DoE director blocked from people’s vote meeting

| 29/05/2019 | 77 Comments
Cayman News Service

DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie

(CNS): The chief officer in the ministry overseeing the Department of Environment has blocked DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie from attending a public meeting on Thursday being organised by the Cruise Port Referendum campaigners, despite the many technical environmental questions likely to arise from potential voters. The supervisor of elections, Wesley Howell, has confirmed that he will be attending to explain the verification and voting process but the absence of Ebanks-Petrie is likely to fuel public speculation about government’s approach to this national ballot.

Following a request from the activists for the DoE director to attend this meeting, Jennifer Ahearn emailed the organisers and said that any information Ebanks-Petrie would be able to share is already in the public realm.

“We therefore do not feel that any new information would come from her attending your meeting,” the chief officer wrote. “Should you have specific questions that you would like to pose to her, she will be happy to respond in writing. Additionally, the Environmental Assessment Board expects that there will be public consultation on the proposed Terms of Reference for the EIA for the revised project. That will present a better opportunity for your group to learn more about the project and the EIA process going forward.”

But Johann Moxam, one of the leaders of the historic campaign, wrote back and urged the chief officer to reconsider not permitting Ebanks-Petrie’s official attendance. He said it was disappointing she has been been denied the opportunity to talk to the public “when openness, transparency and good governance are desperately required to address the numerous concerns” about the project.

With over 25% of registered voters wanting the ballot, he said they also needed answers to questions that lay people simply cannot answer.

Speaking to CNS, Moxan said it was absurd for the ministry to expect ordinary people to understand the written complex and technical but limited information that is available online and that they needed objective, accurate information from those who are able to explain the issues.

“Directing people to the website has not been a successful strategy so far,” Moxam said, pointing out that was why so many people had supported the referendum campaign. “We are all in uncharted waters with a PIR, so how will the questions from the public be dealt with in a professional and transparent manner? Does the Ministry of Environment have a plan? Will there be a Ministry of Environment sponsored public awareness campaign?”

Without input from agencies such as the DoE, among others, he suggested it would be hard to imagine how the government could conduct an open, honest, fair and transparent campaign once a referendum date had been set.

“This matter is too important and no longer about CPR. Registered voters are fully engaged and have their own questions, which should be addressed professionally from the relevant authorities. I think we can agree these matters are at the foundation of how a democratic society operates and the essence of good governance,” Moxam said in his letter to Ahearn, as he urged her to allow the director to attend on Thursday.

“When the public is not guided by the relevant experts in technical matters, that leaves room for doubt, misinformation and the usual ‘politricks’,” he added.

While Premier Alden McLaughlin is resisting accepting that the activists have achieved their goal of triggering a people-initiated referendum on the port proposal, the volunteers are still getting on with the next steps.

Having already met with Howell about the process of verifying their petition, they welcomed the fact that he will attend on Thursday. Political historian and author, Roy Bodden, will also be at the meeting to address the public, as the activists engage the public ahead of the actual vote.

The petition is now being prepared to be delivered to Elections Office but the collection of signatures is ongoing to ensure that it exceeds the minimum requirement as much as possible just in case some names are rejected.

The activists are also seeking a meeting with Cayman Islands Governor Martyn Roper, as they seek to ensure that he will be upholding the principle of good governance, an area of his responsibility, as the referendum process gets underway.

Meanwhile, the opposition leader in waiting, Arden McLean, offered his congratulations to the campaigners in a rare public statements about the referendum or the port project, offering support for the referendum and applauding the campaigners’ historic achievement.

He said it was a “triumph for people power and the steadfast belief that governments should work for, work with and not work against its people.”

He added that it was “disappointing and dispiriting to see the government refusing to engage transparently on the financial as well as the environmental impact”, as he accused the premier of being in denial about the successful campaign.

Regardless of the premier’s position, the campaigners are pressing on with the process and are urging registered voters who have not yet signed the petition to do so as soon as possible. Those not registered to vote but eligible to can contact the Elections Office and ensure they are on the electoral roll in time for the referendum.

