OfReg chairs in near punch-up over CEO job

| 11/09/2018 | 118 Comments
Cayman News Service

Linford Pierson

(CNS): The situation on the board of the Cayman Islands’ utilities regulator appears to be spinning out of control as leaked minutes of special board meetings last month show that Board Chair Linford Pierson threatened to ‘box’ Deputy Chair Ronnie Dunn in the head. This happened after Dunn accused Pierson of corruption over his attempts to take the top paying job at the Utility Regulation and Competition Office (OfReg) before he resigned from the board. OfReg has been plagued with problems ever since the agency was created to oversee a diverse range of utilities.

It has faced considerable criticism for failing to tackle the challenges surrounding the sectors it is meant to oversee, questions about excessive expenditure and mismanagement among the gaggle of top officials.

The latest scandal surrounds the CEO post, which was recently vacated by J.Paul Morgan, who had made it clear he was not staying beyond his contract, which ended in August. Pierson, who is the OfReg board chair, which comes with a stipend of $4,500 per month, had the responsibility of recruiting his replacement but neglected to do so based on what appears to be a decision, apparently in consultation with the Cabinet Office, that he take on the six figure paying post himself.

The chain of events is documented largely in the leaked minutes, which were all published this weekend by Cayman Marl Road, a local blog-site owned by Sandra Hill. The minutes were not signed but Hill made the decision to publish in the public interest, given the revelations about an agency which seems to be falling well-short of its mandate on a number of fronts.

The documents have since been verified and the chairman of the board told the Cayman Compass that the minutes were not yet signed off because he believed they exaggerated the threats of violence between him and Dunn, describing it as “hyperbole”.

On 16 August, while still chair, Pierson pitched the idea of him being the CEO to the board and told members he wanted their support and would not leave the meeting until he got it. Pierson, a former speaker of the Legislative Assembly, also served as the relevant minister during the deregulation of the communications sector.

While there appeared to be some agreement that he could be appointed, given his experience, the process was questioned before the meeting adjourned. But at the next meeting tensions ran high when the non-executive directors made it clear that some of them opposed Pierson’s appointment as CEO. Dunn seemed to be leading the challenge over concerns that Pierson was breaching the Anti-corruption Law.

Although the 20 August minutes appear to have been changed, at the 23 August meeting the original record shows a clear exchange between the two men threatening violence, with Pierson, who is 77 years old, making the first threat to “box” Dunn in the head after he had suggested that the chair’s efforts to take the CEO job had fallen foul of the law and he should report him to the ACC.

After Pierson’s threat, Dunn said he would counter punch, but Pierson told him he wouldn’t because he would have already been knocked out by his first punch.

The minutes show a significant degree of anger, animosity and dysfunction on the board and raise significant questions about the ability of the powerful regulator to fulfill any of its remit, given the management disarray.

CNS has contacted a number of parties, including the chair of OfReg, the Cabinet Office and the premier’s ministry, to find out what the plans are for the future of the agency and whether it is able to fulfil its remit, and we are awaiting a response.

See the relevant minutes in the CNS Library 

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Politics, Private Sector Oversight

Comments (118)

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  1. MNS says:

    RD you did a great job… no words… without you, no one have even questioned him… you already knocked him down. Respect 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mediocracy – governance by the mediocre.

    Use in sentence “Absurdistan is a classic expample of a medicocracy.”

    • Anonymous says:

      It is true that government disregards procedures when it suits them and this causes corruption to grow and fester.

      Good thing we have some media at work to break the news that often flies under the radar.

      We need more reporting of this sort of thing — that is one of the prime roles of the media — to serve as a watchdog on Government—for the preservation of our democratic principles.

    • Anonymous says:

      I read somewhere, probably on the Marl Road, that Alee Fa’Amoi — not sure spelling his name correctly — had been appointed Actg CEO but it was withdrawn by Pierson and his board — now we know why.

      I also read that Fa’Amoi said that he would not now take the job basically if it was offered on a silver platter — good call. I wouldn’t want to work for these characters. Pull you down with them!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    What do you think this place is? A first world democracy or something? This sounds like a well paid, cushy job. A bit of power with no actual responsibilities or need to set an alarm clock. Who can blame him for trying to nab it for himself through a bit of old fashioned bullying and threatening? That’s how it’s done here.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    This is why public projects should not be named after people who are still alive and may yet disgrace themselves.

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  5. @11:43am, this is not a twist...it's the written Law says:

    The Chairman’s alleged insistence to hijack the vote by NOT leaving the board room until he secured enough Board Members’ votes for the CEO vacancy is fully explained in Part XII – Attempts and Conspiracies to Commit Crimes and Accessories After the Fact.

