CS boss declines to host referendum petition at GAB

| 08/01/2019 | 49 Comments
Cayman News Service

Volunteers collect signatures for the Cruise Port Referendum campaign

(CNS): The battle to get civil servants to sign the petition for a people-initiated referendum on the cruise port project will not be getting any help from civil service management after it declined to host the petition at the Government Administration Building on Elgin Avenue. Kenneth Bryan, the MLA for George Town Central, had approached the deputy governor about allowing the volunteers with the Cruise Port Referendum campaign to set up a table in reception to help send a strong signal that government workers whose jobs have no connection to the project can sign the petition. But Bryan told CNS on Monday that he had been told it would not be possible.

The civil service management has said on a number of occasions that civil servants who don’t work closely on tourism policy or give advice or implement tourism decisions or those that don’t work directly with the ministry of tourism can sign the petition. But the head of the Portfolio of the Civil Service, in an email to Bryan, said that hosting the petition campaigners was a step too far.

“While civil servants are entitled to exercise their private rights to freedom of expression, this ought to be done in their private lives and personal time,” said Chief Officer Gloria McField-Nixon. “The cruise berthing project is a highly contentious and polarising issue, leaving even those industries which are at the forefront of this issue, deadlocked to form a consensus.

“The civil service policy on the signing of petitions allows civil servants to participate in this national discussion in a manner which seeks to prevent conflict with their obligation to maintain the confidence of the existing and any future government of the day.”

She pointed out that GAB is primarily a place of work and she believed that allowing the collection of signatures at the GAB is not in the interest of the proper performance of civil servants’ functions, and management wished to avoid the potential disruption to the delivery of service within the building, including to members of the public.

“Further, it removes even the possibility of allegations that persons were discouraged or encouraged to participate in a particular manner, under the watchful eye of senior leaders,” McField-Nixon said.

The civil service boss added that the current policy authorises civil servants to sign petitions “where they are not in a position of conflict whilst promoting the neutrality of the civil service by keeping such polarising issues private, and outside of civil servants’ place of work”.

However, the campaigners have said on numerous occasions that regardless of public statements that those civil servants not directly involved in tourism or who hold higher officer can sign the petition, many government employees still say they are afraid to put their name to the petition. Justified or not, there are continued fears of potential harassment by their leaders — not least because the government of the day has politicised the actual referendum campaign, publicly declaring that signing the petition equated to opposing the proposed cruise and cargo project.

In light of that, Bryan told CNS that having the petition at the government building would have sent a strong signal that they could sign without fear of intimidation.

“Though I respect the chief officer’s position, it worries me tremendously as it sets a precedent for future peoples’ vote initiatives that the government building will never be a place where civil servants can exercise their democratic right,” he said. He add that McField-Nixon’s position also implied that civil servants do have reason to fear when she spoke about people signing “under the watchful eye of senior leaders”, fuelling existing fears of a backlash.

“How is that possible when ministers are not supposed to be involved in the management of public servants?” Bryan asked. He also noted that her acknowledgement that this is a polarising issue emphasises the need for public sector workers to be allowed to sign. “With the community divided down the middle, I’m saddened that they are not willing to help civil servants be involved in such a major national issues.”

Urging people to exercise their rights, he encouraged any civil servant that wants to sign but is afraid to do so, whether they are George Town Central residents or not, to contact him as he was willing to ensure they will not be harassed.

Given the significant number of voters working directly for government or public authorities, the implied disapproval about them signing has created an unfair disadvantage, as the public sector represents close to a quarter of the electorate in the first place, campaigners say.

Getting 25% of people to put their names in the public domain supporting something that the government has made abundantly clear it vehemently opposes is already challenging, and there is no surprise that civil servants are worried about the repercussions. However, the messages that campaigners have received makes it clear to them that under the protection of the secret ballot, which a referendum would provide, will enable all government workers, from the very top to the very bottom, the opportunity to express their opinion about this controversial project without fear of it impacting their jobs.

 

Anyone who would like to sign the petition, including civil servants, can contact campaigners on 327 5411, email cprcayman@gmail.com or visit the Cruise Port Referendum Cayman FB page for more information.

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Category: Business, Local News, Politics, Tourism

Comments (49)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Does he need permission to set up across the street? If not, then go there and just let civil savants know. They can cross the street during their break and Franz can watch from his office window.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Do you see what I see?
    Truth is an offense
    You silence for your confidence
    Do you hear what I hear?
    Doors are slamming shut
    Limit your imagination
    Keep you where they must

    Do you feel what I feel?
    Bittering distress
    Who decides what you express?
    Do you take what I take?
    Endurance is the word
    Moving back instead of forward
    Seems to me absurd

    Doesn’t matter what you see
    Or into it what you read
    You can do it your own way
    If it’s done just how I say

    Independence limited
    Freedom of choice is made for you, my friend
    Freedom of speech is words that they will bend
    Freedom with their exception

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Great news!