The meeting is schedule to take place at the George Town Town Hall from 6pm – 8pm, where the grassroots activists will share the latest information they have with the public.

For more information visit the Facebook Event page, CPR Cayman’s Facebook Page, call 327-5411or email cprcayman@gmail.com. The event will start promptly at 6pm and refreshments will be served.

Petition booklets are still available at the following businesses around Cayman: Rubis Savannah, Four Winds Esso and Hell Gas Station in West Bay, Silhouette in Camana Bay and Pure Art and Cathy Church Photo Centre in George Town. Registered voters who wish to have the petition brought to them, at home or at work, can call 327-5411.

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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (77)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    democracy my arshhh!😆

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  2. Anonymous says:

    The cruise port must be built to secure our tourism industry!

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Save Cayman and CPR are trying to legitimize their privately funded campaign with senior government officials being present.
    As far as I’ve heard no petition list has been handed in so they haven’t triggered anything yet. They need to get it official before they start making demands of any government employees and leaders.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    “The EIA study will identify mitigating environmental factors but would most likely not stop the project as a result of its findings.” Port Authority Board Minutes Wednesday, 30 April 2014.
    Doubtful that this view has changed. Probably explains why DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie is stopped from attending the CPR public meeting.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You know what, stopping Ms. GIna is disappointing but should be expected. If she goes she will have to tell it as it is. She would have to give the facts of what could happen to our shoreline, to the hotels beach front down the seven mile stretch, to the town including the jewelry stores in the event of a massive hurricane etc.etc. so naturally the ministry will not allow that. However, all is not lost- the members of the CPR and other knowledgeable persons who will be at the meeting are well able to do that. They have gathered more knowledge on this entire subject than Ms. GIna would feel comfortable saying, after all she is a civil servant and governments are always afraid to let them speak. CPR’s wealth of knowledge and research will surpass whatever it is that Mr. Howell will have to say.

      XXX

      Hopefully it will be broadcast live on TV. Good luck CPR our Beloved Isles Cayman is depending on you. God bless each of you.

      CNS: Wesley Howell will be there in his capacity as supervisor of elections to explain and/or answer questions on the referendum process, being the person most qualified to do so.

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    • Anonymous says:

      These guys shiuld have sought to educate the voters BEFORE asking them to sign the petition. It isreally suspicious when you first get their signature and then after the fact try to provide them with details .

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  5. Anonymous says:

    So wait, let me get this right. Minister Seymour and his deputy can appear on the steps of GAB to address a group of protesting children who’s posters said ‘we don’t want a pier’ ‘reefs cannot be relocated’ ‘save our reefs’ the list goes on, but Ms Gina is not allowed to address a public meeting where the people who can vote on these matters have asked for expert education from the Ministry?

    Foolish, childish, dictatorial behaviour and shows complete disrespect. I guess we have to be guided by our youth and move the next meeting on this historic event to the front of the GAB!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Actually most of the kids were there to stay “don’t use single use plastic” but the CPR group made sure the pier signs were up front.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    In Switzerland there is a referendum on every important issue.
    Of course they have the advantage of an educated population, not influenced by pastors, corrupt businessmen and politicians and gay haters.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    This government does not consider itself as servants of the people nor does it respect The Cayman Islands Constitutional Order 2009.

    I do suspect we have a rogue government in the Cayman Islands.

    – Whodatis

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    • Anonymous says:

      I am so proud of our civil service leadership. Standing up for your employees is paramount

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    • Anonymous says:

      Seriously. There has been rogue governments in the Cayman Islands for as long as I can remember. How soon we seem to forget the antics of McKeewa and his crew. This is just history repeating itself.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Yes, is lay people like us could not possibly understand the complexities of complexities in building a peir.

    We need to leave that up to the smart people like the MLAs and government people

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    • Anonymous says:

      Stran is an experienced pier builder.

