap is too significant not to remind everyone that, while Lee Kuan Yew was busy building a successful nation, we were equally busy institutionalising political tribalism, creating dons, building garrisons, turning a blind eye to the influx and misuse of guns, criminality and the rise of careers in worthlessness.<br /> <br /> Derrick McKoy wrote a very astute piece on Lee Kuan Yew. In it he reminded us about what our 'friend' really thought about us. Lee Kuan Yew's biography, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story, reiterates our friend's thoughts about us regarding poverty and governance. We can say what we please about his human rights record, but he was spot on when he stood up as a man, admitted his own mistakes, and showcased Jamaica as an example of the pitfalls to avoid. In a feisty retort he said: "You know, the cure for all this talk (against his style) is really a good dose of incompetent government..." I hope in his death his words may bring us back to a reality of what Jamaica could have been.<br /> <br /> Sandra M Taylor Wiggan<br /> <br /> Kingston 6<br /> <br /> sandra_wiggan@yahoo.co.uk<br /> <br /> Was Lee Kuan Yew really our friend?<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11623324/Lee-Kuan-Yew_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, March 24, 2015 2:00 AM Ja's food security more than a sham http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Ja-s-food-security-more-than-a-sham_18555684 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I am encouraged by the article of guest columnist Fabian Rhule that our young people have become engaged and indeed outraged by the perfunctory treatment of this critical issue of food security by our political elite.<br /> <br /> Since 1992, we have, for all intents and purposes, adopted as national policy the fallacy that our food and nutrition security lies in a strategy of dependence on cheap food imports. Ignoring all the obvious signals and warnings that cheap food is, in fact, a mirage, we have continued undeterred to the point where our population is now at its most nutritionally vulnerable as the price of the imported food effectively bars access, notwithstanding its availability -- the two basic elements of food security. In addition, rural and youth unemployment have proved intractable and food imports, at 16 per cent of our import bill, significantly add to our chronic indebtedness.<br /> <br /> What is needed is a strategy for sustainably attaining national food and nutrition security. I suggest we need to adopt food sovereignty as the first step toward feeding ourselves while creating wealth and providing a livelihood for our youth who, even in the rural areas, are kneading dough in the palms of their hands, while waiting on the 'linkie from foreign' to 'sen a food' via Western Union.<br /> <br /> A look at the contrasting macroeconomic performances of Jamaica and the Dominican Republic over the past decade might prove instructive for our planners.<br /> <br /> Saludes, Fabian Rhule.<br /> <br /> Paul Jennings<br /> <br /> Spanish Town, St Catherine<br /> <br /> paul.jennings1950@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Ja's food security more than a sham<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, March 24, 2015 2:00 AM We are not the Wild, Wild West! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-are-not-the-Wild--Wild-West-_18621816 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I'm sorry, but, I'm not one of the gullible ones who believe in the "gunman engaging the cops in a shootout" theory. This happens far too often to be believable, and with the all-too-familiar ending of two gunmen dead with a third escaping into nearby bushes.<br /> <br /> Gunmen may be barefaced, but they're not stupid. They would realise by now that the odds are definitely against them, so why would they initiate, or want to be involved in a shootout with a passing patrol? If they were stupid that way, then most would be in prison or be dead. But alas, they are still among us, and murders in Jamaica continue unabated.<br /> <br /> Gunmen may be barefaced, but they're not stupid. They would realise by now that the odds are definitely against them, so why would they initiate, or want to be involved in a shootout with a passing patrol? If they were stupid that way, then most would be in prison or be dead. But alas, they are still among us, and murders in Jamaica continue unabated.<br /> <br /> If the stats are correct, there are about 400+ yearly killings by cops, compared to maybe three cops killed by gunmen. Common sense dictates that it should be the other way around if "gunmen" were deliberately targeting passing patrols. I'm saying this because that is what the police report.<br /> <br /> We do not need wanton killings from criminals, or from the police in the name of the State. Contrary to what some might believe, Jamaica is not be the "Wild, Wild West" with hundreds of murderous gunmen running rampant. Rather, I believe it is the same handful of thugs responsible every time. They just move around and are the first to buy the Observer a day later to read of their deeds and to learn that the cops have arrested two men -- the usual suspects, I suppose -- while seeking a third. A week or so later, a man is killed in a "shootout" with cops. And guess what? That man killed, conveniently becomes that third suspect who was wanted for the murder. Tada!...Murder case solved! Real murderer laughs, and it's business as usual for him.