The National Team

| 12/12/2009

A letter to the editor in a recent edition of the Caymanian Compass, signed by Truman Bodden and John McLean, criticised the PPM’s education policy and specifically the management of that policy by ex-Education Minister Alden McLaughlin.

Generally, I support the criticism of the PPM and Mr. McLaughlin in regards to some facets of their education policy but I question where Mr. Bodden and Mr. McLean have ANY room to criticize ANY Government since 1984 ( that being the year when their National Team Government was voted from office), on ANY matter!

The National Team Government of 1976-1984, under Jim Bodden’s leadership, was the Government which did the majority of damage which is now manifested in many of the woes we are experiencing in this country today – more than any single Government before or since! To wit, the National Team Government:

1. discarded the 1972 Development Plan which, among many visionary items and processes, included a multi-lane carriageway from George Town to West Bay, before the east side of West Bay Road was developed, thereby making the construction of such a carriageway vastly easier then than what was undertaken by the last Government in extending the bypass to its current location.

2. in discarding said 1972 Plan, did not replace it with any real Plan but instead fostered the total wanton and unplanned development of Grand Cayman, especially the Seven Mile Beach.

3. Mr. Truman was Education Minister when the National Team discontinued vocational training (woodwork, mechanics/tech drawing, home economics) in the high school, which had been a part of the high school curriculum up until that point. Their intent was to create a vocational college on the site of the old compound behind the Public Library. They started with a marine training institute which soon disintegrated and therefore no other vocational training ever materialized. Not saying that their concept wasn’t reasonable but they established the marine college (vocational college phase 1) using retired Caymanian seamen as the instructors. Again, sounds reasonable on paper; problem was, many of those seamen had worked their way up on ships (I believe some were licensed engineers) – they were not trained how to impart their knowledge to others in an academic setting. Just because I know a subject does not necesarily mean I can teach it. Essentially, the marine college concept failed because those retired seamen couldn’t teach. From that point on, no emphasis was placed on other vocational subjects.

4. OK, so here we are in the late ’70’s & early ’80’s with unparalleled, mushrooming development, our schools system not developing children with vocational skills, what do we do? Obviously, import labour.

5. that was the primary foundation of our immigration issue which itself has developed without any real management into the mess we have now.

6. National Team is also responsible for the ‘misplaced Nationialism and entitlement culture’ evident in many of our younger generation. I know, I was at their meetings (not as a supporter but as a concerned citizen) – the same meetings where they disrespectfully told voters that if they (politicians) dressed up broomsticks they (the electorate) would vote for them – and witnessed the rhetoric that ‘foreigners are taking away your jobs’ and ‘you are Caymanian, you deserve these jobs’. Perhaps their intent was noble but I can assure you their delivery was clearly devisive!! The parents would leave these meetings and regurgitate that rhetoric in their homes, hence the ‘entitled and under-equipped generation’ we now experience, with the associated baggage of anti-foreigner sentiments.

7. Political interference. No Government prior to 1976 had the hallmark of interfering with civil service and private sector alike. Everyone knows Big Jim could reach out and ‘touch’ whomever he wanted. He could either force someone to employ someone (qualified or not) or to dismiss someone (justified or not).

8. Ineptness in the public service. Because of #7 above a lot of unqualified and inept people ended up in public service jobs. Just look at our civil service today, need I say more?

9. Political cronyism, mismanagement of public funds and questionable ethics. How many people got jobs for which they were not qualified just because of #7 above??? Remember Big Jim’s brother-in-law being appointed as CAL’s Head of Security at CI$60,000 per year (late 1970’s/early 1980’s – about twice that in today’s dollars)? He would fly up to Miami on CAL 102 every morning, conduct his own business in Miami all day and fly back on CAL 107 each night. As to questionable ethics, which politician before or since has been called to testify as a defence witness in a major cocaine trial. Not to speak of the notorious Italian and other associates!!

So Mr. Truman and Mr. John, you guys were the EXCO when ALL of this was being put into motion. Not only don’t you have room to be critical, you should hang your heads in shame on what your mismanagement has wrought on these islands.

Of course, I will get criticism about my views on the National Team and Big Jim. I would wager though, that such criticism will come mostly from those who reaped the quick rewards of the unmanaged development boom and see Big Jim as a saviour or the ones who sat in the political meetings and swallowed all the swill and cheered when they were insulted and took it home and fed it to their children – the same disenfranchised and lost generation of today.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The 1976-84 Government was in fact the ‘Unity Team’. Forgot to list other trend(s) they started:

    10/11. Upside-down Management (this is in the context that running the country is, in fact, ‘management’) and the ‘hand-out’ mentality.  Used to be that the country was run by policies  formulated to enhance the benefits to the people as a whole and if I benefited a bit extra individually, good for me. Although opportunities locally were in a transition from a seafaring based economy to financial services/tourism based and were relatively limited, strong work ethics prevailed and hard work brought real comforts and success for many, so generally, everyone benefited to a reasonable degree. Unity turned it so that policies were based on the needs of the few and if the people in general got a trickle down benefit, lucky for them. Of course, for a good portion of their tenure, the boom that they generated by their ‘no rules’ approach to development indeed benefitted a lot (remember, our population was less than half of what it is now). However, the ‘success’ as a general rule was more a superficial and short-term ‘illusion’. Some who may not have been so fortunate, expected their share of the spoils too so they had no problem with showing up on a front porch here or office there seeking ‘assistance’. That precipitated  the ‘hand-out’ mentality (cash, favours, fridges) which in turn facilitated the political ‘control’ of votes and ensured the continued support of such constituents. Not saying that such political practices did not exist at all previously (that would be naive) but never before so prevalent and evident.  

