Thursday, January 26, 2012

The politics of destruction has begun

For this past week, I have been quietly following reports from Grenada that some members of the “triumvirate”, in cahoots with others, are on a specific trajectory to politically destroy some of their own.

There has been a strong suspicion that the phones of some members of cabinet have been bugged.

The evidence has largely been circumstantial – and so I have never written about it, since I was quietly digging deeper for a few weeks now.

But the writing is on the wall, when it became clear last week that a specific request had gone out to the FIU – Financial Intelligence Unit – directing that they demand the phone records of a very senior government official. And I mean very senior. (However, more on that to come someday very soon).

There is no doubt – in my mind and in the minds of many others – that a clique in this government has embarked on the politics of destruction. The Glen Noel-led Tillman Thomas wing of the NDC has declared a scorched earth policy.

They are satisfied that they cannot win the next election on their own – and nobody else will stand to win it, which makes the Prime Minister – without him realizing – being the biggest agent for the return of Keith Mitchell.

It is both sad and amusing, when it has been government officials – and not the opposition – that have begun floating stuff that Joseph Gilbert somehow might have been involved in some impropriety – even though there is zero evidence to suggest anything such thing.

Peter David’s own government has floated all manner of things about him – some, if I repeat here, he would have all reason to make his lawyers send me a note. (I don’t know how he keeps going with so much friendly fire).

Unless the likes of Gilbert and David are strong, their own government will devour them.

Watch the train wreck – sped on by rumor, innuendo and half truths.

Remember what they did to Boxer in Animal Farm? They slaughtered him after he did all the great work in building the farm.

About a year ago in an article, I referred to David as Boxer – and the analogy might have been lost on some people.

Here I was sympathizing with these folks – but little did I know they were coming for me too.

They arrived this morning.

But to put things in context is to go back two Novembers ago, when the Prime Minister went infamously on George Grant’s show and suggested that I am angry at this government because of a proposal that was supposedly turned down.

And then on cue, George Worme printed the “proposal” – as if to suggest I demanded some huge amount of money – didn’t get it and was peeved.

Now let me say this regarding that issue, which I never said before – but which the Prime Minister knew – but omitted to obviously give the wrong impression:

(a) That referred to proposal was something that they sort me out on and ask if I can draft. I had pleadings made not once by at least five times. I finally said I would send one – when the last appeal to me was – “Man, help out a brother, nah!”

(b) The proposal was tailored, meaning the figures were based on what they said was a budget they can spend for one year.

(c) The proposal was not a job or project application on my part; it was a comprehensive plan that looked at a structure, staffing, rent, electricity etcetera, and it did not have to be executed by me. (In fact, I had verbally said to them that I can help them identify potential staff because don’t expect me to do it, because I cannot afford to stay in Grenada at that time).

(d) Unlike what the Prime Minister alluded to, I was not aware until he said it that the “proposal” was rejected. Was always under the impression they were seeking funding for it.

(e) On their request I developed a plan (for free) of what they requested and never once inquired about it again – because they did not necessarily have to get back to me on it.

(f) I had no reason to be “peeved” about a rejection because I did not know if there was one – and even so – it was up to them anyhow.

(g) Two weeks before the blow up that November 2010 (on the kind request of a colleague and for free), I drafted an address for the Prime Minister. (Not the act of a man who was upset).

Now, with that history, I understand first-hand the appetite in the top level of this government to want to destroy friends and perceived enemies.

Remember two years ago I wrote that ungratefulness is in the DNA of National Democratic Congress – and that was before any so-called “rejection” of any proposal.

So George Worme has been on this campaign about me being – as he put it a “money mercenary” – for supposedly wanting to be paid by government. Never mind all his friends are.

To understand this penchant for mischief, we could even go back to the midst of the 2008 campaign – when one of the current main advisers to the triumvirate – went to a top party official to say, “Be careful with Hamlet he is a paid Keith Mitchell spy.” (An adviser who boasted he wanted no job from NDC should they have won the 2011 election, but was among the first to receive a job in the Ministry of Finance and was front and centre of the infamous Sewang One World project on behalf of his minister).

But back to the current situation.

On Wednesday morning, I had a discussion with Michael Baptiste – “me pardner” – who as he put it – “one Munich man touching base with another Munich man”. Of course, we don’t always eye-to-eye on things, but we go way back – and we talk. In spite of his politics I regard him as a “brethren” – as “a Munich man.”

In the midst of “old talking” about the current political situation in Grenada – and a promise to one day meet and sit down to exchange notes – he asked me what is this about me sending a proposal to Keith Mitchell to do some stuff for him.

