When politicians ignore the issues — and the voters

The Compass does not shy away from taking unpopular or contrarian positions on issues that we think deserve rethinking or re-examination. We’re mindful that “all of the sparrows might be flying in the wrong direction.”

We also don’t avoid controversial topics that our leaders might regard as “lightning rods,” “third rails,” “untouchables” or “unmentionables.”

And, trust us, you as our readers let us know in uncertain (and sometimes unprintable) terms when you disagree with us. That’s as it should be. (Our favorite to date had to do with an editorial position we had taken on the “wedding dress/customs saga” that caught the attention of former Crosstalk host Gilbert McLean. Mr. McLean, who was on the air, was so incensed with us that he could hardly contain himself — or express himself. After a fair amount of sputtering and stuttering, however, he summed it up succinctly: “That editorial just STINKS!”)

Notably, however, there are two significant subjects facing the Cayman Islands where our commentary has been met with almost universal support: the landfill and our failing schools.

Caymanians are demanding action on the hazardous and unsightly George Town landfill and on our under-performing and unaccountable government school system.

The dump, an 80-foot-high mound of refuse spawning runoff pollution and bursting intermittently into flames, is of such a mass and mess that it cannot be treated as just another issue where dithering or dillydallying is not of great consequence. It is a threat to the health of the public, tourism, the environment and, by extension, the economy.

Likewise, our failing school system is crippling our youth and threatening the very future of our country.

Now, normally we place little stock in many of our own feedback mechanisms — informal CaymanCompass.com polls, online postings, encounters in the grocery stores, or other sources of “anecdotal evidence.”

That being said, however, when anomalies occur, we notice.

In last Friday’s editorial, “Cayman schools: The need to raise our standards,” we took the government to task for its mishandling of an education consultant’s assessment of behavior in our public schools, including the ministry’s revision of the document, a procedure we likened to “grade inflation.”

The column drew three comments on our website:

David Williams — “Isn’t the worrying thing here that this convenient dumbing down of the report might be the tip of the proverbial iceberg?”

John Harris — “It amazes me that the Education Ministry’s chief officer is still in her job. Leaving aside the question of suppressing the [consultant’s] report, quite how badly does the schools system have to get before someone takes responsibility for it?”

Len King — “It’s like going to a doctor to check an ailment and then taking the attitude that he/she is wrong because your personal diagnosis doesn’t match what the physician said, and you seemingly know more than the physician. … That’s exactly what we have here.”

As of Thursday afternoon, 55 readers had “agreed” with the first comment, and 0 “disagreed.” In regard to the second, 71 readers agreed and 0 disagreed. In regard to the third, 95 readers agreed and 0 disagreed.

Of greater interest than the number who agreed (221) is the number who disagreed (zero).
Elected representatives who do not recognize and respond to unanimity of opinion — voiced by the very people who elected them — are either cavalier, arrogant or, politically speaking, incredibly foolish.
Ignoring the near-universal voice of voters will come at a steep price — and it will be paid in full in the next election.

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