Beyond those green and orange lensesSunday, February 14, 2016
With the debate raging over the late non-starters who have stymied the national debates, Jamaica is blushing that we have not graduated from our tribal type of politics. It is indeed disappointing that the People’s National Party (PNP) has decided not to participate in the debates as they have excellent speakers who could give us good grist for the decision-making mill. Portia Simpson Miller held her own in the 2011 debates with then Prime Minister Andrew Holness, so we are puzzled as to why her handlers are using irrelevant reasons to justify their position.
There are party fanatics so besotted with the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and PNP that they see everything through green and orange lenses — hardly realising how little their leaders care for their safety. On Nomination Day, we saw life-threatening behaviour on our roads. We had to make a detour on our way to work, as the flag-waving crowds filled the entire width of the roadway, and a stream of vehicles kept passing us dangerously. It was a workday, yet this scene was replicated in almost all 63 constituencies. Both parties should be collaborating on a less chaotic way to conduct themselves on Nomination Day, so the country’s well-needed productivity is not affected.
GETTING THE MESSAGE OUT
With the PNP hosting multiple press conferences, the JLP seems to be falling short on their communications plan. Like other columnists, I receive an average of four press releases per day from the PNP media centre. I have seen just a few from the Jamaica Labour Party.
The PNP continues to recall the work of their founder National Hero Norman Manley, and has restored his birthplace in Manchester. The beautiful Bustamante Museum, formerly the residence of JLP founder National Hero Sir Alexander Bustamante, remains shuttered. Seragh and Effie Lakasingh have done yeoman service in restoring the Tucker Avenue location, but have received little support to keep it open. What a beautiful setting it would have been for JLP ‘reasonings’.
In terms of the radio and television advertising campaigns, both parties seem to have rushed the process as they appear to be rough at the edges. The PNP website is more engaging than the JLP’s, showing better gender balance, even if they have only one woman representative more than the JLP.
WOMEN UP TO THE PLATE
It is disappointing that both political parties have less than one-quarter representation by women. As we strive for better governance, worldwide research is showing that when there is a greater gender balance, organisations are better run. The Jamaica Women’s Political Caucus (JWPC) has been conducting seminars to encourage greater participation by women and we hope we will see a continued increase in the coming years.
VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!
We cannot overemphasise the importance of Jamaicans going to the polls to exercise their hard-won franchise. The Electoral Office of Jamaica has extended opening hours so that voters can collect their voter ID cards up to 7 pm on weekdays. It’s a hassle to vote without your ID card, so please make the effort.
US GOVT SENIOR EXEC VISITS DEAFCAN!
While some are politicking, others are ensuring that we upgrade the skills of disabled Jamaicans so they can achieve financial security. That is the objective of #DeafCan! where deaf Jamaicans are being trained to be expert coffee baristas and caterers at their Cassia Park Road location.
You can imagine the delight of students when the first deaf black woman lawyer in the US visited them last Monday. She is none other than Jamaican-born Claudia Gordon, who is chief of staff in the United States Department of Labour’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programmes.
The St Mary native lost her ability to hear at the age of eight. She migrated to the United States three years later, with her determined mother, and began attending a school for the deaf where she excelled.
The beautiful, brainy Gordon watched as the DeafCan! baristas roasted Jamaican High Mountain coffee to fragrant perfection, sampled their delicious beverages, and heartily congratulated them for their excellence.
Kudos to Jamaica-based American Blake Widmer, married to yet another brilliant deaf Jamaican Tashi. Blake is leading the charge to expand the DeafCan! Cafe, with the partnership of the USAID and Digicel Foundation.
MUSTARD SEED’S INT’L LINKS
Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon’s extraordinary work with the poor and severely disabled at Mustard Seed Communities has attracted the support of top US and Irish executives and influencers who serve on the organisation’s overseas boards. They were in Jamaica recently to meet with the local directors including Thalia Lyn, Dr Richard Gomes, Paul Cooper, Bob Fowler, Daniella Gentles-Silvera, and Executive Director Fr Garvin Augustine.
Visiting US board members included Chairman Traug Keller; Senior Vice-President, Business Development of
ESPN Glenn Creamer; Senior Managing Director and Co-founder of Providence Equity Partners; Sister Pat Daley of Tri-State Investments; Fr Jeffery Dillon; Daphne Mahoney; Bill Ballaine, a founding member of the noted LBCF law firm of New York City; as well as Bill Newton; and his lovely wife Terry Newton; and Michael O’Reilly representing MSC Ireland.
In this Year of Mercy, we thank them for using their good offices to bring comfort and relief to the most vulnerable in our society.
UWI RESEARCH DAYS THIS WEEK
UWI, Mona, hosts from this Wednesday to Friday their annual Research Days exhibition with the theme ‘Driving Development through Research and Innovation’. The packed schedule comprises 145 events from all faculties and institutes including demonstrations, tours, seminars and the displays in the research village. Signature events including the public lecture on medical marijuana and the Cobb Lecture Series will be live-streamed at