Archive for February 2nd, 2009

Top cop says report serious

| 02/02/2009 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Matters of “very serious concern” have allegedly been documented in what is being described by the acting commissioner of police as an unprecedented report for the Cayman Islands. However, what those concerns are remain a mystery as although the full report from the Special Police Investigation Team has been shared with the Governor, Commissioner James Smith has not revealed the contents to, or shared his concerns with, the Caymanian people.

The report, a formal assessment of the allegations of corruption within the RCIPS, had been due by the end of January, Smith said. “I can confirm that I have received the full report from the team, and that I have shared it with H.E the Governor Stuart Jack. As soon as the Cabinet is available, probably early next week, I will also share the broad findings with them followed by a briefing to my senior management team.”

He said the report is the result of 171 debriefing interviews, which took 406 debriefing working days and it contains 7,100 pages of audio transcriptsincluding community impact statements.

“To put this report in context, I have to go back to March last year when people started coming forward with information concerning alleged corruption within the RCIPS.  After reviewing this initial information, HE the Governor instructed the investigative team to comprehensively document and assess the allegations being received from the community,” he added.

Smith said he was currently working on a plan to deal with matters raised in the report but was unable to share more information. He said he would keep the public informed when it is possible and appropriate to do so.

He did not say whether the ‘NetNewsgate’ element of the investigation (surrounding the alleged unlawful entry into the newspaper offices to look for evidence of a corrupt relationship between Desmond Seales and Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis) would be concluded.

Currently, Chief Superintendent John Jones remains suspended on full pay, former Commissioner Stuart Kernohan has been sacked, former Net News reporter Lyndon Martin faces two charges of false allegations against a police officer, Deputy Commissioner Rudy Dixon faces separate charges and Justice Alex Henderson has received $1.275 milion in damages for his unlawful arrest and search, all as a result of ‘NetNewsgate.’

The elected Cabinet members have called for SIO Martin Bridger to be removed from the investigation following his condemnation by Sir Peter Cresswell who presided over the Henderson case.

The LoGB Kurt Tibbetts and his PPM colleagues have persistently stated that nothing new has been revealed to them by Bridger or Smith, and unless evidence of any wrongdoing in the RCIPS is actually demonstrated, they want the investigation closed down.

 

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Crimestoppers calling cards

| 02/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): To help the police and public in their efforts to fight crime, Cayman Crime Stoppers has partnered with long-time corporate supporter, Cayman National, to distribute calling cards, so everyone can keep the Crime Stoppers tips-line number handy in the event that they witness a crime and make that essential call as soon as possible.

Stuart Bostock, Cayman Crime Stoppers Chairman, explained that with these convenient cards everyone can have easy access to the number. “Now more people are carrying the telephone number we expect to see yet more increases in the number of tips submitted,” he said.

“With the proliferation of mobile phones in recent years these cards make it easier for callers to get information to the authorities immediately if they witness a crime whilst out and about. Receiving information like this in real time could mean the difference between life and death.”

The Cayman Crime Stoppers tips line, 800 TIPS, enables anyone with information that could help prevent or solve a crime to share it with the authorities in complete anonymity. The new calling cards are of a standard business card size and fit neatly in a pocket, purse or wallet.

Cayman National will be distributing the new cards via the retail branches all over the Islands. Stuart Dack, President and CEO of Cayman National, was enthusiastic about the new initiative. “Cayman National is delighted to be a part of this effort to keep the Cayman Crime Stoppers tips-line number front-of-mind for everyone,” he said.

“Tackling crime is the foundation for keeping the Cayman Islands a safe place to live and do business. We are proud to support Cayman Crime Stoppers because we believe this responsibility is incumbent on all community members.”

The new calling cards will be distributed in public places and also given directly to members of the general public by RCIP’s community beat officers, who are eagerly working with Cayman Crime Stoppers to promote the anonymous tips line.

At the top of the card, the bold message ‘Remain Anonymous’, reminds its holder of the fundamental principle of the Cayman Crime Stoppers programme, that callers’ personal details will never be taken by the call centre operators in Florida who field calls to the tips-line, and that callers’ anonymity is 100% guaranteed. Holders of the card are also reminded that they can submit tips online at www.crimestoppers.ky and that they could be eligible for a $1,000 reward if their information leads to the successful resolution of a crime.

Cayman Crime Stoppers is encouraging members of the public to pick up a card from Cayman National branches, public places or their local community police officers.

 

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Two female lawyers

| 02/02/2009 | 5 Comments

I have been closely following the story about Theresa Pitcairn and now Sophia Dilbert. I read their writ. I was shocked. In the United States if the body regulating the behaviour of lawyers got wind of either of these writs they would commence their own investigation.