I actually started laughing – thinking he was joking around – and I said to him: “Cawoe (that’s his Munich name), you know better than that.”

At that point I did not make anything of it until, about half an hour later, I received a call from Wayne Modeste of the New Today – asking me some strange questions – which I got the drift of only midway through it.

It was then I asked if this was an interview or we were just chatting – colleague-to-colleague; colleagues who have gone way back to our Grenadian Voice days.

He asked me about some Florida company making a proposal to do work for Keith – and called two names; and if they work for me, etcetera.

I have known the ladies from long time – though none of them, incidentally, resides in Florida; and one of them I have not actually seen for about 10 years.

I don’t know if I am supposed to be guilty by the people I know – and I was not sure of their exact connection with the Keith Mitchell thing.

But basically Wayne – and I suspect the New Today eventually – would accuse me of working for Keith Mitchell – of sending some proposal.

Now he had initially mentioned a company to me and asked if I knew about the company – my response was it sounds familiar; it rings a bell but off the top of my head, I can’t say definitely I know of such a company.

He called back subsequently to say that the company was registered to my address.

I asked him to call back while I explore that detail – but he obviously was not interested in the whole truth.

Now my wife registers companies for many people in New York and Florida, mostly for work-at-home situations – and at registration routinely puts the address of the office to get it going.

Those people will change that documentation at the time of their first filing – which for that particular company will be by April this year.

Having spoken to her after the conversations with Wayne Modeste, I now know fully who ordered the company etcetera – but that’s her client’s information that I, on principle, can't state unless the principals choose to do so themselves.

How this development is important? The Georges are fighting a phony war on behalf of the ‘triumvirate,’ and specifically on the behalf one member of the “triumvirate’’ who is not Prime Minister Thomas, and will seek to discredit anyone they think is in their way.

This, to which I refer, is child’s play to what will come next.

But for now, this is where I suspect they seeking to go with this – it’s all an attempt to get at David I suspect – to say because he is my friend, I am acting in cahoots with him for Mitchell.

Guys, is that the best shot you’ve got?

In St George’s, it is clear that desperation has set in.

But there is a saying, “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.’’

PS: I was listening to Bob Marley just now. “Them ah go tired to see me face, but they can’t get me out of the race.”

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The sky isn't falling, but the party is over!

WHILE many in Grenada continue to debate the recent firing of Joseph Gilbert, it is important not to over-react, but to put everything in its proper context.

There are varying degrees of opinion about both the letter – delivered or undelivered, signed by the now fired minister, and whether it was deserving of the action of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.

Let me say the obvious, that under our system, Prime Ministers have a right to decide who they want in their cabinet – and can fire for good reason or no reason.

As a student of the broader science of politics -- I try to always go beyond debating what happened – to the more fundamental point – what it means.

Last week’s political developments in Grenada did not change the fundamental realities on the ground – social and economic. The people in Snell Hall, Hermitage or River Sallee are not any better served or worse served for it.

So when my response to the news last week was that people should not get too excited or get their “undies’’ unduly wet because “the sky is not falling”, it is because fundamentally nothing has changed.

This current National Democratic Congress government is being run by the triumvirate of Prime Minister Thomas, Finance Minister Nazim Burke and the Minister of Everything (my phrase) Glen Noel; a triumvirate supported by a cabal of official and unofficial advisers that former Attorney General Jimmy Bristol described as the “Second Cabinet’’.

Every other member of cabinet – except for Thomas, Burke and Noel – is expendable. And every member of cabinet is subject to the highest standards of behavior – save the triumvirate.

Accept my sympathies Patrick Simmons, Michael Lett, Peter David, Sylvester Quarless, et al – you have no power to effect the change people voted for – more than I have.

And that brings me to the crux of the matter – the policies of this government would not change from its IMF-inspired obsession of balancing the books without caring too much about balancing people’s lives.

Make no mistake about it – this debate and this struggle is about power. But not narrow political power. It is about economic power. It is about empowerment.

People see danger signs where there are none; and the emergency lights that are flashing in the real things that matters, people miss them.

Another budget is upon us, maybe the penultimate one before elections, and the seniors still won’t have the campaign promise of $400 a month fulfilled; unemployment will still hover near 30 percent with no real break in sight and small businesses will be tottering on the brink of closure.

I am less concerned about the job of Joseph Gilbert – he is an engineer, he would probably now make more money anyhow than he did as a minister – than I do about my friends in Munich and La Digue and wherever.

