RSSElection 2009

Dr Frank spends most on election campaign

| 01/07/2009 | 8 Comments

(CNS): According to the summary of returns on election expenses published by the Elections Office for the 20 May General Election, Dr Frank McField, who stood as a an independent candidate for George Town, spent some $37,500 on his election, the highest spending of any candidate in the race. The United Democratic Party spent just short of $30,000 per candidate and the PPM just over $31,000. Of the 43 candidates that contested the race, thirty candidates including all of the elected members have complied with the law and declared their campaign spending.

According to the Elections Law, however, there are no sanctions against those who have yet to reveal the money they spent on their campaigns ifthey are not elected to office. Of the independents that have declared, campaign costs have differed widely, with former UDP member and minister McField declaring $37,500 at the top end and Sandra Catron, in contrast, spending a mere $9,500.

It is also apparent from the returns that big money did not necessarily equate to big results. The People’s Progressive Movement fielded ten candidates and spent just under $31,140 on each of their candidates but only returned half of them. The United Democratic Party, on the other hand, returned nine of their eleven candidates on a budget of $29,460 per head.

Ezzard Miller, independent candidate for North Side spent a modest $19,850 on his campaign and received more than 50% of the vote and was returned to the Legislative Assembly.

Meanwhile, McField’s significant investment of $37,500 returned les than 5% of the vote, losing him his deposit. According to the summary, Burns Connolly also spent more than $35,000 but did return a significant number of votes for his first attempt and retained his deposit with over 17% of the electorate supporting him.

Bernie Bush, who only spent $13,500 on his campaign in the district of West Bay, actually received almost 40% of the vote in his constituency a greater percentage than Dwayne Seymour who was returned to office in his district of Bodden Town who received only 36.5% of the vote.

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Praise for elections staff

| 29/05/2009 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Almost 800 people were involved in last week’s elections, and Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez has praised all those involved, saying, “A tremendous amount of work by an extraordinarily large number of people helped make the General Elections and Referendum of 20 May a resounding success for the Cayman Islands.” In a release from the E;ections Office, Gomez, along with Deputy Supervisors Colford Scott, Orrett Connor and Ernie Scott, paid tribute to those responsible for seeing that both voting processes ran smoothly.

Workers included Registering Officers, Returning Officers and their deputies, Presiding Officers, Poll Clerks, administration and support staff, Logistics Officers, radio communication personnel, field officers, drivers and the more than 100 observers appointed by the Governor, Mr. Stuart Jack, for Cayman’s first-ever referendum.

The Elections Office training staff held over 30 training sessions for the various groups of workers, who attended without recompense.

Gomez also noted the contributions of the police officers who worked closely with the Elections Office throughout the polling hours and ballot counting, as well as for security requirements.

The men also thanked voters for the way they con-ducted themselves. “The electorate was in a good mood when I visited,” Mr. Gomez commented, noting he had been to all polling division except East End and North Side. “Everybody was on his best behaviour.”

Incidents involving the alleged handing out of cards with candidates’ names on Election Day have been turned over to police, Mr. Gomez said. Officers of the Special Branch are reportedly dealing with the matter.

Mr. Scott pointed out that a Code of Conduct for Candidates was part of the handbook given to candi-dates on Nomination Day. The code asks candidates to solemnly declare that they, their agents and sup-porters “will contribute positively to a peaceful political atmosphere conducive to free and fair elections.” The code ends with an acceptance of valid elections.

The 2009 election timetable was published in May 2008, Mr. Gomez pointed out. “Thanks to everyone’s co-operation and good effort, it went according to plan.”
 

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“I’m not UDP,” says Miller

| 26/05/2009 | 39 Comments

(CNS):  The newly elected and only independent member of the Legislative Assembly, Ezzard Miller, says that he will be jealously guarding that independence and will not be joining the United Democratic Party (UDP). Although he has accepted the Chair of the Health Services Authority Board, Miller says he will not be sitting on the government benches but taking up a seat on the opposite bench in the far south east corner of the chamber, as far from the "Opposition” as possible to make his independence from both parties clear.

The North Side representative has said he will work with the elected government when it brings positive motions but he said he will vigorously oppose policy that he thinks is wrong. “I don’t intend to object for the sake of objecting, and when I do I will be offering constructive alternatives, but I will do what I have to do to serve the people of North Side,” Miller told CNS.

