Editorial for 13 May: Leading by example

It was interesting to hear the comments made by Premier McKeeva Bush with regard to the use of public resources to pave parking lots and driveways of businesses and individuals in Cayman Brac.

Although the Ministry of District Administration and Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly have been silent so far about the issue, Mr. Bush spoke freely about the subject.

What the premier said probably surprised many people. In essence, Mr. Bush admitted what was happening and said he didn’t see anything wrong with it.  In fact, Mr. Bush said the practice of paving things like parking lots and driveways has been going on for years, so it’s not that strange.

While we applaud Mr. Bush for being honest about the situation, we have to take issue with the concept that just because something has been done in the past, that makes it permissible to do now or in the future.

Although Mr. Bush said what is happening in Cayman Brac is merely answering a public need, there are those who would argue that the practice of using public resources for things like paving private driveways and parking lots is political patronage or an attempt at buying votes. Even if the paving were simply to meet the needs of the public, Mr. Bush and Mrs. O’Connor-Connolly surely must recognise that there is another possible interpretation of the gesture that reflects poorly on the integrity of the government.

Just as importantly, the usage of public resources on such things sends a conflicting message to civil servants and the rest of the country, who are being told these are times of austerity and we all have to accept higher duties and fees, halted or severely slowed capital projects, hiring freezes and budget cuts.

That the premier can insist civil servants find nearly $20 million of budget savings in the next two months, while in the next breath say it’s fine for the government to pave private driveways and parking lots in Cayman Brac is inconsistent, to say the least.  We would hope the elected government would lead the civil servants by example, instead of the “do as I say, not as I do” method it has apparently adopted.