Premier’s failure to engage delayed cruise vote

| 12/12/2019 | 92 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Alden McLaughlin at a meeting about the cruise port, November 2019

(CNS): The failure of the premier or any member of his Cabinet to engage positively with those opposing the port project is one of the major reasons why the referendum has been delayed, activists have said. Since the grassroots movement opposing the cruise project, largely on environmental grounds, merged into the Campaign for a People’s Referendum and began collecting signatures, the government, and Premier Alden McLaughlin in particular, chose to ignore what was happening.

Even when the campaigners reached the unprecedented position of collecting more than 5,000 signatures from registered voters in support of the referendum, the government refused to engage with the activists. It tried to dismiss the petition and even accused them of collecting names under false pretenses, as well as other allegations that proved to be utterly unfounded.

While there may be several reasons why the premier and his front-bench felt they had no need to take 25% of voters seriously about what they were demanding, there is no doubt that a major reason is because one or two people, out of the thousands who wanted the vote, have in the past or may in the future stand for elected office.

Speaking to CNS this week about this failure to communicate over the wishes of the public, Johann Moxam, one of the CPR executive, said that the lack of response from the premier to CPR’s multiple communications, including eight letters over a period nine months, was not an isolated situation.

“Other stakeholders have also publicly expressed their frustrations in being ignored by the premier and other Cabinet ministers, which led to matters proceeding to the courts for adjudication,” Moxam said, adding that the premier’s decision to effectively blank the CPR activists had created a polarized environment. Even the government’s own promotional meetings, with the introduction of written rather than verbal question submissions, undermined any possibility of real engagement over the project.

Moxam said that McLaughlin’s failure to engage and understand the activists, to talk with them about the question, date of the vote and general campaign has led to what is going to be a costly and lengthy court battle.

Over the last week or so there has been some realisation in several quarters that it is time for the two sides to engage in serious dialogue and exchange of views regarding the cruise project. When Cousteau released yet another statement this week about his now confusing position on the project, he called for a forum where all the stakeholders could meet face to face.

Last week Moxam and Chamber of Commerce President Chris Kirkconnell, who are on opposite sides of this issue, agreed they would be happy to engage in a public exchange of views. Having both attended a small meetings, though one of the most positive so far in this campaign, at the Chamber, the men were able to get a little closer to understanding the concerns of the other side.

But the growing appreciation by some about the need for engagement does not appear to be catching on within government. The premier still appears to see the entire opposition to the port as a personal attack and a movement designed purely to destabilise the current government, despite glaring evidence to the contrary.

The Elections Office verified around 5,300 signatures in order to ensure that the legal requirement to trigger the constitutional provision for a people’s vote had been reached. But by the time that verification process was over, more than 6,000 people had put their names to the petition. However, the premier has still failed to appreciate the breadth of public sentiment.

“I think it is indicative of his leadership style, overall poor judgement and arrogance,” Moxam told CNS, as he demonstrated his clear frustration over the lack of communication with government. “It speaks volumes about the leadership of our country when they feel empowered to ignore large and growing stakeholder groups on matters of national importance.”

Moxam pointed to the unfortunate attempts to blame concerned citizens, stakeholders and constituents for the delays. But he noted that it could have been prevented with a more open, accountable and transparent approach to explaining the decision-making.

“If the premier had demonstrated humility and respect for the legitimate concerns expressed in CPR’s communications, plus engaged with the grassroots group that led the drive for a people-initiated referendum, I think all of this could have been avoided with respectful dialogue and compromise,” Moxam told CNS. “Leaders have an obligation to engage, listen and represent the concerns and views of all stakeholders and not only select special interests groups.”

The progress of the vote and ultimately the project is now in the hands of the court. The premier’s decision to set the vote so close to Christmas because, he claimed, of the pressing need to push ahead with the project has now seen it delayed much further than would have been the case if he had engaged the activists and set a fair question on a fair date.


