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Novice MLA walks out of PAC

| 07/09/2017 | 85 Comments
Cayman News Service

PAC member Chris Saunders (bottom right) just before he walks out

(CNS): The newly elected opposition member for Bodden Town West, Chris Saunders, was clearly frustrated during Wednesday’s Public Accounts Committee when he realised that the proceedings were not going to offer any immediate solutions for his constituents in need and walked out. Saunders said he needed to help a family who had been made homeless that day after the banks foreclosed on their home and that the committee proceedings were a waste of his time.

As it became apparent during proceedings that the problems at both the Department of Children and Family Services and the Needs Assessment Unit were really down to the failures of the ministry level and the historic lack of any strategic policy dealing with social welfare, Saunders described the questioning of department witnesses as a “waste of his time” and that he needed to go help a homeless constituent.

Saunders had revealed earlier in the day that a family had lost their home due to a bank foreclosure, one of several in his constituency. He said the family could not find anywhere to live because local landlords were very reluctant to rent to people who will be receiving government assistance because of the reputation of late or non-payment.

During the meeting he became increasingly frustrated when he realised that there would be no help from the witnesses, and that what was coming from the frequently cited outline business case was unlikely to help either. He said he “felt bad” for the staff in the departments in the community affairs ministry, as he pointed to a “web” created at the ministerial level that the departments were left to deal with in the absence of a strategic policy.

“There is no clear strategic direction from the ministry,” he said. “How can we realistically expect the departments to implement something when there is no clear planning or direction at the ministerial level.”

He said that after two hours of questions with the director of the ministry, where the PAC was given confusing answers, he asked what the committee could expect from the department staff when it was clear that the problem lay with the ministry.

Although PAC had been refused access to the OBC, Saunders admitted that he had secured a leaked copy of the draft.

After listening to everything at PAC, he said it was “a waste of my time and a waste of the public’s time” because the people who need help are not getting it and that the committee now knew that there is no strategy. He asked the committee to spend the remainder of the time to work out how to get people help.

“I don’t want the people who need help …struggling and suffering, while people inside there [the ministry] are building fiefdoms, kingdoms and playing politics with people who need help,” he said. “I have a constituent right now who has no place to stay …I would like to know at the end of this where my constituent and his family will be next week …all of this is pussy footing around.”

The MLA said that the immediate needs of his  constituent were more important than the futile attempts at finding a solution in PAC.

Saying that, “I have people who need help”, he pointed to his failed attempts earlier in the day to seek the necessary assistance for his constituent from a minister. “I am not going to be sitting here for the rest of the afternoon …I am going back to my district to look after my people and go help my man find a place for his family.” He added, “I ain’t wasting my time down here.”

PAC Chair Ezzard Miller said he appreciated how Saunders felt but the fact was he and the committee had a responsibility to get some factual basis for what was going on.

“From 2015 there has been a lot of ducking and weaving,” he said, as he pointed to claims by the community affairs ministry that the OBC by consultants KPMG would be the solution to everything.

See the section of the video below between 31:56 and 42:35.

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Category: Government oversight, Politics

Comments (85)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Having watched mr miller in action, the time taken to say his piece, or indeed anything at all, gives plenty time for mr Saunders to sort out his whole constituency. The fact that the cameras are always showing mr eden asleep behind mr miller says it all. No wonder nothing gets done here. The people in power are just not up to the job and are mostly ignorant on all the issues affecting cayman. Get rid of them all and start again…..




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  2. Rick Berns says:

    Good politics if you know your base is ignorant. Poor representation for the same people. Weak leadership, which seems to pander to popularity without any thought for the country.

    I like you Chris, but you are proving to be too shallow.




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  3. I man born here says:

    Try so tell him nah botha come back.




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  4. Anonymous says:

    Why are you all focusing on Chris walking out? Watch the video and be more focused on the matters discussed in the proceeding. The article focuses on the wrongs point to be had. 1. OBC a report that was $180 paid for, used to make decisions but not provided to Cabinet yet, 2. A Director who seems to want control of another department, throw another department and staff under the bus 3. Another Director who was literally set up to fail, but trying to meeting the public demand 4. Obvious lack of direction from the Ministry, where are the Policy Advisors? 5. A growing social and economic issue, e.g. cost of living increase increases the funding Gov provides, so maybe Gov needs to look at keeping the cost of living down.




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    • Anonymous says:

      you mean $180,000, who at these firms have connections with high gov officials?




