Orville Taylor | ‘Green’ light means go
In an era when politicians sidestep responsibility, blame others for their indiscretions or spend millions to avoid having to speak the truth, Floyd Green seems to have used his knowledge from agriculture and grown some humongous coconuts. I can’t speak for him or what went on in his head; but based on the video, what he did was not ‘Wright’.
Green, the elected member of parliament for South Western St Elizabeth, and minister of agriculture, was seen in a viral clip involving him, parish councillor Andrew Bellamy, Gabrielle Hylton, the vice-president of the JLP National Organisation for Women, who is also Green’s assistant, and a number of others were having a drink up, celebrating something with the echo of “Showa Labourite” in the background. Without independent verification, it appears that it was a celebration during the no-movement days. What is clear is that the participants were not following the masking or physical distancing protocols.
Funny, his senior colleagues have kept parties fuelled by natural gas, bought cars that are as reliable as a crackhead, cursed police officers and flicked the birdie at the public. Others have had more charges than a truck battery yet draw full pay, and the list goes on.
If there was an eponym, Green is it. A fresh face to Labourite politics, sounding like a recently graduated academic, who speaks unscripted and fluently. Unlike many of his fellow ministers, he does not buck and stutter as if finding space for the lies or missing idea. And yes, he is an attorney, who are stereotyped as great speakers, but of course if the sampling in the houses are exemplars, then Green and Pearnel Charles Jr are outliers. Anyway, he was a rising star who is charismatic, holds a crowd and is believable.
Green did what grown men and women should do. First, he was unequivocal. Of all those politicians who have fallen short, he wasn’t the most wrong. Yet, pointed no fingers at what others had done. He manned up and in short order apologised and punished himself by resigning.
There is a narrative about him being forced to resign. This suggest that he was raked over the coals and constrictively dismissed. However, my opinion is that he accepted his conduct as repudiatory and as a good lawyer, who did not forget his ethics, chose to not embellish, diminish or disrespect those who pointed out his error. In a country that prides itself as being ‘Christian’, it is a big deal for me that those who commit wrong admit it, apologise, make restitution and/or accept punishment if necessary. There are too many ‘wrong and strong’ people in this society.
It is not a peccadillo. In a period when we lost our grip on the COVID-19 pandemic through a combination of leadership mistakes and public indiscipline, the message must be clear. Almost 1,800 of Jamaicans have died from the 78,000 reported cases, and those of us who survived the illness are still traumatised by the fight for our lives. An elected official and minister of government has to walk the talk. Therefore, like those others whom the police sniffed and dug out like hidden money in a husband’s pocket, Green and all those who seem to be in the video must face the possibility of being charged.
Name and nature, Green brings to mind British Health Minister Matt Hancock, who was captured on camera deep-kissing with his paramour in defiance of their similar anti-COVID-19 laws. Truth is, Hancock was caught between a rock and hard place because he was not only exiled from the Cabinet but likely also from the marital bedroom.
Nonetheless, Green has not admitted to any crime in the presence of his attorney. Neither has he made any caution statement, nor has the person who recorded the video been identified, nor have the time and location of the gathering been independently verified. Follow me here. He is still not guilty of an offence under the law and might never be convicted. However, on the balance of probability, and there being a reasonable suspicion of guilt regarding his contract of service, his dismissal/resignation is thus justifiable.
Still, any further action taken against Green must be done in a context where criminally charged former Minister of Education Ruel Reid and Professor Fritz Pinnock, president of Caribbean Maritime University, are being paid millions in salary while on suspension and on trial for criminal charges.
At a time when 88 indicted police officers are suspended without pay, another 78, who are charged for offences allegedly committed in the execution of their duties, interdicted on 75 per cent of basic pay with no allowances, and yet another 45, who have been exonerated but still not reinstated, Babylon is watching the great house. An unfairly treated constabulary cannot be expected to properly enforce our COVID-19 laws and other statutes when there are triple standards.
Let us hope that there is greener grass on the horizon.
- Dr Orville Taylor is head of the Department of Sociology at The University of the West Indies, a radio talk-show host, and author of ‘Broken Promises, Hearts and Pockets’. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.