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  4. Anonymous says:

    In the words of Ice T.. “Freedom of speak just watch what you say”

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  5. Anonymous says:

    The Cayman Islands is just as bad as Cuba, the government doesn’t listen to the people. They do what is in their interest.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    What about the Sister Islands? I haven’t seen nor heard about any petitions circulating there?

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  7. Anonymous says:

    You poor people don’t stand a chance. Dart and other people’s BIG money is being eaten up by your elected officials and they think they will starve to death if they stop eating it. I don’t even pray, but I’m going to pray for the good people there that haven’t yet been tricked into the hunger.

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  8. 3rd Floor, GAB says:

    As a Civil Servant, I am proud of Mrs. McField-Nixon for taking this stance. I know the thumbs down will be plenty and there will be much finger pointing at me, but remember when you point your one finger at me, there are 3 pointing back at you. In closing, I am a Civil Servant, but I am NOT a supporter of this government.

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    • Anonymous says:

      On what basis could you possibly be proud of the suppression of voter participation on threat of employer retribution? Are you proud to abandon your principles and core values and quietly comply with those controlling you and your actions (which you do not support) in return for a paycheck? What does that make you? Classic Stockholm syndrome…and proud of it! Smh…

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    • Say it like it is says:

      11.23pm I would never point my finger at you if you answered your telephone.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Good decision!

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  10. Two Cents says:

    I think it is time to recognise that Gloria McField needs to be put in charge of DEH so we can get this ongoing garbage collection problem sorted out.
    After her demo of how good she could be at this job last August when she picked up all of the smelly stuff surrounding the move of Christen Suckoo from the Ministry of Education to OfReg, she has done herself even better this time.
    The lobby of GOAP has served for days as a huge registration facility for the DG’s 5K Run for the past few years. Its a worthy cause and no reason why registration shouldn’t take place there.
    But come on Gloria, spare me the b__s__ about how allowing the collection of signatures at the GAB is not in the interest of the proper performance of civil servants’ functions.
    We all know that the Minister of Tourism wouldn’t stand for it, the Speaker and real Leader of the CIG definitively wouldn’t stand for it, the Premier is impotent to stand for anything these days and your boss, the DG, wouldn’t upset either of them.
    You might be good at wrapping Christmas gifts, but wrapping a garbage bag is a whole new challenge. We all can see the bag Gloria. I hope you get the DEH job so you can just have a truck pick it up the next time Franz tells you to ‘wrap garbage’.

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  11. Civil Servant says:

    CO Gloria McField- Nixon and DG Franz Manderson…. your words and action speaks loud and clear! So much for good governance, transparency and this world class civil service! You all are an example of why things won’t get any better……

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  12. Anonymous says:

    3:12. I hope so!! A very good decision. Remember civil servants are expected to behave in a way that they enjoy the confidence of what ever government is elected.

    Hosting a petition at the Government building fails the apolitical test. Ken Ken would not understand this.

    Would Fosters allow their staff to sign a petition to open another Hurleys and host the petition at Fosters? Get it now Ken?

    4th floor thought you were still on vacation. Oh wait you are on vacation 365 days a year. Try and do some work and do the 5K.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    With every passing day Cayman makes another step toward becoming the most basic, mediocre, stagnant, narrow-minded, and short-sighted version of itself possible given its circumstances and potential.

    B.B. King said it best: “The Thrill is (almost) Gone”.

    Personally, I find the position of Alden, Moses, and CIG leadership to be absolutely disgraceful.

    This decision regarding the CBF’s is of optimum national interest and will affect each and every Caymanian, resident, AND visitor.
    Therefore it should be decided by us the people and not the same dozen of politicians with an extensive record of HORRIBLE decisions.

    Lastly, may I remind the room the provisions that support a People’s Initiated Referendum is in Section 70 of The Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009.

    If our Premier, Minister of Tourism, majority elected officials, and Civil Service collectively agrees that our Government Administration Building is off-limits to a PIR – it is irrefutable proof of the cesspool that was once the lovely Cayman Islands.

    I honestly don’t know how some people can face their own reflection.

    Absolutely pathetic.

    – Whodatis

    *If ever there was a time to break rank and whistle-blow – it is now.
    This country is on the fast train to the inevitable breaking point and the sooner it comes the better for us all.

    Do the right thing folks.