As I listened to the Prime Minister this past week and as I read Joe Gilbert as well, I was asking myself – how does that all matter – how does that all make sense to my cousins who could not pay the cable or internet bill to watch the speech on TV or read the statements online?

What happened last week was more important in the context of what will happen next – as who will be our new government next year.

Yea, I said next year. I don’t think there will be a general election this year.

Most politicians are not Jean Bertrand Aristide. They do not allow themselves to be put on a plane to be flown off to an unknown destination.

So this will be drawn out for as long as the constitution allows.

What is maybe clearer to a lot of people now – though it’s been clear in my mind for a while – is that this ruling party as we know it is effectively finished. The party is over.

Even if friends and well wishers say a million Hail Marys while holding the rosary, a miracle won’t happen that will make Tillman Thomas bring himself to run on the same platform with David, Roberts, Quarless, Walker, Gilbert and Hood. (And vice versa. Neither can they go on a platform and still say Uncle Tilly is the best thing since – well, Keith Mitchell).

Of course, Lett is not a factor because he is retiring; Simmons has no stomach for the fight, he will go too.

Given that scenario – who can boldly declare that the party now exists as we once knew it?

We say it clich├ęd, but it is true – it is the majority of Grenadians that will have to find a way to sort this out.

They will have to decide if there is a third way – and whether there is no choice but to go back to Mitchell.

There is a myth that NDC won the last general election – and that somehow Thomas, Burke and David delivered us from all evil.

It was a broad coalition of NGOs, trade unions, churches and community organizations that came together and ushered this bunch into office.

It is the people of the coalition that must reclaim their change because the current keepers have given it a bad name.

In the end though, with eternal faith, this will sort itself out – and the people in the end will get some kind of government they deserve.

PS: Democracy does not guarantee us a good government; but it guarantees us the opportunity to change a bad one.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I won’t call it a hijack of democracy! (At least not so loud)

IT HAS BEEN interesting to note the attempt at spin at the now talked-about caucus that was convened by Grenada’s Prime Minister Tillman Thomas at Mt St Ervans in St Andrew’s on Sunday.

The only thing so far with the spin is that it has not been well coordinated -- the Prime Minister says it was "a party meeting", Information Minister Glen Noel says "a meeting of stakeholders" and Sports Minister Patrick Simmons says "a meeting of community leaders".

Outside of the normal pot-shots about who broke the story (alleged friends, real or imagined), the critics such as George Grant and Keshawn Thomas who somehow felt the story should not have been told, could not tear apart the facts of the report.

It might make troubled reading – but unlike this piece (which is opinion) – that initial report was all fact.

First of all, some people may ask why is the meeting of any significance and worthy of reporting.

It is for the following reasons:

· When a Prime Minister or a significant political leader – let’s say Keith Mitchell – holds any such meeting, especially close to a general election it is of general interest.

· If as the Prime Minister says the meeting was called to discuss the current state of politics of the party and the way forward, it begs a million questions. Should not the entire management team of the party that handles strategy be involved? Shouldn’t such a meeting be handled in coordination with the Chairman?

Everyone concedes the meeting took place – and there is no dispute as to who attended and who did not.

A natural question that should follow, how did the Prime Minister decide who should come to the meeting?

Is there any significance in that decision making process?

And what does that tell us about the state of play within the party?

And for George Grant and Patrick Simmons and the PM who say the meeting was no big deal – answer this: Let’s say Chairman Kenrick Fullerton called such a meeting (and he can convene party meetings), and leave out the political leader, would we say that it is no big deal?

Remember this was not a barbecue fete, or a backyard get-together for whom the Prime Minister could invite whoever he wants with no questions asked.

This is, by his admission, a political strategy session to figure out the way forward.

So does the way forward include the eight MPs and/or the party management team?

It may well not include them – which if it is so – then the meeting was in proper order.

Why waste time with people you not running with?

And if the majority of your party branches, and the elders of your party, request in the interest of unity to make nice and find a way forward, then you turn around and send a different signal – what does that say?

Maybe calling this a hijack of democracy might be too strong a phrase.

I don’t want to be a threat to society anymore. I still have a home in a beautiful place call Munich that I want to get back to.

PS: My good friends George and Keshawn it’s your right to be apologists for this kind of behavior. Check me the day after the next elections – I will have the tissue to help dry your tears.

Another PS: I suspect somewhere in Happy Hill, they are stocking up on champagne. Doc, don’t forget to invite the Mt St Ervans crew to the party.