<br /> <br /> Errol Gager<br /> <br /> Toronto, Canada<br /> <br /> egager25@gmail.com<br /> <br /> We are not the Wild, Wild West!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10619615/Crime-2_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, March 23, 2015 2:00 AM This Gov't seems to have no clue http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/This-Gov-t-seems-to-have-no-clue_18547515 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> When the country elected this Government it was with the understanding that it would do better than the Andrew Holness-led Administration. All of that is now appearing to be a big mistake.<br /> <br /> This Government has a crisis on policy implementation. It is failing to execute settled policies effectively. Key government ministers are slacking off without any sort of accountability. Everybody is just doing their own thing.<br /> <br /> Why is Fenton Ferguson still the minister of health? Why is Lisa Hanna still the minister of youth and culture? And why is Robert Pickersgill still in Parliament? The Government makes a lot of laws, yet the problems continue to plague the country.<br /> <br /> Why is Fenton Ferguson still the minister of health? Why is Lisa Hanna still the minister of youth and culture? And why is Robert Pickersgill still in Parliament? The Government makes a lot of laws, yet the problems continue to plague the country.<br /> <br /> Some years ago we were told that every community would have potable water, and what have we seen? Numerous communities are still without the important commodity. Our health care system and the economy is in shambles, and everyone seems to just be looking on waiting for the next big moment.<br /> <br /> The failures of this government is becoming unbearable. Portia Simpson Miller is to be held accountable as she is the prime minister. Other governments around the world more successfully manage infrastructure investments, health systems and environmental resources, apparently with greater efficiency, less corruption, and better outcomes. Why can't this Administration learn a thing or two? The Government seems to have no clue as to what is happening on the ground in the country. It has been forever since we have heard the prime minister tackle any of the country's problems. We hardly even see her in Parliament.<br /> <br /> We demand action and answers. In the December quarter of last year, the crime statistics went down and everyone praised Minister Peter Bunting about the crime strategy. A month later, we seem to be at square one. If the government cannot handle the affairs of the country in an effective manner, then maybe, just maybe it is time for us to elect a new one.<br /> <br /> Justin McIntosh<br /> <br /> This Gov't seems to have no clue<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Monday, March 23, 2015 2:00 AM Thumbs up, Holness http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Thumbs-up--Holness-_18622532 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> When politicians do and say irrational things, neglect their duties, or fail to address issues in a meaningful way, we take turns to crucify them as they so deserve. I am of the strong belief that when they do well and show their commitment to the country, through various forms, we must recognise, congratulate and encourage them to do even more.<br /> <br /> Andrew Holness delivered a thorough and respectable presentation last week in Parliament and I would like to congratulate him for his contribution. I must admit that, at first, I was not looking for anything of substance from him, but he surprised me. I felt a sense of pride also, because it is not every day we see a politician in Parliament debating and discussing the issues that affect the country in such a conscious yet cerebral manner. In fact, even though I am not in Jamaica at the moment, I could relate and agree with what Holness said.<br /> <br /> I also respect the time he took to offer a possible way forward. It gave me a spark of hope that things can be better if we all put our minds to it. I believe that Holness has set a precedent for the rest of his parliamentary colleagues to follow. The work is, however, not done, because I am personally looking out for the economic, investment and industry policies that he has for the country.<br /> <br /> I would love if Holness could come to New York and engage us with some of the policies that he has for the country because I think I am warming up to some of his ideas. This one time I am pleased with Holness. I hope it is a sign of things to come.<br /> <br /> Beth Thompson<br /> <br /> New York, USA<br /> <br /> beththompsonnyc02@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Thumbs up, Holness <br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11623394/Andrew-Holness_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, March 23, 2015 2:00 AM Thanks, NSWMA board...loyalists usually safe http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Thanks--NSWMA-board---loyalists-usually-safe_18622020 It is clear Portia Simpson Miller will never ever demand accountability from those who are her personal allies and loyalists who have been distastefully rewarded with key public positions.