MLAs to pick new deputy speaker

| 17/04/2020 | 128 Comments
Cayman News Service
Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly

(CNS) UPDATED correcting day of deputy speaker election: Ten Members of the Legislative Assembly will meet next Wednesday, obeying social distancing rules, in order to amend Standing Orders, paving the way for all members to sit in a virtual session the following day. At that emergency meeting members will elected a deputy speaker and amend three laws in order to deal with problems that have arisen under the COVID-19 curfew.

In order for the LA to meet, government still has to overcome technical challenges relating to the rules that require members to be present. But given the current regulations requiring people avoid gathering and if they must do so to stay at least six feet apart, Standing Orders must be changed to allow members to appear virtually through a remote platform such as Zoom.

Another key challenge is the situation regarding Speaker McKeeva Bush. The West Bay West member is currently on some kind of undefined leave of absence as a result of serious allegations against him that he assaulted a woman who was managing a bar on the West Bay Road in February during what appears to have been a drunken night out.

The case file was passed by the police to the director of public prosecutions one month ago but so far no charges in the case have been filed.

Following the incident, Bush (65) released a statement that appeared to accept that he had been involved in the incident but playing down the details. But the statement also referred to his problems with alcohol abuse as a result of mental health problems stemming from grief, and that he was taking a leave of absence from his position as speaker to address these issues.

The incident caused significant public backlash as there were a number of witnesses to the incident and the victim was widely known to have been badly beaten by the speaker during what is understood to have been a prolonged assault. This culminated in widespread public demands for his resignation.

Concerns were also raised that Bush was not able to take a leave of absence because neither the parliamentary rules nor the Constitution permit such a situation for an official elected by MLAs. Given all of the circumstances, Bernie Bush, not wishing to support what he believed were attempts by government to brush the affair under the carpet, resigned his position as deputy speaker.

This means that right now there is no serving speaker, or deputy speaker, creating a problem for any parliamentary meeting. However, the premier said that a new deputy speaker will be elected on Thursday.

On Wednesday a meeting will be held with five members of the government bench plus the leader of the opposition, another opposition member and the two independent members to amend Standing Orders to create the virtual session. Then on Thursday when all the members meet remotely, one will be elected to sit as deputy speaker.

It is not clear who will be proposed to take up the role but the premier has confirmed that the job will be for the remainder of this parliamentary term.

Once a deputy speaker is in place, the government is seeking to amend the Pensions Law to provide a holiday on payments into funds and to allow people to withdraw cash from them as well to assist with the financial struggles from the economic lockdown.

Government is also amending the Traffic Law to deal with difficulties that have arisen regarding issues such as vehicle inspections, enabling cars to be licensed without a certificate of road worthiness.

Lastly, the government will be amending the Immigration Law to provide a temporary leave for people to remain here lawfully. There are a number of people who are in theory now here illegally but are unable to leave due to airport closures in Cayman and around the world.

See the full press briefing below, set to start when the premier outlines Cabinet decisions and the sitting of the LA:


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Category: Laws, Politics

Comments (128)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    JuJu 2020.

  2. Quarry Dust says:

    I am waiting for someone to legally challenge the ‘high water mark’ beloved of the Commissioner. Taken at face value it means that all of the sand around the cabanas at the West Bay Road Public Beach are freely accessible. The average tidal range is 12 inches, no-one is going to sit/sunbathe/drink on that narrow strip of beach at low tide.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Comissioner is simply mistaken in his use of language. It is troubling that no one in government has sought to correct him.

      The prohibition is not on the use of public beaches. It is on the enjoyment of prescriptive rights along the coastline. There is an important distinction. Most beaches are in fact privately owned, but the public has a prescriptive right to use and enjoy all of it from sea to vegetation line.

      All this talk of public beach, high water mark, hard sand and soft sand is simply confusing – but give the guy a break. He is depending on guidance from others and it is they that should correct the message.

  3. Anonymous says:

    We need our pensions..Government should not keep holding on to this. Most of us will get no more than $1000 am onth when we retire that in these days could only pay for CUC and water and maybe part of our mortgage. We will be working for the rest of our lives so give us our money now when we need. Nobody knows how long they will live particularly in these times.

