Rivers takes aim at Anglin over contracts

| 18/10/2016 | 59 Comments
Cayman News Service

Tara Rivers, Minister of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs, in the Legislative Assembly, October 2016

(CNS): The education minister slipped into campaign mode on the floor of the Legislative Assembly Monday, as she launched an attack on her predecessor in the education ministry, Rolston Anglin. During the debate on the Procurement Bill, Tara Rivers made thinly veiled allegations of corruption and accused him of direct inappropriate political interference in the contracts awarded for the primary school projects, as well as wasting public funds and mishandling the ongoing high school contracts.

Lauding the PPM government in which she serves for bringing the bill, Rivers, who has not joined the Progressives, clearly had her eye on the May 2017 poll and the possibility that she and Anglin may find themselves head to head when they declare their constituencies.

Taking advantage of the opportunity presented by the Procurement Bill, Rivers used one of the auditor general’s many damning reports about the schools projects to lambast the former minister and hit back at criticisms Anglin has made of her.

Having recently declared his intention to return to the political arena next year, Anglin has had Rivers in his sights, criticising her what he says are the failings in education since she took office. He has also accused her of not caring about the safety of children, given the maintenance issues at the West Bay primary school.

In response, Rivers described the procurement practices in the ministry during Anglin’s tenure as a case study in “what not to do”. Pointing to the failure of policy at the time, as there was no business case or even assessment of what was actually needed in the primary schools, she said the minister had admitted that he decided to undertake the primary school enhancement projects after a “tour of schools”. But Rivers said he did not have the expertise to make such a decision.

She called out Anglin on the overruns in time and, more importantly, cash on the projects, all of which, she said, came down to this direct involvement in who the contractors for the schools were.

While Rivers applauded the idea that government procurement should favour local contractors, and the new bill makes provision for that, she accused Anglin of going much further when he broke up the contracts and gave work to one contractor that had no experience in building schools. She suggested that Anglin had stepped in and waived important protections designed to secure the public finances and instead offered advantages to specific contractors, which she said went far beyond the goal of assisting local business, as she pointed to accusations of poor workmanship and significant challenges.

Rivers told her political colleagues that she believed the minister had pushed contracts to specific companies without experience. Agreeing that local contractors should have “a fair shot at getting work”, noting that this principle was enshrined in the new bill, she claimed that there was “much more at play” than giving business to local contractors on the primary school projects.

“We can’t have a minister of government acting as a de facto project manager …removing requirements or giving flexible treatment to contractors,” she added.

Rivers said the new legislation would prevent “what not to do scenarios in future” and ensure that public sector entities base decisions on accurate information and meet their obligations against a backdrop of principled decision-making.

She said Anglin’s political interference and mismanagement during the last administration saw the education ministry over-spend and put children at risk when he forced the new schools to open without a certificate of occupancy, putting students at risk and coercing civil servants to make payments to contractors that they should not have made.

She accused him of “blatant political interference” throughout the contracts, which led to numerous problems, did not present value for money, created delays and resulted in poor workmanship. Rivers said Anglin had removed all of the protections to help the contractors “to the detriment of public purse and safety”.

She accused the former minister of being the “man now parading about the place championing the cause of children’s safety” when he had stripped out the protections in place at schools and allowed children in the new buildings that were not finished.

In what sounded more like a campaign speech than a debate on the legislation, Rivers made numerous allegations about what she saw as the former minister’s shortcomings and inappropriate interference. The law would help protect against abuse, she noted, but in the end the country had to elect people who supported the principles of the new legislation and who were willing to abide by them.

Following the publication of the auditor general’s report that painted a damning picture of the management of the primary school contracts, Anglin categorically denied the allegations and “accused the audit office of absurdity, lying, misrepresentation and incompetence”, as he defended his actions.

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Category: Government Finance, Government oversight, Politics

Comments (59)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We do not need politicians. We need men and women of integrity to lead our country.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tara has been in office for almost 4 years and she is still casting stones. She was in office long enough to try to fix the problem but she didn’t all she does is blame everyone else. Remember she was independent than jumped on to the Progressive Movement…that goes to show you…but you know what you people voted her in!!! Non of these politicians did anything for this country. And stupidly will vote the same s…t in again….has anyone heard Kurt say anything??? He is still in office correct??? Just collecting a big fat check. Anthony Eden with is holy than thou attitude…Tara no back bone

  2. Anonymous says:

    Tara you are a waste of a wanna be politician. Feeling the heat , blame the previous minister 3 years later ? Where u bean ? Don’t bother to run again. No chance in H..l.

