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 The death of the youth club movement http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/The-death-of-the-youth-club-movement_17221701 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Some time ago I wrote on the youth club movement losing its influence, but it now seems that apart from the police youth clubs, SDC (Social Development Commission) clubs are nowhere to be found.<br /> <br /> The youth club movement had its genesis in the days of the Social Welfare Commission. Now the SDC has almost been discriminated against with the change in community relationships values and attitudes.<br /> <br /> Youths clubs, up to the 80s, were vibrant, with clubs displaying strong leaderships and a fair level of voluntarism, which although not as impressive as in former years was still noticeable. Clubs were still meeting weekly, and organising and planning events for implementation. Members paid dues which encouraged thrift and a level of self-reliance. Members voted in and out poor performing officers, which prepared them for future community and political representations. Clubbites were instilled with certain values and attitudes through the annual leadership training seminars and voluntary services to the general community, eg Labour Day work activities; caring for the elderly, conducting literacy classes and other positive endeavours.<br /> <br /> The youth club movement has the distinction of producing some 60 persons who have represented Jamaica and the West Indies, in various fields of sports. Merlene Ottey, Seymour Newman, Lawrence Rowe, Desmond Lewis, Richard Austin, and others were at some time members of youth clubs. Desmond McKenzie, MP for West Kingston, was a senior member of clubs affiliated to the SDC. This speaks volumes about the effectiveness of the period.<br /> <br /> Youth officers, if they exist, are hardly seen in the communities, organising the thousands of 14-18 at-risk youth on the corners. A frightening statistic highlighted by Prof Don Robothom is that of nearly 250,000 people who, in 2009, were in the 15-19 age group, 88 per cent of whom were neither in school nor at work. Some efforts are being made by Community Security and Justice Programme, but SDC is the implementing arm of government social policy and is designed to tackle the issue of youth development. Officers need to leave the offices and go out and meet the youths on their level and try and reason and understand what their interest is and find appropriate approaches to affect changes.<br /> <br /> Sometimes just being a friend can achieve so much. From my experience, the youths want to see genuine interest in their development, not just to drop a circular about a pending meeting which tends to go nowhere. Plans to have IT centres in parishes are good, but most times the youngsters who you want to reach are unable to go because of reasons including literacy and transportation.<br /> <br /> The people in leadership have to acknowledge that the youth club structure needs to be reorganised with incentives to encourage the thousands of young people outside the school system to be part of mainstream society. Resocialisation must be a priority for the youth.<br /> <br /> Karl Goodison<br /> <br /> boystownydp1@gmail.com<br /> <br /> The death of the youth club movement<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, July 23, 2014 2:00 AM For the sake of history http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/For-the-sake-of-history_17221688 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> IN reference to your Memories of Jamaica article by Donna Hussey-Whyte in the Observer of July 16, 2014, entitled 'Rosa Linton remembers when women could not vote', there are a couple of political points made that need to be clarified and put into context.<br /> <br /> But first, let me congratulate Ms Rosa Linton of Summer Hill, St James on the attainment of her 100th birthday and commend her on the extent of her wonderful memory of past events in historic Jamaica. Not everyone who reaches such a milestone is able to relate past happenings so vividly, and the Observer must also be commended for this feature which must be a source of interest and education to many people. However, a lady who reaches her century can be forgiven for omitting a few details in her story.<br /> <br /> For instance, it is certainly not true to say that before 1944, women "couldn't be politicians". While it might be true that no woman became a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) in the old political system prior to '44, a few women did make their mark as prominent politicians in parochial board (parish council) politics and served with distinction among the males.<br /> <br /> There were women like Iris Collins, a businesswoman in Rosa's parish, who was a councillor for five years before becoming, after adult suffrage, the first woman to be elected to the House of Representatives, as JLP member for North West St James; Mary Morris-Knibb, educator, who served in the KSAC for eight years and was an independent candidate in St Andrew in 1944; Marian Louise Bovell, agriculturist, who served in the St Catherine Parochial Board for eight years (1939-47) and was also an independent candidate in that parish in '44; and the renowned educator and social worker, Amy Bailey of Manchester, who was a founding member of the PNP in 1938.<br /> <br /> However, while I'm in no position to challenge Ms Linton's statement that "they filth in A B Lowe's car" during electioneering in the '40s, I can state as fact that he was not "running for the Labour Party at the time" or any other time, nor was he in any way connected to the party. But it does show that clearly the public's indignation towards politicians, and even one such as an influential black man like A B Lowe, started much earlier than we all thought.<br /> <br /> Born in 1874 at Somerton, St James, Arthur Benjamin Lowe, the powerful and eloquent last MLC for St James, 1936-44, shunned both the JLP and the PNP. And, like most former MLCs, ran as an independent in both the1944 and 1949 general elections. A member of the St James Parochial Board for 42 years (1903-45), he was heavily involved in the banana and sugar industries of the parish. Lowe contested the rural South East St James constituency &mdash; roughly the same area now represented by Derrick Kellier.<br /> <br /> In 1944, he was defeated by the JLP's Robert Cecil McFarlane by just 40 votes, polling 2,898, with Ernest Morris, another independent, getting 2,283. In a seven-man race in 1949, he was drubbed by independent Stanley Scott by 1,907 votes, polling 2,204. The PNP's Max Carey ran third with 1,349, and JLP incumbent Robert Cecil McFarlane placed fifth with 1,150.<br /> <br /> As we continue to accumulate historic pieces of our past for the present and future generations, accuracy is essential to their value.<br /> <br /> Troy Caine<br /> <br /> trodencorp@gmail.com <br /> <br /> For the sake of history<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10877394/Rosa-Linton_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, July 23, 2014 2:00 AM Did Mayor Brown Burke misspeak? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Did-Mayor-Brown-Burke-misspeak-_17173698 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Last Wednesday, July 9, 2014, on TVJ's nightly news I heard the Mayor of Kingston and St Andrew Angela Brown Burke addressing the issue of unpaid property taxes.<br /> <br /> She said that, according to the<br /> <br /> law, if someone rents a place and the property tax is in arrears then the assets of the tenant can be seized. Can this really be true?<br /> <br /> I have always thought that property taxes is the responsibility of owners. I just cannot see the logic or justice in the mayor's statement.<br /> <br /> She then proceeded to make another statement that had me doubting the evidence of my senses. But I checked and others also heard this.<br /> <br /> She proclaimed that, if you visit a friend whose property tax is in arrears, and you park "your nice BMW" outside, you could emerge to find your &mdash; the visitor's &mdash; car has been seized. How can this possibly be legal? Am I the only one who finds this very disturbing? I hope someone can tell me that I really heard that one incorrectly.<br /> <br /> M Bailey<br /> <br /> St Andrew<br /> <br /> mbala@cwjamaica.com <br /> <br /> Did Mayor Brown Burke misspeak?<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, July 23, 2014 2:00 AM Want more than lip service from Seiveright task force http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Want-more-than-lip-service-from-Seiveright-task-force_17221718 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I am delighted to see that for the first in a long time a group of intelligent people are not only concerned about the neglect and underdevelopment that is the parish of St Thomas today, but are working to put a plan together to address it.