PUT THE WHIP TO CEDDIE

Goodness gracious me! 

It seems CTL’s Chief Executive Keystone Cop Cedric “The Entertainer” Stewart is at it again.  Despite my reminders that a closed mouth gathers no foot, he insists on engaging vocals first then using brains to make bad worse.

                   “Her: Oh doctor, I’m in trouble.                                                                                              Him:Well, goodness gracious me.                                                                        Her:  For every time a certain man is standing next to me.                                     Him:Mmm?                                                                                                              Her: A flush comes to my face and my pulse begins to race.                                                          It goes boom boody-boom boody-boom boody-boom                         boody-                                  boom boody-boom boody-boom-boom-boom,                                            Him: Oh!                                                                                                                  Her: Boom boody-boom boody-boom boody-boom                                                         Him: Well, goodness gracious me.

Popular racing personality Donovan Wilson, President of the Jockeys’ Agents Association, seems to have a special effect on our Ceddie.  As Jockeys’ Agents President, Wilson has attended meetings at CTL, the Finance Ministry and elsewhere whenever stakeholders’ concerns are ventilated.  As someone involved in racing “on the ground”, he’s well known to make significant and incisive contributions to these meetings.

Yet, a centre spread Jockeys Agents Association advertisement in the Track and Pools for Monday, October 19, (published October 17) contained copies of the most incredible series of correspondence I’ve read.  By letter dated October 9, written to CTL’s Chairman (copied to our Ceddie and to Horace Dalley, Minister with responsible for horse racing), Wilson complained bitterly about his exclusion from a meeting between CTL and stakeholders.

Wilson wrote:

Dear Chairman Brown

Re:   Disrespect shown to Jockeys Agents by CTL CEO                                                          As President of the Jockeys Agents Association for over 2 years, I was invited by Board Member Patrick Smellie to a meeting of the CTL Board with Heads of the Racing Associations scheduled for Monday, October 7 at 10.00 a.m.

Due to pressure of work, I arrived after the meeting had started. Your CEO was very rude to me. “You not supposed to be in this meeting“, he said in an angry voice heard by everybody.  I was forced to leave and as a result my members were not represented at the meeting.

This is insulting not only to me but to all jockeys’ agents.  I can only ask is the CEO the owner of the racetrack?  Can he treat people as he likes?  What has he got against me or my members? I thought that the racetrack was owned by the Government on behalf of all Jamaicans and that nobody, not even a CEO who seems to believe he don’t have to answer to certain people, could prevent a properly appointed head of association from attending a meeting like this.

Now that I understand I am to be treated like a dog by your CEO without any reprimand, I will know how to treat CTL. To prevent any more bad blood, I ask that you ensure the Jockeys Agents and their President get a public apology from your CEO and an assurance that nothing like this will ever happen again.  Every member of the CTL Management team is a public servant and the public expect them to behave like that.  Although I am privately employed I am not rude to anybody so I don’t expect to be treated like I am nobody by any public servant.

Yours faithfully…”

The Chairman didn’t reply.  Instead, on October 14, our Ceddie took it upon himself to respond to a letter that wasn’t written to him.  He wrote:

“Dear Mr Wilson

Reference is made to your letter dated 9th instant.

We write to advise that neither you nor your organization was invited to the meeting hosted by the Chief Executive Officer of CTL.  A meeting of Stakeholder heads cannot include you or your organization.

We have a mailing list of all Stakeholder Heads and the Jamaica Jockeys Agents Association is not included.

I merely stated the facts to you and you knowing them to be so left the meeting to which you were never invited.

Kind regards”

                   “Him:                How often does this happen?                                                                                                  When did the trouble start?                                                                                 You see, my stethoscope is bobbing                                                                               to the throbbing of your heart.

                   Her:         What kind of man is he                                                                                                           to create this allergy?                                                                                        It goes boom boody-boom boody-boom boody-boom                                       boody-boom boody-boom boody-boom-boom-boom,

                   Him:                    Oh!

                   Her:              Boom boody-boom boody-boom boody-boom

                   Him:                    Well, goodness gracious me.