A former Health Minister, Miller says he will be happy to offer the benefit of that experience to Mark Scotland, the UDP MLA for Bodden Town who has been designated the Health Ministry, but he says in his role as chair of the HSA he is working for Scotland not with him and wants to see the board adopt the role of holding the hospital to account rather than micro-managing it. “It will be up to the hospital management to run the hospital and the ministry to develop policy. The board will ensure accountability, it will not be a management committee,” he added.

However, he acknowledged that one major issues that needs to be addressed immediately is health coverage. Miller is advocating a review of how that works and says that government must mandate the minimum coverage for a maximum rate and prevent the cherry picking of policy holders by private health insurers.

“The health insurance companies have been allowed to undercut the cover they offer, increase the premiums paid and reject high risk patients, which has put too much pressure on the government health insurance company CINICO,” he noted, explaining that CINICO must be reserved for government employees and indigents only.

Miller said that in future private insurers who agree to give a company policy must cover all the staff on that group policy and not just the low risk or healthy ones. Above all, the basic standard of health care must provide better coverage at an affordable price. “If government states that health insurance is compulsory the health insurance companies must provide affordable access to realistic cover,” Miller stressed, adding that the rates will be based established by an independent auditor.

During the election campaign Miller drew attention to the controversy at the work site of the Clifton Hunter School in Frank Sound, where a number ofCaymanian workers lost their jobs due to a dispute between the general contractor, Tom Jones International, and a local labour sub contractor and he has promised to follow through. “I expect Caymanians and in particular North Siders to be working back on that site,” he said. “I will be calling Mr Hunter this week for an appointment to sort this out.”  

Miller told CNS that the two most pressing needs of his district would be to address the needs of the local senior citizens and to get the young people in work. He said the older people in North Side do not want an old folks’ home but they want support to help them stay in their own homes and maintain their independence.  “We are getting to work right away putting together a group that can help fix up those homes that need repairs,” he said. “But we need to offer day to day practical support to the elderly, such as meals on wheels and cleaning services and other services, to help them live independent lives.”

Miller also says he will be holding two important community meetings in the next few weeks, first with parents and children who will be moving to high school this September to help prepare them for that transition, and then secondly with parents and children who are graduating from high school to make sure those youngsters have access to the scholarships they need for further education or are moving into work. “I want to support them in their plans and make sure they have some direction,” he said.

Following through on his campaign promise of participatory democracy, Miller is already establishing his district committee and says he intends to work for his district through the people of the district. 

As the only independent to win a seat in the election, Miller says he is not daunted by that and intends to demonstrate that the independent candidate is not yet a thing of the past, and believes that when Cayman moves to single member constituencies we could still see more independent candidates returned to the Legislative Assembly in future districts. He says he will be setting the example that independents can represent their people effectively and get things done.

“Within 18 months I will have carved out a clear and independent role in the Legislative Assembly and I intended to speak factually, emotionally and vigorously on all the issues,” he added.

Miller will be taking to the airwaves on Tuesday morning, 26 May, on Rooster 101’s Crosstalk show which he says he hopes will become a regular weekly slot for him to talk to the people about what is happening in parliament and in his district. He is also promising to keep regular hours at his MLAs office at the North Side Civic Centre, which he has already opened and which will, from now on, be open between 9-5 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and between 2-9pm on Tuesdays and Thursday.

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Election goes well say cops

| 25/05/2009 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Despite the fact that police are investigating an irregularity on the party of United Democratic Workers who have been accused of contravening the Elections Law by handing out campaign cards and possibly causing undue influence, the RCIPS said that the election operation was a success.  The RCIPS said that following months of planning officers executed smooth and effective police operation over the  election and referendum period.

 

“Our operation went off extremely well,” said Superintendent Adrian Seales who was in charge of policing for the election and the referendum. “We had a large number of officers involved in the election process and they all carried out their duties diligently and professionally.”

The police are responsible not just for the security of the people on Election Day but that of the ballot boxes. The RCIPS thanked election officials who worked extremely closely with the service and also to the general public who were cooperative throughout the process.

“We didn’t have any issues with voters at the polling stations or during celebrations later in the night as the counts were being announced,” said Seales. “We are very pleased with the cooperation and considerate behaviour of the Cayman Islands community.”

