The JAAA also got exposed

first_imgThe dust is yet to settle and the clouds are yet to clear. The debate continues to spiral as to whether or not Jamaica’s track and field athletes should get preferential financial help, and if so, how much can we afford to give them, and which athletes should qualify, and how should they qualify? While the search for answers to all those questions continues, I maintain my stance that monetary contributions to mediocre senior athletes is not my preferred strategy, and that some of these athletes with these ‘hard-luck stories’, having got to a certain age and stage, need to ‘man up’, look into themselves and take the tough decision to quietly walk away from the sport. I can appreciate, however, that moving forward, some things need to change. Not least of which is the random and disorganised method used by the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) in allocating financial help for needy athletes. Misconception One misconception that this ongoing saga has corrected and confirmed is that the JAAA has been and continues to offer significant financial assistance to our athletes. The consensus now, though, is that to continue to disperse funding of the magnitude of $9 million annually without defined systems and structures opens up the JAAA to accusations of favouritism, nepotism and victimisation. The stories are many from athletes claiming to getting different treatment and enjoying different levels of benefits, not based on any set criteria but based on who they know personally, and who they have access to within the organisation. That is the kind of accusation that will always come the way of the JAAA as long as they continue to undertake these disbursements without a transparent structure. Who says, for example, that instead of $9 million, the JAAA is not in position to allocate $15 or $20 million for helping athletes? Who is the JAAA accountable to? Accusations have been rife against the local governing body about the secrecy with regards to the actual dollar-figure amount of the sponsorship that the JAAA has been able to attract over the years, especially with the high profile of the Jamaican athletes in the sport. So no one really knows for sure what they can or cannot afford to do. I was actually astonished on hearing the extent of the assistance that the governing body was able to find in helping needy athletes, in a context of the perennial cries of a lack of funding for key projects such as assembling our juniors for proper training camps ahead of major competition and other developmental activities. An average of over $4 million per year since 2001, increasing year to year, with some $6.5 million already disbursed this year. Certainly going forward, at least an attempt at levelling the proverbial playing field by the JAAA in terms of which athletes get what, how, where and when, is what is required. wilted under pressure The Government has wilted under the pressure and has already committed $40 million to setting up a programme to assist the athletes. While disagreeing with that move in principle, if taxpayers’ money is to be used to help needy athletes, please let it be done on a structured, transparent and equitable basis. The JAAA also needs to fall in line in that regard. Again, I say the revelations made by the airing of this issue have been quite instructive. What is now known significantly that was not known before is the level of assistance that was going the way of the athletes from the local governing body. What we also now significantly know is that the way the funds were being disbursed is rife with imperfections and inviting to wide-ranging questions, and that now needs to change. Over to you, JAAA.last_img read more

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Port safety bill introduced

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88 Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, security experts have warned that it is only a matter of time before terrorists breach America’s world shipping system. The worst-case scenario, which Harman referred to, is the possibility of an explosive radiological device making it into a port such as Los Angeles/Long Beach, which serves as the gateway for 42 percent of all cargo containers entering the country. An attack of that magnitude, experts have warned, could cripple the economy. But while lawmakers with ports in their districts have long pushed for heightened security, airports and airline safety have gotten the most attention. In his 2007 budget, President George W. Bush proposed lumping port security in with other infrastructure protection. Meanwhile, port officials say the approximately $708 million in federal security grants doled out nationwide since 2002 accounts for only about one-fifth of what seaports need. WASHINGTON – Seizing on attention over security in the wake of a failed Dubai deal to manage six U.S. ports, California lawmakers introduced a $4 billion bill Tuesday aimed at preventing a terrorist attack at sites including Los Angeles/Long Beach. Sponsored by Reps. Jane Harman, D-El Segundo, and Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, the measure would establish minimum standards for cargo-container screening and require that the names of port employees with access to secure areas be matched against terrorist watch lists. It also would create a tier system under which countries and private entities providing the greatest level of security cooperation would receive the greatest benefits. “The idea of a dirty bomb smuggled into one of our ports in a container keeps me up at night,” Harman said. “Port security is the Achilles’ heel of our national security.” Lawmakers said the recent controversy over Dubai World Ports – which last week pulled out of a deal to manage six U.S. ports – has changed the political landscape. “If there was any silver lining, it was the focus that incident placed on the security of our ports,” Lungren said. He noted that Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., is backing the legislation and said a hearing is scheduled for Thursday. “This bill marks the end of a lack of urgency,” he said. “This is not a bill we’re introducing for the purpose of making a statement. This is a bill we’re introducing for the purpose of making a law.” Harman called the Dubai deal “a wake-up call” to Congress about port security. The bill also directs the secretary of Homeland Security to develop a plan for resuming trade in the event of a seaport attack. “It is critical that we not just fall down” if a terrorist attack occurs, Harman said, noting that during a brief lockdown of Western port facilities during a strike in 2002, the nation lost about $1 billion in business every day. About $2 billion of the proposed funding in the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act will go for risk-based grants over five years. The rest will go toward research and development to improve maritime security and other provisions. Lungren said he and Harman have not proposed raising new fees, something port operators strongly oppose. Rather, he said, the bill proposes dedicating a portion of current customs fees toward security, something that now is not done. The measure already has attracted bipartisan support from more than 40 lawmakers. The California supporters include Reps. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove; Mary Bono, R-Palm Springs; Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced; Grace Napolitano, D-Santa Fe Springs; Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena; Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; and Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles. Lisa Friedman, (202) 662-8731 lisa.friedman@langnews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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