Premier: ‘No we won’t’ hold port vote

| 03/07/2020 | 87 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Alden McLaughlin at Friday’s press briefing

(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin has said that his government will not hold the port referendum vote on General Election Day, even though those who campaigned for and secured the necessary signatures to trigger a people’s referendum have asked that the vote goes ahead. Asked by CNS on Friday if his administration would organise that vote, he said, “No we won’t.”

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, the premier had criticised the Cruise Port Referendum campaigners, accusing them of never being interested in the referendum and the people having the right to vote but rather “the narrow interest in stopping the project”.

The premier said, “They have prevented the electorate from being able to register their view on whether that particular cruise port project and ancillary cargo port project was a good thing or not. The country is no closer to knowing one way or the other whether this is something that should go ahead.”

But in their press release CPR made it very clear that they still want this vote to go ahead and have asked for it to take place on General Election Day.

However, the premier said clearly on Friday that his administration would not hold that vote, claiming this was because the referendum was specific only to this project and any new plans that another administration might pursue regarding the cruise port would be completely different.

McLaughlin said the environment had completely changed and it was “unlikely in the extreme… that you would wind up with the same project”, adding that the project was “a dead duck”.

The premier said the next administration would have to decide whether Cayman intended to stay in the cruise business, as he still argued that if it did, it would still require berthing facilities. But he said that was down to the next government as this “particular saga” was at an end.

The premier said that the court had not seen this as a generic question and that this petition and referendum were very specific to this project.

“The whole exercise was about a very specific project,” he said. “In any event, that can’t bind a government going forward. That’s the reason why you have elections.”

He added, “It would be wrong in principle for this administration to seek to go down a particular road” in regards to the referendum, which could bind the next government to a project that could not get started.

“So there will be a fresh start following the next elections and we will see what the people of the Cayman Islands want and we will see what those who are elected will decide to do,” he said, adding that he was putting this behind him.

The CPR campaign, however, still wants government to honour the petition and conduct the vote. “The referendum still needs to take place as it will determine whether future governments are permitted to proceed with the project,” the activists said in a release Thursday.

“We urge this government to minimise the cost of the referendum process by engaging with stakeholders in respect to the general referendum legislation that they have agreed to pass and confirming that the referendum will be held at the same time as the May 2021 election,” CPR added.

Despite his confirmed position that he will not hold the vote, the premier accused CPR in his address to the Legislative Assembly of perverting the democratic process and preventing the people from having the opportunity to vote.

However, it is entirely in the hands of government to provide for the referendum, as set out in the Constitution.

See the premier’s full address to the LA and the CPR release in the CNS Library.

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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (87)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    All the referendum people need to do is go back to the judge and ask him to order the referendum be held. It isn’t up to Alden to decide.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Forget the Port (vote). No side is getting what they want apparently. But this gives us an opportunity to have a more important conversation regarding what the country wants out of referendums.

    – Should they be binding on future Governments, or only ever non-binding?
    – Should they be general or specific? Time-bound or open-ended? Should they include ‘the question’ or just the goal, e.g., one person one vote?
    – What are the right levels for a referendum passing or failing at the polls? (The petition percentage seems right, but at the vote is it 50% of registered voters or 50% of those who voted, or maybe some higher percentage of those who voted depending on turnout but less than 50% of eligible voters?)
    – And should it be a Yes/No vote with abstentions not counting one way or the other, or are ‘votes to change the status quo’ the right approach?
    – Who should set the question? Should the petition proponents be consulted?
    – How long can a petition be open to try to reach the required number of signatures? Can people change their mind and un-sgn the petition? Especially if the petition is open for an extended length of time?
    – What should the verification process be for petition signatures?
    – What should the campaign finance rules be for a referendum?
    – Can there be petition campaign finance rules?

    I call on the next Government, to keep this less-political, to do a national consultation on this in order to inform the ‘general referendum law’ they are going to pass.

    Cayman has a chance to get ahead of some of these questions. Get ahead of other countries who have ducked these questions or learn from others who have picked an answer already. Let us be bold, inventive, and foresighted and decide some of these questions before the next referendum petition comes around.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “We cannot have the port vote that day because more people will turn out and we have tried to poison democracy by making sure non-voters are counted for our plans.”

