Minister Bodden must resign

Osbourne Bodden must be relieved of his responsibilities as Minister of Health, Youth, Sports and Culture. If he refuses to resign, he must be removed.

Last Wednesday’s profanity-laced tirade, directed at the ministry’s Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn, and clearly heard by dozens of civil servants, has demonstrated unequivocally Minister Bodden’s unfitness to hold his leadership position.

Premier Alden McLaughlin missed his first opportunity to manage the situation, choosing to deflect and protect rather than taking swift, decisive action. For any responsible leader — especially for the leader of a country — this should not even be a tough call.

There is no need for any further investigation. There exists a prima facie, (and undisputed), case of gross mistreatment of a professional colleague, characterized by undertones of prejudice in regard to gender, race and nationality.

We understand Premier McLaughlin’s dilemma — both personally and politically. He and Minister Bodden are friends as well as political allies. One could argue that Mr. McLaughlin would not even be Premier if Mr. Bodden hadn’t joined his coalition (along with the other three Bodden Town members) following Mr. McLaughlin’s support of the “No Dump in Bodden Town” pledge.

Under that interpretation of history, Premier McLaughlin may well owe his job to Minister Bodden, and his loyalty to his friend and political enabler in other circumstances might be understandable, even commendable.
However, once Mr. McLaughlin ascended to the premiership of this country, he accepted a higher loyalty — to all the people of the Cayman Islands.

Immediately after satisfying himself as to the accuracy of what had taken place, Mr. McLaughlin had an obligation and a duty to meet with Mr. Bodden and relieve him of his ministerial duties. He didn’t do that.
To review, the facts, which were gathered and sent in writing to the Deputy Governor on Dec. 12, are these:

At about 12:20 p.m. Wednesday, Ms. Ahearn entered Minister Bodden’s office to discuss a matter she had emailed him about earlier in the day. The door was closed behind her.

Shortly afterward, about 20 to 30 people on the fifth floor clearly heard “extremely voluminous bellowing” coming from within Minister Bodden’s office. The shouting grew so intense that a security guard was called and, with two ministry staff members, ventured to the office door to assess the situation.

The statements that Minister Bodden shouted at Ms. Ahearn, according to the report of staff members present, included, “You aren’t even Caymanian, you are like a piece of f&%king driftwood”; “You know that I can make your life a living hell”; “Get out of my face. Get out of my f&%king office. Get out of my f&%king office now.”

Astonishingly, the Compass has learned that a plan is being contemplated to remove … not Mr. Bodden but the innocent victim in this entire matter, Jennifer Ahearn.

Any such “re-victimization” of Ms. Ahearn should not be tolerated by the civil service, the Governor, the Deputy Governor or the electorate.

Governor Helen Kilpatrick clearly has the authority to remove Mr. Bodden as minister.

Rarely, we would concede, in a locally controlled democracy, should a Governor exercise this drastic authority. Given the present circumstances, however, if the Premier refuses to act — for personal, political or any other reason — the Governor must intervene.

After all, as the Queen’s representative, she is ultimately responsible for the “good governance” of these Cayman Islands.

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  1. While I too agree that, if the facts are as reported, it might be best for Mr. Bodden to resign from his position as Minister of Health, Youth, Sports and Culture I don’t see how the Editorial Board came to the conclusion that any of his statements were characterized by undertones of prejudice in regard to gender or race. I can understand where such a conclusion might have been reached with regards to nationality (the driftwood comment) but not gender or race.

    Also, despite what the Editorial Board thinks, this is a tough call for the Premier. The political realities are what they are and the removal of Mr. Bodden from his position will come at a cost for the Premier.

    It is irresponsible (in my opinion) for the Editorial Board to talk about plans being contemplated to remove Jennifer Ahearn unless they are willing to state the source of their information. Jennifer Ahearn is clearly the victim here, but these types of statements only serve to further inflame an already tense situation.

  2. If the Government says that they are against workplace bullying then they must deal with this situation within their own ranks promptly without putting any further pressure on the victim, regards of what the discussion between colleagues related to.

    ***Editor’s note: The above commenter is not prominent attorney Sophia Harris, managing partner of Solomon Harris law firm.***

  3. If a then Minister for Education didn’t resign over the small matter of a DUI or similar conviction, why should this result in any further movement? I honestly don’t understand where the threshold is for resigning or being fired.

  4. Mr.Bodden has already commited political suicide.It is time for him to save his face as a human being. Resign and repent. People will forgive. Eventually.
    What friendship and political enabling have to do with running a country? Which interests come first for the Premier? In this unfortunate situation he has no choice but remove the Minister. By not doing so he condones xenophobia,bullying and discrimination and makes this country look like a joke.

