Speaker criticised for taking sides in port debate

| 10/01/2019 | 81 Comments
Cayman News Service

Mario Rankin (Courtesy of Hurley’s Media)

(CNS): Mario Rankin, one of the organisers of the Cruise Port Referendum campaign, has taken aim at the speaker of the Legislative Assembly, who, despite his supposedly neutral office, has been weighing in on the polarising debate about the project and dismissing the campaigners. In response to comments by McKeeva Bush suggesting that campaigners will never get the signatures they need to trigger a people-initiated vote, Rankin told CNS that the veteran politician was out of touch with the people and had been in office too long. He said it was time for Bush to retire as he clearly no longer understood what the people do and don’t want. 

Since taking up the position of speaker following the 2017 elections, when he opted to join forces with Alden McLaughlin’s PPM and support a coalition government, Bush has not let what is supposed to be the apolitical position he now holds stand in the way of making his positions on issues known.

Bush has been a particularly outspoken speaker, inside and outside of the Legislative Assembly, and recently told the local television station that the government should not pay any attention to the campaign for a national ballot on whether or not the Cayman Islands should embark on the controversial development.

“They’re not gonna get no signatures to do that with, and government can’t pay attention to that; we have to do what is right,” Bush told Cayman 27 this week, adding that Cayman had to “advance, and we cannot advance by standing still”.

Bush, who is still the leader of the Cayman Democratic Party, also called for changes in the law to pave the way for a skyscraper on Seven Mile Beach in his New Year message, and continued to push for more and more development on Grand Cayman. But Rankin described Bush’s comment as ridiculous and insisted that the Cayman Islands should not be destroying its environment for projects that the majority of local people do not support.

“It’s really very unfortunate that the speaker is so out of touch with what the people actually want. If he wasn’t he would understand exactly what the people think about the cruise port project and he would not say such ignorant and ridiculous things about developing 50-storey skyscrapers,” he said. “We do not need to destroy our environment to maintain a successful tourism product and if he was not so out of touch he would be more aware of public opinion.”

Rankin said he believed that Bush has been in politics too long now and has lost his vision, noting that the campaign is getting closer by the day to the near 5,300 signatures from registered voters it needs to trigger a referendum on the proposed cruise project.

Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller also expressed his concerns about Bush’s comments and pointed to the neutral office that he holds.

“The speaker should stay out of the political fray,” he told CNS emphatically, as he accused him of undermining the status of the office by taking sides in polarising debates in public forums. “But I can assure the speaker we are going to get the necessary names required to trigger the referendum.”

Miller has said he will be doing what he can over the coming weeks to ensure the campaign is successful and vowed to go door to door himself with the petition if needs be to get the last few names to seal the vote. He pointed out that the people are perfectly entitled to pursue a referendum under the constitution.

“He should not be undermining the campaign for a democratic process, but of course we all know that he did not vote for it,” Miller said about the speaker.

Bush has largely backed the proposed cruise port development over the years, though during the 2017 campaign he criticised the plans for this current project, which were started under the last PPM-led administration. Since joining forces with his former political nemesis, however, he has begun backing the costly and controversial project and has urged his supporters not so sign the petition — which Rankin said had not worked, as many of his supporters have signed up for a vote on the project.

The referendum itself has become extremely politicised, especially after the government began spending public money on advertising that suggested simply supporting a national ballot on the issue was itself a ‘no’ to the port.

This is one of the reasons why campaigners believe government workers who support the idea of a referendum, given the massive implications of this proposed project, are still afraid to put their names to the petition, regardless of reassurances from senior management that those civil servants not directly involved in tourism or policy making can do so.

Despite the challenges presented by the reluctance of thousands of registered voters who work in the public sector to sign, the campaigners have still collected almost 5,000 names.

The Cruise Port Referendum campaign is joining forces this weekend with a number of environmental activist groups, as well as the National Trust, to host an open family education and entertainment day on Saturday at the South Sound Civic Centre in a major push to keep the community engaged and attract the last signatures required.

