Letters & Opinion

St. Jude and the Art of the Con — Part 14: None So Blind…

Image of St. Jude Hospital.
Image of David Prescod
By David Prescod

WHEN someone says to you that they cannot “see” why you don’t accept what they are telling you, it also suggests that there is something wrong with you that prevents you from agreeing with what is obvious, even though what is being presented as obvious may not be true.

As the future of our country is at stake, and as we begin to examine the Prime Minister’s statements during his press conference of October 5, 2017, we will attempt to assist our Prime Minister with his eyesight, and with the things he cannot see.

In Part 4 of our Soul of the Nation series, “Shovellers of Horse Manure”, I pointed out the amount of waste likely to be generated by the proposed DSH racing stables at Vieux Fort, indicating that a (500 kg. or 1,100 lb.) horse could be expected to produce approximately 26 kg. of manure per day, to which a further 9 kg. of bedding waste had to be added esc.rutgers.edu/fact_sheet/horses-and-manure/.

In that article, my focus was on the number of jobs shovelling manure which this horse racing venture was likely to result in, and I did not pursue the environmental issue.

But at his October 5, 2017 press conference, Prime Minister Chastanet indicated that he could not see why this level of waste was being raised as an environmental issue, as there were 400 cows grazing on the same lands on which the project intended to house those 400 thoroughbred horses, youtube.com/watch?v=7VT-oEzDv50, (44:07mins). Here’s the difference.

A cow requires about 2 acres of pasture for grazing, (“Balancing animals with Forage”, nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/ms/newsroom/factsheets/), and so if Prime Minister Chastanet by chance saw 400 cows grazing at Beausejour, he should also have been looking at 800 acres of pasture. The excrement from those cows, while still a potential environmental issue, is spread over those 800 acres.

The maximum size stall for a thoroughbred in a racing stable is 12’x12′, so that 400 horses would occupy approximately 1.3 acres of stall space, and that is the area over which their waste is contained. Those 400 horses will produce 14 tonnes of waste every day, and as that waste must be removed from the stables, the question that environmentalists should be asking our Prime Minister is this: “What are you going to do with those 14 tonnes of daily waste?” Shifting the discussion from horse manure to cow dung is not a solution.

At that October press conference, Prime Minister Chastanet also indicated that he could not see why people thought that his government intended to demolish St. Jude Hospital, youtube.com/watch?v=7VT-oEzDv50, (1:32:00). Here’s why.

Ten days after the swearing-in of the new Cabinet on July 14, 2016, Minister of Health Senator Mary Isaac toured the construction site of St. Jude in the company of Minister Guy Joseph. While both Ministers expressed concern over the time taken to reconstruct the hospital, neither expressed any concern over the quality of the facility that they had just inspected.

Once the Technical Audit had been leaked in February 2017, however, its conclusion that an amount similar to that already spent on St. Jude, EC$100 million, needed to again be spent on re-configuration of the hospital led many to conclude, not unreasonably, that the newly-rebuilt structures would have to be demolished.

Despite making numerous statements on the supposed defects in reconstruction of St. Jude Hospital during the six months subsequent to the leaking of that Audit, this Government, however, made no effort to clarify this issue of demolition. So that on September 12, 2017, Minister Isaac was moved to declare that: “I believe that the recommendation to demolish the hospital and start all over again really needs to be considered seriously”, youtube.com/watch?v=RyHIB1fnZ6Y, (0:51mins).

Now we see that the Minister for Health had come to the same conclusion as the public with respect to the possible fate of St. Jude Hospital, which is that it is to be, or should be, demolished. As a member of the Cabinet which has discussed the recommendations of the Technical Audit, Minister Isaac speaks with authority.

Having allowed this idea of the possible demolition of St. Jude Hospital to fester in the public mind for six months, it was only Minister Isaac’s confirmation that this was indeed a possibility, and the resulting public outrage, that led to this Government’s denials of it.

We, therefore, cannot see why our Prime Minister cannot see that the public saw that demolition of the newly-reconstructed St. Jude Hospital was actively being considered by his Government.

But, according to Prime Minister Chastanet while attempting to explain why his government was not considering complete demolition of St. Jude Hospital, “Minister Joseph said in presenting the report (the Technical Audit) that the report said that they would have to demolish aspects of the building in order to be able to move forward”, youtube.com/watch?v=7VT-oEzDv50, (1:34:22).

I regret to have to inform our Prime Minister that the leaked copy of that Technical Audit makes no mention of either full or partial demolition of any aspect of the reconstructed St. Jude Hospital.

We continue next week with more of the Prime Minister’s October 5, 2017 press conference.

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