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    • BELONGER says:

      I don’t blame Chris Saunders for taking the stand that he did after listening to two hours of incompetence from the Chief Officer in the ministry. I watched the entire proceedings on YouTube until 2:00am this morning and the incompetence of the ministry is extremely alarming……. to say the least.

      Why didn’t the Chief Officer in the ministry hire the 8-10 additionalt staff for NAU – that was budgeted from years ago ?

      If this was done, the whole problem of back logs and not meeting the Auditor General recommendations could have been avoided.

      I would like to say this much, I’m
      very impressed with the Director of the NAU Tamara Hurlston who by clear explanation, is NOT to blame for this fiasco.

      Good work Ms. Hurlston, you should be the Chief Officer in the ministry instead of Whittaker and things may get done for a change.

      She and others appears to be a set of civil servants who likes to spend $180K on so called consultant reports that later catch dust in file 13. Do your job and if you can’t do your job or you don’t know your job, then you should be replaced or retired.

      There is too much money being wasted in Govt- like the accounting firm doing an operational consultant report on the Fire Dept ?

      Can anyone tell me what the hell an accounting firm knows about FIRE FIGHTING OR FIRE PREVENTION ?

      Eg. If you have an Infection Outbreak in the operating theatre at the GT Hospital
      who are you going to call, Public Health or KPMH – Ernest & Young ?

      You get my point !!




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  5. Anonymous says:

    This ridiculous and immature. Why go to the PAC and agree on behalf of one family instead of debating a process and seeking better for all.




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  6. Anonymous says:

    Unprofessional maybe so, but how is the the young lady being pompous? Really?

    Chris walking out is one thing, as he should have sat his butt down, listen and made further contributions if he had them, to but there are quite a few issues to be addressed:

    – We all assume that the person being put out did not try to negotiate with the bank. We don’t know. But what we do know is that banks are not willing in most cases to meet “Caymanians” half way, especially if clients had a sudden change in payment if they previously had a great track record. Scotia, Butterfield are def a few culprits

    – How do we continue to allow banks to raise interest rate and wages/salaries. And in reference to the fool who says don’t purchase a home, obviously you are not Caymanian. Home-ownership is something to aspire to for ALL Caymanians. Of course people should purchase within their means. Home-ownership is easier in Cayman for the non-caymanian who can have school fees and other privileges sorted by the company they work for. Sorry bout this is CAYMAN and Caymanians should reap the benefits first, especially those who are hard working and making the effort to do right!!

    -I certainly agree that we need to stop hand outs and that a job is a job as a another writer wrote. However sometimes holding a job is more costly than not. To get to work, you need transportation (insurance, licensing etc, unless you take the unreliable bus system) If you have kids and have to work late or a shift who looks after them? Is your employer flexible enough to allow you to cater to a sick child?

    – Another writer suggested teaching people to money manage, that is a great idea, but how do we get them to the learning table? and money management or the lack there of is not the root of the problem.

    At present the issue is not just about home-ownership. It is about the social and economical breakdown in our society that we just can’t seem to get right because everyone has their personal agenda.




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    • Anonymous says:

      XXXX and YYYY banks both have debt collection departments being run by staff from Trinidad who are absolutely clueless about Cayman law and think that we are still in the dark ages of debtors prisons. No offense to them because they are Trinis but rather the issue is that they are not trained on Cayman laws. They constantly intimidate harass and take action based on what the law is in Trinidad not Cayman and only back pedal when they get caught out. XXXX has a couple of them right in-house and YYYY outsources their debt collection completely to Trinidad. Those collectors for YYYY have gone so far as to say the laws of Cayman do not apply to them. Then we have certain law firms who are desperate for work and happy to do those banks’ dirty collection work as long as the money keeps coming in. Half the time the debtors do not even realize that the banks and the law firms are skirting around the law and take advantage of people who are down and out and have no money for an attorney to fight for them. Chris Saunders you keep up the pressure! Stay level headed as frustrating as it may be you need to fight for greater consumer protection laws in Cayman and deal with these dodgy banks head on. Caymanians it’s a free market you can chose who to bank with, don’t choose banks who treat Caymanians like dirt and who feel they are above the law.




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  7. Anonymous says:

    These are just embarrassing proceedings… I mean the facial and body language of these people especially the young lady sitting next to Mr Miller just shows the childish, pompous attitude of these members. Disrespect seems to be growing in that honorable house and order needs to be returned quickly. Nothing will get done with this type of unprofessional, unproductive proceedings.




