Archive for April 24th, 2009

Candidates tout party lines

| 24/04/2009 | 50 Comments

(CNS): The candidates were different, the questions were similar but the answers were beginning to sound like ones regular attendees and listeners to the Chamber’s District Candidate Forums have heard before. With the UDP representatives reading from the party manifesto and the PPM member touting a well-rehearsed party line, the audience for the seventh forum of the series and the second in George Town, heard some very familiar answers.

Burns Connolly, the only independent candidate of the evening who was giving fresh responses to the questions, found himself sandwiched between two of the four UDP candidates for the district, Perlina McGaw-Lumsden and Mike Adam, and on the same platform as the PPM’s fourth elected member for George Town, Alfonso Wright.

However, when asked about the future of Cayman Airways and whether it should be sold, Adam broke free of the UDP manifesto and offered an insightful answer. Admitting he should know a little about the topic, he said it should not be sold but that many of the national flag carrier’s problems were down to the changing political influences with each election.

“It gets a new direction (at each election) and it takes roughly two years to ramp up the new plan…with a lot of funding supporting…We need less influence from the government and it should be run as a business,” he said. “We need to determine what its real niche is, as right now it is being used to be all things to all people.”

He said the costs were too high and the leasing of aircraft and the routes needed to be assessed. But he described it as a lever that the country needed to keep control of, and while it might be a luxury for a small country, it should remain in government hands.

Conolly too offered food for thought when he said that Cayman Airways should not be sold but needed to be budgeted and treated as a necessary national tool. He said it was something that should be funded and it was time to stop trying to think it should be profitable. He also said that the airline needed to be free of political influence and questioned some of the recent decisions.

“I would support taking politics out of the board and have people serve who were familiar with the airline business,” he said, adding that he found it difficult to believe the Washington route was a success and there was a need to look at Latin America.

Wright said that under no circumstance should it be sold as it was essential to the tourism industry. He recalled that countries dependent on foreign airlines were virtually shut down when fuel prices skyrocketed last year. He said privatizing would not make it anymore efficient even though the previous UDP government had considered selling it to Air Jamaica.

McGaw-Lumsden said no to selling it and added that there was a need to find profitable routes, “When we generate more profit we don’t have to have subsidies for this airline…..”

When the panel were asked if environmentalist should be involved in development, the panel all said they should play a significant and important role. Burns said that this was a big area for him and noted there was a desperate need to create a full national development plan for the future and embrace sustainable and green development. He added that development and the environment were not always at diametric opposites. Adam said we need to be careful with our development and not damage any more than we already have, and said he supported the involvement of environmentalists wholeheartedly.

Wright revealed what could be one of the reasons why the PPM government failed to bring the promised National Conservation Bill to the Legislative Assembly this term, as it clearly did not have the support of all of the party members, when he said that there are times when, if we listened to what the environmentalist want, we would have little or no development. However, he did say that they should have a role as they were important in preserving things that are Caymanian. McGaw-Lumsden said government would not have all the answers to everything and she supported the role of environmentalists.

When it came to the question of supporting a lottery, two of the candidates must have either forgotten Conolly’s role as chair of the official committee that examined the issue in 2002 or didn’t know about it. Wright repeated the comments made by Joey Ebanks in North Side on the previous evening saying it was not viable, while McGaw-Lumsden said there was no data or proper analysis of a potential lottery for Cayman and the majority of Caymanians did not support it.

At that point Burns noted that there was in fact a considerable amount of data as a result of the committee’s extensive work and said not only was it viable, as some $1 million a week went through the illegal numbers game, as much 70% of the population supported it. He said there were many options to set up a lottery and the estimations that came out of the research were in order of $40 million going to good causes in the first year. Despite the administration’s rejection of it at the time, it should be considered, he said.  Adam said he didn’t support a national lottery because the churches didn’t support it and in his opinion it didn’t expand the economy but merely redistributed existing money.

All fourcandidates were guilty on occasion of the politicians favourite game which was evading the question posed but answering the one they wished had been asked and both Adam and McGaw-Lumsden read frequently from the UDP manifesto to answer questions repeating almost verbatim many of the answers given by other UDP candidates in the forums so far. Nevertheless, the four candidates covered a wide range of issues, from traffic congestion and crime to Cayman’s relationship with the UK and the economy, as well as the problems facing George Town. The need to renovate George Town Primary and the dump were cited as top priorities, as were crime and unemployment.

