As Political As It Gets

In today’s issue of The Observer, we have articles about Mr. Lindsay Grant of the People’s Action Movement and Mr. Mark Brantley of the Concerned Citizens Movement. Both are opposition leaders and both are asking for a broad-based effort to fight crime. The Observer has also called for government and the parties to discard political considerations to combat lawlessness and return the Federation to more civil conditions.

This call for political cooperation could very well be wrong.

When politicians ask for your vote, they are asking for your trust and saying that they are best suited to meet the challenges facing society. Nothing is more challenging today in the Federation than crime. So it’s time for the people who won the vote to prove they are worthy of the public trust by acting decisively for the public good. It’s time for opposition leaders to prove they are worthy of the public trust by constantly calling for action.

Cooperation is obviously not going to get anything done about crime. What’s needed is a good political fight, a relentless debate over who is going to do what, when, and with what resources; a shouting match that assigns blame and calls out the people who should be doing something but aren’t; a vocal demonstration by leaders that they understand what’s going on and what they’re going to do about it.

This country has had 11 murders in six months, shootings, stabbings, armed robberies and even two crimes involving police constables. All this hand-holding and hand-wringing isn’t getting anything done. The Federation is not safer today than it was on January 1.

It’s time for our leaders to lead.

Straight Talk About Solid Waste

It was refreshing to hear General Manager Carlyn Lawrence of the Solid Waste Management Authority say the following: “The people of Nevis look at solid waste as someone else’s problem. We need to take responsibility for the litter we see all over this island and start taking steps to correct it.” Ms. Lawrence was talking about a plan to reduce the number of plastic shopping bags being used by substituting reusable bags. This is an excellent idea and we hope it catches on. Ms. Lawrence was also open about the obstacles facing the management of solid waste:

“Sold Waste is always underfunded. I don’t know where the environmental tax on the plastic bottles and the used cars goes, but it doesn’t come to us. The plastic bottles and the cars eventually make it to us, but the money doesn’t. We are always struggling to make ends meet because of fuel and equipment expenses. The landfill cell we are using right now is full. We have the ground to develop another one, but it is going to be expensive and I don’t know where we are going to get the money.”

The Observer can’t offer any answers at this time to Mr. Lawrence’s questions, but we do salute her for being forthright about the situation. This kind of clear, direct communication – and her willingness to answer questions and engage in meaningful dialogue with the public – is an example of public service that many in the corridors of power in Basseterre and Charlestown should emulate.