October 25, 2020

McKeeva/McLean(s) row over funds and favours


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Proclaiming he is doing the best for the people of East End, Premier McKeeva Bush yesterday defied criticism of his allocation of $200,000 of ForCayman Investment Alliance funds to the district.

Asking “why not the ForCayman Alliance?” Mr Bush defended his Tuesday night announcement that he would give $200,000 to East End independent political candidate John McLean Jr for district improvements, bypassing MLA Arden McLean whom, he said, had never asked for anything.

Meanwhile, Opposition leader Alden McLaughlin said he was writing to Governor Duncan Taylor “because of this corruption”.

”It’s really the worst case I have even known of the blatant misuse of public funds by the government to promote the candidacy of their chosen candidate,” he said.

Meanwhile in East End John McLean Jr said the money was going to two local construction companies for five community projects, and that while he would manage the allocations, he would not be paid.

“The money is not coming to John McLean Jr,” the independent district candidate said yesterday. “It’s coming to East End. We’ve been asking for some of these projects for over a decade. The usual politicians, the President and the Secretary of the Football Club,” he said, had all asked.

“There is nothing happening in East End,” Mr McLean said, lamenting the dearth of economic activity, “and now I’m getting pushed down as I try to accept something for my district.

“It’s only $200,000. I have asked for an amount for the craft market and a tourism building, to convert the old East End Library to a boxing gym and to build changing areas down by the beach so people don’t have to go into the bushes or change in their car. I am trying to get some activity for the district and trying to get people back to work,” he said.

Mr Bush told iNews Cayman that John McLean had “asked for a lot of things for his district” while incumbent MLA Arden McLean “had not come to government. What kind of requests has he made and what has he asked for?

“John McLean decided to request and came to us and he should be congratulated,” Mr Bush said. “He asked us to do things and we are going to do them.

“We are not giving $200,000 to John McLean, but to a group of gentlemen. These are good things to do and we will handle them,”
he said.

While Arden Mclean did not return calls by press time, Mr  McLaughlin disputed Mr Bush’s statement that the East End MLA had never asked anything.

“That is a complete and utter untruth,” he said. “He has made written and verbal presentations to Cabinet in which he asked for so many things.”

The constitution entitles any district without a ruling-party MLA to appear before Cabinet every three months.

Mr Bush acknowledged John Mclean was an independent candidate but said “I do not know” if he will run in 2013. Mr McLean said, however, that he had made it clear after he lost 2009 national polls that he would try again.

”I conveyed that immediately after the last election,” he said. “I made it clear I will run as an independent, but I am working closely with the UDP. I am not differentiating among party politics. I worked closely with the UDP and I worked closely with the PPM on opposition to the East End Seaport. I have reached out and tried to work with them.”

He described as “stupid” accusations of “vote-buying” and corruption.

“This is a community thing. The government has put me as a manager for the beach and community clean-ups for three years and I was never paid for it. The opposition is only getting back what they have dished out to the UDP.”

Mr Bush rejected criticism of using funds from the Dart Realty-government $1.5 billion, 30-year ForCayman Investment Alliance (FCIA) programme of infrastructure and community development for the district grants.

“Why not do it? It’s not for John McLean. It’s for the district. I don’t care what people say,” he said.

Mr McLaughlin said Mr Bush could not allocate FCIA funds for political gain.

“This is a disposal of public assets and he is not entitled to dispose of them.”


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