From Barack Obama to Edmund Bartlett: On the New Tourist Institute

Author:  Rovan George Locke Ph.D.
Mischievously, it can be said that Edmund Bartlett, is engaging in a strikingly similar case of benevolent neglect in his refusal to appoint Western Jamaicans to the various committees and agencies within his ministry of tourism as was the case with the most recent former president of the United States Barack Obama in terms of his thirty million kith and kin. One of the contributing factors in Donald Trump’s trouncing of Hilary Clinton in the November 8, 2016 Presidential Election was the staying home of the African American vote in decisive States such as Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. This gave the Republican presidential candidate more than a third of the electoral votes in his upset victory. Political analysts and the global liberal factions are unwilling to embrace the harsh fact that although president Obama broke the racial glass ceilings he did not deliver the goods to the African American Communities in his eight years in the Oval Office.

African Americans subtlety punished Hilary Clinton, not only for her obsession with the Gay Community Rights but also retaliating against President Obama for not overextending his office on their behalf. This is an unpalatable fact to those of us in Jamaica and elsewhere who blindly saw President Barack Obama as the best thing that happened to them since sliced bread. Minister Edmund Bartlett should pay close attention to his “born ya” constituency in the county of Cornwall rather than having a predominance of Kingstonians on his Tourist Board; the all-important Linkage Committee and now the new Institute of Tourism that is to be established at the Montego-Bay Convention Centre.

Irrefutably, Honourable Edmund Bartlett the Minister of Tourism has been very impressive in carrying out his national and global responsibilities in this one vote majority parliamentarian dispensation. At the constituency level especially in the Dumfries Community, he had engaged in a case of benevolent bordering closely to malignant neglect comparable to then President Barack Obama in the city of Chicago his political and academic base which has one of the highest rate of murders and disproportion ate economic inequity in America.

At the Macro-level, Minister Edmund Bartlett has initiated Tsunami changes in the Jamaican Hospitality industry with the $JA one billion loan package for small and medium-size hotel owners and the pension plan for its workers. These are long overdue seismic changes which are praise-worthy. These sea changes will enhance his reputation as perhaps the most successful minister of tourism in the first half-century as a post-colonial polity. However, there is the urgent need for a hospital to be built in Negril for the indigenous residents and the visitors who come from all corners of the world. Inspite of his stellar performance at the macro-level, his characteristic “convenient amnesia” is his Achilles tendon whenever it comes to the appointment of Western Jamaicans to Statutory Boards and Committees within the Ministry of Tourism.

In his first year as Tourism Minister in Andrew Holness administration he has already out distanced his predecessor, Dr. Wkeyman McNeil’s four years in the December 29, 2011-February 25, 2016, Portia Simpson-Miller’s administration. A journalist colleague, Roy “Tenny” Miller, a staunch comrade, remarked that Edmund Bartlett has already made his predecessor’s tenure appear as if it were child’s play. Certainly, there is validity to this sweeping indictment.

It appears as if Edmund Bartlett is saying to indigenous Western Jamaicans that his appointment of the “Bay” quintessential entrepreneur Godfrey Dyer as chairman of the all-encompassing Tourism Enhancement Fund absolves him of any charges of neglecting those of us in the County of Cornwall whenever he has to appoint members to the Tourist Board and to other agencies and Committees in the Ministry of Tourism. He is batting on a sticky wicket, if he holds to that position because the “charge of neglect” has followed him since his first tenure as Tourism Minister in the aborted 2008-2011 Bruce Golding regime.

In that tenure rather than appoint Godfrey Dyer as expected by those of us in journalism and the Hospitality Industry, as the Executive Chairman of the Tourism Board, he appointed the aloof and negrophobic John Lynch with Earl Jarrett, the managing director of Jamaica National Building Society as deputy chairman. In his return to the ministry of tourism, he has recalled John Lynch who is a prisoner of our previous colonial existence and is unable to think outside of the box in terms of the new developments within the global hospitality industry.

Indeed in a provocative vein it can be said that the three Westmoreland born parliamentarians in St. James who are Cabinet members in Andrew Holness administration, namely Dr. Horace Chang, member of parliament for North Western St. James constituency and the Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Growth and Job Creation in the office of the prime minister office; atty Marlene Malaloo Forte, member of parliament for West-Central St. James and attorney general and Edmund Bartlett, member of parliament for East-Central St. Jamesand Minister of Tourism have excelled in their various ministries over the past twelve months. In the prime minister’s Report Card which will be available in the next six months they are most deserving of B/B+. Additionally on this B/B+ list is Desmond McKenzie the Minister of Local Government and Community Development. Prime Minister Andrew Holness appointed three of the “brightest and best” from Western-Jamaica to help him in carrying out the affairs of the country.

