who will be next World Bank President What will they do
 
 

     
 

Inside the Bank: a very tough week ahead (Update 1). Somone in the Bank has taken the trouble to give a run-down of how Wolfowitz, Vice Presidents and other 'hapless staff' are coping. The mood seems bleak, with concerns about many things, including about European government funding to the Bank. And now NGOs are now trying to see if Wolfowitz senior appointees have watered down the Bank's 'clean energy' policy, in the same way that they removed mentions of reproductive health in other Bank documents. Wolfowitz is ducking and diving, but pretending everything is fine.

The comment in full. The tone and content show that for many staff this is clearly going to be a very very tough week to get through. They, and we, hope this can't last much more than that.

Wolfowitz has called his Vice Presidents (rank to which his girlfriend would return if he got two terms, which is looking unlikely now) together Tuesday for "a pep talk". But it is unlikely that the Kumbaya songsheets will get much use, given the deteriorating mood in the place and the shock that he and his entourage have not yet quietly left. No hint on the time, but at least one VP is glad to be at an offsite. Talk inside today focused on IDA, and the eroding support of big donors, led by the UK, for the Bank's main poverty window.

Someone who met Robin Cleveland Monday said she was unfazed: "this is just a tsunami, and the wave has already struck and we've survived." Most are hoping she's wrong, particularly as Ana Palacio is now desperately wanting to explain how Williams & Connolly, where the partner who negotiated Wolfowitz's own sweet contract deal works, was picked to do the Board's investigation of the late January leaks to Fox News. (It took Ana two months to hire them, and she claims she looked at three firms: some speculate that OJ Simpson wasn't able to turn up anything for her.) She should tell the Board all the facts, hand over the emails, and produce the documents. (Seen hurrying from the building after lunch, she looked positively gray, much as she must have when her colleagues at the Spanish Parliament found out last year from the Washington Post that she was working as a consultant to Wolfowitz before he named her General Counsel after former General Counsel Roberto Danino jumped, or was pushed. This broke rules both in Spain and at the Bank, and the vindictive regime took its revenge on Bank Ethics Officer, Maria Borrero, for having pointed out the Bank's ban on hiring government officials as consultants under any circumstances. Suzanne Rich Folsom, head of Institutional Integrity, was told about that, too. Presumably she and fellow Wolfowitz counsellor, Robin Cleveland, agreed on Nixonian presidential immunity was sufficient for not having done anything with the situation.)

Wolfowitz skipped a scheduled "conversation with the President" at a large staff learning event on Monday morning, where he was to be interviewed by the BBC's Washington Correspondent. His absence left a big elephant in the room; however, PW boldly turned up at the coffee break and was seen standing chatting, cool as a cucumber, with three hapless staff. On-lookers edged toward the perimeter of the Bank's atrium, where last Thursday a handful of staff had cried "resign, resign" to the horror of the other 250, better-mannered on-lookers to the revelations about his girlfriend's salary and delusional "abandoned career" and the Staff Association's reasoned demand for his resignation. Yesterday, they were muttering among themselves and avoiding eye contact with him for fear he might come over to press the flesh. The shamelessness of this, as the iceberg continues to show itself, is staggering.

The Board is back from New York on Tuesday and will also have to take up the Daboub matter. His interference in the Bank's long-standing support for reproductive rights has a new dimension as environmental NGOs go looking for his fingerprints on the Bank's recent, watered-down "clean energy" paper. Photocopies of his marked-up copy are locked in file cabinets waiting for the right moment and now might be the time for someone to hide the shredders.


UPDATE

The same correspondent has sent further thoughts (17 April, midday EST).

Things are heating up. Many VPs aren't able to join Mr. Wolfowitz for his "pep talk" today, because there are still some delegations in town after the Spring Meetings. Previous commitments, etc., etc.

Wolfowitz has this morning apparently asked for an "internal communications plan". Surprising that Kevin Kellums, whose huge salary was a multiple of what he earned holding and licking the comb, hasn't come up with one already. The last straw was an email to all staff Tuesday morning from Wolfowitz, reporting on the Spring Meetings but omitting paragraph 16 of the communique, but the uproar has been limited as most just delete those emails without reading them, even before the latest tardy efforts to re-spin what we're all reading in the papers. Internal Communications says they did not send this and had no knowledge of its going out. So that ties Kevin and the new SVP, External, whose picture you can see on Google being received by PW at the Pentagon, to yet another blunder in this sorry mess.

Meanwhile, it turns out that there's more on the Bank's stand on climate change and global warming that whatever Juan-Jose Daboub may have recently had deleted from the most recent Board paper on "clean energy". Just after PW arrived, there were other climate-related papers that had to go to the Board, including one that Robin Cleveland heavily marked up to the point that the Bank's Chief Scientist, the respected Bob Watson, threatened to resign. He didn't, so some accommodation must have been found; however, Watson's boss, long-serving environment VP Ian Johnson, left. Hmmm, wasn't that around the time the science advisor to the White House pulled a similar number on a US government paper? While Wolfowitz no longer seems to be a global warming denier, is there a pattern here? Gonzales on HR tinkering, PW on "directing" employment perks for his girlfriend (NYT this morning, heavily photocopied and forwarded at the Bank), Cleveland (and the White House) editing stuff on global warming. Pattern of weak management, interference (by?) and cover-up does not appear limited to his girlfriend's promotion, raises and secondment to a ghost organization.

Keep your comments coming - contact@worldbankpresident.org.

Alex Wilks ~ April 17, 2007


 
 
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