Anglin: I did best to manage disaster

| 09/07/2015 | 27 Comments
Cayman News Service

Rolston Anglin, minister of education in the UDP government (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

(CNS): The former education minister, Rolston Anglin, has denied inappropriately interfering with the schools projects that he undertook as a member of the UDP Cabinet. Following the release of an audit report relating to government’s capital projects, Anglin said he had done his best to “to manage a situation that was a disaster” and delivered the primary school additions for only $13 million.

Many issues were raised in the report by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) that implied mismanagement, unnecessary overruns and direct interference by the minister, not only in the day-to-day operations of the projects but also in the procurement process. But Anglin maintains that he consulted and depended on advice from experts when he inherited the secondary school project and began the primary school upgrades.

Anglin told CNS in the wake of the report’s completion that he would be taking legal advice before making a full statement but insisted that there was no corruption. Swarbrick had indicated at a press briefing on Tuesday that there was no direct evidence of corruption but he would take the report to the Anti-Corruption Committee, of which he is a member. Swarbrick did indicate that Anglin had breached the Public Management and Finance Law but said that, as far as he could tell, there was no enforceable sanction for doing so.

Anglin defended his record and pointed to the complexities surrounding the secondary school projects, which were facing problems with contractors as well as a shortage of cash. Throughout his time as the education minister, Anglin had been quick to point the finger at the previous administration’s management of the project, in particular the former education minister and now premier Alden McLaughlin, whose policy it had been to develop three new state-of-the-art secondary schools.

“What I know is that I did my best to manage a situation that was a disaster,” he said. “I worked hard to move these projects forward and get one high school open.”

Anglin said he was puzzled by the suggestion that the reported $25 million overruns were attributed to him, saying that at the time the projects were very public.

“The approaches to be taken were after I received advice from the civil servants in the ministry,” he said. Anglin is now out of the political scene but told CNS he would still defend himself and his record. “I described all of these in great detail in the Legislative Assembly through detailed statements and any questions raised in Finance Committee. I am certainly not a construction expert and had to rely on advice from experts.”

Though Swarbrick pointed out in the report that there is no record of that formal Cabinet approval, the former minister, who is a qualified accountant, insisted that he had taken the papers regarding the school projects to Cabinet and kept his colleagues briefed at all material times.

“I don’t believe this report puts things in its full context,” he said, claiming it did not give “proper credit for what we managed to build at the primary schools for the $13 million that was spent”.

Anglin lost his West Bay seat in the 2013 election after twelve years in the Legislative Assembly. This followed a rift in the UDP when former premier McKeeva Bush was ousted from office in the wake of his arrest.

In the report Swarbrick’s team had agreed with ministry staff that, since Anglin is no longer a politician, it would be inappropriate for the auditors to discuss their findings with the former minister directly but that the acting chief officer would discuss the findings with him. However, Swarbrick stated that his office had not received any indication from the ministry that they had discussed the report with Anglin and when CNS contacted the former minister, he indicated he was unaware of the full findings.

In the report, from pages 12 to 18, the auditors outline how Anglin “went beyond his defined role within the governance framework”, including pressuring officials to record payments incorrectly. The report said that he directed the Central Tenders Committee to award contracts to smaller operators, overriding their advice and increasing costs.

The report found that he also told officials the contractors should get special treatment over the quality of work, that he attended contractor meetings and directed how subcontractors should be handled, and that he interfered with the inspection process of the schools, which the auditors say led to schools being occupied before they were ready.

Swarbrick’s report also indicates that the former premier influenced the appointment of the project manager on the high school development at Clifton Hunter. A sole-source contract was put forward but no due diligence was done, ministry staff told the auditor’s team, because the consultant and his company were recommended by the premier.

David Benoit, owner of Benoit Construction Management Services, who was named as the project manager on the Clifton Hunter project, received some $3.1 million between 2009 and 2012.

OAG report – MCP Building Schools, May 2015

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Category: Government oversight, Politics

Comments (27)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Most critics here, miss the point that the three new “high schools” are built as more than schools but are hurricane shelters and community centres. The specification to be rated as a hurricane shelter increases the overall cost considerably.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “I did best to manage disaster”. Well Mr. Swarbrick agrees with you wholeheartedly, Mr Anglin.

  3. Anonymous says:

    In that case, Mr Anglin, if that was your best then it was not good enough. This should be a sign that public office is not for you. Your multiple recent convictions and the murky facts surrounding some of your drink driving escapades also lead inescapably to the same conclusion.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Just another under qualified doing “his best” imitation of what he should be.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Many of the new primary school buildings are already in disrepair. The floors are terrible. Decorative tiles on the building’s exterior are falling off and the tiles used in the classroom were not appropriate for purpose and are being destroyed. Additionally, the doors and taps etc. in the bathrooms were broken within a year. I wonder the 13 million spent was too much for the quality of product delivered.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Anglin Get a backbone. You and others are the laughing stock of the International Community with your narrow minded back biting politics. McLaughlin is seen as a poor leader who constantly enters into the blame culture rhetoric. True leaders stand up and take responsibility within a government process that is there to serve the people. Anglin you are a spent force and a drunk who would not be given the time of day in developed democratic societies,

  7. Sharkey says:

    We must remember that when one is in the power position , he or she can be for or against any thing. I think that this is going into the next election . Remember that there’s more than one way to skin a cat .