I know I don’t need to remind readers that CTL is government-owned and, as such, every single employee, including and especially the CEO, is a public servant.  Racing personnel need no introduction to Jockeys’ Agents who, in recent years, have become an indispensable part of horse racing promotion.  They rise before dawn; travel to the track; while their jockeys are focussing on exercising horses and advising trainers, these tireless workers, who have already stayed awake long into the night reading the form, seek out trainers wherever they may be and try to ensure that their jockeys are booked on the best available rides.

The work of jockeys’ agents is welcomed by jockeys and trainers alike as they cut out a tremendous amount of detail effort from both professions and make the administrative part of booking jockeys for raceday more efficient.  These racing professionals are licensed by the Racing Commission (JRC); have formal, standardized contracts with jockeys registered at the JRC; earn a fixed percentage of their jockeys’ earnings and are paid directly by CTL who deducts their fees from jockeys’ purse bonuses.

Yet, according to our Ceddie, they “cannot” be Stakeholders?  Why?  Because they’re not on his “mailing list”.  Well, goodness gracious me!

In his arrogant and supercilious reply, our Ceddie fails to contradict any of Mr Wilson’s allegations.  He doesn’t contest that Mr Wilson was invited to the meeting by Patrick Smellie a CTL Board member.  Our Ceddie’s point appears to be that a Board Member has no authority to invite a Stakeholder Head to a Stakeholders meeting if that meeting is “hosted by the Chief Executive Officer of CTL.” Is it that only our Ceddie can issue a valid invitation?

                   “Him:                From New Delhi to Darjeeling                                                                                                I have done my share of healing                                                                                and I’ve never yet been beaten or outboxed,

                                               I remember that with one jab,                                                                                           of my needle in the Punjab,                                                                                            how I cleared up beriberi                                                                                                   and the dreaded dysentery.                                                                                              But your complaint has got me really foxed.

This is the same Ceddie who announced on July 9 that a planned Sunday racing programme scheduled for July 14 was cancelled because it clashed with the funeral of a recently deceased staff member.  I kid you not. 

At the same time, our Ceddie made an impassioned statement that, under his guidance, CTL would be “regulatory compliant” and its past “procurement problems” would be cured.  Tell us, Ceddie, what were CTL’s arrangements to collect the garbage build-up around the stable area over the past several months?  Did CTL hire garbage trucks/tractors?  At what cost?    Were “procurement procedures” followed? How has that worked out?  Are complaints that, after all that expense, the stable area still can’t pass inspection by Health Inspectors justified?

On July 9, our Ceddie also announced that a key part of CTL’s plan to earn more included installing slots in OTBs islandwide and assured listeners that this would be completed “within the next six to eight weeks”.  Eight weeks from July 9 was September 1 and it seems a good bet that slots will be available in Heaven before any OTB offers one.

So far, our Ceddie’s management regime has been highlighted by Promises Not Performance which isn’t strange since, other than as a race horse owner, I’d only ever heard of him previously as a losing PNP candidate in the last General Election.  I’m certain that, upon appointment as CTL CEO, he sold any interest he might’ve had in any racehorse since I consider it a conflict of interest for owners to be CTL senior managers.  Directors (not involved in day to day corporate operations nor having any direct authority over the racing secretary) wouldn’t have the same restriction but, in my opinion, management personnel should stay away from racehorse ownership.

Fortunately, our Ceddie’s view of who is and who isn’t a stakeholder isn’t shared by Horace Dalley, Minister with responsibility for horse racing, who replied on the same day:

“Dear Mr. Wilson

I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated October 9, 2013, and is (sic) extremely sorry to hear of your experience.

I hope that by now our CEO Mr Cedric Stewart would have made contact with you in order to rebuild the good relations that the Jamaica Jockeys Agents Association has always had with the Management and Board of the Caymanas Track Limited.

Let me again apologise to you for the damage that was done

Sincerely”

How much longer will our Ceddie be permitted to continue his entertaining but disruptive management style at CTL?  What’s the Chairman’s view of all this?    Remember Andrew Azar’s excuse for attending a meeting with Stakeholders where his utterances undermined the Board was an invitation by the CEO?  Who’s in charge at CTL, our Ceddie or the Board?  Goodness gracious me!

Peace and Love

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