Speaker approves PAC contempt motion

| 21/06/2018 | 73 Comments
Cayman News Service

Speaker McKeeva Bush and Deputy Governor Franz Manderson

(CNS): Allegations that the chief officer in the health ministry deliberately misled the Public Accounts Committee when she appeared as a witness last October will be debated in the Legislative Assembly next week, as the speaker has accepted a motion calling for her to be held in contempt. PAC Chair Ezzard Miller has said he is pleased that the issue will be aired in the House because, despite a u-turn made by two members of the PAC that Jennifer Ahearn should be sanctioned over the false evidence, Miller said the matter needs to be debated.

Miller, who is also leader of the opposition, said he is not giving up on the hope that he can persuade several more members of the government benches to support his call for Ahearn, who is heading up one of the most troubled ministries in government, to be held in contempt. He said he welcomed the decision by Speaker McKeeva Bush and pointed out the important role parliament has and why motions like the one filed by the PAC are important.

“Parliament is the only check and balance we have on government,” he said. “And the Public Accounts Committee is the only committee that can hold civil servants and their management of public resources accountable.”

Miller was disappointed, however, that Austin Harris and Barbara Conolly, the two PAC members from the government benches, had withdrawn their support for the motion, which was designed to hold the ministry boss accountable. He said that both of them had signed off on the original report, which had outlined the concerns of the PAC about Ahearn.

A request based on that report was sent to Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, who is the head of the civil service, to deal with her conduct, preventing the need for a contempt motion. But Miller had made it clear that would be the outcome if no action was taken, and he said all of the committee had backed that position.

But after Manderson failed to respond to the PAC’s request and Miller filed the motion on behalf of the full committee, it was soon apparent that Harris, the representative for Prospect, who claims to have retained his independent label, would not be supporting the contempt motion after all.

While Conolly had at first offered her support for the contempt motion, she too has now been “persuaded” to also withdraw that support, Miller said. Raising concerns that senior government officials had lobbied the speaker not to allow the motion and that his committee members were putting their political fortunes ahead of their commitment to protecting the public purse, the opposition leader said he had not given up his own lobbying to try to get the numbers he needs to steer the motion through. This would mean that, for once, a senior public servant who is believed to have deliberately misled elected officials could be called to account, he noted.

The deputy governor has dismissed the allegations against Ahearn and described her answers as “mistaken or erroneous”. He has said he does not believe she lied to the committee because she had made it clear she was not certain about her recollection.

However, Miller said he was not buying the excuse. Pointing to the numerous caveats in her comments, which he believes showed a deliberate intent to mislead, he questioned how it was that she could not recall changing the entire make-up of the Medical and Dental Council when it had happened a matter of days before she was asked about it.

Even without the support for the motion to pass and lead to any official sanction against the chief officer, Miller still hopes that by having the debate government will be forced to face up to the concerns surrounding the health ministry and the conduct of the management team.

Concern over garbage collection, the mysterious disappearance of the Department of Environmental Health director, questions over the procurement process for the waste management project, issues relating to the Health Services Authority finances and the news yesterday that the Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating yet another fraud scandal at the hospital are all likely to be raised during the debate.

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Category: Government oversight, Politics

Comments (73)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Seems to be an attempt to silence the voice of the driftwood population.

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  2. Watch Keeper says:

    Little bit disappointed in GTS Barbara Conolly withdrawal……..she check & went back to uncheck! GTS Conolly, remember to use your own mind and conscience, not Kurt and Alden’s joy stick to control you. 35 months left for re-election & I recall the words that you said about being honest and country first. if PAC finds her guilty, I; this GTS voter, going to uncheck you on the voting ballot come 2021. this is serious times in our country and processes. BTW, where’s GTW David Wight in all of this? Remember those PPM words ……”For The Love Of Country”, now show your true colors GTS and GTW

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  3. Anonymous says:

    You can watch this hearing on youtube. (PAC 10 OCT2017 p3 start listening at 3:12). There is absolutely no attempt to deceive the PAC. If you listen to this she offers that she believes there is continuity when boards are changed. She was not asked this directly. She also reminded the PAC that changes are made through Cabinet AND she states that the Ministry urges Cabinet to consider continuity when appointing boards. Even if she slipped about continuity for this specific board, she provided an enormous amount of detail throughout this testimony that very few people could have done. I doubted you before, Jennifer. But having watched the PAC hearing I fully support you.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Silly hysteria over a what a civil servant said, yet outrageous acts by senior politicians are totally ignored.
      Grow up and concentrate on what is good for the country.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Let’s be honest for once. This is just a personal witch-hunt based on (racially) discrimatory grounds. Amazed at Chris for going along with this- he knows better.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Had to play the race card didn’t you.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Truth is stranger than fiction. Can’t believe that Mac and Ezzard are working together. Something is amiss here. Mr. Premier you better watch yourself with these two. What a ting!