<br /> <br /> The prime minister has been given numerous opportunities to make actionable the sweet words of transparency, accountability, and good governance she used at her installation in 2012.<br /> <br /> The Richard Azan matter, the National Housing Trust (NHT)/Outameni matter and now the NSWMA/Jennifer Edwards matter are key examples.<br /> <br /> Recall Azan admitted to not following guidelines but yet there's nothing of a consequence to him for his admitted transgression. But he's a Portia loyalist. We are a country rife with corruption and lawlessness.<br /> <br /> Easton Douglas, the chairman of the NHT board, damaged public trust through his handling of the Outameni saga yet there's nothing to show for his transgression. But he's a Portia loyalist.<br /> <br /> Now, Jennifer Edwards, the prime minister says, did not light the fire at Riverton, so if the board did not act, we could well be preparing for 2016's fire under her leadership. But she's a Portia loyalist.<br /> <br /> All of the incidents involving these people have touched at some core issues of democracy, and the prime minister, in every instance, turned her frock tail at the public and ran to their defence, rather than safeguarding the interests of the people.<br /> <br /> The situations involving Azan, Edwards and Douglas, were prime for demonstrating to the country how serious the present government is about changing the diseased culture of leadership and being Shylock-like in ensuring dear price is paid for transgressions.<br /> <br /> How many times since her installation address has Portia returned to refresh her mind of what she promised? Is there anybody in the Cabinet who will even remind her of what she said?<br /> <br /> Marlon Williams<br /> <br /> nolramwilly@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Thanks, NSWMA board...loyalists usually safe<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Monday, March 23, 2015 2:00 AM Garbage in, politics out http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Garbage-in--politics-out_18621933 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Jennifer Edwards was doomed to fail from the outset.<br /> <br /> Her employment may have been political, but having only 37 per cent of her budget approved meant that she couldn't perform and, in the end, not even political contacts could save her. In fact, the prime minister's feeble attempt to shield her didn't make a difference. It was simply a case of garbage in at the Riverton dump and politics out.<br /> <br /> Peter Espeut, a former board member, suggested that when the Jamaica Labour Party is in power the dump is controlled by the One Order Gang, and when the People's National Party is in power, the Klansman gang. There is just no way to escape the politics.<br /> <br /> If both political parties are serious about putting the interest of Jamaica first then they would hasten to implement a waste-to-energy plant. The Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) is saying: "The incineration of municipal solid waste (non-toxic waste) is considered an efficient method of waste disposal due to the potential for thermal energy and also its environmentally-friendly nature. Such plants are fitted with scrubbers which trap gases and particles. This would reduce the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of by over 85 per cent." This is what many of us have been saying for years without the benefit of the type of research that CaPRI has done.<br /> <br /> Incidentally, the dust/gas mask the Minister of Local Government Noel Arscott was wearing at the dump after returning from Japan is the type everyone should have for proper protection against dust and noxious gases. It is far more expensive than the simple dust mask other people are wearing, but I guess we have to protect those who are more important.<br /> <br /> Mark Clarke<br /> <br /> Siloah PO, St Elizabeth<br /> <br /> mark_clarke9@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Garbage in, politics out<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Monday, March 23, 2015 2:00 AM Health Ministry must not push this one under the carpet http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Health-Ministry-must-not-push-this-one-under-the-carpet_18596102 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The recent statement from the Ministry of Health stating that Jamaicans should not experience any long-term effects from the fire at the Riverton disposal site is both alarming and troubling. Over the weekend the same government ministry told the nation that samples were taken of the air quality at two locations and that these were sent off to be tested. We were further informed that the results would be available on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. We are yet to hear such results. It bears thought as to how such a statement could be forthcoming at this time, since the result of the air quality would be pending. The statement from the Health Ministry is at best premature and irresponsible. In fact, further explanation is required.