Archive for May 14th, 2013

‘No regrets’ over Dart deal

| 14/05/2013 | 22 Comments

IMG-20130513-00576 (225x300).jpg(CNS): Despite being part of the UDP government that signed the NRA deal with Dart in December 2011, which the minority government then tried to improve, ministers present at the last Cabinet press briefing before the elections said they had no regrets. Following the collapse of talks between Dart and government on the so-called third amendment last week and the release Friday of all of the document relating to the agreement and the value for money report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the PNA ministers remained firmly behind the controversial deal. Although the agreement was described as a “train wreck” by some and numerous concerns were raised by PwC in their report, the ministers insisted it still presented value for money.

Speaking at the media briefing, chaired by Rolston Anglin in the absence, once again, of the premier, who was heading to Cayman Brac, Cline Glidden was the only minister who indicated that he had concerns about the original agreement from the start. However, he had not been involved in its signing at the end of 2011.

All of the other ministers defended the original agreement and their efforts to then try and improve on it, even though the very need to re-negotiate suggested they did not think it was that good. Glidden made it clear that he believed the deal was still in a state of negotiation as the current situation is not acceptable to CIG. As a result, the next part of the West Bay Road will not be closed and it will be up to the next administration to pick up the talks with Dart to try and broker a deal over the third amendment.

Dart now wants to revert back to the second amendment, which the PNA members all claim represents value for money, even though they are no longer prepared to accept the deal on those terms. The next administration, therefore, could be looking at a 'take it or leave it' situation, although it is not clear what 'leave it' would mean in terms of compensation to Dart, if any. 

The ministers all believed that the third amendment negotiations were not over yet, despite the statements from Dart that it wishes to return to the second agreement. The developer has also implied that the PwC report was flawed and the third agreement was nothing more than last minute electioneering by the minority government.

Glidden pointed out that if Dart did not move from that position, the rest of the West Bay Road will not be gazetted. When a new government is in place, it will be tasked with deciding if it wants to go on with the deal as is or try to get more value for money.

“We need to get a better deal for country,” Glidden stated, clearly in an acknowledgment that the current situation is not a good deal for Cayman.

Nevertheless, Mark Scotland defended the signing of the first NRA agreement because of the situation at the time. He said that when government began negotiating with Dart things were bad economically, and still are, and the deal offered an opportunity to stimulate the economy.

“We didn't have many other options to create the growth,” Scotland stated. “I still think the report shows it presented value for money.”

Deputy Premier Rolston Anglin said the deal that they were attempting to renegotiate was part of the ForCayman Investment Alliance, which was a much bigger deal and seeing the NRA element in isolation distorted the overall picture.

“If you pull a piece of something out, it is not as easy to match up the benefits and it is more difficult to assess it all,” he said.

Glidden also confirmed that the Net Point Value used in the deal was set at 10.5%, which meant that, as the deal stands, Dart’s concessions could continue to increase, which is why the minority government had sought to renegotiate some of the concessions as well as the concerns they had over the precedent that such concessions on the Seven Mile Beach hotel could set.

The ministers all said that the people would all have their own opinion, independent of the review, on whether or not the deal presents value for money, is good for Cayman or if the efforts of the interim government to improve the deal with the third amendment were valuable or not.

Glidden added that the important thing was that they had finally been able to release all the details to the public.

“I haven't found one person who has said we should have gone ahead andagreed with the second amendment without trying to improve the deal,” the tourism minister said, adding that he hoped the next government would be able to reach an agreement with Dart on the third amendment.

Related articles on CNS: 

CIG $20m down on Dart deal (includes documents relating to the deal and the value for money report)

PwC reveals risks Dart deal

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Mechanical fault diverts AA Panama flight to Cayman

| 14/05/2013 | 11 Comments

6a00d83451f7f169e2017ee3ed3f01970d-800wi.jpg(CNS): Emergency services were all on full standby at Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA) Tuesday lunchtime when an American Airlines flight en-route to Panama from Miami requested permission to land in Grand Cayman after detecting a mechanical fault. Officials from the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) confirmed that at 12:50 pm (14 May) the aircraft with 147 passengers on board landed safely after it diverted to Owen Roberts. All airport emergency services had been put on standby at 12:15pm in preparation for a possible emergency landing. However, he Boeing 737-800 landed without incident.

Passengers disembarked safely from the aircraft and officials said that they were accommodated in the Departure Hall as they awaited the continuation of their journey.

It is understood that the plane was suffering a fault in the fuel bypass system and at the point of the discovery Cayman was the nearest destination. Fire crews from across the islands were deployed to the airport as a precautionary measure and the roads around the airport were also closed for a short time.