I have not seen any public statements by either what I understand to be the Caymanian Bar Association or the Cayman Islands Law Society. Interestingly enough, Ms Dilbert’s writ raises certain questions about the chairperson of the Cayman Islands Law Society. That alone ought to at the very least raise some eyebrows and warrant some serious scrutiny and investigation. I have not seen any comments by the islands’ attorney general. Like I said, this would not be the climate in the United States or probably in any other Caribbean state.

I started asking people that I know in the islands about this firm and about these ladies. Many people speak of the firm’s good reputation internationally, its involvement with drafting commercial legislation and the likely wealth of its partners. I did not like what I heard about how Caymanian lawyers have been treated so I will leave the question of its employment practices to the courts.

My sources could not reveal too much about Ms Dilbert other than her aunt Lorna Hampson was the former chairperson of the Immigration Board and is also a lawyer herself. I Google Ms Dilbert and discovered that she is a regular in the media with women’s football in the islands and that she co-chaired the Immigration Appeal Tribunal. My question was whether this Board would likely appoint “wastage” as suggested in Netnews cover story to such an auspicious position.

My sources was able to tell be a bit more about Ms Pitcairn who I understand had some celebrity status as Ms Cayman and was one of the first Caymanians to participate in the establishment of the theatre and represented the Cayman Islands at CARIFESTA. Everyone that I spoke to said that she was very bright and articulate and active in the community. Most people also said that “she speaks her mind”, is a “straight shooter” and “you always know where you stand” with her which in a small island does not bode well. No one said that she was stupid or dishonest, always quickly pointing out that her mother and uncle were police and highly respected in the islands.

When I was told that she “speaks her mind” I had a look at the various newspapers articles on the net and read some pretty intelligent articles that she wrote. In each of these articles you saw her addressing the need for balance in the islands, whether in relation to the youth, political direction, economic prosperity and Caymanian expatriate relations. I saw that Dave Martins also mentioned this strength in a recent article. As an outsider looking in Ms Pitcairn did not strike me as someone that it “not focused”, rebellious maybe, but “not dedicated”? And referred to as “wastage”? Wow! Living in America this is what we are accustomed to when it comes to organized character assassination and institutional racism associated with women like Ms Pitcairn and Ms Dilbert.

I hope that in the interest of the islands, that someone in authority reviews these allegations independently and takes these cases seriously since the Caymanian Bar Association or the Cayman Law Society has not. This isseparate and apart from any court proceedings. If what these ladies are saying is proven to be true this is quite serious. I keep an eye on the CNS website relating to this case. While most people seemed to support Ms Pitcairn the level of hate, racism and animosity against Caymanians from some people is not only scary but seems to be a very living and breathing element in these islands. I have to wonder if these are comments from a place I used to call home, somewhere in the Caribbean in the 21st century.

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Electoral register over 15,000

| 02/02/2009 | 3 Comments

(CNS): After a last minute surge of people registering to vote over the weekend the elections office revealed that the number of people entitled to vote in the May General Election is now 15,117. The office made a concerted effort to offer everyone a chance to enter their names before the register closed at midnight on Sunday, 1 February, and more than 200 people came forward over the final weekend.

“The last minute drive to get people registered was well worth it,” said Deputy Supervisors of Elections Colford Scott (above). “We had 115 people register on Saturday and another 101 on Sunday.”

With the election list set and the writs issued, the next key event in the calendar is Nomination Day, which will take place on 25 March, the day after the dissolution of parliament by the governor on 24 March. All potential political candidates will have declared themselves and then be officially nominated to run for office in the election, which takes place on 20 May. This year it is also expected that the referendum on the Cayman Islands’ future constitution will also take place on the same day, setting an enormous challenge for Elections Supervisor Kearney Gomez and his team. He recently said that the office would be looking to recruit more than 600 volunteers to help them conduct this year’s election and referendum, double the usual amount of people.

“We already have a pool of people but this year we need double the usual number and we are approaching the private sector for volunteers,” said Gomez, adding that anyone who would like to participate does not have to be Caymanian but merely to have lived on the island for more than four years.

With 107 days to go before election day we can expect to see the political campaigning begin soon and Gomez has also issued a statement advising the public on the conduct at political meetings, which will likely commence shortly. 