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    • West Bay Premier says:

      Is Mr. Manderson reading Mr. Bush a bedtime story in the photo ? Looks like it and Mac acting like a big boy , asking questions back to Manderson .

    • Anonymous says:

      What do you mean going along with it? That is who he is! He is a co-instigator.

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    • Fair and Balanced says:

      Chief Officer Ahearn is Caucasian (white), this is her race.

      Ezzard Miller is not of any of the Negroid, Oriental, Indian, Persian, Arabic, Jewish, Eskimo or Red Indian races, he’s Caucasian too, the same as Chief Officer Ahearn.

      So, pray tell how is this situation is racial?

      Did you mean it is being done on grounds of a “nationality” witch-hunt?

      Nationality and race are entirely different.

      President Obama and President Trump are both Americans (their nationality) but they are of different races.

      You can’t even argue that Ezzard is pursuing Chief Officer Ahearn on the nationality ground either because both of them are Caymanian.

      This matter does not have anything to do with race or nationality.

      Make sure you know meaning of race and not misuse it in the future.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Third world politics at its best. McKeeva ( Its just a cultural misunderstanding) Bush in charge of contempt charge of a woman chief officer. And of course all the voters will back him up.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You can recognise the remarks of a certain group of the Cayman Islands Civil Service.

      Look for remarks that are arrogant, snotty, racist, downright condescending, clueless, out-of-touch, etc For example, see comments below, past comments in relation to Nancy Barnard, etc you get the picture….

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  6. West Bay Premier says:

    Should we put the matter in a Judge hands instead of the LA . Because Mac is the same as the decision that is so far made .

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  7. Anonymous says:

    My God; are you so dense that you cannot see the facts here, when they have been presented so clearly. Miller is nothing but a useless trouble-maker. An old-fashioned blow-hard; full of hot air, and not much use for anything.

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    • "Anonymousir" says:

      keke supporter … we got you!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Buzzard Miller is an opportunistic gasbag that will use anything or anyone to get political advantage.

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      • The Raven. says:

        @ 952: ALL politicians are gasbags. All politicians try to get votes any way they can. All politicians love money. It’s just politics as usual.

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    • Anonymous says:

      what gripes me about this is the cayman structure, money or less money, sometimes its country first, we are not only a money making machine, sit down shut up lets make the system work.

  8. Say it like it is says:

    This is a first – holding a Civil Service employee accountable. Does that apply to Caymanians? Is Mr Miller only concerned with the Health Ministry, are there no problems anywhere else in Govt?.

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  9. FreeJahPIPO says:

    As a former civil servant I interacted (marginally) with CO Ahearn. On the surface she appeared very competent and knowledgable and commanded great respect. That being said, Miller does have a point. The role of PAC is to hold civil servants accountable. A debate where all the facts are presented should easily determine her innocence or guilt. Either way, this is a key pillar of our democracy and I support the process – my respect for the CO notwithstanding!

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    • Anonymous says:

      The PAC also has the ability to call Ministers as witnesses (past and present) but of course never does. Far easier to beat up on a Civil Servant who often as not has to try and cover up for a Minister’s error or flawed policy direction.
      We need to get Ministers down there to answer to policy decisions. Rmember the Brac paving fiasco for instance !?

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  10. Caveat Emptor says:

    McKeeva agreeing with Ezzard by approving the motion does not bode well for Alden.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The Honourable speaker accepted the motion to be debated, does not mean he himself agrees with the content of the motion. He simply has an obligation to Parliament and if he do not accept the motion, he could be seen as interfering with parliamentary process. I sincerely doubt he believes the motion will pass and be acted upon, but the motion presented has sufficient merit to be accepted. I think the House Speaker is being impartial and very reasonable as he has a duty to be.

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  11. Camana Bay Mole says:

    Alot riding on this one EZZ watch yo back buddy future of the island now at stake!!!

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  12. General Degree man says:

    Dart better get out his propaganda machine and bots to rescue this one!

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  13. Anonymous says:

    This is beyond dumb and signals a new Low for Miller Saunders and Bernie.

    To try and fool the voters into believing that a sentence that begins with the words ” I believe” is an intent to mislead really goes to show that this bunch treats us like idiots.