<br /> <br /> Disturbingly, in 2012 the cancer-causing chemical Benzene was detected at three times the World Health Organization's (WHO) air standard as a result of a fire at the said disposal facility. According to the American Cancer Society, benzene is a colourless, flammable liquid with a sweet odour. It evaporates quickly when exposed to air. It is used mainly as a starting material in making other chemicals, including plastics, lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides. The link between benzene and cancer has largely focused on leukaemia and cancers of other blood cells.<br /> <br /> Rates of leukemia, particularly acute myeloid leukaemia, have been found to be higher in studies of workers exposed to high levels of benzene, such as those in the chemical, shoe making, and oil refining industries.<br /> <br /> The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the WHO. Its major goal is to identify causes of cancer. IARC classifies benzene as "carcinogenic to humans", and also notes that benzene exposure has been linked with acute lymphocytic leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.<br /> <br /> The National Toxicology Program (NTP) is formed from parts of several different US government agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration. The NTP has classified benzene as "known to be a human carcinogen".<br /> <br /> The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains the Integrated Risk Information System, an electronic database that contains information on human health effects from exposure to various substances in the environment. The EPA classifies benzene as a known human carcinogen.<br /> <br /> It would be quite interesting to find out if the Ministry of Health conducted a study to see how many Jamaicans exposed to the smoke and noxious fumes in 2012 got cancer, and the particular type.<br /> <br /> Additionally, we need to know whether the Ministry of Health has any plans to monitors those 800-plus Jamaicans who had to seek medical attention due to their exposure to this most recent fire at Riverton City. Even without such a study being done, I think the Ministry of Health owes us some clarification on the matter. We also need to hear from the Ministry of Environment regarding the environmental impact of the fire at Riverton.<br /> <br /> I'm sure if the disposal site was located in an upper middle-class community, then we would not be having this discussion, since a suitable alternative would have been found.<br /> <br /> Recall what former US President John F Kennedy said: "Our most common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."<br /> <br /> waykam@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> www.wayaine.blogspot.com<br /> <br /> @WayneCamo<br /> <br /> Health Ministry must not push this one under the carpet<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11613670/Riverton-Fire_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Saturday, March 21, 2015 12:00 AM Bebeto Harris lived a full life http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Bebeto-Harris-lived-a-full-life_18546916 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Bebeto Ronaldo Harris, the young sixth former from Tarrant High School who perished in the flames at his house in Rose Town with his two siblings, was an exemplary student who knew what he wanted in life. He was a focused 18-year-old who felt the desire to be an effective role model in his community. Bebeto was strident in convincing the Tarrant family in an essay he wrote for acceptance to sixth form that he wanted to be a man of substance and a role model to men in his community where he lives, and was willing to be a standout among his peers.<br /> <br /> Bebeto's death is a big loss to the Jamaican populace, where he would have been a positive role model with his sanguine personality. The great possibilities of this young genius becoming someone substantial in life were endless because he was an enormous talent. Though young, this potential nation-builder has left sheer sadness because of his own words which he has said in the essay.<br /> <br /> The young stalwart said: "If I am able to persuade other young persons in my community, especially the young men to continue studies after fifth form I am certain that they will feel and react differently to the environment, while positively impacting the society." His words left me breathless.<br /> <br /> This young man was an extraordinary talent who knew what he wanted in life and was willing to work to meet the needs of his family, but he was cut down too soon. Young Harris was a man who wanted to make a difference in his community and show that resilience, hard work and commitment are the key components to success in life.<br /> <br /> In ending his essay, Bebeto said: "In essence, my reasons for desiring entry to sixth form vary from my own personal upliftment to the betterment of my career path. I firmly believe that in order for individuals to positively impact the society they must be adequately qualified or trained in order to perform effectively and efficiently in our given field."