Your editorial endorsing John de Jongh for governor was a surprising piece of journalism. Normally journalists are expected to be very factual and to have solid reasoning for the conclusions that they come to. I did not find this to be demonstrated in your editorial.
First, you begin by making a statement that does not seem to be related to the present situation, but to the situation that existed in 1998. Have you looked at the figures on government revenues from 1996 to the present time? Have you not seen declining revenues turn into increasing revenues? Have you not seen a considerable drop in the number of government employees since 1998?
It gives the impression that you are not basing your position on facts, trends, or a comparison of the government's condition then and now, you seem to be simply regurgitating the rhetoric from political advertisements.
Your statement that Mr. de Jongh "has proven himself in all areas of public and private life" seems to conveniently ignore the facts surrounding his short tenure at the public positions that he has had, and the controversial circumstances surrounding his leaving of those positions.
You are on the mark when you say that he does not need a job, because he has the friends and family connections that will ensure that he will never want for employment. However, you have chosen to ignore the fact that he was asked by the Democratic Party in 1998 to be a candidate, before Governor Turnbull was asked, and he declined. It was widely believed then that his reluctance was partly due to the fear of being governor when the federal government took over.
Your view on his outstanding ability in financial management is not based on any facts that can be determined from reading your editorial. The resume of your candidate in his brochure lists his educational achievements as having a B.A. degree, nothing more advanced. Lockhart Caribbean had a finance employee before John de Jongh joined the firm. This employee had much more finance experience than your candidate. First of all, he had more than a B.A. Then, after working as comptroller of Vitelco, he was entrusted to manage Guyana Telephone for his employer, which he did successfully before coming to Lockhart Caribbean. When John de Jongh started working there, none of his finance "expertise" was really needed, since his function was simply to be a spokesperson with the right family connections.
You refer to his work for a finance advisory firm. You must know that these firms have numerous employees, and the contribution he made to the plans developed is not clear from your article. What you did not mention was that after returning to the Virgin Islands, Mr. de Jongh sought to put his finance skills to work by taking over a well-known firm on St. Thomas that was facing bankruptcy. Then, all of a sudden, he dropped it, and the owner had to rebuild his company without the famous "expertise" of John de Jongh.
Finally, when you speak of qualifications, you may have forgotten that Dr. Cora Christian is also a candidate, and an examination of her credentials and a comparison of those with Mr. de Jongh's would hardly lead one to the conclusion expressed in your editorial.
The candidate you have endorsed has had many different positions, but most of them were held for very short times. Could this be because his genius was so advanced that he needed only a short time to accomplish what ordinary mortals needed many years to do? His record shows that he does well while working with companies that have no financial or cash-flow problems.
Your references to our financial problems seem to omit the fact that Mr. de Jongh has said on many occasions that he believes the financial condition of the government is worse now than in 1999. If that is true, how come you have not asked him how he will make payroll if he is elected? Listen to the extravagant promises that he has made in campaign statements, but with no explanation of how a government, in worse state than 1999, will find the money to do what he promises. It is surprising that you have not characterized these statements as irresponsible election promises, and your basis for your judgment is quite out of character with what a journalist is normally willing to swallow hook, line and sinker.
Let me explain that I hold no ill will toward Mr. de Jongh. I believe that he is a fine person, and that he means well in his intentions to lead the Virgin Islands to better days. I believe every candidate has the intention to lead the territory to better days; it is just that some are more realistic in their plans than others, and that some would use certain means that others would not.
I remember the type of journalism that was done by Melvin Claxton when he was a reporter at the Daily News. I cannot imagine him swallowing political rhetoric the way that your editorial seems to have done, without asking the probing questions that the former governor detested so vehemently. It was only days ago that I was lamenting the lack of probing journalism that allowed several candidates to make sweeping statements without probing questions that would seek to determine whether these statements contradict other statements made.
This statement is not intended to attack any candidate; I am simply taking exception to the reasoning offered by your paper for the position that has been taken. So many statements have been made in this campaign about the importance of telling the truth and trust. We trust journalists to probe and tell the public a balanced and factual account of events. If it is an editorial, perhaps it may not be required to be factual and logical, perhaps it may not be necessary to be balanced and realistic, but this is what I expected from your paper. Maybe I am just out of touch with what is accepted as responsible journalism these days.
At any rate, if you had said that you like Mr. de Jongh, that you think he is a fine gentleman and will make a good governor, that would be your right to support those you choose. If you were attempting to show that you have compelling objective reasons for your position, you have failed to convince those who know the facts.
Welby E. Warner
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