CIG spends $217K public cash on port promo

| 10/10/2019 | 46 Comments
Cayman News Service
Port supporter at a public meeting

(CNS): Since government began its ‘Support The Port’ campaign to promote, market and advertise the proposed cruise berthing and expanded cargo facility in George Town, it has spent more than CI$217,000 of public money or public services. Documents released to a CNS reader under the FOI law show that the administration received over CI$87,000 worth of free adverts on Radio Cayman and shelled out more than $130,000 for other ads and promotion since early last year.

But now that government is going head to head with those opposing the controversial cruise berthing facility in a referendum set for 19 December, that bill could ratchet up dramatically as it seeks to ensure it wins the day. With no legislation to mandate how much can be spent and when, and whether or not public money can be spent promoting only one side of the question, there are no guardrails on campaign finance.

Activists behind the campaign for the Cruise Port Referendum and those now campaigning against the project said the FOI revelation highlights the need to include campaign financing provisions in the Referendum Bill. However, the draft bill does not include any reference to spending for the campaign.

“The opportunity for fair and balanced public education on the proposed port facility is imperative to allow citizens to make an informed decision, free from undue influence, in the face of a government which has already spent almost a quarter of a million dollars before the referendum campaign has even begun,” the activists stated in the wake of the FOI release. “We are under no illusions that this is a ‘David versus Goliath’ scenario.”

The activists denied the accusations made and circulated by elected leaders and government members that they have been privately funded to the tune of half a million dollars, stating categorically that it is just not true.

“This could not be further from the truth,” a campaign spokesperson said.

CPR ran the petition campaign on a shoestring at the grassroots level, and despite untrue rumours of big backers, the campaign has been carried by small donations and the sweat of the volunteers.

“As a non-profit organisation, relying on the time and talents of many volunteers, there should be reasonable provisions to ensure fairness.  Government should do their part to uphold the people’s democratic rights, observe principles of good governance and manage, responsibly, campaign funds for the cruise port referendum,” they added.

CNS understands that campaign finance will be examined by the CPA-UK observers, who are expected to report their findings about whether or not the referendum was free and fair after the fact. But it appears there will be no guardrails during the campaign to ensure that the advantage government holds in so many aspects is not compounded by its unlimited use of public money for its campaign to keep voters at home or urge those that do vote to say ‘no’.

Following the FOI release, CNS contacted the governor’s office about the issue and we are awaiting a response. We have asked the office what could be done at this point to create some mandatory provisions to ensure the referendum campaign is conducted fairly and how, if public funds are to be used by government, the ‘no’ campaign could be afforded similar support.


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Category: Local News

Comments (46)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I am so disappointed that Ms. Sookie, a Cayman icon, was used on the radio ad to promote the port. Shame on all!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just gonna leave this here. 100K+ bids are listed.
    https://cayman.bonfirehub.com/opportunities/19668

    Project Description:
    This Request for Proposals (the “RFP”) is an invitation by the Ministry of District Administration, Tourism and Transport (DATT) to prospective proponents to submit proposals for a Public Education Campaign as further described in Section A of the RFP Particulars (Appendix D) (the “Deliverables”). The Cayman islands Government requires a specialist public relations, marketing, advertising and event management agency with strong experience in public education campaign development and implementation. This RFP is to assist the Ministry of District Administration, Tourism and Transport (DATT) in selecting such an agency partner to provide strategic and tactical communications support for a focused, persuasive, high intensity public education campaign specific to the proposed Cruise Berthing Facility and Enhanced Cargo Port (CBF).

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Then Moses Kirkconnell and Alden McLaughlin bloody well need to pay it back. We pay for the government. We fund their every jolly and they squat like fat toads on their mushrooms telling us what to think.
    Government cares nothing for us and we care nothing for them. Ignorant people.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    If the ‘NO’ vote fails I predict there’ll be a very interesting court action over this.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Wish we had Choudhury right about now…

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  6. Anonymous says:

    This government has got to go and it won’t be a day too soon! How dare they spend our money on their own private interests!? We need mental healthcare, tackle the dump, kids and elderly need meals and care and they dare to waste OUR money like this- employing our funds against our own people!? Shame on you and shame on the people who would vote for you!

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Alden & Moses in the practice of rolling out and campaigning their cruise pier ticket are for the most part disgraceful serving their selected interest group and therefore repudiating The Countries other people. Where else can a Govt selectively spend $217,000 to lobby against itself a project that will primarily benefit a conglomerate of two publicly listed companies. The Cayman Islands Govt has essentially bridled itself to the mechanism within these public listed companies the purpose of providing profit and dividend payouts for share holders. Firstly is this acceptable in its own right and additionally should the opposition be asking whether any Govt proponents of the cruise pier have been promised, intend to purchase, or have purchased shares of the two interested PLC’s as well as getting answers for questions already asked before voters head out to cast their votes. The method and lengths Govt has pursued to try and ensure the pier is built represents that of a promotional division within the conglomerate to the extent of asking the apparent simple (but more underlying ambiguous question considering the broader conditions) of ‘Should the Cayman Islands continue to move forward with building the cruise berthing and enhanced cargo port facility?”, – no they absolutely should not until all the cards in full transparency are placed on the table to make that final ‘build’ determination.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Meantime charities collect funds to feed Cayman future, seniors and provide school supplies.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    This is why the dump will never be fixed by the Caymanian government. Funds being allocated towards fighting their own people.

