Ozziegate was ‘unfortunate’, says governor

| 23/01/2015 | 18 Comments

(CNS): Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick has become the first person in authority to offer any disapproval regarding a verbal attack on a chief officer last month by a minister. Speaking about gender equality in Cayman on Thursday evening at a law school event, Kilpatrick said that the “unfortunate incident” that no one would condone was a gender neutral issue because no one should be exposed to that sort of verbal assault in the workplace, regardless of their sex.

Kilpatrick avoided mentioning the names of the Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn and Osbourne Bodden, the cabinet minister in question, as she answered a query from a member of the audience about what impact that sort of behaviour has as Cayman attempts to address its gender inequality issues. She did, however, say that this incident was about people not suffering verbal assaults in the workplace and that everyone should have equal protection in the law when it comes to abuse. She said the incident could have been between two men and it would have been equally wrong.

Ironically, CNS understand that a male chief officer abused his male deputy in a similar fashion just this week and was forced to apologise via email to him and other civil service witnesses but as yet no details have been revealed about the latest workplace assault within government.

The governor had been introduced in the second of the Truman Bodden Law School’s series of lectures on the state of discrimination in local legislation by the gender affairs minister, Tara Rivers, who is also the minister for employment. Rivers made no mention at all about the ‘Ozziegate’ incident and maintained her silence on the attack. The incident shocked the community and brought wide condemnation. In the aftermath the premier re-shuffled Cabinet in order to separate Bodden from Ahearn but he made no comment on the issues.

So far, Kilpatrick is the only government official to acknowledge the abuse and indicate that it was wrong.

During the now well documented incident, the former health minister got into an altercation with his chief officer about his insistence that government should pay a proportion of his own private cell phone bill, which he claimed was used for government business. Ahearn pointed out to him in email correspondence that, for audit purposes, he needed to be able to document why he should be reimbursed.

In a loud and unpleasant verbal attack, the minister cursed at Ahearn and attacked her Caymanian status, threatening to make her life working with him a difficult one. The incident was witnessed by dozens of civil servants and Bodden was forced to apologise. In the wake of the public outcry over the divisive nature of the attack the premier opted to swap his community affairs ministry with his cabinet colleague for health and environmental health.

As a result, the premier now has a much larger portfolio than he had envisioned. When he took office, McLaughlin had taken on internal and community affairs in order to leave him with space be the government leader and have greater oversight of the whole Cabinet. However, the premier now has some of the most critical issues on his policy plate, from the development of a national waste management strategy to the pressing issues relating to crime, as well as his duties as the government boss.

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Comments (18)

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  1. "Unfortunate incident " now "Gone but Not Forgotten" says:

    The display of “bad behavior” aka the “unfortunate incident” should have immediately stopped. Given that it should have never been allowed to occur it now seems to have created positive outcomes for those whose display of lack of emotional intelligence in the creation of and subsequent handling of the “unfortunate incident” may appear to be gone but shall certainly not be forgotten by the public.

  2. Nonymouse says:

    Ozziegate was “illegal”, says Nonymouse

  3. Steveo says:

    Alden did not miss an opportunity. His pathetic response says a lot about his own beliefs. Meantime workplace bullying continues and is sanctioned by our leaders.

  4. Virginia Wells says:

    Ozziegate had nothing to do with gender. He raged about her status as a Caymanian not her sex.

  5. Outofhere says:

    I have had enough. Contract end soon come.

  6. caymanian says:

    Boycott his gas station (Rubis) in Boddentown. Take gas anywhere else and it will also save you 80 cents a gallon.

  7. caymanian says:

    It just makes me sick, because have to deal on a daily basis with these type of arrogant caymanian managers. This is NOT an exception.

  8. waxingaxing says:

    And the abuse continues in some office in some government department by some jumped up manager against underlings.

  9. Observer says:

    Sure, no one should be subject to such treatment but it could still be a gender issue — the perpetrator may have felt less inhibited because he felt that it was ok to address women disrespectfully. I am not prepared to rule it out as a gender issue.

  10. Iamnotapirate says:

    Cayman Islands is a country with modern laws and rules and old style attitudes about them. People like Bush, Ozzie, Juliana O’Conor-Connolly, have only shown that Caymanians have not learned to respect any laws or rules and only use them as a way to get what they want for themselves. They represent the Caymanian people. One look at the recent and past headlines that have anything to do with the Government shows that it does not respect any laws or rules but expects everyone else to do so or face some kind of punishment. After the cruise ship drop its anchor of the reef they (Caymanian Government and the Caymanian people) were up in arms and ready to go to war over making them pay until it was brought out that they(Caymanian government and business) were at fault so of course there will be not acts of responsibility on their part. Ever. This is the Caymanian way and is the real laws of this country. It is a noose around the neck for Cayman and will keep this country from ever becoming more than it is now. A big hole that money is pumped in and nothing coming out. All that will be left for the future generations of Caymanians will be a failed legacy and massive debt payments. Is that what you want?

    • SSM345 says:

      Well said. They are too stupid to realize that their actions reflect our society as a whole, they are our supposed Leaders, yet cannot figure out why the place is going downhill. Look at yourselves in the mirror, and you will find the answer. If example is not set and shown at the top, how the f**k do you expect others to follow suit? And they are too stupid to even realize this, which is why everything is the expats fault. People who are wrong but cannot see or acknowledge it, will always blame others, and the problem will only get worse. Common sense really, but we all know that for some, it is not.

      • Carol says:

        I am not sure that it is a matter of not realizing but rather a matter of not giving a dam as long as their pockets are lined.

      • Anonymous says:

        They are not stupid; assume that at your peril.
        Much of the corruption stems from:
        – being uneducated
        – being isolated from the wider world
        – an “us against them” fearful outlook on the world
        – an entitlement mentality
        – and, sadly, moral sloppiness which is not unique to Cayman.

  11. DahliaStar says:

    Exactly, Governor. I see/hear so many people commenting on this subject claiming it was a gender issue just because Ms. Ahern is a woman. There were no gender specific comments in the abhorrent tirade by Minister Bodden. As the governor rightly said, no on should have to be subjected to that, woman or man.

  12. 345tillidie says:

    So what about the most recent verbal assault that took place this week? Or will that incident be buried. Most people who know that it took place, are willing to bet that there won’t be the big outcry such as what occurred after “ozziegate”. Hmmmmm

    • 345tillidie says:

      You’re right. I am waiting to see how much digging the local paper does on this incident.
      My feeling is that they will be very nonchalant about this one.

      • ForPetesSake says:

        Reason why there will be no outcry on this second incident is because we all say you know what? No one cares so why bother? Kill each other if you want but we stopped caring. That’s why!

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