    • Anonymous says:

      You read his mind. He does not believe in democracy because it is clear that Alden and his government are prepared to fight the people and have shown us the work for wealthy developers and cruise line partners who pay handsomely for those looking fatten their retirement fund

  4. Anonymous says:

    What a coward.

  5. Chuch Politricks says:

    Well well Alden all them church moves by siblings and unity surrogates to control their waterfront properties and assets have come to naught eh ? All we have left is a politicized Congregation who now want political control and to prostitute the church for their own benefit and for overseas business interest Poor old Cayman now being looted by all sides.

    • Anonymous says:

      Church always in cahoots with state to survive. Preachers and politicians divide us. Art, humanity and science unite us. Be strong and loving, Cayman.

  6. JTB says:

    Alden confirms that he won’t proceed with the referendum until he can unfairly rig it again

  7. Anonymous says:

    The port is the life line to our existence and is a critically important piece of infrastructure for our country. The obstruction in this country to prevent important infrastructure being developed is shameful, selfish and an ignorant total lack of consideration and understanding of the economics of our country and the importance of protecting existing employment of our people and creating new jobs for future generations. Such narrow minded people are deciding our future oblivious to the future social problems and costs to this country that they have now incurred for us all.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes the port needs expanding and moving so that it can operate 24/7 unlike now. And if moved what a prime piece of real estate.
      The port needs moving otherwise George Town will never revitalise with lorry trundling past

      • Anonymous says:

        This is the most important thing that they do not seem to understand. MOVE THE PORT OUT OF GT!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Not to mention the lorries are going to run over someone one day because they do not go to speed limit.

        • Anonymous says:

          that sounds like an issue that can be solved with a few thousand dollars investment into the RCIP rather than a multi billion dollar pay out to cruise companies.

    • Anonymous says:

      What social problems and costs are those exactly? Avoiding getting stuck with a half built pier and the liability of paying for it? The port itself seemed to manage just fine. Or is it the loss of construction projects and “commission” opportunities on the pier that has you concerned.

    • Anonymous says:

      Im happy to see smart people are still out there…

  8. Anonymous says:

    How humans are altering the tides of the oceans.

    “I had always assumed tides were constant,” says Talke, now an oceanographer at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. “That’s why we have tide tables.” He was amazed to discover, he says, that not only could tides undergo long-term changes, but that they could change by so much.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Alden common sense tells the WORLD it would save us a whole lot of money if we did both votes the same time on Election Day next year..WHY ARE YOU SO COWARD?????

    • Jeez says:

      Sometimes I wonder how many mothers made their babies drop in their heads when they were small 11:37 were you one?

      The Port project is going nowhere let me say it again NO PORT PROJECT. What is cowardly about Not focusing on an issue which is dead at least for now. Ya got ya kinuckers all wrangled up about nothing that means nothing at this time. You got a bet in or something. Will not having a referendum affect your life and that of your family. Will it put food on your table? I don’t think so. Look you will not change this so let go for now at least nah.

  10. Anonymous says:

    How can I get my mail in vote back?

  11. Anonymous says:

    If Government collected a $25,000 per day fine for the derelict old Hyatt property from the current owner (Dart) we could finance a whole lot of improvement in the quality of life for Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      That was an opportunity missed during the UDP administration.

      • Anonymous says:

        Its still the law. But CIG would have to issue a notice to repair or pay. Not going to to do that to Daddy Dart, no sirree.

  12. Anonymous says:

    We dodged a serious bullet. If this port had started we would have been saddled with 100s of millions of debt we could never pay back. Dart or the Chinese government would have foreclosed on the debt, Turning cayman into a third world country and under the control of others. Alden should be thanking the referendum organizers for saving him from forever being known as the man who destroyed Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      China was not involved in the most recent plans.

    • Anonymous says:

      6:03 our Grand Children will still have to BUILD the DOCK!

    • Anonymous says:

      Not really, I was never for the port in its current location but the port was going to be financed by the cruise industry not Cayman. And I believe it was discussed about what would happen if the cruise industry went south so it is probably the cruise partners that dodged a short term bullet here.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The CPR sued to stop that vote. Now that their isn’t a cruise business to speak of, they want to go ahead with the vote. What’s the harm in waiting until we normalize and then vote?

    Seems like hypocrisy to me and in a way the CPR is doing exactly what they accused the government of, except the using the coronaviurs and the government border lockdown as an opportunity to get their way.

