Whenever I write about CONCACAF Kleptomaniac-in-Chief Jack Warner, passing along another sordid tale of how a guy who retired as a schoolteacher in 1983 now sits top a personal fortune estimated at over US$50 million, inevitably one commenter or another demands to know just how long this venal, cynical and corrupt old buzzard will hold CONCACAF in his pocket, using it for personal gain like some low rent Banana Republic.
The answer today is: at least another four years.
Yesterday, at the XXVI CONCACAF Ordinary Congress in the Bahamas - held at the exclusive, five star Atlantis resort, where suites can go for as much as $15,000 a night - our own Uncle Jack was re-elected for another four year term, which will make it an even 30 years since he first took the reins.
For those of you who dream of the federations rising up as one and deposing Warner in a display of righteous indignation over his openly corrupt and increasingly embarrassing administration, be advised that he ran unopposed.
Also re-elected for an additional four year term in office was CONCACAF Vice President and Macy's Parade balloon Chuck Blazer, the man whose sworn testimony a US District Court judge in New York flatly described as "not credible".
Blazer went down to the Bahamas early - thus of course qualifying for the $500 a day stipend FIFA pays ExCo members when they are not at home - in order to "prepare" for the Congress. Here's a photo taken a week ago from his hotel window:
Make no mistake, people: this is a grueling life.
The rest of the CONCACAF leadership, also running unopposed, consisted of:
- USSF President Sunil Gulati, who the incomparable Andrew Jennings once described as being part of Warner's "crowd of toadies", thus continuing his policy of maintaining numerous jobs most of which would seem to constitute blatant conflicts of interest, and ensuring that USSF continues to be led by someone who simply can't devote much time to it.
- Captain Horace Burrell, a man so loyal to Jack warner that he had his, um, "girlfriend du jour" pretend she was actually the President of the Haitian Football Federation so that she could cast a crucial pro-Warner vote in a FIFA Congress. (More on this and other delightful Burrell tales, HERE. But then, this is also a man who, when pressed by the government for an accounting of the millions of federation dollars that had mysteriously disappeared (including the FIFA development grant he used to put air conditioning in his house) claimed that, alas, there could be no accounting because someone had broken into his home and stolen all the Federation financial records.
Nothing else, just the account books. Jack Warner stood behind him and suspended the Jamaican Federation until they paid Burrell $200,000 in undocumented "expenses" that he claimed he "lost" the receipts for. Immediately afterwards, Warner named Burrell to the "Ethics Committee" for the 2006 World Cup.
- Vice President Alfredo Hawit the general secretary of the Honduran soccer federation, a non entity noted for his bland, yet charmingly slavish, devotion to Jack Warner.
So we can all relax until at least 2013: CONCACAF is in the very best of hands.
Warner of course has other juicy opportunities for financial gain in his sights at the moment, including taking over Trinidad and Tobago.
As a T&T MP and Vice Chairman of the main opposition party, he has long seen the Presidency of his country as the next logical step in his quest for endless wealth and power.
Unfortunately, it's unlikely that he can move to the top of his party and almost equally unlikely that his party can win a parliamentary majority anytime soon.
To a lesser man, this might seem to be a roadblock but not so for Our Man Jack. He's currently plotting to start his own political party and is hoping to leverage Barack Obama's popularity with the general public in T&T to do so.
Obama's appearance at the "Summit of the Americas" in T&T last month drew huge, delirious crowds, and Warner knows that the first rule of politics is to find a crowd and get in front of it.
T&T media - including the newspaper that Warner just bought out - is reporting that Warner canceled a trip to Rome last week to fly back to T&T to "secretly" meet with representatives of AKPD Message and Media, the David Axelrod-led organization credited with getting Obama elected in 2008.
The "secret" meeting, which was leaked so widely that it was about as surreptitious as a Paris Hilton nightclub visit, was of course nothing more than an exercise in Warner's usual modus operendi: glom onto popular people, present yourself as somehow "close" to them and hope the reflected glow gets you elected.
Nelson Mandela, Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King III (the latter two being guys who, while not necessarily available for purchase can certainly be rented out for a time) have all been dragged around the island when it suited Warner's needs. Unfortunately, Obama isn't available to come hang out with him but AKPD, like any other consulting firm, is happy to take the money.
And the fact is that Warner doesn't really care what Axelrod or Rove or Carville or Matalin or any other American has to say about T&T politics; Jack knows every dark alley on the island, knows where the bodies are buried and has the ready cash to keep them there. What he wants is the perception that he and his pal Barack - who likely never heard of him - are like peas in a pod.
Just in case anyone missed the point, Warner's newspaper stooges issued articles LIKE THIS ONE, helpfully titled "Obama Team in Secret Talks with Warner" which you could not possible make up:
Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States after running a presidential campaign that changed the rules of the game; a campaign that erased perceptions of ethnicity, inequality and bias; a campaign that was based on hope, trust and the promise of a better future.
Obama’s presidential campaign was able to captivate and enchant the US population and, by extension, the world. During his acceptance speech, Obama thanked all who stood behind him. Right after thanking his wife and family members, he thanked two men—David Plouffe and David Axelrod, both from AKPD.
Now I don't care where you stand on the politics of the day, there's one thing that I feel entirely confident that anyone from myself to Dan "Eric the Red"" Loney can entirely agree on: as Lloyd Bentson would have said: "Jack, you're no Barack Obama". For his part, Warner - sounding exactly like Ross Perot with his "I'm only here for the volunteers, Larry" - is saying that he'll do whatever "the people" want him to do. Here's betting he'll decide that "the people" want him to take over the government.
If he succeeds - and who would bet against him? - maybe he can bring in his pal Sunil to advise him on how to handle having six or eight jobs at the same time.