    • Anonymous says:

      Withdrawal from pension now will only find you having less later on in life. Work, save for hard times, spend less on non-essentials and live. Too many have ofted for the high life which they can least afford.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of pensions. Silver Thatch suddenly has their member section “undergoing maintenance”. Coincidence?

  5. Anonymous says:

    “She is supported”…until we forget about it a month later and hand career-thugs the predictable free pass.

    • Anonymous says:

      Problem ‘he is supported” will never go away from Cayman Islands. He gets a free “Hero’s’ pass. In a year or so.

  6. Anonymous says:

    WHY are you not electing and new SPEAKER!!!!!!

  7. Doktor panic on the Beach says:

    I say we nominated Craig or Verne the hero’s of a Wing and a Prayer Deal of century who has save these islands single handily Why are we wasting time with these talkshow talking heads currently occupying our parliament building doing absolutely nothing for their inflated paychecks?.? As for our Dear leaders attitude towards CNS it maybe related to the stressful situation he faces everyday from the self important business pariahs who run this place who’s vindictiveness is unfortunately another pandemic like virus we have no cure for in these islands! Big thank you to Wendy and CNS for all your Efforts and well formulated news highlights and articles in these troubling times.

  8. Anonymous says:

    So any guesses on the deputy speaker?

    Austin
    Chris
    Barbara (lord please don’t let it be Barbara)

  9. BeaumontZodecloun says:

    Choosing a new Deputy Speaker is long overdue. How can government continue without the framework? Get it done, and get it done now. Then deal with Mr. Bush, and keep getting things done!! RIGHT! NOW!!

    thank you.

    • Audit or? says:

      8.05pm Having a meeting of the L.A. is long overdue, when was the last one?. I would like to see a list of the meetings this year and the attendance register so we can see who’s earning their astronomic and gastronomic salaries/meal allowances.

      • BeaumontZodecloun says:

        Gastronomic! 😀 probably too true. Perhaps MLAs of the future should be paid an hourly wage, awarded by participation.

        • Anonymous says:

          So..you think they stop working when they are not in the Legislature ? Before you answer.. the answer is NO! My father was a politician and he worked non-stop till 2am most nights dealing with constituent issues. every penny they get is well deserved, especially when you consider tha tthey give away most of what they make to constituents

  10. Anonymous says:

    Maybe it is time to allow foreign legislators into our Legislative Assembly. Thanks to the governor for providing a professional service. A Caymanian.

    • Anon says:

      7.42pm In Britain there are many M.P.s of non British origin and a number of Govt ministers as well, as it is a democracy. The UK believes in having all its ethnic minorities represented in Parliament and in Government. Here in Cayman we have many Caymanians rightfully complaining of the shortcomings of many of their MLA’s and Ministers, yet we have a wealth of expertise in the expatriate community, many of them holding Cayman status. Why then must Caymanians adopt this blinkered attitude and exclude them from the L.A. Who represents this large element of the permanent population in running this country?
      Just wait for all the thumbs down from our short sighted cloistered citizens.

      • Vassel J. says:

        Anyone can stand for election if they meet the criteria set down in the Constitution. It does not exclude people born in other countries.

        • Anon says:

          Vassel, I suppose the problem then is, they would never be elected.I seem to remember Mervyn Cumber standing (in the seventies) and he recd death threats and very few votes for his trouble, despite his father having been Administrator (Governor).

      • Anonymous says:

        ‘Why then must Caymanians adopt this blinkered attitude and exclude them from the L.A.?’

        Because they know that every last one of them would be out of a job. With no exceptions.

      • Anonymous says:

        Fear of a Jamaican “expat” getting elected and downhill from there….
        You may not like to hear that, but telling it like it is.

        • Anonymous says:

          Dumbass going downhill is way better and easier than going uphill, and Jamaica is apart of our common wealth so there can be no better expat, but I guess you’re too blinded by your own ignorance to know that, just take it slow and please try to think before you speak ok.

          • Anonymous says:

            Jamaica is a nightmare. The more we can distance ourselves from that path, the better.