  14. BeaumontZodecloun says:

    He added, “It would be wrong in principle for this administration to seek to go down a particular road” in regards to the referendum, which could bind the next government to a project that could not get started.

    REALLY? Isn’t that exactly what this government was trying to do by pushing the cruise port forward in spite of the people’s right to vote on it? Alden et al were trying to push through a project that would not only obligate the next government, but the people for decades.

    • Anonymous says:

      Can someone explain to me how I can pay my Planning Fees at at the nearest post office but it takes me 3 hrs to do my banking. How did the civil service surpass the private sector.

      I know you don’t want to hear this but it is true. Why doesn’t the private sector follow the civil service lead and place Happy or Not Terminals in customer service locations. I want to wear out the red button at my bank.

      • Anonymous says:

        My post office is closed. No sign of a barrier being erected so assume it won’t be anytime soon. What are the staff doing?
        Fosters can bring in Waitrose products on the monthly air bridge but the PO can’t bring in mail? Please don’t rejoice the civil service.
        Why do you need to go into your bank? Almost everything can be done online, at an ATM or through the deposit drops. I’ve not had to go in & have sent wires, made investments, Received insurance refunds, my pension & paid all my local bills on time, plus got cash without ever seeing anyone.

      • Anonymous says:

        RBC by any chance..?

        • Anonymous says:

          Only bank with queues outside. RBC are a complete joke.
          The quicker the rumoured pull out happens the better

        • Anonymous says:

          This bank finally erected tents for customers unbelievable.This has got to be the SLOWEST & WORST BANK on island then Scotia they are the only 2 banks with long slowwwwww lines that crawl at snail paste

      • Anonymous says:

        You can of course change bank. You cannot change the post office

        • Anonymous says:

          1:20. Now you are finally realising that Cayman cannot function without our Civil Service.

          I am with 7:13am the civil service has now surpassed the private sector. I just renewed my trade and business license in 10 min.

          9:42 when you are elderly and have no bank account or cannot get online your only recourse is to wait in line for 3 hrs.

          Oh The chatbox feature on DCI website, well I can’t believe I am going to say it, World Class!

          Come on private sector keep up.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I believe him when he says he does not intend any vote on this project (knowing it would be a washout), and with that, he would really like the arrangements that were made to be buried from light forever. It’s important that we not ignore the questions we have about the terms of this last deal that was already in-play pre-COVID, it’s status (barges and backhoes loitering in harbour), and the conflicts in the process. We can’t let those parts slide away from scrutiny, since, as he also affirms: whomever forms the next government (and likely one of his current associates) have no intention of taking any regular soundings from the public. The appeals court has retained the next Cabinet’s ability to draft corrupt laws and bad referendum questions and continue this authoritarian leadership paradigm, without (it seems) having to fully disclose their payoffs (via much-diluted SIPL, and sleepy self-appointed regulation).

  16. Anonymous says:

    I thought the law was ‘if 25% of the electorate sign a petition requesting a referendum, the govt is required to hold a referendum’. It sounds like Alden is breaking that law by refusing to hold a referendum.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes. It sounds that way. Though I don’t recall what the petition question actually was, and that matters. But the other question is who would want to take Government to court to try to force a referendum that most people no longer want.

      – Pro-Port don’t want it now because they don’t plan to build it now.
      – Anti-Port don’t want it now because there is no port plan now so there is nothing to vote against.
      – Undecided don’t want it now because without a concrete plan they don’t have the information they were clambering for with the vote.
      – Did I miss anyone?
      – Pro-Port who are convinced they would win the vote so that they can complain about the port being stopped? They shouldn’t want the vote since they can complain anway without the vote, and this way they can complain they didn’t get to vote. Best of all worlds.


  17. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Alden.
    At first I was pissed off as I saw this as your last snub by not letting us hammer the nail in the coffin and close this issue forever, but by election time we will be screaming for some level of tourism and there is the possibility this could have gained support and momentum and slipped through as a vote on the ballot.
    But thankfully you have not allowed it and there is no way any government would try for a referendum on it again, so it is at least another four years until the next general election, by which time we will be back in a new world that has come to terms with pandemic reality and how to live with them.
    And there is no way in hell cruises will feature on the mega ship level the port threatened us with, so there is no way the vote, if it ever happened, will go through.
    You have inadvertently closed the issue forever and will go down in history as doing it by slinking away and avoiding the direct snub but actually reaffirming complete defeat of the lunatic idea.
    Thanks from the bottom of my Caymanian heart.

