October 27, 2020

We won’t accept new groups

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Arden McLean

Controversy continues to plague the new district councils as North Side and East End MLAs flatly decline to accept the groups.

In the wake of Tuesday’s George Town Advisory District Council (ADC) nomination meeting, which confronted ongoing questions of qualifications and political bias, North Side MLA Ezzard Miller and East End MLA Arden McLean have rejected the entire process, declining to take part in forming the 10-member councils.

“We have no intention of complying with that stupid law,” Mr Miller, North Side’s sole MLA, told iNews Cayman, speaking from Jamaica on Wednesday. “Those Advisory District Councils are underhanded and dictatorial.”

Mr Miller, in 2009, organised North Side elections for his own district council, installing members of the community who, he said, “not only expect that I will do what it asks, but help me to get it done.

“I will continue to work with my district council. If the premier comes in here, I will tell him to go fly a kite,” he said, acknowledging the understatement. “He is free to come to North Side, of course, to start his own council, but I will not help him organise it.”

Ezzard Miller

At the Tuesday meeting, United Democratic Party (UDP) district MLA and Minister for Community Affairs Mike Adam, accompanied by UDP legal adviser Steve McField, opened nominations for the area’s council, but acknowledged the absence of the opposition People’s Progressive Movement (PPM), boycotting the ADCs, saying Premier McKeeva Bush had “converted them into UDP district councils … weighting them in favour of the government,” according to PPM chief Alden McLaughlin.

East End’s only MLA, PPM stalwart Arden McLean, also rejected the ADCs, which generally allows only two opposition members and only among the rank and file.

“There is no way I am putting two people under that system, where it’s going to be 8-2,” he said. “I could not tell you how they are going to [create an East End ADC], but a district council should represent the will of the people. Who is deciding? Who is putting people on it?” he asked. “They only facilitate what the government wants to do.”

The councils, mandated by the constitution for each of Cayman’s six districts, are intended to advise area MLAs on policies and programmes. A chairman, vice-chairman, secretary and treasurer will oversee another six members, all serving one-year terms.

Any district resident qualifies for nomination, but the UDP-dominated Cabinet appoints membership. While the law reserves two council seats for “the opposition” — three in cases where a district has no ruling party MLAs — it remains unclear what happens in a district with a single, non-government MLA.

Mr Adam and Mr McField on Tuesday said they would hold open the opposition’s George Town seats, but the councils would go ahead without them. Mr Miller’s North Side council, they said, was not a formal, legally constituted group, but that Mr Bush had suggested “he would be willing to adopt some” of those members, Mr McField said.

Alden McLaughlin

“He’s misguided,” Mr Miller replied on Wednesday. “We elected our members under our own North Side district council constitution, and it’s an association of citizens who have agreed to serve and operate.”

Mr McLean dismissed both the George Town meeting and Mr McField as “skullduggery”.

“He is only facilitating the skullduggery,” Mr McLean said.” I want to see this done by proper election process and will have absolutely nothing to do with anything that Mr McKeeva is putting up.”

Mr Adam was unsure how to resolve the conflict: “It may just mean that [Mr Miller and Mr McLean] wouldn’t have a council if they don’t establish it,” he said. “It is their constitution, however, they helped put it together. It’s the law, and don’t we want to abide by the law?”

He said he would raise the question later today at a UDP gathering.

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