Kingston vs The Rest of Us

In the case of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, he is deserving of a B grade. This results from his urban-centric/”Kingston in Jamaica” entrenched vision and his reluctance to appoint Dr. Horace Chang as his permanent deputy prime minister. He should go beyond former Prime Minister’s Bruce Golding and Portia Simpson-Miller who failed to appoint a deputy prime minister during their Tenures. Andrew Holness should follow in the footsteps of his mentor and J.L.P. power broker former Prime Minister (1980-89) Edward Seaga who made the internationally renowned Trade Unionist and former prime minister (1967-72) Hugh Lawson Shearer his permanent deputy prime minister. Additionally, both Michael Manley and P.J. Patterson appointed deputy prime ministers in the case of David Coore and Seymour“Foggy” Mullings respectively. (We shall return in the future to the overwhelming case of Dr. Horace Chang as the deputy prime minister in Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ administration)

In a tantalizing vein, indigenous parishioners are on solid ground, if they see these three hard working parliamentarians and cabinet members as vivid examples of internal colonialism in the governance of St. James. It is this provocative issue of internal colonialism (outsiders) which we are highlighting in our analysis of minister Edmund Bartlett’s misguided decision in the predominance of Kingston based professional elites on the Committee for The new Institute of Tourism to be established at the under-utilized Montego-Bay convention Center.

A close look at these committee members lead inevitably to the conclusion that the Minister of Tourism has engaged in his characteristic amnesia whenever it comes time to appoint Western Jamaicans to the Tourism Board, other agencies and committees within his ministry. On the eve of his four decades in parliamentary politics, this has been his Achilles tendon whenever he is a cabinet member. This has tarnished his sterling Ministerial acumen within the Ministry of Tourism during his 2008-2011 tenure and now in the first year in the same position in the Andrew Holness’ administration. It leads to derisive comments at home and in the Diaspora around influential Western-Jamaican professionals in tourism, academia, journalism and the corridors of power that “he is afraid of his shadow’ and that he will be eclipsed if he appoints anyone form his own birthplace, his high school – St. Elizabeth Technical College, or his region, to sit on his various Boards.

The Plethora of news on this new Tourism Institute in Montego-Bay fails to address the glaring absence of influential Jamaicans from the county of Cornwall on this Committee to establish its educational, cultural and administrative parameters (Please see Neville Graham – “Montego-Bay Convention Centre to double as hotel school” The Sunday Gleaner, February 12, 2017 Business Section Pg. C1; “WORK advanced to establish Jamaica Centre for Tourism and Innovation” – The Daily Observer, Thursday February 23, 2017. Pg. 10; “High Level committee established to develop new tourism institute” The Gleaner Hospitality Jamaica, Wednesday, February 22, 2017 Pg.4; “Committee established to develop new tourism institute” Sunday Finance, The Sunday Observer, February 12, 2017 Pg.3)

Andrew Holness/Edmund Bartlett vs The Diaspora

We need to ask Minister Edmund Bartlett what are the unique professorial, professional/entrepreneurial qualities which led him to this pre-dominance of urban-based ethnocentric committee members which led to the absence of prominent Western-based Jamaicans on this new Tourism Institute? Why has Minister Edmund Bartlett bypassed the Westmoreland born, Dr. Rupert Rhodd, associate professor of Economics and Associate Dean of Students at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida? Equally significant we need to hear from Minister Edmund Bartlett why he has refused to appoint Andrew (Andy) Ingraham the Bahamian born Northern Caribbean University (formally the Seventh Day Adventist West Indies College in Mandeville) educated Hospitality guru who is the president of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD) based in Plantation, South Florida (USA).

Both gentlemen have known each other for more than twenty five years and the minister will be a panelist at Andy’s twenty first annual International African American Hotel Ownership & Investment Summit & Trade Show (July 26th-28th, 2017; Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay Hotel. Miami, FL). This is not the first time that Minister Edmund Bartlett has been a panelist in the major multi-cultural hospitality conference within the global arena. We shall return to this theme of Minister Edmund Bartlett’s convenient amnesia when it comes to appointing Andy Ingraham and Dr. Rupert Rhodd to his ministry’s Board; agencies and Committees.