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The Coalition Ghost of an Election Past

| 14/05/2013 | 58 Comments

Whenever I now hear talk of a coalition government I am haunted by the memory of the 2009 elections – in essence haunted by the ‘ghost of an election past’. I ask voters to re-read ‘A Christmas Carol’ and be reminded on election eve, as Scrooge was reminded in that famous tale by Charles Dickens, that our decisions in life, and at the polls, have consequences.

I recall a discussion with friends and family who insisted that in the aftermath of the 2009 election there would be a coalition government elected. The reasoning was that ‘people wanted a change’ and they ‘did not trust Mac and the UDP’, nor did they want a party system. So the conditions were supposedly ripe for a coalition of PPM candidates, maybe some UDP, and many independents. Sound familiar? 

My response at the time was that come the day after election there would beeither a UDP government run by Mac or a PPM government. There would be no coalition government. The UDP supporters (at the time this included some who are now supporting or running as Independents, PNA, or C4C candidates) would vote straight, and either (a) the PPM would get sufficient support from the remaining majority electorate to form the government; or (b) voters who were seeking a coalition government would split their vote, leaving Mac and the UDP to win by default.

As we all know, the latter is what occurred, and in many cases UDP candidates just squeaked into the winners' row. A few more votes in George Town and Bodden Town for PPM candidates and the country may not have experienced the disaster and disgrace of the past few years.

In the days and weeks following the 2009 election I saw many people shaking their heads, wondering what happened? Well, what happened is that elections have consequences. There was little chance of any coalition formed by large numbers of independents being elected, yet many people voted for something that was unlikely and ended up with the government they did not want. Four years later we have a country in a mess. We can blame Mac and the UDP/PNA for the various scandals and horrible governance and waste of funds, etc, but collectively we can also take a look at our own actions on Election Day 2009 and take some responsibility as well.

Yes, elections have consequences. This time around the voters have many more ways to split their votes than they did in 2009. To add to the confusion, we have folks campaigning as independents but who behave like a political party and yet are campaigning on an anti-party platform. This in my view is not only dishonest but also increases the confusion of the electorate. I believe that in their hearts they must know that they are a party, even though in their heads they try to rationalise how they are not and at the same time they seek to convince the voters of the same.    

Why does it matter, you may ask. It matters because they are ignoring the real issues and are trying to convince the electorate that reverting to a system where we voted for personalities first and foremost and then left it to them to form the government as they wished, to select the premier and to then determine amongst themselves what policies they will to carry out for the country. All done post election with the electorate having no voice in the matter. This is a retrograde step back to a broken system, in my view.

Remember, the C4C-supported candidates have not told us what they will do specifically and collectively when elected other than “put country first” – whatever that means. And I suspect it means different things to different people. For example, I have heard some C4C candidates say they are for a minimum wage and others say they are not. So on this one issue alone, how do I judge what they will collectively support if elected. Do they have agreed positions regarding the GT Dump, the GT Cruise Dock, the ForCayman Investment Alliance, environmental protection, education policies, combatting criminality, taking care of the elderly, etc? Indeed, what are their agreed joint positions on anything? If they have none then I have nothing to vote for. 

If they have an agreed joint agenda and have not told us because to admit that would be admitting that they are a political party, then how will they get anything done, given the fact they do not have sufficient numbers to form a government? (This, assuming they get the majority of their seven candidates elected — in my view an unlikely event.) What I do know is that of the three ‘parties’ (C4C, UDP, PPM) with candidates in the race, only the PPM and the UDP have sufficient number of candidates running to potentially form the government should the votes fall their way (intentionally or by default). The C4C does not.  So, if they have candidates elected, will they support the disastrous UDP led by Mac, or the UDP refugees (a.k.a. PNA) if they are all elected? Who will the C4C candidates support as premier and deputy premier? I have my suspicions.

Please understand, there are candidates amongst the C4C whom I know, like and respect. But there are also candidates in the PPM whom I also know, like and respect.  Both groups have ‘independent thinkers’ with intelligent, good, and capable people. But in my view, that is where the similarity ends. Voters should, I believe, fully support the Progressives (PPM) candidates because:

(1) They are honest, capable, experienced, and will run a clean successful government;

(2) We know before the elections who the leaders will be. I trust Alden McLaughlin as premier and Moses Kirkconnell as deputy premier. They are both thoughtful and competent leaders. They are experienced in business and also in the affairs of governing the country and in working with the UK.

(3) We know before the elections what the Progressives agreed positions are on all the major issues – and these positions are reasoned and sensible in my view. I do not have to wait to see what deals are done after the election behind closed doors.

(4) The Progressives have, in my view, the best combination of government experience and new blood. Also the best mix of experience and perspectives of any group in this race – whether to do with small and medium business, tourism, financial services, or social issues.