    §318 ATTEMPT DEFINED states that
    “(1) When a person intending to commit an offence begins to put his intention into execution by means adapted to its fulfilment and manifests his intention by some overt act but does not fulfil his intention to such an extent as to commit the offence, HE IS DEEMED TO ATTEMPT TO COMMIT THE OFFENCE.

    (2) IT IS IMMATERIAL, except so far as regards punishment, whether the offender does all that is necessary on his part for completing the commission of the offence, or WHETHER THE FULFILMENT OF HIS INTENTION IS PREVENTED BY CIRCUMSTANCES INDEPENDENT OF HIS WILL, OR WHETHER HE DESISTS OF HIS OWN VOLITION FROM THE FURTHER PROSECUTION OF HIS INTENTION.”

    While the Law is quite clear and the courts are constrained to enforce the Penal Code, the Chairman and Cabinet Secretary will step down, the other Board Members will cooperate with the Anti-Corruption Commission investigation or themselves face obstruction and conspiracy charges, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will charge the Chairman and the Cabinet Secretary.

    With respect to the Chairman, case precedence regarding his age dictates that he will not be imprisoned for these criminal offences once an Admonishment is requested by his legal team.

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    • Anonymous says:

      What about Austin Harris and the role he played? According to the Pierson in the Compass , he told Austin Harris he would accept the role of CEO OfReg. Harris sweaty fat fingers with bitten down nails was elbow deep in this mess.

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    • My Name Jimmy JammedUp says:

      Read all this legal foolishness you have meticulously point out for us 1:12pm and my answer to you is simply this that does not apply to lodge members or their siblings especially those employ by the CI Govt !!!!!

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  6. Anonymous says:

    LMAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Linford Pierson you need to resign immediately.

    You are clearly out of your depth or either have no comprehension or respect for good governance.

    If the other 4 Board Members pretend to support him…then they too need to go.

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    • Anonymous says:

      While at the Port Authority the show rolls on with an inept Board. Notice how quiet the Boards and Government are on these messses.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Well done Mr Dunn. We need people like you to ensure laws and regulations are followed. The old school thinks they can do what they want just because of who they are. It’s probably not done your career much good but at least you know you stood up and did the right thing.

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  9. TNB says:

    THANK YOU Ronnie Dunn for standing up and ensuring the proper recruitment process is followed! The recruitment process is there so that the most qualified / competent person is hired (that’s what’s supposed to happen).

    We need more people like Mr. Dunn who are willing to stand up and ensure legal processes are followed – even when threatened with physical harm. Mr. Dunn should receive a commendation for speaking against the usual cronyism / nepotism / backdoor deals which tend to get people appointed in Government!

    Sounds like OfReg needs to clean house – keeping Mr. Dunn and others who stood up against the blatant disregard of process and getting rid of the ones who supported this ludicrous suggestion.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The Chairman should have been fired, sacked, terminated, let go, immediately, they shouldn’t had waited until the next day when this happened. It is a travesty that he can apologize and remain in the seat of this board or any other board for that matter. I guess they’ll name another highway after him and give him the CBE in the new years honors.

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      • Mike says:

        Maybe the intention was “My way, or, The Lynford Pearson Highway”. LOL. Utterly ridiculous. Clean out the whole damn lot but keep the one with integrity and balls, Ronnie Dunn.

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    • Observer says:

      Regarding the lawyer’s opinion, what we have operating here is likely the difference between the letter of law and the spirit of the law.

      A board chair’s soliciting an appointment from the board for a job in an area that the board is responsible for, has got to be precisely what all those regs to ensure integrity and proper hiring procedures are all about.

      What we have here is the chair using his power to secure a pecuniary advantage: a year at the Acting CEO’s salary equates to about four years at board chair salary.

      I am surprised that the board would even countenance that.

      Unbecoming and breaking so many regulations it is shocking.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Interesting point made above….how about when the original deputy chair resigns and immediately becomes employed by the same board as an executive director….all during 2017 in the same CIG entity being discussed in this news report.

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        • Anonymous says:

          True it’s all in the OfReg Annual Report. This was also done even before this latest occurrence in with a former Chair of the ICTA Board who was made Deputy Director.

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          • Anonymous says:

            No surprise at all of this, as at the creation of this entity, the person employed (thereby a civil servant) by the relevant Ministry in the previous political administration as the one and only consultant to set it up (legislation and organizational structure), was immediately employed as the first CEO of the new entity.

