Archive for May 26th, 2009

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| 26/05/2009 | 0 Comments

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No action on disqualification

| 26/05/2009 | 85 Comments

(CNS): UPDATED 4:20pm Tuesday — Governor Stuart Jack has indicated that he will take no action concerning the constitutional disqualification of UDP members Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour, and it appears that, in the absence of any last minute legal challenge, he will be swearing them in tomorrow along with the other successful candidates as members of the Legislative Assembly. The governor repeated a vague statement that he expects candidates in elections to observe the requirements of the Constitution and applicable laws. “I do not take lightly any failure to do so,” he said, though his statement, issued Tuesday afternoon, contains no indication of any repercussions of such failures.

“I have been authoritatively advised that the Governor has no Constitutional powers to determine whether a candidate is qualified or not, or therefore to refuse to swear in a member whom the Supervisor of Elections has reported to him to have been duly elected. The official returns that I have received from the Supervisor include Mr Scotland and Mr Seymour as duly elected representatives for Bodden Town,” the governor’s statement said.

“Any question as to whether a person is validly elected is for the Grand Court to determine. The Governor is not included in the list in the Constitution of those who can file a challenge with the Court. It is my understanding that in these circumstances it would normally be an elector or unsuccessful candidate that would file a challenge by way of a Petition to the Grand Court. I will leave it for the Attorney General to decide whether he wishes to make a statement on the matter in due course,” the statement concluded.

On Friday evening, Leader of the Opposition Kurt Tibbetts said it was the responsibility of the governor and the attorney general to uphold the constitution, and last night an anonymous petition was posted on-line.

Since the election, the attorney general has still not commented on the issue that both Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour were elected to the Legislative Assembly but did not meet the requirements under the 1972 constitution Section 19, 1 (g), which states that all candidates must gazette their business contracts with government. Both men failed to do so by the required deadline of one month before Election Day.

The candidates and the UDP have stated that it was not intentional on their part, but just an oversight, and as a result they should both be allowed to take their seat. However, a considerable number of people commenting on CNS and calling in to local talk shows have insisted that the question needs to be formally addressed through a legal challenge or by the governor, and despite the circumstances the constitution must be upheld.

Yesterday evening an anonymous petition was posted onto a specialist global website go-petition which will be submitted to the governor. The petition organisers told CNS that there was a need to uphold the constitution, which is why they had decided to post the petition.

"There is a bigger issue at hand — rule of law is paramount; and the governor cannot swear in anyone around whom there hangs doubt that they were eligible for election. Precedence indicates that the governor in 1972 understood this well – even though he had less facts to go on," they said.

The petition preamble notes that Governor Jack is aware that two successful candidates for election in the district of Bodden Town have acknowledged that they did not fully comply in a timely fashion with the requirements under section 19G of the Constitution. 

“Due to this potential breach, the Constitution states that these candidates may not thus qualify to be elected,” it states. It goes on to say that it is not about disenfranchising voters but respect for the law and that upholding the provisions of the Constitution is paramount to good order and good governance. “Without this understanding, any election to establish those who would govern us stands for naught,” the petition reads.  It also cites the 1972 precedence when the governor at the time refused to swear in the candidate and called on the attorney general to bring the case to court to determine whether the candidate was constitutionally able to be elected or not.

The petition itself then states: “We the undersigned thus petition His Excellency The Governor to seek to uphold the Constitution and do as was done in 1972, request that the Attorney General, as allowed for under section 23 of the Constitution, to have the courts look into whether Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour were qualified to be elected in the recently held general elections.”

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Kernohan files suit against Jack, Bridger, Smith

| 26/05/2009 | 29 Comments

(CNS): UPDATED 1:50pm — Claiming that “extraordinary revelations – heretofore unknown to the Cayman Islands public – involving the Governor and high-ranking elected officials, would be revealed at trial,” Former Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan has announced that he has filed for damages against Governor Stuart Jack on behalf of the Government of the Cayman Islands, Martin Bridger, the Acting Commissioner of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, and the Attorney-General of the Cayman Islands. “They will answer for their actions in suitable forum, namely a court of law,” Kernohan said in a release.

Attorneys for Kernohan Monday filed a not unexpected writ in Grand Court yesterday, seeking what he describes as “substantial damages” for wrongful dismissal. As well as claiming that placing him on required leave on 27 March, 2008, was unlawful, the writ says that not permitting him to leave the island without permission “amounted to false imprisonment”.

