The good news is the Cayman Islands government is going to hold its annual Christmas cleanup program again this year, providing the opportunity for unemployed Caymanians to earn some cash for the holidays in exchange for picking up trash in public areas.
The other good news is that thanks to Cayman’s resident litterbugs, there is plenty of trash in public areas to pick up.
However, (and we kid here) some politicians are seeking to do away with the very livelihoods of those unemployed Caymanians, by standing up against the commonplace practice of treating our beaches, parks and roadways as personal dumping grounds.
Legislators are considering implementing “on-the-spot tickets” for illegal dumpers, and Bodden Town West MLA Chris Saunders has suggested hiking penalties to $5,000-$10,000. “Cash-for-trash” has a certain ring to it but, frankly, we don’t think it adds up to wise public policy.
Now, we certainly oppose the defilement of our islands’ many beauty spots by those of the porcine persuasion. However, we are skeptical that attempting to levy hefty, on-the-spot tickets will have any substantial result other than generating a lot of trash cases for police, prosecutors and judges.
In order for a police officer to issue a citation that would stand up to a court challenge (and, if the fines are $10,000, expect every single one to be challenged), there would have to be 1) eyewitnesses that were on the scene when the offender lugged his couch or refrigerator into the bush; or 2) officers willing to go along the roadside, pick up trash (presumably with latex gloves) and take it downtown to police headquarters as evidence in order to dust it for prints. (We are obviously piling absurdity on top of absurdity.)
However, a decent volume of prosecutable cases could jump-start a whole new industry, involving the creation of a special Trash Court and the training of specialized trash defense attorneys who would render the chances of conviction as virtually impossible. (CCTV footage might play a role in all of this.)
Frankly, we see two ways to approach the problem. First, emulate the state of Texas’s clever campaign, “Don’t Mess With Texas” … with its implicit threat of “Or Else.” Of course, to implement the “Texas model,” Cayman would probably not only have to legalize firearms but also, to be truly effective, pass “concealed carry” legislation as well.
We admit, it’s a tempting idea but not one likely to pass muster with our pacifistic British overlords.
More practically, Cayman’s leaders should make a cultural appeal, citing the wonder of our surroundings and promoting the idea of “pride in place.”
Yes, in some countries, it is customary for people’s front yards to resemble junk yards, but that is not the look – or the smell – any of us want for Cayman. To borrow a phrase from our December 2013 campaign against the highly combustible George Town landfill, “Not on our beautiful island!”
We, along with many older residents, recall with great affection memories of Caymanian cottages with their white sand yards, raked, pristine and perfect for Christmas. That image exemplifies the ideal of “pride in place” that we need to bring back to Cayman – all year round.
What also might be helpful to prevent illegal dumping is for the Department of Environmental Health to reopen the landfill as soon as possible for scrap metal and moribund vehicles which have, sadly, met their end of the road. They, too, deserve a proper burial and their proper “cemetery” needs to be the public landfill.