A snapshot of unacceptable behavior on the House floor

If it had happened in a classroom, it likely would have been treated as bullying – in fact, cyber bullying. It had all the ingredients: It was meant to be hurtful, it was done anonymously, and it was distributed and ultimately posted on social media.

We refer to the photo which was taken on the floor of the Legislative Assembly last week. It showed Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush purportedly asleep at his post in a most unflattering pose.

The photograph then appeared on the Facebook page of Chris Wight, a highly visible and highly vocal PPM supporter. It was subsequently sent to the Cayman Compass by Premier Alden McLaughlin’s press secretary, Tammie Chisholm.

The image drew the ire of House Speaker Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, who said the taking of such photographs is in contravention of Legislative Assembly rules. (The Cayman Compass published a short article, but not the photo, on the incident because Ms. O’Connor-Connolly addressed the issue publicly on the House floor.)

The angle of the photograph taken of Mr. Bush clearly indicates it was taken from the floor of the Legislative Assembly and, more specifically, from the area of the government bench.

We do not know who took the photo, but we have submitted the digital file to two independent experts for analysis in the United States. They have already extracted meaningful information from deeply embedded metadata in the image that may link the photo to the device – and ultimately to the individual who took it.

On Friday, we queried Premier McLaughlin twice, asking directly if he himself had taken the picture or, if not, whether he could enlighten us as to who did. He chose not to address those questions.

Whoever took the photograph then passed it on personally (or through an intermediary) to Mr. Wight, who, in turn, made it available globally via his Facebook account.

The intent of all this, we believe, was clear, incontrovertible – and ultimately successful. It was to embarrass Mr. Bush, to expose him to ridicule and disparagement both in Cayman and beyond. It was amateur, gutter politics, not reflective of the kind of behavior we should expect from the “hallowed halls of our honorable house.”

Which brings us to the following observation. Compass reporters spend so much time in the Legislative Assembly that government legitimately could be charging us rent. The behavior we observe – but too often in the past have not reported – is often appalling.

We have witnessed a number of the lawmakers sleeping in the Legislative Assembly chamber during proceedings. (For the record, Mr. Bush denies he was asleep in the photograph now on Facebook. He is opening his own probe into the origin of the photograph and whether it was digitally altered.) Members often occupy their time reading newspapers, texting on their smartphones or chatting amicably among themselves, paying scant attention to the floor debate.

More importantly, even though their attendance in the Legislative Assembly during meetings is one of their primary functions as elected representatives, all too often the members are either not in the chamber during debates or absent all together.

For those lawmakers who engage in such behavior, shame on them. For those of us at the Compass who have not reported this behavior more vigilantly, shame on us.

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  1. If I was Mr Bush I would definitely spend money to find out whose cellphone took the photo because it was just a spiteful act aimed at embarrassing.
    I have sat in the LA gallery on many occasions accompanied by friends and have witnessed two distinct ministers of PPM government sleeping and snoring so hard that they could be heard outside the lobby. Even the speaker of the house who was sitting, heard and saw them and of course never woke them up. The snoring I found funny and smiled but never in a moment did it cross my mind to take a photo of them and expose it. It is just sickening and spiteful. The public need to go there more often and see and hear what they are doing.

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  2. Ms House Speaker said her job was to protect all LA members in the house, but she said what one did and identified him by name. The other was not identified. This really looks like what Mac said – they are trying to bring him down. I’m wondering if any of these politicians that are involved in this story are fit for the job.

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  3. Whether he was sleep or not remains to be seen. If the photo was altered also remains to be seen, but I will say it could be possible. One question I have to ask is why, with so many reporters in the LA at the time, was there only one photo of him sleeping.
    In my opinion, if he fell asleep, so what, it was most likely for a minute or two and I’m sure he wasn’t the first and won’t be the last to doze off in the LA. The difference here is that someone took a picture of him and deliberately handed it to someone they knew would post it on Facebook and the fact that the Premier’s press secretary personally sent it to the Compass clearly shows that the intention was to embarrass Mr. Bush. That to me shows a lack of integrity which is a lot worse than being sleepy.

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  4. The focus here seems wrong – ultimately this picture would not have been taken if said leader of opposition was not asleep in the LA! Shouldn’t the concern here by directed at him?
    Clearly the business of running and creating legislation for the benefit of him and his fellow Caymanians is so very interesting and important he doesn’t need to stay awake right. So Sad.
    If this happened in a classroom or office wouldn’t the offender be sent home and or rightly given a serious reprimand!

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  5. If one sees photos taken in the inside of the London House of Commons while it is in session one will notice two things.
    1. Most of the MPs are absent. Important legislation is being discussed by perhaps 40 MPs out of over 600. Where are they? Surely it is their job to be present.
    2. About a third of them are very visibly asleep.
    But no one, not the sleeping MPs nor the UK public ever complains about this.
    I have to admit that the speeches given are so boring that I could personally never stay awake.
    But then I am not being paid to represent a UK constituency.
    I have to agree with Helen here.

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  6. Stay awake and this situation would not occur. What is far more serious is the absence of members altogether. What I would like to see is an attendance register, open to the public, so we can see exactly who is taking too many days off.

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  7. Can anyone answer the question whether or not it is illegal to take a photo in the LA chamber and then send it to the media? If so then we need to find out took and take the appropriate action. As for dozing off in the LA, it sounds like this not isolated to Mr. Bush, so focus you attention of everyone that is guilty of it. No matter what anyone says this is a directed, concerted effort to again discredit the man. Things like this are starting to make me believe more and more that there is something to his accusations about a conspiracy.

    What possible reason would Alden”s press secretary have for sending the photo to the compass other than embarrassing Mr Bush.. Someone should ask her to explain why she did it and if the Premier was aware.

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  8. All the PPM government are sleeping doing nothing to help the people of this country. It’s a shame in them talking about sleep. They the one sleeping, doing nothing, get pay for promises the never deliver. They never have solution for nothing. Jordanian.

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  9. It did occur to me that whilst Bush sleeps, he is doing nothing harmful. Maybe if he had slept instead of doing the Cohen deal, the Chinese Port builder deal and others, the Islands would be better off!

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  10. I find it incredibly interesting that even in the face of facts and CIGTV footage showing the picture was faked, people who hate Bush would rather still believe it’s real and that he was asleep in the LA on that day. No different than when he was proven not to have broken the law for using his CIG Card in those casinos. If the money had not been paid back then it would have been a crime according to CIG policy at the time, yet people still chose to believe that he was guilty of a crime. This goes to prove that no matter if it’s wrong, right, legal or not, if the person is someone you don’t like you would rather they be condemned if they are guilt or not.
    If this case was switched around and the photo was of Alden, people would be blaming Bush for it and calling for investigations to prove he took the photo saying he should be barred from the LA.
    I must say this whole thing is making me believe more and more that there is something to the accusations of a conspiracy against Bush. The more I follow this whole political saga the more I am starting to truly believe this was all engineered to further embarrass him and distract from his accusations which people are working desperately at sweeping under the rug in lieu of facing them head on like an innocent man would do. Like Bush did.

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