            • Anonymous says:

              12:57pm that’s one of the reasons we are slipping. Too many of those who can’t help themselves and are NAU clients. Too many low income persons, who can only be a liability to this rock.

        • Anonymous says:

          But we have Chris Saunders dont we?

      • BeaumontZodecloun says:

        Agree. Status Holders or Caymanians, which, really we should just be calling “Caymanians”. Other places don’t have degrees of citizenship. You are or you aren’t, right? Right?

      • Anonymous says:

        7:42pm. It would work in favor of the caymanians the way employment has worked in the firms and companies that they run and own. Have a nice read.

    • Anonymous says:

      7.42pm Visitors are permitted in the gallery of the LA. I am sure foreign legislators would be allowed.

  11. Anonymous says:

    What I’m most interested in is seeing the BS changes to the pension law. For once I want to be shocked… With them saying dear middle age man/woman Caymanian PR Status holder .. We see you have been responsible by accumulating 150k to 200k or. Or more in your pension. We know you have kids in private school and continue to pay for them.or have incurred other expenses in child care going forward

    We know that you are now being and will be called upon again and again and have and will answer the call in the past for charities of all sorts. You have walked, run and cycled for them.

    In recognition of your longstanding responsibility and for having contributed to the surplus in a very large way and since we the Cayman Govt are not in the position to assist you in your time of need.. Unless of course (I interject! you are willing to stand and March in our columns of NAU needy…

    Here is access to 50 percent of your pension for a single person and 15 percent more for. Each child.

    That should be the opening recital in the Law so the legislators can come to grips with themselves and stop slapping themselves on the back.

    • Anonymous says:

      pension holiday i hope its for employees and employers not just employees

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanian retirement savers shouldn’t have to suffer the negative draw down to their pension NAVs every time a broke/hard luck expat throws a hissy fit at the prospect of a replenishment interruption in their wine cellar. Fairness and sensitivity should go both ways. These long term asset positions are not sitting in cash. There are material penalties to ALL plan members for massive unscheduled cash calls, particularly at the bottom of the market. Any expat who files an emergency funds claim of any kind, should automatically forfeit PR and/or Naturalisation, per the financial adequacy provisions, and add them to the list for summary rollover on the next flight out. Thank you for your service.

      • Anon says:

        9.41am Tell us, do you hold a UK passport as so many of your cohorts do?”. If so and you take up residence in the UK and fall on hard times you will find absolutely no discrimination should you apply for Govt assistance, but then the UK is a civilised country.

        • Anonymous says:

          With an enormous tax base, stricter entry requirements than Cayman, and a small minority foreign population.

          • Anon says:

            6.04pm Are you kidding?, a small minority population!, by 2050 true Brits will be the minority. Please return your British passport forthwith, not because you are a foreigner in Britain because you are not, but because we don’t want your kind.

        • Anonymous says:

          3;50pm fortunately, when I travel abroad, I make sure I am financially prepared and covered. Always be able to stand on your two feet and take care of your expenses.

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh, so the pension providers haven’t been following the provisions of the law eg equity and bond allocation? So if all the members decided tomorrow to another provider the pension provider would take the hit? Do tell what of exotics are they invested in.. Coffee farms in Jamaica🇯🇲

    • Anonymous says:

      Curious, why would self-ascribed “long-standing responsible“ need early emergency access to their pension assets at the bottom of the market?

      • Anonymous says:

        The point was made about charitable giving, family obligations and so on. Sure, can cut back a bit but that might lead to a lower standard of life for even less fortunate and less charity. Should we cut back and be more personally responsible but less community focused.

        I recall the premier asking for us to exercise humanity on our tenants. Do you suggest I exercise something to the contrary and put people out on the street because you feel that I am not responsible or should I dump my real estate investments on a less liquid market and in effect pressure your property value. Sounds like you would buy that distressed asset and put the. People out with your responsibile ways.

