Those verbal instructions!!!

Has “political ethnic cleansing” once again reached the hierarchy of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF)?

This is the question that THE NEW TODAY is forced to ask in light of the decision taken this week by Acting Commissioner of Police, Winston James to issue “verbal instructions” to two of his Assistant Commissioners of Police, Smith Roberts and Dowlin Barthlomew to proceed on vacation leave.

Several persons who are knowledgeable about the rules of the Public Service Commission (PSC) have questioned the decision of James on this issue.

As one senior public officer intimated to this newspaper, both Bartholomew and Roberts are gazetted officers of the force and any instructions to them along those lines should only come directly to them in the form of a letter from the Commission.

Mr. James has legal teeth to deal with officers up to the rank of Sergaents and from Inspector upwards, this is the sole domain of the PSC.

As a matter of fact, no Commissioner of Police can take on his own to promote a Sergaent to the post of Inspector. The Commissioner would have to first approach the PSC in order to get its blessings for the appointment to take place.

So the verbal instructions issued to Bartholomew is even more puzzling since this ACP had already gotten permission from the PSC to take Vacation leave on the following Monday.

Where does Acting Commissioner James get the authority to send him on Vacation leave one week earlier?

It is only the PSC that can alter ACP Bartholomew’s leave – not James as Acting Commissioner of Police.

As one senior retired public officer indicated, if any changes are to be made to the original letter granting Bartholomew his Vacation leave, then the PSC will once again have to be approached in order to issue a fresh letter.

It is clearly emerging that Mr. James who has been put in the post as Acting Commissioner of Police is not very knowledgeable about the business of Administration.

He has clearly opened up himself for possible court action as both ACP Bartholomew and Roberts would most likely seek legal advice on whether their constitutional rights were infringed upon by the “verbal instructions” given to them on Monday to immediately proceed on Vacation leave.

The information reaching this newspaper is that ACP Bartholomew has approached Dr. Francis Alexis who is considered to be one of the best legal brains on the island on matter pertaining to the rights of public officers in cases brought against the PSC.

The “verbal instructions” given to ACP Bartholomew could be interpreted as sending an unfortunate message to this senior police officer that he needs to move out of the office he occupies at headquarters as quickly as possible since he is seen as some kind of a national security risk.

Why the need to resort to such an action if this ACP has already received communication from PSC that his Vacation Leave will take effect from Monday coming?

The bottom line is that Mr. James has no legal authority to issue those instructions to gazetted police officers to take Vacation Leave because to that he would be taking on the role of the PSC itself.

THE NEW TODAY believes that Mr. James should be removed from the police force as soon as possible since he might prove to be too costly to the taxpayers of the country in light of some of the questionable decisions that he has taken while on active duty.

This island is already strapped for cash in the Treasury and the cost factor to the taxpayer for bad and questionable decisions is more important than political expediency.

The Acting Commissioner is unfortunately regarded in some quarters as merely a “rubber stamp” for the wishes of the political directorate of the day. It is a sad way to go down in history and be remembered for someone with over 40 years of service to RGPF.

The issue of NNP “ethnic cleansing” of the police force has once more raised its head in light of the Barthlomew/Roberts issue.

After the February 19 general elections, the NNP activists within the police force were openly dropping hints that the days of these two senior police officers were numbered.

James’ return was seen as merely one to facilitate the ambitions of the NNP political hierarchy to re-arrange the top brass within the force and to elevate the likes of trusted officers like Superintendents Michael Francois and Anthony De Gale into the ACP ranks.

It appears that De Gale will eventually succeed James as Deputy Commissioner of Police, Frank Redhead and another newly appointed ACP, Edvin Martin will most likely be overlooked for the post of Commissioner of Police.

THE NEW TODAY would like the Minister of Foreign Affairs to inform Grenadians about the status of the post of Grenada’s Consul-General to New York.

Is NNP downgrading the post from that of a Consul-General with full diplomatic accreditation to that of an Honorary Consul with no diplomatic teeth from the U.S government?