Seales also noted the contribution of the Special Constabulary whose members gave up their time to assist regular officers.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

 

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Tibbetts calls on governor & AG to uphold constitution

| 23/05/2009 | 106 Comments

(CNS): Leader of the People’s Progressive Movement and outgoing Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts has said it is the responsibility of the attorney general and the governor to deal with the apparent disqualification of Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour in Bodden Town. He said that before the governor swears in any candidate to the Legislative Assembly it is his responsibility to check they are qualified.

Although Tibbetts did not state that the PPM would not be challenging the result, in a speech to the country on television on Friday evening he indicated that he expected the AG and the governor to deal with the issue and not necessarily the two candidates from his own party — Osbourne Bodden and Charles Clifford — who both came in directly behind Seymour. However, a number of local experts in the field have indicated that the question of qualification must come as a legal challenge from either a candidate or from the district’s electorate. If no challenge is forthcoming, the governor may be obligated to swear in both candidates, despite the fact that the Constitution states they are disqualified.

Tibbetts said that before the elections the attorney general had announced that he would not take any action until it was over.  “So we await a public statement from him now that the elections have been held. Furthermore, it is the duty of the governor to ensure that all persons he swears in as members of the Legislative Assembly have been duly elected and have not been disqualified under the provisions of the law or the Constitution. So we await his public statement on this subject.  I do not wish to make any further comment at this time except to stress that the governor and the attorney general have no higher responsibility than upholding the law and Constitution.”

However, the only comment that the attorney general made before the elections was that the issue was a matter for the courts to decide. The governor had said that he expects all candidates in the forthcoming general election to operate within the terms of the Constitution and the applicable laws of the Cayman Islands, but also said cases of possible non-compliance with the legal requirements would be a matter for the courts.

Tibbetts also raised the issue of the investigations currently being undertaken by the Elections Office and the police over the accusation of irregularities that took place in George Town, where the United Democratic Party was accused of handing out voting instructions in contravention of the Elections Law.

“There havebeen serious allegations that UDP agents, supporters and some candidates attempted to unduly influence voters at some George Town polling stations on Election Day.  These matters have been reported to the Supervisor of Elections and the police.  We understand they are being investigated and that in due course a statement will be made regarding the outcome of those investigations,” he said. 

Tibbetts said, however, that the voters had spoken and the PPM respected their decision as that is the democratic process. He told the country that he and the party were disappointed but he said the five candidates who have been returned would proudly carry out their duties as representatives and as the parliamentary opposition. 

“As the opposition, our duty will be to question and criticize measures taken by government so that the public can better understand what is going on, and the government can be held to account.  But we will do our best to perform our duty in a constructive way,” Tibbetts added.

He also said that the PPM had brought a new culture of governance to Cayman offering open, honest and transparent government and making huge strides in key areas like education and infrastructural development. “We have much of which we can be proud,” he said, adding there were lessons to learn and that members of the PPM would continue the mission to offer the Cayman Islands the right kind of government.

Speaking of the Constitution, Tibbetts said he was delighted that it had received the blessing of voters in the country’s first referendum.

“Cayman will now have a new, modern constitutional framework in which to negotiate the growing number of complex issues with which we are faced in these increasingly difficult times,” Tibbetts added. “The constitutional modernization exercise has been a protracted and difficult process, but together we have stayed the course, and I believe future generations will thank us all.”

Thanking all those involved in the constitution process, the referendum and the election itself, he also offered his thanks to the civil service for the work they had done during his government’s time in office. Noting that it was not necessarily customary to thank them, he said it was important to acknowledge all the work that civil servants do. “Nothing can be achieved by a government without the civil servants.  LA, Cabinet and the governor are the head of the government, but the civil service is the body.  I hope the civil servants are proud of what we have achieved together in the last four years,” he concluded.

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Constitution gets less than half electorate’s support

| 22/05/2009 | 40 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Constitution was passed on the say of less than 50% of the full electorate, though it did receive 62.2% approval from those who took part on Wednesday, 20 May, or 7,045 ‘yes’ votes. Although the new Constitution itself stipulates that a people-led referendum must receive an approval rating of more than 50% of the entire electorate (which is currently 15,361), this vote did not reach that figure. In order to achieve the new standard of referendum it would have required 7,681 votes to pass.