    • Anonymous says:

      Alden doubled down on the “necessity for premium amenities and piers” for the continuation of cruise tourism and said it would be up to the next regime to restart the process again (and probably with another round of secret payoffs)!

  18. Anonymous says:

    The project was “a dead duck”. That sums it up nicely. The cruise industry isn’t going to bounce back from this overnight. Last report I read (yesterday) stated that 23 cruise ships are already headed for the scrapyard and you can bet as time moves on more will follow. In April Carnival reported that it was costing them $1billion a month to have their fleets out of service with between $1 and $3 million going in layup expenses for each vessel. They’re facing the same issues as the airlines when it comes to cost/value considerations and that’s likely to mean a lot of down-sizing. In that situation does anyone seriously expect them to go ahead with any long-term capital projects like the cruise dock? Their priorities when this starts to get sorted out will be getting the ships back to sea with passengers onboard making money – anything not related to that will be sidelined. In fact they’re likely to cut back on stopovers like Grand Cayman to maximum their onboard earnings and reduce overheads.

    • Anonymous says:

      The interesting question will be if the biggest ships are really the best earners for them or not? Depending on when/how the cruise industry recovers. The need for a Mega-Crusie-Ship dock is as up in the air as ever.

      Lets not argue about unknowns now, but recognise we will again in the future. So whoever comes back with it at that time is going to need better numbers than we’ve had previously. (In any of the other previous dock attempts, not just this last one.)

  19. Anonymous says:

    The CPR saved us from a lot of embarrassment and loss of millions. The ‘head tax’ method of payment has disappeared so do you thunk the consortium would have just let that go? No, it would be government left with paying the shortfall. The premier should be breathing a sigh of relief and thanking CPR!

  20. Anonymous says:

    We will still need a larger cargo dock

    • Anonymous says:

      We do not need it & we do not need it in GT harbour. Let’s revisit a cargo dock somewhere else – Cayman Brac preferably.

    • Anonymous says:

      Then why didnt govt spend the lost 9M working on that?

    • Anonymous says:

      Why? Current one seems to be doing just fine. Or are you one of those that thinks we need to push the population to 100000? Because if that is the case, we need wayt more than just a dock – start with roads, power and water.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Go and grow some peppers and leave Governing to grown ups with out a chip on their shoulder!

  22. Anonymous says:

    If Alden’s position now is that the project is a non-starter because of the consequences of COVID on the cruise industry, then we are fortunate in the extreme that his negligence has not done irreparable damage to the Cayman economy and environment. His admission makes it plain that this government never properly stress tested the financing of the port proposal in all contingencies. It seems the entire government is made up of donkeys.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please dont disgrace the donkeys they have better common sense. XXXX
      Since we have the ball rolling can address other issues like

      Stop the destruction of marine life along the shores. Why are locals and expacts allowed to take under size fish and lobster from the waters? It’s a sin and disgrace.
      Fishing on these islands should be for born caymanians only. There needs to be serious enforcement with the marine laws to protect the environment we live in. Porchers dont sleep bot obviously the law do.

      Marine officers you need to do better, driving around in your a/c vehicles servers no use

      • Anonymous says:

        You’re right about donkeys, it was unfair of me to denigrate such creatures by comparing them to our govt which is simply a mixture of the ignorant and the arrogant.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Coward. Build our damn port !

    • Anonymous says:

      we dont need a cruise port

    • Anonymous says:

      Our port? If it was built (and it won’t be now) the cruise lines would have owned and run it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sigh. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the facts. The cruise lines would not have owned it, nor would they have run it.

        • Anonymous says:

          Well, we sure weren’t getting it for free – as I recall we got to own it when the passenger arrivals tax forgone paid off the construction costs and a profit – in about 25 years on the old projections, and in the next millennium given the current future for the cruise ship industry.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Alden sounds almost as ignorant as McKeeva

  25. ppm Distress Signal says:

    Mr. Premier please retire and spare us all from voting you out.

    Please take your protégées Joey Hew, Dwayne Seymour, Tara Rivers with you in 2021. I have watched the PPM become the new UDP since you became party leader and two term Premier. It is a huge disappointment and disgrace. I thought you were different you proved us wrong.

    • Anonymous says:

      7:39 Have you pick his replacement YET!

