OBA press DeSilva on Dallas departure
An Opposition MP claimed “something don't smell right” after he asked a Cabinet minister about the departure of the Bermuda Tourism Authority's former chief executive.
Michael Dunkley pressed Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Tourism and Transport, on the circumstances that led to Kevin Dallas stepping down from the post last week.
He told the House of Assembly, during a debate on the ministry's budget on Monday: “The departure of Mr Dallas comes at a very critical time and what concerns me about it is ... I thought that he was well respected within the BTA, well respected within the industry and certainly I thought that the team and him as a leader were doing a good job.”
Mr Dunkley added: “This sudden departure raises concerns with me and many people throughout the community because it came on a Wednesday, he was gone on a Friday.” He said: “It means, in my view, something unexpected happened suddenly.”
The MP asked if an executive recruiter would be used to help fill the vacancy and how the BTA will be led in the interim.
He added: “Is there any risk that we could lose other senior people?”
Leah Scott, the Opposition's deputy leader and its shadow tourism minister, asked earlier: “Where are we in terms of a search for a CEO and how likely are we going to be to be able to get a Bermudian in that position?”
Mr DeSilva responded later: “He's only been gone a couple of hours so that replacement will take a normal course or maybe it won't, depends on the situation.”
He said that in businesses throughout the world “you may get one person leave and if they do maybe several will follow”.
Mr DeSilva added: “I don't have a crystal ball. I don't know what they're going to do.
“The board and Mr Dallas came to a conclusion and it is what it is.
“We will continue to have discussions with regard to the interim period and the people of Bermuda, and the world will find out in due course.”
He disagreed that professionals don't make “snap decisions”.
Mr Dunkley claimed the answer provided by Mr DeSilva was “a little bit vague or evasive”.
He added: “I would assume that he would be asking the board what's going on ... there's something else under there that I think needs to come out because I have been around for a while in business, in politics ... something don't smell right.”
Mr DeSilva later asked: “Do I have to remind anybody in this House, if they follow English football, how many managers have contracts and they're fired on a day's notice? “It happens every year, all year long.”
Members of the Opposition asked if Mr Dallas was fired.
The tourism minister replied: “No, I'm just using that as an example, or they leave, or they get sick, or they have personal problems, or they have other issues.”
He added that if Mr Dunkley wanted further explanation he should talk to Mr Dallas or the BTA board.
Mr DeSilva said: “One minute you'll knock a minister for being too close, then you knock them for being too far.”
The BTA board announced last Wednesday that the authority's chief executive would step down to “pursue opportunities in the private sector”.
The organisation added: “The BTA's senior executive team will carry out interim leadership duties, while the BTA board launches a robust executive search for a new CEO for the organisation.”
A post on Mr Dallas' twitter account on Saturday said: “Team work makes dream work.
“For three years I've been incredibly privileged to work with an incredible group of people at @BTAInsights.
“I have no doubt this team, allowed to do their jobs, will take us to the next level by implementing the National Tourism Plan.”