Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
Rhodni Skelton, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Virgin Islands Festivals and Fairs Committee has followed through on his threat to resign if sections of the 2012 annual report were not adjusted by its Chairman, Marvin Blyden.
Skelton's resignation came after Blyden publicly stated that he stands by his report.
BVI Platinum News has confirmed that Skelton tendered his resignation, which took effect on December 31, 2012, a month following his threat.
BVI Platinum News understands that a new Public Relations Officer has already been selected and that recommendation will be taken to Cabinet for approval in the coming weeks.
In his report which was tabled in the House of Assembly on November 15, Blyden highlighted that the marketing for festival 2012 was disappointing, as the Public Relations Officer, Rhodni Skelton was not always available to discuss matters and at times when things were brought to his attention, little to nothing was done.
However, Skelton in a statement on November 19, 2012 stated that he was shocked by what was stated in the report and called on Blyden to either stand by the report or adjust it.
"I am now publicly calling on my Chairman to either stand behind his report or adjust it. If the Chairman stands behind his report and continues to feel that my performance was sub-par, then I will immediately resign my post with nothing but gratitude for this second opportunity to serve the BVI in this capacity, and allow someone else the opportunity to have this honor."
He added, "If, however, the Chairman sees it fit to adjust his report with regards to my performance, and make a public statement to this effect, then I will gladly and proudly continue to serve as PRO of the Festival & Fairs Committee until the end of my appointment. Our festivals are bigger and more important than any one person and should not be overshadowed."
In his statement, Skelton said those concerns in the report were never brought to his attention; rather, he was praised by Blyden.
"At no point in time did the Chairman or the Ag. Director of Culture, or any member of the Executive Committee express any displeasure in how I executed my role as PRO. We met regularly, emailed and phoned each other on an almost daily basis and enjoyed a great relationship from the date of my appointment to the writing of this response. There were ample opportunities, almost daily, for the Chairman or the Ag. Director of Culture to communicate to me that they were displeased with my performance. However, this did not happen," he said.
He added that on the contrary, the Chairman always said, "I was his right hand man or that he wasn't doing anything without his PRO or Rhodni I don't know how I would get a lot of these things done without you. Again, I am completely in shock to learn that the report singled me out individually and specifically as being an area of concern or a challenge for the Committee. Why didn't the Chairman speak to me directly about the concerns that he had, instead of sneaking them into a report that many Executive Committee members did not see prior to submission, including myself?"
Skelton said it must be noted that his job as PRO was not to market or advertise the festival(s).
"Again, the marketing and promotion of the festivals are not the responsibility of the PRO! That was the responsibility of the BVI Tourist Board, who had its own representative on the committee. My appointment to PRO was not because of my employment with the BVI Tourist Board & Film Commission."
He said the PRO's job consisted of bridging the gap between the committee and public with regards to the initiatives of the committee. This, he said, included preparing press releases, press conferences, media updates, community bulletin board announcements and reviews of any information being sent to the public from the committee.
"I am confident that not only did I execute my office at the highest level, but that I also went above and beyond as a key member of the committee."
He pointed out that he took his work seriously.
"While this position is a voluntary one where I receive no payment whatsoever, it is one that I enjoy doing from my heart and my love for the culture of the Virgin Islands. It goes without saying that I was extremely disappointed, angry, shocked and blindsided by the recent media editorials, quoting the VI F&FC report as stating that I was not always available to discuss matters and did little or nothing at times when things were brought to his attention."
Skelton in his statement pointed out numerous ways in which he successfully carried out his job, including his role with the media.
Chairman of the Virgin Islands Festival & Fairs Committee, Marvin Blyden.
Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
"As the PRO, I prepared and sent out over 30 press releases from the date of my appointment to today. A huge majority, if not all of these press releases were featured on all of our local media, including newspapers, online news, radio stations and television broadcasters. One would merely need to go to any of our four (4) main online news sites and type in my name in the search bar and the large amount of press releases, interviews, public service announcements, etc. that I sent out will pop up."
He added, "From information on the naming of the festival, the slogan/theme winners, parade route information, meetings with the RVIPF, Festival Food Fair, Coney Island specials, VG Festival lineup, allowance of the sale of turtle dishes at VG Festival, Prince and Princess details, Calypso Show information and updates, Boat Show, Jouvert routes and logistics, giveaway of free samples by booth owners in the village, etc."
He said he, almost single-handedly, also successfully lobbied the committee to have the VG Festival financial allocations increased from $60K to $100K.
"Facts cannot be challenged by someone's opinion(s). The facts are there and support that as PRO, I, Rhodni Skelton, performed exceptionally as PRO and member of the VI F&F Committee, despite the single opinion recorded on the report before Cabinet. I have privately spoken to the Chairman and expressed my disappointment and asked him to right this wrong," Skelton asserted in his statement.