<br /> <br /> What's more, Bebeto was a very skilful footballer who also had the midas touch. His life was engulfed with brilliance. He shall be missed.<br /> <br /> Paris Taylor<br /> <br /> Greater Portmore<br /> <br /> St Catherine<br /> <br /> paristaylor82@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Bebeto Harris lived a full life<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11614050/bebeto-harris_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, March 20, 2015 2:00 AM We are making a grave error; test them! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-are-making-a-grave-error--test-them_18596097 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Champs turns 105 years old next week and has been the crucible from which Jamaica's track prowess has developed. In the last 20 years the island's dominance on the global athletics stage has taken on epic proportions, demonstrated in the fact that between 2009 and 2012 the roster of the world's 12 fastest men included 10 Jamaicans. The fact that the fastest man and woman in the world are Jamaicans only underlines the significant stranglehold that Jamaica now has on global athletics, borne without question from a meet known by track and field aficionados simply as Champs.<br /> <br /> No other meet anywhere in the world comes even remotely close in stature, support and importance. To young Jamaicans still ensconsed within our secondary school system, to coaches in every corner of island, to enthusiasts like myself who has followed the sport since 1969, track in Jamaica is a religion.<br /> <br /> Today, the sport presents a tremendous opportunity for talented youngsters to create a space for themselves and for coaches and school administrators to cover themselves in the glory that Champs brings. Today, a young man or woman can make a career out of athletics, as with the billions of dollars now being thrown at the sport by corporate Jamaica as well as entities outside of the island, track and field in Jamaica is no longer a hobby.<br /> <br /> We need to recognise that Jamaica ranks among the top most corrupt countries in the world, and that this reputation runs deep into the DNA of some of us. While I am not singling out any particular athlete nor school, I am not so naive that I am of the belief that the endemic corruption has skirted our athletics programme. Reputations are made, and in a lot of instances it can also be bought. Drug use in sport is not an accidental association, and I may remind the uninitiated that more than a passing number of our premier athletes have been found to have used performance-enhancing substances over the last 10 years. To believe that none of our beloved Champs athletes would ever use performance-enhancing substances is equivalent to purchasing a bridge.<br /> <br /> We must test these athletes and should have been doing so for at least the last five years. To learn that ISSA will not be allowing at least random drug-testing is a huge disappointment and a grave error on the part of the administrators. For this sends a message to those who may be engaged in the practice that it is "business as usual".<br /> <br /> Richard Blackford<br /> <br /> Florida, USA<br /> <br /> richardhblackford@gmail.com<br /> <br /> We are making a grave error; test them!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11614046/drug-free-school-zone_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, March 20, 2015 2:00 AM Bollocks! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Bollocks-_18587200 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Marion Bullock-DuCasse is incorrect in saying that the Riverton dump smoke will have no lasting effects. The fire has a number of effects on the materials being burned, it vaporises some of the plastics and partially burns some of these vaporised plastics producing a huge variety of materials. PVC alone yields hydrochoric acid, Benzene and unsaturated hydrocarbons, it pyrolyses woody or food trash producing tars. As we know from smokers, such tars can be carcinogenic over time. As for the particulates 10 micrometres and smaller, the US EPA states, "these particles can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health effects".<br /> <br /> There is a huge body of scholarly research freely available on the smoke from "trash fires"and their health effects which include decreased lung function, neurological disorders, cancers and heart attacks. So I don't know how Dr Bullock-DuCasse came by her opinion.<br /> <br /> Howard Chin, PE<br /> <br /> Member<br /> <br /> Jamaica Institution of Engineers<br /> <br /> hmc14@cwjamaica.com<br /> <br /> Bollocks!<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11555951/Dr-Marion-Bullock-Ducasse_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, March 19, 2015 12:00 AM What a 'waste' of energy http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/What-a--waste--of-energy_18587219 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Whether it was to move the dump or convert it to a waste-to-energy system, the Government, which has been made up by the People's National Party, has failed to deliver a solution.<br /> <br /> Many people are convinced this lack of urgency on the part of the PNP is directly linked to the fact that the dump lies in a PNP stronghold and many person earn from it.