<br /> <br /> I urge Delano Seiveright, Peter Young, Juliet Cuthbert, and Dr Peter Nelson to make sure that we don't just get lip service but real action as they move forward with this St Thomas Eastern Development Taskforce, as read in the Sunday Observer.<br /> <br /> My close family and I, though from St Thomas, have lived in the US for the last 40 years. After visiting to see some family and friends a few months ago I am appalled at the worsened state of neglect and underdevelopment. St Thomas has always been a "lost and last" parish. Nobody goes there unless they have to, and it is always the last parish to get anything, including as Seiveright said, a high school in 1961 and bridge over the Yallahs River in 2008.<br /> <br /> The people have suffered decades of zero representation. Today there is hardly anything happening and the majority of the people's daily existence is to find food to eat, have night-time 'bashment' parties and pressuring families abroad to send money every week. It is a miserable existence.<br /> <br /> I make one recommendation to the task force and that is to look seriously at getting reparations from the British Government for its heavy-handed and cruel tactics in the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion that left hundreds killed, including national heroes Paul Bogle and George William Gordon and thousands of homes burnt to the ground. Let us not forget that then Governor John Eyre was charged with murder, but the case never proceeded. To this day that wrong is yet to be properly addressed.<br /> <br /> Over to the task force.<br /> <br /> Jamie Patterson<br /> <br /> Chicago, Illinois<br /> <br /> pjamie198@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Want more than lip service from Seiveright task force<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, July 23, 2014 2:00 AM Dr Fenton Ferguson cannot manage health sector http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Dr-Fenton-Ferguson-cannot-manage-health-sector_17215885 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> In a state of utter shock, I saw Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson on TV during a tour of Bellevue Hospital defending his stewardship of the public health sector. He boasted of attending many international conferences and being involved in global conversations about universal health care.<br /> <br /> I urge Dr Ferguson to wake up and smell the coffee. No amount of PR can mask the realities in Jamaica's health sector. The Bellevue Hospital is in a state of crisis and incredible injustice ie being meted out to a vulnerable and often neglected group of Jamaicans. The minister is clearly operating in the clouds and doesn't seem to yet have an appreciation of the problems besetting the entire public health system.<br /> <br /> Just recently the Victoria Jubilee Hospital, the largest maternity hospital in the English-speaking Caribbean, ran out of water; leading many of its employees to protest in disgust. This reflects on you as minister.<br /> <br /> Just around the same time, the University Hospital of the West Indies pointed out that several of their operating theatres will have to be shut down because of air-condition problems. This, Dr Ferguson, reflects on you as minister.<br /> <br /> And on top of these, there are cases everywhere of elevators breaking down; sterilisation services not being available; a major shortage of intravenous fluids; doctors, nurses and other health professionals getting their salaries and allowances short; not enough beds at some hospitals; lax security arrangements; management failings; overworked doctors and nurses; and on and on it goes.<br /> <br /> Dr Ferguson clearly cannot manage and must do the honourable thing and let the government quickly find someone who can "tun dem hand mek fashion".<br /> <br /> Dr Pauline McKenzie<br /> <br /> Jamaica Healthcare Workers Caucus<br /> <br /> Kingston 19<br /> <br /> paulinmckenzie@gmail.comDr Fenton Ferguson cannot manage health sector<br /> <br /> --><br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10874790/Fenton-Ferguson3_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, July 22, 2014 2:00 AM BRICS could create a new world order http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/BRICS-could-create-a-new-world-order_17215810 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The International Economic Order is seriously shaking up and getting ready for a complete overhaul. The signs of this became apparent this week when the world's leading emerging markets Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa had what some deem as the audacity to openly challenge the existing status quo, announcing that they are going to form their own versions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) called the New Development Bank (NDB).<br /> <br /> The NDB will be set up to help these nations and other emerging markets pursue regional trade, investment and infrastructure development, domestic job creation, and poverty reduction. What makes this institution unique is that it has absolutely no ties to any of the major Western powers, but is built specifically with the concerns of developing countries in mind -- or at least that's what they claim.<br /> <br /> The BRICS have not been shy to point out that structural adjustment programmes have not always worked, given it's "one size fits all" approach, which is impossible to do because every country is inherently different; it's problems are different; and thus the solutions should be just as varied.<br /> <br /> Anyone who has been following the trend of the world economy lately should not at all be surprised that this has come to pass -- truth be told the writing was already on the wall. China is predicted to take over from the US as the world's most powerful economy, while Russia and India don't seem very far behind, issues that are of importance to the international political economy have moved from discussions at G7/G8 to summits for the G20, which includes all the BRICS countries. The US, Japan, and western Europe, whose economic supremacy once went unchecked and unchallenged, are now facing stiff competition from these new players, particularly China -- no doubt soon to become the new manufacturing capital of the world.<br /> <br /> The formation of NDB is far more than just an economic statement. More importantly, it is a political statement after years of simply undermining the existing politico-economic order as established by the Bretton Woods system. They've now decided to openly defy the status quo for all the world to see, knowing full well that there's not a single thing the West can do in a pushback against this challenge to supremacy. This is a war of words, a war of ideas, a battle for control of the world's economy, and the US and company are sorely loosing.<br /> <br /> Of course all this could simply be my speculating. Maybe the US and its allies don't really see it as a threat. Maybe they have no ill feelings toward the establishment of this new BRICS-owned entity that they cannot control like they have been doing with similar institutions for the last 70 odd years. But one thing is certain, there was a time when no nation (or alliance of nations) would ever dare to try something like this. But times have certainly changed, and soon developing countries will be signing up, given their disillusion with institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank which they don't see as acting in their best interest.<br /> <br /> The implications are numerous as far the setting up of the NDB is concerned, as is the implications of how it will be received, which right now borders on cautious optimism. Very little is certain, but one thing that is certain, however, is that the influence of the traditional powers is significantly waning, thus making way for a new world order.<br /> <br /> Jason Green<br /> <br /> sirj_green@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> BRICS could create a new world order<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10791739/IMF-Building_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, July 22, 2014 2:00 AM Cut the misconceptions about slavery http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Cut-the-misconceptions-about-slavery_17215897 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> It is very disturbing that whenever we celebrate Emancipation the fictitious stories that are told by many of our historians are taken as factual by many of us.