Premier sends mixed message on port vote

| 29/07/2019 | 51 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Alden McLaughlin (left) and Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell

(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin refused to say Monday whether or not he believes the cruise berthing project is a matter of national importance, but he denied that his government had plans to challenge the possibility of a referendum on the issue in court. At a press conference on the project he acknowledged the petition on the referendum but he still gave misleading information about it, but said that if the signatures required were verified then there would be a national vote.

The premier still showed considerable scepticism about the petition, even though over 5,600 signatures have been submitted and over 66% of the number (5,292) needed to trigger a referendum have been verified. However, he accepted that if the campaigners did get the numbers, government would hold a referendum.

“We respect the constitution… If they do get the numbers then we will have a referendum… the sooner the better,” he said, adding that it would be before the end of the year.

But McLaughlin went on to show that he does not believe the threshold will be reached. He said that more than 600 signatures given to the Elections Office were either duplicates or people not registered to vote, which together with those who have refused to verify meant as many as 700 names were false which he said surprised him.

However this is not accurate.

The CPR volunteers made it clear to the Elections Office from the start that in addition to the more than 5,600 names they have submitted, there were several hundred more that, for one reason or another, they were unable to verify and so they had not been counted. Though their names were in the petition books, they had all been flagged as not part of the submission.

While the premier took aim during the press conference at CNS for what he described as inaccurate reporting, he seemed to have no issue in misleading the public himself over the petition numbers. But as McLaughlin delivered the mixed messages about government’s position on the referendum, what was clear was that it will not even entertain the idea of a people’s vote unless the absolute minimum 25% threshold of registered voters is reached.

He also said that the agreement not to sign any contract with the winning bidder on the project, Verdant Isle, is based on the time that is required to verify the necessary 5,292 names needed to meet the constitutional requirement.

The premier took ownership of that constitutional right, noting that it was there because it was a part of the PPM’s proposals during the years of talks over the 2009 Constitution. “It was me and my Progressive colleagues who fought to have this included in the 2009 Constitution. Because of my direct involvement, I know very well what was intended by the language in the Constitution,” he said.

“The intention was exactly as stated; the test was to be ‘not less than 25% of registered electors’. It does not say ‘almost 25% of the electors’, and so the only way one can validate whether the test of ‘not less than 25%’ is truly met is to validate every signature,” he added, as he justified the current process, which has caused significant concern. And he denied any political interference with the verification.

McLaughlin stated it was absolutely untrue that government plans to challenge the referendum in court. He said he believed the public is coming to see through what he claimed were the tactics to undermine the project and “sow suspicion and discord”, as he insisted everything was above board about the cruise project.

Once the Elections Office has verified the necessary signatures, the petition will go to Cabinet and government will then need to bring a law to the Legislative Assembly to create the referendum. The date of the national poll is entirely in the hands of government, and it is clear that, even though the information about this project is only now coming into the public domain, government will be seeking to have this done as quickly as possible, avoiding a protracted campaign.

And the government also gets to write the question, an issue that the premier refused to address when CNS asked him what the wording was likely to be.

See related story: Cruise fees will fund project, says CIG

See the full conference below on CIGTV starting at 35:25

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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (51)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I wish it was as easy to get rid of dumbass politicians as it seems to be for them to get rid of civil servants they don’t like to “wuk wit”.

    • Anonymous says:

      Spot on comment, 4:07, though to be fair I don’t think either Alden or Moses is “dumbass”…misguided, yes, and in the case of Moses terribly conflicted because his extended family will benefit from the proposal. But, going back to ‘dumbass’, an inelegant expression where ‘unintelligent, semi literate, incompetent” would suffice, I offer up, based on his embarrassing contributions to parliament when it was obvious he did not understand his brief and had difficulty reading it, Dwayne Seymour, Minister of one of the most important weighty portfolios in government, only there because Alden could not have survived unless he put him there. We MUST do better, fellow Caymanians, both with the intellectual quality of the people we elect as MLAs and as the persons we accept as Ministers of Government.

