05 September, 2007


Has the Blog Served a Useful Purpose? Has the exercise been worthwhile? There have been some successes, but more failures. Let us look at some of both of them.

Successes: The police have started to use the media more effectively. They have proven much more efficient and professional than we originally assumed when the Blog began. They have recruited highly trained professionals. They have made several arrests that they can justifiably be proud of.

The community has become more actively involved in protesting against injustice. Anguillians have learned again how to demonstrate to express their views.

The print and radio media are more confrontational now, as they should be. The Anguillian Newspaper has published its first editorials critical of government within the last six months. The radio call-in programmes “Talk Your Mind”, “To the Point”, “The Mayor’s Show”, and “Social Solutions” have all begun in recent months to tackle previously taboo subjects.

Failures: On the other hand, our government has not embraced transparency, despite frequent promises. Very few government plans or policies are published. Just a few short months ago, the government press office started sending out press releases on Cabinet meetings and other government initiatives and activities. We got the first summary of Cabinet discussions. The promise was that it would be a regular thing. Then, it dried up. Now, it seems the press office only sends out bland official releases prepared by various government agencies and long, boring ministerial speeches prepared by civil servants.

The environment is under increasing threat. Environmental degradation continues unchecked. Environmental Impact Assessments are still a joke.

Land development scams continue to flourish, without any discouragement from the authorities.

Conflicts of interest at high levels have not been confronted and dealt with.

Youth gangsterism continues to increase. US prison-based Hip Hop “don’t tell” culture reigns triumphant. Citizens increasingly are afraid to cooperate with the authorities when they have knowledge of crime and the perpetrators.

Human trafficking and exploitation of foreigners continues, and increases daily.

The Public Accounts Committee shows no sign of beginning to function. The Opposition is still disorganized.

Sometimes, it seems that no headway is being made.

And, then the main reason this Blog was started. The failure of our leadership to push for constitutional reform along the lines preferred by a majority of Anguillians as published in the August 2006 Constitutional Commission Report. The constitutional review process has remained essentially stalled. There was a promising but temporary revival of official interest in March, April, May, June and July, after some digging principally from the radio and press. But, a failure of vision at the highest levels continues unabated. As this was one of the main reasons for starting this Blog, it has to be counted a major failure.

Is this too pessimistic?

On usefulness, I give the Blog a score of 5 out of 10.


  1. Many of those who are vocal about criticising government are dismissed as "nuts," morons, political opportunists or being motivated by ulterior motives. You can't be dismissed so easily, so many people actually listen to what you say. The Ministers know this. It's understandable that they are not grateful to you for pointing out their deficiencies. Had they conformed to all your suggestions it would have been an admission on their part that you are right and they are wrong. It is unrealistic to hope for 10 out of 10. This is Anguilla, not The Promised Land. 10 out of 10 is a target. 5 out of 10 is a miracle.

    Thank you for your good work. And to Mrs. Mitchell for her support.

  2. Yesterday you said, "I have re-visited old topics where I thought they could benefit from a re-airing. I can only do that so often, and then it will appear to be just re-cycling used material."

    If the American press believed that, they could run one story about the war in Iraq and its difficulties and never mention it again, lest they re-cycle used material. But every day we read of new angles of this continuing story.

    In this same way, subjects such as government secrecy, departmental inefficiencies, childish Social Security Directors or the brain-death of NICA are not subjects that need to be defined, explained and forgotten. They are ongoing issues that continually turn out new problems for those they touch.

    This is not about droning on and on for years about the Rifkin Letter and the evil plans of the British. This is about the systemic problems in Anguilla and what affect they have on our lives each day.

  3. Mr. Mitchell:

    I appreciate your efforts and look forward every morning to what you have to say. While I understand your holding yourself to appropriately high standards, you should not hold yourself to standards that are unrealistic, i.e., that all the problems and inadequacies that you have illuminated have not been rectified does not mean that your efforts have not been useful. "Rome was not built in a day," nor can the deep-rooted institutional corruption which you reveal be up-rooted by one or two mentions.
    Do not be discouraged, and--most certainly--please do not stop your efforts.

