The political leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP), Benoni Urey, says Liberia can become a prosperous and developed nation only when political leaders change their ‘master mentality’ and become servants of the people.In his New Year message to the nation delivered over the weekend in Monrovia, Urey said Liberians’ precarious situations are such that the leaders want to accrue everything to themselves, thereby leaving the masses, whom they have been called to serve, in abject poverty and illiteracy.“A healthy and prosperous life continues to elude most of our citizens, not because they are not working hard, but because they toil in a country that has reserved the best for people who misrule them because officials of government make decisions that affect the lives of all citizens,” Urey said.He said, “Government officials ask us to make sacrifices by paying more taxes, take less money home, go to unlicensed health centers with untrained workers, and send our children to inferior schools and colleges.”While Liberians are making sacrifices, he said government officials have not taken pay cuts in salaries and benefits, instead they take more money home to support their luxurious lifestyles, seeking medical attention abroad and sending their children and political allies to the best schools in the world at the expense of the Liberian people.Austerity measures cannot only be directed at ordinary citizens while officials of government continue to live extravagant lifestyles, Urey said.“Other countries are prospering because they put the interests of their citizens first, but in our country it is the other way around,” he said, adding that governments everywhere are servants and not masters of the people.He said current Liberian leaders have forgotten from whence they came, adding: “Few years ago, many of those who run our government today were ordinary citizens living in wretched conditions.“We elected and supported their appointments with the hope that they would make our lives better, instead they only care for themselves, but not much for the ordinary Liberians.“Over the 11 years of this administration, while very little progress was made in the lives of Liberians, despite our hard work and yearning for peace and despite the abuses meted out to us by the system that continues to deny us the basic necessities of life, we Liberians have shown our resilience.”The government, Urey noted, is not creating an enabling environment for economic expansion because the tax base is not growing, and instead the government squeezes more taxes out of the shrinking base.He noted that in 2016, the Liberian Government increased taxes on goods and services from 7 to 10 percent, while it sought to impose excessive taxes by increasing the cost of clearing a container by Liberian importers at the Freeport of Monrovia by nearly 300 percent.Bad economic and fiscal governance continue to obstruct progress in the country under the UP administration, Urey said. “It is bad economics to increase taxes when our economic growth rate is declining while the government makes only half-hearted attempts to reduce expenditure.“In times of economic hardship, it is incumbent upon our leaders to also make sacrifices including drastically reducing spending. But instead, legislative perks, unbudgeted and off budget spending are not being controlled. In the midst of the hardship, prices are increasing due to the depreciation of theLiberian dollar and the additional taxes imposed,” he added.The increment of the least commodity on the Liberian market, a sachet of mineral water that has gone from L$5 to L$10, is a clear consequence of this situation. “We cannot afford to impose such hardship upon the poorest people in our midst, especially when the government itself cannot provide potable water for them,” he said. An optimistic Urey noted that though 2017 is a critical year for national decision making through the ballot box, it can be a better year.“This will be a lot better than the challenges and tribulations we endured in 2016 and years before. On an optimistic note, 2017 can be a year of change. We can change our present circumstances and improve our future by making the right choices this year during the elections,” he said.Liberians, Urey indicated, can change the direction of their country, and this change can only come through free, fair and transparent elections.He said that it is therefore incumbent upon the national leadership to ensure free, fair and transparent elections and subsequently a smooth transition, the first in 73 years since 1944.“We have the opportunity to proceed on an irreversible path of democratic governance, which will ensure inclusive economic growth and development.“We can rise up to be a great nation, as we are blessed with all the potentials, including a vast arable land mass, abundant water and natural resources, and best of all our greatest asset, human resources,” he said. He refuted the logic of those who say Liberia is doomed. “Liberia is not doomed. We have the potential to be a healthy, prosperous and creative nation,” he said.“Let us make 2017 the beginning of the big push that will lead us to sustained development where our hopes, dreams and vision of a new Liberia will be achieved.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Technically, Readers Theatre productions are not plays in the traditional sense. Instead, actors talk directly to the audience. No props or scenery are involved. From 1976 to 2003, Gevirtzman wrote numerous plays for Readers Theatre. One of those works, “The trial of Lee Harvey Oswald,” was particularly personal for him, he said. “I did it because I was really obsessed with the Kennedy assassination. Somebody suggested I get it off my chest by putting Oswald on trial.” At every performance, audience members would vote on Oswald’s guilt or innocence. His newest work is very different. Cisneros “wanted a show that dealt with problems kids face when they try to examine who they are and how people see them,” Gevirtzman said. Cisneros started Phantom Projects in 1997, a year after he helped direct “No Way To Treat A Lady” as a high school senior. Initially, the group would go to high schools, where teens would perform the play and then talk to students. In 2001, the group began performing at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. Cisneros, who credits Gevirtzman for the success of Phantom Projects, said he loves the author’s latest play. “He’s had more access to teens than anybody else. No one has a more accurate portrayal of teens,” he said. “Through These Eyes” will be performed at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd. For tickets, call (562) 944-9801, or go on line at phantomprojects.com. email@example.com (562)698-0955, Ext. 3022 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “I went on message boards where kids post, and I was like a fly on the wall. I got a lot of the lines kids use,” he added. During the 1990s, Gevirtzman wrote three plays for Phantom Projects, dealing with such issues as under-age sex, drugs and alcohol. He hadn’t considered penning a new work until Phantom Projects’ producing artistic director, Steve Cisneros, urged him to tackle the subject. “It’s not a linear story, where it follows one character,” Cisneros said, explaining the story line of “Through These Eyes.” “You get glimpses into the lives of different characters. It doesn’t have a beginning and ending. It’s a bunch of vignettes that tie together at the end,” he said. “And because the teen cast is the same age as much of the audience, the post-show discussion is always candid.” Gervirtzman’s first three plays for Phantom Projects, “No Way To Treat A Lady,” “Out, Out Brief Candle” and “Center of the Universe,” were adaptations from pieces performed at Readers Theatre, a program Gevirtzman started at La Mirada High in 1976. LA MIRADA – La Mirada High School English teacher Bruce Gevirtzman took on a weighty issue when he decided to turn his play-writing skills toward the subject of eating disorders and teen-age self-image. “Through These Eyes” follows the lives of a group of teens struggling to live up to the standards of society, the media, their friends – and the vision they see of themselves every day in the mirror. The research proved to be the easiest part. “I had more material than I used,” said Gevirtzman, whose play will be performed this week by the teen actors of Phantom Projects, a local nonprofit theater company with a penchant for works dealing with serious teen issues.