The future of a number of key leadership positions in the Cayman Islands government remains uncertain, most notably in key public safety positions, financial services, education and oversight roles.
The problem was highlighted by East End MLA Arden McLean in June: “It looks like we got Hollywood right here … everybody’s acting.”
Since then, a few senior posts have been filled full-time by Caymanians, but other posts still have acting chiefs, often for more than a year at a time.
Cayman Islands London office
The search for a replacement for Lord Blencathra has been ongoing at the London office since Blencathra, formerly David Maclean of Scotland, ended his contract with the Cayman Islands in March 2014.
The London office is a key post, particularly for the financial services industry, in establishing diplomatic relations with Whitehall in the U.K. and other European powers. During his often rocky tenure, Lord Blencathra served as both office administrator and as Cayman’s chief lobbyist in the U.K. while remaining as a member of the House of Lords. The arrangement did not sit well with the Lords ethics committee, which led to Lord Blencathra’s eventual apology before the Lords.
A candidate who was recruited in late 2014 for the post backed out, citing personal reasons.
It was revealed in June 2015 that three Caymanian finalists were being interviewed for the position. However, no one has been selected as the next leader of the office.
The Cayman Islands Fire Service’s last full-time chief fire officer retired in April 2013.
Since then, there have been a series of temporary “acting” chiefs appointed for limited-term contracts. One acting fire chief, Rosworth McLaughlin, ended up suing the department. Another, John Bodden, was arrested and charged in connection with a January 2015 hit-and-run accident on the crosswalk of Savannah Primary School.
In between those incidents, a damning review of the fire service by U.K. consultants found, among many other issues, that various firefighting expertise and training opportunities did not exist in the fire service.
An effort to recruit a full-time fire chief last year was not successful.
According to Ministry of Home Affairs Chief Officer Eric Bush, a shortlist of candidates has been drawn up in the latest recruitment process, but interviews have not yet been conducted.
Premier Alden McLaughlin is on record as stating he will “not support” the recruitment of a non-Caymanian fire chief, despite the fact that government ministers ostensibly have nothing to do with civil service hiring decisions.
Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans was suspended with pay in December 2014 in connection with an internal administrative investigation into a number of her activities and decisions during her tenure.
Since then, Deputy Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith has served as acting head of the department.
The Cayman Compass has confirmed from multiple government sources that the suspension is in connection with an investigation into an award of Caymanian status and other administrative matters that have been determined not to be criminal in nature.
Allegations against Ms. Evans have never been made public, and she has declined to discuss the case with the Cayman Compass.
The government has not initiated a recruitment process to replace the suspended chief officer.
The Department of Education and Ministry of Education until last week had both a chief education officer and ministry chief officer appointed on an acting basis.
As of Oct. 1, Christen Suckoo was appointed to the full-time chief officer’s post.
Lyneth Monteith was named acting chief education officer in February after the departure of longtime chief educator Shirley Wahler.
All three independent government “watchdog” offices created under Cayman Islands legislation currently have no permanent leaders.
Alastair Swarbrick, the former auditor general, left the islands last week for a job in Paris. A standard recruitment process for his position is under way. Both the complaints commissioner’s office and the information commissioner’s office have had acting leaders since January 2014 and December 2013, respectively.
Vague government plans to combine both offices under one “ombudsman” post have delayed the appointment of permanent leadership, the government’s office said last month.