<br /> <br /> And now we hear the Government begging time to rectify the situation after so many occasions the dump has shown to be a hazardous system.<br /> <br /> Schools have had to close and, according to the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, we have lost millions in production time.<br /> <br /> And the prime minister is working, working, working.<br /> <br /> In classical physics, work is defined as when you push against an object and the wall actually moves; if it does not move then you are wasting energy, and that is all I see the first female prime minister doing.<br /> <br /> But she earns, too, does she not? Even with the big failure that she is overall, she carries home a decent salary and will forever have the title of first female prime minister as her only legacy really.<br /> <br /> Poor Madam Prime Minister! Does she even know that history will not give her even a D- after all the "workings" she has been doing?<br /> <br /> Mark Trought<br /> <br /> marktrought@gmail.com<br /> <br /> What a 'waste' of energy<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11598213/riverton-fire_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, March 19, 2015 12:00 AM Charge the Gov't for the bad roads http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Charge-the-Gov-t-for-the-bad-roads_18568326 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> In the aftermath of the accident in Christian Pen, Portmore, St Catherine, on Thursday, February 26, 2015, in which 11 people were injured after the driver of the Hiace bus swerved to avoid a pothole, our government should be held accountable when it is discovered that the poor condition of the road was indeed a factor in the accident.<br /> <br /> Jamaica is famous for many things, among them our breathtaking landscape, delectable cuisine, beautiful beaches and, as highlighted by our very own songbird Tessanne Chin on the international singing competition The Voice, our potholes and by extension our poor road conditions.<br /> <br /> One such road hazard happens to be our wide collection of coffin-sized potholes that have developed, with no one assuming responsibility to fix them. Unfortunately, these potholes sometimes result in serious or fatal accidents, which are devastating for the victims and families of the deceased.<br /> <br /> The roads in Jamaica are sometimes narrow, which makes it all the more difficult for a driver to manoeuvre around a pothole, which unavoidably increases the risk of having or causing an accident.<br /> <br /> Secondly, after recently celebrating 50 years of Independence, Jamaica is yet to have guard rails constructed along our hilly terrain. This obviously is a disaster just waiting to happen. It is as if the Government is playing Russian roulette with the lives of citizens. I'm surprised that we do not have more fatalities on our roads, because there is absolutely no barrier between the driver and the precipice.<br /> <br /> Additionally, more needs to be done to improve the response time of our emergency personnel. Twenty minutes to respond to an accident is completely unacceptable. The Government of Jamaica has the responsibility of ensuring these teamss are thoroughly trained and equipped to combat any emergency in a more suitable time frame, as this may help to save more lives.<br /> <br /> I suggest that monetary compensation be paid to victims and their families following the necessary investigation and conclusion that the poor condition of the road played a part in the accident as well as the implementation of sanctions on the relevant government bodies. I'm certain that this effort would reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents caused by poor road conditions, because if our Government was being held accountable, then our roads would be in pristine condition. The Government of Jamaica needs to do more by making our roads more user-friendly.<br /> <br /> Jollene<br /> <br /> Jamaican<br /> <br /> Charge the Gov't for the bad roads<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11546334/_DSC0897_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, March 19, 2015 12:00 AM We're in a chokehold http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-re-in-a-chokehold_18587170 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Clovis's cartoon 'I can't breathe' reminds me of the term used after the awful killing of an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, on the streets of New York. He was put in a chokehold by an NYPD officer and Garner never had a chance.<br /> <br /> There is more than one way to suffocate our people. Like Garner, the many adults and children who had to be taken to emergency rooms or clinics never had a chance against the smoke. For many years, poor management of the Riverton dump left the area exposed and accessible by many, some of whom, it is alleged, lit the fire deliberately and for reasons explained easily by all those who are in the know and the vicinity.