Goodness gracious me! It seems CTL's (Caymanas Track Ltd) Chief Executive Keystone Cop Cedric 'The Entertainer' Stewart is at it again. Despite my reminders that a closed mouth gathers no foot, he insists on engaging vocals first, then using brains to make bad worse.
Her: Oh, Doctor, I'm in trouble.
Him: Well, goodness gracious me.
Her: For every time a certain man is standing next to me.
Her: A flush comes to my face and my pulse begins to race.
It goes boom boody-boom boody-boom boody-boom boody- boom boody-boom boody-boom-boom-boom,
Her: Boom boody-boom boody-boom boody-boom
Him: Well, goodness gracious me!
Popular racing personality Donovan Wilson, president of the Jockeys' Agents Association, seems to have a special effect on our Ceddie. As Jockeys' Agents president, Wilson has attended meetings at CTL, the finance ministry and elsewhere whenever stakeholders' concerns are ventilated. As someone involved in racing 'on the ground', he's well known to make significant and incisive contributions to these meetings.
Yet, a centre spread Jockeys' Agents Association advertisement in the Track & Pools for Monday, October 19 contained copies of the most incredible series of correspondence I've read. By letter dated October 9, written to CTL's chairman (copied to our Ceddie and to Horace Dalley, minister with responsible for horse racing), Wilson complained bitterly about his exclusion from a meeting between CTL and stakeholders.
Dear Chairman Brown,
Re: Disrespect shown to Jockeys' Agents by CTL CEO
As president of the Jockeys' Agents Association for over two years, I was invited by board member Patrick Smellie to a meeting of the CTL board with heads of the racing associations scheduled for Monday, October 7 at 10 a.m.
Due to pressure of work, I arrived after the meeting had started. Your CEO was very rude to me. "You not supposed to be in this meeting," he said in an angry voice heard by everybody. I was forced to leave and, as a result, my members were not represented at the meeting.
This is insulting not only to me, but to all jockeys' agents. I can only ask, is the CEO the owner of the racetrack? Can he treat people as he likes? What has he got against me or my members? I thought that the racetrack was owned by the Government, on behalf of all Jamaicans, and that nobody, not even a CEO who seems to believe he don't [sic] have to answer to certain people, could prevent a properly appointed head of association from attending a meeting like this.
Now that I understand I am to be treated like a dog by your CEO without any reprimand, I will know how to treat CTL. To prevent any more bad blood, I ask that you ensure the jockeys' agents and their president get a public apology from your CEO and an assurance that nothing like this will ever happen again. Every member of the CTL management team is a public servant and the public expects them to behave like that. Although I am privately employed, I am not rude to anybody, so I don't expect to be treated like I am nobody by any public servant.
Yours faithfully …
The chairman didn't reply. Instead, on October 14,
our Ceddie took it upon himself to respond to a letter that wasn't written to him. He wrote:
Reference is made to your letter dated 9th instant.
We write to advise that neither you nor your organisation was invited to the meeting hosted by the chief executive officer of CTL. A meeting of stakeholder heads cannot include you or your organisation.
We have a mailing list of all stakeholder heads and the Jamaica Jockeys' Agents Association is not included.
I merely stated the facts to you, and you, knowing them to be so, left the meeting to which you were never invited.
Him: How often does this happen?
When did the trouble start?
You see, my stethoscope is bobbing
to the throbbing of your heart.
Her: What kind of man is he to create this allergy?
It goes boom boody-boom boody-boom boody-boom
boody-boom boody-boom boody-boom-boom-boom,
Her: Boom boody-boom boody-boom boody-boom
Him: Well, goodness gracious me!
I know I don't need to remind readers that CTL is government owned and, as such, every single employee, including, and especially the CEO, is a public servant. Racing personnel need no introduction to jockeys' agents who, in recent years, have become an indispensable part of horse-racing promotion. They rise before dawn; travel to the track; while their jockeys are focusing on exercising horses and advising trainers, these tireless workers, who have already stayed awake long into the night reading the form, seek out trainers wherever they may be and try to ensure that their jockeys are booked on the best available rides.
The work of jockeys' agents is welcome by jockeys and trainers alike, as they cut out a tremendous amount of detail effort from both professions and make the administrative part of booking jockeys for raceday more efficient. These racing profess-ionals are licensed by the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC); have formal, standardised contracts with jockeys registered at the JRC; earn a fixed percentage of their jockeys' earnings; and are paid directly by CTL, which deducts their fees from jockeys' purse bonuses.
