Malfunctioning board St. Eustatius Historical Foundation

Dear Editor,

  Please allow me some space in your well-read paper that serves all the islands in the Windward Islands and beyond to shed some light on the darkness of procedures and operations of a subsidized non-profit organization on St. Eustatius. It is a pity to have to name the St. Eustatius Historical Foundation, which has earned a name for itself over the years and of which many Statians are proud, to be one of those organizations that malfunctions in a gross and blatant manner.

  It is certainly not nice to have to hang the dirty wash outside. But it is sometimes necessary to let the public at large know of the gross negligence and disrespect with which staff and board members are treated.

  There are a few questions I would like to place to the general public.

  The board has been without a president for the past 2 years now. Meetings are held whenever the “so-called Secretary” deems it necessary. No minutes from formal meetings. Secret meetings are held. Meetings held with exclusion of board members.

  This board is run as a dictatorship and ownership. No transparency whatsoever.

  But the above is not the worst part of the matter. The treatment of the staff consisting of 3 members is below any decency level. They are treated like dogs. The staff is treated inhumanely and disrespectfully. No answers to communications by way of letter from the staff are answered. Be it requesting vacation days, sick leave or normal complaints of the housing situation such as sanitary situations.

  There is no running water in the bathroom and on many occasions staff members are forced to seek other ways of relief. This situation has been ongoing for a period of time without anyone taking note or doing something about it. The staff on their own would do their best to find a solution. This happens on our island in the year 2021. What a shame and disgrace.

  If that is not all, there has been an agreement between government and the foundation since 2013 in which agreement the staff that has officially been transferred to the Museum retains the same rights as civil servant with regard to their pension premium, vacation pay, Bashi premium and all other benefits.

  The board up to this date has not regulated these premiums. Which means that anyone having to go on pension nothing would be regulated for them, this to the lack of good governance on the part of the board. And this is a fact.

  All non-government organizations have to live up to the rules and regulations of the government with regard to the quarterly reporting and having the yearly reports and statements in place but The Historical Foundation Board seems to be above the law and does not adhere to these rules.

  As a member of this board I have attempted on many occasions to bring this point to the attention of the ones in charge but to no avail.

  I believe that the public should know because these are tax-payers’ monies and as such should be accounted for.

  The secretary of the board Mr. Walter Hellebrand and Ms. June Boulton seem to hold one head and feel that they are above the law. They (board) have threatened to withhold the salary payments from the staff without any valid reason. They treat the staff like little children. Non-compliance of backlog payments to the staff for many years.

  The foul language that is used towards the staff by our Treasurer Ms. June Boulton is below any description. And then they expect to be respected by the staff.

  These young ladies take care of the Museum on their own. Misha is doing a great job where the Simon Doncker Club is concerned and Jennifer as guide. But they do their job under poor conditions. It is very hot in the Museum yet they are there faithfully and yet receive treatment as if they are slaves. But jealousy seems to be playing a big role here as well.

  The government has a role to play in this negligence as they are the subsidy providers. The Dutch Audit Chamber is conducting an audit at this time and I do hope that something would be done to look into these irregularities.

  The general public has a right to know of the conduct of the functioning of one of our most prestigious and historical monuments on our island.

  It would be a pity to see this prestigious foundation falling apart as we now see the monuments foundation which has also been under the leadership of Mr. Hellebrand becoming a total fiasco.

Leonora Sneek-Gibbs

Board member St. Eustatius Historical Foundation