    I am one voter that is not fooled and will not be fooled again at the polls.

    Attacking women and political victimization has no place in Cayman.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    The difference between Barbara Connolly and Austin Harris is one is female the other is male. Both are controlled by Premier Alden McLaughlin and loyal to the PPM.

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  15. Catcha Fire says:

    Austin Harris my biggest election voting regret for the year 2017 which i hope never to repeat! the other one is just another political powder puff slurping at the government trough. If it was ever a time for someone who poses a severe threat to these islands very existence to be remove it is now! the conduit for which anti Cayman policies and decision infiltrate and direct our government to detriment of these islands.

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  16. Status Quo says:

    Government those in society not bound by the law! Describing it as drama for the privilege few but refering it to the ACC for their investigation for the local boss.Yet i don’t see our DG standing up for those folks! Aaaaah boy the poor garbage men i guess they will get the blame for this too eh?? Why doesn’t the ACC look into the garbage situation i guess they too might get recalled to the UK?

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  17. Prospect voter says:

    Only if the DG had done his job Ezzard wouldnt have to do it for him! As for those two what can one expect from sheep but baaaah baaah !!!!!!!!

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  18. Anonymous says:

    With all going on in north side this is what Ezzard is focusing on. Watch him drag down Saunders with him.

    He is grasping at straws. A blind person can see that there was no attempt to mislead miller.

    Bullying and victimization has no place in our Islands. Public servants don’t forget this attack you could be next.

    Thank you Austin and Barbara you have made me and many other caymanians proud.

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  19. Minnie me says:

    We all know bout Austin and his rhetoric lack of choice in Prospect unfortunately .one hit wonder as for the other useless political mooch and her extension cord political mantra are we really surprised at their stance? ?had it been a Caymanian though like the suspend DEH director whom I heard a certain Representative personally swear he was going to see removed. Yes mi buoy stop sending your lickle henchman to intimidate voters whom you promise certain things you have fail to deliver yeah here me bro.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Has there been any indication as to why she would want to mislead about the new composition of the Medical & Dental Council?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Ezzard is friends with some of the people and because they got removed they complained to him. So must be retribution …

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      • Anonymous says:

        Not so simple 3:09 pm. Come to the LA and listen to the debate and that point will be covered.

        And by the way if you knew Mr Miller any at all you would not ascribe such a simplistic motive to him. His record as the chair of the PAC speaks for itself.

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      • Anonymous says:

        But the CO would have no reason to mislead about this. She didn’t appoint the new members. If DG Manderson had done something, anything, to scold her for not being prepared in front of the PAC it never would have come to this.

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        • Observer says:

          Anonymous at 11:44 pm: you are saying that she has to prepare to remember that a paper was prepared for cabinet to completely change a board, members of the old and new board informed, gazette notice prepared and published? All under her direction? A matter of days prior? And in contravention of her admitted ministry’s policies?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Precisely. The whole thing is absurd, based not on facts but by a personal agenda for Ezzard etc to attack a certain ‘type’ of Civil Servant.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Watch out woody. A new show coming:“No facts with North Side and Bodden Town West”.

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  22. Prospect voter says:

    Austin Harris is a tool for the Premier. A complete waste and one term mla in the making.

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  23. Anonymous says:

    Talk about a bunch of pots calling the kettle… SMH

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  24. Anonymous says:

    Miller should first explain why no action was taken against Al Thompson of the Central Planning Authority after his appearance before PAC. Or is it that Miller plans to be the next Minister of Health and wants her gone before he gets there.

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    • Anonymous says:

      CPA and Mr Thompson know how to make jobs and get work going. Leave them alone. True Caymanians

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  25. Anonymous says:

    What a bunch of girls, quit the drama, get on with solving the problems of our Island.

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    • Diogenes says:

      You think you’re clever telling legislators to “solve the problems of our island” (easier said than done) which is a roundabout way of saying “do your job” (legislating) except the actual side that is responsible for legislating and “solving the problems of our island” aren’t the opposition they are the government
      The opposition is fulfilling their role in the PAC with this motion even if you are too ignorant to recognize it

      Hint:
      P.A.C

      If only those letters had some deeper meaning… oh wait

      Diogenes

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    • PD says:

      Do not worry our great premier will get this resolved. These men are all about trying to get the spot light on themselves but none can equal the excellent work premier and the unity team are doing 24/7

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    • Anonymous says:

      Girlie Girl, this is one of the problems that need solving.

      If the people who are responsible for spending our money can come to PAC and lie about it, then we have a problem.