<br /> <br /> Here, there is no need for a physical chokehold as we have a high probability of a fire being started at a dump -- deliberately or otherwise -- that is sure to place a chokehold on citizens. The Government also 'suffocates' people when they make pronouncements that there will be no harmful effects of the soot before all the testing and time has passed. Seeing it fit to say that there will be no long-term effects from the Riverton fire is careless at best, and dishonest at worst. It is high time we learn from premature announcements.<br /> <br /> I hope that one day the powers that be will start listening to all the stakeholders who were talking, writing, begging and beseeching for action regarding Jamaica's waste management. It hurts us physically and economically when we fail to be proactive.<br /> <br /> Sandra M Taylor Wiggan<br /> <br /> sandra_wiggan@yahoo.co.uk<br /> <br /> We're in a chokehold<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11603260/smoke-maverly_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, March 19, 2015 12:00 AM Limit the fall of the tax axe http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Limit-the-fall-of-the-tax-axe_18587186 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> As I see it, and we all should, Parliament should repeal all laws delegating powers to ministers of finance, or any other person, to levy taxes without the prior approval of the full Parliament and consultation with all stakeholders.<br /> <br /> Charles I of England (1600-1649) was executed for tyrannical conducts of levying taxes without the consent of Parliament and other acts of treason. Our present minister of finance has legislative power subject to subsequent approval of Parliament, but when a minister, in reckless disregard for the adverse effect on the economy, imposes a tax to take effect within a few hours after his announcement, as in the case of cigarettes &mdash; Carreras, a major contributor to the budget &mdash; and the draconian rise in costs to those involved in distributing petrol, depriving the long-suffering society from benefiting from falling petroleum prices, it must be a time for change.<br /> <br /> The conduct of the minister of health in arbitrarily effecting smoking regulations adversely, affecting the budget, is another reason for there to be review of laws of delegation to tax-levying ministers, who are only human and so prone not only to mistakes, but to abuse privilege.<br /> <br /> Owen S Crosbie<br /> <br /> Mandeville, Manchester<br /> <br /> oss@cwjamaica.com<br /> <br /> Limit the fall of the tax axe<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11591649/Peter-Phillips_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, March 19, 2015 12:00 AM Salute to Asst Sup Ryan Gayle http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Salute-to-Asst-Sup-Ryan-Gayle_18560892 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I write to commend a police officer who recently acted bravely and professionally in the interest of a motorist visiting our island and who was the victim of a hit-and-run driver.<br /> <br /> The visitor is my friend and was travelling on the Ashton road between Bethel Town and New Market in Westmoreland on Sunday, February 22, 2015.<br /> <br /> Another motorist insisted on overtaking my friend at a dangerously narrow spot and in the process hit the vehicle and did substantial damage to it, and then sped away. My friend tried to give chase, but felt somewhat intimidated being a visitor.<br /> <br /> However, another motorist travelling in the same direction observed what happened and gave chase and apprehended the hit-and-run driver. This third motorist was Assistant Superintendent Ryan Gayle of the St Ann Division. He called and got assistance from the New Market Police who promptly came and took charge of the investigation.<br /> <br /> My friend felt very relieved and vindicated, especially that he was driving a rented car and would have been liable for the damage.<br /> <br /> Thanks to Assistant Superintendent Ryan Gayle for his proactive, kind and professional conduct. He truly lived out the motto of the force "to serve, protect and reassure".<br /> <br /> Rev Dr E A Lewis<br /> <br /> Volunteer chaplain<br /> <br /> Jamaica Constabulary Force<br /> <br /> Salute to Asst Sup Ryan Gayle<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, March 19, 2015 12:00 AM The shame of abject failure http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/The-shame-of-abject-failure-_18575246 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Most people are afraid of failure. No normal person wants to be associated with failure, so it seems we have some very abnormal managers of Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Lately Jamaica has been faced with misery, gloom, fiascos, and botches. Too many policies have turned out to be abject, epic failures. We are shocked by crime and violence while we are told that there is nothing to worry about, and that Jamaica is the best place to do business even if you can't breathe. Now we are in the midst of a serious public health risk because of the Riverton fire. Already there are direct and indirect costs associated with this debacle with economic and productivity consequences we can ill afford as a nation.