Roper rejects interference concerns

| 07/08/2019 | 73 Comments
Cayman News Service
(L-R) Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell, Governor Martyn Roper and Deputy Supervisor of Elections Sheena Glasgow

(CNS): Governor Martyn Roper has dismissed concerns that government is backing pro-port advocates pushing for people to withdraw their signatures from the Cruise Port Referendum petition. But the Elections Office has now revealed that it is allowing people to “un-verify” their names, even after their signatures and right to vote had been confirmed by the office verification teams and the individuals had signed the relevant verification form.

Given the failure by any government since the 2009 Constitution was implemented to pass the necessary legislation to support section 70, which provides for a people-initiated referendum, a number of concerns have arisen. One was when government demanded that every single one of the 5,292 signatures required be verified face to face by officials during the summer, when many people are overseas. They were also worried about the potential to intimidate voters into withdrawing their names.

These concerns have now been compounded by the revelation by the Elections Office that even after their signatures have been verified, some people have asked to withdraw their names. Responding to the latest news from the office, the CPR said that despite this latest change, which was introduced during the verification process, they remain undeterred in the objective to exercise their democratic right provided by the Constitution.

“We are concerned about the process of interference in our democratic right by the acting government. However, we remain confident that the Cayman people will have a fair chance to express their opinion under the confidentiality of the polls when this historic, first people-initiated referendum takes place,” the grassroots activists stated.

According to the latest release from the Elections Office, so far 89 people have refused to sign verification forms, despite signing the petition. While the reasons for this have not yet been revealed, the Elections Office said it is keeping a record of those reasons. The number of people calling and asking to “un-verify” after verifying is “not statistically material at this stage”, the office said.

“In an effort to be fair and reasonable, the Elections Office will continue to receive and record the wishes of persons who want to be ‘un-verified’, while the CPR is able to continue to collect and submit additional petition signatures,” Supervisor of Elections Wesley Howell stated in a release.

He also later confirmed that individuals wanting to unverify must also do so in person.

Earlier this week Johann Moxam, one of the activists spearheading the CPR campaign, wrote to the governor raising concerns that there is evidence of political interference in the verification process. But the governor rejected those claims. “I have not seen anything that gives rise to concerns about good governance, fairness or political interference,” the governor said in his response to Moxam, as he lauded the efficiency of the Elections Office team.

But Moxan said the elected arm of government and “their proxies” are seeking to interfere with the verification process by asking people not to verify their signatures and encouraging those who have signed to call into the Elections Office and withdraw their support. Moxam said this was the type of “political interference and intimidation” the governor had committed to preventing.

“Their political interference and intimidation tactics reflect poorly on your ability to ensure that principles of good governance exist and thrive in the Cayman Islands,” Moxam said in his letter this week to Roper. Following the governor’s dismissal of his concerns, Moxam asked the governor if he could  spell out what would constitute political interference, so that all stakeholders had clarity and in order to avoid any potential cultural differences. 

Moxam told CNS that he was disappointed that the governor could not, or chose not to, see what many people feel is direct political interference. “We will have to agree to disagree and simply press on,” Moxam said, adding that he agreed with the governor’s position that the Elections Office was doing a great job under difficult circumstances.

However, worried that things will only get worse when the referendum is triggered and the campaign begins, given that government has access to the public purse to fight their position and has had no qualms about using the people’s money from the get-go to fight the people’s vote.

Although many people had hoped that the governor would remain neutral and fair in this process, there are concerns that his role makes it difficult for him to be neutral.

It was the governor who gave information to Premier Alden McLaughlin about the petition submission figures, which the premier used to mislead the public during last week’s press conference and had to be corrected by Howell. Roper also welcomed the main proponents from the private sector that are in support of the government’s plans for the project this week, posting the details on his social media pages.

The governor said he recognised that the project arouses strong feelings. “I am keen to listen to all sections of society and understand their points of view,” he said.

