Mark Wignall | Chatty mouth, cass cass, gunshots!
It began with key government personnel openly and repeatedly castigating the Integrity Commission (IC) as if that body’s operations – examinations, investigations into the political directorate - were somehow out of synch with good governance.
Prior to June of this year when poor focus in governance led the PM to direct his people to end the ‘cass cass’ with the IC, some like Sir Belligerence himself (Warmington) found themselves in political discourse with a reasonably calm and collective man, Minister Bartlett, and a place most painful for Warmington to endure, a decent moment.
It didn’t seem like too many in the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Cabinet cared about reducing the cass cass. Not to be outdone, in an unrelated matter, the People’s National Party’s (PNP’s) GenSec, Dayton Campbell, on a political platform, decided that it was as good a time as any to hurl some slimy, smelly political chicken skin against the nearest wall.
The hope was that sufficient numbers of people would buy into the conclusion that Nationwide is an incubator for the JLP and has a natural, if not cultivated bias, towards the JLP.
Apparently, the PNP is desirous of a chance to control the general political narrative coming from Nationwide, hence the petty accusation.
A few Fridays ago, a lone gunman fired shots into the parking lot of Nationwide studios.
In just a few days, we have tilted from a burdensome winter of discontent to a howling blizzard of fear as last Thursday, a director of the IC was shot and injured in the agency’s car park. If reports are correct that his briefcase was taken, that adds a riddle to it, or it shifts our eyes deliberately.
Let us establish a few facts. The PNP GenSec was politically irresponsible (and maybe starved for a political punchline) when he made the accusation. The second is that no connection has been made between the words from Mr Campbell and the shooting at Nationwide studios.
The third fact is that more than a few JLP Cabinet members have been like petcharies in the back of the Integrity Commission just pecking away and causing many responsible people to view the numbers of fingers pointing back at the JLP. The fourth fact is that no causality has been established by the JLP yapping and the wounding of the IC director.
So what shall we make of these incidents? The easiest but not so logical a conclusion is to label them political. Let’s begin with the IC director. If the shooting is somehow linked to a particular politician, our history will readily inform us that we’ll never discover the culprit. If the shooting is not linked to a politician in the limelight, then who, if such a person exists?
What is the chance that the IC director was simply robbed. Just for the briefcase. Hardly likely if someone expected money. But just for the briefcase. Whose name was on those documents?
The gunfire at Nationwide attracts the most obvious words. Lone wolf. I have been to quite a few inner-city communities and become the ‘boss’ to a number of men who barely know me. They even tell others that I am the boss. So it is somewhat likely that a politician somewhere has a street protector with a 9mm. Really?
Maybe we are all hovering around the land of paradise where words need not attract any sort of physical embellishment like shots of death designed to drive fear into the hearts of those who desire peace the most.
THE SPEAKER HAD NO CHOICE
Last week, my lawyer friend emailed me. “Mark, I see the Speaker of the House, Ms Dalrymple Philibert is in a spot of bother with the Integrity Commission (IC).
“Based on her failures to make personal disclosures while she is in many ways a gatekeeper of sorts in Parliament, she may find public perception moving against her. This makes it difficult to defend that she is not one of those on the IC’s radar. She seems to be a person of some wealth. Neither criticism nor praise. Just fact.
“I would say to her, if you have a duty to make disclosures about what you own, if you are uncertain, you consult with an attorney and a qualified tax preparer to obtain clarity. You are the owner of a vehicle. It does not matter who drives it.
“You own it, and it is your asset. Declare it properly. Then provide a footnote that you allow another party use of the vehicle. Full disclosure. Matter closed.”
One of the shocking aspects of this is that the lady is an attorney-at-law, long in the business. Some may ask, how would this affect her ability to do her job? Simply put: she was not transparent, The Integrity Commission has cited Dalrymple-Philibert for a Mercedes Benz that was omitted from her statutory declarations for seven years. Seven years!
Having vacated her speakership and resigned as MP as I write this (last Thursday), one expects to see the PM address the matter more comprehensively this week. And that would be the perfect time for him to address this matter of those who have been accused of illicit enrichment.
I cannot see the PM opting to apply any spin to this troubling matter. That ball is all spun out.
ONE OF THE POWERFULLY CORRUPT
The emails first came to me sometime in 2017. “Mr. Wignall, you disappoint me. I sent you files detailing a well-known lawyer whose name is known to many. You know him and his big class and political connections in Jamaica.
“And yet that man has forged documents and committed all sorts of fraud to steal land from my father. And, essentially, my children.’
At the point when one of my police sources told me, “Mark, this case freeze up. It shut down. Case close. I didn’t know what to tell the man. He eventually accused me of teaming up with the lawyer to rob him and his family. I told him to go to the GLC.”
What would stop him from going on a talk show and saying I told him what the policeman said?