Will the change in status cost the taxpayers more money especially if additional office space might have to be found in the New York area to facilitate the work of an Honorary Consul as opposed to a Consul-General who will operate from office space provided by Grenada’s Mission to the United Nations?

The Foreign Minister needs to offer some clarity to Grenadians both at home and abroad on this important issue.

Grenada Distillers sponsors football club

Tris St. Louis making the presentation of the uniforms

Tris St. Louis making the presentation of the uniforms

Manufacturers of the world famous, much awarded Clarke’s Court rums, Grenada Distillers Limited, as it continues to give support to youth and sport and impress that spirit production is not at all about being disorderly and ill-disciplined, has given sponsorship to Hard Rock Football Club, now the Clarke’s Court Hard Rock Football Club.

The club, last week Friday was presented with branded uniforms by Sales and Promotion Manager, Tris St Louis.

Hard Rock Football Club is located in River Sallee, St. Patrick’s, and boasts of players the likes of Devon Smith.

The Club has been in existence for more than 20 years and the Winner of the Heineken Cup of 2009 and many other Football Leagues, including winning in the past two years the Grenada Football Association Premier League Championship; and, making Finals appearances in the Waggy T Super Knock Out Tournament for two consecutive years.

Recently, six players and their coach represented Grenada on the National Football Team which won the Windward Islands Football Tournament.

Grenada Distillers Limited has been in operation since 2001 when it became a private company, taking over the operations of the Grenada Sugar Factory which manufactured spirituous beverages since 1937.

During its 12 years of operations Grenada Distillers Limited has contributed to youth development, culture and sport in its continuing effort to positively change the concept of alcohol producers on the island.

National Team to defend under-19 Cricket Tourney

Grenada will host the Windward Islands Under-19 Cricket Tournament which begins this weekend.

The sub-regional cricket tournament runs from July 6 to 14 at the major grounds throughout the country.

Thirteen players have already been selected to represent Grenada which is the defending champion.

They are Roland Cato (Captain), Keone George (Vice-captain), Melvin Gordon, Omar Charles, Kelton Cadoo, Kishon Mitchell, Kevil Charles (Wicket-keeper), Deron Hypoite, Darel Cyrus, Preston McSween, Sherman Lewis, Craig Phillip, and Javel St. Paul.

There are also four players as reserves.

They are Samuel Charles, Chard Charles, Ryan John, and Mikkel Joseph.

The players would have been playing with their respective teams in the local domestic competitions.

They were also exposed to a trial which served as a guide for the selectors in determining who should make it on the national squad.

A number of the players who were part of the team last year form the nucleus of the team.

The Captain, Cato played for the Windward last year along with George, McSween, and Lewis.

They were all players on the national team last year together with Phillip, Cadore, Gordon and Mitchell.

The team will now be engaged in a vigorous training twice per week at la Sagesse Playing Field under the watchful eye of Ray Duncan.

The Grenada Cricket Association is confident that the team will do well in retaining the Under-19 Title.

It is hoped that many of the players would find a place on the West Indies Under-19 Team for next year’s World Cup.

Meanwhile, four Grenadians are named in the Windward squad for the Under-17 competition.

They are leg spinner Darel Cyrus who has been selected as the team’s vice-captain, All-rounder Ryan John, Chad Charles who is a left-handed batsman, and Alleyne Matthew.

Two ACP’s sent on vacation leave

ACP Bartholomew - puzzled over the instructions from Acting Commissioner James

ACP Bartholomew – puzzled over the instructions from Acting Commissioner James

In an unprecedented move, Acting Commissioner of Police, Winston James has verbally asked two of his Assistants to proceed on immediate Vacation leave.

The two – Assistant Commissioners of Police, Dowlin Bartholomew and Smith Roberts – were requested by James and not as customary the Office of the Public Service Commission (PSC) to take their accumulated leave.

THE NEW TODAY has been reliable informed that the development took ACP Bartholomew in particular by surprise since he was due to proceed on leave on Monday (July 8) from the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).

A high-level police source told this newspaper that the Acting Commissioner might have committed a breach of protocol in the manner in which he instructed his two ACP’s to immediately take their vacation leave.