        Becarefil what you wish for because you may think you live in a glass tower but certainly you are not immune to the virus or the fall out eg violence and social unrest

    • Anonymous says:

      If there are any permit holders, or PR/Naturalised that no longer meet their financial solvency requirements, as part of the temporary and conditional contracts of those immigration arrangements, then they must pack up their belongings and head back home on the outgoing flights. That’s the social contract that was agreed, and it should be enforced. My pension assets shouldn’t have to take a hit because Johnny-two-nickels has a chip on his shoulder.

      • Anon says:

        12.47pm Dumkopf! The social contract does not provide for the Corona virus. Why don’t you pack up your belongings and head for the Brac on an outgoing canoe.

      • Anonymous says:

        Your pension assets are your pro rata portion of the net asset value of the pension. Someone else making a withdrawal for whatever reason doesn’t effect you in any material way. Almost all pension assets are liquid. “Your” pension assets do not take a hit.

        As a separate point, do you really think someone who has lived here for 10 or 12 or 14 years and has lost his or her job through no fault of their own should really be forced to pack up and leave? That’s pretty awful.

      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t worry your self-absorbed little mind about “your” assets. Each investor owns a share of the assets. If someone withdraws their share it doesn’t affect yours. Your attitude is still appalling though.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Forget the Deputy Speaker. Where do I sign up for a vote of no confidence in the entire government, a full recall and elections for candidates that:-
    1. Have never stood before.
    2. Are not Lodge.
    Please, tell me when and where?

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for the update, Wendy.

      While I approve of how Alden is handling this crisis, I was disappointed in the tone in which he spoke to Wendy at today’s briefing.

      The press is doing an invaluable job at great personal cost.

      I have listened to the speakers and read Wendy’s reports and most of them are accurate and well written reports.

      A little gentleness would be much more becoming Premier, not to mention gratitude.

      • Anonymous says:

        Often the only real journalistic approach….. Dr. LEE understands it and that shows. Some don’t like accountability or still sore about what would have been a wharf of a mistake. I said it before and I’ll say it again.. When you hear major project and Alden name associated you run.

        • Anon says:

          7.44pm In all the years I have lived here I have to admit that accountability is a foreign concept in Cayman.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wendy’s tone everyday is harsh! It’s just her voice I guess….I do think she asks a lot of similar questions every day.

        The answers will regrettably and obviously be the same, or similar.

        • Anonymous says:

          10:15 pm: oh, come on. Is it that she asks her questions boldly? Like women are not supposed to?

          I think you may be confusing accent with tone. Her tone is fine. Not a thing wrong with it.

        • Anon says:

          10.15pm She asks a lot of similar questions as she does not get proper answers eg how are the covid positives in self isolation monitored. That question has never been answered as they are evidently left to their own devices. The passengers off the BA flight even those with young children have not been allowed out of their hotel room for even 1 minute of fresh air and exercise, prisoners are treated better!.

        • Anonymous says:

          Just a comment on 10:15 pm, I often feel that the media are not asking enough follow up questions, and I think that is a side effect of a broadcast conference that is serving two purposes—press access and public information, all at the same time.

          So the media are holding back because they don’t want to dominate on the one hand, while being compelled to ask questions because they were not clear on what was said. and quite often the communication is not all that clear!

          I do see it useful to have the press there, but possibly the government might consider meeting separately with the press for follow up questions? This would ensure that they can clear up misunderstandings, ask as many follow-up without putting off members of the public, and bringing to the govt’s attention more of the concerns of the public?

          • Anonymous says:

            And they should look back on what questions were asked, and figure out how to clarify their communications to avoid the need to ask so many questions!
            Dr Lee, how about just beginning with “no new cases”. Thats what everybody wants to hear, not XXX tested and YYY whatever!!

      • Anonymous says:

        no-plan-alden is not used to being asked difficult questions.
        remember he is the premier who banned weekly press briefings because ‘he didn’t want the press taking cheap shots at the government’…..or in laymans language … don;t ask me why we are doing nothing on many issues.

      • Anonymous says:

        What he should do is when jon jon is reading from his written bible verses he should tell him to shut up.