<br /> <br /> In particular, this very false notion that our ancestors abhorred slavery has been nurtured by our so-called historians to the point that very few of us think anything else could be true. A clear understanding of slavery proves that, while many would not want to have been slaves themselves, the institution of slavery itself was not seen as evil.<br /> <br /> Take the case of the Jamaican Maroons. Many of our historians are clearly very determined to rewrite history to suit today's political correctness. Jamaica's Maroons are always presented as fierce anti-slavery warriors. However, the Maroons were not actually fighting slavery at all. The Maroons were actually fighting British rule. Many historians routinely confuse the two.<br /> <br /> This fact is clearly backed up by the peace treaty that the Maroons signed with the British. Among other things, the Maroons agreed to help the British defend the island from foreign invasions and they agreed to help the British maintain order on the island. Perhaps most importantly was the fact that that peace treaty obligated the Maroons to return escaped slaves to their owners. Indeed, slavery continued long after the peace treaty was signed, with no further Maroon resistance. How do our historians manage to twist this fact into an anti-slavery struggle is beyond me.<br /> <br /> Then we have the case of Jamaica's Samuel Sharpe -- a national hero. Again, Sharpe is always presented as a slave determined to end slavery. His famous statement that he would rather die than be a slave has been so misrepresented and taken out of context that Sharpe himself would have been shocked if he was alive today.<br /> <br /> Thanks to our "historians" most of us are unaware of the fact that Sharpe's original quarrel was not about Emancipation. Sharpe initially wanted the slaves to remain slaves. His initial issue with the planters was not about freedom, but reduced working hours. When the planters refused to give him the time off that he wanted, it was then that he began to have bigger aspirations. Imagine what would have happened if the planters had agreed to his original demands.<br /> <br /> The correct context that Sharpe's statement about him preferring death to slavery is not that he abhorred the institution of slavery, but that he himself did not want to be a slave. There is a fundamental difference between the two.<br /> <br /> There are cases of former black slaves, after winning their freedom, becoming slave owners themselves. Indeed, it is little known that the first slave in America was actually owned by a black man.<br /> <br /> To put the whole issue about the dislike of slavery then into its correct context is to see it within the context of some type of jobs that none of us would like to have today -- but which must be done. Take the job of cleaning septic tanks for example. No one wants to do it, but it has to be done.<br /> <br /> The whole truth of the matter is that most of the Africans who were shipped here came from environments where slavery was the norm. To the vast majority, their new slavery wasn't much different from what they were accustomed to in Africa anyway. How then do these so-called historians expect us to believe that these Africans would then be so opposed to the institution of slavery?<br /> <br /> Another truth that is uncomfortable to many is the fact that Emancipation has more to do with economics and less to do with morality. Indeed, if the economics of the institution of slavery was profitable, we would most likely still be slaves today. Let's therefore celebrate Emancipation in truth and not wishful thinking.<br /> <br /> Michael A Dingwall,<br /> <br /> michael_a_dingwall@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Cut the misconceptions about slavery<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, July 22, 2014 2:00 AM Ja backstage the world's theatre http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Ja-backstage-the-world-s-theatre_17210799 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Politics and economic development go together with political theatre and are as much symbolic as is actual economic reality.<br /> <br /> Vladimir Putin visited Central America and the Caribbean with a ceremonial visits to Cuba for the abolishing of the debt owed to Russia, and a stop for a short visit to Nicaragua for the acknowledgement of the wonder of the twenty-first century to date in that of the Nicaraguan Canal.<br /> <br /> Jamaica was nowhere to be found in the visit of the Russian president to the New World, which culminated in the announcement of the BRIC pact in Brazil. How far down the totem pole has Jamaica descended to be totally obscured from the politics that is unfolding before our very eyes.<br /> <br /> It is a pity that Jamaica, once at the vanguard of the Caribbean experiment, and later at the vanguard of the non-alignment movement to have, by all appearances, been relegated into obscurity as a non-player in the currently unfolding developments.<br /> <br /> Jamaica's interests need vigorous pursuing and defending for a country that has a significant amount of development left to be accomplished.<br /> <br /> It is more than apparent that pettiness, self-indulgence and parochialism have become the defining characteristics of the current political cadre of the country and Jamaica is no longer the country it once was or was once perceived by the rest of the world.<br /> <br /> Our political leadership, athletic prowess, dominant musical culture, and outstanding demonstrated connection to Africa have always placed us in a unique position for a small country in the theatre of world affairs. That unfortunately is no longer evident. There is no country that can survive without real visionary leadership. It is not enough to be in charge. Leadership answers to history and what is the history of Jamaica to be politically with a current role on the periphery of world events without the clear demonstration of the direct relations with the powerbrokers of world politics.<br /> <br /> The most significant development in renewable energy development should have been seen with the clear demonstration of a direct engagement with Angela Merkel by Portia Simpson Miller, where Jamaica would be benefiting from the necessary significant reduction of the cost of energy.<br /> <br /> What we are witnessing here is a clear sidelining of Jamaica in the scheme of world developments. Someone had better challenge the country's political leadership to get Jamaica back in tune with expectations that were once the norm.<br /> <br /> Douglas B Gooden<br /> <br /> douglasbstagooden@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Ja backstage the world's theatre<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Monday, July 21, 2014 2:00 AM Fix school boards: Our education system deserves better http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Fix-school-boards--Our-education-system-deserves-better_17210581 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> A society is as great as the public education system which caters to the children of that society. The Jamaican education system, over the years, has gone through a process of transformation. However, for the most part, our policymakers have failed the nation's children as this transformation has been hijacked by interest groups to the detriment of sustainable development.<br /> <br /> We continue to give our politicians unbridled power to do just about anything without any level of accountability and transparency. The meddling of our politicians, over successive governments, in the education system is now being felt by all in a negative way.<br /> <br /> One area of the education system which has been overlooked is that of the composition of school boards. In too many instances our school boards are full of political appointees, many of whom have no interest in education. This process of political interference inevitably contributes to the failing status that many of our schools now find themselves in.<br /> <br /> We entrust school boards to provide effective and fair leadership, as well as to adjudicate in matters concerning stakeholders in the education system. All schools are community schools regardless of location. Therefore, it is imperative that all school boards have members from their respective communities.<br /> <br /> Additionally, past students of the particular school should automatically be selected to serve on such boards. School boards should be non-partisan. A school board can have a strong influence on the spirit that characterises a community's impression of its school system. The Education Act should be revised to ensure that all school boards meet with their teachers and other stakeholders at the start of each school term. In too many instances teachers have no clue as to who are the members of their school boards since they have never seen them. This practice is most unacceptable. Our education system deserves better.