  4. Since I wrote this piece, I received an invitation from the Chief Minister's office to attend a meeting on Friday at Paradise Cove concerning Constitutional reform. I do not know what the agenda is. But it is a good sign that there is a chance of progress.


  5. Mr Mitchell, kudos to you. Keep up the good works, it is not slander, degradation, demeaning, but rather informational and most times even if it is criticism it is constructive criticism. All the items you have posted have been researched and have proven factual. There is too much going wrong in this litle island and sometimes civil servants have to be blamed for a lot of it, and a lesser extent the politicians. This is the the best gift you could have given to Anguilla. There is no other medium through which information is forth coming at least not from the Anguillian paper, the only unbiased and forthcoming information coming from that paper when Petty writes an article, otherwise it is just a glossary. LET THE TRUTH BE TOLD, THE TRUTH IS THE TRUTH.

  6. A writer commented that those who criticise the government are dismissed as nuts, morons, etc, but those who support them are rewarded by shuffling people and giving their supporters jobs the question is how well is the jobs being carried out. Look and you will see. You be the judge and jury.

  7. I expect to see a headline in the next issue of The Light:


  8. You have a Poll on NICA. I heard on air yesterday an commercial on NICA and the book store. Not sure if they were looking for someoen to run or something else. WIll have to listen again.

    Anyway, my poin tis that it can't be wound up since NICA is still active. Maybe Bob can get his money back. I am still wondering why NICA shareholders who wnat to sell shares to other persons cannot do so.

  9. 10 out of 10, because you manifest these ten attributes:

    1) Integrity
    2) Courage
    3) Passion
    4) Intelligence
    5) Courtesy
    6) Consideration
    7) Humility
    8) Endurance
    9) Faith
    10) Character

  10. I applaud you for you courage to under take this stand to expose the Gov't ,its futile policies and lame methods and attempts at trying to hoodwink our country into believing that they are protecting our interests.They have failed miserablyin the aspect of governance.Your indepth research and detailed comments are trully informative and reveals vital information that all Anguillians should have access to.If they did, then they would be able to make more informed decisions to ensure that the country is run by capable individuals.Sometimes we tend to get discourage when our goals are not readily realised,however,Mr. Mitchele,you are a valueable asset to our country and should be proud of your contributions.You have not failed ,but have succeded in bring issues to the masses that directly affect us all.Your rating of your achievements is rather low but understandable as you seems to be a perfectionist.This is not a perfect world and hence a 10 out of 10 is entirely impractical but a 5 out of 10 or better is worht praise for a job well done. Please keep up the good work and keep theblogs coming.

  11. One topic I think could still use more attention is how to have checks and balances against conflicts of interest among government leaders between their personal interests and the country’s interests. Which islands/countries have done something that works, and what have they done?

    After I was in grad school a few years, there was a group that did an educational awareness campaign about sexual harassment. I think most of us guys had never really thought about it, but girls had noticed things. For example, if a guy was telling a guy at a microscope how to do something he would just tell him and let the guy do it, but with a girl he was more apt to say, "Here, let me sit down and show you". Most of the guys were basically decent guys, and talking and thinking about the issues seemed to help.

    I am not sure change would come so easily or quickly with Anguilla's politicians, but I think more effort is worthwhile.

  12. I hope we are nto gettign the impression corruption and conflict of interest are only interest related to politicians and the government sector. The problem we have in AXA is that when we think of transparency, it is a matter only for politicians.

    WHy is it that issues relating to education must only be dicussed with the Minister of Education. WHy are we paying Department Heads and Parliamentary secretaries and Edcuation Officers for?

    These Department Heads should be trained budget management. Only in AXA, Department Heads who go over their Budget are allowed to blame the politicians for no funds. Infact, the Budget in every government sector should be in plain langauage so that average Anguillians can see exactly how our money is being spent. SO that when we go on "Talk Your mind'" We can ask critical questions of our leaders instead of the same old accusations and rancor.

  13. "10 out of 10 is a target, 5 out of 10 is a miracle", a poster said in a comment on your blog.