        • Anonymous says:

          9.18 What you should do is stop being scared of bible reading.Cha

          • Anonymous says:

            It’s not supposed to be a church service but a government update/briefing on Covid-19. Keep it on the virus subject only & then have your prayer meeting after, so those of us with no desire to listen to their prayers can switch off. Same as the daily numbers by country. Put up a slide of two with the details before the update starts.

    • Anonymous says:

      I know this is off topic, but I do have to comment:

      Thank you Dr. Lee for today’s excellent presentation. I know how busy you are and how much time it takes to put together these presentations. Much appreciated.

      While some of it went over my head, as expected given its nature, I intend to go back and listen to it again.

      Having said that, alamighty, what in the world did the Minister of Health think he was going today!!

      I only listened after the Governor because yesterday I left the broadcast after the Governor and missed important information by the Premier following the Minister of Health.

      Heavens!

      I don’t want to beat up on the Minister, especially after he broke down the other day, but today I wanted to cry.

      Can’t you find something relevant to your ministry to say and then shut up? Is that too much to ask?

      • Anonymous says:

        don’t blame jon-jon…blame alden who has put him where is and who has kept him there for 4 years.

      • Laura says:

        I watched the Health Minister speak. I thought it brought a bit of humor to serious topics. I enjoyed it! I laughed so hard which I needed. Not at the Health Minister but at what he said! It’s now a running joke in my family “ I have Corona (fill the blank).”

        • Anonymous says:

          4:36 pm, oh, so the Minister for Health provides your joke for the day? Is that supposed to be a compliment?

      • Anonymous says:

        The assumptions and message Dr Lee gave for his flattening the curve slide is misleading. He needs to superimpose the no of tests conducted onto the slide and see how the two graphs/lines compare. Lower positive cases does not necessarily mean reduction of the virus spread it could simply be caused by a reduced no of tests conducted.

    • Anonymous says:

      You want to elect a bunch of inexperienced first timers to run the country ? You know what you get when you do that ? Someone like Trump! Be careful with what you wish for

      • Anonymous says:

        Trump is and will go down in history as a great president. You’re part of the liberal left that can’t think beyond your emotions. And if you had to say anything good about him you couldn’t choke down the hate you carry to do so.

    • Anonymous says:

      Any registered voter can lead a petition to the governor/FCO to dissolve the LA and call elections. The problems with eligibility (recycled candidates) will not change until the elections law is changed. Nobody knows this better than those ensconced in the LA that aim to keep themselves there.

      • Anonymous says:

        The day will come when being “Caymanian “, be that “by pain” or “by plane”, will suffice to run for the LA. It’s a constitutional challenge waiting to happen.

        Then there will he choice.

        • Anonymous says:

          To 1.12pm Choice already exists . What you are saying is that you are biased and xenophobic and don’t want to choose a local but prefer a non local representative. Obviously you expect better or preferred treatment from someone of your own expat background.

          • Anonymous says:

            If choice does exit, it is very poor.

            This is the product of the education system (vide our minister of health and his most public of travails…but we all know the others who are equally as unprepared for public office but who are not in the limelight right now) and of the anti-democratic West Minister style but West Kingston effect inducing voting system of; single member, first past the post “winner take all” constituencies, the so-called “One Man One Vote”.

            Combined, these two elements result in the current crop of politicians we have, with a mere handful being fit for purpose.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I hope that Bernie’s allowance for Deputy Speaker has been taken away since his resignation.

    • Anonymous says:

      He should refund any allowance he received. Remember he never sat in the Speaker Chair. Come on Bernie. Refund the money or give it to a charity.

      • Anonymous says:

        none of the former deputies did either with the exception of Anthony Eden…He would be the best one now if they had to pick one from the current elected group but doubt he would want to be connected to McKeeva.

      • Anon says:

        5.42pm When did any MLA last sit in the assembly?.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Poor Bernie…accepted more than he could chew…

  15. Anonymous says:

    CNS thanks for bringing this matter forward.

    I guess the Governor will have to preside initially until a deputy has been elected. But the populace needs to know!

