Bodden outburst linked to phone charges

A disagreement over reimbursement for cellphone charges apparently led to a Dec. 10 expletive-packed tirade by Cayman Islands Minister Osbourne Bodden against his chief officer that was overheard by at least 20 to 30 staff members, according to government emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Law.  

The records also reveal the full text of Minister Bodden’s emailed apology to Ms. Ahearn that was copied to a number of staff members the day after the verbal tirade.  

Click here to view the e-mails 

According to records released to the Cayman Compass on Tuesday, Minister Bodden emailed then-Health Ministry Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn at 7:34 a.m. on Dec. 10 seeking confirmation that at least a portion of two cellphone bills for him would be reimbursed. The minister appeared to be growing impatient on the issue because he hadn’t received “the courtesy of” a reply for two weeks.  

“I am requesting reimbursement of a minimum of 50 [percent] of the amount paid on each [cellphone bill], for Gov’t business expenses,” Mr. Bodden wrote. “I would like this confirmed this am, and a cheque asap for this amount (pre Chmas)!!! 

“Ps: I think I have explained this well enough on previous occasions to not have to repeat.” 

Ms. Ahearn replied at 10:14 a.m. on the same day, apologizing for not getting back to the minister sooner and indicating that she and the ministry’s chief financial officer had been “investigating” the matter.  

“Unfortunately, it is not a straight forward situation for a few reasons,” Ms. Ahearn wrote.  

Ms. Ahearn noted that the minister already had a Cayman Islands government cellphone, which was able to receive emails, and that there should be “minimal/no need for your personal phone plan data to be used for your CIG email/official business.” 

She also noted that the personal phone bills presented for payment had not been itemized in a way that auditors could easily identify what calls or uses were personal and which were for government business.  

“An added complication is that you have indicated as estimated percentage of costs that you believe are official that you should be reimbursed for and we do not really have any basis for that estimation,” Ms. Ahearn wrote.  

Data collected by the ministry indicated Mr. Bodden’s government cellphone was being used to receive data at around the same time his personal phone was being used “for the periods in question.”  

Ms. Ahearn and the chief financial officer spoke to other ministries regarding what they had done in similar situations. She said they were advised that other government ministries and portfolios would only reimburse an employee’s personal phone for periods during which the government-provided phone was out of service or not working. 

“Similarly when I spoke to some of my colleagues, none of them indicated that they had received similar requests…and those I spoke to confirmed that they would not expect to get such a request as a Cayman Islands government phone has been provided,” Ms. Ahearn wrote, acknowledging that she had not done a “full census” of chief officers.  

Ms. Ahearn then asked Mr. Bodden if he could receive more detailed cellphone bills from LIME listing the itemized charges. She asked to meet with the minister and chief financial officer to “brainstorm” and resolve the issue.  

No evidence of a reply email from Mr. Bodden was included in what was sent to the Compass on Tuesday. However, the newspaper has reported on the closed-door meeting that occurred at 12:20 p.m. on Dec. 10, in which Mr. Bodden was heard screaming curse words at and berating Ms. Ahearn.  

The next day, Dec. 11, Mr. Bodden sent out an emailed apology to Ms. Ahearn, copied to a number of ministry staffers. 

Here is the unedited text of the apology:  

“Good am Jen – your email yesterday am made me feel like both a liar and a thief (albeit maybe not your intention), of which I’m neither. That’s one thing that makes me see red. I am sorry for the outburst, but yesterday in particular I was dealing with a lot of personal issues, including health ones, and I lost it.  

“I regret the loud, embarrassing shouting at you as I should have handled more professionally in hindsight. I apologize to both you and the staff for this, and I regret this ever happened.  

“I hope we can all get pass this and continue to work for the betterment of these islands.”  

 

1 COMMENT

  1. After reading the correspondence above between Mr Bodden and Ms Ahearn I still cannot see the reason for the outburst in words, name calling and threats.
    As how things are now I believe she was doing her job in being cautious about anything, everything and everyone.
    However as I have stressed before, there are many who think they are above the law after being sworn in on election day. I have watched 95 percent of them take on an attitude of I am better than anyone else and larger than life. Don’t fool yourself and think that there is only a few acting this way. It seems like they are just angry with everyone, especially if you are not being a Yes man. Many whom I have supported, but not voted for; to run for a seat into the LA, has proven not to be a disappointment.
    Being acquainted with quite a few, they will talk to you nice up front, and make you believe all is well; but if ye think ye bad, turn your back on one of them and see how many machetes will chop off the back of your head. Sad. I have read nothing in Ms Ahearn’s letter that should have caused such a stink which has disrupted the whole Cayman community. What a shame that all foreign people must now paint all Caymanians with this same brush. Not everyone will be in agreement with comments made on this media; however, my thoughts are that everyone has the right to disagree as they see fit, but when you resort to name calling because of another’s view point, you are setting yourself up for a fight. Today we are on the eve of Christmas so let us think about these three things. Let us concentrate on our family who we love, Having something positive to do, and the one person who can give us a future.

  2. First I would like to say; the freedom of information disclosures seem to be working very efficiently.

    Second, finally someone has enough fortitude to get this financial accounting tracking. Mrs Ahearn is to be commended for leading by example.

    Finally, The premier seems to be a decisive leader.

  3. Mr Osborn Bodden I have to ask you a few questions after reading your email message. Why do you have to use your own private phone, when you have a CI Government phone ? Why should government pay for your personal phone charges ? Why do you bring your personal problems and health problems to work, you should know better.

  4. The tone in his Email is indicative of the tone in his outburst. He clearly doesn’t feel he should have to explain himself to the people reconciling his reimbursements. Their questions to him about reimbursing his personal phone charges make sense. His outburst does not. It sound like they were going out of their way to be courteous and professional what they got in return was his berating response. And it doesn’t sound like she was trying to do her job but he just felt like he was bigger than the processes and policies in place.

    I think his true colors are coming out..

  5. Gareth Anthony, a Merry Christmas to you too.
    Now I would like to ask you this question, and don’t Lie about it now……….Oh wha happen change your mind?
    Can you Gareth Anthony please ask all of the Politicians past and present to please say publicly on this media, which of their homes I have been to?

    No politician has any secret holding for me, and I do not go and ask them for a dollar, that is the reason I can boldly speak my mind. Can you tell the public the same thing?

  6. Sorry what I meant to say was that it does sound like she was only trying to do her job and was acting in a professional manor. For him to snap like this over a phone bill says a lot about his personality and also explains some of the choices he has made. He does not want to pay his phone bill but is OK with the people spending 100 million on a dump just because he’s stubborn.

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