The governor’s response so far has been minimal. Alan Drury, Acting Head of the Governor’s Office, said, "All I can say at the moment is that the governor is aware of this, and is taking legal advice on the matter." Similarly, a one line statement from Acting Commissioner of Police James Smith said only that the matter had been referred to legal counsel. There has as yet been no reaction from Martin Bridger, the senior officer of the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT).

The statement issued by Kernohan’s spokesperson, David Legge, said the Former Commissioner’s legal team “had challenged the Governor to cite in law the source of his authority to impose conditions or restrictions on Kernohan, since the former Commissioner had not been charged with any offense. To date, no legal citation of authority has been forthcoming.”

The release noted that on 30 April this year, Acting Police Commissioner James Smith issued a short statement saying the investigation regarding Kernohan was over and that no criminal charges would be filed. “The Governor to date has not issued an apology nor commented on Mr. Kernohan’s exoneration,” the statement read.

In the release, Kernohan is quoted as saying, “Recently I received a belated confirmation there was no wrong-doing on my part. I have waited too long a period to be exonerated and subjected to a process and actions from individuals who have severely damaged my reputation internationally and unfortunately that of the Cayman Islands. The individuals responsible for this fiasco will not walk away without being held rightfully accountable for what they have done. They will be held accountable in a thorough and transparent judicial process and everyone on a local and international basis will know what has transpired since July 2007 in the Cayman Islands. I look forward to facing them in court.”

The writ filed late yesterday afternoon by Mr. Kernohan’s attorneys, refers at length to a press conference convened on 27 March, 2008, by Governor Jack, Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger, and the newly incoming Acting Commissioner David George. “At that media briefing, both Governor Jack and Martin Bridger stated that Kernohan was not a target of any investigation,” the statement notes, but says the press conference “was of such tone and nature as to imply by innuendo serious misconduct and/or criminal activity” by Kernohan, “ causing serious damage to his professional and personal reputation, and to the jurisdiction of the Cayman Islands . . . The innuendo was false.”

“The writ suggests that both Governor Jack and Martin Bridger knowingly misrepresented what they knew to be the truth at the March 27, 2008, media briefing. Both defendants at the briefing agreed that Kernohan was not under investigation and implied he was being put on ‘required leave’ to give Bridger and his team of Metropolitan Police officers free rein to pursue their probe into possible wrongdoing within the RCIPS,” the statement says.

“However, the writ points out that on February 20, March 13 and March 20 (notably dates before the press conference) Met investigators, represented by the Special Counsel to the Governor, had applied to the Chief Justice to obtain search warrants of Kernohan’s home and office. The Chief Justice denied the search warrants application.” Kernohan’s statement claims that if the Met investigators, being advised by the Governor’s personal lawyer, was petitioning for search warrants, this implied that Kernohan was under investigation, “and statements to the contrary at the press conference were knowingly false.”

It continues, “On April 4, 2008, unbeknownst to Kernohan until six months later, the Chief Justice issued his 51-page formal ruling, accusing Bridger and his team of conducting a ‘fishing expedition’ in their desire to search Kernohan’s premises. The ruling, in effect, exonerated Kernohan by stating that he had acted in the line of duty and no criminal act had been committed by him.”

The release states that Governor Jack and Martin Bridger nevertheless withheld that information and, according to the writ, failed to reinstate the Kernohan to his position either shortly after 4 April 2008 or at all, though there were no grounds to maintain him on required leave.

According to the writ, “During the months of April, May, June, July and August 2008, [Martin Bridger] continued to make statements to the print and broadcast media concerning [Kernohan’s] position, which statements were widely reported, including on the internet, giving rise to yet further innuendo and speculation . . . The innuendo was false,” and “malicious.”

In a letter dated 18 November, 2008, according to the writ, Governor Jack “summarily dismissed the Plaintiff from his position as Commissioner of the RCIPS.” The letter “discloses no reasonable grounds for the dismissal, summary, or otherwise, of the Plaintiff.”

The writ further states that the governor’s “breaches of the Contract of Employment have caused the Plaintiff to suffer foreseeable damage to his professional and personal reputation, for which he is entitled to be compensated, both by way of general damages, and for future loss of earnings, as he will or may be unable to obtain a replacement position of similar professional standing as a result of the wrongful stigma attaching to him by reason of [Governor Jack’s] conduct.

“Further, the matters set out above amount to misfeasance in public office on the part of [Governor Jack and Martin Bridger]. Further, the matters set out above amount to defamation of character, both slanderous and, in relation to printed material, libelous, on the part of [Governor Jack and Martin Bridger].”

To conclude, Kernohan stated, “Jack and Bridger have wasted at least $6 million on a misplaced mission that has decapitated the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, maligned and destabilized the judiciary, and destroyed the lives of innocent individuals and their families. They will answer for their actions in suitable forum, namely a court of law.”
 