Let us ask Minister Edmund Bartlett what are the unique Hospitality skillsets of the members that he has arbitrarily picked without any input from indigenous Western Jamaica power elites, Tourism participants and journalists. The members of his committee for the new institute of Tourism are the Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson; Minster of Education, Youth and Information, Senator Ruel Reid; Professor Emeritus of Management and Tourism, George Washington University Donald Hawkins; Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Professor Alvin Wint; Senior Programme Officer and Senior lecturer at U.W.I. Dr. Carolyn Hayle; Dr. Phillip Brown, Principal of the Sandals Corporate University; Dr Lloyd Walker, Head of the Department of government at U.W.I. Mona Campus; Danny Roberts, Head of the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Institute; Omar Robinson, President of the Hotel and Tourist Association; Camille Needham – Executive Director of the JHTA and Carol Rose Brown, coordinator of the Hotel School and Artisan Villages.

We are emphasizing indigenous or “born ya” western Jamaicans. This writer does not have any problems with Dr. Phillip Brown nor Omar Robinson or Carol Rose Brown on this Institute of Tourism’s Committee. We are addressing the infusion of Kingston based Committee members who are on numerous Boards and Committees in Kingston, either in academia or Trade Unionism/government. Why is Danny Roberts on this Committee? Doesn’t he have his hand full already with his numerous positions on Professor Trevor Munroe’s National Integrity Agency, at U.W.I. as the director of the Hugh Lawson Shearer’s Institute of Trade Unionism, Chairman of Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ Public Service Reforms Committee and as Co-Chairman with Keith Duncan in the I.M.F. / Economic Programme Oversight Committee? We need to highlight that professor Alvin Whint is the vice-chair of the Public Service Reform Committee. If Prime Minister Andrew Holness wants to rise above the shoulders of all the prime ministers of Jamaica, one of the key ingredients of his leadership should be, regardless of his or her expertise a Jamaican should not be allowed to be a member of more than two Boards. I’m not casting aspersions on these Kingstonian Based committee members but the stipend they will collect for coming to Montego-Bay for these meetings will give them greater income than the average Jamaican working 9-5 in the public service and definitely than those working in the call centers (B.P.O.) in Montego-Bay.

Towards the County of Cornwall’s Self-Actualization

It needs to be pointed out that Minister Edmund Bartlett has slapped those of Western-Jamaican stock in the face by these appointees to the new Hotel Institute. He has demonstrated that he does not respect the vast pool of intellectual, journalistic, entrepreneurial and journalism resources within his immediate environs in his region. How can he establish such a school of Tourism and does not have Ms. Gloria Henry, the president of the Montego-Bay Chamber of Commerce or Dr. Patrick Prendergast the Director of the Western Branch of the University of the West Indies or Dr. Maureen Nelson, Principal of the Montego Bay Community College or Ms. Sandra Drummond, Head of the Hospitality Department on this committee.

Minister Edmund Bartlett further adds injury to insult by ignoring such homegrown “Brightest and the Best”, such as Lloyd B. Smith, the most recent Deputy Speaker of Gordon House and Managing Director of the Western Mirror; ShalmanScott, the 1980s former mayor of Montego-Bay and presently prolific historian and columnist, Western Mirror; Allie McNab, 1960s Cornwall College “soccer great and sprinter” and presently special adviser to Olivia “Babsy” Grange, minister of Gender, Culture, Entertainment and Sports. Janet Silvera, The Gleaner Hospitality coordinator; Roy “Tenny” Miller, veteran journalist and community activist; Ras Astor, founder/managing director – Bob Marley Musical Trail; Odette Dyer and Paula Kerr Jarrett regional financers in their own right and wives of two of the major movers and shakers in Montego-Bay – Godfrey Dyer and Mark Kerr Jarrett, respectively; Andrea Lynch – Senior Private Banker for over two decades at the Bank of Nova Scotia Regional Office; atty Dionne Jackson-Miller, president, Press Association of Jamaica – her father was the highly heralded coach, English teacher and later headmaster at his alma mater- Manning’s School; Cosmo Brown of the globally renown Cosmo’s Seafood Resturant in Negril/Hanover; Brian Jardim, Executive Chairman/Rainforest Seafoods; Sonia Brooks, director – Brooks Plaza; Andrew Collins – former president of the Jamaica exporters association and presently global marketing executive, Grace Kennedy. Dr. Creary Wallace/Richard Wallace – Negril/Hanover hoteliers; Moses Chybar – managing director – Icon – hotel/restaurant supplier;Councilor/Mayor of Montego-Bay, Homer Davis and the three cabinet ministers from St.James.