<br /> <br /> Additionally, the State needs to invest more in training school board members. The time has come for us as a nation to put in place the necessary policy procedures to ensure that we embrace and follow a more progressive agenda, instead of trying the same things repeatedly, which clearly have not and will not work for Jamaica's public education system.<br /> <br /> Our schools are our most prized institutions and as such we must ensure that we select the most capable and competent individuals to serve on our school boards.<br /> <br /> Wayne Campbell<br /> <br /> waykam@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> www.wayaine.blogspot.com<br /> <br /> Fix school boards: Our education system deserves better<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10872236/ZZ7C66E3C0_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Monday, July 21, 2014 2:00 AM The paradox of not judging http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/The-paradox-of-not-judging_17210872 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> In the heated debate surrounding LGBTQ lifestyles one of the expressions I've come to increasingly detest is 'don't judge'.<br /> <br /> Implicit in that statement is a judgement on the act of judging, thus rendering the speaker both incoherent and hypocritical, since he is contradicting himself by engaging in the very act he is currently condemning.<br /> <br /> It is important to note that we must be gentle and loving in our interactions with all people, regardless of the views they express. And it must also be noted that judging another person's behaviour and judging another person are two different things.<br /> <br /> But equally important is the fact that people are sometimes offended simply because you disagree with them, no matter how respectfully you package that disagreement. Jesus did absolutely nothing wrong in His entire life and look at the response He got -- a painful, humiliating death. While I (and no other Christian for that matter) can put myself on the infinitely perfect, sinless level of Jesus Christ, I say all this to highlight that being offended doesn't mean you're in the right.<br /> <br /> To the inveterate instigators of this incoherence, I implore you to instead say to Bible-believing Christians, "I disagree with your judgement on this issue," or "I don't approve of your reasons for this position". But please, do not cite the expression "don't judge" outside of its logical, original scriptural context and use it as a weapon against God's word <br /> <br /> and truth.<br /> <br /> Alexander Smith<br /> <br /> lexsmith269@gmail.com<br /> <br /> The paradox <br /> <br /> of not judging<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Monday, July 21, 2014 2:00 AM Change the name of the Office of the Public Defender http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Change-the-name-of-the-Office-of-the-Public-Defender_17210741 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The name Office of the Public Defender is a mistake. It is just not consistent with the international norms for such an office.<br /> <br /> For example, in the United States and Brazil, a public defender is a lawyer appointed to represent people who cannot afford to hire an attorney. In New Zealand, the Public Defender Services, administered by the Legal Services Agency, is an in-house service which provides criminal legal aid and duty solicitor services to up to one-third of all legally aided defendants.<br /> <br /> In the United Kingdom, the Public Defender Service (PDS) is a department of the Legal Aid Agency that operates alongside private providers delivering a full range of quality services within the criminal defence market; from advice and representation at the police station and magistrates courts through to advocacy in the higher courts.<br /> <br /> My suggestion is that we move to a seven-member commission, National Civil & Equal Rights Commission, with a chairperson or executive director.<br /> <br /> In the United States, the United States Commission on Civil Rights is composed of eight commissioners: four appointed by the president and four by Congress. Not more than four members shall at any one time be of the same political party. The president also designates the chairperson and vice chair from among the commission's members with the concurrence of a majority of the commission's members.<br /> <br /> The commissioners serve six-year terms. No Senate confirmation is required. The president may remove a member of the commission only for neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.<br /> <br /> The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was created by the US Commission on Civil Rights. Since then, Congress has reauthorised or extended the legislation creating the commission several times; the last reauthorisation was in 1994 by the Civil Rights Commission Amendments Act of 1994.<br /> <br /> Established as an independent, bipartisan, fact-finding federal agency, its mission is to inform the development of national civil rights policy and enhance enforcement of federal civil rights laws. It pursues this mission by studying alleged deprivations of voting rights and alleged discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin, or in the administration of justice. This vital role aims in advancing civil rights through objective and comprehensive investigation, research, and analysis on issues of fundamental concern to the federal government and the public.<br /> <br /> We should have a body so designed.<br /> <br /> Michael Brown<br /> <br /> miguelbro@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> Change the name of the Office of the Public Defender<br /> <br /> --> Local Letters to the Editor Monday, July 21, 2014 2:00 AM I'm about to lose my house, Mama P http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/I-m-about-to-lose-my-house--Mama-P_17187201 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> According to Marcus Mosiah Garvey: "Education is the process by which man is prepared for their own particular civilisation and the advancement and glory of their own race." Jamaica seems to be treading on dangerous grounds with so many unemployed teachers who are finding it hard to survive in the "land of wood and water".<br /> <br /> Frustration is the order of the day. Personally, I am perturbed by a statement issued by Education Minister Ronnie Thwaites in June 2014, that the Government will not be hiring new teachers. How could there be a wage freeze and no job creation at the same time? Are we trying to create a society of unemployed professional thieves or poverty-stricken professionals? We have bills to pay Minister Thwaites, such as NHT mortgages, loans at the credit union, and student loans. How can we pay these without a job? NHT is breathing down our necks to pay up or else, while the Government busily taking out what they can. Loans to be paid are accruing interest and penalties daily.<br /> <br /> Frustration is the order of the day. Personally, I am perturbed by a statement issued by Education Minister Ronnie Thwaites in June 2014, that the Government will not be hiring new teachers. How could there be a wage freeze and no job creation at the same time? Are we trying to create a society of unemployed professional thieves or poverty-stricken professionals? We have bills to pay Minister Thwaites, such as NHT mortgages, loans at the credit union, and student loans. How can we pay these without a job? NHT is breathing down our necks to pay up or else, while the Government busily taking out what they can. Loans to be paid are accruing interest and penalties daily.<br /> <br /> Do you or the Portia Simpson Miller-led Administration really care, Rev Thwaites? I am about to lose my house because I can't get a job. Furthermore it gets even more burdensome because I am unable to service my loan at the credit union. What do you want me to do, Mr Thwaites?<br /> <br /> This Government has sacrificed education at the expense of borrowing from the International Monetary Fund. I am sure as hell bitter as other educators who spend our money to get a good education and unable to secure a job. Everything around us falling down like London Bridge. If we cannot get jobs I believe something should be put in place for us to secure our house with the NHT in the form of a waiver, ie no payment until we are gainfully employed. The waiver should also be in place for those of us who cannot service our loans at the credit union or Students' Loan Bureau.