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Category: Politics

Comments (92)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Meanwhile, Curacao Pearl, a 615‑foot-long 42,913 ton cargo ship, has docked at George Town Cargo Port to offload aggregate to be used in the extension of Owen Roberts International Airport. While doing so, proving that we don’t necessarily need a bigger Cargo Port to successfully accommodate and service vessels of this size and length. Myth #752 busted, Mr. Moses.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s not just the GT waterfront, there is no mechanism of engagement or proportionate weighting on any issue big or small, in any district. Our MLA doesn’t even publish their contact details. They are completely disinterested in representing the people – in fact, taking any kind of sounding is a big hassle for them, where we are labelled “Rascals” for asking. That tells you everything you need to know about the governance of the Cayman Islands. Pirates of the Caribbean.

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  3. Where did all of the pro-port supporters go?? says:

    Oh Oh! I poked the bear with my comment below!! 🙂 Looks like the fraudsters are back!

    THE CRUISE PORT IS THE WORST IDEA EVER!!

    Now, cue close to 100 down votes for this comment in 3…2…1…

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    • ~s3k says:

      When unna find it more probable that Indians are people paid to spend hours on CNS vs the possibility that close to 100 Caymanians who read CNS actually support the port but don’t have time to waste debating you.

      Your mind is made up. The information is out there. There’s nothing more to argue about. Go on and rant in a comment box. Democracy will prevail.

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    • Dra(o says:

      “there’s no way someone else can have an opinion than me. Must be Russians 😝!!”

      So cute

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  4. Anonymous says:

    CNS readers can I please ask that you thumbs up or thumbs down the comments as much as possible so we can take the Kirkbots on?

    Its clear that the time zone kicks in over night and the paid trolls (in India or wherever) do Gov’ts bidding and try to skew the polls.

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    • J|) says:

      You want humans to “take on” Artificial Intelligence / bots?

      Let me know how that works out for you in 2050.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Thankfully Alden cannot continue as Premier. PPM are scaring business community, with handwringing and false worry about Arden or Ezzard becoming Premier. Roy McTaggart would make a fine Premier. Too bad he doesn’t have the spine and fire in the belly to stand up for the people.

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  6. 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. We have watched over the years Alden McLaughlin act like and show greater arrogance than even McKeeva Bush. Both have now proven that the power has consumed them which makes them unfit for the office of Premier. Cayman has moved past all of them and their management style.

    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. He has had two terms as Premier and nothing changed.

    3. The new expensive leaking airport which is riddled with cost overruns and now unfit for purpose. The Premier and Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell must own this expensive mess.

    4. Next up is white elephant cruise dock and the inevitable cost overruns. He cannot be trusted to lead any projects on land and sea.

    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.

    6. He is now disconnected from reality and dangerous for Cayman. No longer representing the country but his personal agenda. The Premier has proven he is prepared to lie and do whatever is necessary to satisfy the god complex that he and other long time politicians develop because power corrupts them all absolutely.

    He has failed as a leader. The above are all monuments to his arrogance, ego and political legacy.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Really, i think we should thank Alden for this unsightly mess.

      For it is his failings this term that have finally woken the people to the BS that he, the PPM and UDP have been peddling for the last two decades.

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    • alaw says:

      8:36 why don’t you spend your time choosing Alden replacement!

  7. Generation 345 says:

    Can the Premier, Deputy Premier, Speaker, Cabinet members, PPM and ‘Independents’ not see that the public are fed up with their shenanigans and this project that makes no sense? This vote while on the port has larger implications this is the no confidence vote in this government led by Premier McLaughlin just like how the OMOV referendum was the vote of no confidence in the UDP.

    It’s time for the PPM and the rest of the Unity government to pack their bags and go we have had enough!

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  8. Kurt Christian says:

    Register To Vote

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Looks like a combination of Kirkbots Russians PPMbots and paid trolls working long hours resetting IPs and caches to win the 👍🏻👎🏻 polls on CNS 🤣🤣🤣🤣

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    • Anonymous says:

      Let them squirm.

      We all know the real poll numbers and so will they come election day.

      I can’t wait to see all of their faces when the vote results come in and they realize that they’re not MLA’s anymore…

      What work will they do? I

      know a few Iguana Cullers that have some job openings.

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    • J|) says:

      Could 100 people in a WhatsApp group have a different opinion than the CPR bots on this site?

      Nah, couldn’t be possible according to you. Must be Russians getting paid to be on CNS for hours. Entirely logical yup.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Our basic problem is that we have a Premier and government that is deathly afraid of the governed. The do not believe in democracy.

