Regis-type package for senior officer in visa scandal?

It was Sir John Compton who famously implied during a televised interview shortly before the 2006 polls that until Vaughan Lewis learns to recognize the important difference between opponents in an election race and real enemies he will remain self-condemned to life as a political rolling stone.
The particular episode of TALK came to mind this week when a savvy Pete Ninvalle, clearly fishing for a fecund response from the prime minister’s freshly-minted security director on his first day at work, served the following enticement: “What do you say to your detractors who . . .”
Not for nothing had Ausbert Regis spent the last three decades dodging snipers’ bullets, virtual and otherwise. Taking cover behind a sly smile, he fired back: “Actually, Pete, I have no detractors . . .”                     Reminiscent of a politician in victory mode, he expertly grabbed the opportunity publicly to thank his former colleagues for their support and cooperation over the years. And just in case any were wondering, he pledged before the witnessing DBS camera always to have at heart “the best interests of the police.”                 Should a letter come across his desk regarding Vernon Francois’ future, he promised, he would gladly put in a good word for the acting police commissioner!
Earlier he had spelled out for Ninvale the difference between his latest position and that offered him by the Public Service Commission in the time of Stephenson King—an offer he had not only adamantly rejected but also had successfully buried in court.
“Approximately a year ago,” Regis solemnly recalled, “I received a letter indicating I was transferred to the position of Director of Special Initiatives. I received another letter last week saying I was promoted. The operative words here are ‘transferred’ and ‘promoted.’ In my vocabulary they are definitely not the same.”
Indeed. But was Regis suggesting he might’ve been more gracious had the initial offer been baited, as was the second, with a heavier pay packet? He did not say. Neither did he reveal how in his current circumstances he planned to do for Vernon Francois and the perennially under-funded force what evidently he could not do during his years as police commissioner.
In all cases, his suit had centered, not on demotion per se but on his flawed assumption that 1) police commissioners enjoy the same privileges as did, say, the Director of Public Prosecution and the Director of Audit and 2) that the PSC had more or less been directed by Cabinet to transfer him.
The undeniable truth is that during his wrongful dismissal suit lodged in 2010 and settled in his favor shortly before the most recent general elections—when he was represented by the present prime minister’s friend and lawyer Anthony Astaphan—Regis had himself acknowledged the egregious crime rate during his watch, evidently sufficient reason for the Kenny Anthony government to have investigated the force without bothering to notify its commissioner, then on long leave.
That the government, for its own undeclared purposes, had chosen to keep under wraps the result of its lengthy investigation did not prevent it from becoming common knowledge. Upon taking office as home affairs minister, Keith Mondesir had purposefully blabbed about it to the media—especially where the investigation referred to the day’s police commissioner.
One day later, Mondesir had replaced Regis with an Englishman named John Broughton, who was among a contingent of former British police officers imported by the Kenny Anthony government in a desperate but ultimately vain effort at bringing local crime under control. (I can’t help wondering, at this point, how legal had been the order that sent Regis and other reluctant officers on leave, bearing in mind the expressed motivation despite the upcoming World Cup Cricket—to say nothing of the commissioner’s decision on the occasion not to seek legal redress!)  As they say, all of the above is now bilge water under the bridge.
At any rate, for the convenient new endorsers of Ausbert Regis, who this week announced he was “happy this matter is over.”
Over for whom? You might well ask, dear reader. It’s certainly not over for the ever patient Vernon Francois, perhaps the nation’s most accommodating police officer in decades. In 2011 he was made acting police commissioner, first for six months, then six more months and another six while Regis pursued his highly publicized wrongful dismissal adventure, at the culmination of which the judge had ordered the commissioner’s immediate reinstatement, with all related perks.
At that point the taciturn Francois may well have reconciled himself to reverting to what he had been before acting was thrust upon him: for several years he had shouldered full responsibility for the egregiously under-funded force while Regis was on leave, whether on account of undisclosed afflictions or on the vindictive orders of a government minister on the warpath.
Alas, having won his court battle (on the basis he had been denied a say before the decision to transfer him) and a consoling $40,000, Regis had finally chosen not to return to the job he had fought so hard to keep in the first place.
