The Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum moved to the William Allen McLaughlin Civic Centre in East End Thursday night when, with just two candidates, there was time for 22 questions from the Chamber, media and members of the public.
Taking part were Mr. John McLean, who served as district MLA from 1976-2000 (12 years of which were at the ministerial level) and Mr. Arden McLean, district MLA 2000-05.
Questions related to national and district issues in no particular sequence, but with some district issues having national implications. The questions were posed by Chamber CEO Wil Pineau, Chamber president-elect Morgan DaCosta and Radio Cayman announcer Jay Erhardt.
Landfill, refuse disposal
Mr. Arden said there was no need to bring a landfill to East End. He believed the site in George Town can accommodate refuse because there are other methods of disposal, such as incineration. Numerous studies had been done by previous governments, he asserted, but they were shelved.
Mr. John said that as recently as 1999, under his watch, there was an agreement with a private individual who had made arrangements for shipping garbage to Cuba, where some of it would be turned into soil, some incinerated and metal smelted. What happened after the 2000 election, he did not know.
The prospect was raised of a hurricane shelter on the Queen’s Highway for people from other districts.
Mr. Arden agreed that East End is one of the highest parts of the Island, but it was not for him to identify a particular spot. He wanted to see Government build a building to protect all of their archives and he thought that the people of East End were well set for any hurricane.
Mr. John said that, instead of looking at something in East End because it is higher, it would be better to look at a facility in each district, properly built. For example, his opinion was that the Bodden Town Civic Centre should be condemned and a new one located to higher ground. Moving people too far from their homes involves serious problems, with transport just one of them, he indicated.
Mr. John said he has always advocated gradual change, with which Cayman has progressed well. Eventually there will be advancement in certain areas, but it should be done through referendum.
Mr. Arden said the time had come for Cayman to have a little more autonomy. He did not support independence at this time. He did support people-initiated referendum, full ministerial government, freedom of the press, freedom of information, a bill of rights.
Mr. Arden said the benefit of a party system is that people have a chance to participate if they join. It’s not the politician who runs the party; it’s the people, he asserted.
Mr John said the party system could not work at this time. It is causing division of families. ‘We’re not ready. If we were, more people would have joined,’ he said.
He quoted Mr. Arden as saying that political parties are not bad – people make parties bad. Mr. John said that was correct. But if the opposing party had worked with the government of the day rather than oppose without solutions, more could have been done, he indicated.
Asked what were East End’s three greatest needs at this time, Mr. John said there was lots of maintenance, including roads, that needed to be done; schools and planning for jobs for school leavers; the medical system.
Mr. Arden identified the upgrading of the education plant, continuation of the restoration process after Ivan and the safety of residents.
Mr. Arden said Government had to ensure that there are sufficient resources to fight crime. For a long time there has been the mindset that crime in Cayman was petty. That mindset has to change. Professionals should be brought in who have had experience and who can retrain local officers to deal with this.
Mr. John said he was all for strengthening the police, but when are people going to stand up and play their part? The public must work with the police, he urged.
Mr. John said re-locating the airport would involve more money than the people could afford. Future plans should be started, but we have to utilise what we already have and further extend it rather than relocate to an area that would be more costly.
Mr. Arden said no dock and no oil refinery were coming to East End on his watch. It was not necessary to bring the airport to East End, given the facility in George Town. A small, private airport might be viable at this time, he suggested.