<br /> <br /> I frankly believe the Government is more concerned about passing the IMF test rather than ensuring the advancement and glory of its people. Where are the jobs you promised us Mama P? Maybe you save them for the retired people who are brought back into the system while competent people are available for the job. This is so absurd! We are creating an elderly workforce and youthful unemployed professionals. It's really sad! Mama P, you claim to love the poor, why are we losing all that we have? Why are we not getting any job in order to survive? At least we deserve the basic necessities of life: food, clothing and shelter. If we are unemployed then we won't be able to afford these basic human needs. We need jobs, Minister Thwaites, and we need it with much urgency. We need to live too!<br /> <br /> Stewarton District<br /> <br /> Clarendon<br /> <br /> educatorforlife@outlook.com<br /> <br /> I'm about to lose my house, Mama P<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10863506/Ronald-Thwaites-NEW_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, July 18, 2014 2:00 AM Stop majoring in the minors, JCF http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Stop-majoring-in-the-minors--JCF_17187319 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Yesterday, our neighbour had a confrontation with my nephew because a plant fell out of a container and caused dust/dirt -- according to the neighbour -- to get to her sheet which was on the clothes line. She did not take it down and wash it again, but in her usual style, she ranted and raved, cursing every member of my family.<br /> <br /> Later, she made a report to her husband that my nephew was jeering her. Much later he [the husband] brought a policeman from Elletson Road Branch to interrogate my nephew as to his side of the story.<br /> <br /> Since when did the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) investigate such a trivial domestic affair as one neighbour alleging that another has smeared or messed up her sheets on a clothes line?<br /> <br /> Quoting the JCF website: "The JCF is responsible for the maintenance of law and order, the prevention and detection of crime, the investigation of alleged crimes, the protection of life and property, and the enforcement of all criminal laws as defined by the Jamaican penal code. They also provide general assistance to the public, as needed."<br /> <br /> Where is the JCF when there is a road accident and help is required? Where are they when a wife is being beaten by her man and the neighbour calls? Why are they not quick to respond to the many robberies, extortion, murders, and abductions taking place?<br /> <br /> Could it be that it is because they are busy investigating allegations of household disputes which do not impinge on the law? Is this the "general assistance to the public" that forms a part of their responsibilities?<br /> <br /> JCF, do not waste time on trivialities.<br /> <br /> Ouida Williams<br /> <br /> Write for change<br /> <br /> deanouida@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Stop majoring in the minors, JCF<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/9819097/police-hat2_0_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, July 18, 2014 2:00 AM Esther Tyson &mdash; a class act http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Esther-Tyson----a-class-act_17186654 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Ardenne High School has benefited tremendously from the stewardship of Esther Tyson and she has been equally dynamic in her short stint at Tarrant High School. Some people are just class acts no matter where they go. She did a very great job in establishing a seemingly efficient and effective system at Ardenne High School.<br /> <br /> Ardenne has been voted as the number one secondary school in the Caribbean in 2013. This is unprecedented, remarkable, and certainly a part of her continued legacy. She has encouraged a system of leadership which is hard to ignore and disregard due to the kind of ideals which she has effectively conceptualised. She has achieved these enviable programmes due to the astute administrational policies which she has formulated and constantly executes. The unique leadership acumens and credentials she presents are timeless as such most appropriate for this modern era. Her transformation of Tarrant High in one year as it stands currently is enviable even to some traditional high schools. She has overall the entire logistics with appropriate implementations.<br /> <br /> Her problem-solving skills are second to none and she has an aura which she uses to command the interest of her subordinates. Mrs Tyson doesn't act as the superior personnel, in spite of the fact that she was the most senior person of the teaching staff. As principal, she employs a measured approach in the running of the school. She is such a fantastic individual who demand only the best from her staff to ensure that the best is disseminated to the students under her watch.<br /> <br /> She should have spent a more protracted time at Tarrant, but due to her significant and invaluable contribution what she has done in her short timeframe is best termed as spectacular. She is magnificent in ensuring that discipline is an integral part of the ambience at the institution, hence was loved and adored by everyone. The selfless mannerism plus the magnitude of her impact on education in Jamaica she should be given something from the Government to compliment her great efforts and successes. I don't subscribe to the idea that people are given accolades when their best years have passed.<br /> <br /> She deserves a national honour in education for her tireless efforts towards nation-building and her sterling contribution.<br /> <br /> Paris Taylor<br /> <br /> Greater Portmore<br /> <br /> paristaylor82@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Esther Tyson -- a class act<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10863513/Esther-Tyson_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, July 18, 2014 2:00 AM How to stifle a 'growth agenda' http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/How-to-stifle-a--growth-agenda-_17186636 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> If it were not so sad it would be laughable how often the Government and its various spokespersons and institutions speak about a "growth agenda" for the country, while other agencies under its control indulge in practices that have the exact opposite effect on anything that could remotely resemble growth agenda.<br /> <br /> Let's look at a recent manifestation of the growth agenda and business accommodation that we often hear about.<br /> <br /> I recently requested a site inspection from the Customs Department, believing that this was a routine matter. I was told that my company's containers could only be inspected at an already approved location. l pointed out to Customs that the new location was my customer's premises and it was more convenient and less costly to inspect the goods there.<br /> <br /> They then said that they would send me a list of the rules and conditions under which they would consider the inspection. When l received the list it was two pages of almost 30 items, mainly concerned with the comfort of the Customs officers while on the site.<br /> <br /> I must be fair to the Site Unit, as they did send two officers to look at the location within a day of my request, but this was little comfort to our business as the location was not approved, notwithstanding the fact that it was properly secured, with a perimeter fence, security guards and decent toilet facilities &mdash; all of which met or exceeded the two-page list of requirements.<br /> <br /> No consideration was given to the additional costs l would be bearing in the double-handling of the goods, on top of the extra GCT, CAF, Environmental Tax, BSJ Levy; all in addition to the relatively new requirement of paying GCT upfront on GOJ suppliers.<br /> <br /> The authorities must understand that the way to grow an economy is not to keep on taking everything away from businesses, even as you tie them up with absurd bureaucracy. Real growth will only happen with enlightened, proactive, and friendly policies that do not take a decade to be implemented.