OCHO RIOS, St Ann:
A FORMER president of the St Ann Chamber of Commerce says the time has come for authorities to crack the whip, literally, in order to improve the resort town of Ocho Rios.
Retired dental surgeon Dr John E. McDowell, 91, believes this is, in part, because of paltry fines, the failure of litter wardens and the cavalier approach of other persons authorised to police soft crimes. He wants much more telling sanctions on offenders.
"I think, instead of putting them in prison, they should be given a flogging! I am dead serious about that and ... they would learn a lesson," he told a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the Mystic Ridge resort in the town last Wednesday.
Tourism is the lifeblood of the north coast town, which has been grappling with improper garbage disposal, harassment of visitors and squatting, the combined effect of which threatens to undermine its attraction to visitors.
McDowell argued that even when persons are convicted for petty crimes, small fines and prison sentences tend to have very little effect on them, with the society at large being made to pay again - literally.
"Now when they are put in prison, we, with our taxes, have to pay for them, and the people, when they get in prison, they become more hardened criminals ... . Nothing is done to rehabilitate them."
McDowell, who is now a member of the chamber's advisory committee, has led a long, vigorous campaign for a sustained clean-up effort of the north coast and is on record with letters to The Gleaner, as far back as 1991, calling for a number of initiatives such as public-awareness campaigns, and timely and structured collection of solid waste.