Governor relaxed over increased LA costs

| 21/08/2015 | 18 Comments
Cayman News Service

Governor Helen Kilpatrick receives the report from the Electoral Boundary Commission chair, Dr Lisa Handley

(CNS): The additional costs the country will incur when, or if, government adopts the recommendations of the Electoral Boundary Commission to increase the number 0f seats in the LA to nineteen need to be weighed against the advantages, Governor Helen Kilpatrick said when she received the report from the EBC Thursday. So far, the even number has not caused any “awkward situations” with the formation of a government, she said, but it was easy to imagine that it could in the future.

As the constitution does not provide for a decrease in seats, the increase of one seat resolves that potential risk as well as addressing constituency balance.

Steve McField, the commissioner appointed at the request of the opposition leader for this latest review of the local political landscape, was also hopeful that the government would accept the recommendations in the report, which was also handed to the clerk of the Legislative Assembly yesterday. The next step for the final report will be the debate on the floor of the LA, when it will also be made public.

It is understood that the government will be adopting the recommendations to press ahead with the electoral reform and the introduction of one man, one vote in 19 single member constituencies ahead of the 2017 election.

Steve McField said that he was unaware now of any alternative propositions and was hopeful the report would be accepted as it is and that the government would not attempt to redraw their boundary recommendations because that would be tantamount to gerrymandering. The increase from 18 seats to 19 has been criticised in some quarters because of the extra cost of another MLA to the public purse when many people believe there are already too many politicians in the parliament for a country of this size.

But McField said that democracy isn’t free and there is always a cost. In this case, McField and his fellow commissioners, Adrianna Webb, who was appointed by the premier, and the chair, Dr Lisa Handley, appointed by the governor, concluded after several months of work that, given the growth in the population of the capital and the need to balance constituency numbers, that an extra seat in the George Town area was justified.

Although the premier has not spoken broadly about the issue of changing the political landscape since he announced his decision to call for a boundary commission, he had previously stated that his government was hoping to pass the necessary legislation for one man, one vote in single member constituencies in sufficient time for the 2017 election.

The majority of MLAs in the House are likely to support the report when it is debated. Following the 2012 referendum, when the majority of voters opted for the electoral reform but were thwarted by the need for a 50% of the entire electorate plus one vote to pass, the PPM campaigned on the introduction of one man, one vote. The two independent members from East End and North Side have been campaigning for the change for a long time, and although opposed to the extra seat, they are likely to support the recommendations. The three C4C members are all understood to back the voting change, leaving only Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush being vehemently opposed.

Bush started a petition in June to collect signatures against the introduction of single member constituencies in particular and was said to have reached around 1,700 earlier this month. But in order to trigger another people-initiated referendum on the subject the opposition leader would need more than 4,500 signatures.

A referendum took place in 2012 and the majority of those who voted were in favour in every district except West Bay, giving an overall result of more than 57% saying yes to one man, one vote in single member constituencies. However, the vote did not carry as the UDP government at the time insisted it was a people-initiated referendum, even though they had taken over the ballot, and imposed the requirement as set out in the Constitution of 50% of the entire electoral plus one vote to pass.

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Comments (18)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why should she be relaxed?
    Does she not realise that 19 MLAs who decide on their OWN mega-salaries, health benefits and pensions, office allowances, and then double-dip are a slap in the face of “democracy”?
    That is how it’s done in the Palace but Cayman can’t afford to add to the huge number$ now on the dole!
    Not to forget the same situation in the courts…

  2. Just Watchin says:

    I know that Helen Kirkpatrick has been busy with her cat and convincing the Premier that she needed a new set of wheels and probably hasn’t yet had time to read the C. I. Constitution 2009 but I would have thought that someone in her office would have done so and been able to advise her on what she should say, or not say.

    She clearly needs to at least read what he Constitution says about how the Speaker is selected, viz:
    65.—(1) At the first sitting of the Legislative Assembly after a general election, and as soon as practicable after a vacancy occurs in the relevant office otherwise than on a dissolution of the Assembly, the elected members of the Assembly shall by a majority vote elect—
    (a) a Speaker from among the elected members of the Assembly, or persons who are
    qualified to be elected as members of the Assembly, other than Ministers;

    As long as the constitution remains as it is allowing the Speaker to be EITHER an elected member OR a person qualified to be elected (from outside the LA), increasing the number of seats to 19 will not mitigate the “awkward situations” she seeks to raise to justify the increase.

    What we have now is 18 members elected but 17 on the floor to vote (because the Speaker was chosen from the elected members). Having 19 members elected could easily result in there being 18 members on the floor to vote – IF the Speaker is again chosen from the elected members.

    What’s your point Governor; what “award situation” does having 19 elected members mitigate?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Its not her money? Technically its the Crowns, why do you think it is called Her Majesty’s Customs and Her Majesty’s immigration service that collect revenue for your leaders to squander. On top of that, that little Union Jack in the corner is a guarantee of financial stability…without it Cayman is dead in the water. So the Governor can afford to be a little relaxed.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Got something to hide Truth Seeker? Something Mummy wouldnt like to see? Naught boy, mummy always knows, you know?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Anon 8:45 mother England is such a great job with handling their own affairs…..hmmm sounds like a great plan yes (not)

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’d like to know her opinion on the rantings of Mr. Eden last week?

  7. Truth Seeker says:

    The biggest windbag on here calling for Uk direct rule is you. if you want Uk direct rule so bad perhaps you should move there.i think BA are still making flights a few times per week.

  8. We The People says:

    We should go to the logical conclusion of this and have One MLA One Voter. Everybody get to stand and represent themselves in the LA. The beneficial fall-out of this is that we can use parliamentary privilege to voice just what we think of that bigoted dinosaur from BT.

  9. Polyakov says:

    For one its not her money two that’s why she is here to relax three all part of the UK’s plan to implode this place with unwarranted and unreasonable rules and demands.

    • Anonymous says:

      It would have imploded long ago if not for the UK insistence on FFR and balanced budgets. You might hate it but they saved you from your own politicians. All the rest is just hot air.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes you are right she hasn’t done a thing since she has been here. Osborne, Eden, Sukoo and Marco should have been suspended immediately by the governor then removed after an investigation onto what they had said. Laws are laws, Osborne, broke the law about the modesty of a woman, and the other three, I can’t even begin to say what I think of them. And furthermore Alden is no better!!!!

  10. V for Wendetta says:

    Time to cut Governors office budget and salary by 25% she’s done nothing since arriving

  11. Anonymous says:

    The people that don’t have to foot the bill are always relaxed.

  12. Anonymous says:

    There is NO WAY we need 19 MLAs! How about we count backward and go from 18 to 17???

    The proponents of 19 seats will argue that we need 19 because we now have 7 ministers and there are sooo many subjects to be responsible for. Well, guess what, you can reduce the number of Ministers as well as the number of headings for responsibilities/subjects. Otherwise, if we keep increasing the numbers of MLAs, pretty soon we will have a Minister for each responsibility – check it out, I am now Minister of Hotels, and my sister is Minister of John Gray High School.

    Stop the foolishness! Lets spend our money more wisely than on luxury lunch catering for Caucus Meetings, Cabinet Meetings, LA Meetings, and luxury airline travel and foreign hotel accommodations for all and sunDRY.

    Look at the nightmare runaway spending we had a few years ago with 18 MLAs. Adding one more to the trough is not good for the majority of people of the Cayman Islands

    • Anonymous says:

      Has anyone done an FOI on the costs for catering for Caucus and Cabinet meetings per year?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Lets go direct rule and save all that money that we currently spend on those ineffective, bigoted, self interested and probably corrupt windbags

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