Why did no one do for Kenny what someone did for King?

L-R: Prime Minister Stephenson King, Castries East MP Philip J Pierre and Opposition Leader Kenny Anthony.

Two Voice items caught my attention last week. The first read like a scorned lover’s poison-pen letter. But while for obvious reasons such guttersnipe screeds are usually anonymous—or blogged over uninventive fake IDs—the cited front-page item in last Thursday’s Voice depended for its effect on the instant recognition of its author’s name—in Saint Lucia as much a household word as, say, Blom-Cooper or Charles Flemming. He is a former civil service boss, a former luxury-car dealer manqué, a former property developer, a former . . . Suffice it to say the complete list of his former occupations loved and lost would fill the pages of the LIME Telephone Directory. I venture that Agatha Christie never dreamed up as many twists and turns and bridges to nowhere as are to be encountered in his work history!
The second Voice feature was by a journalist of long standing who would never stoop behind a nom de plume, male of female, and with regard to whom I offer this personal anecdote: I am proud to have known Earl Bousquet way before the majority of our unread tweenage tweeters were conceived, and would be the first to acknowledge he is nobody’s fool. At any rate, save in the role of dullard for dollars, which is a long, long way from being “deficient in sense, judgment or understanding.” Earl is one of two local journalists of my acquaintance who care enough about our craft to pay serious attention to such basics as vocabulary, syntax, sentence construction, grammar and, yes, research.
I sincerely hope he won’t mind my revealing that when he was still a relative beginner in our shared field—that would be in the good old heyday of Big Bad John—he had suffered certain unspeakable experiences that had not only threatened the daily bread Earl provided for his dependent brood but also had badly affected his cone cells.
Now lest I be understood too quickly by Neanderthals whose education began and ended with Digicel’s ever-popular Textin’ for Beginners, let me assure one and all that cone cells have no relationship whatsoever with ice cream or, for that matter, with Hilary Herman’s reputedly commodious 5-star ocean-view hotel. (Just for the record: I am well acquainted with the long-term effects of cone-cell abuse—particularly on a writer’s sense of balance.)
Cone cells enable the eyes to discern colors. Alas, there’s a downside: unlike burglars, they do not operate well in darkened conditions such as exist in recession-conscious Earl’s well-stocked reading room. No surprise, then, that he views the Grynberg Affair as “a red herring” and an election-time “distraction” that does not quite rise to the level of Rochamel. Regrettably, Earl did not this time around identity the missing yeast that might’ve elevated Grynberg to Rochamel dimensions. Perhaps he is saving this surprise for a future dispatch. In any event, and never mind its thick red outer coating and stubborn attachment to the Dauphin seabed, only the determinedly blind would describe the monstrous green bug from Denver, Colorado, as any kind of herring!
But enough of the weak humor. It would’ve helped this particular reader had Earl bothered to point out precisely the factors that make Rochamel and Grynberg shark and twee-twee, respectively. He did not, therefore I might be forgiven if I should attempt to fill in the blanks. But first a timely reminder: when in the early nineties a married prime minister’s monogrammed bed covers were pulled aside to expose his naked Lolita, even the day’s opposition Labour Party was initially unconvinced of the story’s relevance: “Man, dah eh goin’ nowhere,” they whispered wishfully from their vulnerable glass hideaways. “Dah eh a bread-an’-butter issue.”
The political response to scandalous behavior in office, whether involving UWP or SLP parliamentarians, has remained largely unchanged: “I tell you dah eh goin’ nowhere. Is only one ting Looshans care about: dere pockets!”
I am happy to report from the undeniable public record the precise contrary: while regular Saint Lucians—like Americans, the British, the Canadians and every other nation I might mention—rightly care first and foremost about jobs, their children’s future, gainful employment and keeping the baying wolf from their front doors, they have in the main never condoned official corruption and maladministration. Not for long, anyway. Certainly not the so-called “middle people,” to borrow a term from one recent caller to Newsspin, by which he referred to that most important section of the electorate not swayed by party propaganda, red or yellow. Think Election Day 1997. Think Election Day 2006. I dare to suggest the results of both outings said less about the people’s blinkered concern for their pockets than about their intolerance of crooked politicians!