I was pleased to meet representatives from tourism and business sectors who support the construction of a cruise port…

Posted by HE The Governor – Cayman Islands on Tuesday, 6 August 2019


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Comments (73)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Verifying your signature on the petition is not an opportunity to change your mind, you can do that in any resulting referendum. Did you sign it and were you eligible to or not? That’s it. Unverifying is simply fraud; you either signed it or you didn’t, you have to lie to unverify. I don’t know how Roper can stand up without a spine.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I signed the petition the day it came out. I re-verified my signature via the elections office confirmation form the week they opened to do verifications, and they took painstaking photocopies of my elector card. Then, mid-July, they called my cell to ask me to reverify my signature again. Ditto for my wife. It shouldn’t be this hard to reconcile just 5000 some-odd signatures. It’s implausibly inept, almost as though the Elections office are going out of their way to spoil the count.

  3. Anonymous says:

    another spineless governor

  4. Anonymous says:

    How does one verify their signature and then un-verify it. Wouldn’t that be lying to a public official? That would be like me going to vote on election day and coming back before the poll closes and say I didn’t want to vote can I have my ballot back so I can tear it up..

    The Governor is complicit in this farce and he knows it..

    We had not had a decent Governor since Governor Russell until we got Governor Choudry and he was kicked to the curb very quickly as it was clear that he was questioning the way things were being done..

    As the Queens representative, I expected better but then again look at the mess the UK is in. The continued political corruption continues and is condoned by Governor Roper..Shame on you, sir!

    • Anonymous says:

      Totally agree..Expected better from him after he came out to say there would be no political interference then he condones this type of behavior…

    • Anonymous says:

      Can’t believe we are actually discussing whether a person should be able to exercise their right to change their mind.

      Thank you Governor don’t get drawn into this nonsense.

      • Anonymous says:

        First they decided to verify, now they suggest to un-verify, what is next?
        9:19 pm, change your name to a “chameleon” and re-read 6:48pm comment, may be you’ll eventually get it.
        P.S. Chameleon is a person who changes their opinions or behavior according to the situation.

      • Anonymous says:

        Seriously, you think this is all that is, changing your mind…Like the poster said what if this was a general election and you voted and then wanted to change your mind..do you think you should have that right?.smh. To unverify your name simply vote against the port when the referendum is triggered..why the interference in the process? You can’t have it both ways..

        This is corruption and political interference at its best sanctioned by none other than our Governor Roper who supposedly “believes” in good governance…too bad he does nothing to ensure it..

  5. Anonymous says:

    You don’t have to imagine it. Baird have actually done an animation of the >300mg/L harbour silt plumes – just from routine maneuvering prop wash – that will kill/or repel all valued harbour life, the neighbouring dive and snorkel top 10s and (at least periodically, degrade water quality further westward to West Wall and SMB. This would be continuous after dredging. The plumes change water density, temperature, acoustic properties and obviously clarity and consumer appeal. The original non-updated EIA sighted “reef and sponge suffocating sediments”, that haven’t gone away with any new plan involving dredging in the harbour.

    https://www.baird.com/case-studies/cayman-islands-cruise-berthing-facility/

    CNS, can you put this in the docs library before Baird is asked to take it down?

    CNS: I have put the link in the Library, and I can ask them for a copy of the video graphic.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you

    • Anonymous says:

      You are comparing apples and grapes. That is the earlier design that has been dramatically changed to decrease the dredging. Baird now has to come back and look at it again.

      • Anonymous says:

        They disregarded that the new design has the ships near the drop off.

        Currently ships are anchored near in and/or use thrusters to maintain position.

        Pure speculation that they will cause plumes while docked. Why is this not the case now?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Roper is there for little more than appearance. We had a governor that was willing to work for the people and not the government. We saw what happened to him and we now see the truth. The Government of the Cayman Islands is beholden to money and special foreign interests and not the people of the Cayman Islands. Disgusting tactics by disgusting people.

  7. Anonymous says:

    1. Roper was put in his place the moment he stepped off the plane. What did Bush say to him about cockroaches in a rooster fight? He knows better than to open his mouth.

    2. I was wondering how / when this crooked and corrupt bunch of politicians were going to start using underhand tactics to divert the democratic will of the Caymanian people. All that brown envelope money has been spent so how are they going to give it back?

