To support the free exchange of ideas about current issues of public import, the Compass publishes letters to the editor submitted by community leaders and readers with perspectives to share. Today, we republish excerpts from some of the more notable letters of 2018.
Spend the people’s money wisely (Jan. 8)
Government must wise up and put our people first. Do you hear their cry for a better way of life? We have the money to do just that. Northward Prison cannot hold all the people that will turn to crime – people who are losing their homes, people with families to feed, people that come out of jail with nowhere to go and no job, people that come out of school without a proper education, no house, no land, no plan and no real help or direction from government, with a lot of others that are already on social services.
We need to pay better attention to our people – not just our Caymanian people. Even people from the outside world are here with us in hard poverty. Employment, education, upliftment, betterment, happiness and respect – these are some of the things affecting the Cayman people. We must demand to live better, and that we come first always on these islands.
… We need to support our children more and give them better chances to have a good trade and be internationally educated. Our people have worked so hard in the past to bring Cayman to where she is today. In these times of plenty, our people must live better in all ways.
Emile S. Levy
Items trigger fond memories of Cayman (Jan. 31)
This is not the usual letter to the editor dealing with the current issues of the day in Cayman; this one comes from someone who lived in Grand Cayman for more than 25 years and still remembers the place, and many of its people, fondly. In particular, I refer to a time, memory says 2003, when I was heading up Pirates Week where one of our projects was an annual Arts Competition in the schools.
That year, the East End School won the competition with a painting on plexiglass depicting Cayman’s abundant marine life and wildlife, and, to my surprise, the teacher involved telephoned the Pirates Week office to say that the class had decided to give me the painting as a gift. It is a beautiful piece of art, indeed eye-catching, and almost every creature in Cayman is captured there in a variety of colors and shapes.
I was delighted to have it and it hung in my house in Northward, just inside the front door, so that it often caught my eye as I entered or left, always reminding me of that gesture from the children. Today it hangs on the grillwork in my home in Guyana, in a place where the daylight shines through the plexiglass, lighting up the painting, and I often end up happily explaining to visitors the what and the why of the piece.
The children who gave me their art are all grown up now, but I am writing this letter from far away to tell them how much joy their gift has given me and what wonderful memories of Cayman it still triggers in me after all these years.
In Guyana, I have several things around me relating to Cayman – the latest being a print of a beautiful Seven Mile Beach sunset photo very kindly sent to me by the photographer David Goddard.
They are constant reminders of a time and a place where I spent the biggest part of my life, and on a day when I am caught up with other matters I will notice these things and remember the Cayman that gave me so much. So this is to say thank you, East End; you remain with me.
A marvelous start to an unforgettable day (Feb. 28)
One of our greatest joys in Grand Cayman was to meet Police Constable Fabian O’Connor at the wharfside. Jim and I were looking puzzled when Fabian greeted us and directed us to nearby Café del Sol to enjoy coffee and the use of the free internet to contact friends who were at their home awaiting our arrival. I was able to get their phone number and Fabian made the call for us. He did this all with his characteristic joy and happiness.
Fabian’s “Cayman Smile” and friendliness was a marvelous start to a very happy day as our friends toured us around your beautiful island. The weather, the beaches, the history, the food and mostly the friendliness we experienced there will be one of our happiest cruise memories.
Incidentally, we later met Satan at Hell. Imagine meeting St. Fabian and the devil in one very full, unforgettable day!
Margaret and Jim Steel
Proud of Cayman’s generosity (March 6)
Along with many others, we spent a couple of hours on a recent Saturday shaking a tin to support Cayman HospiceCare.
In our two-hour stint, we saw and chatted to many old friends who we had not seen for some time. What particularly impressed us, however, was the generosity of the Cayman residents.
It was clear that many of the contributors did not have ”a bean to rub together” but still contributed. There were others who were donating a second time to this very worthy cause.
When there is so much bad news about, we found shaking a tin a very uplifting experience. If you get an opportunity to do it in the future, we would recommend it. It will make you feel good.
Peter and Janet Yates
Government is right to cull Sister Islands’ feral cats (March 21)
The government was right to cull feral cats in the Sister Islands instead of iguanas. The feral cats eat wildlife. I do not know how many times feral cats were on my property. The judge was wrong. All the feral cats I find on my property, I will give them to the government. I want birds and wildlife on my property, not cats.
Disgusted by untreated medical waste (May 16)
Fiercely disgusting and outrageous, the disposal of biohazardous medical waste at the Cayman Brac dump on South Side!
