EDITORIAL – ‘The long goodbye’: Waide DaCosta’s ‘exit interview’

An explanation is an account of what happened. An excuse is an attempt to shift blame for why it happened.

The social media screed published last week by former Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board Chairman Waide DaCosta constitutes the latter.

Mr. DaCosta’s list of grievances is exhaustive (if not exhausting): His board has a full workload (sometimes holding 10-hour meetings once a week!); he didn’t approve of the Progressives’ changes to permanent residency requirements under the immigration law, which he was charged with executing (more on that in a moment); Department of Immigration staffers were supposed to handle applications but didn’t — when they did, they weren’t up to the task; politicians didn’t listen to him; the civil service didn’t listen to him; and on, and on. [Editor’s Note: Mr. DaCosta, we at the Compass would have gladly listened to you if you had returned any of our many calls in recent years, which you didn’t.]

The problem with occupying the head chair at a boardroom table for eight years, as Mr. DaCosta did on the PR Board, is that you end up owning the table. By virtue of the tenure of his chairmanship, Mr. DaCosta had every opportunity, and frankly responsibility, to bring to the public’s attention the deficiencies he determined were preventing him and his board from doing their jobs effectively and efficiently.

When Mr. DaCosta published his scathing critiques last week, he never addressed why during his tenure (which spanned four different government administrations), he never spoke up —  or stepped down.

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To the more than 1,000 PR applicants who paid hefty fees, relinquished detailed personal information and waited for months or years in limbo, Mr. DaCosta had an ethical obligation to disclose that “the immigration secretariat is dwindling to the point that there is no staff to process PR.”

Further, and we think more troublingly, Mr. DaCosta revealed in his social media posting that he was in fundamental disagreement with the very law he was entrusted to administer and uphold. For the record, his relevant words were, “For the avoidance of doubt I was not a proponent of the new PR system and have noted many issues with it.”

That statement puts into sharp relief the fact that since the new permanent residency law went into effect in 2013, the board, under Mr. DaCosta’s leadership, for years did not approve a single PR application. Coincidence? We’ll leave that to plaintiffs’ lawyers, and possibly the courts, to decide.

In his valedictory remarks, Mr. DaCosta stated that a handful of Cayman Compass employees (six) have applications pending before the PR board, implying that the Compass has a vested interest (if not a “conflict of interest”) in covering or editorially criticizing his board’s actions.

Really? We doubt there are any companies of our size on island that do not have employees waiting on PR applications, considering the length of the line. Nevertheless, this might be a good time to remind Mr. DaCosta that he shouldn’t be disclosing any information about the Compass, Pinnacle Media, or any other company, whose employees may have applications before the board.

If the Compass had been trying to secure favorable actions from Mr. DaCosta’s board, the surer course would have been delivering bonbons and publishing puff-piece columns, not writing no-nonsense editorials and dropping investigative bombshells.

As an institution, our interest in the matter is the public interest — that Cayman’s government acts efficiently, effectively, transparently and in accordance with the law.

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