He said if the two senior police officers had accumulated the maximum 180 days leave then the Commissioner of Police is authorised to notify them and also advise them to contact the PSC with respect to their leave.

“There is no way that Winston James has the legal authority to send these officers on vacation leave. It can only be done by the PSC”, he added.

The senior officer suggested that ACPs Bartholomew and Roberts should seek proper legal advice to determine whether their constitutional rights were violated or not by Acting Commissioner James.

One police insider confided to this newspaper that ACP Bartholomew has contacted the island’s foremost constitutional legal expert, Dr. Francis Alexis for advise on the issue.

Bartholomew who gave 26 years of service to the RGPF was the Officer responsible for Crime in the force, while Roberts has the responsibility for Human Resource.

Another authoritative source told this newspaper that Bartholomew is very suspicious over the manner in which he was asked by Acting Commissioner James to take his leave one week earlier.

ACP Smith Roberts - might also be contemplating his next move

ACP Smith Roberts – might also be contemplating his next move

THE NEW TODAY spoke with him on Monday and he declined to offer any comment on the issue “at this point in time”.

However, a police insider said that ACP Bartholomew is being cautious about making any public statement and the most he is willing to say is that whatever the public need to know, they will know in time.

Like Bartholomew, when ACP Roberts was contacted, he too declined to make any public statement on the verbal instructions received from James to proceed on vacation leave.

Efforts made by this newspaper on three occasions to reach Acting Commissioner James for clarification on the issue proved futile.

When a call was made to his office on Monday afternoon, his Secretary who is a female Inspector of Police told our news desk that the Acting Commissioner of Police was at a meeting and that the paper should call back at 8:30 a.m. the following morning.

The call was made as requested and after waiting on the line for almost two minutes, the Secretary returned to say that the Police Chief cannot speak with the newspaper right now and that THE NEW TODAY should call back after lunch.

Just about 1:00 p.m. when the third call was made to the Commissioner’s Office, we were informed by the Secretary that the man occupying the seat as Chief Cop is at a meeting and she does not known when he will be available.

Speculation is rife that James was engaged in several meetings throughout the day with several high-ranking police officers to discuss among other things the filling of certain positions in light of the developments surrounding ACPs Bartholomew and Roberts.

At a press conference held by Acting Commissioner James just after being brought back to act as the Head of RGPF in the aftermath of the February 19 change of government, he said that he was looking forward to working with every member of the media.

“We must probe into allegations when we hear them to ascertain the truthfulness of those allegations before we move forward with them as anything factual,” the Acting Commissioner advised the media.

Police insiders view the move against Bartholomew and Roberts as being politically orchestrated.

There are unconfirmed reports that the two ACP’s will soon be replaced by two Superintendents of Police who are suspected to be loyalists of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and his governing New National Party (NNP).

Dr. Mitchell as Minister of National Security is responsible for the Police and has vowed to fully take charge of things himself and not take “licks” for the actions of any other person.

Since the change of government, and the return of James to lead the RGPF, a number of notable changes have taken place within the hierarchy of the police force.

Superintendent of Police, Michael Francois is now head of the Special Branch unit while the controversial former head of the unit under a previous NNP administration, Supt. Anthony De Gale is brought back on active duty after leaving the force in 2008 to migrate to the United States.

According to NNP insiders, De Gale who is currently occupying the post of Chief of the Administration Department is tipped to become Commissioner of Police at the end of James’ stint.

A police insider said that technically speaking, Supt De Gale is already occupying a position that should be held by an Assistant Commissioner of Police based on the new organisational structure of the force.

“So if it is the intention to make De Gale the Commissioner of Police as being whispered in some NNP quarters once James leave, then that is taking place because he (De Gale) is virtually occupying a position in the force that has to be supervised by an ACP”, he added.

There are unconfirmed reports that Supt. Francois was brought up to police head office on Fort George on Tuesday as a stand-in for ACP Bartholomew.