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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Comments (81)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Many islands in the Caribbean are not countries—Puerto Rico, Roatoan, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Virgin Islands. You, like them, are not a country.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Maybe we should call the Bahamas to educate us how docks works and how to build them.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ask the guy who helped the Chinese screw the Bahamian investors.

    • Tell it like it is says:

      My my dear people M &M at loggerheads, who would have thought the day would come. If you wanted to reach the BiG M not too long ago and couldn’t all you had to do is contact small M and bingo you’re in Like Flyn

      It seems That soldiers fortunes indeed are made and broken in this country on political whims and fancies. Today we good tomorrow ya gots to go sad isn’t it. I must say however that that though there May be a well hidden and deep rooted feud going on, small M is right , Big M has now outlived his usefulness to the people, his handlers and his present associate Government. Missa Premier you need to seriously be scared of the potential machinations that could very well be occurring to spring a coup before you know it. Beware of the Big a d z all M factor.

    • Anonymous says:

      have you forgotten the ‘whoo ha that was in the Bahamas when that dock was made?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Any real country has a real port. That’s like basics. The facr we are still having this debate show how backwards we still are

    • Anonymous says:

      4:06 you see you don’t even know we are not a country ,we are the Cayman Islands ,big difference my dear .

      • Anonymous says:

        So you’re making my point Dear. The big difference being, that because we are not a country… excuses us for remaining backwards?

      • Anonymous says:

        @6:15 silly statement and this might help you understand where you live. The Caribbean is a region and Caribbean islands are countries within the region. When someone asks you: what country are you from? Do you answer Caribbean or Cayman Islands?

    • Anonymous says:

      How many countries and continents have you visited? Not many by the sounds.


    I cannot believe that ANY Caymanian needs to be convinced that putting hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds (that means YOUR MONEY CAYMANIANS) into building a cruise ship berthing facility is a bad idea. But since its obvious from reading the comments here, that many Caymanians still need to be convinced that this is a bad idea, here you go….




    Your public school system has failed to prepare your children to compete in their own country. Yet, you want your government to put YOUR MONEY into a cruise ship pier? Don’t you think that money would be put to better use by IMPROVING PUBLIC EDUCATION?

    I weep for my people.

  5. Sprecher1 says:

    Those who are in favor say, “I” or “yay” ; those who are against say, “No” or “Ouch”.

    The “I’s” have it , the “I’s” have it. Cruise Birth it is!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Interesting cruise ship story – https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/norovirus-leaves-hundreds-sick-on-caribbean-cruise-ship/ar-BBS4V6j

    Do we really want even more of these floating petri dishes docking here? Let’s get real, it’s only a matter of time before one of them brings this kind of epidemic ashore.

    • Anonymous says:

      5:17 It’s already happened more than once in Grand Turk (I’ve got friends living there) but the cruise line hushed it up.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The so called ”People’s Referendum”, they can’t get 5300 votes representing 25% of the registered voters after all this time, and probably many who signed ARE NOT EVEN REGISTERED VOTERS, so tell me something, am I blind(?), because in an actual vote if they were successful, they would need 50% of registered voters PLUS 1 to succeed! The port will proceed and is desperately NEEDED or our cruise tourism will die a slow death! Hear me now, believe me later! My people, do NOT SIGN this bogus petition! It’s simply, you can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time, but the majority are not fooled by the opposition, who have their own agenda. Trust me, do you not think if they were elected next time around, that they wouldn’t come out with their own cruise ship port facility ideas! And then guess what? It’s too late for the Cayman Islands, as it is we’re WAY BEHIND THE EIGHT BALL! We are 4 years away from realizing a real port facility as it is. Don’t be foolish people of the Cayman Islands, we only have this one shot at this!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. If the one man one vote campaign that achieved the signatures to trigger a referendum couldn’t get the votes to force government to change policy, then the likelyhood of this campaign doing so is between slim and none

      • Anonymous says:

        But we have one man one vote now don’t we ? They won no matter how you look at it! The goal was accomplished

        • Anonymous says:

          Yep, and got great accomplished representatives in the LA as a result (Insert Sarcasm Here)………

    • Anonymous says:

      Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
      To seize everything you ever wanted, in one moment
      Would you capture it, or just let it slip?