    This sums up how the government views democracy. Serving themselves and the elite circle in which they move.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed – the Governor appears to be an empty shirt, as respectfully requested of HMG.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well, there was a genuine problem though. The Governor shouldn’t seek to be popular and trying to put him or herself personally on that path, with politician-like behaviour. That was what Choudhury was doing. I have no information but I would not be surprised if someone made that point to the UK and it was well taken.

  8. Anonymous says:

    see even members of publuc afraid of present govt….not good!!!

  9. The Truth says:

    We all know how a lot of votes are secured in the General Election, it seems now the same system is being used to “unvote” in the referendum.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Why to “un-verify”? Just say YES to the project if that is what you want. The dirty games they play with your minds!

    • Anonymous says:

      A referendum is not necessary for the port to be built. It offers you the opportunity to officially say yes but no such thing as free lunch. It will be a huge public expense.

      If you support the port you don’t need to a referendum. That’s why it’s been said if you sign it, you’re voting no

  11. Anonymous says:

    a blind man can see the tricks the government is up to,,,
    but not roper the joker…

  12. Anonymous says:

    The Government is manipulatively undoing the process. Why are they allowing people to UNVERIFY their names? Signing your names just means that we want a referendum. When you get to the referendum, you can vote YES for the port if you want to! They are just playing too dirty man!!! But I hope Cayman is looking on, learning and thinking.

    HE Roper needs to wake up. If he doesn’t see that this is manipulation, he is just as blind and dumb.

    • Anonymous says:

      May as well allow “un-voting” for politicians while you’re at it. I’m sure you’ll see CDP/PPM lose seats in the house if allowed.

  13. Anonymous says:

    This is not rocket science;

    The port is a matter of National Importance.

    Whenever possible, the nation in question should be responsible (and accountable) for decisions regarding issues of National Importance.

    A referendum on the proposed port will put the debate to rest, once and for all.

    Ffs people, put the politics and personal grievances to the side for a moment; let us make history and take this crucial decision into our own hands and set the precedent.

    – Whodatis

    *Personally, I am not in support of this particular proposed port, however, if the referendum comes and the country votes in favour thereof, I will happily respect and support the decision made by my country – as a unit.

    **Clearly, our government is VERY concerned that the majority of the people also DO NOT WANT their proposed port.
    I struggle to find any other reason for their strong resistance to the calls for a referendum.

    • Anonymous says:

      Who,

      No disrespect but your *comments at the end of your posts reads like a pharmaceutical drug commercial:

      Blah blah blah Port blah blah neutral stance… may work for you and may not work for you….

      Then we hear in a low moderator voice:

      May cause rectal bleeding, anal leakage, dry mouth, asthma, runny nose and occasionally suicidal thoughts….. good luck!

      Lol, no offense. I do enjoy your comments.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe what is the concern of CIG is the time lost coupled with a cost of over ci$1mill for the referendum.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Roper in Mac & Alden & Moses pocket.

    • A. Bodden says:

      It appears that Roper might very well be in Alden and Moses pocket. Why can’t England see this??? And why do they allow our government to disregard the will of the people? It looks like they have no objection to the manipulation of the voting process!

      • Anonymous says:

        Fact is the UK is about to go into hell and a hand basket with BREXIT. Everyone in London, including the Queen, have bigger issues to deal with right now than a stupid proposed port in a dinky island in the Caribbean.

        The British pound is collapsing and the break up of the UK starts in November.

        These islands might get their independence whether they like it or not.

        • Anonymous says:

          Perhaps the colonies might want to get rid of the U.K., and all their baggage too. More like between a rock and a hard place.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yeah, yeah yeah 2:33, blah blah zzzz blah, Remoaner. Go back to your Guardian; Polly Toynbee awaits you.

          • Anonymous says:

            7:44, Hope you are not moaning as your British pound heads for parity with the US $. Enjoy the pain. Nigel Farage is waiting for you to join his party.

            • Anonymous says:

              What pain?