<br /> <br /> Frustrated Businessman<br /> <br /> Liguanea<br /> <br /> St Andrew<br /> <br /> How to stifle a 'growth agenda'<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10006685/Port-Authority_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Friday, July 18, 2014 2:00 AM Bunting's failure to be forthright, an affront to J'cans http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Bunting-s-failure-to-be-forthright--an-affront-to-J-cans_17180068 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The continued failure of National Security Minister Peter Bunting to be forthright on the issue of Commission of Police Owen Ellington's resignation is being viewed as an affront to the interest of the Jamaican people. This is the view of civil lobby group Citizens' Action for Principle and Integrity (CAPI), who earlier called for the Government to come clean and clear on the issues that caused the seemingly sudden departure of Commissioner Ellington.<br /> <br /> Ellington announced that he will be going on pre-retirement leave last week, suggesting that the investigation into death squad activities as well as the commission of enquiry to be held into the May 2010 Tivoli incursion have informed his decision to quit the force.<br /> <br /> The lobby group notes that, while it appreciates the possible sensitive nature of the information involved, it is disingenuous of the minister to hide under the cloak of classified information in an obvious attempt to obfuscate the matter, this while dropping hints for the general public to decipher.<br /> <br /> The minister must be reminded that national security and the fight against crime hinges on the buy-in of the citizenry, facilitated by an environment of transparency and candour. The culture of secrecy which characterises the Government doesn't augur well for stakeholders' buy-in.<br /> <br /> We dismiss the suggestion that Ellington's departure was caused by concerns of human rights abuses by international partners, as the outgoing commissioner has been consistent in his efforts to remind his sub-ordinates, through force orders, of their obligation to protect the human rights of citizens. We are of the belief that the issue(s) surrounding Ellington's sudden departure goes beyond what is stated by the minister in Parliament.<br /> <br /> CAPI argues that Bunting's statement in Parliament serves only to confuse rather than clarify, which only adds intrigue to the matter. This will no doubt fuel the rumours and speculations which abound since the commissioner's resignation, the group asserts.<br /> <br /> Again, CAPI urges the Government to be forthright on the issues which occasioned the untimely departure of Owen Ellington without compromising any national security strategy.<br /> <br /> Dennis Meadows & Hugh Fagan<br /> <br /> Co-convenors<br /> <br /> Citizens' Action for Principle and Integrity<br /> <br /> dennis.meadows@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> hughfagan@gmail.com<br /> <br /> Bunting's failure to be forthright, an affront to J'cans<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10860409/Peter-Bunting1_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, July 17, 2014 2:00 AM Tell us the truth, Ellington http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Tell-us-the-truth--Ellington_17180059 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> I believe everybody knows what the word " bombshell" mean. The sudden resignation of Commissioner Ellington was a national bombshell.<br /> <br /> But we are hearing some news that he might have been pushed to the point where he had to jump the time gun. But, was it a good jump or a bad jump?<br /> <br /> Anyway, it really seems as if something unpleasant had got the better of him for him to have to call it a day.<br /> <br /> But, Ellington should stand still and see the salvation. He should come bravely forward and tell the nation what has gone wrong, so that the unpleasant matter can be straightened out.<br /> <br /> We are very concerned, and suspicions are brewing like a fiery storm. Why this commissioner, who seemed so calm, cool and collective, who seemed to be doing a fine job, has suddenly thrown in the towel. Tell us the truth, and nothing but the whole truth, as to what has prompted or caused him to quit his job.<br /> <br /> The commissioner has given us a good impression that he was a devoted and reliable man, one who is very focused on carrying out his job. So, please, tell us the truth, yourself, Mr Ellington. Let no one speak for you.<br /> <br /> Jamaica needs a very good commissioner, now more than ever.<br /> <br /> Donald J McKoy<br /> <br /> donaldmckoy2010@hotmail.com<br /> <br /> Tell us the truth, Ellington<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10860423/Owen-Ellington-1_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, July 17, 2014 1:00 AM The big, international picture http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/The-big--international-picture-_17179843 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> In 2010, the United States allegedly threatened to suspended aid to Jamaica following the operation that preceded the extradition of West Kingston strongman, Christopher Dudus Coke, citing provisions under the Leahy Law, according to a report carried by the New York Times in 2011 and an admission made by National Security Minister Peter Bunting in Parliament recently.<br /> <br /> Fast-forward to our impasse today, a much-competent police commissioner, Owen Ellington, demitted office under a cloud of allegations of human rights abuses that the US allegedly has pin-pointed Ellington to have administered. This is the talk.<br /> <br /> Unfortunately, because of our economic woes and dependency on big brother economies like the US, we have had to fall in line when orders are spewed.<br /> <br /> No other territory has the authority to even ask a nation to comply with moral orders, mind you -- this is not an excuse for countries such as ours to commit human rights abuses.<br /> <br /> The United States has a bloody hand when it comes on to extrajudicial killings. An examination of Obama's war on terror since 2013 is alarming. Innocent civilians in Pakistan and south-east Asia are dying at the hands of drone strikes authorised by the Administration, yet the they walk the streets as if all is well. No matter how much talk and paperr the US State Department adds to its reasons for drone strike, it is unjustifiable. How many terrorists have been killed as a result of drone strikes? Since when did international laws change to allow drones to become judge, jury and executioner?<br /> <br /> With the current conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine, one has to wonder if the US has any role in ending this battle? Israeli's aggression towards Palestine is possible solely because of financial, diplomatic and even military support provided by the foreign states. Last evening, Obama was busy issuing sanctions on Russian officials over the crisis in Ukraine, but continues to ignore how Israel is devastating Palestine. As we say as Christians, there are two types of sins: the sin of commission (what you do) and the sin of omission (what you don't do).<br /> <br /> The United States is found wanting in both instances. Yet the allegedly call the shots here.<br /> <br /> Jevon Minto<br /> <br /> Northern Caribbean University<br /> <br /> mintojevon@gmail.com<br /> <br /> The big, international picture <br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10469284/Dudus-1_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, July 17, 2014 1:00 AM DR Congo and Jamaica in same bath pan http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/DR-Congo-and-Jamaica-in-same-bath-pan_17179865 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Where is our prime minister? Why are Jamaicans being neglected? So many of us have been simply pushed aside and no one seems to care enough to do diddly squat.<br /> <br /> There is no water and it is simply due to government negligence. Without doubt our leaders know by now that we have a period of drought followed by a period of rain every year. They know this, yet no preparation is made to avert the consequent water shortage.<br /> <br /> I really don't believe the excuses. There is no reason we should be going through this agony of water shortage in Jamaica &mdash; the land of wood and water. There is already a shortage of jobs and now a shortage of water. I feel uncared for, to be honest.<br /> <br /> I really don't believe the excuses. There is no reason we should be going through this agony of water shortage in Jamaica &mdash; the land of wood and water. There is already a shortage of jobs and now a shortage of water. I feel uncared for, to be honest.<br /> <br /> The National Water Commission (NWC) has not been doing very well in getting water to all Jamaicans, and their failure to provide this life-sustaining liquid has had adverse effects on the livelihood of so many of us.