Montego Bay Mayor Glendon Harris has explained that the fiasco in Montego Bay where green, one of the national colours, was left out of the decorations for his swearing-in ceremony occurred because the decorator ran out of green fabric.  Jamaicans will decide for themselves if they accept that explanation.

The Mayor announced that the decorator will issue a statement and will also refund to the council the monies paid over to him.

I suggest with respect, however, that the Mayor, while insisting that the incident was not motivated by any partisan motive, does not appear to fully understand the concerns which have been raised by the public.

He did earlier apologise for the incident. However, at the monthly meeting at the St. James Parish Council, as politicians are wont to do, he chastised those he said were taking the opportunity

 “to score cheap mileage”

Mixed metaphors aside, this was not the appropriate tone to be taken by a Mayor still wiping green (or should it be orange?) egg off his face. The Opposition Jamaica Labour Party was well within its rights to raise the issue.  What we needed to hear was a comprehensive apology(yes, again!), an acknowledgement of the concerns and disgust of the public, an indication that the Mayor understands the root of those concerns, and the specific steps to be taken to ensure that there is no recurrence. Vague reassurances carry no real weight right now.

Years ago, former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, after a fiasco of a ceremony in Montego Bay, ensured that a protocol officer was assigned to the city. As the island’s only city apart from Kingston, and the hub of commerce in western Jamaica, Montego Bay deserves to be shown the same level of respect as Kingston and its civic ceremonies should be on par.

The Chairman of the People’s National Party Robert Pickersgill has issued a  statement which says everything    

we should have heard from  Mayor Harris. He expressed

 “most profound regret and unreserved condemnation of what, seems to have been the misuse of the colours of the Jamaican flag at the recent swearing in ceremony of the newly elected Major of Montego Bay.”

He also said that

“The PNP won both the national and local government elections by promising a more open, transparent and non-tribal Government. We take this principled position very seriously, and will not allow it to be violated by anyone.”

My only problem is that I believe the statement should have come from Prime Minister and PNP President Portia Simpson-Miller. As I said in my initial post on this issue, given the Prime Minister’s comments in her swearing-in speech, and the embarrassment this has brought to her administration and party, it would have been most appropriate for her to have thrown the weight of her office behind the condemnation. This is a national issue.

Don’t tell me she was off the island. To quote Justice Sykes in the Supreme Court of Jamaica:

“This is the modern age. The days of the Niňa, the Pinta and the Santa Maria have long left us. We are now in the age of microchips, fibre optic cables, wireless transmissions, computers, emails and portable handheld devices, all of which, when used effectively, provide first-rate communication services.”

I also wish the PNP’s charge to mayors and councillors to

“ensure that all civic functions are organized in keeping with necessary protocols, including ridding these functions of any semblance of partisan behavior”

had come much earlier.

That said, the PNP has said the right things. It is to be hoped the party now understands what many people have been saying. This is not the same Jamaica which they left in 2007. Jamaicans are much less inclined to accept foolishness, be it cloaked in orange or green. The country and diaspora are watching.

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