Archive for July 18th, 2012

Polls close on 57% turnout

| 18/07/2012 | 26 Comments

poling staiton sign (213x300)_0.jpg(CNS): When the polls closed on Cayman's referendum on one man, one vote (OMOV) at 6pm on Wednesday evening 8,715 electors had turned out to vote. Representing 57.67% of the register of electors the number is just enough for the 'yes' vote to carry. The count has now started in each of the districts and OMOV campaigners are hoping that the vast majority of those who have voted have said 'yes', giving them a moral if not a legal victory. Turnout varied across the country, with an impressive result in North Side while apathy prevailed in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. The deputy supervisor of elections has said that the result of this historic ballot should be confirmed by midnight.

Although the turnout was not as high as OMOV campaigners had hoped, the results for a mid-term referendum in the summer months are not, by comparison to other nations, particularly low with considerable interest from the electorate in certain districts.

In North Side over 72% of electors came to the polls and in Bodden Town just over 58% of voters turned out, exceeding the national average. In the country's capital George Town and in East End and West Bay more than 57% came out to vote. However, apathy was the order of the day in Cayman Brac, where less than 50% of voters chose to go to the polls.

The hard work now starts for election officials as counting is now underway in each of the districts and at the central command in George Town, where all results will be relayed and official results announced.

Final voter turnout

West Bay 2102

George Town 3391

CBLC 463

Bodden Town 2025

North Side 398

East End 336

Check back to CNS for live results throughout the evening.

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11th hour turnout passes 55%

| 18/07/2012 | 2 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands referendum on one man, one vote could carry after a last minute increase in turnout on Wednesday afternoon. At 5pm on 18 July, with just one hour to go before the polls close, 8,350 voters had taken part in the national ballot. With more than 55.25% of the electorate coming out, there is an outside chance of the 'yes' vote winning the day. North Side continues to lead the polls for the number of voters coming out as more than 70% of registered voters have cast their ballot. But staying with the pattern established earlier in the day, the lowest turnout remains in the Sister Islands, where less than half of the electorate have cast their votes.

Meanwhile, 55% of voters in George Town, East End and Bodden Town exercised their democratic right, while just over 54% of the voters came out in West Bay.

The polls close at 6pm, with the final voter toll expected before 6.30pm.

The critical count starts at 7pm and CNS will be updating the results from each district live as the returning officers declare the official count and the decision Cayman has made on one man, one vote and single member constituencies.


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Turnout low as clock ticks

| 18/07/2012 | 5 Comments

vote here 2_2.jpg(CNS): Voter apathy is gripping Cayman with a low voter turnout across the country in the historic referendum on one man, one vote. At 3pm less than half of the electorate, just 49.3%, had gone to vote. So far, only 7,457 people have voted, which is still not enough for the 'yes' vote to win since more than 7,583 people need to vote in favour of the referendum in order for it to carry. With just three hours of voting left, North Side was still leading the turnout stakes with almost 64% of registered electors having cast their vote there, but voters in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman were avoiding the polls with just over 40% going to vote. In the nation's capital 49% of people have voted and in West Bay the turnout was just over 48%.

In East End the voter toll reached 47.6% by 3pm this afternoon and in Bodden Town 49.8% of registered electors ghad cast their votes.

OMOV campaigners were hitting the streets Wednesday afternoon in a bid to persuade people to cast their vote – be it for or against – as the feared scenario of a low turnout and voter apathy looked like having an adverse effect on their expectations for at least a moral victory.

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Polling stations defaced

| 18/07/2012 | 7 Comments

(CNS): As Referendum Day reaches its half way point, a number of polling stations have been defaced, election officials have reported. Vandals have scribbled on posters in an effort to unlawfully influence the ballot, Deputy Supervisor of Elections Orrett Connor said after some 6,346 voters turned out at the polls. About 42% of the electorate has voted so far, but well over a thousand more voters need to go to the polls to give the referendum any chance of carrying. The district of North Side is where the greatest percentage of voters have gone to the polls and Cayman Brac and Little Cayman still have the lowest turnout.

Connor said the defacing of guide posters was unheard of in elections in the Cayman Islands as he reminded the voting public that it is an offence under the elections law because the graffiti constituted an infraction. He said that vandals had written  "Vote No" or "Vote Yes" on information posters at the polling stations in an effort to influence the outcome. Apart from the graffiti, Connor said, the referendum was going smoothly and he encouraged more voters to come out to the polls and exercise their democratic right.