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  8. Anonymous says:

    While I feel people who need a helping hand should get it, the problem with my Caymanian people is that we feel when we waste our money, hang our hats higher than our pockets, and then get in trouble someone MUST bail us out and then we blame everyone if no one does. Since the bank dont call and foreclose the same day, Saunders should have gone over the man’s finances, see how much he makes, how much he spends and what he has left over and then help him negotiate with the bank to help him keep his house. If we dont teach, especially this younger generation, how to manage their money and be responsible then we will have to always bail people out.




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    • frangipani says:

      Good comment 9:44 pm. Caymanans (I descend from the first settlers, by the way) think that they can spree, waste, be careless with their money/job/belongings and then world must look after them. It is time that Government stop doling out and insist that these ‘lazy rear ends’ get a job and keep it. There is no excuse for this behaviour in Cayman. Just look at all the foreigners that are here and doing well.
      Government has to also be more astute with who they dole out to as well. I just learned of a Jamaican lady (domestic) who is iiving and working here but yet she is getting subsidized rent and electricty from our Government. What foolishness is that, pray tell?




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      • Anonymous says:

        1;48 pm, i agree with you 100%, in the Brac some Johnny’s come lately is getting Government hand out of rent, Utilities, school lunches and some of the Government affordable houses, i understand they get the Land free of cost here, shame, shame. And some of them Johnny’s come lately is getting the Seamen benefits also, they are making the TRUE SEAMEN look bad, crazy and foolish for sure.




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  9. Unison says:

    Now one thing I notice about Chris Saunders, is despite alot of criticisms, especially, from CNS commenters bashing him, I believe because he is a black man with a mouth, with brains, and reminds them too much about Jamaican politicians … Chris is STILL passionate about what stands for!

    He is not budging. He was placed in the House to represent his constituency. He hates losing!




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  10. Anonymous says:

    How about the Banks? Anyone know why they have to charge 3% over prime? That is why people are having to come to Gov’t for a handout. What about house and car insurance? Can we not understand the cost of living in this country is ridiculous? Bring these charges down and people won’t need help.




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    • Arnie Armtwister says:

      Banks are private businesses, they can charge what they like: no-one is being forced into home ownership nor to sign a mortgage deed.




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      • Anonymous says:

        I know some couples that lost their houses because of the parties they had at their houses, the Bars and trips to Miami. Caymanians need to get their houses needs in order.




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    • FFS says:

      Banks are not charities. They exist to make money. If you dont like it, keep yours in your mattress.




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  11. Anonymous says:

    Who is that guy in the photo to the left of Saunders? Looks like Celo wearing an oversized jacket. Wait, is this a re enactment of Baggy Pants & the Nitwits?




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  12. Anonymous says:

    This is what happens when ignorance and greed is elected to office.




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    • Bodden Towner says:

      Ignorance and greed?
      Who are you referring to?
      Maybe you are not aware that Mr.Saunders was making more money than he is being paid as an MLA now.
      He certainly isn’t ignorant.
      He is rightly frustrated by the red tape and excuses made by civil servants.

      He is absolutely right about lack of leadership at the helm but they expect the guys in the engine room to steer the ship.

      He is showing more care and compassion than any other MLA I have encountered in the BT district.

      They smile at you in the supermarket but when you are in trouble and ask for help they are nowhere to be found.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t get in trouble then.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Typical handout mentality. Do you think we elected these people to be your personal concierge and bill payer ? No they are legislators their job is to legislate not pay your cuc and water bill




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  13. Robert Bodden says:

    The core of the matter is personal finance obedience management…

    Banking laws reform to allow refinancing based on payment history. If a client has been paying on time prior to job loss or medical issues the option to refinance should be available.
    If foreclosure is the final option then the property should be sold at market value and the client be able to get back any equity paid on the morgage for future home use.
    The trend being set is not good for home owners and I see the situation getting worst.
    Home ownership is the largest investment anyone will make but with the high cost of living..medical insurance…home insurance and stagnant wages we are in a bottomless pit…




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    • Anonymous says:

      When a homeowner knows he is going to fall behind, nothing is stopping him from selling the house at market value, paying off the mortgage and pocketing the difference. Doing nothing is guaranteed to result in foreclosure.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Just wait ’til next year if you want to complain about insurance costs, I’m already saving hard on the back of these hurricanes, no matter they missed us this time, I’m expecting to see my insurance double next year. BTW most banks won’t foreclose after a few months non payment, they usually only do that when the chances of repayment are slim to none, so a couple of years bad payment history, maybe running close to default a few times, and as far as I know banks do sell at market value and repay the difference, it’s just that running so long in deficit will eat away any equity. Probably why those facing foreclosure don’t sell and pay off the mortgage. As you know selling a house can take a couple of years if you want the price you think its worth, try selling your house in a month and see what price you get offered – it will be below what you want.

