Political suicide

| 27/01/2012

At the risk of understatement here, even the most diehard UDP supporters cannot deny that the current government is doing a pretty good job at rubbing at lot of the voting public up the wrong way at the moment. But there is little doubt that when it comes to upsetting the electorate the best way to do it is to tell them you are moving the dump to their town. Relocating a landfill under any circumstances is nothing less than political suicide for any administration and especially the representatives of the constituency involved.

It would not matter if the government could find a way to make the proposed new facility the most eco-friendly, state-of-the-art, nice-smelling, prettiest-looking dump the world has ever seen, the community, in this case Bodden Town, will not under any circumstances thank their government for it and it is not hard to understand why.

But the two government representatives for the district of Bodden Town must recognise that if this move goes ahead, 16 months from now they are undoubtedly going to lose their seats.

It would be a miracle if Dwayne Seymour, who was elected by only the narrowest of margins with less than 37 percent of the vote, is re-elected, especially given his performance in office, not to mention the embarrassingly public domestic dispute which landed the MLA in court.

In fact, he would probably have more chance of being re-elected if he stood up and said he did not support the dump move and challenged the UDP party hierarchy. Leading a rebellion and joining the coalition could save what is looking like a very short lived political career and even make him a hero in the community (if not a sacred vessel).

Mark Scotland's record in office has been marginally more impressive as he has presided over some improvements at the HSA, and he might, if he can sort out the health insurance before the end of his term, have something to campaign on. With over half of the district’s electorate backing him in the poll last year, Scotland did, until the dump came along, have a hope, despite the UDP’s dwindling popularity, not to mention the challenge to his return following the issues surrounding his declaration of interests at the last election.

His support for the project and his failure to speak with the district he represents on the dump issue has certainly pulled the rug from under that hope. He cannot seriously imagine that when he getson the campaign trail people will be whooping and cheering for the BT dump. However many of the UDP party faithful are shipped into the district for the political rallies, it won’t change the results in the polling booth.

Working on the assumption that the two men are not completely politically challenged, they must be aware of this. Oh to be a fly in their brain. What must they really, honestly think?

Both men own homes in the district, have extended families and close friends that also own homes, and they know full well, despite what they say in public, that moving the dump to Bodden Town will be, quite simply, the worst thing they could do for their constituents. (Perhaps putting the oil refinery there would have been worse, though really there’s not much in it.)

They are residents in the district and must recognise that the value of their own homes is at risk. Despite their public rhetoric, in their private moments their despair is probably quite moving.

Both Scotland and Seymour are also very well aware, or at least should be as they are in government, that the proposed eco-waste-management park, which is a fabulous modern way of dealing with garbage, could very easily be established at the existing site.

Recycling, composting and waste-to-energy could all happen now at Mount Trashmore. Had government continued with the contract negotiations with Wheelabrator and its local partner CWML (some more lost votes for government there!) the work would have started by now. In time, once the existing pile of garbage was being burned and turned into energy, the landfill would begin to come down and remediation could have happened on site.

It is, of course, no surprise that the Dart Group wants the dump moved. It is without doubt a serious blight to the group’s not insubstantial investment. Nevertheless, for government to take such a significant step, even if it really believes the ultimate financial return to the country from Dart’s continued development would outweigh the significant detrimental consequences of moving a dump, the process requires a mammoth amount of research, analysis and ultimately an extensive PR and consultation campaign.

One midweek evening public meeting is hardly enough to win the hearts and minds of those you are about to dump on.

Just about every waste-management expert in the world will say that no matter how bad the circumstances of an existing landfill, moving it will always make things worse. In our case the landfill has already contaminated the site where it is and it is essential that this is addressed. So much time has been lost over the years through procrastination and then the economic downturn but this decision has further delayed the literally mounting problem.

We have to stop the leeching and runoff and begin to reduce the mound. We desperately need a comprehensive recycling and composting programme and the dump needs to be mined.  None of this is going to be pretty but it is still much better that going to a pristine wetlands site, in the middle of a residential district, 17 miles away from where 80% of your waste isgenerated. 

Even if the existing landfill is capped, it will be decades before it will be safe for use. If government persists with this foolhardy plan, the result will not only be two contaminated dump sites but at least two contaminated  MLAs as well.

Category: Viewpoint

Comments (30)

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  1. Just Commentin' says:

    Gee…I did not know that the brain-dead could commit suicide. I have learned something. Thanks.

  2. Mushroom1 says:

    I no longer have any money to buy anything that would generate waste for a landfill.

