December 1, 2020

The Editor Speaks: CIAA’s incredible statement

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Colin WilsonwebIt was with some dismay and incredulity I suffered upon reading the full statement from the Chairman, Richard (Dick) Arch, on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA).

Mr. Arch was replying to the revelations relating to serious mismanagement at the airport including misuse of public money, boozy lunches for on duty staff, flying lessons for an employee running a private flight school, unexplained thefts, hundreds of thousands of dollars appearing to be misappropriated, Jeremy Jackson  – the CIAA boss – suspended on full pay, dismissal of an employee (the financial controller) suspected of theft and no information given to the public.

The CIAA Board statement is published in full on iNews Cayman’s front page today (1).

I was expecting some reassuring words, explanations, and remedies.

I got some un-reassuring words in long sentences that mostly I couldn’t understand, a remedy (of sorts) but no explanations.

However, what was totally astounding was that half of the statement was aimed at North Side MLA Ezzard Miller, the man who made the Cayman Islands’ people aware of the problems at the airport.

The statement said more than once that Miller (who was not actually named but the inference was obvious) was courting electoral popularity and this was the sole reason he had made it public!

In fact Arch even said the “quite understandable desire to court electoral popularity”.

Miller is an elected Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and it is his duty to make public and to ask questions concerning public authorities that use public money when he knows something is wrong. And in this case something is very wrong.

There is no explanation in the statement as to why the Board has sat on their behinds and done nothing except dismiss one employee and pay their CEO for doing nothing whilst someone else does his job.

The only “solution” (that actually is no solution) to the horrifying mess at the CIAA is the Board has commissioned another review of the board’s audit by an independent firm. This will be at the public’s expense.

This is the ONLY piece of, shall I be kind and say, “positive” information contained in the statement. Instead of addressing the problems, telling us if and when the police are going to be involved and if not, why not, how much longer will the CEO be on full pay and if and when he will be terminated, what remedies have been put in place to stop what has happened in the past from happening again, and addressing the financial mismanagement, the Board took aim at the leaking of the documents.

And what about this piece of gobbledegook (one of my pet hates) in the statement:

“The Board maintains that there should be irreconcilable differences of emphasis between the dissemination of gossip material and confidential institutional reports that may have consequential and direct personal effect on individuals.”

And finally this threat that will evolve if the public are informed about irregularities occurring in public bodies via an exposure the Board (all public servants) want kept under wraps:

“It would seem that in this country, at this time, one cannot trust the privacy of conversation and communication. That augers ill for the democratic future of our country and makes the inevitability of a suppressive state possible.”

A suppressive state?

We do not have here a private company with a board of directors who are bound by privacy and secrecy who are there to protect the company they represent.

The CIAA is a public body and this is the 21st century. Questionable practices in government boards are contrary to public expectations. The matter here has entered the public arena and should have been brought to our attention by the Board some time ago. The CIAA is not immune from demands for a more accountable, transparent and consultative board.

The Board must be answerable and responsible for the CIAA’s results, including its successes and failures.

The Board must be responsible for the CIAA’s decisions and actions.

The Board should ensure all information about the CIAA (including operations, procedures, financial status, directions, etc.) is clear and available on request.

All information about the CIAA Board (including members’ profiles and interests and Board decisions) should be clear and available on request.

And, Mr. Arch, having accountability, transparency and a consultation process in place will win you the trust and respect of the public of the Cayman Islands.

I am astounded you haven’t realised this.

And lastly, going back to the threatening sentence contained in a statement from a public body, that it “augers ill for the democratic future of our country and makes the inevitability of a suppressive state possible.”

Wow!

If that isn’t a communist threat then I don’t know what is. With suppression comes repression and oppression. So telling the truth, if it is impalpable to a party, will result in all this? Thank God we are not independent then.

Astounded even more? Yes I am.

 

 

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