            • Anonymous says:

              He’s a wanker 3:24am, and i wouldn’t want to have anything to do with him or his party. I and the majority who voted leave just want out of the EU and its suffocating bureaucracy and drive to European union with new best friends Germany and France leading it. That’s what people like you can’t understand. We’re all racist imperialists while you are up to date trendy EU loving folk (who, erm, would still not like immigrants living next door to you in Islington, send them further north…). There will be tough times ahead….you guys will ensure it with your bitterness at losing the Referendum….but remember when the pound crashed under Thatcher??!! Ooops, then she put Britain back on its feet again after 20 years of socialist sloth and strikes and “the sick man of Europe” and, BOOYA, the UK economy was one of the strongest in the world.

              • Anonymous says:

                Oh Little Englander, what you don’t understand is that Northern Ireland does not want to go back 50 years with a closed border with the Republic of Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland have made clear they want to remain within the EU. While Scotland has made overwhelmingly clear, they want to remain in the EU. Little Englander, you will soon have your Little England again and the United Kingdom will be no more.

                That’s what people like you can’t understand, blinded by the buffoon Boris who promises English tea and crumpets plus greatness, for Little England, but offers zero solutions and ideas other than mindless rhetoric which appeals to the simple and those who do not understand basic economics.

                Always remember, it was not the socialists that created this unholy mess a few years ago, but the Conservative Party sloth led by Johnson and Gove who started the BREXIT ball rolling a few years ago. In the end, they will be held politically responsible for the end of the United Kingdom.

  15. Anonymous says:

    CNS, you say that the “Elections Office has now revealed that it is allowing people to “un-verify” their names”. Are you suggesting that people are not allowed to change their minds?

    After all, Cruise Port Referendum encouraged people to sign ‘if they wanted more information on the port’.

    Well now government has provided more information, perhaps many people are now satisfied and therefore do not feel the need for a referendum.

    Or perhaps the agenda of CPR was always to stop the construction of the port, rather than get government to provide more information.

    • Anonymous says:

      Manipulation at its best!

    • Anonymous says:

      How do you know that we do not have more information now because of the referendum effort? There are still very important unanswered questions including the biggest one of all: even though they propose to drill farther out, does the harbour still die?

      Some people may be satisfied by these explanations but many others will not. It depends how motivated by environmental protection and controlling tourism’s negative effects you are. I agree that if you were concerned just about financial feasibility you might be relaxing now. But we still don’t know how George Town will accommodate the traffic; how George Town and current cruise business will operate during construction; how oversubscribed attractions will be managed so that they are not ruined by greater numbers; where we are physically going to put all of these tourists; exactly WHO will benefit (what jobs will be created? which types of businesses will thrive? will George Town’s slow decline be reversed, including by improving the quality of businesses and their merchandise)? We don’t know this stuff. We know they claim 4,500 Caymanians count on cruise tourism for their incomes and that supposedly taxi drivers tell Moses to ‘build the port’ but that’s it. And frankly there is no mood to be favouring small sections of society over others, especially not taxi drivers, right now.

      Even people who signed the petition because they thought the referendum alone would ruin the project (something Alden was saying when the effort started – more misinformation from him) and weren’t going to change their minds no matter how much information they got, would still back this project if they were suddenly told by an independent report that actually, the harbour will be just fine with this redesign; we’ll keep all the dive sites, the water won’t turn white, it’ll be just like it is now, only with more people able to come and enjoy it. I’d be fine with that, so would most people. Show me the report that says that and you know what, I’ll go and ‘un-verify’ my name right now. But you can’t and they didn’t comment on environmental impact at that press conference. Where is the new EIA? They want to sign this contract in the fall so this EIA must either be about to drop because it’s almost finished or we aren’t getting it! Which do you think is more likely?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Morals at all time low in the DoT. What a shame! And I don’t want to say what I really think about Mr. Roper, out of respect for his position.

    People of the Cayman Islands, you’re taken for fools. XXXXX

    I’ll finish with a paraphrased thought from the movie Alfie “ Mr.XXXX, do you want to be the richest corpse in a cemetery?” The Cayman Islands is not your patrimony, it belongs to its people.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes it does belong to it people. But just because you feel you are right does not make it so nor does it Mean that the majority of people feel as you do.