The dump on the South Side at the foot of the Bluff – Queen’s Crown Land – has been a bone of contention for the past 30 years. Like the underground fires that smoulder and break out from time to time on these neglected and dangerous acres, the dumping of untreated medical waste in red plastic biohazard bags, free to any foragers – chickens, people, feral animals, birds and insects – is a crime being purveyed to the population of Cayman Brac.
It’s well past time that the Cayman Islands Government’s Department of Environmental Health finally put paid to the long-simmering issue of the Brac’s abysmal landfill and its poisonous smoke polluting the sweet air. And past time, too, that the Cayman Compass invests in an office and talented reporter on Cayman Brac to deal with all the economic issues that affect the Brac, such as the two abandoned and neglected hotels on the southwest end of the island. Alas, the irresponsibility of the Department of Environmental Health is staggering.
North Sound stench (July 23)
On Tuesday morning at about 6 a.m., I was riding my bicycle – it’s not safe to ride any other times of the day.
My little meditation and peacefulness routine is to stop by the North Sound at Britannia. I have not been there in several weeks. The stench from the dump was so disgusting. I had my shirt across my face since I will do all that I can to brave it out wherever I am.
I could not even last 30 seconds with my face covered. The smell nearly asphyxiated me. I saw a jogger and wondered how he was able to withstand the stench.
I spent several months in Africa and never encountered anything like the effects of the dump we have here. Have we truly reached Third World?
Choudhury investigation must run its course (July 27)
In response to recent media coverage surrounding the withdrawal of Governor Choudhury to London, pending the outcome of a conduct investigation, we would like to provide an update.
The investigation process is being carried out in accordance with established procedures in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The FCO has robust policies and procedures in place and works hard to ensure that all staff can raise complaints in the confidence that they will be taken extremely seriously and acted upon. Procedures are in place to ensure that investigations into any member of staff are conducted in a manner that is fair to all. It is normal for these investigations to take some time to complete to enable a full and accurate picture to be acquired. It is not possible at this stage to provide a clear assessment of the time it will take to complete.
Until a conclusion is reached, it would be inappropriate and unfair to the staff involved, including Mr. Choudhury, for the Governor’s Office, Cayman Islands Government or the FCO to comment on the nature of the allegations. We are aware of the rumors circulating in the community but we will not be responding to these. While we understand the public interest in this issue, we must respect the privacy of all parties involved.
… Please be assured that we will provide further updates on the situation as soon as we are able to do so in a manner that upholds the fairness and integrity of the investigation.
Head of Governor’s Office
Seven Mile Beach restaurants will be missed (Aug. 9)
I read with dismay about the eventual closing of Calico Jack’s, Royal Palms and Hemingways. We had heard rumors it would happen when we were on the island in June.
Where will all the visitors to Seven Mile Beach go for food and drink? If memory serves me correctly, if you take out Calico Jack’s, Royal Palms and Hemingways, and with Tiki Beach gone, there is nowhere to stop for refreshments from the Marriott to the Kimpton, except for hotels like the Westin and Ritz and any new hotels on the drawing board.
Considering that the hotels have “trouble” now with beach visitors using their chairs and facilities, those facilities are going to be even more attractive because they will be the only place visitors can get a drink or food. Will those hotels welcome all the cruisers and visitors and allow them to use their beach chairs, etc., all day if food and drink is purchased? Will they tolerate hundreds of cruisers sitting on their chairs every day, using their pools and other amenities? Are their guests, who are paying premium rates, going to tolerate sharing those? …
West Des Moines, Iowa
Reducing the high cost of living (Aug. 23)
Cayman is a world leader in some instances, while an increasing number of persons each year have to go on welfare. Why is this?
Cayman is one of the leaders in offshore business – recently I read we had lost 7.8 percent of our business to outsourcing. We must address the issues we face now. Cayman is blessed. We still have a population of perhaps 65,000, but it must happen now, before we reach the 100,000 mark.
In Singapore, one of the countries that is attracting our companies, the cost of living is 44 percent less and the wages 20 percent less than in Cayman. This tells the story. Legislators, please help.
Government presently collects a stamp fee on several things (checks, policies, documents, etc.), which probably amounts to an average of 0.5 percent to the average consumer each month. If government would include bank transactions – electronic transactions, drafts, wires and deposits – going with a minimum figure (for example, .00007 percent), then it could remove duty from food, gas, diesel, propane and reduce license fees. This would bring the high cost of living down 25-30 percent; all will benefit.