    • Anonymous says:

      Unna just can’t handle that Alden usually gets it right. Sore losers! Suck it up!

    • Anonymous says:

      We need to mothball CIG’s policy of deleting records and emails every 6 years, or push that data retention deadline out to 20 years. 6 years might be sufficient for private industry, but not for public life obligations. Then a very thorough and transparent investigation of all Cabinet contact activities from at least 2013 (if the data still exists). Copies of all the deals/emails involving public cash or resources published in the open. Identification of all of the vendors and key associates on both sides involved in negotiating each transaction of public concern. Then an audit of all financial accounts for those people looking for irregularities that correspond to those dates. Short of that, I don’t care where these politicians do or where they go when not in office. I think we know were some of them should be going, and it starts with HMP…

  26. Eyes Wide Shut says:

    Emperor Alden is again doing what he does best talking pure bull$hit and deflecting from the real issues and reason why the UNITY government spend over $11m to misled the public. This entire project must be investigated by the Auditor General’s Office.

    Thankfully CPR were formed and fought to expose the issues and ask questions. If not this government would have pushed the cruise port project down our throats and bankrupted this country. We have seen this before in 2007-09 when the Emperor showed us he cannot manage anything as education minister including the $110m Clifton Hunter High School project. His first political monument.

    This government failed because of narcissism, corruption and a lack of transparency. It is clear that Alden McLaughlin, Moses Kirkconnell, Joey Hew, McKeeva Bush and all the yes men in their coalition government cannot be trusted. Cayman it is time to open your eyes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Now here here. Let us just not criticize the Premier – as certainly there is some blame to share with his Deputy – with further reference to the unfinished Hurricane Hilton on the bluff, the half-sized swimming pool again on the bluff, the neglect of the Brac dump, the disbandment of district councils and all of the regular public meetings since last election.
      But in his true style, when you go to his grocery store he can be seen giving out $50 gift certificates – the giving away already started months before election.

      And yes, I remain,

      M0$e$ – Trump Wannabe

      P.S. Thanks for offering the gift certificate, now how about a job.

      • Anonymous says:

        The pool is gorgeous and the Sports Centre just about ready for use. Now…can we figure out a plan to use them?

      • Anonymous says:

        Moses doesn’t give out gift certificates. That is a lie. When the walking wounded line up in front of his office, he gives them money from his own pocket, and usually insists upon a short sit-down to review their life choices.

        I get it. Rich man, he’s an easy target. If you were really on the Brac, and a person with their hand out, you’d know that you can get on one of the road crews.

        Anyone that wants work on the Brac can get it. It’s probably the same here.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Why is Alden always in the leaned to the left Friday “Daaammnnnn” position?

  28. Anonymous says:

    What a Jackass. This man talks just to hear hisself talk. A real puppet .

    • Anonymous says:

      The port project is dead and gone…now move along everybody.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree the port is dead you got your way

      • Anonymous says:

        This project may be dead, but its not yet fully buried. The public, and governance regulators, need to delve into what happened behind the veil, and to some depth.

        We should remember his assurance that this topic is merely postponed to subsequent administrations.

        Tellingly: that by virtue of having collected a couple hundred votes and mail in ballots, and been elected as a district representative – his peers feel they can conjoin in any combo to form any future government, with whatever mandate (and cost) they choose; without any need for open consultation from the people they represent, or the imposition of any fair/honest laws (thanks to the Appeals Court verdict).

      • Anonymous says:

        Not under Joey Hew if he becomes leader and any remnants of the Unity ppm and udp government. Those discussions are already taking place. Ask Joey and Moses

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m going to defend the no vote decision. The environment has changed. Who in their right mind now thinks it is a good idea to build a cruise berthing facility when the future of cruise ships are now in question? He knows he would lose and is more comfortable moving on than having a vote that would obviously make him look bad.

      Never forget though, the time and public money that was wasted on this terrible idea. Also, don’t forget the lies this government told the public while the truth was behind closed doors. Cayman can and will do better. We need a government that will listen to the people and be more transparent in the business it conducts.

      Too much money has been wasted while the people suffer. Why not fix the poverty, the schools, the dump, the traffic and the environmental damage caused by developers? This is not a money issue, this is a leadership issue. This government was too greedy and did nothing to deal with the real issues of inequality in Cayman. In fact, they only made it worse.

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