Taking umbrage with editorial

We consider your editorial of November 19th to be shameful and unethical. You, of course, certainly have the right to express your opinion in an editorial, and to support the proposed BT dump, and that might indeed “raise our ire”. Contrary to your expectations, though, your front-page story reporting Minister Scotland’s press release, along with our opposition, did not “raise our ire”.

It was in fact reasonably balanced.

However, it is dishonest and unethical to use an editorial to consciously present false information as “facts”, and that, Madame Editor, raises our outrage. This editorial is unworthy of Cayman’s daily newspaper.

With all due respect to our Rotary clubs and the community work they do, your suggestion that Rotary’s “4-Way Test” is relevant, and even a reliable gauge of the best waste management solution for Grand Cayman, is ludicrous, and clearly assumes that your readers are fools;

“Is it the truth”, you ask, and then reply “Yes…something must finally be done to end the dump at George Town.” This is a bald-faced lie. What is true is that the GT dump problem must end. Most experts agree that the problem can and must be resolved where it is, not by contaminating a new site. In fact, no one, not even proponents of a dump in Bodden Town will deny that the problem can be fixed where it is. They simply claim that it’s “not affordable”, and then throw out the fictitious cost of $100 million to scare us all. How can you pretend that the need to close the GT dump is a “truth”, when the Central Tenders Committee deliberated and recommended exactly the opposite, with our Premier himself initially embracing their conclusion? Do you, Madame Editor, consider yourself more qualified than the CTC and its technical committee?

We agree that Scotland’s support for an unpopular project like the proposed BT dump spells defeat for him in the next elections, but as you well know, this in no way proves that the project is in the interests of our country, nor that Scotland actually believes that it is. If Scotland is really motivated by the merits of a dump in his district – and not by Dart’s private interests – and sincerely believes it to be in the best interests of Cayman, why does he continue to hide from his constituents and refuse a public debate in Bodden Town during which he could explain and defend his position?

Minister Scotland broke his promise last January to meet with the Coalition to listen to our concerns; he broke his promise to produce documents, which supposedly justify moving the GT dump and putting it in BT; he broke numerous promises since August 2011 to meet with and to consult with those who elected him, those who would be most affected by a dump in BT. Are these the mark of an honourable man, with “backbone” and “courage”, a man who represents his constituents and his district as he is paid to do? Do you honestly believe that Minister Scotland – or any other member of Government – puts “service above self”? Come now, Madame Editor;

How can you honestly state that “…if the environmental impact statement proves that Midland Acres is the best site…”, then we should all work to see “the best be done”? The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA – no, it’s not a “statement”) will not be considering if MA is the best site for a new landfill. If you read your own newspaper (Page 5, November 15th), you’ll have read the Coalition’s statement on the Terms of Reference for the EIA and the minutes of a Water Authority meeting disclosed following our FOI request for information. The EAB was muzzled by government ministers. It was ordered to not consider the best waste management solution for Grand Cayman and to not consider the best site for a new dump if indeed the GT dump had to be moved. The EAB was ordered to submit a TOR focused strictly on the Dart proposal and on the site selected by Dart; MA cannot be evaluated as the “best site” if it’s the only site to be studied;

You describe the proposed BT dump as a “properly designed, engineered and managed waste management facility”, but this description is copied 
word-for-word from Dart’s PR material. This is a lie. Dart’s “Phase 1” – all that they’d be building – is a pit with a plastic liner, on which the Island’s garbage will be piled up and left to accumulate and create “Mount Trashmore East”. Government has neither the plans nor the money to add anything at all to “Phase 1” and that the proposed dump will be managed, not by Dart, but by the same people from DoE who have “managed” the GT dump since 1983;

On November 15th last, the Legislative Assembly adopted the Public Management and Finance bill, which brought the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility into law. The FFR requires that all major public projects and all major divestitures of public assets be submitted to public tender. This, according to Minister Mark Simmonds of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, is required in order to ensure Cayman of “good governance of the public finances”, “best value for money”, “procurement undertaken in a transparent and competitive manner”, and to ensure that “due process has been followed.”

The Dart dump deal has never been put to tender. It was in fact rejected by the CTC and rated worst of all six proposals considered to resolve the GT dump problem. The “swapping” of Crown land at the GT landfill was never tendered either. Are you, Madame Editor, encouraging government and Dart to break the law and to proceed with the dump deal even though it’s in conflict with the FFR’s requirements? Do you not agree, Madame Editor, that it’s in the best interests of our country for this project, just like the cruise berthing facility, to be submitted to due process, public scrutiny, competition, and an independent test of value for money?

We are hoping that you have the “backbone” and “courage” to publish this reply to your editorial in a timely fashion. We further ask, in the interests of honesty, objective reporting, and the principles of ethical journalism, that you retract the editorial, revise and correct the content and then republish it with an explanation to your readers.

Alain Beiner

Chairman Coordinating 
Committee Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free

Editors Note: Editorials in the Caymanian Compass are a tool to prompt discussion and are, in fact, strictly opinion, not objective reporting.

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