          • Anonymous says:

            4:17 pm: so there was precedent. No wonder he was so emboldened and that the board members were going along with it. Disregard for proper procedure and ethical practices began to be normalized.

            This is why it is so important to safeguard principles and not silence voices raised against infringements.

            Ronnie Dunn, you did a good thing here.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Ask 10 lawyers the same question and you could get 10 different answers. That’s why we have judges.

      • Anonymous says:

        11:10 am: Actually, I am sure it would take quite a bit of research into a whole gamut of Civil Service regulations to get a reliable opinion from a lawyer.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Another great Chair appointment by the McKeeva-led Unity Govt

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  11. Anonymous says:

    storm in a tea cup….what people should be upset about is the non-performance and cost of this joke entity…..

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    • Anonymous says:

      7:38 — I may agreed with you on the larger issues, but the issue with the chair is not just a “storm in a tea cup” — we must be sensitive to these violations of integrity rules at the workplace and it is very important that this be highlighted.

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  12. Gray Matter says:

    As I said earlier!!! Let’s see who is left without a chair when the music stops playing.

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  13. Criminal offences have already been witnessed, admitted and proven says:

    The Cabinet Secretary’s email to the Chairman, and the Chairman’s subsequent attempt to secure his appointment to the CEO position outside of government’s established recruitment practices, all with the Cabinet Secretary’s alleged acquiescence, is incriminating.

    PENAL CODE §322a OTHER CONSPIRACIES: “A person who conspires with another or others to prevent or defeat the EXECUTION or enforcement of ANY law or regulation commits an offence.”

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  14. Anonymous says:

    sack ’em all…..

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Unprofessional behavior by someone who should know better.
    He should have handled this situation a lot better and be the bigger person.

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  16. Justice will be served says:

    I for one demand that a full investgation is carried out.

    Anyone in breach of proper ethics shall be removed and never allowed to become any part of any board, tribunal or government.

    This is my damn money paying for this.

    The Government had better wake the hell up and start doing what is REQUIRED of them.

    The Ombudsman office had better do their job too. I for one am hereby making a complaint against the Government, PUBLICLY, and demand that this situation is dealt with swiftly. So I expect that we shall see in the news, in short order, that these persons were arressted for threatening violence, at least.

    We, the people of these Islands DEMAND ACCOUTABILITY.

    CAYMAN JUSTICE MOVEMENT

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  17. Anonymous says:

    It is always important to know when to leave.
    At 77yrs of age it bodes the question as to why anyone would put themselves up for such a job, and secondly who appointed him in the first place as Chairman? Time to call it a day Sir, and tend the garden like most of us retirees do.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    What an embarrassment to be caymanian.

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  19. Elvis says:

    Crabs in a bucket springs to mind

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  20. Anonymous says:

    I say they fight it out this Saturday at the lions center.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Now in the real world this would show the man is unfit for the job he decided to keep for himself. But not in Absurdistan, oh no, not in Absurdistan. Just another day….

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    • anon says:

      Pierson’s appointment to the board chair is must be nothing more than a plum for political cronyism. There could be no other reason — his knowledge of the technology in all these various areas must be severely deficient. And while he does not need to be an expert, he should have a base on which to understand issues.

      In the case at hand, he is more than tacitly soliciting the appointment from a power position– this is not just moving from any job to another.

      And the board should never agree. Ronnie Dunn is right — I don’t care how many lawyers rule on what could only be a technicality. In principle it was wrong.

      He needs to step aside in any case, as the house of card is tumbling down around him.

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    • Anon says:

      LP is right — major hyperbole — but the biggest hyperbole is the assertion that LP could knock out RD. I would bet on RD knocking LP out any day. Bookies?

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  22. Anonymous says:

    This all so very sad and embarrassing.

    Sad that a grown “professional” man should even consider this type of behaviour, especially whilst discharging a public duty. Sadder even that such a proposal for him to become CEO was even conceived. Thanks to people like Dunn who stand up for right even in face of adversity. Thanks to people like Epp who are not afraid to record exactly what transpired so that the public can know.

    XXXXX

    Sad. Very sad!

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  23. Anonymous says:

    Ah, the type of Caymankind that ought to be on the front page…not….

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    • Anonymous says:

      Where are you from?

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      • Anonymous says:

        7.05, I am from here. Don’t tell me you are proud of this? What kind of nutter asks “where are you from” in an article about appalling behavior of leaders of importnat Cayman bodies getting on the front page of the local press for the wrong reason? Next it will be the “deportation order?” statement, or “ah, he’s only 3rd generation Caymanian”. Just trying to find excuses for the unacceptable rather than dealing with it.