  2. Caymanian says:

    I just want to say and re-emphasize that this whole petition has been a tremendous waste of time and energy XXXX.

    What baffled me is that these XXXX lead a disinformation campaign lead to rile people up against an invisible enemy.

    They had misconceived thoughts and ideas about how a project like this would go and lead people with even less knowledge to follow them like some doomsday cult chasing the next comet in the sky.

    So what I darn well want to know is this. Now that you have the information you so desperately wanted will you squash the referendum knowing that all your scare mongering predictions have been squashed or will you simply continue because you are so damn fool to know when to quit?

    So let’s see what’s now put to rest…

    1. 300m to 400m – WRONG. 200m
    2. Increases in port fees – WRONG. Remains the same.
    3. Port ran by 3rd party – WRONG!!! Still CI Port Authority
    4. Major upland development to take away local business – WRONG!! None.
    5. China Harbour Engineering – WRONG!! Local business with other partners.
    6. Flooding in GT – WRONG!! None.
    7. Destruction of SMB – WRONG!1 Flow through under piers meaning little to no change in tidal activity.
    8. CIG would not respect the referendum – WRONG!!
    9. CIG would fight the referendum in court – WRONG!!

    As I have said from the beginning, give the government time to do their work and allow them to come back to us and show us what they want to propose.


    I know this won’t be printed because CNS has been a major supporter and will make this disappear since they are part of the reason for all of this in their support since they love love love controversy so much since it sells news.

    CNS: As said many times before, I usually delete comments that include something along the lines of ‘I bet CNS won’t print this…”. Last warning. I deleted the ad hominem attacks (except on us). Also, news tends to be controversial, otherwise it’s not news. You get that, right?

    • Caymanian says:

      That’s because CNS you help spin crap. As a journalist you need stay out of the promotion of the petition and report FACTS not RUMORS.

      CNS: You’re not understanding the situation. All journalists in every corner of the world rely on tips to help them uncover what’s going on. They then do their level best to verify the information. That’s exactly what we do, we try to verify the information we are given. However, when we get blanked by the authorities or politicians and we think that our sources are good, we then have a choice of either killing the story – which in many cases is exactly what the politicians/authorities hope will happen when they blank us – or we can go with the story, making it clear that our sources are unofficial.

      Every news outlet in the world takes positions on things. To pretend otherwise is “spin”.

    • Anonymous says:

      CNS “news tends to be controversial, otherwise it’s not news”.Really? i thought news was “information not previously known to someone’. News can be good or bad , controversial or not controversial. .News is not by nature controversial.Guess you missed the boat on that one

    • Anonymous says:

      Hmm “ News tends to be controversial other wise it’s not news” where was that gem stolen from.

      So news of sports, national events, lives being saved, the queens birthday , good projects for the island, human tragedy, human upLifting are not news stories because they are not controversial,. Ona hear that! WOW 😮 shiver me timbers a dark day today indeed. Let me give you another gem “ Engage noggin before turning on the egg beater. 🗣

  3. Anonymous says:

    If this regime (or any other) respected the Constitution, or the idea of good governance, they would have enacted the Standards in Public Life Law a decade ago.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I can feel the eyeroll from Alden as he read this headline today.. lol

  5. Leroy Parker says:

    Lets build the dock and cruise port for the forward thinking people. One day in the future, we will sit by the dock and reminisce how the battle was won and Cayman has become the preferred destination or tourists who do not have to get of on a tender. CIG! Please take this free advice because you are in the process of wasting money on consultants. Have the tenders form a conglomerate of vessels offering dedicated ferry services from East End to GT and to WB. A ferry arrives at a dock every 30 minutes. Use the busses currently parked all day after dropping of the school kids, to traffic passengers from the docks to their destination. Build a proper transportation center from which the busses operate (a bus terminal) an get these unruly taxis to form proper lines and drive decent on the roads along with the mini busses. It’s not rocket science, trust me.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hog wash!

