Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Making an Arscott of himself

Published:Wednesday | March 18, 2015 | 12:00 AM

I cannot understand Noel Arscott. Neither, I suspect, can Noel Arscott, at times, understand himself. With three years logged at the helm of the local government ministry, Arscott appears no closer to finding his best stride as the most accountable individual in the ministry or, indeed, as a member of the most powerful decision-making body in this country. Arscott comes across as a man who's deathly afraid of his own ideas, to the extent that he forbids himself from generating any. This lack of confidence in himself renders Arscott incapable of being assertive and forceful in his role as minister, and makes him a prisoner to the ideas and suggestions of advisers and consultants, who take advantage of the fact that they have a Cabinet minister who they can manipulate. Puppet on a string is what Ken Boothe would call him.

Yes, he's a nice man. Yes, he has a firm handshake. But Arscott needs to get a grip on his responsibilities as minister. No doubt, he and others will protest this profile, arguing that he's doing a good job with limited resources in the local government ministry. I would have no need to use expletives to shred their argument. All I would do is scribble three words on a piece of paper: 'Riverton City dump'.

 

ALL THE RIGHT THINGS

 

Arscott said all the right things in 2012, when he told members of the press at Jamaica House about the plan to address the frequent fires at Riverton. He spoke of cover material and heavy equipment being pre-positioned, and how the daily management of the facility would allow for a sharp response to swiftly contain fires. In essence, Arscott spoke of doing the routine things that would allow any fire, whether caused by spontaneous combustion or arsonists, to be dealt with in a short time. In his own nervy manner, like a 27-year-old male virgin fumbling with the bra strap of the woman who was about to make him a man, Arscott didn't convince. But he bought himself time.

Two years and several fires later, his advisers pulled another masterstroke when they armed him with information about a waste-to-energy project at the dump, which would see the garbage being put to productive use. Arscott 'buck shuffled' his way through explaining the project in an interview with me in March last year, barely disguising the fact that he himself wasn't too sure about the project. Again, that statement bought him some time. But time is such a hypocrite that it will do you a favour today and then bite you in your privates tomorrow. And that is what time has done to Noel Arscott. None of what he announced in 2012 has been done at Riverton. And that waste-to- energy project remains a concept, stored in the brain of one of his minions at the local government ministry.

 

SHORT PANTS

 

And it's precisely because of his failure to deliver on those stated assurances that Arscott deserves to be forced to wear short pants at each remaining Cabinet meeting until the next election. Of course, he'll not resign. And, given that he's the cousin of the boss lady, he'll not be sacked. So the wearing of the short pants, imposed by a vote of the Cabinet, is a way for us to show Arscott that we, like him, know that certain things are beyond him.

Having Arscott in charge, at the policy level, of matters concerning the Riverton City dump is bad enough. Twinning him with Jennifer Edwards, the head of the National Solid Waste Management Authority, is courting disaster. And disaster is what has happened since the fire broke out at the dump last Wednesday. People talk of square pegs in round holes. But Miss Edwards' performance in giving strategic direction to the management of Riverton, marks her out as a square peg where there are no holes. She really has no use. Like a third shoelace, the same colour as the other two. This is not to disparage Miss Edwards. It's just an acknowledgement of her failures. What a pair, eh? Noel and Jennifer. The dynamic duo. Two the hard way. Selah.

- George Davis is a journalist. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com