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Cayman 5th worst hit destination in region

| 24/04/2009 | 15 Comments

(CNS): Although Tourism Minister Charles Clifford has said that Cayman is weathering the economic storm relatively well given the circumstances, recent statistics from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) paint a different picture. For the first quarter of 2009 Cayman’s stay over tourism was down more than 11% when compared with last year and one of the most severe declines in the region. Jamaica, Cuba and Mexico all enjoyed an increase in arrivals and only four other destinations had a steeper decline than Cayman.  


The drop in tourist visits has been described as wreaking havoc on the region’s main industry by Winfield Griffith, acting director of research for the Barbados-based organization. The declines in the first quarter are the worst since the tourism slump that followed the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Griffith said yesterday (23 April). "The point at which it will hit bottom is not clear," he added.

Anguilla took the worst hit with a decline of 18.8 percent, according to the CTO statistics but numbers fell sharply in Antigua, St. Lucia, Montserrat and here in the Cayman Islands. Griffith said the small islands may be struggling the most in part because airlines have been eliminating flights within the region.

The disappointing statistic also come before the full implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which will require that all US residents travelling to the Caribbean, Bermuda, Canada and Mexico have a passport in order to return to the country which takes effect on 1st June.

The CTO statistics also show sharp declines in arrivals by cruise ship passengers: down 28.7 percent in Jamaica, 25.8 percent in Puerto Rico and 19.6 percent in the Cayman Islands.


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Police silent on suspect

| 24/04/2009 | 21 Comments

(CNS):  It is now more than a week since the 38-year-old inmate arrested for the murder of Sabrina Schirn appeared in court and was returned to Northward without being charged, and no update regarding the investigation has been offered by the police. However, police have said that the man who is serving a seven year sentence for an unrelated offence, who was believed to be working on the prison farm in East End around the same time of the 21-year old Sabrina’s murder, remains a suspect.

Following his court appearance last week, police said that the case was now with legal services and forensic evidence was still being reviewed. Since his return to Northward, CNS has attempted to discover if the inmate has been returned to the normal prison population and the usual routine of a prisoner of his category which is believed to be ‘D’.

Dr William Rattray, the Commissioner of Corrections, said he could not comment on individual prisoners but on a general note he said any prisoner who is suspected of a criminal offence would be re-graded to either Category A or B pending the completion of police investigations. “If a prisoner is charged with an offence they would remain at least Category B.”

He also confirmed that all external work programmes have been suspended, including community service, the farm, and work release. “We still have Category C and D prisoners working outside the perimeter fence but within the overall prison boundaries,” he added.

Sabrina’s decomposed body was found by her friends and family in a remote area of East End near the rock quarry on 17 March, two days after the car she was driving was found less than a mile away. While the details of the autopsy have not been revealed, police have indicated that Sabrina was killed with a machete. The prison confirmed the 38-year-old inmate, who was at the time considered a low risk offender who worked on the prison farm that was adjacent to the area where the body was found, had been arrested on 5 April. Police held the man for the 12 days allowed under the law before charges must be brought. In the absence of any charges he was returned to Northward Prison last week.

No further arrests have been made in connection with the killing, despite the mounting speculation that at least one other individual could have been involve in the murder or its attempted cover up.

While the community has been vociferous in its concern regarding this investigation, current elected officials and most of the candidates have remained silent on the issue. However, Sandra Catron and Burns Conolly, independent candidates for Bodden Town and George Town, have both called for the immediate removal of the Director of Prisons and those others involved in the administration of the Prison Service. Conolly has asked for the governor to look into a full review of the situation surrounding the policies and procedures of the Northward Prison Farm Work Programme and called for the immediate removal of those in charge to allow a free and independent investigation into the matter.

"If they are found to be innocent of any wrong-doing then they should be returned. However, if they were found to be in complicity with the lack of security and procedures then they should be removed from their positions permanently.  We have other investigations ongoing for far less significant issues than this unfortunate loss of life,” he said.

Conolly added that he was astounded that government and few candidates had come out publicly on this issue. “I want to move this issue to the importance it should have. Many in the community have called for this but few in the political arena have chosen to speak out. I am surprised that we are still talking about the removal of the prison director now some two to three weeks after it became known that a prisoner had been arrested in connection with this unfortunate crime. The director should have stepped down or been removed immediately to facilitate a proper and transparent investigation.”

Catron also called for an investigation recently and the suspension of prison staff, saying she found it absolutely shocking and abhorrent that someone who is incarcerated because he has already broken society’s laws should be afforded the opportunity to re-offend while in prison. “This is by far one of the most unreal situations I have ever heard of. How can any of us feel safe knowing that even after incarcerations we are still not safe from criminals,” she said.