    It is wonderful to see how our people are beginning to stand up to oppressive government.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    4:47pm you forgot about Decembet 19th public holiday that were freely given because of premier Mr. Alden Mclahghlin’s ignorant dictatorship.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    The underestimated support of the other side of your position is YOUR fault Mr. Premier. Any lawyer worth his salt should know better. Were you blinded by ego? Was there something shiney and bright that held your attention one way? You were against the port in 2012 under McKeeva Bush

    Had you and the Unity Govt members done a proposal, had public meetings about what was proppsed, accepted feedback from ALL of the voters who attended the meetings and write in with comments, then carried out the proper EIAs and surveys necessary, and then held a referendum or similar national vote, Mr. Premier you and the Unity Govt would have been well informed on how the voters felt about this project.

    But Mr. Premier what you and the Unity Govt members did was the opposite of what I list above. The Unity Govt tried to force this project down our gullets without any condensed milk, and now you acting like we should feel sorry for you all.

    But this is not all your fault, the fault lies with you Mr. Premier, and with Moses, Joey, Tara, Juliana, Dwayne, David, Barbara, Eugene, Austin, Roy McT for their unwavering support of your leadership on this matter. All deserve to lose their seats on this issue alone.

    Don’t worry Mr. Premier, miracles do happen, and you will soon get yours at Christmas and in 2021.

    My advice to you Mr. Premier, is to stop this cruise port proposal, save the Unity Govt the embarassment that will come if you continue, save the little bit if decency that may be left in your legacy as an MLA.

    Sleep with your eyes open because many can see that you are being played from within by McKeeva, Juliana, Eugene, Austin and Dwayne.

    There is no shame in listening to the people Mr. Premier too bad you never learn.

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    • Anonymous says:

      4:51 deep down you and the anti porters don’t want to hear what Alden have to say!

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      • Anonymous says:

        I went. I listened. The changes from the first (Mary Miller Hall) meeting years ago to the last (round of) meeting was too great to swallow. If they had been more up front about what had been proposed, why changes had been made, and how those numbers worked out, i.e., the updated business and environmental assessments, then maybe I could have swallowed it. But chewing over an unspecific proposal with no financial analysis sauce and an environmental assessment to be done AFTER the decision has been made left too unpalatable a taste in my mouth. Sorry. The OP is (generally) correct in their assessment. (I don’t think a referendum is needed for a well planned, researched, presented and consulted proposal. This was not that.)

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    • Anonymous says:

      Well said ! The people are fed the f**k up. We will no longer tolerate this govt nor any other that continue to sell our birthrights from under us thinking we’re some backwood fools. 2021 OUT WITH THE OLD IN WITH NEW FRESH YOUNG BRAVE INTELLIGENT CAYMANIANS ! SAME FOR HEADS OF GOVT DEPTS

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  13. Anonymous says:

    I actually feel sorry for the Premier.
    If he and Moses had just spent time to get all the facts together and dialogue with the public instead of throwing out so many sound bites and so much misinformation things might have turned out different. I wish they had also just decided to improve the cargo part of the port, make the area where the tourist line up to board the ships nicer by having covered walkways with local musicians recorded music and a lemonade stand for the guests to pick up a complimentary drink on their way through. The government made it controversial from the get go! Mr. Premier it is not too late, as my mother always to us ” only a fool or a dead person who cannot change their minds”. You Mr. Premier is neither.
    Please do not destroy the environment out there with all the dive sites, coral and fish to do this dock . Surely you do not want to go down in history as the Premier who destroyed the Harbour!! Remember the other Premier did nothing worthy of admiration during his tenure. Come on you are better than this!! Talk with Atlee Bodden and Adrien Briggs about improving their tenders, if they won’t then simply get others to do it.
    Spend the extra money on making low interest loans available to interested persons to develop more tourists attractions, fix the Dump, crime, education, social services, roads, the district clinics, etc. this is enough to keep any government busy for the next 15/20 years. As long as there are cruise ships plying the Caribbean they will come. We do not need to destroy what we have to achieve that! Be humble Mr. Premier and good luck.

