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Former National Solid Waste Management Authority chairman was ego tripping - Renee Ann Shirley

Published:Tuesday | April 7, 2015 | 4:00 AMGary Spaulding
R. Anne Shirley

Former National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) board member Renee Anne Shirley has accused discarded board chairman Steve Ashley of "ego tripping" and has come out in defence of former Executive Director Jennifer Edwards.

Shirley, the first ex-board member to break her silence on the burning controversy, told The Gleaner that she was head of the board's finance and audit committees. She said that she welcomed an audit by the auditor general and the Office of the Contractor General, and a public statement made on the work it undertook.

Shirley disclosed that she also sat on Human Resources Committee for most of her tenure.

"This ego trip by Steve fits in with all the public views that all public servants are inept, jump to their political masters, and boards with no cojones," she said.

Added Shirley: "Well, no board that I sit on can ever be accused of that. My positions and that of other board members are well documented."

The outspoken former banker quit the NSWMA board in 2014, prior to the controversy that forced out both Ashley and Edwards.

Shirley suggested that Edwards should not be held accountable for any form of so-called corruption for which she is being blamed.

"To hear Ashley speak in the manner that he did and to throw that audit report to the media I personally went looking for corruption, waste of funds, among other things," she said.

 

MANAGEMENT WEAKNESSES

 

Shirley added: "There were clear management weaknesses and from the beginning of our tenure, we went about putting accountability/good governance in place."

She said: "We worked extremely hard on governance issues, including financial matters, National Environment and Planning Agency regulations, and operational issues, among other things, and Jennifer worked along with the board ... The records are there to show the steps taken, decisions made, [and] follow-up on issues."

Ashley tendered his resignation after Local Government Minister Noel Arscott, at last week's post-Cabinet press briefing, said that he had lost confidence in him, following his handling of the non-renewal of Edwards' employment contract.

Arscott said Ashley created a crisis within a crisis, as he made the decision when citizens were suffering from the effects of the fire at the Riverton landfill. The fire raged for approximately two weeks, blanketing sections of the Corporate Area and St Catherine with smoke, suspending schools and forcing the closure of businesses.

Ashley's resignation comes in the wake of several resignations from the board over the controversial decision not to renew Edwards' contract. He, however, remained adamant that he made the right decision in not renewing Edwards' contract, despite stepping down from the board because of this decision.

Asserting that he would make the same decision if the situation were repeated, Ashley said some board members were asked to resign while others were unable to deal with the issue.

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com