    • Anonymous says:

      The majority?

      Since when has the PPM ever represented the will of the majority

      They didn’t get a majority in 2013 without giving the Speakership to Julianna and inviting independents into the caucus

      and they didn’t win in 2017 in fact they lost 3 sitting ministers and had to join with CDP and independents

      So how exaclty can you claim the PPM plan has majority support in the country?

    • Anonymous says:

      If the chances of the referendum happening are so slim and winning even slimmer, just why are you expending so much energy? Surely it is unnecessary, if you are so sure.

    • Anonymous says:

      Many Caymanians would sooner “trust” a lier, than verify with a Google search on public financials and the ship building order book. The whole premise that liners have or are planning to build jumbo 6000 boats for our waters can be easily verified as “aspirational” at best. Right now, there is one single qualifying boat with 6000 passengers, for a couple more months, every other Thursday. Would we sink all of any remaining debt capacity for the territory into backstopping this never-been-done bluewater engineering marvel, just to get an extra 4000 discount liner passengers a couple months of the year? I don’t see a financial guarantee, can you direct me to that document? Even Florida and Texas “home ports” aren’t yet built to properly accommodate these. What then is the basis for any of this, other than FCPA violations and political corruption? The so-called “business case”, which I read as a cautionary document, is fully inapplicable; as is the initial EIA for a different project, which pointed to massive ecological and dive-tourism impacts worth hundreds of millions. How can any so-called “qualified bidders” submit binding anythings on a project that hasn’t even been defined?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Be careful,you should not believe everything you read.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Mario is wrong on this one. Mr. Speaker is only pushing for our best interests and Some radio jockey isn’t going to stand in the way of our vision.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Mario’s commentary has merit but one might wonder if this public rebuttal is just feathering his nest for the next election. And if but some weird twist of fate Mario makes into the MLA ring in 2021, he might just have to form another coalition with McSkyscraper and they’ll be best buddies again.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Spokespeople like this are precisely why these efforts are doomed to fail.

  12. Anonymous says:

    What a mess! Look who the dog dragged in?

  13. Toochickenshittosignmyname says:

    I agree completely with Mr. Mario; the Honourable Speaker, blah, blah Dr. of nothing, has now completely lost the plot. I suppose there was a time within context of his cronies that Mr. Bush was relevant, however that time has long passed and is IN the distant past.

    Has he considered the cost of fire suppression systems or even the cost of Fire Services equipment that would be necessary for a 50 storey building?? Probably not. These fire trucks cost nearly one MILLION dollars. What about the environmental impact?

    More importantly, is Mr. Bush still tied to his buddy, Kenneth Dart? Of course he is.

    Mr. Bush, should you happen to read this, I say the following with all sincerity: You were fortunate indeed on at least two occasions to have not been incarcerated. You can no longer play the ‘Good ol’ Boy’ passing around treats to your buddies. Don’t run again. Your time has come and gone, and as many teflon folk, you have survived, I’ll give you that. We need politicians with the best interest of the Cayman Islands people and environment at the helm. You are the antithesis of that.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mario fooled you too? He and Bush are peas in a pod. Don’t swallow the lines, read between them.

    • Anonymous says:

      Toochicken is right! Mr. Bush is now irrelevant. Why don’t you keep quiet, Brother!

  14. Anonymous says:

    But Mario, my understanding is that you were very happy to assist in the destruction of the mangrove environment when Mr Bush arranged for you to receive the contract for the filling of various areas by the Dart Org. Then subcontracted the job for lesser rates. You appear to have changed your tune now that your benefactor is no longer handing out such lucrative jobs.

    • Anonymous says:

      LMAO Savage!

    • Anonymous says:

      It is a deception, Rankin is a plant. The whole thing stinks. Listen carefully…RANKIN IS A PLANT.