    We are back at school.
    Students at risk. They are not so nice, not so fast,
    not so ready to learn. It is hard. Small things need to be practised over and over. Repeat the same thing again and again. Try 100 different ways to get the point
    And then, O Glory, he GOT it.

    We set a target for one boy. I told him,
    You will be able to learn to recognize the numbers 1-0.
    So you can copy a set of 7 numbers from a piece of paper
    on to a phone and call your mother. Yourself.
    He is 17. It will take a long time.
    It will be boring and frustrating and, shoot, fun too.
    I will be working with a little boy of 11.
    He was arrested for drug dealing over the summer.
    He will find out he has more options to make money.
    He has so little self respect left. I will give him some.
    We will. It will take a whole team. Because, we will say what we have to say, do what needs doing, go where we have to go, beg, steal and borrow.
    Over and over again.

    You think you can shout "Integrity please" about an issue once and be done!
    You are working with a people at risk.
    The mission is a great one.
    You can stop now?

    Come back home!
    Wuk ain't done.
    You have but started.
    You have written the ABC on the black board. Now go teach.
    Slow learners, chatterboxes in the back.
    They too want to know how integrity is spelled.

    30.000 visits!
    Take a break, have a Sabbath day.
    Do a re-run, a revision, don't give up.

    10 out of 10 is a target, 5 out of 10 is a miracle.

  14. Exploitation of foreigners?
    The exploited foreigners are now getting double wages, fruits and vegetables. Anguillians working for slave wages in luxury hotels and cannot afford an apple a day.

    What about us exploited locals?
    Where is the minimum wage Bill?

  15. Our uncaring arrogance, greed and selfishness is reflected in those we elect to represent us. We have fouled our own nest. You owe us nothing.

    But the underpaid teacher who writes so poetically above, who works with children who others consider to be the cockroaches of our schools, has discovered that she can change lives. By caring about children who have never known what it feels like to be loved, she sees results over a period of weeks and months.

    The results of your work takes longer, because you are working with with a whole community, not selected individuals. The results of your work take longer, because they are more profound, and relate not only to us but to those who come after us.

    You owe us nothing. But what about the chldren?

  16. Don: the value of your blog is, I hope, now more apparent to you from the comments you have received.

    It is not just worthwhile. It is essential and appears to be the only hope for Anguilla.

    We now learn from Colville Petty's column in this week's Anguillian that the Chief Minister his geared up his attempts to intimidate the people of Anguilla into not questioning the government, by threatening anyone who does so with litigation: a stark echo of the position taken by leaders of jurisdictions elsewhere in the world that have come to grief.

    The government has, over the past several weeks, been asked very articulately to explain why it has granted so much control over Anguilla's economic future to one developer, the KOR Group. Instead of recognising the entirely legitimate concerns of Anguillians, not only has the government failed to answer any of the questions raised, but it has reduced still further any vestige of transparency in its deliberations.

    It does not, therefore lie in the Chief Minister's mouth to winge that hard working ministers are being unfairly treated, much less that they are being libelled. If there is a rational explanation for decisions which appear to result in Anguillians' future having been sold down the river, let the government provide that rational explanation. If they fail to do so, the only two possible conclusions would seem to be either that they are unbelievably incompetent or that other considerations induced them to disregard the best interests of Anguillians.

    It is a trite observation that one of the growing pains of young democracies is that the electorate are not accustomed to thinking that they have the right to question those who govern them. That handicap is exacerbated when there is no effective press (Colville Petty's column excepted from that criticism) and when that press refuses to publish letters that are, in its judgment, too close to the bone or adverse to those whose favour the editor cherishes. This is Anguilla's dilemma.

    Contrary to Tommy Astaphan's suggestion (in another thread) that anyone with criticisms should have the courage to give their name, in a climate where government seeks to intimidate people into unquestioning acceptance of the quite terrible decisions they are taking, a vehicle through which enlightened opposition can be ventilated is a pearl beyond price.

    Don't even THINK of giving it up!

  17. I'd like to thank the poster above for an excellent contribution.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.