K.D. Knight is wrong in his diagnosis. It is beyond complacency. Nor is it cynicism.
For that would have suggested that conscious thought is being given to a set of circumstances before arriving at a conclusion, however offensive that outcome might be. Nor do we ascribe Machiavellian motives to those who claim to run Kingston, the Jamaican capital.
They are, as is perhaps the Central Government, afflicted by several things that are far worse, including an absence of ideas and an inability to think creatively.
The upshot is resignation - a sense of one's inability to change things, so why bother?
Therein lies the crisis of downtown Kingston, as was highlighted by this newspaper yesterday: the re-emergence of extortion and social disorder that characterised the old section of the city before Christopher Coke was dislodged and extradited to the United States.
In Coke's time, the chaos was, in a sense, controlled. State authority was essentially peripheral, it having been abandoned to the crime bosses who reaped the economic benefits.
Window of opportunity
The departure of Coke provided a window of opportunity for city authorities and the Jamaican State, more broadly, to reclaim ownership and control of downtown. For a while, it appeared that it might happen.
At least, those in Government talked a lot. The private sector rallied. But the process quickly ran out of steam.
The real problem is an absence of leadership. In the nearly two years since the People's National Party followed its victory in the national election by winning the municipal ones, the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation and the capital's mayor, Angela Brown Burke, have been apparently conscious.
But with regard to ideas and managing the city's affairs, she has been as narcoleptic as any of her recent predecessors. Or worse.
We, for example, continue to be surprised that the vicinity of the KSAC offices remains drab and gritty. We wonder, too, why the trees that line King Street are overgrown.
metaphor FOR INCOMPETENCE
We question also whether it is right that the entrance of, and sidewalks adjacent to, the ornate official buildings, including the Supreme and Appeal courts, are strewn with garbage and overrun by homeless people. Maybe it is that these sights stand as a metaphor for, and subliminal reinforcement of, the state of order downtown.
Of course, after 40 years of inattention and incompetent management, exacerbated by an absence of economic growth, fixing downtown's - or Jamaica's - problems isn't easy. Those who seek office and have responsibility to lead the hoped-for transformation falls into a state of intellectual/policy somnambulism. It's as if the job is too large and too difficult.
There is, however, a way to start the transformation. This newspaper consistently advocates doing the little things and getting them right. Streets must be swept and kept clean, verges trimmed, and kerbs whitewashed. And contrary to what the history of public-sector management may incline officials to believe, these, if honestly managed, need not start expensively and be subject to cost overruns. Simultaneously with getting the little things right, we can think large, innovative ideas.
But, first, leaders have to believe that change is possible and that it can be achieved with honest, moral government.
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