“Pursuant to section 100, subsection 5 of the Elections Law, anyone who incites, combines or conspires with others to act in a disorderly manner with intent to prevent the transaction of the business of a public meeting called for the purpose of promoting the election of a candidate, is guilty of an illegal practice,” he stated. “Anyone found guilty of this practice willin addition to a fine or imprisonment also be incapable during a period of five years from the date of conviction of being registered as an elector or of voting at an election or being a candidate for election to the Legislative Assembly.”

 

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Selfish adults damage childhood

| 02/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): The aggressive pursuit of personal success by adults is now the greatest threat to British children, a major independent report on childhood says. It calls for a sea-change in social attitudes and policies to counter the damage done to children by society. Family break-up, unprincipled advertising, too much competition in education and income inequality are mentioned as big contributing factors. A panel of independent experts carried out the study over three years. Go To article

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Recovery Fund struggling to meet EU grant deadline

| 02/02/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Although the National Recovery Fund has already obtained an extension on the January dealine for spending the grant given to it by the European Union, the Director says the fund is struggling to meet the strict rules set by the EU and local red tape. The Fund must spend all the money on those who still need help following Hurricane Ivan by the end of March or it has to send the cash back.

“While the NRF, Government and people of the Cayman Islands are extremely grateful to the EU for their grant, the EU agreements themselves have been a complex labyrinth of rules and restrictions,” said Dr Mark Laskin, Director of the NRF.

Although news of the approval of the grant was originally given to the NRF in December 2008, receipt of the first transfer of funds under the second grant agreement arrived on 5 January and all monies must be spent or returned by 1 April 2009.

Laskin said the NRF is closely and cooperatively with the Government to use as much of the funds as effectively as possible within the constraints. All funds under the first tranche, €3.7 million, of the original €7 million grant have been accounted for to the EU and audited by PWC.

The NRF said the March deadline for spending the rest of the money still presents enormous obstacles. As per the new agreement, all works must be 100 percent completed before the 31 of the month. Laskin said that this leaves a three month timeframe for completion of work in such areas as tendering, assignment of contractors, planning permission, land preparation, fill and survey work as well as all construction itself. 

The EU funds can only be spent in repairing homes that were adversely affected by Hurricane Ivan in Grand Cayman and cannot benefit Cayman Brac.  The NRF said it is still actively trying to raise separate money for Cayman Brac and its residents through donations from individualsand corporations.

 

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Flower Show this weekend

| 02/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The annual Standard Flower Show, "Love is in the Air", is to be held this coming weekend 6 February from 1:00 to 6:00pm and 7 February from 9:00am to 4:00pm at the Thompson home on Church Street in South Sound. Admission is free and donations are encouraged to help support Garden Club community activities. Horticulture entries from the public are welcomed and include annuals, perennials, cut arboreal specimens, potted plants, and homegrown fruits & vegetables.

Horticulture entries will be accepted Thursday, 5 February from 1:00 to 7:00 and Friday, 6 February from 7:00 to 9:00am.

For more information please email Flower Show Chairman Lora Freifeld at lora@candw.ky
Photo: A workshop on flower arranging was given by Garden Club of Grand Cayman Flower Show Chairman Lora Freifeld at "Sea Alissa", home of AL and Melissa Thompson in preparation for the upcoming Flower Show.
 

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Rotary to help Paloma victims

| 02/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Residents of the Sister Islands who are still struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Paloma may now turn to the Rotary Club of Cayman Brac and the Rotary Clubs of Grand Cayman for assistance. Hurricane Paloma Application for Assistance forms are available immediately in post offices located on the Sister Islands and from any Cayman Brac Rotarian. Joey Hew, Country Chair for Disaster Recovery, has informed the Brac Rotarians that approximately $100,000 is available at this time for disaster relief.

According to Rotary, the application form is a simple, one-page document requesting only basic information, such as the location of the damaged property, other sources of anticipated assistance (including insurance), a brief description of the damage, and a statement that outlines the kind of assistance being sought from the Rotarians. If the person needing assistance is unable to obtain a form, the Rotary Club of Cayman Brac will gladly accept a letter that provides the requested details and contact information for the applicant.

Hurricane Disaster Committee Chair Andrea Stevens notes that the brevity of the form was specifically intended to encourage homeowners on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman to utilize the help being offered. “We were especially concerned that the elderly would find a long, complicated form intimidating. This short form gets right to the point, with no need to reveal the homeowner’s private financial information.”

Brac Rotary President Alphonso Gayle proudly salutes the fundraising efforts spearheaded jointly by the Rotary Clubs of Grand Cayman. “Thanks to the Rotarians of Grand Cayman and their quick response to our plight, funds and labor are now available to assist the storm stricken residents of the Sister Islands. The Rotarians of Cayman Brac are seeking out those people in our community who were hardest hit by Hurricane Paloma and making certain that they have access to the help we can offer.”

