District councils ‘high on agenda’ for PPM

| 20/09/2017 | 15 Comments

(CNS): The formation of district councils is “high on the agenda” for next year, Premier Alden McLaughlin told his Red Bay constituents at a public meeting Saturday night, but government has to decide how to structure them. He said that West Bay had been the only district where one had been established but that government had had complete control over it, which did not get the results required; what is needed are councils that will advise politicians properly, he said.

The 2009 Constitution paved the way for legislation to create district councils (see here), but the legislation steered through the Legislative Assembly in 2010 by the UDP government (which can be found in the CNS Library) caused controversy because it required most members to be appointed by Cabinet. At the time McLaughlin said this went against the spirit of the constitutional provision.

The West Bay DC that the premier was referring to was formed under this legislation during the premiership of McKeeva Bush in the 2009-2012 UDP administration. However, because members were appointed by Bush, it was boycotted by the opposition candidates that he selected and it never met.

The only MLA who has ever had a functioning district council is Ezzard Miller in North Side, where it was created through town hall style nominations and an open ballot.

During the campaign for the 2017 General Election, the premier promised funding for 19 district councils if the Progressives were returned to form the government.

“The advent of single-member electoral districts provides us with the opportunity to look with fresh eyes at our  system of representation,” McLaughlin told party members last April. “Every one of the candidates of this party recognises the need to stay in touch with our people. We also recognise that our system, as presently structured, does not easily facilitate the regular flow of information from the people to their elected representatives. We are going to remedy this by making the necessary amendments to the district councils law to ensure that a district council is established in each electoral district.”

McLaughlin’s answer Saturday night to a constituent’s question about DCs showed that he intends to keep this promise. However, indicating that there are still a few hurdles, he said that the district of Prospect has a community group that “has not embraced a district council superseding them”.

But he added, “We are hoping to get everyone on board as to how the councils will operate.”

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Category: Politics

Comments (15)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The budget for these councils should come out of MLA compensation. Obviously they don’t want to do the work for their 6-figure incomes, so paying for it twice is “dumbass” as someone put it.

    • Anonymous says:

      The MLAs don’t have much left after handing out to the hordes of beggars. Wish they would go get a job. Heck I am a retired senior citizen and on a very fixed income and they are always begging me so I can only imagine what the working public are going through.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What are the voter’s options if elected officials are not doing what they are “hired” to do? what is the Cayman equivalent of impeachment?

    It seems that they are the only sector of our society in Cayman that don’t seem to be held accountable to the people that have hired them.

  3. Anonymous says:

    We have 19 MLA’s for 60,000 people and a civil service of 6,000. In a normal place you would on average get 1 MLA for around 1,000,000 people. Are we saying that our MLA’s and CS are just not up to the job or is this just another job creation scheme where no one will really have to do much and as a result we will have even more people thinking they deserve top salaries for doing little?

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Another proposal that would result in more bloody “Chiefs” than “Indians”.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Can’t see this flying as our politicians seem to be historically high on their own agendas, ignoring advisory boards and doing whatever they want.

    Maybe we are being primed for the hiring of a consultant body for each constituency. They seem to believe the advice if they have to pay big money for it out of our purse.

    Good luck with it.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Good idea in principle but can’t see this being effective unless councils are elected by constituents not by registered voters alone.

    However then there’s the issue as another poster highlighted the politicians can still ignore any council advice and potentially be swayed by the biggest mouthpiece in their constituency who wants for their own good.

    The whole process if made transparent and all council minutes made public should in theory be at least a worthwhile experiment.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    The first paragraph of this story contains the crux of the perennial problem – “councils that (sic) will advise politicians properly”. Advising politicians, that is the problem.

    Ever since Jim Bodden came into office in 1976, he turned the political vis-a-vis civil service process on its head, and our politicians, especially those who end up in Cabinet (previously ExCo) follow his model, believing that they must dictate from the top down instead of taking advice from the bottom up. That is, from the senior civil servants who are expected to be the “experts” in a particular area. Granted that our present civil service is very short on real experts but, nevertheless, that is the way it is supposed to work.

    Our politicians forget that essentially their victory is simply a popularity contest. It is not necessarily based on their expertise in governing, nor their knowledge of the respective political responsibilities that they will assume after elections. Therefore they must depend on, and accept the advice of, the public servants they lead (particularly Heads of Departments). These are expected to be the true experts – not necessarily the Chief Officers nor the politicians themselves, unless they have the relevant expertise.

    But our system has been upside down for 40 years and it does not appear that it will ever be corrected. So, until politicians are willing to accept advice and until those advisors are experts in their particular field, no district councils will work properly, nor will the public service itself. Following the same old broken model will only perpetuate the mistakes and un-resolved issues we face every day, month & year!

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  8. Anonymous says:

    What a really dumbass idea.

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    • Anonymous says:

      If you can’t give an explanation of your opinion, please just keep it to yourself as you’re just wasting space.

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