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It’s a sad reality of life that the ‘best’ view of how a country works comes through the activities of its public sector. Sadly, too, what we see too often is how things malfunction. So, it is, now, with the case of former Education Secretary, Ruel Reid, former senator and principal of Jamaica College.
The matter of how and why the public purse directly and through the school is affected has become clearer, and he and his ‘interim’ successor are getting some J$5.6/5.7 million, each. That’s full salary for each: Ruel Reid is before the Jamaican courts on corruption allegations; he’s asked for an extension of his leave that will expire in November. Wayne Robinson has been acting as principal since 2016.
Well, after the salary disclosures, the matter is coming to another rocky place, but no one really wants to hold the hot potato of what to do with the payments and whether they should continue. Jamaica College has now laid out what options it thinks apply; most importantly, it doesn’t feel it has an option to dismiss Reid for cause during his tenure as principal:
Most people may not get the significance of the layers of tenure in a job and the consequences of ignoring them, and maybe opening up legal proceedings for wrongful dismissal, and any attendant costs.
So, we’ll watch with interest yet another episode in ‘This is your public sector life’. A cynic would be quick to argue that many of these problems stem from rules that look to reward people unduly in positions beyond their merit and were written and approved by people who thought they could and would benefit from them at others’ . expense.
The Jamaican government (GOJ), earlier this week, stated no fans would be allowed to watch the national football team play its next match, against the USA, at the National Stadium.
Many criticized this decision, myself included:
So, too, did the football authorities-Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Technical Committee Chairman Rudolph Speid describes the Government’s decision as “sabotage”-as being short-sighted and not what those who have been vaccinated expected as a kind of dividend for their personal and communal action.
Last night, after meetings between the GOJ and the JFF, that decision was reversed, and 5,000 fully vaccinated people willl be allowed to attend. The logistics have yet to be spelt out.
This is consistent with advice offered by the new Chairman of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Operationalisation Task Force, Professor Gordon Shirley, who said Jamaicans who have become inoculated against the virus should be able to benefit from their decision to help get the country back to normal.
He had noted that, with Jamaica set to tackle El Salvador in a CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Friendly on Friday, November 12 [before the match now being made available], he is convinced that the National Stadium is the right place to test this initiative, suggesting that persons who are fully vaccinated could be allowed access to the venue. Opportunities should also be open to the unvaccinated, he added.
So, GOJ can stand behind this advice.
As I noted, many places around the world have seen a way forward to allow larger numbers attend events, if fully vaccinated, especially if outdoors. So, it’s good to see some sense prevail. Some event organizers have used the opportunity to boost vaccination by offering free tickets as a sweetener to those taking them.
Of course, the risks of a surge related to this event may exist, but part of the management of the future is how such risks are managed.
Here’s a short spin around reports on Rishi Sunak’s first Budget presentation that wasn’t shrouded by COVID restrictions.
Economy to rebound to pre-COVID levels by end-2021:
Who got what?
Middle classes swiped:
National Living Wages increased:
Aid budget reinstated:
PM Holness announced last night an end to no-movement days, currently, Sundays, and daily curfews from 8pm till 5am from October 29 till December 10.
Our current COVID surge seems to be abating as noted in the day’s earlier ‘COVID conversation’), as positivity rates trend under 10% and the reproductive rate is well under 1. Hospitalization levels are lower.
Vaccination dividends will start to appear as some easing of restrictions for events or activities will be based on proof of vaccination.
Gathering limits for public events remain unchanged. For funerals:
For weddings and places of worship:
Work from home rules remain for the public sector:
Border entry requirements are eased with no banned countries:
Schools qualified to resume face-to-face teaching based on their risk profile will be advised by the Education Ministry. The resumption date will be November 8, 2021. Some 376 of the 759 primary schools will be allowed to return to face to face activities. Fifty-one per cent are small primary schools with fewer than 100 students. Most of them are in rural areas.
