DG won’t comment on CS role in port promos

| 08/11/2019 | 41 Comments
Cayman News Service
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson

(CNS): The deputy governor doesn’t believe it is necessary for him to “comment on the conduct of public servants before the referendum law was passed or before my memo was issued”, he said after CNS sent a query to his office about the appearance of government workers in pro-port videos. Following the circulation of a memo to all public sector workers last week warning them to stay neutral in the port referendum campaign, he did, however, indicate that they should exercise their democratic rights.

The memo is not dissimilar to those that have been sent to civil servants in the past regarding their need to remain neutral during election campaigns. But there have been concerns over the direction in this memo that all public servants should refrain from engaging in the referendum campaign, on what is a single issue, regardless of their jobs, especially when many have already been quite vocal in their support for the project.

Responding to CNS questions, Manderson said that it was wrong to suggest that the memo told civil servants they are not allowed to get involved and rejected any idea that they would be put off voting. He said the memo indicated that, “participation in a referendum is a proper exercise of their individual constitutional and democratic right”.

Despite indicating in the letter that civil servants cannot engage in promoting either side, going as far as to ban them from even ‘liking’ posts for or against the port on social media or riding in cars with bumper stickers supporting one side or another, he denied that the email was draconian.

He said he “conveyed to public servants the conduct expected of them”, as set out in the Public Service Management Law. “I wanted them to know that if they feel unduly pressured to vote, not to vote, or to vote a certain way, they should report concerns to the supervisor of elections and my office so that appropriate action can be taken. Clearly reminding public servants of their rights and obligations and offering them the protection of my office cannot be draconian or unfair.”

Nevertheless, the letter has caused a public backlash, as people have seen the memo as a warning to civil servants not to get involved, even though there appear to be no consequences for those who are in videos currently being used by government to promote the project, even when it goes beyond their area of expertise.

Regardless of the deputy governor’s position that the circular was designed to support the democratic right of the approximately 6,000 people employed in government, many people have described it as intimidating.

The memo focuses heavily on warning civil servants to remain completely neutral and only speaking about the subject publicly in their technical roles. There is less focus on their right to attend meetings hosted by both sides and their right to ask questions and then vote in accordance with their own conscience on Referendum Day.

However, the DG has now confirmed to CPR that he will allow them to host a ‘lunch and learn’ session at the government building, levelling the playing field after the Ministry of Tourism presented the pro-port argument this week over two days this week.

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Category: Policy, Politics

Comments (41)

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  1. Johann Moxam says:

    Based on the comments and logic or the view held by management of the Civil Service…perhaps the Governor and Deputy Governor can answer the following questions:

    1. Is the Director of DOE Gina Ebanks-Petrie allowed to publicly express or share information on any environmental concerns that DOE may have regarding the proposed project?

    2. Can someone in a position of authority explain why the Director of DOE was removed from the “project steering committee”?

    3. Why was the invitation to have the Director of DOE speak to the public at a CPR meeting DENIED by the Ministry of Environment?

    Now compare that to the CIG pro-Port campaign and involvement of civil servants and HOD’s in their PR campaign etc.

    I just want to understand if the rules are being consistently applied or if there is a sliding scale of what is in the public interests?

    Looking forward detailed response from the Governor or Deputy Governor also if they can provide a response to these basic questions.


    Best regards

    Johann Moxam

  2. Anonymous says:

    Will he comment on their conduct AFTER the law was passed and he issued his memo? Or does it depend on what they say, not when they say it?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Total authoritarian style leadership. Dictatorship tactics. I can’t believe that I just read a comment saying to leave the DG and Premier alone because they gave them a raise!! That’s just it. Keep them uneducated. Keep them deprived. Give them what they want just when it’s in your best interest and watch them work for you.

    This is absurd. This is mind manipulation, and the people have fallen for it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    While you are on here beating up on our DG he and the Premier showed their care and concern for civil servants and gave us a raise

    You all are not in the same league as our DG and Premier. How many people follow you?

    Shut up and leave the civil service alone.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Even when it is an area of expertise the DG and the Premier don’t want people speaking

    Are we forgetting that this happened:

    • Anonymous says:

      why is it that only the whacky private sector has a problem with the DG memo and his handling of this matter. This is routine within the civil service – this is the job we signed up for.

      But in reality things are no different in the private sector. Let me give you an example. Let us say that your employer stupideo wanted to build a new office block and you didn’t like the design or the location- would you be allowed to hold a public meeting to criticize your employer decision – hell no you would be fired.

      another example your employer bizzareo decided to sell a certain product cheaper than their competitor – could you encourage your customers to shop at the competition – hell no you would be fired.

      I know this is difficult to follow – but i hope you get the point.

      for the last time – the DG is 100%correct – he has told his staff that they should not openly advocate for or against the cruise piers – but that they have a right to take part in the referendum.

      leave the civil service and our DG ALONE!

      • Anonymous says:

        But there are civil servants promoting the port or don’t you get that?

      • Anonymous says:

        Why? You really do want to know? Then hear it out.
        Because not many of you would last a month in a private sector due to serious limitations in your upstairs department.