    • Mario says:

      I don’t normally respond on this platform however I will make this one exception for those who are obviously in the dark…
      I never got or did any CONTRACT with dart or anyone in the Cayman islands to destroy or create damage to any mangrove on any land i provided material for a road that was already being built….please since you know so much about me and what I was contracted to do tell us what contract are you referring To? My guest is you can’t hence the reason why you would make such uninformed statements….which explains why person like yourself remains anonymous….next time get your facts before making a fool of yourself….

  15. Anonymous says:

    He just wants you all to vote for him….dont be duped

    • Anonymous says:

      You people do realize it is entirely possible for someone to be right on an issue and a political hopeful

      The two are not mutually exclusive
      He has made no attempts to hide his desire to be an elected representative

      Does this mean that everything he ever does is just a ruse to get him elected?
      He is a citizen and can voice his opinion in any manner he chooses

      I’ve never understood this logic

      “He wants to be a politician so lets not listen to him”, ” he tried running so he’s just a political hopeful”

      Are people interested in politics not allowed to have opinions or support causes other than on the campaign trail? Because then you’ll just say “where was he last year or the year before that”

      There is no pleasing you people

  16. Anonymous says:

    As a constituent and past supporter of McKeeva Bush, I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Rankin. Currently Mr. Bush is the elected representative for the constituency of West Bay West, however, as the appointed Speaker of the house, he is usually unavailable to his constituents and cannot properly represent his constituency’s interests. He is indeed very out of touch.

    The practice of appointing a Speaker of the House from the elected representatives appears flawed to me but I gather it is constitutional. However, that doesn’t necessarily make it right. Mr. Bush’s present partisan actions and utterances outside the realm of “Speakership” proves that point.

    For one, I’ll not be voting for McKeeva Bush again (I would vote for LB or Curwell first). However, the appropriate authority (the Governor, I guess) should remind Mr. Bush about the proper manner in which to conduct his role as Speaker. Hopefully the constituents of WBW will do the rest, next election.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Bush no matter his position in government will always show his true colors. To him the CIG is just a means to further his own selfish agenda at the cost of the people. He needs to go and soon. And to those who will disagree? Look at what he is doing while holding the position of Speaker of the House. That position is a NEUTRAL position. It means he does not voice opinions to push people one way or another. He is to remain QUIET and the fact that he is still the leader of the Cayman Democratic Party, like he knows what the term democracy means anymore, is a direct conflict of interest to his position as speaker. Any logical and honorable speaker would have stepped down. He has no shame and is an insult to not only the position he holds but to the house itself and Alden as the Premier, should be ashamed for allowing the insult to continue.

  18. Anonymous says:

    McKeeva Bush is an empty vessel that does not understand the position he holds and political neutrality. What an amazing choice as Speaker by Premier Alden McLaughlin. The embarrassing utterances of Mr. Bush are a direct consequence of the Premier selling his soul and credibility of his party. God help the Cayman Islands.

    • So tired says:

      McKeeva Bush is way past his “sell by date”; he is irrelevant and needs to be removed. He is a menace to our society.

      • Anonymous says:

        He’s the potato salad that has been in the fridge so long it’s now moving and trying to get out.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The voter-initiated Petition calls for a Period of Disclosure and Transparency in regards to as yet un-commissioned third-party studies required BEFORE the bidding process is supposed to begin. Then a public vote. It’s about transparency and good governance. There are two versions – one for registered voters, and another one that ANYONE can sign. We bear witness to this regime obscuring, back-peddling, colluding-openly in public meetings, and pitting our funds against us in bad faith. This is a roll-call for those with honour and a basic sense of civic duty. It’s discouraging to learn so many Caymanians are still unwilling to stand on the side of truth and good governance, to the peril of us all.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Big Mouth Mac needs to retire and take Alden Moses Anthony Julianna Eugene along with him

  21. CHEC Mate says:

    There’s lots of money to to shared around by those in positions of power if they support certain projects. This has been a tried and trust method among veteran politicians and parties.