  17. Verified says:

    I trust they require you to fill out a form and provide ID to unverify a verified signature of an original signature ?

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly!

    • Anonymous says:

      “In an effort to be fair and reasonable, the Elections Office will continue to receive and record the wishes of persons who want to be ‘un-verified’
      Receive and record? HOW exactly it will be done? A phone call?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Unverifying confirmed signatures? Wow. Why don’t they just lie and declare there wern’t enough votes like any other self respecting banana republic would? They’re gonna build this utter disaster one way or the other.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Thank you honorable governor for your vote of confidence.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mr. Roper you have further galvanized the people with your decision. Your actions have revealed your true intentions and the willfully blindness to what is going on in Cayman.
    CPR will only get stronger with more support after this announcement.

  21. Lord Percy says:

    Well, slap me with a moldy turnip and color me flabbergasted!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Come on all you people, what do you really expect this man to say? He is only human and wants to keep his job; doesn’t anyone know: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
    How do you think he has been around this long? For one I do not blame him at all, poor fella!

  23. CayMan1 says:

    It’s true. I am one who signed. A lady came to my house to verify if I signed. I asked her what if I change my mind. She gave me the option to unverify.

    Just wondering, if that should have been part of the rules. Why make known that unverifying option and indicate “how to” to accomplish it?

    I could say she INFLUENCED me to think negative by coming in my yard, as if something is terribly wrong with signing that it has to be verified … so I changed my mind, and she showed me the “how to.”

    Just sayin, Gov

    • Anonymous says:

      You asked her what if you changed her mind. What was she supposed to respond? One could say YOU influenced her to give out that information. wish people would just calm down and let this process be completed. For Christ’s sake, the verification process is already more than 80 percent. Can people just calm down?!?!?!

      • Anonymous says:

        People should be mad about how this whole referendum lunacy has been handled. Certainly an attempt to undermine basic democracy.
        9:05, where else in the western democratic world have you heard of a verification process like this for a referendum? People should get mad and not stay calm.

    • Sarah says:

      I think it’s a stretch to say she influenced you.

      You asked her a question: “What if I’ve changed my mind”

      She gave you an answer: “Then you have the option to remove your name”

      Influencing and answering a question are two different things.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Alden’s got Roper fully on board and prepared to stop the CPR petition. Governor just picked a side

  25. Anonymous says:

    Where’s Governor Choudhry when Cayman needs him?

  26. Young Caymanian says:

    People like me want the referendum because the government do not want to listen to the people. It is the best way to understand the will of the people. That is why I signed the petition and why many others signed it.

  27. Ambassador of Absurdistan says:

    Just Another Day in Absurdistan

  28. Anonymous says:

    Roper, where in any lawful or reasonable concept of law and good governance can a verification process that must legally be geared only to confirm whether or not a person has in fact signed a petition, allow someone to verify that they signed it, and then unsigned it?

    • Anonymous says:

      It beggars belief. Isn’t the Governor supposed to be here to ensure, er, good governance? What a waste of space.

  29. Anonymous says:

    The governor just proved how weak he is with his actions

    • Anonymous says:

      NO he shows you money & position are worth way more than a bunch of rabblerousing island people – get used to it.

  30. Anonymous says:

    It was going too good now all the obstacles will be thrown in the way to stop the people’s referendum.

  31. M16 in Paradise says:

    Well it did not take long to confirm that HE Martin Roper is here to enjoy the sunshine and cocktail parties. He sounds like another Helen Kilpatrick in the making under the control of the Premier.

    • Anonymous says:

      That was confirmed early on in his tenure with his smartphone photos on Facebook, which might as well have been hashtagged #GovCayman #HE #beachhouse

    • Anonymous says:

      We should be accustomed to the behaviors of Governors by now. They come for the beach, a nice pay cheque, shake a few hands, sample the food and drinks for a few years and then leave. That is all they are expected to do.dont hold it against him.

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