    • Anonymous says:

      You may be correct Leroy;but may be that day in the future, we will sit by the dock and reminisce how we used to have coral reefs, a beautiful beach and mangroves protecting our shores that visitors used to enjoy. And when all the attractions are gone and the tourists are gone because they found our Islands were too crowded and with nothing to see, we will wonder how come we did not see the big picture, May be we will be recognized as the Islands that did not protect their natural treasures but have to pay a big debt. Wonder what we will do then, who are we going to work for. Perhaps, we will be like Chernobyl, and make a buck or two showing a big cement dock and the tall buildings and telling embellished stories of what we used to be…

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, we’ll be listening to Otis Redding while we sit there, too. Because there sure won’t be anywhere else where we’ll be able to see the sea. Sitting by a cargo dock has never been an item on my bucket list.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have disembarked from a ship on a port and from a tender, they both take the same amount of bloody time.

    • Juz Cuz says:

      For your info..we are ALREADY the preferred destination of Caribbean cruises..yes, with the existing tendering service!!! ( most visitors see that as part of the charm) and without the horrendous debt!
      Even with your proposed Cruise Birthing Facility, there will still be required tendering… Won’t it? Or are we going to limit daily cruise ship stop-overs to 4.???

      Come-on Cayman, wake up…as our Cruise Tourism continues to increase, it’s not because of our Port facilities…it’s because of our people, our culture and our island’s irreplaceable, marine environment .!!
      If it’s not broken , don’t fix it!!

      Jus’ my view.

  6. Anonymous says:

    alden is mckeeva’s clone……

  7. Anonymous says:

    I would encourage everyone to watch the entire press conference and then judge for yourselves.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The premier is a excellent speaker. The premier do not need a recorder.

    • Anonymous says:

      You need to record him, because the people of this island have amnesia, and Alden only remembers whats beneficial to him. All now, PPM has not demonstrated why we should trust them with such a huge project after all of the previously failed projects they’ve done.

      Alden has taken credit for the boost in the economy, when the blind can see it was due to the misfortune of the Eastern Caribbean, last hurricane season. What have they really done other then divide this country more than it already was.

    • Anonymous says:

      Though your statement is not factual, I thought that you could use some help with grammar. Use “a” before words that start with a consonant sound and “an” before words that start with a vowel sound. In you case, AN excellent speaker is correct.

    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent speaker! Oh please give me a break. He is usually so nervous and ready to bolt. It’s like he has himself tied up in a wad waiting to exhale. I actually feel sorry for him l. Poor fella.

  9. South Sounder says:

    Today saw a rare double appearance from the Premier and Deputy Premier flanked by heavy weights to bolster their presence, as they pushed their infrastructure credentials before the public. The CI$200m approved cruise berthing and cargo infrastructure spending is coming from the private sector led by the two largest cruise lines RCL and Carnival who will get repaid some CI$400m over 25 years, but it’s an easy way to generate headlines, reaffirm the ‘long term economic plan’ message and show that the government is ‘getting things done’. However with so many questions unanswered do these tactics really work, and how many voters can be swayed by politicians making grand announcements with little to no credibility as they flustered through the basic finance questions? Questionable ethics and motives by the leaders of government who clearly have misjudged the position, and intelligence, of the electorate. At least we are all agreed, the referendum can’t come soon enough.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Lets hold the public vote so we can hurry and get on with the dock!

    • Benevolent Mindflayer says:

      I totally agree that we should hold the referendum as soon as possible. We’ll see how the votes come out, but I would be shocked to see the a referendum cancel the dock. I’m personally against it and will vote against it, but that’s the way a democracy works. However, should a majority of people vote against the dock, I predict that it won’t go the same way as the single-member constituency referendum did. In that referendum, single-member constituencies were adopted based on the majority of those who cast votes, even though the 5,631 who voted for it didn’t represent half of the 15,161 registered voters at the time. I believe more than half of those who vote in the referendum will vote against the cruise dock, but I don’t think that number will represent half plus one of the electorate. If that turns out to be the case, I also predict the government will simply proceed with the dock because the referendum will only be advisory and not binding.