Give people a say in cruise berthing project (Aug. 28)
The proposed cruise berthing project and the potential consequences have the ability to negatively impact the future of the Cayman Islands. It will be the largest and most expensive capital works project in Cayman’s history. As a result, the environmental, financial and socioeconomic concerns must be addressed as a matter of national importance.
Transparency, objectivity and a sound local approach by our leaders, the pro-port lobbyists and the large numbers of concerned citizens and residents is necessary in this national discussion. Ultimately, we all want to live in a clean, safe, vibrant and successful Cayman Islands. …
The lack of relevant and substantive communication/consultation with the public, which is best described as a lack of transparency by CIG, results in legitimate concern that the public will be left paying the final tab if the project goes ahead. …
A project of this magnitude, which will likely be closer to CI$300-400 million in final costs, must not be driven or decided upon by pro-port lobbyists and the politicians they control. This type of major decision requires a national referendum.
I encourage the voting public and residents to stand up, speak out and continue to publicly ask questions and hold all MLAs accountable. Ultimately, all Caymanians, residents and businesses, including corporate Cayman, must unite against these types of poor and expensive decisions in order to guard against potential fiscal and environmental mismanagement ….
Cars are an eyesore (Sept. 25)
Despite promises made by previous ministers regarding the prohibition of vehicles being offered for sale along the side of our thoroughfares, the ever-growing car lot on West Bay Road, opposite Queen’s Court, is an eyesore and certainly lowers the tone of the area.
That particular stretch was subject to beautification by the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman a few years back and certainly not with the intention of providing shade by the palm trees for the cars between which they are parked.
Managing downtown traffic flows (Oct. 23)
I congratulate Lee Maragh on his thoughtful discussion on the Hon. Osbourne Bodden’s suggestions for reducing congestion (“Seek solutions to traffic congestion,” Oct. 18). This is a debate which all Caymanians and the working population should be contributing to.
In principle, I do not oppose the building of the new cruise terminal, but having worked in George Town for nearly 40 years, I can say that the influx of a large number more cruise passengers to George Town would make the problem of getting to and leaving from work there a complete nightmare.
I have two suggestions, one immediate, the other more long term:
The first is that no cruise ship passengers should be landed before 9 a.m. and disembarked after 4 p.m. (Cayman time unless we adopt Daylight Saving Time). To state the obvious, this will enable people who work in George Town to get to and from work without having to negotiate around cruise passengers who think we drive on the “wrong” side of the road.
The second is that we anticipate some of the increasing passenger receipts to build multi-story car parks on roads leading off the south end of West Bay Road, the east end of Shedden Road and the west end of South Church Street or Walkers Road or wherever property is still affordable. These would be free for parking between 8:30 a.m. and 7 p.m., but to discourage use for overnight parking that would cost the same as long-term parking at the airport. There would be free buses between the parks circulating George Town Central from the car parks at frequent or less intervals, depending on demand.
There is time to implement these and the acceptable suggestions of the Hon. Osbourne and Mr. Maragh and, hopefully, many others. But if this potential problem is not addressed as a priority, it could well result in more and more businesses moving to Camana Bay and our historic capital becoming a ghost town for anything more than restaurants, jewelry stores and T-shirt shops.
In my view, that is unacceptable.
Legalize numbers games (Oct. 30)
… I have read of the plans in the upcoming November sitting of the Legislative Assembly to increase penalties for illegal gambling quite significantly from where the old laws have these tariffs currently, and this gives me great cause for concern ….
For those who may not be aware, the numbers game has been entrenched in these islands for many years now (for 40-plus years, Belizean, Honduran and, more recently, Jamaican numbers are played), and many at the lower economic spectrum in Cayman benefit daily from their little winnings – church people play, police play, courts staff play, prison officers play, and lawyers, doctors, politicians and civil servants play. All people play! Let’s be real and honest here.
To stiffen these penalties now, we run the risk of criminalizing many otherwise law-abiding citizens in Cayman. Is this our goal? The prison is already full of our people, in many cases, for trivial matters. It also will take up more police and court time away from serious crimes and issues in these islands that are more deserving of their attention ….
Folks, maybe, just maybe, a light bulb will go off in someone’s head after reading this, and stop this waste of judicial and legislative effort to criminalize more of our people. All progressive countries in the world have national lotteries, or some form of chance to improve one’s lot in life through scratch cards or buying numbers.
I rest my case on this for now and will sit back and wait with interest on what transpires in the upcoming sitting in November. The debate on this level of hypocrisy should be quite interesting.