Recent reports that a prison officer had been suspended in connection with the incident have been denied by prison authorities as only rumour. However, the same authorities also dismissed questions submitted by CNS regarding the potential of an inmate being involved in Sabrina’s murder as “speculative gossip" several days before the admission that an inmate may have been involved.

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LIME touts its green credentials

| 24/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Regional telecommunications firm LIME has said the firm is stepping up its “Go Green” efforts with two new initiatives to promote environmental preservation in the Caribbeancountries where it operates. A three day tree planting programme started on World Earth Day which finishes today 24 April and an e-billing campaign to cut down on paper. CEO Richard Dodd said the firm was committed to reversing the environmental damage done to the region over the years.

For the last few days LIME’s employees joined forces with primary schools, community groups, service clubs and other organizations to plant some 3000 seedlings to replace trees that have been harvested or destroyed over the years. (Here in Cayman LIME worked with the National Trust)

Customers across the region are also being asked to go paperless by using “eBilling” or Direct Debit to pay their bills. “eBilling”, which will allows customers to receive and pay their bills online, will come on stream within the next few weeks, the firm said  and Direct Debit is already available in some markets.  To encourage customers to choose these payment options, the firm said it will be rolling out a promotional campaign and providing discounts and other incentives.

LIME also plans to restart its former industry-leading mobile handset recycling and safe battery disposal programmes and it will be expanding to other islands the telephone directory recycling initiative which is currently being undertaken in Barbados and about to be restarted in Jamaica. 

Announcing the expanded environmental focus, CEO Richard Dodd said green initiatives were always meant to play a part in the Cable & Wireless regional re-brand.

 “When we launched our new Caribbean Business last year we made it clear that we are committed to preserving the environment for the next generation and beyond, and we are now making good on that commitment,” he said. “We want to strongly encourage governments and other private sector entities across the region to take immediate action also, so we can see measureable improvements in our environment”

He noted that environmental protection is not a new focus as the company has consistently infused eco-friendly practices into its operations and currently recycles plastic bottles, toner cartridges, large batteries, cable and other scrap metals.  In addition, the company is now actively looking for biodegradable alternatives to the plastic bags used at its stores and plastic phone cards used for top-up and international calling.

“LIME is committed to ensuring that we do all that is possible to halt and reverse the damage that has been done to our environment over the years. This is one of the most important things anyone of us will ever do. That is why we are actively providing opportunities for our customers, our staff and the wider public to help make a difference,” Dodd added.


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Museum officer offers kids some advice

| 24/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Students from George Town Primary School had a lesson on duppies and creepy crawlies recently when Museum Education Officer Nasaria Chollette visited the school as part of their Caymanian cultural class and read two stories from her book, Storytelling Rundown where she also explained to the children who are creating their own school version, the purpose of a museum. Chollette who appeared as her “stage” character, “Miss Nas”, also awarded some students a copy of her book and read Limbert and the Duppies” and “Creepy Crawly."


Chollette asked students to bring one item each from home representing who they are for a classroom museum and students will be inviting Chollette back to visit their museum when it is complete. This visit was to year 1 students in Joan Feare, Trista Scott and Tunisia Barnes’ classes who explained that for the last six weeks pupils were exploring a unit called "Oh Land of Soft Fresh Breezes", taken from the opening line of the Cayman National Song.  The unit focused on Caymanian culture, and on the last day pupils were asked to wear traditional Caymanian clothes while parents prepared Cayman foods such as turtle, fried fish, fritters, and Johnny Cake.

“As you can imagine it was a very exciting day,” said Barnes adding that Miss Nas’ appearance was a highlight of the closing day’s events. Other people participating in the six-week project included Roy Bodden, Twila Vargas, Orlee Ebanks, Carmen Conolly, Ulene Mclaughlin and Erica Daniels of the National Trust who shared traditional Caymanian stories and games.

Spreading the word regarding the museum Chollette recently appeared in character on CITN’s “Kids Stuff: Out and About”.  The quarterly show will air again in June, when Miss Nas expects to make a guest appearance, presenting on the topic of “Nickas”.


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Silva to seek opportunities at offshore conference

| 24/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): CIFSA Vice-Chairman, Eduardo D’Angelo P. Silva says he will be seeking opportunities for Cayman business next week when he attends the Offshore Alert conference in Miami. “Offshore Alert is the ideal platform to facilitate discussions on a range of important issues facing Offshore Financial Centres the world over. I am confident that there will be a strong focus on identifying opportunities during these difficult economic times,” he said.