  3. gray matter. says:

    The start of a new west bay Bush team ” The Gambler and the Drunk”.

  4. Anonymous says:

    In my new district it looks like my choices will be Hillary (Tara) or Trump (Anglin). I will be casting my one vote for the lesser of two evils TRUMP.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Agree with the less-than-mediocre education. Don’t blame teachers but parents and heads who turn a blind eye towards discipline. Furthermore, until students are directed towards courses that interest them and highlight/ enhance their talents, we all lose.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It still amazes me that Tara for a long time has had the power to decide whether the PPM stayed in the house because she was the only one left that could keep them in the majority yet she never leveraged that power to get things done in her own ministry or for her district..That speaks volumes!

    Tara is weak, useless and ineffective. Our children continue to be failed and our labor issues continue to mount..

    I’m sure whe will be screaming from the pulpit that her hands were tied and she didn’t have any funds …well Tara even the PPM can’t use that excuse this time around as they have been bragging about how much surplus they have…Why couldn’t you ask for some of that surplus to get the job done?

    • Anonymous says:

      7.45pm I know you want to get at Tara because she took a seat in West Bay away from your beloved UDP but it is time to get over it. Not only Tara, but any one of the remaining members of PPM would have created a stalemate if they had left the team. You say that she has not accomplished anything, that is because you are looking for direct handouts.However her Government has reduced duties on various food items , and on fuel which should benefit everyone in your district and not just you and yours. You also complain that children continue to be failed as if you expected so see education turned around in only three years. You seem to forget that the children graduating today would have been in the school system for twelve years,Tara has been in charge for only three of those twelve. You complain that the PPM actually have a surplus and have not wasted that money; I guess you miss the good old days of overspending by the UDP.

      • Jotnar says:

        Thumbs up

      • For the facts says:

        Well true of the Surplus and brought the finances in to place , however they are the same Party that put us in that hole, have you ever wondered how they haven’t put on new taxes , because the administration before took the heat from the same players (opposition then)and did what had to be done to get the country stable again. All the projects they oppose for opposing sake, They now praising , so who has the Vision? Not the PPM!,
        Ritz Carlton,Shetty Hospital Camana bay++, and Now the Recently open Hotel, THe Kimpton Seafire, Alden and his players has brought nothin to the table , if you know one please Say, although I must say ,6 months left and they got the lots of money to spend ?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Tara had proven herself a bitter disappointment. When she was elected I thought…..Finally! A well educated young woman who has traveled and lived outside of these Islands. She’ll bring new ideas and an open mind to the table.

    Yeah, that didn’t work out the way that I had hoped.

  8. Anonymous says:

    She’s right about him and he’s right about her so let’s not vote for either of them! I would rather save the salary and have an empty seat in the chamber than either of those self-serving layabouts.

    Tara had a golden opportunity to be the face of progress, leadership and courage with the LGBT issue, but instead we got silence and then “it’s not in my job description”. It definitely won’t be after the election!

    • Anonymous says:

      6.55pm You really mean that. She failed because she did not stand up and approve gay marriage and because of that she is a loser in your opinion. Well my opinion is we need more losers like that. Go Tara.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Junk in…junk out. The type of person who creates problems are not the type who can fix them. Here I am talking about the voters.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The mud slinging starts — its election time — she gets no vote from me – totally useless

    • C'Mon Now! says:

      Wake up and follow the money people!

      We spent something in the range of $150m million on the Schools Project. We are left with a White Elephant that the AG said was worth maybe $75 million. Even if we round the value of the project up to $100 million and knock the cost down to $125 million that would mean cost overruns of 25%, the money went somewhere.

      This happens time and again and nobody seems to care!

      • Anonymous says:

        Ask Mr. Rolston why the new school ended up costing what it did. Splitting contract, helpding friend, etc. He/UDP added millions to the actual costs through their decisions & changes.

    • Anonymous says:

      What @5:49 said.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Our American friend has chosen to talk after desperately avoiding saying anything on the gay marriage debate. Cowardly.

  12. Anonymous says:

    On her current performance I doubt that she has or will do any better. As a matter of fact the very things that she accuses Anglin of doing under his tenure as Education Minister she has continued to allow under her tenure. And while she may not be doing it herself her staff in the ministry are doing it. Big bucks are spent by contractors to get the big jobs.

  13. Harauguer says:

    Tara, take Rolly out for a few drinks, he loves a little drinkie, but you will have to drop him home, you know how he is,

  14. This is why I just LOVE(not)our political system and wonder why Caymanians put up with all this blame game BS.It nevers stops.One party gets in and VOILA after four years the other gets in and undoes what the former party did.Its a case of of 4 steps forward and 3 steps back.Any wonder we cant get anywhere year to year.Lets get with the program and put CAYMAN FIRST PLEASE!!!!!