<br /> <br /> Living in rural St James has made me more aware of how much more work our water company needs to be doing in providing potable water to every household. In 21st century Jamaica, people still have to walk long distances to the nearest standpipe or fetch water seeping out of holes for household use -- a situation which so many people across the island are living through.<br /> <br /> It is a grave injustice, and only by divine intervention are we surviving, because if it doesn't rain, or there isn't a nearby river, the suffering from the lack of piped water would be catastrophic.<br /> <br /> I recently read an article on Yahoo News entitled 'Water everywhere for DR Congo city yet scarcely a drop to drink'. It is about a water shortage situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo located in the African Great Lakes region of Central Africa where residents of Goma, a city which sits by one of the world's largest freshwater reservoirs and has some of Africa's heaviest annual rainfall yet the people are suffering from shortage of water. Imagine that!<br /> <br /> "Most of the city's one million residents, living close to the shores of Lake Kivu, have to struggle every day to fetch water home." It was an austere reflection of our current distress in Jamaica and how much poor governance can wreak havoc on a people. The people of the DR Congo, like us, deserve better. Sir, it is not a case of a lack of water, but simply a lack of foresight and care on the part of our Government to properly distribute potable water and methodically maintain stable water supply to the public. Stability just seems more and more dubious in our country. Furthermore, with the seemingly tight fiscal space in which the NWC seems to be operating, it will be no surprise if the Government should announce that they are forming a committee to oversee NWC's divestment sooner than later.<br /> <br /> The NWC has been failing to fulfill its core function which is to provide water to the public. Historically speaking, or should I say hysterically, when a state-owned entity becomes financially strapped, the Government fervently seeks to get rid of it, and I fear our water company is steering down the barrel of divestment. That outcome would not be a common assault on Jamaica. This level of national water shortage really shouldn't be happening and I think it is a clear demonstration of how shoddily our nation is being governed.<br /> <br /> Derville Lowe<br /> <br /> Montego Bay, St James<br /> <br /> drvlllowe@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> DR Congo and Jamaica in same bath pan<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10850671/Water_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Thursday, July 17, 2014 2:00 AM JIM tips its mortarboard to Sir Howard http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/JIM-tips-its-mortarboard-to-Sir-Howard Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Sir Howard Cooke was the second president of the Jamaican Institute of Management, having succeeded Sir Florizel Glasspole in August 1991. He continued in this role until he retired as governor general and passed the baton over to his successor Sir Kenneth Hall.<br /> <br /> The existence of the successor organisation, the Jamaica Institute of Management (2009) Limited, is as a result of an initiative spearheaded by Sir Howard. And, as we celebrate his life and philanthropy, we must applaud his contribution to the continuance of the JIM legacy.<br /> <br /> Sir Howard was committed to education for all Jamaicans and recognised the importance of preserving an institution that had provided the required management training and exposure to many of the captains of industry, business and commerce in Jamaica when there were few other local options available to them.<br /> <br /> Decisive action by Sir Howard, to intervene and call for a review of the status of the organisation, resulted in the decision to dissolve the council and appoint an interim committee, which was indeed a bold and visionary step. This action arrested the financial haemorrhage and eventually restored the Manager of the Year programme in partnership with The Gleaner Company Limited and a successful management conference was hosted. The former chairman of JIM, Dr Alfred Sangster, recalls that &ldquo;his initiative was responsible for keeping JIM as a going concern&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Today, we must show our appreciation to this father of the new Jamaica, whose pioneering approach to education, leadership and philanthropy made it possible for organisations such as the new JIM to succeed.<br /> <br /> JIM is now guided by a formal board of directors and is a membership organisation focused on improving the cadre of professional managers through the promotion of best practices in management as an essential discipline for economic development. JIM recently celebrated the 21st Manager of the Year award, which remains the primary vehicle through which exemplary management practice is recognised and rewarded.<br /> <br /> On behalf of the council and membership of JIM let me express our sincere condolence to the Cooke family, and in particular Lady Cooke.<br /> <br /> Sandra Shirley, FJIM<br /> <br /> Chairman<br /> <br /> Jamaica Institute of Management (2009) Limited Letters to the Editor Wednesday, July 16, 2014 2:07 AM When a dollar is worth less than a penny http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/When-a-dollar-is-worth-less-than-a-penny_17173482 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> IMF chief Madam Christine Lagarde's visit came and went. According to Lagarde, our economy is on the right track and the Jamaican dollar should continue its devaluation until it settles at the true value &mdash; a painful but very necessary process.<br /> <br /> We know constant devaluation significantly impedes economic progress, which adversely affects everyone and stifles the economy. It is difficult to plan and budget and can only hedge on the uncertainty of where the dollar will settle even for the next month. I have heard talks about controlling the rate of decline; I believe this is a must if we want more stability, even as we try to monitor the economy and fix what's wrong with it.<br /> <br /> Our dollar will forever be devaluing if we don't take steps to halt the slide. Those who say we should not interfere don't understand our culture or reality, and the fact that the dollar has been sliding steadily for decades. Our imports are already excessive, which add unnecessary strain on the demand for limited US dollars, leading to ongoing devaluation of the Jamaican currency, and everyone is affected. We import far too much relative to what we produce and export to earn foreign exchange.<br /> <br /> I read some time ago that Jamaica imported more fake hair/wigs than any other Caribbean island, as much as 7-14 times in some cases. These hair imports were valued over US$7 million in 2012. I wouldn't want to imagine the value of bleaching cream imports.<br /> <br /> At the same time, our country received significant inflows of foreign currency remittances, as much as US$2 billion each year, which amount to at least 50 per cent of what is remitted to the entire Caribbean region each year, according to reports. Something is radically wrong with the equation; we definitely should be in a much better place by now. We need to control imports and we are too debt-ridden.<br /> <br /> Since our dollar is now worth less than a US penny, in terms of value, we should also consider phasing out some coins less than a dollar; most are useless anyway. Rounding prices up or down to the nearest dollar would not affect the consumer or businesses at the end of the day. Eliminating coins would also save on minting costs and create less work and hassle for banks and businesses that have to count, sort, store, and exchange all these coins.<br /> <br /> Years ago, I recall Canada phased out their smallest unit, the penny, the transition was simple and virtually unnoticeable and prices were rounded to the nearest five cents for making change. We should look into this. For starters, the smaller units which are now worthless, 25 cents, 10 cents, and 1 cent coins, could be phased out and exchanged per dollar at banks until they are no longer used.<br /> <br /> And, while we focus on economic recovery, we cannot ignore economic growth. Yes, it is easier said than done, but not even an individual can thrive for long living way above his means and relying forever on credit, all while spending most of his earnings on debt repayment. At some point something must give. The bottom is bound to fall out.