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  24. Anonymous says:

    With all respect due to Mr. Pierson, I am not the sort of Caymanian who would ever speak of ‘boxing’ anyone, never mind in a board meeting, and I hope this behaviour is on its way out for good, because it has no place in modern, professional Cayman.

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  25. Anonymous says:

    See https://cnslibrary.com/utilities-regulation/

    Board of Directors:

    Stipend
    Chair – $4,500 per month
    Deputy Chair – $2,500 per month
    Member – $2,000 per month

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  26. Anonymous says:

    How disappointing. This Government and in particular Alden has spent a lot of time and energy trying to raise the bar on ethics in Government. When they continue to appoint persons who they know can cross the line, in an effort to create political goodwill and alliances etc then they themselves lose credibility in the process. Having said that, no one could have seen this coming! Very sad.

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  27. Ambassador of Absurdistan says:

    Just Another Day in Absurdistan

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  28. Anonymous says:

    and in this corner…the raining champ, one punch pierson…his opponent…busta dunn….let get ready to ….
    .????????

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  29. Un Reg says:

    Both OfReg and the Port Authority are a public embarassment and exemplfy the incompetence resulting from appointing Caymanians qualified by their connections rather than their competence.

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  30. Anonymous says:

    Where is the proper oversight required of the Cabinet Office in all this mess of expenses etc ?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Oversight? From the string of emails it appears that the Cabinet Secretary was in agreement, even though it’s in breach of the Penal Code.

      • GOAB 4th Flr says:

        Do not dismiss the actions of the acting Minister Austin Harris at the time who was complicit in this matter along with the acting Governor Franz Manderson.

        Both demonstrated their tacit approval with the efforts to have Linford Pierson hired as CEO and are as culpable as the Cabinet Secretary. Hiring Christen Suckoo as COO of OfReg was the trade off and price to be paid as his salary and benefits are being paid through the Cabinet Office. Only the acting Governor could sanction such a move.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Going to assume Linford (or any other member) does not sit on any boards of the Authorities / Companies that Off-Reg will be investigating?

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  32. Anonymous says:

    Ronnie Dunn is a true professional. Having worked with him I was exposed to his ethical approach.

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    • Anonymous says:

      They all know they would not last more than 1 month at a real place of business. That Phoenix degree would not get him a job managing at Burger King in the states, even with all the “experience”

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  33. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Pierson’s behavior was SOP back in the bad old days when politically appointed boards thought they were the management team. Thankfully, most boards have moved on to proper corporate governance structures under the last 2 administrations. Apparently Mr. Pierson didn’t get the memo. Good going Sheriff Dunn.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Why then is the same government that installed “proper corporate governance structures” have not yet acted or responded to the embarrassing behavior of the Chair? The Cabinet Office being slow in its response says a lot about what the will excuse, accept, and tolerate counter to its so called “good governance” mandates. FYI Mr. Premier & Mr. Cabinet Secretary. I’m watching.

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      • Anonymous says:

        It would seem that in this case the governance structure worked and stopped one man from steamrolling himself into a lucrative position. In the past, if the political powers wanted it to happen it would have. This board seems to have stood its ground and not allowed political interference to sway them.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Wait for it …

  34. Anonymous says:

    Shameful.

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  35. Anonymous says:

    Why do they even need OffReg? It doesn’t help consumers one bit. Just a waste of money.

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  36. Anonymous says:

    Linford’s true colours coming out… for those of you that didn’t know already

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    • Anonymous says:

      This man has had all the opportunities, politics, business and whatever else. Retire, we all know you can afford it you live in damn Patricks island. Give younger (and by younger I mean someone in their 50’s) an opportunity at the helm. So many of these old out of touch fogies with their antiquated mentalities need to step down and go towards the light. We who are old enough KNOW this is who you truly are. Go away.

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      • Anonymous says:

        “step down and go towards the light”?!

        You want him to “step down and go towards the light”?

        You piece of $#\+!

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      • Anonymous says:

        The writer above excluded

        1.He was Cayman’s first professional Accountant all paid for by the tax payer in the UK and before that many courses in Jamaica.
        2. Deputy Financial Secretary
        3. Managing Partner of a major
        Accounting Firm back in the day.
        Therefore very accomplished and doesn’t need to add anything more on his resume. What more on earth does he need, for Christ’s sake let someone else have a chance that is younger. The old Caymanian saying “Greediness choke puppy” comes to mind.