 

 

 

Hotel Worker Stabbed To Death

Junior Thomas – lost his life while out doing business for his mother

Junior Thomas – lost his life while out doing business for his mother

A Hotel Landscaper of Grand Anse Valley, St. George’s who was out on business for his mother was never able to fulfill the errand.

Tragedy struck Junior Thomas as he was making his way back home on Sunday Morning with items for the family Sunday Breakfast.

Thomas, 32, was allegedly attacked with a knife by a young man from Grand Anse Housing Scheme who, up to the time of going to press on Wednesday, was being questioned by the police in connection with the incident that took place near to the Sugar Mill round-a-bout.

A family member told THE NEW TODAY Newspaper that after taking a bath and freshening himself from taking part in the revelery, Thomas was sent out by the mother to purchase items at a nearby shop.

An eyewitness who spoke through the family member said Thomas ignored being taunted by the accused man, described as a 27-year old Carpenter.

Our News Desk was told that although the deceased and the murder-accused had some problems about three years ago over a young lady who is the mother of a child for Thomas, on that morning he (Thomas) did not trouble anyone.

It is alleged that the accused man who was recently released from prison attacked Thomas from behind. Thomas fell to the ground but was able to get up quickly and run away from the scene.

His alleged attacker pursued him, and was able to hold on to him by the collar and proceeded to stab him several times.

Thomas was later taken away in a car to the St. George’s General Hospital where he succumbed to the injuries.

There are reports that the murder-accused ran away from the scene to his home, and was later brought into the Police Station by his mother.

The fatal incident followed another stabbing in the same area in less than 24 hours.

There are reports that a youngster from Grand Anse valley received several chop wounds in the area of his face. He was treated at the General Hospital.

As a result of the Sunday Morning fatal stabbing incident, the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) issued a statement disbanding unauthorised jouvert celebration.

The RGPF statement says, “Due to several complaints from the wider public as well as security concerns from the Royal Grenada Police Force, the public is hereby notify that with immediate effect, no permission will be granted to persons applying to the Police for permission to play j’ouvert outside of the stipulated period for carnival according to law.

“It has been noticed that in several villages, this is also done without the approval of the Commissioner of Police. In doing so, persons dirty the roadways and unnecessarily disturb and obstruct other persons from going about their normal business. In this regard, the Royal Grenada Police Force is seeking the cooperation of the general public in adhering to all rules governing Carnival and to avoid the legal implications for not doing so.

“The Royal Grenada Police Force is fully aware of the hype needed as a build-up to Carnival and is in no way trying to prevent revelers from enjoying themselves but also have to take into consideration the balance between individual interest and interest of the wider population in maintaining law and order.”

On Tuesday, the Management of the popular Jab Jab Village issued its own statement seeking to clear the air on its weekly activity.

Following is the full text of the statement: “The Management of Jab Jab village wishes to advise the public that we were granted the relevant permission from the Commissioner of the Police and the Spicemas Corporation a few weeks ago to carry on our Weekly activity (every Sunday) at the Jab Jab Village in Morne Delice.

“We wish to make it abundantly clear that our permit was NOT REVOKED as it is rumoured and that Jab Jab village does not fall under the category of “unauthorized Jouverts”.

“Jab Jab village is still on, every Sunday in Morne Delice, St. David’s. Our event (Sundays at Jab Jab Village) runs from 2.00 p.m. – 10.00 p.m.

“We wish to thank the RGPF for their continued support shown to the ‘Real Jab Jab band’ and to the Management of ‘Jab Jab village’ on a yearly basis. We also wish to thank the general public who have supported and continues to support the ‘Jab Jab village’ and the ‘Real Jab Jab’ Band.

See you this Sunday”.

PWU speaks out

The bargaining agents for public sector employees in Grenada has challenged claims made by new Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell that the ruling New National Party (NNP) administration has not been engaged in sending home of workers since it was voted back into office following the February 19 general elections.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the Public Workers Union (PWU) expressed concerns over the amount of workers being sent home given the financial situation facing workers.

The statement was issued against the backdrop of claims made in the Senate by labour’s representative in Parliament, Rae Roberts that several workers have been dismissed since the Mitchell government replaced the National Democratic Congress (NDC) as the government in St. George’s.

