Some NY Guyanese against Kerik hiring
By Tony Best Barbados Nation
February 2, 2007
A "disgrace" said one; "unsuitable," asserted another, and "questionable," insisted a third.
Those were some of the words used by Guyanese of different ethnic backgrounds in New York City to describe the decision by their country's leader, President Bharrat Jagdeo, to make the former New York City Police Commissioner, Bernard Kerik his country's new security czar.
The Guyanese rejected the appointment because of Kerik's troubles with the law and questions about his standards of behaviour. Interestingly, they didn't object on grounds of colour or nationality.
Indeed, the citizens of the English-speaking nations which serves as the home of the Caribbean Community's headquarters and its nerve centre would readily accept an expert criminologist from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation with a proven track record in fighting crime, an experienced administrator from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a respected retiree from Britain's famed Scotland Yard or a highly trained Caribbean police commissioner before they would embrace Kerik. "Kerik is the wrong person for the job, given his background, totally unsuitable," said Edmund Brathwaite, a leading businessman in Brooklyn. "My general sense is that the government of Guyana had to find somebody who they believe have the experience and the policing background to help them. At the same time, though, they had to find someone who is so compromised just as they are… That is the general sense why they had to find somebody with as many holes in his record as Kerik does."
The "holes" to which Brathwaite referred included the fact that the former top cop of New York recently pleaded guilty to two misdemeanour charges of accepting more than US$160,000 in illegal gifts from a company, which wanted to do business with the City of New York when he was Commissioner of Corrections in the Giuliani Administration. Law enforcement officials alleged that the company involved had ties to organized crime. Kerik was also forced to have his nomination as U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security by President George W. Bush withdrawn even before the Senate in Washington could begin to hold hearings into his suitability for the job after it became known that he had hired an illegal alien and may have fiddled with his income taxes. In addition, investigators last year launched a probe into the disappearance of funds from a City charity linked to the City Corrections Department. They are trying to determine if the former Corrections Commissioner knew anything about the missing money. As if that wasn't bad enough, Kerik found himself in the cross hairs of a federal probe being conducted by authorities to find out if either he or Jeanine Pirro, the Republican candidate in the 2006 race for New York State Attorney General broke the law by engaging in illegal wiretapping. Both Kerik and Pirro were caught on a wiretap talking about her desire to bug her husband's boat to find out if he was having sex with another man's wife. They denied that they illegally bugged the boat or otherwise broke the law. "During Kerik's tenure at the helm of the Corrections Department, there were frequent allegations of corruption," said Dr. Basil Wilson, a Caribbean scholar from Jamaica and a former provost at John Jay College of criminal justice of the City University of New York. "Kerik was never associated with any of the innovations and reforms implemented by the New York City Police Department to fight crime. He came and found them. He is not suited for the job in Guyana, pure and simple." That's why Birch Moore, a retired bank executive who is deeply involved in the administration of cricket in the City opposes the one-year contract given to Kerik by President Jagdeo to advise him on crime reduction, counter-terrorism and fighting narcotics. "What's clear to almost everyone is that the decision by the government in Georgetown has raised more questions than answers," he said. "Why would a government select someone with so much baggage? He was an embarrassment to President Bush and yet President Jagdeo reached out to him. That's something I can't figure out. To my mind, the government could have gone to an expert in the Caribbean or to someone in Britain who for instance is familiar Caribbean culture and police methods." Edgar Henry, a business owner and entrepreneur on Flatbush Avenue couldn't agree more. "This decision is downright disgraceful," he asserted. "How can Kerik who pleaded guilty to accepting illegal gifts and whose alleged brushes with the law have compromised him now go to Guyana and try to tell people there about reducing crime. I really don't know what Jagdeo is thinking. He could easily have chosen someone from the Caribbean, if he didn't want to select a Guyanese. We have competent crime fighters in the Caribbean who could do the job. He could easily have selected a crime fighter from England, Canada or the United States who doesn't have the kind of track record that Kerik possesses." Chuck Mohan, President of the Guyanese-American Workers United, also blasted Jagdeo calling the appointment a "crying shame" and urged the Jagdeo administration to rescind it. "Kerik is not a person of unblemished character and should not be given the job of advising the President on security issues, crime fight and terrorism," said Mohan. "I cannot believe that Jagdeo couldn't find a better person, someone with a sterling reputation. I suspect that Kerik's firm is losing business and one of his friends came up with the idea that he should first go to Trinidad and Tobago and later to Guyana… It's a shame." The lone Guyanese spoken to who accepted the decision was Kirk Welcome, a financial analyst in Manhattan. "Things are so bad in Guyana that the government had to find someone and Kerik with his experience at the Police Department in the City may be in a position to help," he said. I am prepared to go along with it."