More than 83 percent of the respondents to a caymancompass.com online poll think it was inappropriate for the government to spend more than $38,000 for food and beverages as part of the National Heroes Day event on Jan. 26.
According to information recently provided through a Freedom of Information request, the government spent about $145,000 on this year’s National Heroes Day event, including $38,324 on food and non-alcoholic beverages, spread among 14 local food vendors. The food, which was given away free to attendees, included conch, turtle, lobster and beef. The government estimated that more than 1,600 people attended the event, including 972 award recipients and their guests, 200 members of the parade contingent, 45 invited VIPS, and 380 members of the public.
Of the 572 total respondents to the poll, more than a third – 204 or 35.7 percent – thought providing refreshments to the attendees was fine, but $38,000 was too much to pay for an annual event.
“I wouldn’t go so far as saying it was a vote-buying ploy, but that is excessive,” said one person. “Sure, give out some simple refreshments, and maybe even some inexpensive finger sandwiches, but why are they giving out free turtle, lobster, conch and other delicacies? Does the government feel it has to bribe people with food to get them to come and celebrate the accomplishments of the founding fathers?”
“I think that refreshments should be restricted to water, punch and sandwiches,” said another person. “This would lower costs and garbage quantity.”
“Tea and biscuits should be considered,” said someone else.
“Really, $38K? Such a waste!” said one person.
“How on earth can it cost $38K to provide food and drink to the few hundred people who might attend?” wondered another respondent. “What are they serving – lobster with Dom Perignon?”
Another 138 people thought providing food was a nice gesture, but that the government shouldn’t be paying for free food and drink.
“Senseless extravagance!” said one person.
“Sure is easy to spend other people’s money,” said another.
“It would have been cheaper paying for everyone who attended to go to Casanova’s restaurant just around the corner,” said someone else.
“What would have been the number of audience if there was no free food?” asked one person. “It’s an easy guess I suppose.”
“Some of those heroes don’t see that much money in a year,” commented another respondent. “Spend more on heroes, not on the entourage. It might have been a good opportunity for a $50 per plate benefit dinner to raise money for good causes.”
“There are far more important things to spend money on than free food and drink,” said someone else.
“Spend on roads and development!” said one person.
A large segment of respondents – 135 people or 23.6 percent – thought the government’s spending on free food and beverages was an unacceptable vote-buying ploy.
“The government will spend on this, yet we don’t have enough money to fund programs that could make the country more money,” said one person “Disgusting!”
“I just don’t understand why they have to honor so many at one time,” said another person. “It becomes meaningless. Seems like vote buying to me.”
Eighty-nine respondents – 15.6 percent – thought paying for free food and beverages for the National Heroes Day celebration was perfectly appropriate.
“It’s a time when everybody gets a little refreshment from government, not just those that are invited to the governor’s house,” said one person. “We all pay for this.”
“It’s for National Heroes Day!” said someone else. “Celebrations should, of course, be with style and class. Would you rather bottled water and a bag of chips?”
“It’s a small price to pay in saying thanks to the honorees,” said someone else.
“If it’s promoting our national heroes, what’s wrong with providing food and beverages?” asked one respondent. “But maybe they should then set a budget for it if 38K is too much.”
“The money was spent on the taxpayer,” said another.
“When something positive is done, let it be … and smile,” commented one person.
Six people – 1 percent – responded “I don’t know/other” to the question.
“Maybe some water, but not food and drink and definitely not $38,000,” said one of these respondents.
Next week’s poll question
On which of these issues should the government spend the most time and money? [Explain why in comments]
New infrastructure like roads, the airport redevelopment and the cruise dock
Solving the landfill problem
To participate in this poll, visit www.caymancompass.com starting March 30.