Sat | Dec 10, 2016

Hell of a revolt against Heaven

Published:Saturday | February 21, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Joel Garner *** Local Caption *** Garner
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On Tuesday night, I went to The Jamaica Pegasus to witness the annual general meeting of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA). I never went for the formalities. Like all the other media personalities there, I went for one reason. I wanted to see if the no-confidence motion brought against JCA President Billy Heaven would be supported by the affiliates. I also wanted to see if the delegates would overrule the decision taken by the directors that they would not support Dave Cameron in the upcoming WICB presidential race.

Nothing could have prepared me for the drama that unfolded. My media colleagues and I stood patiently through the laborious process of the other items on the agenda. We were not overly concerned with the cricket development report and the other necessary but mundane items the president painstakingly went through. The delegates, who turned out in droves at times, were palpably restless as well.

When the time came to address the issue of the no-confidence vote, everyone's interest was piqued. This was the business end of the meeting that all and sundry had come for. The president then pulled off a legal shocker. He told the gathering that the no-confidence motion spearheaded by St James and Kensington cricket clubs could not be carried because those who did so didn't adhere to the basic rules of the JCA constitution, which is that there needed to be at least a 21-day window between the tabling of the resolution and the motion being voted on. As it turned out, they were a few days short of that.

He wanted former president Pat Rousseau to address the gathering on this and other legal matters, but the delegates would not have it. Apparently, neither Billy Heaven nor Pat Rousseau had realised the level of vitriol that had been built up against Rousseau by those who had supported Dave Cameron.

BRUTAL CRITIQUE

Rousseau has been scathing in articles published by The Gleaner in his criticism of the WICB president, and in an interview that he gave to me on my radio show, many felt that he was condescending and, indeed, outright rude to Cameron, including constant references that Cameron "is a liar". If Pat was thinking that he would make Dave look bad to the delegates by his brutal critique, he got it horribly wrong. It may well have had the opposite effect - getting people to rally around Dave even more. But I digress.

At that time, I felt that Billy and his legal team had got one over the two clubs that wanted to oust him. I felt that the clubs would be embarrassed for such a blatant and obvious oversight, and I felt Billy and his lawyers were brilliant to discover this gaffe by his detractors. By the end of the night, I wasn't so sure.

The no-confidence motion may well have served its purpose. It served notice to the whole world that Billy didn't enjoy the support of all the delegates and this could well have contributed to the large turnout.

The JCA president wanted to stick to the letter of the constitution. Not only did he point out that the no-confidence motion wasn't "legal" by JCA rules, but he also quoted a clause in the JCA statutes that stated that the earlier 10-6 vote against Cameron could only be altered if there was a 100% vote against it by the delegates. He initially wanted to insist that the principles of the JCA stood.

At that point, the delegates were on the threshold of rebelling, I kid you not. They wanted Dave Cameron and felt that the JCA president was using legalese to thwart the will of the majority. They felt he was using personal differences with Dave to prevent the majority from getting what they wanted. The mood at the Pegasus then suggested that the meeting could come to a nasty, abrupt end. The president realised then that he may well win the legal battle, but it could well come at the expense of losing the moral and, indeed, political war.

Political expediency and good sense prevailed. He allowed the delegates to vote directly for Cameron or Garner, irrespective of what was written in the JCA constitution. Here was one time when the law was definitely not a shackle! When the votes were announced - 67-22 for Cameron - nobody was surprised. Cameron and those who supported him had the last laugh.

Billy Heaven has definitely lost some marks among his own delegates and it would be interesting to see how the votes would go if he decides to go up for re-election later this year.

n Orville Higgins is a sports journalist working with KLAS ESPN Sports FM. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.