Legal rumble brewing for LA meetings

| 12/04/2016 | 13 Comments
Cayman News Service

Julianna O’Connor-Connolly, Speaker of the House

(CNS): A legal dispute among lawmakers could be brewing, depending on how the premier and the speaker handle tomorrow’s Legislative Assembly meeting, which House Speaker Julianna O’Connor-Connolly called in response to a request by the opposition members. The premier is expected to attend briefly to explain why government will not be supporting the special meeting but will carry the motions forward to a meeting set later this month. But as well as arguing the need to debate the motions sooner rather than later, MLAs are also in dispute over Standing Orders and the Constitution.

Ezzard Miller, one of the eight members of the opposition that have pressed for what they say is a special, not an emergency, meeting, said it was called because government had gone so long without calling a meeting of the LA, despite requests from the opposition benches.

“The meeting now called for April 25 was announced after we requested the speaker to call a special meeting,” the independent member for North Side said. “These two motions, in particular the motion by Mr McLean and myself, cannot be dealt with at the meeting starting on April 25 as it has not been filed for that meeting and I have already filed three separate motions for that meeting.”

Miller said it may be the position of the government that crime and bad policing doesn’t warrant a special meeting of the LA but he said the Speaker had summoned all members to a meeting in accordance with Standing Orders, the rules by which she is obligated to govern the Cayman Islands Legislature.

“The actions of the premier and his PPM members to publicly challenge a ruling of the speaker is ultra virus of the Standing Orders, as a ruling by the speaker can only be challenged by a substantive motion moved on the floor of the Legislative Assembly during a meeting, as detailed in Standing Order 40,” he added.

Miller, who has been a fierce champion of parliamentary rules since he was elected to office, said the speaker was responsible for the observance of the rules in the Legislative Assembly and in committees of the whole House, and her decision upon any point of order is not open to appeal or review without a substantive motion made after the notice.

“It is disrespectful and an erosion of the authority for the premier and his eight supporting members of the PPM to refuse a summons from the speaker to attend a meeting, and to do so in the public arena rather than to follow the Standing Orders and do so in accordance with the rules,” Miller added, who believes that moving them to the next meeting falls foul of the rules.

“If the motions are so bad and un-necessary, as the PPM claim, then why not attend the meeting of the Legislative Assembly and defeat them using their majority of votes,” Miller said.

“The premier and his government have four options within the rules of Standing Orders. They can attend the meeting as summoned and debate the motions clearly demonstrating that they are un-necessary; attend the meeting, refuse to debate the motions and simply vote them down; attend the meeting, debate the motions and accept them by voting for them and then do nothing, as is their usual practice with private member’s motions; or even amend the motions to suit their position.”

But by choosing to boycott the meeting instead and not provide a quorum, they are showing the speaker disrespect and challenging her authority, Miller said, adding that claiming “politricks” by the opposition was setting a dangerous precedent. He made it clear that, given the Progressive government’s wafer-thin majority, the premier was also taking a significant political risk because he might now struggle to get a quorum to transact government business in the Legislative Assembly.

Miller clarified other concerns raised by the premier that the no confidence motion in the police was too broad because it was calling for a declaration that the LA had not confidence in the entire RCIPS. He said that was not the intention of the motion and that it was about the management and the governance of the organisation that was of concern to the opposition members. He said that the goal was not to undermine the entre service or the many hard-working officers but was about the way things were being run and said the motion could easily be amended to clear that issue up.

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Comments (13)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Like McK, the woman has no shame.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lesser Cayman- can I use that?

    • Anonymous says:

      No, it’s derogatory.

      • Anonymous says:

        A quick google reveals many references to the Lesser Caymans. Google earth & google maps both call them the lesser Caymans. Go on and search for the lesser Caymans. The list goes on. Maritime charts refer to the lesser.

    • Anonymous says:

      You most certainly can use it. It is a valid geographical term to describe the islands in the group other than Grand Cayman. The term “Sister Islands” is a pathetic PC fop of politicians sucking up to the over-representation of the voters in the Lesser Caymans.

  3. The Seer says:

    It appears the Emperor’s clothes are unraveling.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is all such a bunch of baloney. Pure politricks by the opposition. They make motions to fool people into thinking they are actually doing something. They know they have a minority and need the numbers to make a difference but do nothing to get the standing government on their side. They can bring all the motions they want they know it’s wasting valuable time of the government getting work done.

    • Anonymous says:

      The government that doesn’t show up to defeat the motions. Good logic. Why have a Legislative Assembly at all if every administration simply collude cowardly in secret caucus meetings and then ram-rod everything through with their majority. It’s totally pointless employing the other 11+ people in the room, and makes a mockery of the so-called democracy. Valuable time my ass – they do NOTHING – they don’t even SHOW UP!

  5. Anonymous says:

    If mla’s fail to show up for work the voters need to fire them at the next election

  6. Anonymous says:

    Sucks to be in opposition.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Its kind of hard to show respect for the speaker after the Lesser Caymans paving scandal.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thee would have to be a police investigation or some public accusation of corruption for it to be a scandal. Remember, our hands are clean and our hearts are pure.

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