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    • Anonymous says:

      That is what they are trying to do moron.

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  26. Anonymous says:

    A fine example as to why the Legislative Assembly gets nothing of substance done. Cowards hiding behind parliamentary privilege.

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    • Diogenes says:

      The PAC exists independently from the normal legislative session, this motion has to be heard in the LA so that all members can discuss and vote. Though since you seem to be suggesting this is what they spend their time doing instead of legislating. Disregarding the fact that the PAC can do it’s job without limiting or distracting from normal functions of the LA.
      By that standard I would expect you to understand the nuance of our form of government, throwing around the generic talking points about “parliamentary privilege” however suggests otherwise

      Maybe if you want the LA to get more done instead of knocking the people trying to actually do their job call up your local MLA and express your support for monthly meetings instead of quarterly ones, last time I checked we paid MLAs for 4 years of representation, not one cumulative 12 month period over a four year term

      Or you can go on pretending you have the slightest idea what you are talking about
      that works too

      Diogenes

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    • Anonymous says:

      It is absolutely incomprehensible how MLAs can slander, call-out and cut down other human beings with repercussion, in the “sacred” halls of the Legislative Assembly, yet when they step outside that cave, they could be held accountable legally. Ezzard has said he plans on using his 2, maybe 4, hours in the L.A. to attack Ms. Ahearn. And this wouldn’t be the first time something hideous like this has happened. Arden McLean has done the same thing on many occasions. Hiding behind the respected home of Cayman’s legislature is the last place anyone should expect this to happen. Yes, it’s archaic that this can happen, yet it’s a bottom-feeding coward that would actually use this for what they think is political advantage. I have nothing against holding someone accountable for their actions, but using the L.A. to avoid being held accountable yourself is absolutely incomprehensible….then again, it’s absolutely incomprehensible that these imbeciles have been elected in the first place.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Premier Alden McLaughlin and Minister Joey Hew did the same thing and used the same privileges to attack Woody DaCosta when no charges were brought against him in the Peanuts scandal. How easily we forget that they all use their privileges to destroy people in the LA.

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      • Anonymous says:

        It is absolutely incomprehensible how MLAs can slander, call-out and cut down other human beings WITHOUT repercussion, in the “sacred” halls of the Legislative Assembly, yet when they step outside that cave, they could be held accountable legally. Ezzard has said he plans on using his 2, maybe 4, hours in the L.A. to attack Ms. Ahearn. And this wouldn’t be the first time something hideous like this has happened. Arden McLean has done the same thing on many occasions. Hiding behind the respected home of Cayman’s legislature is the last place anyone should expect this to happen. Yes, it’s archaic that this can happen, yet it’s a bottom-feeding woman-hating anti-expat coward that would actually use this for what they think is political advantage. I have nothing against holding someone accountable for their actions, but using the L.A. to avoid being held accountable yourself is absolutely incomprehensible….then again, it’s absolutely incomprehensible that these imbeciles have been elected in the first place.

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      • Anonymous says:

        The same thing people do on social media, and the radio every day???

      • Anonymous says:

        Arden McLean is a coward as is any legislator who hides behind Parliamentary privilege

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  27. Anonymous says:

    Agree with Miller here completely! It would seem that Harris and Barbara have been given directions….therefore it’s unlikely anyone on Govt. bench will support it.
    Still it does seem that Ahearn is either inept or is attempting to mislead.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Harris fails the rest as an independent mla everytime. He might as well join ppm now

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    • Anonymous says:

      Agree the perception is that the government bench has been given a direction not
      to support the motion. The Opposition Leader now has to persuade them otherwise. We the Cayman public want answers so please press this motion forward. What is being hidden?

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      • Anonymous says:

        From reading between the lines it appears that miller knew before hand how many and who had been changed on the board, so it looks like a set up. Ahearn should have known exactly the answers to the questions he was asking but since she was hedging he should have asked her to go check out the details and come back with the information he was pretending to get. They were both playing cat and mouse with each other. He was trying to set her up and now he is trying to embarrass her. Enlightened me if I am wrong but can’t the board change It’s members when they feel like it.? Those appointments are not written in stone.. What benefit was it to Ezzard to know that the members were changed. Did it cost the public purse any money to change its members? Believe me I was on a government appoibted board and to stay on there for more than one or two years at a time becomes very taxing, especially if the board member is in full time employment. It is no walk in the park and being paid pittance for each meeting no matter how many hours each meeting go on for. This entire exercise seems childish of both Ezzard and Ahearn. Kind of like ” I caught you” They should have picked a better excuse for a fight!

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