  15. Anonymous says:

    My entire family voted for Tara in the last election but the only thing she seemed to have accomplished in the last four years, is to become a “reactive politician” whose appearance seems to change, week by week.

    As for McKeeva, thank God I don’t have it on my conscience that I voted for him in the last election. I will admit that I voted for him in previous elections but never again. Put simply, he stooped too low as Premier of the Cayman Islands, in using his Government credit cards for gambling in multiple casinos in multiple countries. Regardless, if there there was a Government policy or not, covering the use of such credit cards by civil or public servants. I have never heard an apology from him in relation to his actions in Las Vegas, Florida and Bahamas.

    Captain Whogene, what can I say ? Mr. Silent and Mr. Best Dressed politician in the LA – in which we should create a halloween mask in his own image – since clowns are now being removed from our shelves.

    Bernie, I’m not too impressed but I will give you a pass this time around, because at least you still attempt to work with our youth, which is in urgent need of guidance and attention, as they are our future generation.

    God help us all.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ermmmm……….. News flash, you do not get 4 votes to throw around in this election. You will have to pick one who is running in your neck of the woods and vote one vote for him/her.
      Thank God for OPOV

  16. MM says:

    What is unfortunate is that Ms Rivers has inherited an already failing and defunct Ministry; one that had already been hiding and covering up underperformance and educational failings for many, many, many years.

    One that all successive Governments and Education Ministers hid the issues of with the assistance of their Chief Education officers and because the Country has historically always remained focused primarily on finance and tourism – hiding the failings was not very difficult.

    It has taken the people of the Cayman Islands and public school parents over a decade for voices to reach the mass public, and this is thanks to social media and online news sources ready and willing to cover the stories.

    The lack of performance in our public schools is in no way simply Tara’s fault; I must say (though I am one of her biggest critics) that when she was approached with issues or issues were identified; she did step out to get it dealt with… why she has become more proactive in recent months remains one of those raised eyebrow kind of situations (elections?)

    However, according to Alden’s gov.ky Bio; he was apparently the driving force between our education modernization law (2009) – which has seemingly still not come in to force??

    In addition, he was the Education Minister from 2005 to 2009…. if I may be so bold; and being a graduation from JGHS in 2003 – I do not recall my time as a student being as challenging as it appears to be these days for students and/or teachers. What went wrong between 2005 and 2009?

    In addition, and in my reaction to the recent news about Mr Rolston Anglin intending to run again; apparently with an aim towards Education Ministry – he was education minister 2009 – 2013… the years when our youth issues took a drastic downturn.

    From my unqualified analysis, and as a parent of public school students in primary and high, and as a past student who was educated through the public school system prior to 2005; I dare to say neither Tara Rivers, Alden McLaughlin or Rolston Anglin (whom I believe also uses private schooling for his children? correct me) have earned any stars that would make me believe that either are equipped or knowledgeable enough of our public school or the students, parents and teachers who utilize the system to properly manage and correct it.

    How can any of these individuals come to me and tell me what issues my children are facing within the public school? How can they speak to public school teachers openly and honestly with a level of understanding that would allow them to formulated strategies and solutions side-by-side with academic staff?

    Moving on.

    All past and present MLAs must be removed; we need fresh blood please.

    2017 candidates step right up – I would rather novice, honest, hardworking youngsters over a Legislative House of experienced, corrupted, buffoons.

    • MM says:

      And please read: “Ex-minister takes aim at auditors” dated 6 October 2015 – https://caymannewsservice.com/2015/10/ex-minister-takes-aim-at-auditors/

      There should always be raised red flags when ANY Government official “takes aim” at an auditor!

      “As Anglin addressed the accusations made against him and the overall management of these projects, he denied breaking up the tenders on the primary schools. He said the report misleads the public as the policy of splitting up the work for smaller contractors to address the economic stagnation in the construction sector was on the Clifton Hunter project and not the primary schools projects, which he said were properly tendered to experienced and larger contractors.

      He also said that during the PPM administration of 2005-2009, when the current premier was the education minister, the government employed a project manager for the high schools who was hired as a civil servant, yet he lived overseas.

      “He was paid like a very expensive consultant,” the former minister said as he revealed that in 20 months he was paid salary of approximately $557,000 and travel expenses of approximately $47,000 for a total of $604,000. But all of this was omitted from the AG’s report, Anglin noted.”