Political Hypocrisy

One of the most troubling appointments by Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett is Donald Hawkins professor Emeritus of management and tourism at George Washington University. U.S.A. Minister Bartlett tells us that the retired professor “is leading a team charge with producing a business plan that will serve as the official guide for the initiative”. This is un-acceptable when it is borne in mind that one of the top expert in tourism for the Caribbean and North America is the South Florida’s based Andrew “Andy” Ingraham. He is the president for over two decades of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners (NABHOOD). At his annual conference there is more than $US 5 billion in assets in the meeting room due to the numerous presidents, C.E.Os of the major hotel chains in America and a large number of African-American hotel owners with a significant percentage being former National Football League players. Interestingly enough, the Jamaican Tourist Board has never been a sponsor of this major Black Entrepreneurial event.

The absence of Andrew “Andy” Ingram from Minister Edmund Bartlett’s new Tourism Institute Committee sends a disturbing message. Every major hotel chain in North America works closely with Andrew “Andy” Ingram who is the most respected voice on the $US 50 billion African-American hospitality industry and the $US 90 billion total minority market.

From a professorial or journalistic perspective, it can be said that Andrew “Andy” Ingram brings more than Donald Hawkins to the new tourism institute and the entire hospitality industry in Jamaica. He has Black billionaires and multi-millionaires who can add to the tourist stock in Jamaica. His team of advisers and his inner circle can provide more than the retired George Washington University professor. What triggered this special relationship between the Jamaican minister of Tourism and Donald Hawkins? How much is he being paid in hard currency by the Jamaican Ministry of Tourism? Who recommended him to the minister of tourism? What is his claim to be an expert on third world hospitality?

Isn’t Minister Edmund Bartlett fully aware of the special role Andrew “Andy” Ingraham has played over the past two decades in the developing of the enviable hospitality industry in his homeland? This Northern Caribbean University educated Bahamian has gone beyond his own nationality to empower African-Americans in the North American Hospitality Industry. This includes the billionaire Ms. Sheila Johnson the former wife of Bob Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television fame to become a pivotal player in the hospitality industry in North America and in the Caribbean. In his own country he was a major player in Atlantis Hotel and Casino being part of the Bahamian landscape at least a decade ago. Presently, he is an adviser to Prime Minister PerryChristie in the final phases of completing the Chinese financed and built Hotel/Casino which will be the largest in the entire Caribbean.

Curiously enough, their omission of Dr. Rupert Rhodd as in the case of Andy Ingraham calls into question Minister Edmund Bartletts’ commitment to the South-Florida Diaspora where he has entrenched family ties. Professor Rupert Rhood is the president of the Jamaican South Florida Alumni Association which has a membership of ninety chapters and more than 50,000 Jamaicans involvement in fund raising of over $US 2 million dollars to their alma maters on the rock. Professor Rupert Rhodd as in the case of Minister Edmund Bartlett has his navel string buried under a breadfruit tree in the historic parish of Westmoreland.

Conclusion

Both former president Barack Obama and the Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett have demonstrated exemplary qualities of integrity and leadership. However, they have come in for harsh criticism by not recognizing that their first priorities are towards there kith& kin. At one level of the discussion as, unpalatable as it is, Barack Obama never came to first base to bat on behalf of the African Americans. He engaged in benevolent neglect of the people of African Americans who voted for him ninety five percent in 2008 and 2012. The African American prison rate didn’t drop during his eight years tenure at the White House. Inspite of the fact that the total employment rate in America dropped from 8.5% to 4.5% yet the African American unemployment rate double to twenty five percent.

In the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary Elections against Hilary Clinton; the 2008 Presidential Election against the Republican Party Presidential Candidate John McCain and the 2012 Presidential Campaign against the Republican Party Presidential Candidate George Romney, it must be highlighted that Barack Obama to the surprise of the entire Black Media never spent any significant amount of his $US one billion dollars with the Black Media. He spent less than $US one million with the Black electronic/print media. We have witnessed a similar behaviour pattern with the Minister of Tourism in his 2008-2011 tenure as Minister of Tourism and again in his first year in the same position.

We witnessed a reluctance to spend any sizable amount of funds with the African American and the Caribbean American Media in the United States of America. This is Minister Edmund Bartlett most grievous trait. And yet he talks about empowering the small business people in the Hospitality Industry in Jamaica. It must be pointed out that neither he nor any future Minister of Tourism will be able to achieve five million overnight stay in Jamaica in the next quarter century until he/she spends at least $US five million dollars per year with the African American or Caribbean American Media. That’s the bottom line.

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