Silva, will take seats on two panels at the event alongside other financial services professionals from around the globe and says he is optimistic about the potential benefits to the Cayman Islands of CIFSA’s involvement in the conference. His first panel will deal with ‘Power Politics’ and the effects of assaults on OFCs by the world’s leading economic powers and financial organisations.

This panel follows the keynote speakers Jeffrey Owens, Director of the Center for Tax Policy and Administration of the OECD and Wendy Warren, C.E.O and Executive Director of the Bahamas Financial Services Board and will focus on the anticipated policies of U.S. President, Barack Obama as regards OFCs and the UK’s review of regulations governing the products and services offered by its Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories.

Silva will also sit on a second panel which deals with the future of OFCs and how they can navigate the current recession. He a is also planning to use the opportunity of the Offshore Alert conference to engage representatives of other offshore jurisdictions in preliminary discussions to explore common challenges and potential opportunities for the sector. “Offshore Alert is a convenient forum for the offshore financial services community to come together to tackle issues facing the industry as a whole” he said. “The global economic crisis and events such as the recent G20 summit in London have placed Offshore Financial Centres firmly in the global spotlight. A collective response to the changing conditions in which the industry operates could prove beneficial for all.”

CIFSA is a sponsor at the 2009 Offshore Alert Conference, which takes place between the 26th and 28th April.  This year’s event marks the seventh in a series of financial due diligence conferences specialising in sharing and analyzing information and intelligence on fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, compliance, risk management and asset recovery as it relates to OFCs. 

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Bracker aims to rescue wetlands

| 24/04/2009 | 34 Comments

(CNS): As fish start to die in the dried up wetlands on Cayman Brac, a concerned Bracker is using his own funds to pump oxygenated sea water into Salt Water Pond, which he claims will save the creatures living in it. Percy Whorms says he has counted 16 dead tarpon in the Westerly Ponds, opposite the old Divi Tiara Beach Resort, where water levels are very low and in some places has disappeared altogether. Now, with Cabinet’s permission, he is hoping to keep wetland creatures alive by keeping water levels up during dry season.

Whorms has put two pipes under the road in front of the Coral Isle Club on the South Side. A 6-inch pipe with an oxygen vent, attached to four 2-inch high pressure lines, links the ocean to the pond via a high pressure pump, which can fill the pond with 1,000 gallons per minute. A second 16-inch pipe acts as a storm drain in times of storm or flooding.

Whorms says can remember when there was surface access and underground holes connecting the ponds to the ocean which have become blocked due to human activity and development. “We’re the ones who did this and we’re the ones who must clear it up,” he told CNS.

While his efforts have Cabinet approval, the initiative was not recommended by the Department of Environment Director. As Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie explained, Salt Water Pond was created as an Animal Sanctuary in 1980 under the Animals Law and is the only one on Cayman Brac, encompassing some 15 acres.

“The Animals Law makes it an offence to disturb any natural feature or any vegetable or animal life so the DoE was not in a position to support the proposal. However, the Animals Law does permit Cabinet to grant exemptions under the Law (including allowance to disturb a natural feature) for purposes of conservation or for scientific, historic or educational purposes or for the purpose of protecting human life or aircraft operations. It is the Department’s position that adding water to the pond in order to facilitate development or promote human comfort in the vicinity does not satisfy the listed criteria for an exemption," she said.

According to Whorms Salt Water Pond, which lies behind the new Alexander Hotel, has two small 3-foot tarpons in the pond, as well as mullets, grunts, mangrove snappers, shads, juvenile angel fish and sergeant majors, and blue crabs (also known as sea cutters) that are 6 inches across the back and 15 inches claw to claw, the largest he has ever seen. He believes a waterfall in the pond may be the most desirable thing to oxygenate the pond and keep it clean and clear. “It would give the animals a much better habitat than they have now,” he said. (Left: dead tarpon float on Westerly Ponds)

Whorms began pumping at the beginning of April, as soon as he had government permission, and pumped for ten days and nights straight, with just two 12-hour breaks to service the pump. He said that at this time of year he would like to be able to do the same thing for all the ponds in the Cayman Islands. “In my youth, the ponds never used to stink because there was flow going in and out,” he said, adding that he felt guilty because he helped build the roads, knowing that this would have a detrimental effect on the environment. “But the powers that be wouldn’t listen and now we’re paying the price.”

Right now, Whorms has run out of money to continue and wants all the stakeholders to contribute funds to make the project viable and sustainable.