<br /> <br /> Does the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) have sole jurisdiction for solid waste management in Jamaica? Even by Third World standards, the management of Riverton dump is poor and lacking, as we are decades behind where we should be. It is a shame that in this day and age we are operating the Riverton dump as a big rubbish heap instead of a landfill or organised solid waste treatment plant and compost factory. The health and environmental experts continue to flap in their confusion even as we read about carcinogenic pollutants. Managers and directors who are paid to ensure that we can breathe spend much of their time reacting, fumbling and bungling instead of planning, organising, directing and controlling; the latter would have restricted access to the site. What a shame! How about a little management?<br /> <br /> When events are cyclical in nature we know they are going to happen; they are predictable. The cycle of the annual drought, hillside fires, Riverton blaze, hurricane season, rainy months are all events that we know are going to happen. Yet, every year they come with great amazement. We sit on our derri&egrave;res and wait for the event, act surprised, issue a press release, then throw blame at each other like silly schoolchildren who play marbles on a swift river bank.<br /> <br /> Our shame tree is as dead as a door post. I am tired of the incompetence of our public officials. Where is the shame in dismal and pathetic management? Is anyone ashamed of the incidence of abject failure? Shouldn't there be more proactive management in the operations and goings on in Jamaica, especially as it affects our vulnerable citizens? What about regulatory oversight?<br /> <br /> Since the executive director of the NSWMA has absolved herself of blame; who therefore is the responsible person? Is anyone in charge? Why isn't there any accountability? Whose head will roll for ignoring and rejecting scholarly information on the management of the Riverton dump?<br /> <br /> Sandra M Taylor Wiggan<br /> <br /> sandra_wiggan@yahoo.co.uk<br /> <br /> The shame of abject failure <br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/11610021/Riverton-Burns_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, March 18, 2015 2:00 AM We need to own our hypocrisy and fix it! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/We-need-to-own-our-hypocrisy-and-fix-it-_18572327 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I continue to be amazed at the level of hypocrisy displayed by some of us who live and work on this piece of rock we call Jamaica. Let's not get it twisted, contrary to our own perception of ourselves, we are not a kind and gentle people, nor do we practise the precepts which accompany the claim of being a Christian country.<br /> <br /> We are loud, crass, ill-mannered and undisciplined. We seek to glorify what is clearly wrong, corrupt and evil because "ah so di ting set", or "ah nuh nutten"! We turn a blind eye to grown 'hard back' men who prey on our children, exploiting their vulnerabilities in the most heartless ways.<br /> <br /> Too many of us have children we know we do not have the means to care for and then expect someone else to bear the responsibility. When we can't meet these needs we hand them over to the State. I could go on and on giving examples of the dysfunctional attitude which permeates the society.<br /> <br /> Are we aware of this? Of course, we are! This is where the hypocrisy is paraded like a show pony at the circus, and every now and then, when it suits our agenda, we trot out the kind of drivel penned by Mark Christie in the Observer of Tuesday, March 10, 2015 aided and abetted by editors who coin emotionally charged and intellectually dishonest headlines such as "Hanna's failure is Ja's death knell" just to sell newspapers.<br /> <br /> Now why should we chastise Lisa Hanna for not creating "the atmosphere in Jamaica that will deter certain acts against our youth" and lay the blame squarely at her feet because the "people have dropped their collective responsibility to protect the youth because they do not see leadership in Hanna"?<br /> <br /> Have we lost our minds? The last time I checked, Hanna, as minister of youth, has the responsibility for the development of policies and programmes to address the societal ills and problems caused by our dereliction of duty to our children, which requires an annual budget of just over $2.3 billion for the Children's Development Agency (CDA) and the Office of the Children's Registry. That is a lot of resources which could be put to better use to really create better opportunities for our children. Listening to Hanna in her last sectoral presentation, and seeing the roll-out of programmes in the ministry in recent times, I get the feeling that the trajectory of the ministry lines up with this objective.<br /> <br /> So may I suggest that Mark Christie and others like him need to get off their political horse and cease to proffer references to unsubstantiated deficiencies in Hanna's performance in her constituency and, instead, galvanise the wider society to take responsibility for our actions and lifestyle.<br /> <br /> M Richards<br /> <br /> mrichards2174@outlook.com<br /> <br /> We need to own our hypocrisy and fix it!<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, March 18, 2015 2:00 AM