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    • Anonymous says:

      a pier is the appropriate way to embark and disembark a ship, there is no way around.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Really?? So how were they disembarking and embarking all these past years? Swimming or walking or water on water? Go ahead and correct me if I am wrong but I haven’t heard of two many tourists complaining about it. I think they like the short scenic view on the tenders.

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        • Anonymous says:

          11:14 you need to check “appropriate”
          By the way when Captain Chesley had no OPTION he landed Airbus A320 in the freezing Hudson River (all lives were saved)!

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Premier please just go away and take McKeeva Moses Juliana Tara Joey Roy Dwayne David Barbara and Austin with you for love of country

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Moses Kirkconnell must share blame in this mess because he was hell bent to get his port and embarrassed himself badly whenever he spoke. The public meeting last year on Walkers road showed us he was compromised.

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  16. VOTE NO says:

    Alden McLaughlin’s arrogance will cause the demise of his government and the PPM. Thankfully he is a lame duck Premier.

    McKeeva Bush’s social media rants attacking everyone has been invaluable to cpr. He does not understand his role as Speaker.

    Moses Kirkconnell’s consistent misrepresentations from the very beginning have been exposed.

    Using public funds to lie to the people and fight the people from exercising their rights was a very dumb move by a government. It is clear that they are disconnected from the mood of the public. VOTE NO

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    • Anonymous says:

      If the idea is so bad why are they fixed on doing it then? You seriously think they’ve been bribed or something? Why would an MLA fight their own people?

      Greed, but for what? You think they’ll get a couple million each or something if the project goes ahead? Alden owns waterfront businesses?

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  17. Anonymous says:

    This government has ignored the people from day 1 and focused on selfish interests. To this day Aldart continues to give away the future of all Caymanians. He has been the most destructive leader you have ever had.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Who in their right frame of mind would give Alden $200M to spend on a port…Does the Clifton Hunter, the left undone John Gray High School and the no fit for purpose overbudgeted airport, ring any bells?

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Keep speaking the truth Johann.
    Honesty and logic is why Alden hates you and CPR.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Mr. Moxam thank you for saying publicly what many see and know as the reality in Cayman. The inconvenient truth hurts the blind but I appreciate your consistency and courage to speak candidly and do the right things.

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  19. New Voter says:

    CPR are fighting for real participatory.
    The arrogance by Mr. McLaughlin is disgusting. What the Premier and Deputy Premier has proposed was nonsense and he could have prevented the legal challenge.

    I thank cpr for their courage and for standing up against a government that refuses to listen to its people.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Can we just take a break from all this for the holidays? Please?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Tell that to Premier the Unity government and Verdant Isle Port Partners. The lies in the adverts have increased. They do not realize it helps CPR

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      • Anonymous says:

        Government please stop spending our Money on all these ads. Full page in the compass daily etc ?Come on!!! Spend your own money if you wish but the majority does not want this.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Do people’s problems and concerns disappear over the holidays?
      Do Alden and the PPM stop running the country into the ground over the holidays?

      Not to mention today is the 12th of December, last time I checked Christmas is still 13 days away
      We have to stop fighting for what we believe in 13 full days before the holiday even starts?

      The only people who don’t want this issue discussed are the people who have no interest in listening to the people

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    • Anonymous says:

      You need time to buy a Rolex?

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    • Anonymous says:

      To what holidays do you refer as we get Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day off?

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Is this article saying that CPR tried to communicate with the Premier and he did not meet with them? Did he even respond to their communications? I thought CPR met with the Governor? You mean the Governor met with CPR on several occasions but Premier and Deputy Premier did not?

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  22. Anonymous says:

    Please fill me in…are elected officials self-employed? If not, who are they employed by?

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    • OneCaymanianVoice says:

      I too would like to know this. They were elected by the people so they should answer to the people. But they way they are acting here lately it is as if the answer to know one. This will change to, I was a supporter of PPM WAS . Not anymore. The arrogance of both the Premier & the Deputy really is disappointing. Why not let the people decide what the want, be open and transparent that is all we are asking.

