George Davis | The real crime against Carolyn Warren
This newspaper's editorial of July 18, 2018, dealing with the issue of Carolyn Warren and her decision to withhold information about her criminal conviction to the principals at National Energy Solutions Limited (NESoL), couldn't have been more unerring.
The line taken by the editorial that the Warren situation demands a national conversation, following which clear guidelines are to be set down about how employers, public and private, must engage with persons who've been convicted by the courts, mirrors the argument I presented when discussing the same issue with a senior executive at the Jamaica Observer days before the editorial was published.
Is it that our legislators will list the range of crimes for which persons, even after serving their time, are barred from working at a certain level in the public and private sector? Is it that within this legislated crime range, those serving a custodial sentence and those who've been given a suspended sentence suffer the same fate as it relates to what jobs they can hold, or do we impose a difference in treatment?
Will the crime described in the letter of the law as 'abominable' and which many Jamaicans are still dead set against be included in this crime range, and will this now incentivise persons to seek to spy inside the bedrooms of certain politicians to see if they can record evidence that these honourable men and women are breaking the law and hence unfit to hold political office?
I've known and loved Carolyn Warren since the first day I walked into the Nationwide newsroom as a brash youngster, three weeks out of the University of Technology. She played the role of my at-work mother providing loads of encouragement in that period when I was a greenhorn on the newsroom floor and on air, struggling to find that rhythm that could take me to where I wanted to go: stardom.
Amid the many early missteps and failures, Carolyn was always supportive, telling me that in due time, I would reflect on the days of struggle and laugh. She was correct.
As I grew stronger as a professional, she would encourage me to reach further, and her office was always a refuge when the wall of criticism came crashing down on my shoulders from persons inside and outside the organisation. She helped me when I was young and vulnerable, and that cements her status as a special person to me.
With that said, she should have declared her past conviction to the NESoL principals at the point of her interview for the job of CEO of the entity. And she ought to have made the disclosure given her knowledge of the partisan, rabid nature of our politics.
It's funny that some have been so critical of Carolyn Warren and her situation at a time when more than 24 states in the USA have enacted legislation that gives convicted felons a helping hand up the employment ladder. In November last year, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed an executive order directing state officials to eliminate the box on job application forms that required persons to indicate whether they had a criminal record. Another nine US states have directed that private employers eliminate that question from their job application forms.
The issue of a past convict managing millions of dollars in resources at NESoL has also been raised. I wish to inform those persons that Uli Hoeness is president of Bayern Munich Football Club. The same Hoeness who served half of a three-and-a-half-year jail term for denying the German treasury of almost EU29 million in taxes. The same Bayern Munich that in 2016-2017, earned revenues of EU640.5 million. The same Bayern Munich that is ranked 12th on Forbes 2018 list of the world's richest sporting franchises, valued at US$3.063 billion.