November 23, 2020

The Editor speaks: Two out of three

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In my Editorial on Wednesday (7) I was in an apologetic mood under the banner “I Could Have Been Mistaken”. I went to great pains to show the reasons why Cayman’s Legal Department and Justice Quin allowed the trial of the murder of  Omar Samuels to go ahead. The accused, Patrick McField, Osbourne Douglas and Brandon Leslie-Ebanks were each found guilty by jury. All three were acquitted on Nov 29th by the Court of Appeal saying the case should never have gone before a jury because of the contradictory nature of the forensic evidence and eyewitness testimony presented by the crown. Immediately after the acquittal, Douglas was arrested by RCIPS officers in connection with the fatal shooting of Jason Christian on Crew Road in September. Now a second man, Leslie-Ebanks has been arrested in Miami in connection with firearms smuggled into Grand Cayman.

Patrick McField is now on his own. Another McField, ex MLA Frank McField was shot in the leg last week in mysterious circumstances. I say mysterious because neither Frank nor his family and/friends including the RCIPS will account for what happened nor where it happened. Frank McField gave evidence for the crown in the above mentioned murder trial of Omar Samuels.

Meat Loaf wrote a love song called “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” so we wait to see if Patrick McField becomes “Three Out of Three Is Even Better.”

Dumping the Port?

On Sat-Mon (3-5 Dec) we announced UDP George Town MLA Ellio Soloman had been appointed to head the government’s task force on the port development under the banner “Doubts raised on Chinese contracts.” I am not sure if his UDP colleague, Cline Glidden, remains on the task force. It was Mr. Glidden who had advised his UDP colleagues to accept the GLF deal on the same day the premier, Hon McKeeva Bush, wrote to GLF rejecting it and a few months later announced a deal with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC). There has been much controversy over the CHEC deal with skeptics including construction industry leaders, primarily because under the proposal it will put the port operations entailing retail space in Chinese hands for 50 years. This could mean a lot of the waterfront shops will have a very hard time trying to compete with Chinese prices and the revenues going out of our country!

The Memorandum of Understanding with CHEC ran out last month and has been extended to March causing another delay. Mr. Bush only made a glancing mention of the project in his deliverance of the Strategic Policy Statement last week.

Captain Bryan Ebanks head of the Save Cayman group comprising sea captains has advocated alternative berthing proposals in Red Bay, which is gathering some steam with more supporters coming on board. At their meeting last Tuesday (6) at the Seafarers Hall they outlined their plans to the general public. It was pointed out at the meeting the urgent need for a decision. Only last week with the inclement weather providing rough seas there was a loss of 35,000 passengers amounting to an estimate of $3.5 million loss in government revenues because ten cruise ships were unable to dock. This would have been avoided if we had had a place for the ships to berth.

If this ‘muddle’ isn’t bad enough the planned Bodden Town dump is in question. The Dep. Premier, Hon. Juliana O’Connor Connolly, the minister with responsibility for the dump, was overridden by Mr. Bush after she had announced this time last year the contract to manage and operate the landfill had gone to a US based waste management expert. Mr. Bush announced he had agreed to allow Dart to have the current dump site in exchange for the development of a new facility in the Midlands Acre area of Bodden Town on land owned by the developer in the central wetlands area.

There is much speculation, however, that this deal, part of the ForCayman Alliance will be terminated because of  the agreement government were forced to sign with the UK.  To make matters even more muddied, the majority of the residents of Bodden Town are outraged at the proposal to put a dump in their backyard. It has made the situation very difficult for the two UDP MLAs, Dwayne Seymour and Mark Scotland who have an uphill battle to win over their constituents to accept the dump. The Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free has (not surprisingly) been endorsed by the PPM MLA, Anthony Eden.

Whatever happens, if it happens, it will happen albeit very slowly. Although Mr. Seymour and Mr. Scotland have agreed to meet with the Coalition, whatever the MLAs say in favour of the Dump could be met with cries of “Rubbish!”

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