Mon | Sep 24, 2018

Daniel Thwaites | Of 'Forrest fires' and fiery dumps

Published:Sunday | August 5, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Remember way back when we had a contractor general? That was before the weird bipartisan conspiracy locked him up in the cast-iron grill of the Integrity Commission? Ahhhh, the good old days!

So cast your mind back to the OCG Report of July 2016. Read it. Actually, if you don't want to root around too much, just turn to page 199 at #15. It reads, in part:

"The OCG concludes that the employment arrangements of Mr Trevor Forrest... may give rise to possible perceived conflicts of interest. Mr Trevor Forrest is employed to MSET as an adviser to the minister and is also the chairman of the SMA (Spectrum Management Authority) ... The OCG emphasises that while the SMA falls under the purview of the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, the SMA is an independent regulator".

That was the Contractor General saying "Anju ... ah Vegas ah talk to yuh! Yuh nuh listen Bro! Mi tell yuh seh fi COOL an' yuh kill de man my yute!"

It had to do with Caricel/Symbiote, and hey, since we're casting our minds back, let's also recall that that particular situation got to so turbulent that Dr David McBean had his life threatened.

Chances are you don't remember all that, but you can be certain he does, and it's a matter of public record. You can imagine the tensions that developed between a managing director towing the line on that national near-catastrophe and the political superstructure that was almost unanimously against him.

Incidentally, you may also have noticed that the advertised post that Carolyn Warren, subsequently discovered to be something of a habitual and hardened exporter, meant to parachute into was the manager of administration, which would have been, among other things, some oversight of licensing.

I'm certainly not in a position to assert that there is any direct connection between all this, but there's certainly enough shadiness around for us to hang a hammock without fear of sunlight. Or put it another way: there's more smoke and smog than in this latest set of dump fires.

 

McKenzie Notched Up

 

Speaking of which, by the way, Minister Desmond McKenzie notched up in my estimation by asserting definitively that the arsonists, who regularly poison the Jamaican populace, will not be rewarded.

On the other hand, with all the security measures announced for the dumps, it's clear that our national garbage will have better safety arrangements and conditions than we human beings.

Nowadays, depending on who you ask, McBean is an infernal troublemaker, or alternatively, a guy just trying to do what's right. What struck me about the correspondence between himself and his chairman was how politely and tactfully Dr McBean kept inviting Chairman Forrest to desist from the path to perfidy.

What is also striking is how insistent Chairman Forrest was that he would not take any of the many exits McBean kept offering.

With all of that, I don't think Mr Forrest would have been forced to tender his resignation if it wasn't for the toxicity of the Carolyn Warren saga. So many investigative bloodhounds and Governmental stalwarts rushed to roundly and stoutly defend Ms Warren that I also was dragged into thinking her protestation about having only one past indiscretion had to be genuine. It just HAD to be.

It was therefore shocking - shocking! I tell you - to discover that it was not so. When since have so many sacrificed so much credibility on such a poor altar?

 

Basic Fatigue

 

There is a basic fatigue setting in, where it's difficult to follow the unfolding drama because it just keeps feeding on itself and growing wider.

Like these investigations going on with Lawrence Pommells. I wasn't following that branch of the excitement because I just couldn't wrap my mind around a man cruising around with $85 million in cash. It sounded like "fake news" and to those of us with limited imaginations it just didn't seem real. But there it is.

This thing is getting so outa hand that the Prime Minister has determined that he needs to send his whole Cabinet back to school to learn how not to be corrupt. We should pause and acknowledge that's a new stage in our evolution.

I know it's not going to work, and not because of the reasons other people are giving about how the Cabinet is full of old gray-back men who can't learn any new tricks. No Sah. "Back to School" is an established program and it won't work because Ruel is going to channel all of it into St Ann South West to try and buy off the votes against Dr Dayton Campbell. See what I mean? There's a hole in the education pipeline to Cabinet.

On another note, I think it's obvious that Audley should assume the telecoms portfolio as he will be good for business. And naturally Bobby Montague, or perhaps his uncle, is the science man. Beyond that I like the idea of Juliet getting Energy and assuming a formal role as Cabinet boss and Deputy PM. But hey, these are just my thoughts after all this fallout.

Back to the main issue. Anju... "a Vegas ah talk to yuh! Yuh fi LISTEN my yute! Yuh haffi goh leggo offah some ah dem man yah ... back to school ting naw goh werk." Rather than back to school for Cabinet, just do something simpler and more effective, like: give back Dirk the Contractor General work. That would help to restore a few ton-loads of the public confidence that has been whittled away by shocking warrens and mazes created by the Wakanda Wheatleys and Forrest fires of these times.

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.