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Teens arrested following North Side burglary

| 26/05/2009 | 13 Comments

(CNS): Four teenagers have been arrested in connection with a burglary at a house on North Side Road which occurred on Wednesday, 20 May. The four youths, aged between 15 and 18, were arrested on suspicion of burglary and a large majority of the property which was taken was also recovered. Two of the suspects were arrested on the same day as the break-in and two were arrested in the following days. They have since been released on bail pending further enquiries.

“Although we have seen levels of burglary increase during the start of 2009 we are doing well in apprehending people after the crimes have taken place,” said Area Commander, Chief Inspector Richard Barrow. “This particular burglary was solved thanks to the combined efforts of the community, which provided us with crucial information, and the subsequent swift police response.”

Residents are being urged to assist in the fight against burglary by following the advice on the RCIPS website. In summary:

General Security:
• Ensure doors and windows are kept locked and secure – even if you are just popping out for a few minutes. Use window stoppers from hardware storesso even if the lock is breached, the window cannot be slid back. Do this also for sliding doors.
• Do not leave a spare key hidden under a mat or plant pot.
• Make sure keys are kept out of reach of windows and doors.
• Look out for your neighbours – if you notice something suspicious call the police.
Don’t tempt burglars:
• Keep valuable items out of view. Draw curtains or close blinds.
• Make sure gardening equipment is secure and not left lying around.
• Do not leave valuables in cars.
• Let them know you have taken precautions – if you have an alarm put the box or sticker on show and if you have a dog put up a warning sign.

Holiday security:
• If you are going away ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your property and ask them to open and close curtains or put lights on to make your house look lived in.
• If you are leaving your car at the airport – ask a neighbour to park in your space occasionally.
• Ask a neighbour to collect the Sunday paper.

Security Equipment:
• Take a look around your home and imagine you are a burglar. Look for security weak points.
• Fit locks to windows and doors – if they are easily visible they may deter some thieves.
• Consider fitting an alarm or motion sensor light outside the house.
• Mark your goods with your PO Box so that if they are stolen and recovered they can be easily identified as belonging to you.
• Record all serial numbers of items in case they are stolen.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station 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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Hit and run driver arrested in Bodden Town

| 26/05/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): A 30-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of leaving the scene of an accident and driving under the influence of alcohol following a two vehicle crash on Shamrock Road in the vicinity of Carlton Road at 9.13pm Friday evening. When officers arrived on scene some three minutes after they were alerted to the accident, one of the vehicles involved had already left the location. Officers were told that the collision occurred when the Mitsubishi Gallant slowed to make a turn into Carlton Drive. According to those on the scene, a Chevy Van had run into the rear of the Mitsubishi and had not stopped.

The driver and one passenger from the Mitsubishi were taken to hospital for a check over. Officers carried out enquiries and located the suspect vehicle in the Northward area. The suspected driver was arrested for leaving the scene of an accident and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station 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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Gunshot injury in GT house

| 26/05/2009 | 18 Comments

(CNS): A 44-year-old woman was injured by a gunshot Monday night, May 25, while she was in her home on Orange Drive, George Town. The victim was hit by a bullet near her ear and was treated at hospital for non-life threatening injuries. At around 9:40pm, the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call from a woman reporting that her mother had been injured by a bullet. The woman told operators she had been with her mother in the sitting room of their home when they heard an explosion and her mother cried out in pain. The woman said it appeared a bullet had come through the back window and hit her mother.

Police and medics responded to the scene and found that the victim had been hit by a bullet near her ear. She was taken to hospital for treatment to non-life threatening injuries. Scenes of Crime officers processed the scene and a full area search was carried out.

Detectives from George Town CID are investigating the incident and ask anyone who was in the area at the time to get in touch. Anyone who can help should contact CID on 949-4222. Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station 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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Lawyers biking for charity

| 26/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Swapping office chairs for bicycle saddles for a day, a group of attorneys and managers from Walkers will be peddling their way across Nevada next month for a grueling 100-mile bike ride to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and their battle to defeat leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma. The team will also be riding in the memory of former Walkers partner Frank Banks who sadly died earlier this year after a long battle with brain cancer. ‘America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride’, an endurance cycling event around Lake Tahoe in Nevada, takes place on 7 June.

