Mon | Mar 30, 2020

I feel betrayed by the ECJ - Fisher!

Published:Sunday | March 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue

Recently resigned Director of Elections Orette Fisher says he feels betrayed after submitting his resignation to Dorothy Pine McLarty, who leads the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ).

Fisher yesterday told The Sunday Gleaner that there has been no acknowledgement of his resignation letter by the ECJ and he is most upset by comments from one of its independent members, Professor Alvin Wint, who has said that he saw no evidence of political interference at the Electoral Office of Jamaica.

According to Fisher, he was prepared to go quietly, even without an acknowledgement of his letter, but will not accept any attempt to discredit him.

"I feel totally betrayed by this comment, given what happened to an independent commissioner months ago. I was prepared to walk away quietly, truly, but since attempts are now being made to discredit me, I have no choice but to go public," said Fisher, who has charged that political interference played a part in his decision to resign.

"So I will be consulting with my lawyers to make sure I have not libelled anyone, and then I am going public. The people of Jamaica need to know what is happening at the commission," he added.

According to Fisher, during a meeting, "One of the independent commissioners was so badly abused by one of the political representatives that he packed his bags, and told the meeting he was walking off the commission.

"He did walk out of the meeting and a commissioner had to chase after him ... and begged him to return.

"It is, therefore, beyond me how Professor Wint could say there is no basis for my statement of political interference on the commission," he stated.


Contract renewal


Fisher's seven-year contract ended before the 2016 general election, and he was reportedly told that the previous government would have recommended its renewal but wanted to wait until after the election.

"It was felt that his contract ended too close to the election and the government did not want to recommend the renewal, and the opposition disagreed. This would make it a political issue, and that was not desired," said a source close to the ECJ yesterday.

"So the one-year contract was to carry over and cover the election period and shortly beyond. The new government would then deal with it. Of course, the administration was voted out, and the new administration decided to do the same by offering him another one-year contract before deciding not to renew it. It was a disservice to Fisher, who cannot be faulted for his work at the EOJ," added the source.

Fisher had gone to court to challenge the decision not to renew his contract but resigned before the court's ruling.