Businessman says 'no fight with THA' after failed bid to stop stage tenders for Jazz Experience
Businessman Elvis Radgman who tried through the courts to block the hiring of any firm without considering his own – Stage Solutions Ltd – to provide stage production services for the 2023 Tobago Jazz Experience, assures that he is not any in "fight" with the THA.
"There is no fight between Elvis and the THA," Radgman said on the Tobago Updates morning show on Friday.
Radgman was responding to the legal action he and Stage Solutions filed and lost against the Tobago Festivals Commission Ltd (TFCL) and the Division of Tourism, Culture, Antiquities and Transportation.
The Office of the Chief Secretary reported last week that High Court judge Robin Mohammed dismissed Radgman's application for an injunction.
Radgman, the director of Stage Solutions, is also the CEO of the Tobago Performing Arts Company (TPAC) and a former member of the Tobago Jazz Experience Implementation Committee.
He sought an injunction to prevent the Festivals Commission and the tourism division from accepting services from any other company to provide lighting and equipment, stage and roofing, or LED screens for the 2023 Tobago Jazz Experience International Night, featuring headline act Boyz II Men. The High Court found the application was without merit, as it did not disclose a cause of action and did not meet the legal grounds required to obtain an injunction. Radgman and Stage Solutions were ordered to pay the legal costs of the TFCL and the tourism division.
Radgman said on Friday: “We went to the court and people think that there is a fight between Elvis and the THA. There is no fight between Elvis and the THA. Elvis is just simply trying to bring closure to procedure and systems.
He added: “If it is that I am following the procedure and systems as set out by the law, if there is a conflict, disclose the conflict and the interest, and I have done so on several occasions.”
He said the Tourism Secretary, Tashia Burris, brought together the CEOs of TPAC, TFCL, and the Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd, as well as her advisers along with the executive co-ordinator of the Shaw Park Cultural Complex, Kern Cowan, as a steering committee for the Tobago Jazz Experience. He said there were clear and separate roles and functions adding that his role was the strategic, creative and aesthetic aspects of the Jazz Experience.
“I would have shared those things, and those things were very clear. Everything with regard to budgeting, financing – all of those roles and functions – there were other individuals responsible for those things, and those things were under the Festivals Commission and the division. At no point in time was I involved.”
He said the first day the secretary called a meeting of the committee, he indicated that he did not want any function that would create a conflict of interest, noting that he is a part of a company which provides many services in Tobago.
“Because I am very sensitive to the fact, I declared it very early. That happened on February 6. A couple weeks after that, I then sent a formal correspondence where I indicated to both the secretary and the CEO of the Festivals Commission, alongside all the other committee members ...asking to recuse myself from any areas of the operations that would compromise the integrity of myself, my business interest and also the THA. At the end of the day, I want this thing to work for all of us.”
He said on March 7, the Festivals Commission chairman, John Arnold, called a meeting to discuss new plans for the event, adding that before the meeting even started, he again declared his interest.
“I didn’t want them to start talking accidentally about anything that I shouldn’t be hearing about. John said it’s not that kind of meeting, we’re talking about different locations or whatever the case may be. The meeting went on, and that was fine.”
He said subsequently, the Festivals Commission called a service suppliers meeting where all the sound, stage and screen providers were invited to discuss the event.
He said Arnold sent an email relating to the Jazz Experience several commission staff members on March 10 and copied it to him.
He said once he recognised he had been copied, he reached out to Arnold, who indicated that he would treat with the matter. He believed because he received the email it affected Stage Solutions, as it was not included among the providers considered for stage services.
“It is my belief that the procurement unit, who was also copied in the same email, saw that I am tagged in the email and as a result of that, when they sent out tender requests for the jazz festival, they sent to all other service providers on the island and sent none to Stage Solutions." When I asked about it I was told there was a conflict of interest and the commission was seeking legal advise on the matter.
He said when there was no response by March 13, he had his attorney write to the commission asking if it was an oversight that his company had not been sent a request. They requested a response by 6 pm that day, but the commission didn’t respond. Hence they went to court.
He said the interesting thing about the jazz festival is that it allows all service providers to ply their trade.
“When it is that you go and take a major service provider for no reason – I felt like this situation was allowed to mushroom into what it mushroomed into, and there must be accountability.”
"Businessman says ‘no fight with THA’ after failed bid to stop stage tenders for Jazz Experience"