Lottery debated in North Side

The three North Side participants in the Chamber of Commerce Candidates’ Forum offered distinct opinions on the subject of a national lottery, as they did on many other topics Wednesday night.

The forum’s questions were posed by Chamber of Commerce President Stuart Bostock.

Oswell Rankine said he would absolutely not support a national lottery because it is gambling and gambling is illegal.

He said it would cost the country in terms of social services because a person who would normally be able to cover the costs of food, shelter and clothing might take that money and try to make more money through gambling.

Ezzard Miller said yes, he would support a lottery and use the proceeds for education and health care. He said there are numbers sellers in the community and anybody who wants to buy a number can. The laws of the land have to reflect what is happening. It is hypocritical to have laws on the books and not enforce them.

Joey Ebanks said he would not support a lottery. The people who are selling numbers now have zero overhead, he pointed out. But put bureaucracy into the costs of running a lottery and ‘the pot will shrink’. Government would end up subsidizing the lottery. The population base is too small for a lottery, he added, because not everybody will buy lottery tickets.

The candidates also offered different perspectives on another question from the audience: How do you propose to improve relations with the police and target crime in the district?

Mr. Ebanks cited the need for increased training for residents involved in Neighbourhood Watch committees.

He said there was an increase in crime when certain individuals were released from prison; he suggested electronic tracking devices for them. At the same time, they had paid their debt to society so people should welcome them back, integrate them and insure they have a job. It’s a multiple approach to combating crime, he said.

Mr. Rankine saw personal discipline as the key to any improvement in the community. If there is a breakdown of discipline in the home, it leads to discipline problems in the school and inevitably landing someone in incarceration. Mature adults know they need self-discipline, but adults had failed to pass on to their children the concept that every action has a consequence.

Mr. Miller said the police need to re-earn the respect of residents and send to the district officers who are properly trained. Officers had to behave and do their job in a way that people respect and then believe that when they complain the officers will get the job done.

The challenges involved in delivering quality health care also brought a variety of opinions.

Mr. Ebanks said the 55,000 people in Cayman expected the same care as in the US or UK, but there was a problem with economy of scale. He suggested out-sourcing some portions of health care such as reading X-rays. Lower personnel costs would allow for the purchase of needed expensive equipment.

Mr. Rankine also addressed the concept of expectations. He said a number of Cayman residents were semi-resident in Florida hospitals, but in some cases could be treated locally. He said Cayman had invested heavily in physical facilities but there was a deficiency in qualified personnel.

Good management, health insurance and doctors’ privileges were the challenges listed by Mr. Miller. He said access to health care should be guaranteed, but some major changes are needed in legislation so that people get what they are paying for.

The Association for the Advancement of Cruise Tourism submitted the question: ‘Would you agree that cruise tourism is an essential part of the island economy? If yes, what strategies would you propose to increase revenues from cruise tourism?’

Mr. Rankine said a cruise ship dock is necessary, but he did not want to see it in the North Sound. He said it was good to have large numbers of cruise ship passengers, but if their spending was decreasing, what was the advantage?

Mr. Miller said cruise ship tourism should not be developed at the expense of stay-over tourism. He wanted more information on what returns Cayman is getting economically.

Mr. Ebanks said cruise ship passengers are spending $85 per head, but only 40 per cent are getting off the ships because of lack of facilities. A proper dock would bring more ashore and give them more time to spend, he argued.

Asked if they would be willing to accept a Cabinet seat if elected, Messrs. Rankine and Miller said no, indicating a preference for working on district issues. Mr. Ebanks said he would accept and felt he was most qualified to deal with the areas of tourism, education, youth and culture. As a minister, one thing he would seek to do is move the ministry office to North Side.

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