(5) They have sufficient numbers running to form a government and thus to carry out what they have promised. This is what they did in 2005 when they made necessary investments in the country that were long overdue and that were promised during the campaign.

Some readers may believe that my support of the Progressives is based mainly on the fact that I am a member of the PPM. But from where I sit, my support of the Progressives is made with my head and not just from my heart. In my view, given the events of 2009, and given the points noted above, a vote for the Progressives is a thinking person's vote.

I will go on record to say again that come Election Day the UDP supporters, whatever their makeup, will support Mac and all his UDP candidates without splitting their vote. I sat at the counting stations last time and saw this happen. If the majority of the remaining voters (PPM supporters or undecided) split their votes again in sufficient numbers and vote for some PPM, some UDP, some C4C and the odd real independent candidate, then we may again inadvertently elect Mac and his new UDP and they may form the government. God help us if this should happen. 

In the Dickens story, Scrooge, noting the chains around the 'Ghost of Christmas Past', asks why he was so ‘fettered’.  To which the Ghost replies:

“…I wear the chain I forged in life … I made it link-by-link, and yard-by-yard. I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?”

Fellow Caymanians, native or new, if come Election Day we do not heed the lessons of the past, if we do not vote thoughtfully and we again chase the ‘coalition ghost of an election past’ and split our votes, then please do not be surprised when we again become fettered in the chains of a Mac-led UDP government. This time with a Mac being tried in Grand Court while serving as premier. If this happens, then such a ‘chain’ would be of our own doing – placed on our backs of our own free will. But its pattern would not be strange – we saw it happen in 2009. Let's not do this again.

Think carefully about your vote. When you vote, don’t roll the dice and gamble on our future. Support the Progressives candidates on Election Day and vote for a sure result — known policies and known experienced leadership and an open, honest, transparent and accountable government.

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Ballot papers and cards await collection

| 14/05/2013 | 6 Comments

ballot box45_0.jpg(CNS): Despite the complaints and concerns being raised about missing postal ballots, the Elections Office said Tuesday that there are still 92 postal ballot envelopes still to be collected from the registered mail counters at every post office in Grand Cayman except for North Side. Election officials are urging voters to collect them cast their vote and deliver the sealed envelopes to their local returning officers as soon as possible as it is now too late to try and post ballots in time for polling day next Wednesday. Along with the ballots sitting in post offices, the deputy supervisor of elections said that 2,500 voter ID cards also need to be collected from the Elections Office.

Although the deadline has passed for voters to request cards, existing card holders can collect their updated versions as well as those who already registered for a voter card. However, no one will be disenfranchised without the voter cards. A passport or driver’s licence is sufficient for anyone to vote, and if it is combined with the registered electors number, which can be checked on line, officials said that would help to expedite the voting process.

The Supervisor of Elections said the postal service has told his office that there are 92 postal ballot envelopes still to be collected. At the General Post Office in George Town there are 48 envelops, at the Airport Post Office there are 16, and 12 waiting at the Seven Mile Beach Post Office. Meanwhile, 8 envelopes are awaiting collection at the West Bay Post Office and 2 at the Hell Post Office, with 3 waiting in both Bodden Town and East End.   

“Postal voters who have not collected their postal ballot envelopes from the above post offices are urges to do so immediately, complete the voting process and Endeavour to hand deliver the covering envelope to the Returning Officer for their district.  They should not attempt to mail their ballot at this stage due to the limited time remaining before Election Day,” the Elections Office said.

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Offshore lawyer waits at Everest base camp

| 14/05/2013 | 0 Comments

1368193950Manning-at-C2 (225x300).jpg(CNS): Taking a break from brokering deals at his Cayman-based desk, local offshore lawyer Guy Manning, a partner with Campbells, is currently sitting at base camp on Mount Everest in the Himalayas as he awaits the best circumstances to climb to the top of the highest mountain in the world. Manning is taking part in a seven summits challenge — a mission to scale the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents in aid of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society (CICS). Manning recently updated his online blog, talking about the process of acclimatisation since arriving at base camp one month ago. He said that a window of opportunity to make the summit could open on Sunday.

“Excitingly, there appears to be a good summit window opening up on Sunday, 19 and Monday, 20 May,” he wrote. “Subject to any change in the weather, the current plan is for us to set off for C2 at 1am on Thursday.  We'll then check the weather forecast again at C2.  If 19 May looks the best summit day then we will press on up the mountain.  If 20 May looks better then we will take one rest day at C2 on the way up.”

Following Manning’s mountain adventure on www.sevensummits.ky/blog
 

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Pseudo-Parties

| 14/05/2013 | 20 Comments

Even though I believe in the party system I will only vote for Independents in this election. This is because no party has shown me they understand the fundamental nature of what it means to be a party. Theoretically, a political party is great because it has the ability to staff itself with different, but complimentary, types of people. This enables it to better govern the state of affairs.