    Also once they get approval for a virtual meeting of the Assembly how will the populace be assured of live access to the meetings? This is imperative in these trying times.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Governor ? Omg the ignorance! The Governor is the Queens representative he has no place in the parliament. He can’t enter that building unless invited in! Study your constitutional law especially the part that talks about the separation of powers. Your statement is pretty much the same as someone suggesting that Mac can sit in for the Chief Justice when he is away!

      • Anonymous says:

        The governor is responsible for good governance, the police, and corruption.

      • Ex-MLA says:

        You obviously have not been here very long. The Governor always acted as ‘Speaker’ but the position was called ‘President of the L.A.’. It is only recently that there has been a ‘Speaker’ either from amongst the elected MLAs or co-opted from outside the House.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps Mr Premier for the record could at the same time explicate on the reason for the vote beyond just Bernie Bush’s resignation.

  17. Anonymous says:

    They should be meeting to elect a speaker, not deputy speaker!

    • Anonymous says:

      Focus. The point is to get stuff done as apolitically (non-partisanly) as possible. Which they can do if they elect the deputy speaker who acts as speaker and focus on what they need to do. If they were dealing with the speaker directly there is no way it couldn’t be political so no way they’d agree to the 10 people meeting so no way it could be done properly now. Let them get on with work and then they can turn their attention to the political (Speaker) problem and all of its ramifications (the need for better management of the rules of the post, not just who is elected to it).

      • Anonymous says:

        On the contrary, there is after all a proverbial ‘elephant in the room’ to be dealt with. Political correctness and transparency would dictate this to be the foremost matter that could be dealt with quickly instead of side stepping.

        • The Insider says:

          “Political correctness and transparency”? Never heard of it in the Cayman Islands
          ….. and never will, until there is a clean sweep of the current government! Trust me. i know those brigands!!!

    • Outraged says:

      1.37pm I was just about to make the same comment. The Premier should have insisted Bush resign and he should still do so. To retain him would make mockery of such a prestigious office.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Oh lord. Here we go.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Bush is on some kind of undefined fully paid, double dipping, government sponsored vacation for the rest of his life or until he gets arrested and maybe even after that.. He is a true Caymanian Hero.

  20. Anonymous says:

    any word on why McKeeva has not been charged?

    • Anonymous says:

      You really don’t know?

      • Anonymous says:

        Could the commissioner, the premier, or the governor be asked, not least , given people are in effect being prosecuted for driving while wearing jeans at present…

        Peculiar times, and I get it, but what part of this does not give rational, fair minded people the perception that there may be ongoing unequal enforcement of laws at the highest levels?

        It’s not like it’s the first time the police (who are generally doing an excellent job with curfew enforcement) come across as not seeing the obvious… is it?

        • Anonymous says:

          Perhaps Mac would have been arrested had he been wearing jeans ?

        • Anonymous says:

          Exactly we are all guilty and this a joke can run around beating up women and nothing happens. Useless government, commissioner and governor.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why do you want special treatment for McKeeva? If this is how long it takes the DPP to work through their normal caseload then this is how long it takes. Many people spend months with charges (or possible charges) handing over their heads. That is the nature of our criminal justice system for normal people. Or are you suggesting he should get special treatment?

      • Anonymous says:

        right, well Mario was arrested within hours and he didn’t even hit anyone..Mac did and he gets a prolonged vacation..

        • Anonymous says:

          Was going to ask the same thing. Mario is treated like he murdered someone when really he made a joke that went too far. While Mckeeva is on paid vacation for a real assault to an innocent woman? Please explain Alden. Politics at its finest. Alden has done a great job dealing with this crisis but please people don’t forget the 6 months before, the cruise port, Smith Cove, over developing with no plan, let’s start over now guys…….

      • Anonymous says:

        No one should have to wait months. That anyone does is part of the outrage!

      • Anonymous says:

        Bush’s issue will go on for years and he will be slapped on the hand and sent away just like Wong was.

    • Anonymous says:

      You must be new here

    • Anonymous says:

      same reason as the police farce have closed the beaches…..too lazy and incompetent to the basics of their profession.

    • Anonymous says:

      How about “LODGE”?

    • Anonymous says:

      … dodgy handshakes, comes to mind….

    • Anonymous says:

      12.41pm because he was using the wrong charger

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