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    • Get your facts from VETTED sources! says:

      The bad grammar and poor sentence structure in some of these comments makes it clear to me that many of these comments are either coming from people who don’t live in Cayman (and therefore have no vested interest in this country), or coming from the companies that will benefit the most from the construction of the cruise port. Caymanians, please don’t be fooled. There are deceptive forces at work here. The FBI PROVEN FACT that Russia interfered in the US election is proof that a foreign government with it’s own agenda can sway public opinion. Get your facts from VETTED sources!

      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/26/us/politics/fbi-russian-election-interference.html

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      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, Vetted sources…. Are you a comedian?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Times_controversies

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        • Get your facts from VETTED sources! says:

          1. You just proved my point about bad actors using poor sentence structure.

          2. You implied that the New York Times, one of the most trusted news organisations in the world, cannot be considered a vetted news source, and you supported your implication with a link to a Wikipedia page which, by Wikipedia’s own design, can be edited by anyone, anywhere at anytime.

          3. No, I am not a comedian. I am a citizen of this country who strongly believes that all citizens of any country must have the right to decide on important matters that will directly impact their lives and the lives of their children. Who are you?

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          • Anonymous says:

            Why don’t you use your real name, Mr. Get Your Facts? Your comments would mean a lot more. I can’t use mine because it might cost me my job.

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      • Rick says:

        You must be a Russian bot.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Bad grammar and poor sentence structure = can’t be Caymanian? Have you met any graduates of our school system recently??!

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        • Anonymous says:

          Maybe they went to Triple C or Wesleyan! Lol

          See the article on the schools failing inspectorate report!

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      • Anonymous says:

        who cares about bad grammar!

    • Anonymous says:

      HA! Still laughing!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thank you CIG. If you don’t think this is a political meeting wait until the reports of the meeting comes out. Wait to hear about the treatment of the Election Official.

    The decision to answer any questions in writing is a smart move. Think about all the fake news associated with CPR.

    Maybe the meeting should be bugged???

    I wish I worked for CIG. We finally have an Entity that cares about it employees.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Wait. What? I’m not sure what you are trying to say here. There is no need to ‘bug’ the meeting when it is open to the public and you are welcome to attend.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Dear CNS, I heard on the radio that CPR was meeting with Elections office. Can you confirm if the petition has been handed in? I have not seen any news to say that they did.

    CNS: If you can’t make the meeting tomorrow night, CNS will be covering it and I suspect many (hopefully all) of your questions will be answered.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Democracy in Cayman is dying a slow public death with every day. Government exists to screw the people at every turn. Who will stand up for the people or democracy?

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  12. Anonymous says:

    The Cayman Islands Government continues to show how mean spirited and petty they behave when their agenda for the country is questioned by even the voting public.
    Shameful

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  13. Anonymous says:

    There is no reason to have Gina there, this is about the referendum process so that’s really the only thing that matters.

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    • Anonymous says:

      so that is all the more reason Gina should be allowed to be there. She is a citizen of the Cayman Islands. and has her rigjts..…..stupid is as stupid does.

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  14. Kim says:

    Surely she can attend as a private citizen?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Whilst as a Caymanian I am very interested in Gina’s views, I think the Chief Officer made the right call. Gina would be placed in an impossible position. She is a civil servant and not a politician. There is no doubt that her personal view would be in direct conflict with her job and to publicly state this would be only be to the detriment of Gina.

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  15. TRX says:

    Transparency at its finest. Government doing its best to trip all over itself in the hope of tripping up every one else along with them – so they can then boast, Best Government Ever!!! Lol. Can’t make this stuff up.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Is this a meeting about a referendum or an EIA? What is the point of this meeting? If it’s about the referendum process, then Howell is your man. Having Gina there is actually unfair to her, putting her in a position to answer questions she may not be able to at this stage. There will be more than enough time between now and the referendum to go through the ins and outs of what people will be voting for, but having Gina there now is setting her up for failure. I think CPR Cayman needs to get its act together and ensure these meetings actually make sense and cover the ground it needs to.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I wish there was a way for her to say if a question is asked that she is unable to answer….
        Or do you think she will make it up as she goes along?