      I would be in favour of Government housing, perhaps buying up foreclosed properties and either letting the tenants renovate as part of the rental cost, or subsidise the rental costs so they are affordable.




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  14. Anonymous says:

    When did Austin Harris become the ppm lap dog? His contribution sounded like was paid to spin the report and findings of the AG’s report




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  15. Anonymous says:

    Bernie’s jacket though, #Thuglife




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  16. Anonymous says:

    FYI Osborne Bodden is the MLA and Dorine Whittaker is the chief officer that should be being held accountable for this mess.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Yep worked for them both – Osbourne was voted out and McKeeva did the right thing when he set aside Dorine a few years ago – absolute leaderless qualities are consistently shown by those two.




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      • Anonymous says:

        McKeeva put Dorine in that position a few years ago because he said he couldn’t work with the existing Chief Officer at the time…




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  17. Anonymous says:

    Did he think the PAC meeting was just to write checks for Caymanians? Also who is the minister for the Department of Children and Family Services? Any chance they will be held accountable for their incompetence?




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  18. Finbar says:

    Unless he had a sick note, his pay should be docked for the time he missed at work.




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    • Bodden Towner says:

      He was at work…..he was with his constituents, who are his employers.
      All Chris saying is it is one thing to sit around talking and pretending you are doing something and working toward a solution versus getting out there and actually doing something.

      Go Chris!! I have to confess I didn’t vote for you but you are showing me why I was wrong.




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      • Anonymous says:

        So why did he agree to be on the committeenin the first place ? Staying and doing his job is what he should have done! Storming out and leaving Mr Miller to do all the work is not what we expect from him!




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    • Anonymous says:

      1:31 pm, Agreed about the sick note, if they had check in, ckeck out clocks in the Brac, most ( from top down) would lose half their pay




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  19. Anonymous says:

    non-existence consumer protection in cayman…big businesses do what they want?😣




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  20. Ambidextrous says:

    Chris, let’s take a good look at this. A family home has been foreclosed. That is more than one person. Maybe it might be single family but the underlying problem it seems is that they cannot pay their mortgage for whatever reason. So are you saying there is no source of income at all that they cannot even pay rent? If they cannot pay rent, how long is government going to sustain them? What about all the others in a similar position if we set this precedence? How are we going to fund this on top of the huge social services bill? There are missing parts as to why you propose government should assist this family.




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  21. Anonymous says:

    go chris go…chris trump…good guys!☺😊




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  22. Anonymous says:

    It takes 3 to 6 months for a bank to foreclose. His “man” been aware for so long about the pending foreclosure. Why wait until this day to ask for little hand out to help out his “man”

    Sounds to me like a drama king. Bout wan help out his “man”.
    Help his man out from his pocket. otherwise, I’m not paying my mortgage as well and if his “man” gets the assistance, then I sure as heck want the same hand out too.

    Where does he think all of this hand out money will come from.? Very little revenue streams to get it from. This is what you call , “can’t have your cake and eat it too”.

    Chris can always ask for salary advance and help out his “man” with a few months rent. Now that is the thing to do. Than to walk out of a meeting demanding that he gets his hands into the cookie jar to help out his “man”.

    It’s good to make a drama headline, but the reality is that when it is said that we have to be more careful with how we handle our personal affairs when it comes to financials, it’s a fact and very obvious about what happens and it is a very sure fact, that some that are getting the assistance are just freeloaders. There are genuine person needing assistance but they are not aggressive and cannot bother with all the hoopla.

    One way to start is to sort the list at NAU. By first confirming and put priority for the Caymanians. And I do not mean a Barbie come lately married to some broke bunkey man from another Island with status. Im mean the real deal Caymanians. Then move on down the list, Just because you marry a man or woman that can’t help you does not mean it’s the Government duty to assist them. Grow up man.

    I wonder which twang or accent he used when he made that comment.? Just asking.




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  23. Anonymous says:

    Clearly a complete lack of understanding of his role as a member of the Public Accounts Committee.

    Immediate help fir his “constituent” could not be forthcoming from that forum.