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  23. Anonymous says:

    Thank you CPR

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  24. Where did all of the pro-port supporters go?? says:

    Has anyone else noticed that the ridiculously high amount of pro-port support in CNS comment sections has disappeared since the referendum delay was announced? Before the judicial review was announced, there appeared to be a significant amount of pro-port supporters commenting on every CNS article about anything related to the port project. Check out the comment sections since the delay was announced. Crickets from the pro-port lobby. Could it be that the pro-port comments and the thumbs up or down votes were mostly fake?

    Come on Caymanians, we can’t not see the smoke and mirrors at work here. Obviously someone is trying to sway voters with fake comments and fake support. Don’t be fooled!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Probably was the CIG using the staff at the Department of Tourism, the ones that manage the “SupPort our Tourism” page

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    • Anonymous says:

      The battle is on social media and the vote no logo is clear. This is another Folly by Alden and the party will pay dearly. Even if he was to win the port, the legal challenges will pour in and the people will vote in a Govt that respects their wishes. The project will get killed.

      Alden please listen to reason and stop the political suicide and that of your colleagues. Your Govt has a massive infrastructure problem which is a product of success.

      It’s time to clean up the traffic situation by implementing invovated solutions. We can look back at a scales down version of your port that we can finance which doesn’t require killing the environment. Think that guy James Whittaker had a good idea using cable cars and floating platform. We are Cayman the jewel of the Caribbean we will never destroy our national treasure so people can come here and see concrete.

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    • I ❤️ Kirkbots says:

      The night shift or time difference makes it easy for them to catch up

      They’re baaaaaaaaaaaaaack

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    • Anonymous says:

      Some people just tired of repeating themselves. One other commenter above asked, who gave alden 200m to spend? That’s completely false. Cya bodda

  25. Anonymous says:

    Mark my words. There will be no new cruise ship dock in George Town. The “environmentalist” will win the day. The new dock will be located in Camana Bay.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I doubt Mr. Dart will want all those broke cruisers trolling around his new town that blossomed! Perhaps Barkers??

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      • Anonymous says:

        On one hand your comment is condescending. On the other, have you no concern for the Barkers environment?

      • Anonymous says:

        Haven’t been there for a while but used to work in Camana Bay and he had them (cruise ship passengers) coming in droves on tenders. Loads of them. Look at Royal Palms since he took it. Crammed full of cruise ship passengers.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I can’t tell if your quotation marks are sarcastic towards environmentalist or sarcastic towards people who don’t believe that we should save our planet…

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      • Anonymous says:

        Towards the “environmentalists” who will dwindle in number when someone other than honest, hard working, Caymanians benefits from the relocation of the port.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Not Camana Bay, it will be Breakers where Dart owns 1,500’ of waterfront connecting to 1,000+ acres inland. The plans are already drawn. Just ask Mario, he knows all about it. His next job will be promoting the Dart port and making excuses for the environmental damage that one will cause.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I so hope so.

  26. Anonymous says:

    This is very well explained. I wish ALL members of the government would read AND understand this. But sadly, they do not want to hear anything negative that they might grow from.
    Because YOU do not matter if you disagree with any of them.

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  27. Anonymous says:

    When the PPM was formed it has so much promise and potential. All of the candidates that ran that first election won. I dont know what happened but it has been all downhill since then. The only reason I have’nt given up on them is because all the alternatives are worse.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Still makes them fair game for contempt and ridicule. They are awful. Cayman deserves so much better. We need to drain the swamp (and flush a couple of senior civil servants who have become too tied to political masters).

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  28. Anonymous says:

    “Leaders have an obligation to engage, listen and represent the concerns and views of all stakeholders and not only select special interests”.

    Alden is not a leader – so none of the above applies.

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  29. Anonymous says:

    Forget the referendum – we need a General Election like one currently underway in the UK.

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    • Anonymous says:

      What? To simply vote some combination of them back in to form another alliance of convenience? We need SIPL enacted to repel the career rats. We also need to eliminate the grandparent/second passport clause from §61 (2.b). A snap election won’t do anything – even the opposition knows that, and they seem fine with that! I suspect a deal has already been made with former allies, Speaker and Leader of Opposition. Hard to imagine, but left unchanged, the next election might offer alliances worse than current status quo.

  30. Anonymous says:

    You can’t make this up 😂😂😂😂

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