Roberts said that he has a number of dismissal letters that were sent to public sector workers on the sister isle of Carriacou.

The Mitchell government has been accused of sacking workers considered to be supporters of Congress and replacing them with its known activists.

Following is the text of the statement issued by the PWU, headed by Adrian Francis, on the current situation facing government employees:

 

“The Public Workers’ Union is observing with concern the recent disturbing trend of job loss in the public sector and we are of the view that job creation and not job loss is on the current list of employers priorities.

We would like to assure our members that we will do all within our power to curb this trend and address any issues of victimisation or wrongful dismissal.

The well-being and protection of workers are the Public Workers’ Union’s most central priorities. In the same breath, we would like to respectfully remind employers of the precarious financial position most workers are facing in this global financial crisis.

Public Workers’ Union hopes that employers would consider workers livelihood before making these difficult decisions.

GRENADA JAZZ LEGEND AWARD WINNER

James Clarkson receives his Jazz Legend Award from Culture Minister,  Alexandra Otway-Noel

James Clarkson receives his Jazz Legend Award from Culture Minister, Alexandra Otway-Noel

The Jazz Legends Award ceremony and presentation of the Citation was a highlight of the Opening Concert of the Naniki Caribbean Jazz Safari in Mt Cinnamon Gardens on Saturday 29th June.

Grenadian born, multi award winning composer and arranger James Clarkson became the latest winner of the prestigious Naniki Legends Award for his dedication and distinguished lifelong career in music of the Caribbean. The citation was read by the Master of Ceremonies, Richardo Keens-Douglas and the presentation was made by the Hon Alexandra Otway-Noel, Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture.

The first Naniki Caribbean Jazz Legends Award was presented in Barbados to Trinidad born and Barbados based pianist Ebe Gilkes for his contribution to the jazz movement in the Eastern Caribbean.

Antigua’s Winston Anthony Bailey received the second Jazz Legends Award for his contribution to jazz and music in general in Antigua.

 

Fishermen receive subvention for celebration

The group of fishermen who received subvention

The group of fishermen who received subvention

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Roland Bhola has admonished fishermen to become more business-oriented.

His comments were made while presiding over a cheque presentation ceremony held at the Melville Street Fish Market Conference Room in St. George’s last week Friday to fishing communities for the celebration of Fisherman’s Birthday

Minister Bhola noted that while the government has a responsibility to protect and provide for the fishing industry, the stakeholders have to secure their financial rewards.

“It is one thing to have a lot of money, it is a different thing to manage that money,” he said.

“Let us remember that this (fishing) industry can grow leaps and bound, and can do more for Grenada than any other industry,” he added.

The senior Government Minister who recognized the dangers fishermen are exposed to encouraged them to do more to protect themselves and the trade in which they are involved.

He said it is realised that from the latter part of the 1980’s the number of persons engaged in the fishing trade has moved from a couple hundreds to well over three thousand persons, while another four thousand plus get additional employment in the industry.

Chief Fisheries Officer, Justin Renee who was present at the function spoke of fishing industry being considered as one of the most dangerous activities in the world.

Renee indicated that measures are being put in place to provide training, navigation, safety at sea as the fishermen risk their lives in the areas where they work.

He reminded the fishermen that amidst the celebration, it is also a time for them to reflect on the contribution they have been making in providing a valuable source of protein to the nation.

He added that through their efforts, the fishermen provide sustainable livelihood, while contributing to food security and foreign exchange earnings.

Renee disclosed that last year alone, fish output accounted for almost $35m, and in terms of export almost $17m.

Cheques amounting to $32,900 were presented to 21 groups of fishermen throughout Grenada.

Activities marking Fisherman’s Birthday climaxed this weekend in Grenville.

 

OECS development strategy

SAUNDERSAs the member countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) continue to grapple with the negative effects of the 2007/2008 global financial and economic crisis, they are forced to search for tactical and workable solutions to their current economic nightmares, forcing them to “think outside the box” in order to ensure that they do not daunt the spirits of their respective citizens who are desperately in need of jobs, good health and education, shelter, food, and security and stability.