<br /> <br /> P Chin<br /> <br /> chin_p@yahoo.com<br /> <br /> When a dollar is worth less than a penny<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10857534/coins_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Wednesday, July 16, 2014 2:00 AM I agree, let&rsquo;s abolish the NCC http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/I-agree--let-s-abolish-the-NCC Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> The call for the Government to simplify the way we do business with their respective agencies came in for renewed attention during the recent visit of the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde.<br /> <br /> Her visit, while focusing on the overall success, to date, of the IMF programme in Jamaica, provided an opportunity for us to look at other areas for which the Government is calling for growth in the economy. One area which l believe should come in for immediate review is the government procurement policies and guidelines.<br /> <br /> The policy is cumbersome, repetitive and layered over like a lasagne. The first thing we should do is abolish the National Contracts Commission (NCC).<br /> <br /> Anyone should be allowed to bid on GOJ projects/procurement, thus allowing a wider field of suppliers and more competitive bids for GOJ contracts. All the work that this agency does now could be carried out by the procuring entities.<br /> <br /> As to its sector committee, this is an unnecessary layer in the process and should have been done away with long ago. It is a waste of time that often results in delays of up to three months in awarding GOJ contracts.<br /> <br /> The next thing that needs to be addressed is an increase in the contract value submitted for public tender. The present amount of $5 million is too small. It should be increased to $15 million, in keeping with inflation over the many years since this amount was established.<br /> <br /> The Government should move with haste to address this albatross of bureaucracy from around the collective neck of the business community and allow us to set the country on a path to growth.<br /> <br /> Winston D Barrett<br /> <br /> Manor Park<br /> <br /> mycomm876@gmail.com Letters to the Editor Wednesday, July 16, 2014 2:10 AM Classism in class http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Classism-in-class Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> Nelson Mandela&rsquo;s visit to Jamaica in 1991 signalled his appreciation of Jamaica&rsquo;s role in the destruction of the formal apartheid system in South Africa. Perhaps unknown to Mandela at the time was that Jamaica was contending with her own apartheid system, which still exists in aspects of our lives, including in some of our high schools.<br /> <br /> At my high school I am often reminded that I am black. Not in the sense that black is beautiful, but that I &mdash; and other black students &mdash; am inferior to the light-skinned classmates who constitute my grade 8 class.<br /> <br /> During a classroom session I approached one of my teachers with queries regarding a paper she had marked. I was dismissed and told to return to my seat. I was perturbed by her behaviour, but was even more so after a light-skinned classmate who was waiting behind me, and who had the same queries, was readily accommodated. I felt awfully dejected by this.<br /> <br /> Classism is a real issue at my school. Light-skinned and dark-skinned students with wealthy parents seem to be favoured by teachers. Some teachers make no effort to conceal this. Sometimes I feel as if I am in the Roll of Thunder days. We earned our right to be at this institution as much as they did, yet we are sometimes treated disrespectfully because we are not lightskinned, wealthy or Asian.<br /> <br /> Mr Mandela was correct in his declaration that: &ldquo;After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Skye C Wood<br /> <br /> Kingston Letters to the Editor Wednesday, July 16, 2014 2:13 AM Let Ellington be http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Let-Ellington-be_17167378 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> While the storm of speculation rages around Owen Ellington, as a mere private citizen I want to ask a few questions of the public at large.<br /> <br /> 1. How many previous commissioners of police gave notice of their intent to demit office?<br /> <br /> 2. How many commissioners of police over the past 20 years have survived in office more than six months after an election?<br /> <br /> 3. Wasn't it only this year that important civic groups were calling for Ellington's resignation?<br /> <br /> 4. After 34 years in the force and 5 years in one of the toughest jobs in Jamaica, doesn't Ellington have the right to take back what is left of his life?<br /> <br /> 5. Aren't we always clamouring for people to "do the right thing and resign" when things go wrong? Should he not be congratulated for stepping aside to allow his name to be cleared?<br /> <br /> Well, all the speculations and calumniators have striven mightily in the fields of rumour, scandal and malice and have come up only with "guilty by reason of friendship" or with sly limits of unknown crimes stopping just barely at the border of defamation.<br /> <br /> If this is how we reward service to the country it is small wonder that good men remain silent and that commitment and conviction give way to expedience and self-serving behaviours.<br /> <br /> Who would it benefit if Owen Ellington's reputation is destroyed and the good work that he has done discredited?<br /> <br /> Elizabeth Brown<br /> <br /> Kingston 8<br /> <br /> Let Ellington be<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10854809/Owen-Ellington01_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, July 15, 2014 2:00 AM A few lessons from the World Cup http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/A-few-lessons-from-the-World-Cup_17167227 Dear Editor,<br /> <br /> First of all, I wish to congratulate Germany on a well-fought victory in the final of the competition.<br /> <br /> I learned this great lesson of life, and by extension sports, from my late great headmaster Douglas Forrest: "False friends are like your shadow, they stand close while you are in the sunshine but disappear once you cross into the shade."<br /> <br /> Ever since I played Colts football in 1962, Brazil has been my team of choice, and I have grown to believe that a vast majority of Jamaicans would admit to this at the beginning of the competition. On the day of the semi-final, however, I agreed to meet some pals at a favourite elbow-bending spot on Belmont Road after half-time. I donned my Brazil T-shirt and, to my amazement, when I got there, if there was one other Brazilian supporter with a Brazilian T-shirt on my eyes must have been closed. With the team 5 goals down, I reflected on this real lesson of life on "false friends".<br /> <br /> The World Cup football competition is such a spectacle that it must be true that only the strong survive. For any team to get to the semi-finals in this or any other competition, particularly where there are knockout matches &mdash; unless at least 26 of the 32 teams are exceptionally weak &mdash; that team must be darn good or exceptionally lucky.<br /> <br /> When expectations are high, the only result that will satisfy those who can only write or speak is to<br /> <br /> come first. Quite often there are mitigating variables that, in spite of our best effort, we will be beaten. Nevertheless, we must give of our best at all times.<br /> <br /> "Farming appears to be mighty easy when your plough is a pen or a microphone and you are a thousand miles from the field."<br /> <br /> Additionally, I heard a comment on a local television station by one of its commentators which included "Heil Hitler". I was just about to lose my cool when I remembered a line from Desiderata: "Even the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story." There are many bits of poetry that give me a measure of inspiration and some that allow me to remain calm when I listen to expressions by some experts in their chosen field. We must not forget the great cruelty that was displayed by the then leader, Hitler. Over six million Jews were slaughtered and many Jamaicans lost their lives in the ensuing war. Many serious things are said in jest.<br /> <br /> Of note, though, I believe that the Brazilian team must be the only team in the world that could reach the semi-final of an international competition yet earn so much flack. Let's go to the Bible: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much of him they will ask more." (Luke 12: 48)<br /> <br /> Clive W Savage<br /> <br /> Kingston 6<br /> <br /> A few lessons from the World Cup<br /> <br /> --> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/10854810/BRAZIL-DONKEY_w300.jpg Local Letters to the Editor Tuesday, July 15, 2014 2:00 AM