  3. Another twist says:

    Here is a thought- what if George Town residents formed a coalition to have the dump removed out of their backyard, what would the sentiments be then? Sometimes everyone cant be pleased and sometimes, hard and tough decisions might just cost ya. But there is NO pleasing Caymanians- NONE……….The residents of BT have a fundamental right to voice dis-approvale, but I would caution them to do so ONLY after they have gathered ALL of the facts. A PROPERLY built, run and controlled waste facility wont be no harm to the commuinity of BT or the island. If one wants to see how a properly ran waste facility is supposed to be constructed- go to Miami, drive up the Turnpike, and right before the exit to Fort Lauderdale is a massive, capped, covered and ventilated dump…..look to the west and there are hundreds of townhouses and homes. NO issues with health problems. Cayman is so far back that it aint funny and its time we as a country get our priorities straight and try to move this country ahead!!

    • Just Commentin' says:

      Hmmm….?? You have a good argument. It is a splendid argument in favour of leaving the dump right where it is!

      If as you say, "A PROPERLY built, run and controlled waste facility wont be no harm to the community of BT or the island", then it follows that it would be no harm to set up and operate this utopian facility in the current location. Right?

      Even Dart should agree to this idea, eh? I mean, why does he so badly want the facility moved? Certainly it can be remediated and properly run in its current location. It ok for Caymana Bay to be next to a well-run landfill, right? So why the heck does Dart want the dump moved?

      "…ALL the facts"? Really? Perhaps you did not take your own advice when you alluded to the landfill off the Florida Turnpike?  Ironically, it too is dubbed "Mount Trashmore" by its critics and is a facility not without considerable controversy.

      The dump you refer to is called the Southwest Broward Landfill, and it was closed to domestic waste some time ago. Due to economic and political reasons the county is considering reopening "Mt. Trashmore" to domestic waste; however, the area's residents are mounting considerable opposition to the plan. Their reasons sound eerily similar tothe Bodden Town protests.

      "…what if George Town residents formed a coalition to have the dump removed out of their backyard, what would the sentiments be then?" I am sure you would convince them that a properly run dump in their backyard is no harm at all.

      Anyway, I am glad you agree that it would be great to leave the dump right where it is, just run it properly.  Thanks for the support!

  4. Chris says:

    Lets sum up the For Cayman alliance medicine Dart and the UDP have prescribed for the people of Cayman.

    3731 feet less Seven Mile Beach

    60 acres more dump

    and 25 million dollars cash to make it all go down smoothly.

    Dosage to be taken once and our financial woes and unemployment problem will be solved.

    For all those who believe every word from these political (UDP) and developmental (DART)spin doctors, we expect you to vote for the UDP in the 2013 election.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don't forget the crown land they are also going to be given and being allowed to combine several rights of way into one and call it a "new" beach!

  5. Lachlan MacTavish says:

    This is an extremely pathetic and sad situation perpetuated by our self serving politicians who spend more time on trying to grow personal wealth and travel around like Donald Trump. this has been going on since Linford's time when he tried to get a plant located wher the present dump is. he was also trying to get WBay bypass organized but the politicos couldn't get a piece of either project so they wallowed. 

    Someone, it will not be Bush or any of his supporters, someone get some sense into this situation and the country. GC is so small, the dump is leaching *&^&*&^%^$#@@#* into the island and North Sound. 

    Mt Trashmore is horrible and an eyesore for a Caribbean Island. Remove the dump, pay the price, ship it to companies that can treat the material, do your very best to cleanse the site and protect teh environment. Don't plant grass over it, you cannot hide this time bomb. Then put in a state of the art waste management facility and get the country to start segragating their garbage.

    There is very little long term planning or thinking because most politico's are enriching themselves. 

    The Dart Group must understand that putting a band aid on teh existing dump has to come back to haunt them. I have never understood why you want to transport garabge half way across the island from the districts that produce the most garbage. 

    Get rid of the politricks and lobbying and someone please start to think like an intelligent human being.

    • Anonymous says:

      Easy for you to say to pay the price in America. Spending is the problem here unless you hadn't figured that out. There is no money and mega projects in the works.

      Now tell us there needs to be more income streams

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr. Sir,

      "Remove the dump, pay the price, ship itto companies that can treat the material"

      Do you have any idea what effects "disturbing" and "relocating" the existing heap could mean for our community? In this landfill there are buried elements which if disturbed could produce gases and emissions which would be costly to our environment and our health.  sulphuric acid not to mention possible presence of "ddt".  And if you dont know what that stands for go to wiki and then go to the National Archives and read up on our old landfill practices in the late 60's on island.  Please do not endorse something unless you can substantiate why your suggestion is more beneficial.  The landfill should be remediated and capped with the new facility in the same locale. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    Mark and John John should never have been elected. As Charles Clifford said during the 2009 campaign, they are mere puppets for McKeeva and McKeeva is a mere puppet for DART. Clifford told Bodden Towners that any politician that would buy your votes will sell your country !!! And boy what a sale they've been having since 2009 !!!!

    Its too bad that the PPM pulled the rug from under Charles Clifford when he was going to march in 2010 to remove this incompetent UDP Government. Oh when I think of how much pain and sorrow could have been prevented had the PPM stood with The Chuckster in 2010.

