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When Immigration Tried To Decide Who A Private Business Should Employ

IN APRIL, 2008, Tribune publisher Eileen Carron and her late husband, Roger, and their son, Robert, flew to Vienna to attend a special function. Because of the pressure of business, the senior Carrons had not had a vacation in many years.

Before leaving, Mrs Carron had contacted Immigration to make certain that all the documents for the renewal of Tribune Managing Editor John Marquis were in order. It was through this call that Immigration learned that Mrs Carron would be out of the Bahamas for at least two weeks.

No sooner had the family settled in their hotel room in Vienna than an urgent call came through to Robert from a concerned John Marquis. He said he wanted Robert’s parents to know that Immigration might move him out of the country before they returned.

Mrs Carron assured Mr Marquis that now that the PLP government was no more, something like this would not happen. Although the FNM government might reject his permit, no one from that government would go to his office and order him to pack his bags and leave. That, she said, was not the way the Ingraham government did business.

Mrs Carron made one telephone call back to Nassau to clarify the Immigration problem. She was told to enjoy her holiday and forget about The Tribune. This she did and no more was heard about the Marquis permit while she was away.

Tribune News Editor Paco Nunez now takes up the story of what happened shortly after the Carrons left Nassau. This was the day that The Tribune’s editorial staff panicked when they thought they would lose their much loved and respected managing editor.

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“Out of the blue,” said Paco, “I received a call at work one afternoon from a staff member at the Immigration Department, asking if I could come in to see a particular senior officer. I asked what it was concerning, but as she would not say I declined the invitation. After several further calls from the senior officer herself, I agreed to go along for a short talk, more out of curiosity than anything else.

“I arrived at the department headquarters and met the senior officer, who as I recall, got quickly to the point. Noting that I was officially listed as the understudy of then Tribune managing editor John Marquis, she asked if I believed I was prepared to fill that position. When I answered that I was neither prepared nor qualified to do so, she gave me a surprised, almost bewildered look. I remember thinking this was obviously not the answer she was expecting.

“I explained that while I had several years’ experience both as a news writer and editor, I was completely inexperienced in the various other areas of responsibility that fall under the purview of the Tribune’s managing editor. These, I explained, included the business, sports and features sections of the paper, as well as design, layout and human resource matters. The managing editor also has oversight of the advertising and circulation departments, two more areas in which I had no experience, I explained.

“As I recall, I also explained that my reason for choosing to work at The Tribune in the first place was not for the chance at career advancement, particularly if I was unqualified for the post, but rather because I believed in the value of the work we were doing.

“I said putting me in charge before I was ready would have a negative on the overall efficiency and efficacy of our operation, at least while I found my feet, and this was not an outcome that interested me.

“After asking if I was sure about my answer and being told yes, the senior officer fell silent. I took the opportunity to ask what the interview was really about, and whether the managing editor’s job would have been mine if I had answered differently.

“This was greeted with a bemused smile, and I was told they would get back to me if they had any more questions.”

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