However, the Referendum Law which was passed in the Legislative Assembly earlier this year only required a 50+% of the actual turnout, which was in the end 11,244 people, or around 69% of the entire electorate. Susan Bothwell from the Constitutional Secretariat told CNS that she felt that given this was Cayman’s first ever referendum it was an impressive result.

“I believe it was a tremendous turnout considering this was the country’s first ever referendum. The numbers are quite impressive and the truth of the matter is most people who voted in the General Election also took part in the referendum,” she said. “The country’s mandate has been ‘yes’ for acceptance of the Constitution. Now the work will begin to prepare for the implementation of the new Constitution."

Although the result was bitter-sweet for Alden McLaughlin, the former minister who, along with Kurt Tibbetts the outgoing leader of government business, has been associated most with the drive for constitutional modernisation, he told CNS he was delighted that the people had voted ‘yes’ in the referendum despite the election result. “We are very please that the new Constitution has been approved and this document will be around a lot longer than any political administration,” he said.

Governor Stuart Jack expressed his pleasure at the outcome and said it wasas a result of three rounds of negotiations between the government of the United Kingdom, the Cayman Islands government, the opposition, and non-governmental organisations, representing the churches, the local business community and the Human Rights Committee.

“An Order in Council will now be submitted to Her Majesty in the Privy Council for consideration at its next meeting on 10 June,” he said. “The new Constitution Order will be brought into force by me by proclamation soon after it has been made in the Privy Council. At that time, I will issue a further press release explaining the phased introduction of the new Constitution. There is much work to be done, and my office will be working closely with the Constitutional Review Secretariat and others to ensure a smooth transition.”

Bothwell too felt that it was important for the secretariat to continue its work following the result to help educate people about what it means to them and to assist with its implementation.

“I definitely see a future roll and function for the secretariat in terms of education,” Bothwell said, adding that she herself had been seconded and so the unit may well be headed up by someone else in the future, but either way she hoped  it would continue on with its work of informing and educating.

This morning, the UK’s Foreign Office Minister Gillian Merron welcomed the acceptance of the draft Cayman Islands Constitution Order at the referendum on 20 May and congratulated the United Democratic Party on its election into Government.

 “I am delighted too that the draft new Constitution has been accepted by the people of the Cayman Islands.  As I said in February at the conclusion of the final round of talks, which I was honoured to chair, the new Constitution will be an important step forward for the people of the Cayman Islands,” she said, adding the she recognised the debate surrounding the Bill of Rights.

“I am convinced that it is an important first step in the enhancement of human rights protection in the Cayman Islands, and that it will raise awareness of and strengthen respect for human rights in the Islands. The new Constitution will also help to ensure the increasingly high standards of good governance to which the UK government attaches considerable importance.

“We look forward to working with the new government of the Cayman Islands towards timely implementation of the new Constitution Order.  I know that it will entail a great deal of work, and I am grateful for the efforts that have already been made to help ensure a smooth transition," Merron added.

Although some elements of the Constitution will be implemented immediately, the Bill of Rights will be phased in over a period of three years. Also, certain domestic laws may have to amended and new ones passed in order to ensure the national legal framework is compatible with the requirements under the Cayman Islands Constitution 2009.

 

 

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Cayman says “Yes”

| 21/05/2009 | 24 Comments

(CNS):  Updated: The Cayman Islands Constitution has been passed with around 62% of the vote. Following the results from George Town with 2,748 voters in favour and only 1,536 against, the people said ‘Yes’. In total, 7045 Caymanians said yes to the new Constitution and 4,127 said ‘No’ so "the ayes have it". Earlier this afternoon the Bodden Town and West Bay result had already made it clear that the result would be a nationwide ‘Yes’,  though the approval rating is higher than anticipated following the first result of the day from the Sister Islands, which only returned a yes vote with a narrow margin.

Bodden Town voters in the country’s first ever referendum returned 1,842 ‘Yes’ votes and 837 “No’ votes, while in West Bay the vote in favour was 1,501 and 1,105 against. In order to pass the constitution vote needed to be 50% plus one vote in favour. The second batch of results on the referendum had come through at around 1:30pm today, with a ‘Yes’ vote from East End, with 255 in favour and 186 against, while in North Side 337 ‘Yes’ votes were polled and only 134 ‘No’ votes, giving the Constitution a greater margin in those districts than the slightest of margins recorded in the Sister Islands.