According to a release from Walkers, their ‘Team in Training’ consists of Grant Stein – global managing partner, Mark Lewis – clients managing partner, Nancy Lewis – Walkers Global Holdings chief executive officer and associates Tim Buckley and Matt Taber. "We are excited to be participating in this event in Frank’s memory and are very much looking forward to the ride which takes place against such a spectacular backdrop in the Sierra Nevada mountains," said Grant Stein. "While Frank did not suffer specifically from blood cancer, we feel that he would have appreciated this effort, particularly as he was such an avid tri-athlete. Furthermore, we believe that the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in the US is a worthy cause to support because should anyone in Cayman be unfortunate enough to require such treatment, in most cases the care they receive will be in the US."

While enjoying the stunning scenery around Lake Tahoe and clean mountain air, the Walkers riders can expect to face a series of demanding peaks. The altitude ranges between 6,300 feet and 7,100 feet above sea level, with numerous rolling ascents and descents totaling over 2,600 vertical feet of elevation gain. "Negotiating this course will be a great contrast to the flat training runs we have completed in Cayman," Mr. Stein added. "It is great to be able to do something enjoyable and raise money for an important cause at the same time." Above: (L-R) Grant Stein, Nancy Lewis, Matt Taber, Tim Buckley (not pictured – Mark Lewis).

Team Walkers is requesting your support in raising money for this charity. Walkers and Walkers Global Holdings have donated $22,500 to get things started and the team’s goal is to raise the same amount again. Donations can be made either through the link on the Walkers website or by accessing the link directly through the Walkers ‘Team in Training’ webpage.

All of these conditions make the course an immense challenge even for the more experienced cyclists on the team. For Nancy Lewis, who admits that she has hardly ridden a bike in the past twenty years, simply signing up for this event deserves great recognition and the support of the community. "I have just found out that we will have to change our own tyres if we get a puncture so I will be trying to avoid getting a flat at all costs," she said.

Punctures are not the only potential pitfalls on the day for Team Walkers who will also have to face cold temperatures in their thirties when the ride starts at dawn, which is another great contrast from the tropical climate they are used to in Cayman. The team will also look to avoid crashing into any inexperienced and wobbly riders when they start off and are riding in large packs.

"We have been building up to this race with a vigorous training routine," said Mark Lewis. "We have been going for long rides at the weekend, of up to 80 miles and generally trying to spend lots of hours in the saddle. You can normally expect to complete a fast century ride in five to five-and-a-half hours, but as this will be more of a social event it will probably take between eight and nine hours. We have also found from our training regime that it will be important to keep eating and drinking in order to maintain energy levels. If you don’t eat and drink anything during the first hour then you will be in trouble for the rest of the ride."

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the world’s largest voluntary health organisation dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education and patient services. Their mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. The charity has committed to $600 million in research spending to date, with $70 million being spent this year. 

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Hurricane forecast uncertain for 2009 season

| 26/05/2009 | 3 Comments

(CNS): Global weather patterns are imposing a greater uncertainty in the 2009 hurricane season outlook than in recent years, forecasters from the NOAA have said. With just a few days to go before the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane starts on 1 June they say there is a 70 percent chance of having nine to 14 named storms, of which four to seven could become hurricanes, including one to three major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5). They say there is a 50% chance it will be as near normal a season as possible.

“This outlook is a guide to the overall expected seasonal activity. However, the outlook is not just about the numbers, it’s also about taking action,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

The issue of preparation dominated a NOAA presentation last week when US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said that timely and accurate warnings of severe weather help save lives and property. “Public awareness and public preparedness are the best defenses against a hurricane,” he added.

According to the experts this season’s outlook is shaped by competing climate factors. Supporting more activity this season are conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era that began in 1995, which include enhanced rainfall over West Africa, warmer Atlantic waters and reduced wind shear. But activity could be reduced if El Nino develops in the equatorial Eastern Pacific this summer or if ocean temperatures in the eastern tropical Atlantic remain cooler than normal.

NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlook does not project where and when any of these storms may hit. Landfall is dictated by weather patterns in place at the time the storm approaches. “NOAA strives to produce the best possible forecasts to help emergency officials and residents better prepare for an approaching storm,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

Tropical systems acquire a name – the first for 2009 will be Ana – upon reaching tropical storm strength with sustained winds of at least 39 mph. Tropical storms become hurricanes when winds reach 74 mph, and become major hurricanes when winds increase to 111 mph. An average season has 11 named storms, including six hurricanes with two becoming major hurricanes.

NOAA scientists will continue to monitor evolving conditions in the tropics and will issue an updated hurricane outlook in early August, just prior to what is historically the peak period for hurricane activity.