While Francois continued to hold the fort, Regis’ lawyer reportedly was engaged in secret negotiations on his client’s behalf, whether with the prime minister, the public service minister Jimmy Fletcher, the attorney general, Public Service Commission representatives or the national security minister Phillip LaCorbiniere. What is now known for certain is how effective had been these talks—and who will foot the bill!
We know, too, that Regis did not only land a salary much larger than he had received as police commissioner but that he also had been—that all-important word again— “promoted.” What still remains secret is what the former police commissioner had done, especially in the last year or so, to warrant his surprising “happy” elevation.
We also remain in the dark when it comes to the present position of Vernon Francois, who continues to act as commissioner, to say nothing of his fellow actors in this modern-day Keystone Cops adventure. A recent meeting with the home affairs minister and the senator with responsibility for the public service has made no discernible difference.
The government is also yet to tackle the troublesome matter of a senior police officer whose U.S. visa was recently revoked amidst much local speculation, all of it, needless to say, negative.                 The government that in opposition had spoken with such apparent authority
and confidence on the particular reasons for the revocation of Richard Frederick’s visas, now cannot bring itself even to speak the name of the latest fly in the ointment.
Rampant rumors that the officer in question had been consequentially “transferred” have proved slightly exaggerated. The suspect “senior police officer” remains untouched, reportedly having consulted his lawyers, perchance the wrong word should fall out of the wrong mouth in the wrong place.
In a related statement the government, obviously with its back to the wall, recently announced it was considering its own “legal options,” as if indeed there were several to choose from.
If we are to judge by the Ausbert Regis precedent, it seems the government’s only way out is to keep on pretending the Frederick issue never happened or that it had never been at the heart of the Labour Party’s successful election campaign.
If all else fails, the government might well consider—in the fashion of The Godfather—making the unidentified senior police officer in the latest visa scandal an offer he can’t refuse: say, a Regis-style package that would leave him, as indeed it had left his former commissioner, “happy that this is over.”
Then again, it would appear we’ve only seen the tip of the visa iceberg. Following a woman’s recent revelation that her application for a U.S. visa had been denied on the ground that none will be issued members of the Saint Lucia police force while it is under U.S. investigation, reportedly for suspected extra-judiciary executions, another six police applicants have been rejected by the embassy for the same reason. At time of writing, there has been no public reaction by the government, although MPs are well aware of the impact on police morale.
Readers may well ask: Can the U.S. authorities undertake official investigations in Saint Lucia without the cooperation of the government and the official opposition? Bearing in mind all that was said during the recent election campaign about the supposedly surreptitious investigation of Richard Frederick by the FBI, the DEA and other American agencies—and who repeatedly said what—is anyone reading this really surprised by the government’s noisy silence?
By all I have learned from reliable sources, the government expects further U.S. Embassy interventions involving our police and suspected connections outside the force.
The $100 million question is: Who next for visa limbo? With no official response, having under Vernon Francois restored much of the public trust it had lost over the last several years, the police force is now in serious danger of being tarnished all over again, with all the attendant consequences to the populace.
Meanwhile, an attention-grabbing item on the Internet—so far officially ignored—fingers certain influential Saint Lucians as co-conspirators in a successful operation against Richard Frederick, including an identified police officer reportedly close to the present prime minister. How much longer will the government atypically hold its peace? Obviously, the answer is blowing in the wind.
As I write, the leader of the opposition is on DBS calling on the prime minister to do something salutary about the current intolerably mephitic atmosphere surrounding the latest visa controversy (okay, so he didn’t put it quite like that!)—perchance people started referring to him as “de lyin’ doctor!”
Alas, de lyin’ doctor line does not quite measure up to de lyin’ King. But then it is equally true to say neither of them comes close to matching the for-all-seasons “Kenny an’ Tony” tag. So, then, why couldn’t King have spent a little more time fine-tuning something around Bingo’s classic?
Then again, if bon mots and clever renderings were his forte, would King have chosen to sit out the next five years on a political toilet bowl while Kenny occupies the king’s throne?
Would one Rosie be heading board meetings
at a certain bank while the other Rosie heads for STEP headquarters?

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