  11. Caveat Emptor says:

    We need to accept there is no difference amongst the current Premier and his predecessors McKeeva Bush and Juliana O’Connor-Connolly.

    How can anyone come to expect any better from Alden McLaughlin who has a track record of expensive failures. Look at the facts starting with:

    1. His most expensive failure the clifton hunter high school that costs double the original budget.

    2. Look at the john gray that sat derelict for over a decade

    3. The new leaking airport

    4. Next up is white elephant cruise dock and the inevitable cost overruns

    5. His partnership with McKeeva Bush to guarantee his position as premier in 2017. This decision cost him his integrity and the moral high ground while destroying both the PPM and UDP as political parties.

    The above are all monuments to his ego, leadership and political legacy.

    • Anonymous says:

      Could not have said it better! The fact that this man can come on a public domain, and spew from his mouth what should come out the other end, and believe it, shows we are on the right path to ruining this country for us and future generations.

    • Anonymous says:

      Caveat Emptor: Here’s a little caveat for you; the flooding at the airport terminal was not due to a leak.

    • Caymanian says:

      You are naive and silly at best. Everything is explained and yet you still chat crap.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes that’s the problem isn’t it. He lost his integrity and the moral high ground. Now that he doesn’t have those anymore, it’s just the arrogance we’re getting. So not the same Alden, a worse version not even trying to look like he cares.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The Elections Supervisor needs to provide a press statement to clarify or correct whatever the Premier referred to about the petition

    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      I don’t think so. I think he just needs to keep the troops working. I am confident they will verify all the signatures necessary. I don’t want even a second of time wasted on distractions.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Alden McLaughlin sounds more like McKeeva Bush every time he speaks on any issue.

    I thought he was different but he’s far more dangerous for Cayman. Thankfully he is a lame duck premier.

    • Jah Dread says:

      What a bam bam take that Mario bam bam take that Johan Moxam a right then a left !

      • Anonymous says:

        Without the likes of Mario and Johan, we would be further up the creek with no paddle. They are actually doing more than any elected official has done for the people of Cayman. Bringing important issues to the forefront and encouraging people to have a say. The rest just sit a criticize, and smile in the face of the inept politicians we have just to seem important, because it’s not what you know om this island, it’s who you know.

    • Jus' my view says:

      A wise old man once told me that until the political system changes, politicians will all do the same and whatever they want!!
      We just need to be more involved, change when we need and NEVER go backwards!!

      Jez Cuz

  14. New Voter says:

    Alden’s arrogance and efforts to attack the credibility of CNS and CPR show the type of leader he is.
    He proves yet again that he is tyrant that will say or do anything to suit his personal agenda and even make up facts about the number and process of verified petition signatures submitted to the Elections Office.

    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      “tyrant” ooooooooooo, scary! LOL He is a politician. He has acknowledged that the referendum will happen once the signatures are verified. I imagine he is disappointed, however I feel confident he will honour the Constitutional process when the PIR is triggered.

    • Anonymous says:

      Alden continues to rise or sink depending on his competition – be it CNS, CPR – whom or whatever.

      Politics with a big “P”

    • Anonymous says:

      Boy oh boy arrogant for telling the truth , you know some of you people writing on this site need to get a life you know!

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh dear! That is what happens when one starts out being untruthful, then most people really don’t know what to believe. Honesty is still the best policy! I hope it all turns out to be true this time- not for his sake but for the sake of ” our Beloved Isles Cayman”

      • Anonymous says:

        ar·ro·gant – adjective

        having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.

        Does this hat not fit perfectly on Alden’s head. Look at the past projects he did. Nothing but false promises followed by failure!

    • Anonymous says:

      He can make up the facts as he goes along but so far Mr. Howell seems to be a man of integrity so the ball is in his court. He can become complicit or he can choose to clear up any misunderstandings the Premier might have about the numbers and process. ” a good name is far better than riches”.

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