    #section70 #overtourism #signthepetition #sustainability #cruiseportreferendum

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  14. Al Catraz says:

    They should also refuse to register voters. Anyone wanting to vote is implicitly saying that they want to change the government.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Or retain, or re-shuffle it, as the case may be. Not a deep talent pool here for 19 districts – that’s part of the sham.

  15. I done did it says:

    This Civil Servant signed it.
    Shame we live in a society where it could cost you your job!

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  16. Anonymous says:

    I am a registered voter in George Town Central voting block, who wants to sign the petition
    I tried calling the 327 5411 but no one answered.

    Please let me know where I can sign I am available tomorrow.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Gloria does exactly what Franz says make no mistake

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    • Anonymous says:

      I am so proud of our civil service. Thank you for doing the right thing. The petition is a waste of time…maybe in about 10 years they will get the necessary number of signatures. Build the dock.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Basically: this Unity regime will continue to redact facts and use the public’s money to campaign against voters, including the use of false propaganda ads using disproven premises; and will not tolerate dissent or whistle-blowing from any employee being forced against their principles to do so as part of their job description – in spite of legal protections under the Whistle-Blowing Law championed by Gloria Nixon-McField (just 6 mos ago) which prohibit this form of employer retribution.

    https://caymannewsservice.com/2018/07/cig-encourages-all-workers-to-whistleblow/

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Thank God there is some common sense. There is no reason Cayman government should sponsor a private lobby group that is only trying to protect the tender boat business

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    • Anonymous says:

      1. No sponsorship was sought. 2. Even if there was, it’s OUR money not CIG’s. 3. Refusing to accommodate a simple petition for a referendum to establish for a fact if the electorate support or oppose the piers is not very democratic. The government are not for the people who pay them. Like most who have signed the petition, I don’t own a tender boat and I don’t know anyone who does. But unlike you, I do love and care for Cayman.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I am guessing you are covertly commenting on behalf of the downtown duty free entities – because I refuse to believe that anyone is genuinely this short-sighted and ignorant.

      The concerns and objections extend FAR BEYOND “the tender boat business”.

      (Nice try though. Creative, but we see you – plain as day.)

      – Whodatis

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    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly 2.03.
      Signing the document is apparently to signify my desire for a referendum on the matter , even if I am in favor of the piers.
      Govt. has declared they wish to build the piers, so there is no need to sign a document enabling me to tell govt. that I am in favor of the piers.
      So don’t be mistaken , only those against the piers sign the call for a referendum.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Unless you’re afraid that your side will lose, and the Referendum turns out to show that the people really don’t want the dock…. that’s the only way your comment makes sense. The Referendum is simple- are you for or against it. Just because you sign the Referendum doesn’t mean you’re against the dock. It just says you are exercising your democratic right in a TRUE democracy.

  20. Anonymous says:

    there is no ‘implied disapproval’. if anything, having the petition inside your office would have implied the exact opposite. Neutrality means staying neutral – and being seen to be so – from both sides of the coin.

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  21. SSM345 says:

    Considering the recent refusal to address the FOI request why would this be a surprise response to anybody?

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  22. Ron Ebanks says:

    People SEE what the Government has done with your life in the CAYMAN ISLANDS , think about your FUTURE and FREEDOM . IF you dont you might as well move to CUBA where they don’t have any freedom . Stand up for rights.

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  23. GOAB 4th Flr says:

    The hypocrisy knows no limits in this place. There are zero problems with any disruption of work at GOAB for the DG’s 5K sign up.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Running or walking for charity isn’t controversial. It’s about the least controversial thing imaginable, except a bake sale by blue iguanas to save the white rhino. I want the petition to be available anywhere but I do think the issue is so emotive (and the reality is that supporting the petition does support the opposition to the dock) that collecting signatures there would be awkward and inappropriate. Ministers decide policy and civil servants carry it out. That means every person in that building, officially, either supports the dock or does not say anything about it if they disagree, but they all have to do their jobs. To have civil servants all of a sudden taking the elevator down to sign in the lobby that they think their bosses have poor judgment, are wrong and corrupt, effectively, would not work. Senior leaders do not want to know about the private biases and opinions their staff have. Rank and file civil servants should not be practically dared to sign by the placement of a desk in the lobby of their building. The petition organisers should be looking for new locations but this one is not appropriate. For the avoidance of any doubt, I signed the petition, outside a suburban supermarket, which is the right type of non-governmental location for a petition signature collection.

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  24. Uncivil Servant says:

    Sign the petition? Lol, Kenny got jokes.

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  25. Anonymous says:

    Obviously we are not a democratic society..

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