        As much as I love my Caymanian friend, a true gem among people, hardworking and extremely punctual, kind hearted and generous, this person couldn’t get a job in the real world, and this person really really tried even applying for menial jobs. This person is back to Cayman and is being employed as a civil servant.

      • Anonymous says:

        Then how are public servants producing and starring in adverts that are pro port, and are actively misleading such as claiming there is to be no upland development or dredging in Hogsty Bay?

      • Anonymous says:

        In the private sector you are paid by the employer using their money. In the public sector it’s the tax payers money. Big difference.

      • Anonymous says:

        The difference is private vs. public. A private organisation is accountable to the owners of that organisation. A public one, such as government, or authority is subject to its owners, namely the nation at large, or all the people. The requirements of that should be they represent all the people, the constituents, those that are for or against. A strong democracy is based on the idea that all the voting public are included, not just the majority, and while a civil servant has to be judicious about how they represent themselves as a protector of the public (hence the term public servant) they are also citizens and by right should be able to represent their conscience.

      • Anonymous says:

        We should be able to speak freely CS are citizens too

  6. Anonymous says:

    Do you see what I see?
    Truth is an offense
    You silence for your confidence
    Do you hear what I hear?
    Doors are slamming shut
    Limit your imagination
    Keep you where they must

    Do you feel what I feel?
    Bittering distress
    Who decides what you express?
    Do you take what I take?
    Endurance is the word
    Moving back instead of forward
    Seems to me absurd

    Doesn’t matter what you see
    Or into it what you read
    You can do it your own way
    If it’s done just how I say

    Independence limited
    Freedom of choice is made for you, my friend
    Freedom of speech is words that they will bend
    Freedom with their exception

  7. VOTE NO says:

    Pro Port radio ads you hear TOP Government employee voices on the ads supporting this!!!!! You know who they are! WOW!!!

    This is a PEOPLE INITIATED REFERENDUM nothing to do with Government. Government is too chicken to let civil servants speak their minds during a referendum that is not initiated by them. Government wants to pick what pieces out of whatever law suits them to help them in this situation. Very sad.

  8. Anonymous says:

    He really did not have a choice the public pressure forced his hand. Can you imagine the public reaction if he said no?

  9. Anonymous says:

    The Civil Servants just got awarded 5% “cost of living” increase for 2020!!!!




    FIVE PERCENT!!!!!!!! Now look who is influencing who. Cheese and Rice. Stop this government.

    • Anonymous says:

      Honestly, this is just “Go buy your own turkey” or “Go buy your own washing machine” BRIBE.

      C’mon. Sick.


    • Anonymous says:

      11.59am And if no raise is given who is influencing who. Who will suffer.I take it you are not a civil servant so if no raise is given you are ok with that. You’re family won’t feel the need.

  10. Anonymous says:

    “However, the DG has now confirmed to CPR that he will allow them to host a ‘lunch and learn’ session at the government building, levelling the playing field after the Ministry of Tourism presented the pro-port argument this week over two days this week.”

    Great news!

  11. UnCivil Servant says:

    Franz Manderson is quoting sections of the law that deals with general elections. All civil servants must come out to vote on the referendum which is different from a general election. What is happening in Cayman is not political as it is not initiated by CIG.

    These guys are out of their league and stumbling to catch up pretending to understand the issues and desperate to hang on to total control of the people like the good old days when the sheep just followed instead of asking questions and pointing out the hypocrisy.

  12. Kurt Christian says:

    Vote No

  13. Anonymous says:

    maybe ask his boss..the governor?
    but we know the roper the joker is spineless on these issues.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would the DG comment on something which was perfectly lawful.

      Let me educate you. Civil servants have a duty to serve the Government of the day. Therefore they must support the policies and projects of the Government That is what Mr Woods was doing when he supported the Piers.

      Now that we have entered a referendum period the DG has advised that the rules have changed.

      Why is this so hard to understand?

      Thankfully we have a DG that is not scared to do what is right and to protect his civil servants.

      • Ambassador of Absurdistan says:

        Just Another Day in Absurdistan

      • Anonymous says:

        Unfortunately you don’t seem to be educated in this, you just described dictatorship. It is perfectly acceptable to work for government, while having views that may not agree with the present government.

      • Anonymous says:

        So you’re saying those ads will be taken down now to allow Woods et al to retain the veneer of neutrality?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Laws for Thee but not for Me.

    As has so far been the case with this Regime, something is only illegal so long as the government isn’t doing it.

  15. Anonymous says:

    A real arrogant response by the DG that reminds me of Alden. He is losing the respect of the public and civil servants.

  16. Anonymous says:

    If at this point someone is still at cross roads and can be persuaded one way or another, that simply means he never uses his own brain for reasoning and decision making.
    Sadly, schools are focused on memorizing useless information and don’t teach creative thinking, logic and decision making.
    DG assumes that majority of the voters are manipulative dummies and would accept his reasoning for “no comment “.
    “Thinking inside the box” seem to be what CIG wants from Caymanian youth and children. Don’t expect new leaders sprouting from this crop.

  17. Anonymous says:

    This is actually good to hear…

    the DG has now confirmed to CPR that he will allow them to host a ‘lunch and learn’ session at the government building, levelling the playing field after the Ministry of Tourism presented the pro-port argument this week over two days this week.

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