John Epp has been a pain in the behind for a lot of people in these Islands over the past five years.
And we at the Caymanian Compass would like to thank him for it.
Our front page story on Thursday reported the appointment of new Complaints Commissioner Nicola Williams to the office that is arguably, along with the auditor general, the most important government watchdog post in Cayman.
Ms Williams has an absolutely stellar resume and we have no doubt she will indeed ‘lead the complaints commissioner’s office to new levels of service.’
But we also believe she has some big shoes to fill.
In the past five years as the Cayman Islands’ first complaints commissioner, Mr. Epp has revealed some pretty serious deficiencies and maladministration within government.
It was Mr. Epp’s work that led to the uncovering of violations of environmental health regulations at the Cayman Turtle Farm and the subsequent correcting of those problems.
The complaints commissioner’s steady prodding of the Immigration Department in several areas led to major reforms and, ultimately, a much improved service to all those who live here.
Mr. Epp and his employees were tireless in their pursuit of equal rights and protections for those less fortunate members of the society, including a group of Afghan refugees, and the clients of the Sunrise Adult Learning/Training Centre in West Bay.
The OCC also kept after Cayman Airways on a number of issues, including hurricane preparedness and equitable pricing for customers.
There were far too many areas investigated by the OCC since 2004 to name in this brief editorial. But whether it was elevator safety or simply ensuring that residents had the right and the ability to make complaints to government departments, statutory authorities, and government-owned companies, the complaints commissioner was there as a strong public resource.
Of course, we imagine that Mr. Epp and his staff didn’t make too many friends in exposing wrong-doing, waste, or bad governance in the past five years. In fact, we’ve received several complaints ourselves regarding the tactics and methods of the complaints commissioner.
But we believe many people in the Cayman Islands feel comforted that there was at least one place they could turn to resolve issues when there was no other option.
In other words, while Mr. Epp may not be the guy everyone on Island wants to hang out with, he’s one of the people you want on your side when the chips are down.
We hope Complaints Commissioner Williams will continue that tradition.