In the undead case of Rochamel, which is to Kenny Anthony what Jessica was, is and always will be to John Compton and his legacy, the Labour Party’s propagandists made every desperate effort to superimpose an agreeable face on the sordid issue.   On the eve of yet another election, instead of seeking public forgiveness, they continue to claim Rochamel as representative of Kenny Anthony’s best work on behalf of the people, despite that the Ramsahoye Report exposes not only the emperor’s nakedness but also his idiosyncratic lack of respect for due diligence and his habit of arrogantly taking decisions without the involvement of parliament, either alone or with favored foreigners behind closed doors.
Much of what went transpired with Rochamel—unknown to Kenny Anthony’s Cabinet—involved profiteering Trinidadians who later refused to participate in the Ramsahoye Commission of Inquiry. Doubtless, Sir Ramsahoye had these absentee witnesses in mind when he wrote the following: “We regret that Dr. Kenny Anthony and Mr. Felix Finisterre, who had ministerial responsibility for matters under our inquiry, did not give oral evidence to the Commission.”
Elsewhere in his 2009 report, Sir Ramsahoye addressed the possibility of criminal charges: “The commission was also required to investigate if there is or may be criminal liability which may be the subject of prosecution in the Criminal Courts. We have considered all the evidence placed before us very carefully and we are of the opinion that because the standard of proof in criminal proceedings is proof beyond reasonable doubt, there is not sufficient evidence that gives rise to a criminal prosecution.” (My italics.)
Might the once accommodating absentee Trinidadians have provided more revealing evidence than was “placed” before the commission? We may never know. And now it remains to be seen whether Stephenson King has the political will to place previously hidden evidence now in his possession before a local tribunal. By everything I read in Earl Bousquet’s weekend feature, and from listening to Newsspin’s UFOs, I have formed the opinion that Saint Lucians of all political stripes would love nothing better than to see the prime minister act now or forever hold his peace on the extremely disturbing, far-reaching questions of Grynberg-gate. There can be no better time to get to the bottom of this Sea at Dauphin potboiler than on the eve of general elections when candidates are expected to place their track records before the electorate for close-up examination!
And now we return to the top of the hill, to the first-mentioned Voice attention grabber, the gist of which seems to suggest the prime minister denied someone due credit during his most recent address to the nation. Said the voice of vengeance: “I am concerned that despite the call for total transparency reflected [in the address] you did not provide the nation with full disclosure of all the material facts of the matter.”
From there he goes on to disclose what the prime minister allegedly did not disclose and proffers the remedy: “In your explanation you may care to indicate that you and Saint Lucia were only saved from further embarrassment by a minister in your Cabinet who at the very moment was in the process of seeking to find a way to extricate Saint Lucia from the provisions of the agreement signed by the former prime minister and who upon discovering your inexplicable folly was able to urgently arrange for the signed document to be retrieved from the former permanent secretary . . .”
Now let’s break that down into more chewable portions. Presuming the unverified episode is not, as some say they have reason to believe, a figment of a failed politician’s desperate imagination: some time in 2007 or 2008, while a particularly savvy minister in Stephenson King’s Cabinet was feverishly seeking ways to “extricate” Saint Lucia from the Kenny Anthony-Jack Grynberg agreement, an oily former permanent secretary (who could that possibly be?) somehow was able to persuade the prime minister to affix his signature to a further extension of the same faulted agreement he was seeking to offload.
Thanks to quick thinking on the part of the unnamed especially erudite member of Cabinet (face it, he could only be Edmund Estaphane!), the slippery retired permanent secretary was quickly recalled from the government’s parking lot and gently persuaded to hand over the precious signed document that just minutes earlier he had collected from a ministry official. So it was—whoop-dee-dee!—that Jack Grynberg’s “trusted associate and representative” was prevented from fooling all our prime ministers all of the time. At any rate, according to the improbable lead story in last Thursday’s Voice!
Final questions: Was the unidentified Cabinet minister-rescuer acting on his own when allegedly he sought to extricate King and country from the provisions of the Anthony-Grynberg contract? Or was he simply following his prime minister’s orders? On whose authority was the prime minister’s alleged extension of the Grynberg agreement withdrawn?
Meanwhile, I can’t help wondering: Where was Pip Pierre in 2000 when Kenny Anthony needed to be saved from both himself and Earl Huntley? Why didn’t the omniscient Mario Michel or Ernest Hilaire take back from Jack Grynberg the agreement/license that Kenny awarded him on 29 March 2000, despite the Minerals (Vesting) Act that says only the governor general is authorized to grant exploration licenses in Saint Lucia?

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