    Another complete misfit who should not have been elected.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Amen to that! While I admire his compassion for that family, there are many of us who have lost homes recently, who also have nowhere to go and no means to get there.

      The amount of foreclosures seems to be escalating and there is no means of escaping the entrenched and greedy financial interests who seem not to have any compassion at all.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Shame on the CIG for allowing this to happen , for a country who is deemed the jewel of the Caribbean and has such prestige where is the compassion? What plans are in place to stop these foreclosures which breeds homelessness more social issues.




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        • Anonymous says:

          12;30 am,- People need to have more pride and stop wanting hand out. I worked 72 hours a week (different Jobs) for years and never asked Social Services for a penny. Have pride and go to work, doing something and every kind of job thats available, remember a honest days work for a honest days pay is nothing to be ashamed of , but asking for help when one healthy and strong is, remember Social Services/Government money is the hard working people’s money, so try and stop depending on other people.




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      • JAH DREAD says:

        so you and 12:33 cant read or wa the man left because the responses being given show that there is no solution forthcoming either from the study or from the bureaucrats in the ministry. to make it more palatable fe ona, none of what they were saying made no sense! kapish.It is clear that ona don’t like de man so you try to make him look bad. bunca coounts




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      • Anonymous says:

        Stop having parties/trips and trying to build too big houses, don’t hang your hat where you can’t reach.




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  24. JM says:

    SO who represented BTW after you walked out? Did you explain to the rest of BTW that they were unrepresented after you threw a tantrum?




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  25. Anonymous says:

    Man a boss




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    • Anonymous says:

      Boss? More like a drama queen. The ting is he should rent an apartment for “his man” and help him hand out some resumes.




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  26. Anonymous says:

    I think we can all feel Chris Saunders pain. The frustration in dealing with the government for ANYTHING is painful. Everyone needs a fire lit under their seats to GITTER DUN!!!




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    • Anonymous says:

      including the foreclosew who (with his MLA if needed) had months to figure their personal situation out.




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  27. Anonymous says:

    Fix the structure or else you will continually be confronted with the same problems. This was just political grandstanding. Yes, there are short-term, immediate issues that need to work to be resolved. But if we don’t hold accountable the lack of leadership and structure in the Ministry, and the absolute lack of a strategic plan, there will be no change and the same issues for those in need will crop up year after year after year.
    A strategy needs to be developed (and adhered to) that focuses on providing resources in a holistic sense, be it temporary financial assistance, training and/or re-training, and job placement assistance all tied together in a comprehensive program. Until such a point, we’re just papering over the cracks.




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  28. Anonymous says:

    Can they actually vote he is referring to the endless expats that have moved into bt




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  29. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Chris! The problem is often more the politicians and ministry officials than it is the hard working civil servants! Show them for what they are!




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    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly, the civil servants have to cover for some of these minister’s inability to make meanimgful decisions and be truthful by going to these meeting and lying for them to make them look good. They cannot make a decision because they are always thinking about the next election. They fail to realise that if they do good a good job they will be elected.




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  30. 345 says:

    Amen.




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  31. Anonymous says:

    Did Saunders source of money to fix his constituents’ problems dry up after the election? It must be terrible to be an elected representative and have to follow rules.




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    • YTB says:

      I strongly disagree with your comment! Chris did NOT accept handouts from anyone! He funded his campaign himself and spent wisely. He didn’t try to hang his hat higher than he could reach – in other words….he spent HIS money wisely and was still able to reach his constituents without having to accept bribes!

      As hard as it might be to accept that we finally have a representative that truly cares about his constituents and the Cayman Islands overall, let me introduce you to Mr. Christopher Selvin Saunders who have proven himself to be a down to earth, approachable, caring and genuine individual who is very knowledgeable, highly qualified and will stick his neck out for his constituents to seek help and follows through to ensure that someone doesn’t drop the ball! He holds individuals accountable and he’s not afraid to ask the tough questions to bring resolve and solutions to failed processes and strategies.

      So before you get on a rant about what you think you know….perhaps you need to dig a little further and get the facts which will prove to be as I have stated above!




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      • Anonymous says:

        Chris ??? Is that you ?




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      • Anonymous says:

        He didn’t care enough about me at the election to seek me out, I only live one street over from him. I guess I know why when I observed the line at the polling booth and figured I was in the minority in BTW.




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  32. Concerned citizen says:

    I like Chris Saunders, he is a practical guy who wants to help people. Good job Chris




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