Ever since the election results were finalized Wednesday night, our email inboxes, messaging accounts and telephone lines have been inundated with gossip, tips and “insider observations” about the jockeying for leadership of the Cayman Islands government. Much of it is less than accurate, some of it is true, and all of it is subject to change.
As soon as our journalists are able to vet, confirm or debunk one statement, the situation has already evolved into something slightly (or completely) different.
The reality is that nobody – not us at the Compass, not the public, not even the lawmakers themselves – will know for sure who will emerge as premier, and the makeup of the Cabinet he will lead. Nothing will be certain until the majority of the Legislative Assembly arrives at a final decision and the governor makes her official appointments … possibly (but we doubt) as early as Wednesday.
Amidst all this uncertainty, what our readers can be certain of, however, is that when they read something in the Compass or on our website, the information will have been verified by reliable sources and, when it exists, documentary proof. Our reporters and editors deal in evidence-based facts, not rumors or speculation.
Publisher David R. Legge has set out the news and editorial guidelines which govern all stories which appear in the Cayman Compass and other Pinnacle Media publications:
Said Mr. Legge: “We want to be ‘fast,’ we’d like to be ‘first,’ but neither ‘fast’ nor ‘first’ will drive our publication schedule nor influence our news judgments. Put another way, even on a ‘breaking story,’ accuracy trumps speed. Our standards and journalistic principles are not temporal or situational. They will never be influenced or compromised by potential newsstand sales, web traffic, or online ‘page views.’
“Whatever we publish, and whenever we publish it, our readers must be confident that our content is reliable, fact-based and founded on thorough reporting and, always, questioning ‘skeptical editing.’”
(One example: On election night, Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell was making periodic appearances before television cameras, declaring “winners” in various districts. However, he wasn’t offering numbers – vote totals – to substantiate his pronouncements. As tempting as it was to update our website (www.caymancompass.com) with Mr. Howell’s latest “news” (as other media houses were doing), we chose not to. We declared electoral winners only after we had official vote totals. Were we “first” with reporting the results? No. Were we 100 percent accurate when we did publish because we had the discipline to wait an additional few minutes? Yes.)
Turning to the topic at hand, the political developments that have taken place since Friday have been remarkable, astonishing and probably unprecedented. Late Friday afternoon, the leaders of Cayman’s two political parties – Mr. Alden McLaughlin and his Progressives, and Mr. McKeeva Bush and his Cayman Democratic Party – announced they were joining forces to form a government. A few hours later, Mr. Bush rescinded that earlier statement and announced he had reached an alternative deal with the independents. At about midnight, the Compass updated its website and broke the “new news.”
As of our press time today (see story on Page One), Mr. Bush’s coalition of independent members apparently is realigning.
The perceived “fractures” in Cayman’s body politic, though, are less substantial than might be supposed given the deep divisions between some of our lawmakers. As we’ve seen during the campaign and throughout the modern history of our country, our populace is broadly united on issues, general ideologies, cultural and societal norms, and governmental priorities (education, employment, public safety, etc.).
In Cayman, political differences are, in the main, personality-based rather than policy-based. That paradigm makes for interesting arguments around the dining table, but it also makes us confident that, when a government finally coalesces, our country will continue to move forward together ….