    Parliamentarians (MLA’s) in countries like the Caymans have always been bought and paid for on the cheap. Allegations of corruption are consistent and involve multiple levels in the governance model when successful. Corruption can take various forms and include large cash donations to individuals or the party, real estate holdings, condos, commissions, sometimes even consultancy agreements and long term contracts for companies owned by Politically Exposed Persons are examples of how some are paid for their public and political support. Connect the dots and follow the money.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Oh come on. Mario Rankin has no credibility whatsoever and to even suggest that he is fighting against McKeeva Bush smacks of total ignorance.
    Could you please take off the rose-tinted glasses?
    Rankin is a spoiler designed to discredit the referendum process.
    As Josef Stalin said, the best way to defeat the opposition is to lead it.
    Ezzard Miller has a similar amount of credibilty, but he gets away with it due to his occasional pretend bleatings against the government. Miller is 5th column and is fully on board with whatever the Lodge have to say. THEY ALL WANT THE PORT! Bush, McLaughlin, Rankin, Kirkconnell, Miller etc, etc etc.


    Cayman is in the grip of exactly what JFK warned about before he was assassinated.

    This is what JFK had to say: “For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence–on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations.

    Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed. It conducts the Cold War, in short, with a war-time discipline no democracy would ever hope or wish to match.”

    It is time to wake up everyone. One day you may find yourselves in chains. Perhaps you can feel them already?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes the globalists are concerned with the internal self governance of a micronation with 60,000 people…. *yawn*

      Don’t they have bigger fish to fry?

      • Anonymous says:

        Two words, WORLD DOMINATION. That includes being concerned with “the internal self governance of a micronation with 60,000 people.”

      • Anonymous says:

        a·nal·o·gy – a comparison between two things, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification

        I don’t think the author is actually worried about Putin or Jingping taking over Cayman, although if CHEC builds the port….

      • Anonymous says:

        What bigger fish than one of the largest financial centres of the world?
        If we were so insignificant, then why would Dart and all his illuminati cash be building the next “Village” right here under our noses?
        For those of you too young to remember, the village was a setting for a 1960s TV series called “The Prisoner” and it just about sums up Cayman.

    • Mario says:

      Says the anonymous author…the only person with ZERO credibility here is you!! Tell ys all why you are more credible than me or anyone else and why we should listen to you???? Sounds like only those without a voice can speak such rubbish hiding behind anonymous……come see who you are probably some rejected member of society try drag everyone with a cause down with them……i will pray for you even though we don’t know who you are…..

  23. Anonymous says:

    Many politicians in this government need to retire immediately. It is clearer now than ever before that there is (and perhaps always has been) a powerful invisible hand meddling in the highest parts of our government. A hand that does not care about the interests of the people or the wellbeing of our islands.
    To those guilty of political and other power abuses, know that you will be held accountable and burnt by the light of the truth. Silence does not last forever.

    • Anonymous says:

      If the voters were to petition for Enactment of the Standards in Public Life Law, the worst of these roaches would retire out of panicked necessity, or face jail, and/or life-changing fines.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Mario but you are now against honorable Bush but when he was trying to help you with the oil refinery you were his greatest buddy. Wow a lot of sour grapes here old boy!

    • Anonymous says:

      Things change and people do too, for better or worse.

    • Mario says:

      Mac never tried to help me do anything with any oil refinery that project had its own merits….and yes you are correct I to once thought Mac ment well for the Cayman islands but I was wrong and so his true colors hence the reason I removed myself from that entirely….so please tell me how that has amything to do with me fighting to save our only pilar that is truly ours????

      • Gray Matter says:

        Your …CREDIBILITY…. It’s bad.

      • Anonymous says:

        Mario what about Dart tunnels on west bay road?

      • Anonymous says:

        yes Mario you promised to tear down the tunnels every day on the talk shows
        but every thing gone nice and quiet now what happened?

      • Anonymous says:

        Ours??? in 15 hundred and what did your family come off the boat? or were they on the shores waving to Columbus when he got here? aren’t you of Jamaican descent like most of the people you tend to lash out against? Your generation haven’t even lost the accent yet.

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