Somewhere that most readers will be more familiar with than I it is written: “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.”
I am not a god prone to jealousy. Still I wouldn’t go so far as to deny having known a pang or two. I mean, who wouldn’t be jealous—if only once or twice annually, of, say, Anthony Astaphan?
The Dominican defender of OECS HOGs may remind of several comic-strip characters; some have even noted his unsettling resemblance, if only facial, to a lead character in The Merchant of Venice; in Batman too. But such observations are unrelated to my own jealousy.
What gives me the shakes is the way Astaphan seems able to count on OECS heads of government to raid their national coffers in his behalf . . . but that’s for another inquiry.
This time around what I want to fess up to is my deafness throughout most of 2007-2011. So engrossed was I in the overacted House performances of the day’s Leader of the Opposition that nothing else mattered to me—including the essence of Jeanine Compton’s contributions to what passed for parliamentary debate during the cited period.
Often I had heard her denouncing the kind of governance that had left particular areas of the country looking like bombed-out villages. Or the lack of public accountability that had rendered the nation a lot more broke than it might otherwise have been. Or the total lack of respect shown we the people by the malodorous characteristic bad manners shamelessly demonstrated by her fellow honorable members.
She did not get my attention even when, soon after becoming an MP, she had thus addressed the Speaker: “Firstly, we’re looking at time. We’re starting at 11 o’clock. Why, Madam Speaker, do we continue to disregard this House? Another thing I’ve noted: we spend a lot of time bashing each other and not talking about substantive matters. Is this how we represent the people of Saint Lucia?”
At the same House session, she had also addressed the life-and-death issue of Saint Lucia’s crippling indebtedness: “Yes, there is debt. And yes, maybe it had to do with the Labour Party. The fact remains there is debt and we all have to deal with that. Put aside the petty party politics that are dividing the country. We are in dire crisis, so let us all work together toward reuniting and restoring Saint Lucia.”
Right there and then I should’ve put aside all her father’s known peccadillos, including that he had for countless years represented one of the island’s most deprived constituencies. I should’ve known when to let bygones be bygones, regardless of the message of my opening paragraph.
But so burdened was I with prior knowledge (the same clogged-brain condition that prevents most of our local geniuses from making better use of the new-fangled gadgets that most babies handle with the greatest of ease—and at lightning speed!) that I was unable fully to appreciate the changes the lady had sought to wrought.
It was only while browsing an edition of Hansard the other day that I happened upon the following: “I was elected by the people of Micoud North to represent them, but parliamentarians are continually disregarded.
“I know persons in this House are not going to be happy about my statements but the people have a right to know the budgetary allocations for a constituency or a parliamentarian is $30,000 annually. That money is not meant to be spent on the constituency itself. It is to pay for running a constituency office, to pay people at the office, to pay for utilities, stationery and so on.
“I am not consulted on matters of importance to my constituency . . . I can do nothing when people from my constituency cannot get work while others from outside are working on rehabilitating our roads. Then we talk about 40 percent of the Micoud people living below the poverty line . . .”
Then there is this: “I went into the Capital Expenditure, ministry by ministry. In last year’s budget improvements to the Graham Louisy Building was also on the table. The amount was $496,000. Now it is $1,990,000. What is the plan for the building? Is it so necessary in this time of financial crisis?
“Under Home Affairs, radar guns costing $23,365. Sounds great but as far as I’m aware the speed limit in Saint Lucia is 30mph. So if you are going to be using these radar guns to detect speeding, then I think 99.9 percent of Saint Lucians will have to be charged. I therefore recommend that before we look at this expenditure we review the speed limit.”
She turned to an item referred to as a coastal radar system: “Is it to detect vessels transporting illicit items? If this is the case, as far as I am aware these vessels are very difficult to detect, especially since they are generally small vessels. I don’t see that we are going to achieve anything with it.”
Especially riveting in the last analysis was her selfless reaction to a particular proposal: “The monument to Sir John, estimated at $1.2 million, I do not think it is necessary at this time. The country cannot afford it and I can hear Sir John at the back of my head: ‘Are you people crazy? You are giving nothing to the constituencies, Micoud North and South but you want to build a monument to me?’ ”
There’s a lot more where the above came from that my prejudice-impaired ears heard not. After all, whatever her father’s shortcomings, Jeanine was not to blame. I shouldn’t have held her accountable for the supposed sins of her father. I should have promoted her, regardless; I should’ve congratulated her for her demonstrated uncommon courage.
Instead, I had switched my intellect to emotion mode while I wondered what might be her motives. Was she considering with selfish co-conspirators an imminent relocation to the Red Zone? If she kept company with snakes, I imagined, then surely that had to mean she had acquired their serpentine characteristics. Show me your friends and all that!
Meanwhile, according to Wikileaks, the perceptive folks at the American Embassy in Barbados were ready to bet money on Jeanine Compton, describing her as Saint Lucia’s best bet for future good governance.
Indisputably, Jeanine Compton got a lot of bad advice from a lot of sore losers and next to no help from her own party. Like Wonder Woman with clusters of stars on her forehead, she fought the last general elections as an independent (perhaps to make a point!). So she
lost . . . better to say independent-unfriendly Saint Lucia lost.
I have no idea where she is right now, or what the lady is up to. Understandably, most of us who know her sister Nina, thanks only to the American reality show, are currently more interested in what she’s cooking up for Top Chef. (I’m writing in advance of the results.) In any event, I suspect that whatever is left in the pot at the end of the on-going UWP brouhaha, the final decision could well depend on who has enough man parts to bury his hatchet in the best interests of returning Jeanine to the party that her father had fathered.
To be continued . . .