  5. The behavior of this levels of a minister of the Islands or a country shouldn’t be allowed to stay on the job. The premier or the governor should not try to protect him in this case . The staff all said that what they heard minister was the one that used all the profanities and the discriminating comments . Mr Premier your job is not to protect your friend , it’s to protect the Islands and the people.

  6. A few months back the owner of NBA team in LA, Donald Sterling went on a racist rant that was made public. The result? National condemnation in the US even by President Obama. Unprecedented proceedings were implemented to remove him from a professional basketball association.
    Take the current situation here in our country which is even worse considering that the tirade involved a Cabinet Minister, (one of the leaders of our government) against a senior female colleague (forget about her immigration status).
    We need to cut loose the arrogant, profane and racist attitudes from office. Nobody is King of this island. We are all brothers and sisters, treating each other with respect and expecting it in return. Why are we even debating what needs to happen here? Get him out of office. It’s so obvious. Let’s move on.

  7. now I know he’s also prejudiced against Non-Caymanians You aren’t even Caymanian, you are like a piece of f%king driftwood. In addition to this It seems like he’s more than willing to use his political position to make someone life a living hell You know that I can make your life a living hell

    And yes I do believe without a doubt that a plan is being contemplated to remove … not Mr. Bodden but the innocent victim in this entire matter, Jennifer Ahearn. He has made his feelings about Non Caymanians clear and it wouldn’t surprise me if she gets some shut money and is quietly sent on her way.

    Other MLA’s that have the same types of feelings towards Non Caymanians have already publicly recommended she be removed.

  8. Here we have again the age old story about how foreigners came to the Cayman Islands and took the country away from the people.

    Coming from London, England I can understand some of this. British people can no longer afford to buy a home in Central London as they are all owed by Russians, Chinese, French etc.

    However let us look back a little into our history.

    50 years ago the Cayman Islands were dying. There were NO jobs here. Taken by ex-pats or anyone else.

    There was limited electricity, no a/c, no phones, no TV and people only ventured out in the evenings swinging a smoke pot in front of them to ward off the millions of mosquitoes.

    The menfolk left to go to sea, leaving the women at home to bring up the children.
    It was a subsistence economy.
    Many Caymanians left for other countries.

    Since then hard working Caymanians and far sighted arrivals from overseas have worked together to create what we now all enjoy.

    There is no room here for ex-pats to look down on Caymanians and vice versa.

  9. It isn’t that complicated!
    The Minister has behaved in a manner that is unacceptable. He must know that he has to resign, if he doesn’t, then his leader needs to tell him.
    What is equally clear is that Ms Ahearn has done nothing to deserve loss of her job, depending on what it is she said to the minister that caused his anger, she may have been doing the Islands a favour! We need to know what it was.
    And just as clear is that they cannot work together. The problem is that there is a lot of precedent for Ministers to sideline/fire/ ignore perfectly good Civil service officers. Those Ministers are just as guilty, and their actions have cost the Islands much money, if that happens in this case then know your leaders for what they are!

  10. If she’d said anything or wrote anything in a email to Mr Bodden that would make him think she deserved that level of beratement you can best believe that it would have already came out and he would not have put an apology in writing and even if she did it’s still no excuse for his outburst of hatred. I am sure on the other hand that plenty of effort is being put into deflecting attention away from this as we speak. In short form she will be given a good deal of hush money and reassigned probably to a higher paying position to avoid any contractual issues or legal ramifications that would make it hard to sweep this under the rug. After that the light will simmer and go out as the next big issues arises.

  11. I take issue with Mack’s comment that the severity of his tirade had nothing to do with gender. I cannot imagine him speaking to a man in this threatening way. If this had been a male expat in this position formal charges would have been filed immediately for Workplace harassment and abuse and Ozzy knew this when he targeted this high ranking female. Caymanians are quite adept at treating their own with contempt and have mastered the art of the Saboteur motivated by jealously and a thirst for power and control. Proof positive that CIG MLA’s are pure of heart Chauvinists and The lowly women in this country have no advocates!!!

  12. The large signs that are posted at government offices, reminding the public that it is an offence to commit any sort of wrongdoing to a woman (sorry I dont recall the exact wording), do they not have that sign posted at the Health Ministry?

  13. @Gillie: Thank you for the feedback.

    While I can appreciate that this is a very emotional issue for some people it is important that we stick with the facts. Nothing in your comment is factual and statements like I cannot imagine are clear indicators that you are speaking from an emotional but not factual perspective. Additionally, if you understood anything about Ozzie you would know that he would have no problems speaking to both men and women in the same manner.

    I am open to being corrected and look forward to any facts that you have that would help me change my position.

  14. Mack, judging from your comment you seem to understand Ozzie to be a person that has no issues speaking to his colleagues in this manner, so it sounds like this may not be anything new or unusual, it’s just his character. Am I reading in this correctly ?