Numerous organizations have researched this phenomenon of human differentiation. The Johnson O’Connor Research Center is one such organization. Another research organization follows from the work of Dr Meredith Belbin. What these research centres tell us is something we already know: that people are different. Some people are more analytical than others. They might make better scientists or investigators. Some people are more abstract-minded. These might make better poets or other artists. Some are more introspective. These might excel at writing and programming. Some thrive best working with people.  These are the social influencers or what we call “people-persons”. No one of these ways is better than the other. In fact, they all exist to compliment one another. This is precisely what the Belbin organization attempts to teach: that organizations should have different but complimentary personality types within them.

The best organizations in the world understand this aspect of human nature. These organizations ensure they are staffed with the right mix of different types of people. If not done properly, the organization will be very inefficient. For example, can you imagine an organization filled completely with abstract thinkers? They would come up with a million great ideas and never start one of them. An organization filled with only people-persons would probably never do the paper work. And an organization full of introspective analysts would probably never open the front door for their customers. But if a company has the right mix of all these sorts of people, it can accomplish the various aspects of its mission efficiently and quite naturally.

In my opinion the UDP and PPM have failed to prove that they have taken the above into consideration. While I am sure they have surmised it, it appears that no concrete actions have been taking to fully implement it. For example, both party’s manifestos show no mention of the above. The manifestos only show they know the issues at hand, but anyone who has been following the news over the last couple of months knows the issues at hand. These parties seem to have not taken into consideration the different “types” of people needed to run a proper organization. And if they have, they have not shown us. Who, and how, are the people in your party fulfilling the various personality types needed in any successful organization? Who are your abstract thinkers needed to come up with creative ideas to solve complicated issues? Who are your analysts that will tackle the economic and financial problems? Who are the people-persons who will interact with society at large? A party filled completely with financial gurus gives me no confidence whatsoever, and neitherdoes a party full of people-persons. Parties must ensure they are staffed with different types of members in the strategic positions.

It is also worth mentioning that the PPM has only one woman running with them, and the UDP only has two. In a world where 50% of people are women, why am I voting for a party that has only 10% women? This again shows an imbalance in the parties.

I do not doubt the intentions of the UDP and PPM candidates. I respect most of what I see and hear from them and I believe that most of the candidates are well intentioned. My problem lies with their theoretical application of the party system. They seem to be forming parties based on the whim of circumstances and without proper reflection on the diverse nature of humanity.

In addition to explaining the issues, the parties should have shown that their members possessed the right amount of diverse but complimentary personalities to enable them to function like a proper organization. But they have not, and both manifestos do not address it. And because I do not respect that, I will vote Independent.

Now people may ask me, will the Independents be able to achieve what I am asking for? Will they able to form a human resource plan consisting of different but compatible individuals? The answer is probably not, because there is not enough time before election date for the Independents to achieve this. However, I see a diverse group of Independents running this year. Some are obviously all heart, some are obviously all brains, and some are obviously people-persons. They are diverse enough, qualified enough, intelligent enough, and genuine enough to put into office. If they were to get a majority foothold in office, I would like to think they would assess each other’s individual skills and assets and strategically form a proper functioning organization.

A further benefit of an Independent coalition will be that they will act more methodical than the previous administrations. This is because as politicians with little or no experience, they will have to go through a natural learning curve. This learning process will allow government to act cautiously and considerately with every move it makes, and this would be widely appreciated. They could pull the reins on the out-of-control galloping horse that is Cayman’s political/financial/social crisis, and slow her down to a trot.

But I dream. I do not seriously believe the Independents have a chance at gaining the majority foothold. I do not believe the Caymanian voter base will take the time to reflect on the disingenuousness of the parties, much less agree with what I have to say. I believe the C4C had a chance to usurp the PPM and UDP if only they endorsed more Independents and officially declared themselves a party. But they did not, and so I believe this election will fall to one of the official parties.

If you agree with me and would like to vote for Independents there is one last thing to be considered. And it has to do with the OMOV referendum. If you vote in WB, GT or BT, and voted YES on the referendum, you should only use one of your votes this election. Exercise your OMOV right! Remember it is a form of power to limit yourself to one vote. This may seem contradictory, but in doing so, you are denying other people your votes, and that is power. In the 2009 election, 95% of voters in GT, WB, and BT used all of their votes. This is absurd especially when over 70% of voters in these districts voted YES on the OMOV referendum. This tells me that people used all of their votes in 2009 only because they had them. That number should not be that high this year. Do not “waste” your votes by giving them to random people. You need only vote once. If you decide you do not want to give one of the parties a greater chance at getting into office, then vote for an Independent and do not vote for anybody else (unless it’s another Independent). 

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