      The three (3) of these individuals (Alden, Tara and Rolston) need to sit down.

  17. Anonymous says:

    So, what exactly has she done for education apart from blame everyone else for its so obvious failings?

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks to Tara I learned that Allen and Overy was not a major commercial organisation but was in fact a place of higher learning. Odd their website does not give that impression.

    • Anonymous says:

      Our Education Department is in shambles, the Government Schools are in shambles. You can keep covering things up but sooner or later they show their ugly head!

  18. Anonymous says:

    What a joke. I cringe whenever I read the news now.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Don’t forget that SHE too has her child in a private school…therefore our schools and children are very little concern to her! Its just a paycheck people #fedupCaymanianParent

    • MM says:

      I’ve always wondered if Tara had her children in private or public school… I guess this is the surest sign of a “no confidence” motion against her own Ministry Although, in all honestly, the worst part about the public school is not the teachers, structures or even the lack of paper… it is the multitudes of ill-raised, ill-mannered, misguided, disrespectful, unruly children that are enrolled… and this is not the fault of the children, it has very much to do, obviously, with the parents.

      I say, bring back the school strap. I do not see what was wrong with a student getting one swat in each palm for offending; I received a total of perhaps 4 of these such punishments during my school years and the strike itself was not at all the intimidation, it was the embarrassment. I am very confident there would be far less offences committed on school grounds if students knew and understood that the consequence would be the embarrassment gained through a slight thump to the palms. This is not child abuse, child abuse is when these children/young people are left to run amuck through George Town, Kings Sports Centre, Camana Bay and the like creating public nuisances of themselves and effectively graduating and becoming criminals and baggage on the social service budget.

      If it is a legal issue, have parents sign consent forms agreeing that their child may be punished with the strap if they offend and have a list of offenses that warrant such punishment (like intentionally injuring or bullying another child etc.). The USA has been the country that insists such punishments are inhumane and whatever else… however, there is also no other country that has been prone to more campus massacres and shootings or bullying by students than the schools in the USA.

      Even the least educated individuals in Cayman society can become successful with dedication, hard work and respect! There are VERY many successful Caymanian business owners who can barely even read! And yet, they did not turn to drugs or crime to fund themselves, the found what job they could, saved everything they were able and started a little business that grew.

      I do not know what will become of our young people if this country does not pull its head out of the sand! But if we keep giving public money to politicians (salaries) for them to in turn spend OUR money to save their children from a public school system that they control in one way or another – this just does not seem okay to me.

      • Our MLA's are MIA says:

        “Even the least educated individuals in Cayman society can become successful”. Yes! Just look at our MLA’s for proof.

        I propose to go one step further. Lets bring in the MLA strap.

        Nominate 208 voters who each get 1 week during the 4 year tenure to act as headmaster. Then every time an MLA misbehaves, lies, or displays repeated incompetence, the headmaster gets to give them a few whacks on the a$$ in heroes square.

        strap would be worn out in a month…..

    • Teecha says:

      Rollie has his at Prep so your point is irrelevant. Not on a cold day in hell would I send my child to a public school. I have too much information about what goes on there, as do Rollie and Tara.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Is she willing to make those allegations on the steps of the LA where privilege won’t let her hide? Bet she dare not, given how spineless she is. Unless she says these things outside the LA they are but meaningless puff and she should be shamed for it.

  21. Anonymous says:

    tara…your record speaks for itself…and won’t be forgotten.

  22. SSM345 says:

    Our Ministers all have Doctorates in Absolute BS. One day they might all grow up and get the job done that they are tasked to do.

    • Anonymous says:

      First she has to find out what doing a real job is like. That’s the real problem here – too many professional politicians joining the ranks of the LA.

  23. Anonymous says:

    20/20 hindsight at work here. It’s all very well to be smart after the event but could she have done any better? On current performance I somehow doubt it.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Poor fool Alden has trained you very well Tara.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Minister Rivers is a complete joke

  26. Anonymous says:

    Coming from the gender affairs minister who ignores gender affairs.

  27. Veritas says:

    10.00am To clear up the mess you need to establish who caused it and why, to avoid it happening again.

    • Anonymous says:

      @10:16am – Sure, but highly doubtful that it takes almost 4 years to do so. More should have been done by now.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Back and forth with the blame game. When does it stop? Every year our children are graduating high-schools with less-than-mediocre educations, and all you all are worried about is who did what?! HOW ABOUT YOU ALL DO YOUR JOBS – AND CLEAN UP THE MESS OF AN EDUCATION SYSTEM?! SMH….

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