It is no secret that I have been critical of the leadership of both political parties in this paper and on the Rooster morning talk show; however, I am not blind to the fact that what I term objectivity might very well be the result of the fact that I am no longer a serving politician nor seeking to be elected in 2013. Politics in modern democracies is nothing less than civilised warfare, yet there is little civil or fair about politics. Having been on the political stage, my advice to our citizens is to never expect to discover truth nor altruism in political debates and politicians’ actions.
We can only expect that those in power will try to hold on to their power, and those seeking power will try discrediting those in power. This is the real reason we look to the press and other institutions and not our politicians for more objective descriptions of our day to day realities.
Several days ago I was asked to call a gentleman who when I called, asked why I am not doing more to defend myself against on-going criticism of my political accomplishments by the Leader of the Opposition. The gentleman said; “Frank, you did not build those affordable houses, you had people to project manage and people to build. The island has a Planning Authority that makes sure every construction is built to code. And your Ministry had a signed agreement with the company, which supplied the materials and built the homes, promising they would last at least 20 years. But the PPM first and now the UDP has done nothing to enforce that agreement, although they have claimed that the houses did not live up to the contracted standards.”
To tell the truth it was good to hear from this gentleman what I have always said to the public but truth does not change political perception. And it was the intention of the PPM to tie me politically to a failed housing scheme although I was also the Minister of Sports and had responsibility for prison among many other subjects. I am disappointed that the UDP did nothing in the early days after we lost our 2005 election to defend me. In fact they distanced themselves from the affordable housing scheme I had started and when returned to power they moved quickly to destroy the houses and build new homes as if they had to erase a blemish the PPM who built no houses for the poor, might continue to tie to them.
The PPM built no houses but nevertheless placed the country in debt forever. For it is finally being discovered that the final cost of the schools started by the Leader of the Opposition will be close to $200 million, if not more; yet he does not see his actions as foolish or corrupt. Why then did he bring in a company from abroad although we had construction companies that were local and capable of doing the job? Who was the local partner of Tom Jones International and that partner’s relationship to Mr. McLaughlin? Why is his action not being seen as self-serving?
As we develop election fever and our heads get got, I want the leaders of both parties to remember that this country is still to face greater financial challenges and that political office will not be the great reward we may expect it to be.
Finally, I do not think my actions caused the financial crisis we are now experiencing. The housing development spent less than $11 million and we did recover several million from insurance payments after Ivan, plus the lands that were developed as sites for these houses still exist and are reusable today.
I believe that my transgressions were minor in comparison to Pedro St James, the Turtle Farm or the schools; because the total amount of money spent on affordable houses was not only much less; my action did not put the country in a position of having to pay for generations, the cost of homes that were badly needed by the poor.