  8. Anonymous says:

    The PPM will jump on this story with glee in the desire to shift the blame of the disaster that Alden created. Like it or not the 3 high schools were Alden’s idea and he was warned that his ego was writing checks the country could ill afford. My personal belief is that Alden was trying to compete with Camana Bay in his high school construction design.
    To not admit that this high schools construction project has been a disaster leaves the door open for an even larger disaster with the cruise ship port. Wonder what Alden has in store for us there?

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s EXACTLY what he was doing. I’ve been saying this for years now. Not only did he try to outdo CIS at Camana Bay, he decided to build THREE of them!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Most politicians use every public project to line their pockets in some way or another. The unfortunate, poor ones quote Jesus. Take your pick.

  10. Island girl says:

    You are always talking about lazy locals, sounds like you have been eating a whole truck load of sour grapes. What happened you did not qualify for PR or what? The only difference between a lazy expat and a lazy local is one is a belonger and the other is a wannabe. This present group of “people in control” as you put it is more educated than any other group in the history of these island and it is killing you.

    • Sharkey says:

      Island Girl , I like the old uneducated politicians of the Islands better than the educated ones , because the projects and the program got finished and got all the benefits.

  11. Anonymous says:

    PLEASE do not try to blame the PPM once more for an accusation that is clearly pointed directly at you Mr. Anglin. YOUR being implicated with ‘meddling in procurement’ has nothing whatsoever to do with whatever “disaster” you may or may not have inherited from the previous government. If you are not guilty as accused then obviously have nothing to worry about and no one to blame.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Yes, it may have been his best, but it was not good enough, and it was, and is a disaster. It still amazes me that a group of people, living in the tropics, looked at the plans they were presented and thought that campus would be a good idea.

    I would love to know the cost of maintenance, and CUC for that school. Bottom line is I feel “A School” could have been efficiently designed and built for 25-30% of what that monstrosity cost, and likely would operate at 50% less.

    Guess what??? There would have been enough money left for another school, or some books, or some teachers…

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, at least some local contractors made a bunch of money….

    • Anonymous says:

      You have not given one reason supported by facts. You are guessing, using phrases like love to know, likely, could have, etc. That’s the problem when it comes to construction everyone is an expert including the auditors. What training in project delivery do you or they have? Their opinion is worthless like everyone else caught up in believing in their own greatness.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Denial is not a river in Egypt. A statement which is appropriate in a story about Rolston on many levels.

  14. Anonymous says:

    last udp administration was abysmal in its lack of competence….the current ppm administration is abysmal in terms of its lack of ambition and motivation….
    can’t wait for the next bunch of poorly educated lazy locals to take control…….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ says:

      Never happy, always complaining, what a bore! Anon 09/07/2015 at 1:15pm. You are already complaining & criticizing the “next bunch” & they haven’t even been elected yet. Just what is your personal problem? Does anything make you happy? You are pathetic & unreal, for real. If you are already complaining about the “next bunch” & you do not even know who they will be, what they plan, what they will do, or anything about them, then you have a serious problem. You complain just to hear yourself complain. Does it make you happy?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Udp slogan #1: it wasn me. Slogan #2: we is ferewa onerable. Slogan #3: we hands is clean and we heart is pure. Slogan #4: musta bin da PPM.

  16. Anonymous says:

    another dog that’s been around too long All of your leaders are failures and the last 20 years of mistakes proves it especially in the last 10 years those jokers have no clue how to do anything properly the numbers don’t lie only they do
    That said anybody worth while works in the private sector thus you are left with nothing but sh*t to make decisions for you

  17. Oracle says:

    PPM and ex-Education Minister Alden McLoghlin created this mess with the schools between 2005-09 to satisfy his ego that cannot denied. What choice did Rolston have but to try to fix classrooms with no dividing walls and other new age experimentations? The project was doomed from day one and the PPM hand picked a political supporter to build it without a proper business case.

    Anybody coming in after that including the current minister Tara Rivers is dealing with a legacy of waste and opulence that all Caymanians are paying for nearly ten years later. Just look at the state of the current John Gray high school. Unfortunately the PPM have seemingly not learned anything from this debacle.

    • Anonymous says:

      Keep slurping the kool aid. Yes and it was the PPM that made mckeewa go gambling and drove rollie to drink too.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Bullsh*t. You caused the disaster.

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