However, Ebanks-Petrie says the underlying problem is the lack of legislation that protects environmental resources – even existing protected areas. "A central issue is that, since its designation as an Animal Sanctuary in 1980, physical development has been approved right up to the boundary of the pond with no apparent consideration for the impact of the development on the protected area or the compatibility of each with the other. In the absence of any legislation requiring the impact of development on protected areas to be considered in the planning process this type of situation will continue," she said.

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New recruits start police training

| 24/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): In the face of considerable manpower shortages, instability and low moral in the service, the RCIPS has confirmed that 19 new recruits have started out on the 14-week training programme to become qualified police officers. During the recent police district meetings and on the campaign trail the issue of police numbers and their nationality has been a key concern and police said two thirds of this new group of recruits are Caymanian.(Left-APC Smith & Ispt AnthonyWhite head of training at the new centre where the recruits start their journey)

The first recruitment class for 2009, the new candidates began their training this week and will finish at the end of July. The prospective officers will complete training in all areas of policing including diversity, conflict management, physical training, domestic violence, law, managing scenes of crimes and incidents, discipline and statement writing.

Opening the course, Acting Commissioner of Police James Smith said the nineteen men and women had been selected from a field of 150 candidates. “Your training will cover a range of subjects. You will now be looked at differently by members of the public and you will be held to a higher standard. It is important for you to know this and to assist the public with knowledge you have learned in your training.”

The Commissioner encouraged the recruits to study hard and apply all they have to their training. He reminded them it is a proud career to work in and not everyone might stay the course, but for those that did, it would be extremely rewarding. He also explained a little about his own policing career and how it had benefitted him and those he has served.

Inspector Anthony White, Head of the Training Department added that the new training facility at Governors Square will be of huge benefit to the recruit class. “The new training facility is fully operational and a great asset to the service,” he said. “We are now instructing the first recruit class of 2009 and because of the new facility, we are in a position to be more flexible and innovative in our instruction methods.”

Anyone considering a policing career with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) should visit the website at

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Driver charged over crash

| 24/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police said that a 24-year-old man will appear in court today (Friday24 April) to face charges on various offences following a car crash which occurred in the early morning hours of Tuesday, 21 April when a car was ran off the road into a wall. Horatio Armant Hyman is charged with dangerous driving, leaving the scene of an accident, assault causing actual bodily harm, damage to property and carrying out a reckless and negligent act.


Hyman was arrested on suspicion of reckless driving following the crash which occurred on the Linford Pierson Highway in the vicinity of Halifax Road at around 3am. Police said that they and a team of medics responded to the scene following a 911 call reporting that a Honda Integra had collided with a wall. The second vehicle alleged to be involved in the crash had left the scene. Two of the men who were travelling in the Honda were taken to hospital by medics and a third passenger attended hospital and on his own but all three have since been released.

Following investigations by the Traffic Management Unit the 24-year-old man who was driving the car which left the scene was arrested later. Police also learned that the two drivers had been involved in an earlier dispute which occurred at the rear parking lot of LI Lounge. Police were alerted to a report of a fight taking place at around 2.25am.

Anyone who witnessed an altercation taking place behind the nightclub or the traffic crash on Linford Pierson Highway is asked to contact the Traffic Management Unit on 946-6245 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000 should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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A weekend of culture,conservation and politics

| 24/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Cayman is looking at another busy weekend with something for everyone from art exhibitions and Batabano to the Earth Day clean up and endless political rallies. Police are warning drivers to watch out on Saturday morning for teams clearing garbage along the roads and that from 2pm until around 6pm on Saturday a number of roads will be closed to facilitate the Children’s Batabano parade.

Police said that  Boilers Road / South Church Street,  North Church Street / Mary Street,  Shedden Road/Mary Street,   Mary Street / Fort Street,  Hospital Four Way Stop,  Elgin Avenue round-about      Goring Avenue @ Cayman Camera. The Earth Day teams will be out and about right across the island from 7am and will congregate at public beach on the Wet Bay Road from noon onwards.

Meanwhile, at the Harquail Theatre between 2:00pm to 4:30pm the winners will be announced for the Crown Art Competition and Exhibition. In Bodden Town, Minister of Tourism, Charles Clifford will be hosting the official groundbreaking of Coe Wood Public Beach complete with entertainment and refreshments.

Several candidates are also holding a public meetings in the evening and a number of candidates will be attending the youth mixer event at the Marquee Plaza where Cayman’s young voters will be putting the questions that matter to them to their potential candidates from 5-9pm.





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