Across the districts voter turnout is varying greatly, with a 55% in North Side compared to 34% in the Sister Islands. In West Bay over 40% of voters have been to the polls, while in George Town and Bodden Town 42% of the registered voters have already voted. Meanwhile, in East End just over 39% of electors have cast their vote.

Governor Duncan Taylor paid a call to the George Town election command centre at lunchtime toget feedback on how the referendum process was progressing and he had words of encouragement for voters.

“It's not mandatory to vote in the Cayman Islands but it is a great freedom to vote … The higher the turnout the more legitimacy to the result,” he said as he urged people to take part in the process.

The polls remain open until 6pm and the count will start at 7pm with results expected before 1am on Thursday morning.

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1/3 of voters cast ballot

| 18/07/2012 | 28 Comments

ballot box45_1.jpg(CNS): Almost one third of registered electors have now gone to the polls to cast their vote in today's 18 July referendum on one man, one vote. According to the 11am poll return, during the first four hours of voting 31.13% of electors voted. Only 4,704 voters have been polled so far but with the stations open for another six hours there is still plenty of time for enough voters to come out to carry the referendum. North Side still leads the way in turnout with more than 42% of voters having already attended the polling station. Meanwhile, in George Town and Bodden Town more than 31% of voters have been polled. In West Bay 29.7% of voters have turned out but in East End only 28.33% of electors have voted, while in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman just 27% of voters have been to the polls.

The turnout in this referendum is critical as the bar has been set at 50% of the electorate plus one for the result to be binding and not a simple majority of voters who turn out. The key number is 7,583 votes for the referendum to carry. Therefore, if less than that number turn outto vote, the 'yes' vote will not win the day.

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NS leads early turnout

| 18/07/2012 | 4 Comments

west bay poll station.jpg(CNS): Since the polls opened at 7am this morning a total of 2,713 votes have now been cast in the national referendum on one man, one vote. Elections officials reported that so far just under 18% of the electorate has already come out to the polls to participate in the historic ballot. With eight hours still to go, officials were urging all registered electors to join in the democratic process and cast their vote. Across the polling districts North Side leads the way for voter turn out with almost 24% of registered voters having already been to the polls or voted by post or at a mobile station. Across the Cayman Islands, so far the Sister Islands trail in turnout with less than 15% of voters having been to the polls.

 Just behind North Side is Bodden Town and George Town where over 18% of registered electors have voted, followed by West Bay where 17.5% of people have gone to the polls. Meanwhile, only 16.2% of voters have come out in the already single member constituency of East End to cast their vote in the first two hours since the polls opened.

The turn out in this referendum is critical as the bar has been set at 50% of the electorate plus one for the result to be binding and not a simple majority of voters who turn out. The key number is 7,583 votes for the referendum to carry.

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Cayman goes to the polls

| 18/07/2012 | 2 Comments

ballot box45_0.jpg(CNS): Elections officials confirmed that all was in order as the polls opened on Wednesday morning for the historic referendum on Cayman's voting system. The ballot boxes were dispatched from the Election Command Centre into the district polling stations in the early hours and all the stations opened on time. Cayman voters will be voting either in favour or against one man, one vote in single member constituencies. For the vote to carry there needs to be 7,583 voters, one way or another. The polling stations where electors can vote are listed below and anyone who is not sure which station they should go to can check the register on the elections office website or visit a local post office, all of which areopen.

Voters can also go to their nearest polling station and check the register with election officials.  The polls will now be open until 6pm this evening and the count is expected to start at 7pm.

Polling Divisions attached.

Check back to CNS for regular updates on voter turnout throughout the day and for the live results this evening.

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It’s not a deal, Mr Premier, it’s a steal

| 18/07/2012 | 33 Comments

On the local radio on June 19th, 2012 the premier was poking fun at our group for opposing the giving away of a section of our West Bay Road. He compared the situation to a man selling a car for $2,000, the buyer refurbishing the car and then reselling it for $5,000. The premier asked “Are you going to ask for the $3,000 profit he made on the car?”

No, Mr Premier, that is a poor analogy. The buyer spent money to refurbish the car and making a profit of $3,000 is his due. However, when the developer gets the title to the Crown Land, that is the 4,290 feet of West Bay Road, he immediately gets $600 million in his pocket without doing any upgrading, construction or refurbishing of his property that he owns on the land side of the road. Being in the real estate business yourself, Mr Bush, surely you will admit that the value of Seven Mile Beach land depends on its depth from the beach/high water mark to its boundary with the West Bay Road.

