That’s a pretty enticing job description. Lest we be flooded with CVs, the Compass is not offering such an employment opportunity, at this time or ever. No private sector enterprise would.
But that’s precisely the arrangement the Cayman Islands government has struck with former Health Ministry Chief Officer Diane Montoya and former Deputy Financial Secretary Deborah Drummond, who were put on “required leave” for no stated reason in 2009.
Since then, they’ve been receiving full pay and benefits for not working. Under the agreement, the two will take official “early retirement” on July 1, and will continue to receive full pay and benefits for not working until they reach the age of 60. Oh, and the government also chipped in to pay at least a portion of their legal costs. (A third civil servant, former Education Ministry Chief Officer Angela Martins, was also put on leave in 2009, following the government’s transition to United Democratic Party control. In 2011, Ms. Martins took early retirement at the age of 57.)
As usual, the government is trying to avoid divulging the exact cost of the settlement, which of course is coming from public funds. However, quick calculations indicate that, when it’s all over, taxpayers will have shelled out several millions of dollars to Ms. Drummond, Ms. Martins and Ms. Montoya — receiving virtually nothing in return — and all because the UDP government breached the electrified fence separating elected politicians from the civil service.
It’s the latest example of Cayman’s public sector running amok at the public’s expense. Borrowing a construct from former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, when did government “of the people, by the people, for the people” become, in Cayman, government of the government, by the government, and for the government?
When was the tipping point when the Cayman government’s stance defaulted to one of antagonism, or at best indifference, toward the people it was created to serve?
In the entire Drummond-Martins-Montoya saga, nowhere does there appear to have been any consideration of the public interest — not in the ladies’ dismissal, not in the years of paid leave, not in the settlement, and certainly not in the government’s ongoing attempts to conceal all of the above.
What happens next is the Compass, and probably others, will have to play the government’s game of open records requesting in order to bring further information to light. This will only waste more time and resources.
We’ll add that, in addition to the three ladies’ arrangements being alien to anything extant in the private sector, the deals that they got are also far superior to what would be available to the typical rank-and-file civil servant.
In addition to a public/private dichotomy, there is also a distinct class difference between high-level government managers and their underlings.
Here’s the obvious question: Once the government figured out it couldn’t remove the three women from the public payroll, why were they not ordered back to work?
The simple answer is … Because it was just easier to pay them.