THE EDITOR, Sir:
The idea that a young politician would decide to buck patronage politics augurs well for the future. However, while the public outpouring of support in the media is also a sign of a country wanting better politics, the specifics of the Damion Crawford's case must be carefully examined before we get caught in the optics.
It is a matter of record that Mr Crawford is not the only MP who spends significantly on education, and certainly not the only MP who sponsors summer remedial programmes for their constituency. The uninformed public would be delighted to learn that Edmund Bartlett, Omar Davies, Andrew Holness, and Peter Phillips have for years established credible education support programmes and apparently at far less cost and with greater reach and effect than Mr Crawford's.
Mr Crawford is not the only MP to have bucked patronage politics. I recall in the Observer newspaper a few years ago, Andrew Holness, in responding to complaints about dissatisfaction in his constituency, explained that he had made some unpopular decision regarding the expenditure of the Constituency Development Fund on 'non-developmental' requests, in particular funeral grant requests, where the circumstances involved gang activity. Obviously, Mr Holness preferred to spend the funds on the living rather than the dead.
I also know that there are many MPs who have taken similar stances about developing their constituencies through expenditure on infrastructure, education, sport, and entrepreneurial incubation. In none of these cases has there been the level of constituency uproar that we have seen in East Rural St Andrew.
I happen to live in the hillier part of Mr Crawford's constituency, and I must say that he certainly has developed a following among the 'chatter-cracy', as aptly described by Delano Franklyn, but his popularity among the common folk in the district in which I live has nosedived.
People are not upset about the decision to spend on education; they are, however, upset about the unilateral and disrespectful way in which he has gone about it. Mr Crawford has made it seem that the people of East Rural St Andrew are perpetual mendicants, illiterate and lacking in ambition, and he, the enlightened youth, must show them the way.
let down constituents
Thank God I do not need to depend on state welfare. I am retired to my country home. However, my household helper explained it perfectly. She has a child who did not benefit from the elaborate summer camp, though she inquired of it. That being the case, she was looking forward to book vouchers that are the same education welfare expenditure as the summer camp.
To her great disappointment, and my additional expense, she got no help from the State with her education needs. By making the summer camps residential and specific to a certain age range, Mr Crawford has decided to spend public funds in a most inequitable and uneconomical way, depriving many needy persons who would equally qualify for a benefit.
Like every public officer who directs the use of public funds, Mr Crawford should be made to declare how the beneficiaries of the education funds were chosen, what were the overhead and administrative costs involved, and with whom he consulted in making this public expenditure decision.
Carol Brown Chambers