Government to establish George Town council

| 06/11/2011

(CNS): The government will be hosting a public meeting Tuesday to begin the process of appointing a district advisory council for the MLAs in the country’s capital. The premier along with the two UDP George Town representatives will be present but the process is being boycotted by the opposition as a result of the fact that Cabinet is appointing these local government committees rather than allowing the people themselves to choose who they want to advise their elected representatives on their behalf . Government officials said the meeting would be to inform George Town residents about the purpose, scope and composition of the new district councils which are meant to advice elected officials.

The Cayman Islands Constitution 2009 calls for the establishment of Advisory District Councils for each electoral district to give localised advice from constituents to assist member s of the Legislative Assembly in their representation of their respective constituencies. They were envisioned asnon-political bodies that would focus on specific district issues but the government stirred up controversy when it established the law for the committees as appointed not elected bodies.

So far the only district to establish a council under the new legislation is the premier’s constituency of West Bay. A district council already exists in North Side which was elected at a public meeting hosted by the independent MLA, Ezzard Miller, soon after his election to office in May 2009.

The decision by the government to politicize the councils by establishing who could nominate was not just criticized by the opposition but by the constitutional commission as well which expressed disappointment over the decision to ignore its advice and had hoped government would have waited for the results of research that may have helped create more effective councils. Wil Pinneau and Julene Banks, said in the wake of the legislation that the commission had envision the councils to be more democratic and shaped more like the existing district council in North Side.

“We hoped Cabinet would have waited before rushing ahead with advisory district council legislation for some of the results of this research,” Pinneau said. “We are doing the research to evaluate how government works and what we have already … We wanted to understand what the role of the councils would be.”

The law was passed in January this year and during the debate in the country’s parliament the opposition leader and one of the architects of the constitution, Alden McLaughlin stated that the objective of creating the councils was never for them to become creatures of government “bound to carry out government’s will” and warned that the country would wind up with functionaries of government sitting in a constitutional role pushing government policy, which could not be an improvement on democracy.

The George Town member said it was a tragedy that the Constitution was being used to introduce something as undemocratic as what was being proposed.

However, Bush has defended the government’s decision to have Cabinet appoint the councils with nominees also being made by the opposition party.

In the wake of the criticisms the premier made a national televised address in which he stated government did not think they should be elected. Bush hit out at the opposition, saying if they felt so strongly about electing council members they should have written it into the constitution and accused them of tearing down what the government was trying to build.

“The constitution makes no requirement that the council members be elected and in my view for a good reason,” the premier said, adding that the councils are advisory bodies and will have no binding authority. “They are there to advise their district’s elected members of the Legislative Assembly on district matters.”
He denied that the councils would merely be a rubber stamp for government policy as there was nothing for them to rubber stamp since they are not there to approve or carry out policy but to advise their MLAs, and through their representatives in turn advise the Cabinet.
According to the law, as many as ten members may be appointed to a council and the Cabinet will select and appoint four officers. Up to six other members may be appointed. Of these regular members, at least two must be recommended by the leader of the opposition.

However, McLaughlin stated recently that the PPM will continue to boycott the process as it “runs counter to the spirit” of the original intent.

“What the government has created is party political councils weighted extremely heavily in favour of government and extensions of the UDP,” he said. “We are not going to participate in them,” he said, as he explained that the failure of the PPM to make nominations on the recent creation of the West bay council as a legitimate protest in the face of government’s decision to politicise what should have been independent bodies.

The meeting will take place at the George Town, Town Hall on Tuesday evening r 8) at 6:30pm

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Category: Politics

Comments (12)

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  1. T.L. Haranguer says:

    I want in so I can "fix my business" to.

  2. The Prophet says:

    Strangers in the night, now come on we know that this is usually done, no matter which Government is in. PPM did the same thing while they were reigning.  YDP will do the same thing, and if PPM get back inPower they will do the same thing again.  Who is not thinking, is the people of Cayman.  Stop returning to voting for these Governments that only about Power.  Move on , make changes.  Vote for the person who you believe will be best for Cayman, do not vote for Tom Jones because he is your friend or you can get put on a board.  It is wrong.

    I believe that people should be invited to these district Council meetings where persons will be elected fort these positions.   There should be a NOMINATION of individuals, then there should be a voting process from the people that are in attendance.

    People who attend, would show an interest in what would be taking place in their district.  If you do not go and vote or be NOMINATED as a candidate for the district council, that means you have no interest, and therefore should not have any say.

    I hope all go well.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Will they be trying to sell insurance at the meeting too?

  4. Anonymous says:

    The problem with politicians appointing the council members is that  we will likely end up with a District  Advisory Council ,rather than an Advisory District Council.In other words we will find that advice will be flowing in the wrong direction;instead of going from the public to their representatives,it will likely flow from politicians to the public.Sure hope its not used to give away fridges or other political favours.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It is not a council that we need, we need to get rid of the UDP once and for all.

  6. Anonymous says:

    One more boondoggle on the backs of the Cayman taxpayer. One more increase in government workers at the expense of the private sector.

    The Cayman government is already far to large and expensive for the number of people in the private sector whichsupports it.

    When will government growth cease? When it finally bankrupts the private sector? And then what?



    • truth says:

      And then what?  Just wait and see because that is where Cayman is headed fast.  Smart people will plan on it.

  7. Mentalist. says:

    Come out in large numbers George Town do not allow Mr. Solomon and the Premier to force feed us their puppets. Please note that he has the authority under the law to pay the Chairman. No amount is set under the law.


  8. Anonymous says:

    Well, I for one would prefer if the voting public decided who sat one this one. If not by this method, this is just going to be another political appointment group that will be nothing more than a bunch of "yes" people.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Headline should have been “Village council appoints village council”

  10. Anonymouse says:

    What ? Mc Keewer loosing grip in G.T. Nah! The only reason he did not vote for the Constitution is that he knew it would pass but could use the fact that he was against it to pretend it's all the PPM fault as usual. But you may do what you want but you're not getting in BOBO ! What a Bozo and his bunch of yes men. The UK will come and clean this mess though XXXX

  11. Strangers in The Night says:

    "Government to establish GT council"! That's right, another UDP council full of cronies & "yes people" for Mac to dictate to! XXXX