It therefore follows that the simple act of combining the width of the West Bay Road with the developer’s beach parcels increases the value of those parcels significantly. Just think what happens value-wise when those enlarged beach parcels are then also combined with the developer’s landside property: his property will all then be marketed as beachfront property because it will stretch from the Seven Mile Beach high water mark, across the closed section of West Bay Road, through his Stan Thomas acquisitions including the Yacht Club, and all the way to the [western] boundary of the Esterly Tibbetts Highway and its extension to Batabano Road. The resulting combination of parcels will immediately at least triple (or more) in value as he will now sell his residential lots as beachfront property!

How did we come up with the above figure of $600 million? Two studies were done by reputable real estate agents on the value of that same West Bay Road in the vicinity of the Public Beach and the Old Courtyard Marriot Hotel. One was done in March 2010 and the other in early 2011. They showed that for every 500 feet of property on the landside the value of the property was increased by $70 million once they acquired the West Bay Road to now become beachfront property. The length of the road that the developer covets is not 2,500 feet, as they were misleading us for 9 months, but is actually 4,290 feet. 500 feet goes into 4290 feet 8.58 times and when multiplied by $70 million gives a total of $600.6 million that the developer will be getting immediately once he gets the title to that section of the road.

Wemust also add the value of the road itself that isprime, world famous Seven Mile Beach property – priceless.

This road is 4,290 feet in length and 70 feet wide, which gives a total of 300,300 square feet. We wonder what amount the developer told the PricewaterhouseCoopers reviewers that this road was worth since it appears he is calling all the shots. We also wonder what length of road the PWC review was assessing. Was it the 2,500 feet which is worth a lot less that the actual 4,290 feet? How independent was the review by PWC when only the developer and the government made submissions? Objectors and other interested persons were not allowed to do so.

We have not been able to get to see the NRA Agreement that was signed on December 15th, 2011. We applied on a couple of occasions using the Freedom of Information Act to get copies of this “deal” but we were denied.

Thankfully, as a copy has this week come into the possession of Mr Ezzard Miller it has now been brought out into the public domain. What transparency! Talk about secrecy! Keeping the public in the dark for 7 months and they talk about good governance? Is the PWC review going to take the same route of secrecy and keeping the public in the dark?

In the deal the developer is also getting about 75 acres in Barkers and another 73 acres of Crown Land in Salt Creek. He is getting at least $45 million in tax concessions and Room Tax Exemption for 10 years after the hotel is built. He is also getting the re-zoning of 45 acres of mangrove land behind Camana Bay so that he can fill with marl and sell as residential lots. The extension of Esterley Tibbetts Highway up to Batabano Road will open up his land in that area making it even more valuable. In addition, moving the dump away from his proposed residential lots will increase the value of his Camana Bay property in that area.

When all is added up the developer is getting over $1,000 million. In return he is giving ~$100 million over the next 25 years. We are getting the extension of the Esterley Tibbetts highway ($33 million), moving the dump ($26 million), $5 million (for community projects), $4 million (for supplemental budget), land clearing jobs, show gutting hotel and lately a cemetery (in the swamp) in West Bay, a Sunrise Centre and a mini Public Beach.

So Mr Premier, where is the value for money? You are giving away the country’s assets worth over $1,000 million and in exchange Cayman is getting $100 million. How on heaven’s earth can you call this a ‘fantastic deal’? This you have said on numerous occasions when you referred to Caymanians who oppose this deal as idiots. The For Cayman Investment Alliance (FCIA) should be renamed the For Dart Investment Alliance (FDIA) or simply “THE STEAL”.

Why is it that the deal is constantly being altered? Just a few days ago we heard of some more projects that the developer was undertaking as part of this deal. Is it because the independent review team of PWC has obviously seen that there is not value for money and someone has recommended to the developer to throw in a few more trinkets into the pot so that the deal looks a little bit fairer? Even with these few additions the developer is getting 10 times what he is giving which is grossly unfair.

It is a shame and a disgrace that we have a greedy developer coming to the Cayman Islands and sees our beautiful West Bay Road and decides that he wants 4,290 feet for himself and he has no regard for the Caymanians who built that road over 100 years ago and have used it ever since. We need the Esterley Tibbetts Highway to complement the West Bay Road and not to replace it. He can also build his hotel with an overhead pass just like the Ritz Carlton and Hyatt did previously. He does not just want the 500 feet of West Bay Road in front of the Old Courtyard Marriot, which was the excuse first used in giving him the section of West Bay Road, but wants 4,290 feet. This extra amount of road is for futurespeculation. What a disgrace!