    Anyway it is what it is and our focus now must be on stopping the relocation of the dump to Bodden Town and the removal of Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour through the ballot box. The wider goal of removing the other UDP members from the LA must not be forgotten either.

    It was Bodden Town's very own National Hero, Honourable Jim Bodden, that once said "If McKeeva Bush is ever put in charge of this country it will be the end of the Cayman Islands as we know it". Truer words have never been spoken.

    Get the brooms ready Cayman !!!…….Its time to sweep out our house !!!! 

    • Anonymous says:

      I thought Bodden Towners would have seen through Mark and Dwayne from the time they were campaigning. That they would have McKeeva Bush in Bodden Town speaking for them to get them elected, was evidence that they were already sold out to him!  I am so shock that many Bodden Towners saw the man in their own district, speaking on their behalf and they didn't detect anything from it!  I was even more shock when Mark and Dwayne didn't play by the rules in declaring his interest, and how Bodden Towners were overwhelming supporting them. Could they not have seen through all the irregularities during the campaign as they sang for all to vote straight UDP? That is why no Independent candidate got in, because everyone was so caught up with the tune. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Ask the question, how many rented cars will be driven around Bodden Town come 2013 with envelopes to hand deliver?   My vote can't be bought.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Pristine wetlands site?…..nimby code for a swamp
    17miles from 80% of the population?……sily small minded cayman excuse……

  8. Anonymous says:

    If the dump is physically moved form GT to Bodden Town, the unearthing of  toxic waste products will create an environmental and medical disaster of catastrophic proportions.  The rate of cancer in Cayman is already unproportionately high, with some blaming the toxic fumes blown from Mount Trashmore (MT) across the island (rumour has it that catalytic convertors from cars — one the most toxic waste products — have been discarded on the dump?).  Just because Dart wants the land to expand his Camana Bay project, and the gowerment will be able to do SOMETHING about MT with little cost, doesn't mean moving the dump to BT is the right move.  In fact, anyone with an IQ over 4 can see the move is a fundamentally flawed option; based on political expediency and rather than being in the best interests of the country.

    • Anonymous says:

      the dump is not going to be moved!……what is the point of trying to discuss this issue when the nimbys are obviously dealing out false propaganda……

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. Dont move the dump. mine it. Build a plasma gasification plant on site, with cogeneration. Burn the garbage, generate electricity. Slowly and carefully, mne the dump, take in the current waste and have cruise ships pay to use our garbage removal services. No airborn particulate emmissions, just  some aggregate for road building produced from this clean burn technology.. Coudl be government owned, funded by a special bond raised for htis purpose.  Run by well trained and educated professionals. We might loose the mountain, but gain some environmental health. Ongoing air, water and soil testing to be done to show fluctuations as mining continues. IMO.

  9. Anonymous says:

    So is "political suicide" for closing the West Bay road. Has anyone told them that because it should be obvious.

  10. bradley says:

    Mark and Dwayne ran with the ticket of NO DUMP and got elected!  How can they now flip-flop and turn their backs on their own constituency?  This is where the people of Cayman need the constitutional power to RECALL MLAs and remove them from office before General Elections. CNS, we dont have enough democratic options here, and I believe the UK is partially to blame.  

  11. furious-btowner says:

    And, how many jobs will be lost because no one will want to develop a new business, or a residential/tourism project after a dump is established in the district?  In fact, the few jobs which Govt can afford to pay for will be given to those now working at the GT dump.  How many property owners will lose their tenants after the dump is moved, and "good luck" to property owners around a new dump who might try and sell.

    • P A Rody says:

      Here is some sound advice for BT'ers: You would be better investing in those Lakeland Villas, there were really cheap before, I see some steady climbs in value once it is opposite the only park on a hill in Cayman.

      Now who wants to move the sewage plant and Cement plant to Bodden Town, thumbs up for yes!

    • Anonymous says:

      Better relocate enterprise city as it is in the tainted district.

  12. Anonymous says:

    If the Wheelabrator plan was such an obvious solution why didn't the PPM solve this problem when they were in office for 4 years? Could it have been the $100,000,000+ costs involved?

    XXXX Perhaps they believe it is good for the country.

    If nothing else why didn't the PPM at least set up nationwide recycling?

    Could the country's financial position limit options to deal with this problem?

    Sooner or later this country must see beyond the limited tribal district mentality and see itself in national terms and deal with problems.

    Shame on this country for not recycling as it has been accepted practice for a decade or more in other areas with much more land mass than Cayman.

    Recycling required as part of this land fill relocation should be the cry from Boddentown residents and their leaders and instead it is the old crab in a bucket mentality.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why do people vote thumbs down to recycling?

      • Anonymous says:

        I think the thumbs down are for some of the other comments in the same submission. Sometimes it's better to put issues in separate comments.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Lets not forget the jobs this could create in Bodden Town for Caymanians. Working on the new dump could get the high unemployment rate for Caymanians down, especially in Bodden Town

    Is that not a good thing?