Minister Tufton held his briefing this morning, ahead of expected changes in COVID rules later today:
This provided an update of trends and vaccination status and shipments due in coming weeks.
Notable, some 143,000 Pfizer doses are due this week and will be used for those due their 2nd doses.
Other dose types and more Pfizer doses (prioritized for school-age/12-18 children) are also due in coming weeks.
The vaccination accessibility opportunities are widening in terms of locations and providers (eg private facilities).
Digital vaccination cards and validation of data are in the works (in collaboration with an Indian company) as we move into an electronic environment.
I was really hoping to have little to say about the evolving story about Pastor Kevin Smith and the massacre at a cult gathering in Montego Bay, which came to light 9 days ago. The ritualistic human sacrifices that took place at Pathways International Kingdom Restoration Ministries and comments and investigations have been all over the local media since its leader, Kevin Smith, was taken into custody on Sunday, October 17.
That bizarre story and that of an ark and people being brainwashed and handing over life insurance policies to Smith were the subject of serious and supercilious comments.
No surprise that international media latched on, with the UK’s Mirror newspaper getting in early, not least because Smith had visited UK congregants in south London in 2018:
The New York Post cited ‘The pastor wrote on Facebook: “The Ark is loading now! Leave immediately dressed in white … It is a Roman Catholic sacrifice — it will have no survivors.”’:
No surprise, memes wrote themselves:
News filtered out that somehow Smith had died yesterday morning while being transferred to Kingston.
No way! Jamaica has a long history of wanted criminals dying in strange circumstances while in police custody.
Questions rained in about why they police had chosen to go by Bog Walk (a narrow rural route) not the multi-lane highway. Was it really to avoid the tolls? Now the toll includes dead people including a police officer, Constable Irons:
No lying: it’s mighty strange. The JCF will have lots to explain; they’ve begun:
But, eyes had popped when a video was circulated over the weekend of Smith apparently in police custody having a jolly old time:
That’s not ‘under investigation’ by the JCF.
Smith’s attorney, Valerie Neita, QC, was publicly unhappy with how he and his congregation been treated by police and media, including not knowing her clients whereabouts earlier in the day:
However, in part, her ire was misplaced as she’d not really informed herself about the extensive coverage that had been given to her press releases or other views which she claimed had not been aired. As for her clients being vilified, she did not make much distinction between mainstream media and social media.
You don’t have to be a cynic to think the story smells fishy. From the time news that a senior member of the National Intelligence Bureau, NIB, who was assigned to its Area 1 Division which includes St. James was to be reassigned because his wife was a cult member should have made many think.
Memes (or me-me, as some Jamaicans say 😳🤔😂😏🇯🇲) fly out quickly for such stories, and Jamaicans are creative in this area:
Some of the pastor’s congregation are adamant that he is not dead or that he may rise again, as he was gifted with “supernatural powers”. We’ll see how that goes.
To round out the bizarreness, the other, more-famed Kevin Smith, a cult film maker had been trending earlier in the day:
The Ministry of Health and Wellness announced programme of house-to-house vaccinations has begun in 9 parishes:
It’s aiming at people whose freedom of movement is limited, eg by disabilities or shut-in.
So, far, no indications have been given how this is going in terms of greater take-up of vaccine doses.
However one wants to feel about COVID vaccinations, the reality is that the world’s tolerance of people without vaccines is shrinking:
If you’ve intentions to travel, your options without vaccination are becoming limited, not necessarily for entry to countries, but increasingly for freer movement within countries.
As those hospitalized with COVID are increasingly unvaccinated people, that tolerance will fall further:
The threshold for ‘full’ vaccination is also likely to rise to include boosters.
My Norwegian ‘cousins’ keep telling me their Viking ancestors went to the Americas long before other Europeans. Now, we have proof and a time fix-at least 1021 AD:
The Vikings saga stories now have more credence: