What Are They?
The Chief Minister has, in the last two administrations, appointed a number of Special Assistants, sometimes called Political Advisers. They assist particular Ministers. Most of them have offices in government buildings. They are not public servants, being political appointees, though they are paid from public funds. They are very powerful, as they have the ear of the minister. They even sit in on Cabinet Meetings chaired by the Chief Minister every Wednesday afternoon. These meetings, among other things, plan strategy for the Executive Council meetings chaired by the Governor on Thursdays.
There are conflicting views on the value of these appointments. There are even more conflicting views on whether these appointments are proper. On the one hand, there are those who argue that they provide vital services to the community. With only four ministers of government, there is a need for them to be supported by persons they can trust politically. On the other hand, there are those who argue that their appointments are questionable. First, some of them are patronage appointments: persons who are not expected to do much, just to be grateful for a warm seat and a safe harbour against the sharp barbs and pricks of the real world. These have no clear duties or responsibilities. They are paid from public funds but do not provide value for money. Second, and this applies to all of them, their roles conflict with that of the public service officials who are paid to advise and help the Ministers. As such, they do more harm than good. Third, it raises suspicions and eyebrows when persons who have served as public servants cannot go home and enjoy retirement. If
Chief Minister Osborne Fleming has given his views on their role and function in an article published in The Anguillian Newspaper on 18 March 2005. The present Special Assistants that I have been able to identify are: Eric Reid OBE, Hon Donna Banks MLA, Blondell Rodgiers, Othlyn Vanterpool, Ashton Bradley, Kenswick Richardson, Curtis Richardson, Marcel Fahie, Claire Wilson and Seymour Hodge. I am going to be considering each of them in a series of posts over the next few days. Let me have your thoughts.