It is even more disgraceful and shameful that we have a desperate government, so hell bent on starting a project to go into the upcoming elections that they see nothing wrong in giving away so much valuable assets that belong to the people of the Cayman Islands to this developer for little or nothing. The people were never consulted on this deal. We were only informed that it was taking place. “You not stopping me. This project is going ahead,” the premier said at a meeting at Mary Miller Hall June 2011. The developer is getting the bank and all the gold and money inside it and in exchange he is giving the government a pouch full of pennies in return. What a STEAL!

The government only listens to their supporters and pays no regard to the rest of us who do not agree with the government’s projects that are not in the best interests of the country. If the developer so loves Caymanians and that he is doing these projects for us why does he not leave our West Bay Road alone and stop buying up all the existing Crown Lands for himself. Who has given the developer the permission to acquire such extensive tracts of Crown Land all over Grand Cayman? Was due process adhered to in these transactions?

Morally, environmentally, economically and culturally this project is wrong. This project had its beginning in the previous UDP administration of 2001 – 2005. They amended laws to suit the plans for this project – the Vesting of Crown Lands Law etc. In June 2011 the project was shoved down our throats. No one was going to change the government’s mind. What is even more frightening is that we still do not know all the details of this deal, the facets of this very complex deal are constantly changing and we dare say that not even the government knows what is going on or what they are actually getting as of now.

We say to you Caymanians wake up before it is too late. Wake up before your environment is permanently destroyed and your beaches, your lands, your businesses and your way of life are all taken away from you, forever.

What will we tell our children thirty years from now when they come asking us: “What did you do to stop this wanton destruction of our environment, our protective mangroves? Why did you not stop the wholesale giving away of our Crown lands, our assets, our rights to our beaches and our roads to the extent that nothing was left for us and our children?” All we will be able to do is bow our heads in shame and regret.

To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men.

Wake up Cayman!

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Closing George Town dump – ignoring the perfect solution

| 18/07/2012 | 7 Comments

Recently, Minister Mark Scotland was on a local talk show, once again reminding us that the real reason we need to close the George Town dump is that we simply cannot afford to keep it there. He also spent lot of time trying to dispel the belief that Wheelabrator had presented government with a perfect solution that was being ignored.

I found his comments to be quite interesting, because the arguments currently in circulation in favor of keeping the dump in George Town is that the waste could simply be mined down and burned to create energy, thus dismantling the mountain, producing free electricity and preventing the contamination of a new site. On the surface this seems to make sense; however, as Minister Scotland who, apart from being the representative for Bodden Town is also an engineer, clearly explained, if it was that simple, waste-to-energy would have happened by now.

According to Minister Scotland, the last government hired consultants to help them figure out if waste-to-energy was worth pursuing at George Town dump, and although the consultants agreed that it was possible, they apparently raised some very significant challenges in their report, which remain central to the current debate.

According to what I understood from the minister’s comments, the consultants said it would take about $120 million to get the new system set up, and then it would require on-going annual funding of about $20 million for operation.

They also estimated that two-thirds of the waste buried deep inside Mt Trashmore was not suitable for burning in a waste to energy plant, and went on to say that mining the waste to separate out its burnable components would be very slow and take about 20 years.

According to Minister Scotland, the consultants also advised that government would need to buy more land next to the dump to locate the waste to energy plant.  As he put it, “Government simply does not have the money to do this.”

However, despite these obvious challenges, there are many who still believe that Wheelabrator, a big profit-driven US company, could somehow step in and magically present us with an affordable, timely, space saving plan to pump power out of Mt. Trashmore.

According to CNS andthe people on Rooster, Wheelabrator “had provided all the required elements to successfully complete the project and a comprehensive breakdown of their approach.” If that were true, then details have certainly never been made public. But if you insist on believing that line, I have a goldmine in Cayman Brac that I want to sell you. 

It is obvious to me that waste-to-energy at the George Town dump would be a waste of money because any sustainable solution to Cayman’s waste problems must rest on the introduction of a comprehensive island-wide recycling program so that another landfill mountain doesn’t simply pile up.

Anything else would be a waste. Determining exactly what government’s plans are for the recycling component of a new facility is where our actions should be targeted.

This, my friends is the perfect solution that is being constantly ignored.

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