31 August, 2008


400 Posts. On 29 August, this blog published its 400th post. The opportunity for a little reflection should not be missed. Have there been any noticeable successes? Have there been any apparent failures? Has anything been achieved? Should one even ask the question?

First, successes of the blog. There have been only a few. The first and most important success is a general one. It is that I have thoroughly enjoyed myself writing it. The blog has given me an opportunity I never had before. I am now free to complain and speak out on issues. As a lawyer and a judge, I was previously obliged to try to keep quiet. As a lawyer, when I did not, it was my clients that suffered. As a judge, when I did not, the public reaction was that judges should not try to be social reformers. This newfound freedom must be good for a person’s mental and physical health. The many emails and telephone calls the blog generates has helped keep me in touch with the man on the street.

There have been one or two unexpected specific successes. One has been the campaign to encourage the police force to engage the public more effectively. When I first wrote about the appalling situation with the police force on 21 December 2006, the public perception of the force was dismal. The weekly press conference that commenced shortly after the blog called for better public relations has done much to calm public fears about a failing police presence on the island. I receive many fewer complaints about lack of information from the police now. Discussion on constitutional reform proceeds, all be it slowly and painfully. Lolita Richardson has produced her first draft of a Constitution for the Chief Minister’s Committee. I have not yet been able to examine it closely. So, I have no opinion on it to express, yet.

Failures, if one wishes to call them that, have been many. Government continues mainly to be run in secret. There is no initiative to consider freedom of information legislation. No credible start has been made on integrity legislation. The FCO continues its laissez faire attitude to good governance in Anguilla. This might better be described as abandonment. Those in charge of the government website have succeeded in keeping it free of any meaningful information. Government continues to do its work without any planning or principle to guide it. The Land Development Control Committee continues to conceal both the applications made to it and its decisions. Members of the public meet me on the street and tell me that they would like to share information they have of wrongdoing, but they have to protect their families. The fear of victimization is palpable everywhere you go. Government’s involvement with the arts and culture continues to be limited to the barbarian activities of an imitation Trinidadian-type Carnival held once a year. Criminal activity by public servants continues to be swept under the carpet. Racism, isolationism, and protectionism continue to be hallmarks of public discourse. Youth-crime continues to grow daily. There are dozens of other failures.

Not to worry. I know I am no social reformer. I have neither the requisite skills nor the resources of time and dedication. There must be hundreds of persons employed in the private and public sectors in Anguilla who know better than me what needs to be done to bring about real reform in the way the government functions. If they have the ability or opportunity to initiate real change, hopefully, one day they will gain the courage to seize the moment.

I have no regrets. This blog has given me an opportunity for me to express my opinion. Whether anyone agrees or not is not the point. It allows persons who wish to do so to share their opinions. Whether you do or not is up to you. This blog is not a mechanism designed specifically to bring about positive change in the governance of our island. When it happens, that is an unexpected good fortune.

On to the next 400. God’s willing.


  1. Don, your first notable success was preventing ExCo from amending our constitution without bothering to tell us, trying to make changes that were contrary to the wishes of the people as express to the Constitutional Review Commission, and then claiming that it was just some minor little thing that they didn't want think was worth informing us about.

    While widely misinterpreted as a constitutional issue, this was really an arrogance issue that happened to be occasioned by a constitutional point. It has thus served to bring about a new awareness of how our leaders treat us.

    In case some feel my comments are pro-opposition, I must also remind people of how Hubert dem approved the Beal Aerospace foolishness on Sombrero (subject only to UK approval) without having bothered to mention Beal's name. And their even greater secrecy about the transhipment scheme, having failed to do any due diligence on the contractor, who turned out to be a convicted felon in the U.S.

    All of them, to this day, continue talking about openness, transparency and accountability, as if repeating the words often enough will make us believe them.

    But we're moving forward, thanks to you, Don, and the ponderously retarded watchfulness of the Foreign Office. Even the allegedly corrupt TCI government has been forced to introduce a Code of Ministerial Ethics.

  2. There is not only success or failure. There is the unknown quantity of how many acts of malfeasance or dishonesty have been prevented by the fear of seeing our names in your blog.

  3. Congrats Mitch. Good, bad, or ugly, this blog forces people to think. Hopefully, this thinking will lead to questions about one's future with this "gov't". The same 'ole, same 'ole doesn't cut it. Irreparable damage to the island has already been accomplished, yet maybe it can be minimized. - Scotty

  4. Congrats Don and keep up the good work. Probably I should use this forum to comment on an matter than needs urgent attention for the start of the 2009-2009 academic year.

    Isn't it surprising that in our quest to make it safe for everyone on our roads traffic lights were installed but no one seems to remember that there should also be pedestrian crossings in front of these lights? I wonder how those children walking to school in South Hill manage to cross the road safely at Easy Corner prior to getting to the entrance of the school. Couldn’t the wise cracks who installed the lights also have thought about the pedestrian crossings? With the reckless driving we are now seeing on our roads, it is high time that safe crossings are placed at the lights that are located in areas where it is necessary for pedestrians to cross safely. Hope our planners will not wait until one of our budding kids are taken down by a reckless driver before taking preventive action.

  5. Congrats Don, You cannot save the world but you have sure made a changed the way people think and the way elected and appointed offers do business.

  6. The Valley Road Improvement Project, due to start this year and designed by an engineering firm in Trinidad, will include "zebra" crosswalks thoughout The Valley. Perhaps this will inspire the "Minister of Roads" to have them in other parts of the island.

    Unless a child is licked down in the road, it will take years. A Chinese getting lick down doesn't count.

  7. As to safer roads:
    It's so simple it boggles the mind. All that is needed are some "Sleeping Policemen" every so often on the roads -- those humps that force the driver to slow down.
    Sometimes the easy solution evades our common sense.

  8. First of all "traffic calming" is evil. :-)

    However, one of the most interesting experiments they did in Holland a few years back was to remove *all* driver cuing: no signs, no lines in the road, no sidewalks, no roundabouts, nothing but black asphalt from one side of the road to the other, *especially* in city centers.

    Sounds like Anguilla already, right? :-)

    Thing is, it works. In congested areas, people drive down the road *slowly*, looking pedestrians in the eye as they make their way down the road. Pedestrians actually *pay attention* when crossing the street.

    Maybe all the Valley's main drag needs is a good paving?

    Would be cheaper, I bet. :-).

    On the other hand, maybe not. I imagine all kinds of fact-finding junkets to the Netherlands...

  9. Mr. Mitchell--Congratulations on the occasion of your 400th insightful, informative, provocative, and necessary post. Please consider that one of your "successes" is that I click onto your site each morning with eagerness and excitement; and what I find almost always lives up to expectations.

    Whenever you sit-down to your keyboard (on on those days when the "Muse" has not alighted on your shoulder), please remember those of us who are so eager to read your posts--and so appreciative for what they say.

    Again, many congratulations and sincerest thanks for your writings.

    All the best.

    Steven Seligman

  10. You also give us hope that checks and balances, and transparency, will improve in our government. For this we are greatly appreciative.


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