We prefer our lawmakers to be serious and stalwart individuals — determination in their demeanors, steel in their eyes and spines. Squishiness is better left to invertebrates (polyps, anemones or jellyfish), which drift this way and that with the currents, tides and trends.
Far too often, Cayman Islands officials issue edicts or make pronouncements of impending significant action, only to flip-flop at the first hint of controversy or opposition.
Consider, for example, the Progressives’ hasty retreat from the Ernst and Young report they commissioned on streamlining the civil service, or their walk-back from fundamental education reform including charter/academy-style schools, or — of course — their various revisions and re-revisions to the design of the George Town cruise berthing facility that will stall the project past Election Day and perhaps forever.
No editorial on this topic would be complete without bringing up the more than 900 people in Cayman (plus their family members) who are waiting for the government to consider their applications for permanent residence, which have been languishing since the Progressives passed their new Immigration Law in fall 2013 … and then, almost immediately, refused to implement what they themselves had legislated.
The latest example of a “180 retreat” by the Progressives is their declaration, followed by an abrupt un-declaration, of plans to build a $2.5 million youth detention center on the site of the Bonaventure Boy’s Home in West Bay.
Residents in the neighboring Coral Gables subdivision had raised concerns about the proximity of the new center to their homes. According to a story that appeared in Wednesday’s Compass, “After meeting with the residents Saturday, government committed to revisiting other options, including alternative locations for the site.”
(The Compass has little insight whatsoever into whether the Bonaventure site was the best — or the worst — for the detention center. Our point is different: Governments should not announce these grandiose plans unless it is committed, really committed, to carrying them out.)
For the record, when government announced the new detention center destined for the Bonaventure site in mid-January, Minister for Community Affairs Osbourne Bodden said, “In order for us to offer the proper continuum of care, this is another important cog in the wheel. This is something we all need as a society and have been crying out for.”
Within the span of a month, government’s message evolved from, “This project is critical,” into “(back to the drawing board).”
Sometimes other factors than the whiff of public disapproval, it appears, have caused Progressives’ initiatives to stall. One way or another, Cayman has yet to glimpse the fruits of a great number of projects promised by government, or given the Progressives’ imprimatur of approval.
Let’s see: There’s the George Town Landfill solution, the demolition of the Glass House and creation of a new public park, the new components of John Gray High School, and the $200 million Gran Palazzo condo development on North Sound, not to mention the $30 million, 6,300-seat hockey arena and exhibition center with a turtle shell–shaped roof.
When the government endorsed the “Cayman Ice Palace” in front of Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce members nearly two years ago, it was touted as a central plank in the Progressives’ planned redevelopment of downtown George Town. Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts said, “While we know that nothing is real until it becomes real, the government has every confidence that this will become a reality.”
The government’s public endorsement of a project means — or should mean — something. It should never be granted cavalierly, without due diligence and, importantly, without adequate thought and deliberation.