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        • Anonymous says:

          10:46: You left out Government Chief Officer, Cabinet Minister, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly—the pensions that he has coming in must be ridiculous.

          Go into the community and do some meaningful voluntary work is my advice — and find a charity to support.

          I have never heard of this man doing philanthropic work — and I am sure we would have heard.

          Craven.

        • anonymous says:

          Appointed Dep F.S only because he was the only Caymanian qualified accountant, ditto for partnership in the accounting firm Things haven’t changed, being Caymanian is still a far more important qualification for senior positions than ability and competence.

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  37. Anonymous says:

    CNS, you need to do your research, the Chair position is not unpaid, check this link: http://www.legislativeassembly.ky/portal/pls/portal/docs/1/12672524.PDF [legislativeassembly.ky]
    page 74.

    Chairman $54,00 per annum
    Deputy Chair $30,000 per annum
    Non-Executive Members $24,000 per annum

    CNS: Thanks. I’ve corrected the article and included this in the Library. One of the projects I have in mind to do is to list all the public boards and their stipends. If anyone can help me with that, I’d appreciate it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      start with the Port Authority, the directors make $1,800.00 pa(150 per meeting vs the 24K for non- executive members of OfReg, smh

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    • Anonymous says:

      CNS, that’s a great project. You’ll find some are handsomely rewarded, some are given $100 a meeting, others nothing but coffee. My board (which is not even a board, it is a tribunal) is in that last category.

      CNS: It’s going to take many hours to track down all the info – there are a lot of boards. If you can send me the info for your tribunal (which I’ll include) or a link to the info, I’d be grateful. You can send via a comment, which I will not post, or email info@caymannewsservice.com

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      • Anonymous says:

        CNS you could try sending a simple FOI question to all SAGCs, tribunals, commissions requesting how much stipend their board members receive. May be the Cabinet Office holds that information all in one place so may be worth it to try there first.

        CNS: Thank you! I’m hoping that this will not require FOIs.

      • Sue Winspear, Auditor General says:

        I will be reporting on all Board emoluments in my Financial General Report for 2016/17 which will be published before the end of 2018.

        CNS: Phew! I think the OAG just saved me a lot of work.

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    • Anonymous says:

      CNS, contact the Commissions Secretariat. They should have all the info you need on Boards and Committees etc

      CNS: Thank you!

  38. Anonymous says:

    Caymanian professionalism exemplified

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  39. Anonymous says:

    Any right thinking member of the community must read this and simply shake their heads in disbelief…sad.

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  40. Anonymous says:

    Nothing new here. I was present about 10 years ago when a well-known MLA (he was a Minister at the time) threatened to take out a reporter from a now-defunct publication. His outburst ended with words along the lines of, ‘You better watch yourself boy!’

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  41. Puzzled says:

    Civil Service retirement age was raised to 65. How does a 77 year old qualify?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Deliberate moves were made to protect a select few from that. You know, “Purchase Agreements” and the like…

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    • Anonymous says:

      because he is a politician … laws don’t apply to politicians ….

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    • Anonymous says:

      Another glorious day…

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      • Anonymous says:

        It just shows that we need to stop naming things after people before they pass on, because they can mess up before.
        What an inglorious end to a public servant and a former politician and Speaker.

    • NW Pointer says:

      At least OfReg has a capable deputy who understands his role. Too bad the NRA didn’t even have one Director with a backbone to object when their Chairman took over the MD’s job a year ago when he couldn’t get his way. Appointing these kind of roughneck Chairs to enforce policy at fledgling authorities is always a bad idea as they will always believe they can do it better themselves.

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      • Brian Tomlinson says:

        It’s too bad RD didn’t have the same fortitude on the NRA board when chairman became a special project manager and another member became legal counsel.

        But if we’re having a boxing match my money is on RD.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Present or past chairman, Brian?

          • Anonymous says:

            That had to be the previous chairman because this current chairman only became the defacto MD last year, I mean project manager last year. But I wish he lived in my district so I could get my private road paved under his management, when the NRA MD, refused to paved it. smh

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          • Brian Tomlinson says:

            Past.

    • Anonymous says:

      Gerontocracy.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Linford – “It’s my way or the highway…”

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  43. Anonymous says:

    Another Lodge-controlled Board like Port Authority, CIAA, Cayman Airways, CPA, et al! There should be an investigation into Lodge control of public entities but who would do it? All investigative bodies controlled by Lodge. Wha a mess we in!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      The great thing about anonymous comments on CNS is that you don’t have to let facts get in the way of a juicy comment. It is a conspiracy theorists and pot stirrer’s dream portal.

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