Applicants for assistance are encouraged to pick up an application at any Sister Islands post office or from any Cayman Brac Rotarian. After completing the form, the homeowner should mail it to The Rotary Club of Cayman Brac, P.O. Box 127, Cayman Brac KY2-2101. A letter will then be sent to each applicant acknowledging the request for assistanceand a Rotarian will make arrangements to visit the homeowner’s property to take photographs and gather additional details.

Recovery assistance will be determined on a case-by-case basis, with priority given to those most in need. In some instances the help provided to homeowners may be in the form of financial support, physical labor, or both. President Alphanso notes, “As Rotarians, we strive to put Service before Self. So now we encourage the residents of the Sister Islands to submit an application for assistance and allow us to help them shoulder the burdens that Hurricane Paloma created.”

Photo: Andrea Stevens and Alphonso Gayle
 

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Barclays staff support Cancer Society

| 02/02/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The employees of Barclays Private Bank & Trust (Cayman) Limited recently presented a cheque for US$4,500 to the Cayman Islands Cancer Society. The funds were primarily collected from staff through a combination of contributions for ‘dress-down Fridays’ and donations in lieu of Christmas gift exchange. A portion of the funds represents a corporate grant from Barclays Wealth Community, London.

Christine Sanders, of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society accepted the donation from Ethel McLean and Jennifer Rankine from Barclays Private Bank & Trust (Cayman) Limited and said that the funds will be used to assist cancer patients with treatment-related expenses and the Society’s cancer awareness and prevention programs.

The Cayman Islands Cancer Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing the development of cancer through its education programs and screening initiatives as well as providing financial assistance to cancer patients and their families with treatment related expenses. The Society also offers counseling and support to cancer patients and their families. The Society funds its programs through fundraising events and donations from the publicand from the corporate sector whose generosity is very much appreciated. For more information on the Society call 949-7618 or email chris@cics.ky.

Photo: Janice Rankine & Ethel McLean (Barclays Private Bank) and Christine Sanders (CICS)
 

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Welcome to ‘Caymallywood!’

| 02/02/2009 | 3 Comments

(CNS): Cayman’s glitterati were out in full force on Friday evening for the launch of the Cayman Islands Film Commission (CIFC), an initiative by the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau to try and encourage Hollywood’s film makers to come to Cayman and put us in the movies. With The Firm, Haven, Cayman Went and others already under its belt there is hope that, with a one-stop shop film commission movie makers could be persuaded that Cayman has what they need.

Speaking to an audience of local dignitaries and even Hollywood celebs, at Camana Bay, Charles Clifford, Minister for Tourism said that it would create new economic opportunities for Cayman. He said everyone such as drivers, hoteliers, retailers as well as local film makers and actors would benefit from the project.

“The film industry is one of the most resilient industries in the world so we feel we doing the right thing creating a film commission,” he said adding that it would be promoted by the DoT around the world. “As we launch the commission tonight I encourage you to spread the word.”

Dax Basdeo the Director of the CIB said it was the first step towards an exciting opportunity for Cayman. He said aside from the location, the reputation of customer service, there was a pool of talented individuals and a creative element in Cayman that would help the commission to succeed. He said the commission was important development as it would provide a one stop shop to help film makers with all of their needs. “The foundation is in place, the talent is poised and the stage is set for us to develop the local film industry,” he added.

Celebrity John O’Hurley was alsoencouraging and his amusing key note speech he said Cayman had put itself up to compete in the world and it needed three basic things which included organised production facilities, with hospitality second to none and incentive programmes.

“Films will not come to any place anymore unless somebody has done that,” he said.  The good news he said was that Cayman had an extraordinary story to tell and had the tax incentives as well as the talent and extraordinary hospitality which was crucial. He said if Cayman got it right it could make money. “When the circus comes to town they pay big bucks but it you don’t have it organised the circus doesn’t come,” O’Hurley added.

The two drivers behind the creation of the commission are Justin Berfield, a US actor who played Reese in Malcolm in the Middle and Jason Felts who have been volunteering their skill and services to help shape the commission. The first major step in the promotion has been the production of a DVD show reel which highlights Cayman’s potential as a location. The short film shows that Cayman is not just beaches and underwater scenes but has all the same things one would find in the US, from churches to supermarkets, as well as historic and natural sites that could be utilised for numerous film, commercial, TV or documentary productions.

The need for a film commission is according to the bureau to create a one stop shop that can help film producers through the necessary legal steps and source talent to help them when they choose Cayman as their film location.

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