But the governments of the various OECS countries understand too well that they can in no way fulfil the dreams and aspirations of their citizens without laying the foundations for growth and development of their local economies.

Whether we think of economic transformation in terms of increases in income, reductions in poverty, or diversification of economic activities, these broad and meaningful objectives can only be achieved through a well-designed and effectively managed development strategy. This seems to be the blueprint that the OECS are persuaded to follow and adopt.

Indeed, according to the communiqué from the 57th meeting of the OECS Authority held at the Sandals Grande Resort, Dickenson’s Bay, St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda during the period June 02–04, 2013, the OECS development strategy will focus on measures to transform various sectors, industries and other critical areas of financial and economic activities including tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, construction, ICT, trade policy and trade facilitation, transportation, health, education, social development, energy, climate change, ocean governance and the environment.

The sectors, industries and essential areas of financial and economic activities identified for strategic focus by the OECS Heads represent some of the major growth-enhancing issues that are particularly germane to such small countries.

With very limited resources (natural, physical and financial) as well as small markets and economies, the OECS states are left with little options other than to pursue a development strategy that is consistent with their own unique circumstances, the nature of the global economic landscape, and the expectations of their own citizens.

Perhaps more importantly, the governments of the OECS must and have recognised that they cannot advance this development strategy alone. All hands must be on deck, particularly those of the private sector, labour, and other members of civil society.

Hence, it is welcoming to learn that “OECS Heads of Government engaged in discussions with representatives from the OECS Private Sector and the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL) on priority development issues for the advancement of the growth and development agenda of the region. The priority development issues include the OECS Financial System, Harmonisation and Upgrading of Legislation and Border Control, Shipping (Freight and Passengers), Alternative Energy Sources with a focus on Renewable Energy, and Labour issues related to the OECS Economic Union.”

No doubt, that focus on partnership with other key players in the economy is precisely the type of model needed to effectively transform the economic landscape of the OECS. Big governments are often wasteful and huge amounts of inefficiencies creep into our public sectors especially when governments try to do too much by themselves.

Partnerships with labour, businesses and other civil societies do often work in small countries and must therefore be given the opportunity to do so. The OECS are thus on the right development track. I wish them all success!

(Dr. Brian Francis, the former Permanent Secretary in the local Ministry of Finance, is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics at the Cave Hill Campus in Bridgetown, Barbados of the University of the West Indies)

A first for Spicemas

Blackberry and Android mobile users can now get immediate update information and be in the “know” with the Spice Mas Corporation (SMC) newly launched App.

One of SMC’s Website Technician, Dari Twum-Barimah, has been working with the Carnival body since 2009 developing the website and now the App “giving people a Spice Mas experience in the palm of their hands”.

He informed the media during the launch of the product on Tuesday that the SMC’s plan is to push into the social media, and the new App harnesses all social media content in one-location with automatic updates via social mediums such as facebook, twitter or youtube.

The App can be downloaded from Blackberry App World and Android Store free of cost.

“When you go to it search for Spice Mas it will automatically popup and you can download the App and start viewing and playing right away,” he said.

Blackberry OS5 and up including the Z10 as well as Android 2.4 and up features will be able to support this new App.

Ipads and other mobile devices will have to wait for the development of additional products to enable access to the Spice Mas App.

Twum-Barimah said the new App “aims at getting Spice Mas to a level that we are able to interact with everyone at all levels”.

The Spice Mas App was developed free of cost to the Corporation.

Twum-Barimah said that the App was developed on his team’s personal time and as a result was not a financial burden to SMC.

He said that this was one of the initiatives he wanted to create for SMC and therefore considers it “a labour of love” that only cost attached to it was “lots of sleepless nights”.

SMC Chairman, Arthur Hosten said that the development of the App falls in line with the constant changes in modern technology as the carnival body tries to meet the demands of the changing world of technology.

The App will be used to share updates with the pubic on upcoming events of Carnival 2013.