Cayman port puts familiar hand in charge

A well-known “captain” has been chosen to steer the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands, the group’s board of directors announced Monday. 

Clement Reid, former deputy director of operations at the port, was named to the acting director’s position following the forced departure of former port director Paul Hurlston earlier this year. Mr. Reid has remained in the acting post since that time. 

Mr. Reid has now been selected to the permanent position following what was described as a “highly competitive” recruitment process, port chairman Errol Bush said. Mr. Bush said he was gratified to see the “great potential” he observed in Mr. Reid when he started at the port in 1999 come to fruition. 

Mr. Reid officially began his tenure in the post on Nov. 1, Mr. Bush said. 

The director’s selection sorts out what had been an ongoing leadership issue at the port. 

Although his government contract did not expire until May 2015, the former Cayman Islands Port Authority managing director, Mr. Hurlston, was shown the door in February. 

Mr. Hurlston was put on “gardening leave” – not reporting to the office, but still being paid – in mid-February until the end of his contract on May 21, 2015 Mr. Bush confirmed.  

Mr. Bush said a letter informing Mr. Hurlston of the board’s decision was delivered to him during a February meeting. “It was contemplated [previously] that we would do this, but we just wanted to wait until after the Christmas break,” Mr. Bush said. 

The port chairman told the Cayman Compass in December 2014 of the board’s decision not to renew the current managing director’s six-year contract, which was approved in the waning hours of the former People’s Progressive Movement government administration in May 2009. 

Mr. Hurlston has never returned calls or emails from the Compass seeking comment about the situation, but wrote a letter to the newspaper after the fact. In addition, the Compass is in possession of an unsigned letter sent to the port board in February in which staff members said they faced “hostility” from members of the board. 

According to the Feb. 11 staff letter: “It would appear that the board … has already, and perhaps for some length of time, identified substantial ‘inefficiencies, risks and weaknesses’ in the current daily operations of the port, and has already determined, prior to the inception of your proposed Deloitte review that these deficiencies exist mainly due to ‘the current organizational structure.’ 

“There are a number of other departments, authorities, etc., amongst the branches of government that arguably and demonstrably are in more need of serious adjustments in the same areas that you have vaguely but persistently stated/hinted at in this and previous communications to us and the general public via the press. 

“We are somewhat perturbed, puzzled and perplexed by the board’s seemingly guarded hostility towards our establishment … and in particular it seems, towards the sitting management.” 

Port chairman Mr. Bush told the Compass in December that the authority had hired Deloitte via a tendering process to perform what he termed an “organizational review” at the authority, aimed at “getting us back on better financial footing.” 

Finances improving 

That improvement in port authority finances appears to have been achieved, according to records reviewed by the auditor general’s office. The Cayman Islands Port Authority reported an operating surplus of about $2 million at the end of its budget year in June 2015. 

The figure represents a dramatic turnaround in an agency that operated at a nearly $4 million loss during the government’s 2011/12 financial year. 

The office of the auditor general has expressed concern about the financial performance of the port, which had been a profit-making entity for the local government. 

Mr. Reid
Mr. Reid