 

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Turks premier in waiting calls for referendum

| 26/05/2009 | 1 Comment

(Weekly News):  Premier Galmo Williams is appealing for a referendum to allow Islanders to vote on the proposed return to British rule.  He made the plea at last week’s United Nations regional seminar attended by a legion of the Caribbean’s top brass. Williams blasted the pending UK takeover as a return to imperialism, saying the “will of the people should not be silenced”. His entreaty for support from regional leaders earned the backing of St Kitts & Nevis Prime Minister Denzil Douglas who pledged his solidarity. The Premier also seized the opportunity to inform the UK’s representative Simon Hosking of progress to date on meeting the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry’s interim report.

Go to article.

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“I’m not UDP,” says Miller

| 26/05/2009 | 39 Comments

(CNS):  The newly elected and only independent member of the Legislative Assembly, Ezzard Miller, says that he will be jealously guarding that independence and will not be joining the United Democratic Party (UDP). Although he has accepted the Chair of the Health Services Authority Board, Miller says he will not be sitting on the government benches but taking up a seat on the opposite bench in the far south east corner of the chamber, as far from the "Opposition” as possible to make his independence from both parties clear.

The North Side representative has said he will work with the elected government when it brings positive motions but he said he will vigorously oppose policy that he thinks is wrong. “I don’t intend to object for the sake of objecting, and when I do I will be offering constructive alternatives, but I will do what I have to do to serve the people of North Side,” Miller told CNS.

A former Health Minister, Miller says he will be happy to offer the benefit of that experience to Mark Scotland, the UDP MLA for Bodden Town who has been designated the Health Ministry, but he says in his role as chair of the HSA he is working for Scotland not with him and wants to see the board adopt the role of holding the hospital to account rather than micro-managing it. “It will be up to the hospital management to run the hospital and the ministry to develop policy. The board will ensure accountability, it will not be a management committee,” he added.

However, he acknowledged that one major issues that needs to be addressed immediately is health coverage. Miller is advocating a review of how that works and says that government must mandate the minimum coverage for a maximum rate and prevent the cherry picking of policy holders by private health insurers.

“The health insurance companies have been allowed to undercut the cover they offer, increase the premiums paid and reject high risk patients, which has put too much pressure on the government health insurance company CINICO,” he noted, explaining that CINICO must be reserved for government employees and indigents only.

Miller said that in future private insurers who agree to give a company policy must cover all the staff on that group policy and not just the low risk or healthy ones. Above all, the basic standard of health care must provide better coverage at an affordable price. “If government states that health insurance is compulsory the health insurance companies must provide affordable access to realistic cover,” Miller stressed, adding that the rates will be based established by an independent auditor.

During the election campaign Miller drew attention to the controversy at the work site of the Clifton Hunter School in Frank Sound, where a number ofCaymanian workers lost their jobs due to a dispute between the general contractor, Tom Jones International, and a local labour sub contractor and he has promised to follow through. “I expect Caymanians and in particular North Siders to be working back on that site,” he said. “I will be calling Mr Hunter this week for an appointment to sort this out.”  

Miller told CNS that the two most pressing needs of his district would be to address the needs of the local senior citizens and to get the young people in work. He said the older people in North Side do not want an old folks’ home but they want support to help them stay in their own homes and maintain their independence.  “We are getting to work right away putting together a group that can help fix up those homes that need repairs,” he said. “But we need to offer day to day practical support to the elderly, such as meals on wheels and cleaning services and other services, to help them live independent lives.”

Miller also says he will be holding two important community meetings in the next few weeks, first with parents and children who will be moving to high school this September to help prepare them for that transition, and then secondly with parents and children who are graduating from high school to make sure those youngsters have access to the scholarships they need for further education or are moving into work. “I want to support them in their plans and make sure they have some direction,” he said.

Following through on his campaign promise of participatory democracy, Miller is already establishing his district committee and says he intends to work for his district through the people of the district. 

As the only independent to win a seat in the election, Miller says he is not daunted by that and intends to demonstrate that the independent candidate is not yet a thing of the past, and believes that when Cayman moves to single member constituencies we could still see more independent candidates returned to the Legislative Assembly in future districts. He says he will be setting the example that independents can represent their people effectively and get things done.

“Within 18 months I will have carved out a clear and independent role in the Legislative Assembly and I intended to speak factually, emotionally and vigorously on all the issues,” he added.

Miller will be taking to the airwaves on Tuesday morning, 26 May, on Rooster 101’s Crosstalk show which he says he hopes will become a regular weekly slot for him to talk to the people about what is happening in parliament and in his district. He is also promising to keep regular hours at his MLAs office at the North Side Civic Centre, which he has already opened and which will, from now on, be open between 9-5 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and between 2-9pm on Tuesdays and Thursday.

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