A tourist’s view of the great iguana cull (Nov. 5)
In the last few days I’ve seen an increase of armed men on the roadside, on roundabouts, among the bushes and, in some cases, in the middle of the road, armed with an assortment of what can only be described as “iguana guns” – ranging from a 6-foot tree branch with a loop of fishing twine attached to the end to a ferocious-looking 20-foot gaff. These men, of course, are the newly licensed iguana hunters recently set up by the government to reduce the numbers of green invaders – yes, “aliens.”
The non-native green iguana population has exploded in numbers, giving the ever-opportunistic Caymanian a chance to make a small fortune! Apparently, a good iguana hunter can capture a hundred a day and, at $5 per head, it seems like a great way to make some easy money. Last week, I had the chance to join in with the capture of a few “tree chickens.” I can tell you, it’s not as easy as it looks!
The iguanas are intelligent and learn fast. Scampering up the nearest tree with surprising speed, they crawl into the topmost palm fronds and seemingly disappear.
If or when the hunter manages to knock one from the tree without gaffing, snaring or spearing it, then it’s a full-on sprint to catch the lightning-fast lizard before it retreats once again up a tree. Long grass is an advantage to the iguana and it was quite a sight watching full-grown men run around in circles bashing at the grass with improvised iguana clubs, narrowly missing each other, shouting, cursing and blaming one another for the loss of the $5.
Stopping in the road Friday morning to let a hunter wielding a 20-foot-long catch pole cross, we watched as he snared a very large iguana. A battle ensued that can only be akin to trying to land a 40-pound mahi mahi out of a tree. We cheered the hunter on and shouted encouragement as he wrestled with the mini-Godzilla. This time, the iguana won the battle, snapping the twine and escaping.
Dejected but very happy with the job he’s doing, the hunter just laughed and moved on to the next patch of undisturbed bush.
I can see that the first couple of weeks of the iguana cull will produce the most numbers but as the easy ones are picked off, the real work will begin. I just hope that hunters do not clash over prime iguana producing territory!
Trash in Bodden Town (Nov. 15)
Your Friday, Nov. 6 story of the horrible situation of the garbage situation in Cuba (“Havana fights trash problem ahead of 500th anniversary”) immediately brought to mind our condition here in Bodden Town, which threatens to be nearly as bad as that in Cuba. One wonders how our island, not affected by any embargo, could let our situation deteriorate to the extent now existing. To add insult to injury, there has been no explanation for the delays of up to three weeks at a time, or any notification to our residents as to when the situation will be regularized.
The irony is the slogan touted some time ago, “No garbage in Bodden Town.” Now, my residents, you have it.
Patrick C. Broderick Sr.
Well-planned development is welcome in Barkers (Nov. 26)
As a family we have lived in the Barkers area (not the beach) for almost 50 years, and I have always been amazed that the second best beach on Grand Cayman has gone undeveloped.
Getting to Barkers beach used to be quite an excursion as it was little more than a dirt track used mostly by West Bay fishermen. It was a wonderful, peaceful area and I used to ride my horse there. I do believe, however, that one horse creates a lot more sand movement than 100 humans. Nowadays, the main activity on the beach seems to be horse riding.
Then came the period of the sand stealers who dug out huge areas of other people’s land, sometimes to a depth of 10 to 12 feet. To gain access for their illegal activities, they made the track accessible for their trucks and mechanical diggers. As the area become more accessible by car, the illegal dumpers started to dump their garbage along the roadside.
Then the Mosquito Research and Control Unit cut a series of canals throughout the area as part of the mosquito control program and this was like a gift from heaven, with all of these new canals just waiting to be filled with garbage.
Then government started to build a new road set back from the beach, with the hope of creating some development. It is still there, going from nowhere to nowhere.
The area also became a haven for illegal activity and wild dogs. At one point, the police used to lock off the area at dusk but that seems to have been stopped.
Development of the area is not wrong if it is done properly. Where would Cayman be today without development?
Part of Barkers beach is designated as a public park and should remain so. The beach that forms part of the park should be available for all to use without having to step around the garbage and other debris strewn around. That, of course, is where Dart’s money may be needed!
The remainder of Barkers beach could be developed, which would mean utilities being extended throughout. Proper lighting and bathroom facilities would be a great addition to the park. Also, having people living in the area should deter some garbage dumping, as one will notice that it all occurs beyond Pappagallo.
I would hope that the 1,000 odd petitioners in favor of leaving the Barkers area undeveloped will organize themselves into a clean-up party and go to the area once a month to remove the garbage that is regularly dumped there.