[OPINIONS]:::Christie slaps down St. James Parish Council

No. 118 Monday, July 19, 2010
By Anthony Barrett
Two events which occurred this week are indicative of the dire straits the JLP finds itself in; firstly, when it was thought that some of the sting from former Commissioner Hardley Lewin's calamitous accusation had subsided that darn Manatt, Phelps and Phillips issue has again been thrust in the limelight.

   There are new revelations that the influential law firm received a previously undisclosed payment of US $15,000 from the law firm Brady and Co. According to MPP the $15,000 now in question, is related to the same matter which they undertook for the Jamaican government and not the JLP.
    Ostensibly the $15,000 was a termination of contract settlement but MPP has not so indicated. The JLP were quick to put out that ludicrous spin in the public domain, what's more astounding are P.M Bruce Golding and the JLP's loud and defensive assertions that the payment was made by Brady and not the JLP. How could it be that Brady paid the second tranche? Didn't Golding admit on May 17, 2010 that the JLP hired MPP to assist in preventing the extradition of Christopher 'Dudus' Coke? In so doing he further admitted that the JLP had paid MPP approximately US $50,000. Interestingly, if the recent MPP declaration is correct, it would be safe to say, that particular payment was made at or around the time one of the firm's representative met with the most senior extradition official ­in Washington DC.
    The timeline of MPP does not lie, it can't or they will face punitive actions from the US Justice" and State Departments. It is significant to note that the last payment was made in March, many moons before Dr. Peter Phillips raised the issue in parliament. Therefore, why would the JLP make the first payment and not the second at a time when no one in Jamaica knew of the matter? For this reason we all must ask, did the JLP tell the truth when they claimed the almost US $50,000 previously paid to MPP, came from contributions made to the party by JLP supporters? Or did the money come from the same source the US $15,000 has been paid from? In my confusion about the payment I ask, when is it that the attorneys of record pay the bills of a client? Shouldn't it be the JLP who pays both Brady and Manatt for services rendered? In all the kerfuffle no one has heard how much Harold Brady & Co has been paid for their services. Why? What have been" promised to Brady for him to willingly be­come the fall guy for this second payment? Yes there is documentary evidence that he wire transferred the money to California but, did he pay it from his own pockets? These and many more questions need to be answered and acerbic spokespersons for the JLP, with their caustic retorts and stonewalling tactics to legitimate questions is only serving to fuel speculations. It's time that you come clean Bruce.
    The second blow the JLP has taken this week; while not having the stature of MPP; is a serious one, the Contractor General's Office has opined in writing to parliament that the St. James Parish Council was in breach of section 24 of the Constitution of Jamaica when the St. James Parish Council denied the PNP use of the Montego Bay Civic Centre to host the PN~ sponsored crime forum on June 10,2010, in essence the St. JPC discriminated against the PNP.
    Peter Bunting the Opposition Spokesman on National Security, took the refusal of the St. JPC to parliament, the legal officer of parliament asked the Contractor General's Office to see if the St. JPC had violated the constitution by declaring the Montego Bay Civic Centre was exempt from use by political parties. Let us be clear, that policy was first posited by the PNP in 2003, in hindsight that was a monumental mistake which was further exacerbated by the refusal of this JLP led council when they refused to allow the PNP use of the Centre for a partisan event although it was a matter of national importance; crime. The event would have had the participation. of civil society and the JLP, they were invited to participate.
    Because of the importance of the matter, I am going to give an excerpt of the finding: (13) It is submitted that the St. James Parish Council, is a public authority within the meaning of the constitution. It is therefore required in accordance with section 24 of the constitution, not to treat any person in a discriminatory manner when performing its functions.
    (14) A civic centre maybe de­fined as a building containing municipal office or a large public building or complex for meetings, sports etc. The Montego Bay Civic Centre is therefore by virtue of its designation, public in character and created for use by members of the community.
    (15) The stated policy would have the effect of treating a per­son who publicly declares his political opinion by becoming a member of a political party differently than a person who is for example, apolitical, in relation to an application for the use of the Montego Bay Civic Centre.
    (16) If the council provides the premises to all other groups, subject only to its availability and the payment of the requisite rental but does not offer the premises to political parties or persons belonging to political parties (of whatever political opinion) solely or mainly on the basis of their political opinions it would appear that its 'policy' is discriminatory as against political parties and their members generally and in breach of the section 24 of the constitution.
    (17) It is submitted that this is so, irrespective of the particular political party to which the applicant for the use of the premises bear allegiance.
    (18) Conclusion of AG Findings: It is submitted that the request was made by the Op­position Spokesperson for the use of the premises for a purpose which would serve the interests or agenda of his political party. It clearly appears that the 'policy' which the council has described is capable of being construed as being in breach of section 24 of the Constitution of Jamaica.
    Again, let me be clear, the abominable exclusionary policy was the brainchild of the PNP in 2003, even though they were the minority party. They sought political one-upmanship on the JLP and it backfired on them seven years later but again the old adage of two wrongs don't make a right ­has proven true. Some persons~ namely Mayor Charles Sinclair and Secretary/Manager Palmer and PNP Councillor Glendon Harris are going to pay a political price, particularly Harris, for agreeing with the majority of the St JPC on the June rejection of the PNP'S application but that ought not to be. We must move beyond the political triumphant mentality and embrace the vanquished. Let us hope that never again will we see our political parties treated as pariahs, they too are a fabric of the Jamaican whole. In the final analysis, the political parties won, no one in future can deny them us­age of the Centre. Kudos to Peter Bunting, for his effort in 'righting' that abysmal wrong. Peace!
   Email: moco_barrett1 (at) hot­mail (dot) com

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