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  10. Cheese Face says:

    FIX THE F******* DUMP!

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    • Anonymous says:

      HOW? And moving it to my backyard from yours is not a fix.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Works for me

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      • Anonymous says:

        No you dip shit, fix it by making it a sustainable garbage waste land not the one where we just pile it up ready for it to be strewn all over the island and in the ocean during the next hurricane.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Thank you for kind expression of affection. Please describe what a sustainable waste land is, and where you would like it to be?

          Also, that blue stuff around us is the sea. Correct geographic reference will help your point to be taken seriously.

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          • Anonymous says:

            4:56, I would like it to be in your backyard.

            As you are so good in geography you will know where that is located.

      • Cheese Face says:

        Ask the CIG not me, I didn’t go an jollies all over the US to see how it’s done, they did 😉

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      • Anonymous says:

        ENFORCE RECYCLING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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        • Anonymous says:

          RECYCLING INTO WHAT?????

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          • Anonymous says:

            Don’t just vote down. It is a serious question.

            We can turn yard waste into compost, mix broken glass into road aggregate, and use shredded tyres for landscaping fill – but everything else seems to me to be impractical or impossible in a small island.

            We cannot turn plastic into park benches, and we cannot export waste, so how exactly do you proposes we recycle. What do you want us to turn into what?

        • Anonymous says:

          But there is no market for the recycled end product.

      • Anonymous says:

        The greater good is what should be decided by CIG. However, this takes political will which does not exist.

      • Anonymous says:

        The backyard where they were originally going to move it had very few people. There comes a point where the greater good of society has to be the priority.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like MLAs promoting their vested interests with public money doesn’t it?

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  12. Anonymous says:

    How much was spent on the t shirts? They could of at least got the poor lady one that fitted.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Firstly, counting the free radio Cayman adds is garbage.
    The people asked for information so the air time and ads are run to inform the public. You have to pay to get information out there, especially with the wannabe politicians spinning all the bogus ads

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  14. Anonymous says:

    It never ceases to amaze me with this government…Doesn’t anyone remember the last time we allowed Alden to spend this kind of money, what happened?

    This time in order to get his $200M for the dock he has already misused $200K Plus of our money to convince us to do something that we don’t want to do… The schools ended up costing us twice the amount as they were budgeted..Just imagine how much this dock will cost us in the end with them building it in the water…Lord help us!

    May 2021, please let’s make a clean sweep and put these recycled politicians out of business.

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    • Rinse & Repeat says:

      Yes, instead of recycling them again let’s relegate them to the shredder. The people really do need to look past the public image of these rogues and vote for straight shooting people of integrity. People have been and are too easily bought and those who have received whatever benefit just for their vote are complicit in the failure of our politicians to deliver on campaign promises.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    The MLA’s are elected to to support all the people not just their agendas. There is something very wrong about using the peoples money for this pet project. Was this ok’d by all the MLA’s ? Are they willing to support both sides of this? I don’t think so.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    The lack of morality and ethics of this government beggars belief. They will do anything to get their way. Sad they are not so focused to fix the dump but there probably isn’t much $$$ in that issue.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Government spending almost half a million dollars advertising the project while they claim

    A. that they have a mandate from the electorate for it

    B. that people support the project

    If you already have a mandate and you think a majority support it, why are you spending tens of thousands of dollars a month repeating the same stale talking points
    Despite making claims about having public support this desperate media blitz displays the reality: The government knows there is little support or appetite for the project outside of people who think they will personally benefit from stuffing more tourists into the George Town area

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Roper? Good governance? Looking forward to your views on this. We actually pay you a lot of money to do things. Not sure what, but it sure as hell is not to sit drinking tea.

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    • Anonymous says:

      He’s here on holiday. He’s about as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah right. Does Roper even exist?

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    • Blue Iguana says:

      He, His Excellency, promptly responded to my concerns and in an email, but unfortunately decided to remain as politically neutral as Switzerland – just quoting the sections of the law that don’t “allow him” to ensure electoral fairness.

      Roper is a passive figurehead who has neither the spine nor balls to be independently objective.

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      • Anonymous says:

        If he will not do his job, we should probably stop paying him. His predecessor actually did his job (which seems to be why the people loved him and the government despised him).

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      • Anonymous says:

        Sadly, if Roper did voice both his opinions and his concerns on an even broader table of subjects , which may be centrifugally removed from that of the CIG , our chap would find himself back in Blighty at the beginning of a cold winter. Hence the political neutrality , which I am certain is Britain’s mandate on the issue ” Let the Natives Duel it out ” and not necessarily his own.

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        • Anonymous says:

          UK policy on this seems to be to step back and let us screw ourselves. Look what they did to TCI!

        • Anonymous says:

          There is a difference between political neutrality, and lending credibility and permissive support to incompetence, nepotism and even potential corruption.

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