  16. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the Chief Officer. No harm done.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    This musT be some sort of sad joke? Sad reality? Sad. Just so bloody sad.

    Please keep going. Please save GT and the wonderful reefs that surround her, for the next genertions.

    This is so so so sad.

    The Cayman Islands are officially a fascist regime ruled by a Dicktator.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Gov. shaking in their boots and playing games with our future now that the threshold has been met.

    Wesley blocks Gina. Aren’t they all on the same team? Instead of working together for the enlightenment of all we pay to have the truth concealed.

    CNS: Inserting a clarification – Wesley Howell is not the CO above Gina Ebanks-Petrie. Read the article again. He is not blocking her presence and will be there himself.

    This stinks more than the rotting sargassm on our shores. We know this is a ploy to diminish the potential devastating effects of this port debacle.

    Our democratic right to have a say is the guiding light which will save us from the debt and destruction being sought by this administration for the all mighty dollar.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Good decision. Appearing at this fiasco would have been a disaster for Gina. This is all political and Gina must stay out of politics.

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  20. KMR says:

    “He said it was a “triumph for people power and the steadfast belief that governments should work for, work with and not work against its people.”

    He added that it was “disappointing and dispiriting to see the government refusing to engage transparently on the financial as well as the environmental impact”, as he accused the premier of being in denial about the successful campaign”.

    Arden, I share the exact sentiments as you do. It is all a ploy from the Government to not want Mrs. Gina Ebanks-Petrie to attend, as they know that with her being present, she will shed much needed light to the people of this Island.

    The Government wants its people to continue to be brainwashed & keep the wool over our eyes as long as possible!

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Franz Manderson had to be involved in that decision only the Deputy Governor could make that call.

    Please tell us why DOE cannot talk to the people about environmental issues I thought that was their job?

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    • Anonymous says:

      He is a HUGE part of the problem!!! Certain Chief Officers are favored by the DG as they are puppets! He himself is the biggest politician of them all. Top jobs in the Civil Service need a serious overhaul! Some of the Chief Officers are not qualified for these positions and got them by being loyal and/or doing “favours”!

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      • Anonymous says:

        8:19 Thankfully you are not a chief officer. Stop being so jealous and do some work. Only a fool would promote people who are not loyal. Sounds like you need to go back to sleep.

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  22. Ambassador of Absurdistan says:

    Just Another Day in Absurdistan

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  23. Anonymous says:

    This lot are not a government the people can trust. Too many secrets and lies

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  24. Ron Ebanks says:

    The arrogant politicians are digging their Graves deeper .

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  25. Anonymous says:

    Yup. Sure sign we can trust them. We are not worthy of hearing any dissent. Too dumb to process any countervailing comment. Stand tall Gina. Your absence tells us all we need to know. They cannot handle the truth.

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  26. Anonymous says:

    Um… How can anyone be blocked from a PUBLIC MEETING?? What kind of dictatorship is this country turning into!?

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  27. Anonymous says:

    How does Jennifer Ahearn still have that job as chief of anything after the numerous cock ups?

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  28. GOT says:

    DRACARYS!!!!

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  29. Anonymous says:

    What can they do to her if she goes anyway. I would go and if they fired me I would sue the pants off them. They are a hunch Nimbeys. They do not want anyone there who could go toe to toe with them on the facts. Why, because they want to keep the Cayman residents in the dark.

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  30. Anonymous says:

    Why is our government afraid of the voice of the people?

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  31. Anonymous says:

    What exactly does the Premier and Deputy Moses Kirkconnell and the Ministry of Environment have to hide to deny DOE from addressing the public about the EIA?

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  32. Anonymous says:

    Correct decision. Well done Jennifer

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    • Anonymous says:

      Explain please.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Is this not a meeting about the country’s first people’s initiated referendum and the importance of this process? Perhaps the meeting should be focused on that instead of being a campaign rally for anti-port CPR Cayman. Perhaps CPR Cayman should take a page out of its own book and call this meeting what it really is, not an informational session about the upcoming process but a campaign launch for it’s own agenda. Transparency goes both ways.

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