    But before I digress too far; the problem with managing and implementing policies with this approach is that the country was run by directives from above rather than from decisions made with advice from below. The guys who fill the halls of power for four years are not the professionals; the advisers below them are supposed to be. Unity Government flipped that on its head, then compounded that mistake by stacking a lot of the ‘advisory deck’ with political go-fers and puppets, who were often unqualified to offer informed advice or who were in it simply for the bucks (remember the ex-Air Florida exec at CAL?).

    Unfortunately, ever since, only some of the 1984-88 Government have been the only leaders who have not followed that pattern and did not seem to think that is the way it is supposed to be! 

    • Anonymous says:

      I know you all got time to waste talking about two has-beens, washed up fuddy-duddys. They were put out to pasture a long time ago, & as the saying goes "you can heal the sick but you can’t raise the dead" & Truman & John will never come back, so I say let them talk all they want, what they have to say is unimportant & we should just ignore them & let them have their fun together.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You make a number of interesting points. However, I should point out that the Bodden govt. of 1976-1984 was the Unity Team govt, whereas the Govt. of 1992-2000 was the National Team.

    Remember that it was Kurt who eclipsed Truman as the political force in GT and so Kurt was in opposition when Truman was LOGB. McKeeva on the other hand was a part of Truman’s govt.  As someone else has also pointed out John Jr. is the unofficial UDP candidate in EE. Finally, it was the PPM govt’s efforts that gave us the new contitution something which these two colonialists, Bodden and McLean, vehemently opposed in a scaremongering pamphlet.  There should be no surprise to anyone that these two would support the UDP over the PPM.

    If these two gentlemen wish to present themselves as elder statesmen (rather than embittered has-beens) they should focus on providing unbiassed, constructive commentary on the proposals of the govt. of the day rather than continuing to take potshots at a previous govt. which the electorate has already weighed in the scales and found wanting.

  3. the Watcher says:

    Correction, it’s not the National Team, It is the Colonial Team. Truman & John are has been politicians that have been put on the side lines by the voters that were tired of non action. All they do is point out faults of other governments. When they were in power nothing was done to set up a viable frame work that following leaders could work with. The good thing about these two Colonialist is that everyone knows who they are and what they never accomplished for our country.

  4. Lachlan MacTavish says:

    UDP, PPM or National Team…..doesn’t matter……bottom line is that WE the voters have allowed our      elected      politicians for three and a half decades to mismanage our eduaction system and the educating of our children, to ignore just about every objective intelligent consulting report,to allow the entitlement generation to go beyond the point of return and to continue to try and balance the fine line between public and private sector responsibilities. Where are the politicians who will make the tough decisions and address the "peoples" issues now.    

    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent analysis. We really cannot put all the blame on the immediate past government, they continued the failures of the ones before them.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am totally surprized that Mr Truman Bodden and Mr John Mclean Jr. would hit out against the PPM like that,i bet most Caymanians thouht that uncleTru-Tru and Mr Mclean would support the PPM over the UDP,what a hell of a blow! Nothing going good for poor ole PPM now adays.

    • Anonymous says:

      I was under no illusions that they would support PPM over UDP…they are just like the UDP. Anyone who thought different just wasn’t paying attention.

      John and Tru-Tru, go sit down…your time is way past over.

    • Anon says:

      The letter was co-authored by John McLean Sr. John McLean Jr. was the UDP candidate in the recent elections for East End. It appears as if papa is keeping his son’s campaign alive until the next elections.

      Apart from the continuing support for his son, I am really perplexed as to why two seeming intelligent individuals have not been able to express a single opinion of their own, without the acknowledgement and consent of the other, for several years now.

  6. Slippery slope says:

    Will some one please explain to me the difference between the PPM and the National Team. Sounds like they are one of the same.

    By the way there has been no mention of the overdue accounts from the Gov. As Dan said recently he has seen no accounts for Boatswains Beach since those of 2006. So guys you have been in power 7 months. How come no accounts?

    And will we ever see the accounts for Cayman Airways or do we have to apply under the FOI Act?

    Just who is the Accountant General now or was the post abolished?

    All too depressing.

    • anonymous says:

      You should be asking for the difference between the UDP and the National Team.

      • Anonymous says:

        EXACTLY!!! The UDP & the National team are the same! They have the same politicans, supporters & cronies. Please do not mix the PPM up with either the UDP or the National team, EVER!

    • Slippery Slope says:

      Anyone capable of answering my questions? Or just sweep it under the carpet as is norm here.

      • Anonymous says:

        The Accountant General is Debra Welcome. She took over from Sonia McLaughlin.

  7. Anonymous says:

    You are right on target!

    What we need is not mass immigration but mass education!

    Proper management and empowerment of the labour force with the relevant retraining as necessary.

    The old heads say "We know what we got but dont know what/who you going to get"


  8. Anonymous 1 says:

    An excellent analysis, by someone who obviously has witnessed the cause and now effect of what we face! There had to be some basis for why we are in the position we are in now.

    Some senior civil servants appointed during their time, were known to go for lunch on a regular basis at 12:00 and stay in the bars for the rest of the day too.

    I agree that those two old timers should keep now quiet, as their rhetoric is no longer taken seriously by the populace.



    • Uncivil Servant says:

      "Some senior civil servants appointed during their time, were known to go for lunch on a regular basis at 12:00 and stay in the bars for the rest of the day too."

      Are you telling me we are not supposed to be doing this nowadays too? Uh Oh. I won’t tell if you don’t