The first results in the referendum actually came from Cayman Brac and Little Cayman at around 11:00 this morning with the closest of margins. 362 people voted “Yes” while329 voted “No” with five ballot papers being rejected.

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Sister Islands say ‘Yes’ – just

| 21/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): In the first results in the referendum count the people of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman have voted for he new Constitutional Document in the country’s first ever referendum by the closest of margins. 362 people voted “yes” while 329 voted “no” with five ballot papers being rejected. Whether the narrow margin will be a sign of things to come across Grand Cayman remains to be seen as the referendum count continues.

Check back to CNSlater for more results direct from the referendum count

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UDP meet over ministries

| 21/05/2009 | 35 Comments

(CNS): Despite the anticipated challenges to their two candidates in Bodden Town, the United Democratic Party was meeting today to discuss their future government and the likely ministerial positions. Rolston Anglin, the second elected member for West Bay and the man tipped to take over the Ministry of Education, said that the team would be discussing how the new UDP government will take shape today, but they were well aware that they needed to consider the implications of any challenges to the Bodden Town Candidates.

Speaking about the result, Anglin said all the party members were delighted. “We are absolutely thrilled that the people chose to elect the United Democratic Party to government,” Anglin said, noting that it was the first time the UDP has been given a mandate to govern as a political party. “I believe it shows the real concerns that people have and I think voters understood the situation was serious. We have a lot of work to do over the next few months.”

How that work will be done will depend on who gets which ministries and whether in fact those ministries would be reorganised. Anglin noted that the situation in Bodden Town had to be considered, particularly as Mark Scotland could be a likely ministerial choice.

“We understand the implications of the Bodden Town situation,” he said, adding that he had no doubt that the two candidates would retain their seats regardless of what happens, but the time factor had to be considered because of the work that needed to be done to get Cayman back on track.

Discussing Osbourne Bodden’s comments last night that there would have to be a challenge to the two UDP candidates, Anglin said that while Bodden may have taken that position last night in the wake of defeat, he thought that logic might prevail.

“I am not sure he would want to kill himself like that politically,” Anglin said, adding that he was confident that the two would be re-elected in any by-election and probably with an even greater margin.

Both Scotland and Dwayne Seymour’s election remains contentious since neither of them met the criteria under the Constitution to be elected to the Legislative Assembly as they both failed to declare their business contracts with government before the deadline set out under Section 19. During the elections campaign the issue was declared by both Kearney Gomez, the Supervisor of Elections, and Attorney General Sam Bulgin as a matter for the court, as they said there was no mechanism for removal from the election beforehand. The challenge can come not just from losing candidates but also from any Bodden Town voter.  The question as to whether a judge would simply rule that Osbourne Bodden and Charles Clifford would be duly elected or initiate a by-election in which the candidates may or may not be allowed to run all still remains open to question.

The question is considerably more important with regards to Scotland, who was first elected member in the district and the one most likely to receive a ministry.

CNS has made efforts to contact members of the People’s Progressive Movement for comment on the result, the potential challenge and any concerns they may have over the accusations of undue influence made in George Town during yesterday’s poll.

Last night’s election result was almost a complete flip of the 2005 result for the PPM. The UDP returned nine of their own candidates and the one independent that was returned is regarded as ‘user- friendly’ for the UDP, but whether long time political stalwart Ezzard Miller will choose to join the party remains to be see.  

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Robber left empty handed

| 21/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police said that detectives have arrested a 28-year-old man on suspicion of attempted robbery following an incident at Scooters and Wheels on South Church Street on Tuesday (May 19). The 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at approximately 11.25am from a staff member reporting that a man armed with a knife had entered the store and demanded cash. The worker told the offender that there was no cash on the premises and he left empty handed.

 

 

Police responded to the scene and carried out enquiries and searches in the local area. Following investigations by detectives from the Criminal Investigation Department, the 28-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted robbery and burglary. The man remains in police custody at this time. “Robbery is a serious offence which can have a huge impact on the victims involved,” said Superintendent Marlon Bodden, head of CID. “I urge all business owners to help protect their businesses and staff by taking some crime prevention measures such as reviewing security procedures, cash handling practices and looking at areas such as lighting and CCTV installation.”

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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