Yet, according to our Ceddie, they "cannot" be stakeholders? Why? Because they're not on his "mailing list". Well, goodness, gracious me! If our Ceddie had only read Page 6 of his own official race programme, The Track & Pools of that same day, he would have seen a list of stakeholder heads, including Donovan Wilson.
In his supercilious reply, our Ceddie fails to contradict any of Mr Wilson's allegations. He doesn't contest that Mr Wilson was invited to the meeting by Patrick Smellie, a CTL board member. Our Ceddie's point appears to be that a board member has no authority to invite a stakeholder head to a stakeholder meeting if that meeting is "hosted by the chief executive officer of CTL". Is it that only our Ceddie can issue a valid invitation?
Him: From New Delhi to Darjeeling
I have done my share of healing
and I've never yet been beaten or outboxed,
I remember that with one jab,
of my needle in the Punjab,
how I cleared up beri-beri
and the dreaded dysentery.
But your complaint has got me really foxed.
This is the same Ceddie who announced on July 9, that a planned Sunday racing programme scheduled for July 14 was cancelled because it clashed with the funeral of a recently deceased staff member. I kid you not.
At the same time, our Ceddie made an impassioned statement that, under his guidance, CTL would be "regulatory compliant" and its past "procurement problems" would be cured. Tell us, Ceddie, what were CTL's arrange-ments to collect the garbage build-up around the stable area over the past several months? Did CTL hire garbage trucks/tractors? At what cost? Were "procurement procedures" followed? How has that worked out? Are complaints that, after all that expense, if health inspectors were to visit, the stable area still couldn't pass inspection justified?
On July 9, our Ceddie also ann-ounced that a key part of CTL's plan to earn more included install-ing slots in OTBs islandwide and assured listeners that this would be completed "within the next six to eight weeks". Eight weeks from July 9 was September 1, and it seems a good bet that slots will be available in Heaven before any OTB offers one.
So far, our Ceddie's management regime has been highlighted by Promises Not Performance, which isn't strange since, other than as a racehorse owner, I'd only ever heard of him previously as a losing PNP candidate in the 2011 general election. Does he have any previous experience qualifying him to be CEO of a billion-dollar-per-annum industry and a 196-acre plant? I'm certain that, upon appointment as CEO, he transferred any racehorse in which he held an interest, since I consider it a conflict of interest for owners to be CTL senior managers. Directors (not involved in day-to-day corporate operations nor having any operational authority over the racing secretary) wouldn't have the same conflict, but in my opinion, management personnel shouldn't be racehorse owners.
Fortunately, our Ceddie's view of who is and isn't a stakeholder isn't shared by Minister Horace Dalley, who replied on the same day:
Dear Mr Wilson
I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated October 9, 2013, and is (sic) extremely sorry to hear of your experience.
I hope that by now our CEO, Mr Cedric Stewart, would have made contact with you in order to rebuild the good relations that the Jamaica Jockeys' Agents Association has always had with the management and board of the Caymanas Track Limited.
Let me again apologise to you for the damage that was done
How much longer will our Ceddie be permitted to continue this entertaining but disruptive management style at CTL? What's the chairman's view of all this? Remember Andrew Azar's excuse for attending a meeting with stakeholders where his utterances could have undermined the board was an invitation by the CEO? Who's in charge at CTL, our Ceddie or the board? Goodness gracious me!
The hilarious 1960 duet Goodness Gracious Me, written by David Lee and Herbert Kretzmer, was recorded by Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren for producer George Martin (later manager of the Beatles) for the soundtrack of the movie, The Millionaires, based on a play by the same name written by George Bernard Shaw. Another Shaw play (Pygmalion) had to endure a Hollywood name change to My Fair Lady before becoming a film.
The song never made it to the movie soundtrack, but released as a single, reached No. 5 on the UK pop charts. So, if you're playing trivia games at home and some bright, glasses-wearing nerd knows the performers (don't say 'singers') on the record (assuming you can produce the record), ask him, "From which movie soundtrack does this song originate?" I'll leave it up to you how many points you'll award for the answer The Millionaires and how many for 'none'.
Peace and love.
Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to email@example.com.