Archive for May 28th, 2009

AG won’t challenge election

| 28/05/2009 | 53 Comments

(CNS): Attorney General Samuel Bulgin has said that he will not be taking any action regarding the question over the constitutional qualification of Mark Scotland (left) and Dwayne Seymour to be elected to office. Although he admits that the Constitution describes his office as one of the parties which can take action, he states that doing so would be contrary to his duty to maintain neutrality in political matters. Bulgin said in a written statement than there is no greater onus on the attorney general to bring a challenge than any other parties cited under section 23 (3) of the constitution such as voters or candidates.

While members of the People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) and the wider community have pointed to both the governor and the attorney general as being responsible for upholding the Constitution, both men have now confirmed that they will be doing nothing about the fact that the two candidates did breech the 1972 Cayman Islands Constitution when they failed to gazette their business contracts with government before the official deadline.

Bulgin said he has for some time carefully considered the legal issues involved, as well as the public interest implications in the context of what he knows to be his constitutional responsibility.

“These are issues which must be approached with prudence and caution,” he said in a written statement. “After considering not only the allegations but the law and the public interest, I take the view that although the Constitution provides that an application to the Grand Court to have an elected Member disqualified from sitting may be made by the Attorney General, among other described parties, that in the current circumstances this is not an action that I should take.” 

Bulgin stated that an application by an attorney general would be unusual in the Commonwealth Caribbean and that the Constitution places no greater onus on the attorney general than on the other eligible applicants. He said that a person who voted or had a right to vote at the election, a person claiming to have had the right to be returned at such election or a person alleging himself to have been a candidate were equally place to make any legal challenge.

“As an Applicant, the Attorney General would be placed in the position of pressing the Court to declare a Member of the Legislative Assembly disqualified from sitting, a role that seems to run contrary to the duty of the Attorney to maintain absolute neutrality in political matters,” Bulgin said. “Should another eligible party decide to make such an application, then consideration may be given to whether the Attorney should appear in the case as amicus curiae, and thereby be in a position to assist the Court from a neutral, non-partisan position.”

The governor said on Tuesday that he expected all candidates in elections to observe the requirements of the Constitution and applicable laws. “I do not take lightly any failure to do so,” he added but gave no indication ofany repercussions of such failures. He said that he had no Constitutional powers to determine whether a candidate is qualified or not so he would not refuse to swear in either of the two Bodden Town successful candidates as the Supervisor of Elections had reported to him they had been duly elected. “Any question as to whether a person is validly elected is forthe 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.”

As a result both Scotland and Seymour were sworn into office on Wednesday and in front of a substantial crowed as they vowed to uphold the law.

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Joey Ebanks goes from turtle to Rooster

| 28/05/2009 | 58 Comments

(CNS): Updated 2:15pm Listeners to Cayman Crosstalk Rooster 101’s morning phone-in show will be introduced to a new host on Monday morning and CNS has learned that the former Turtle Farm director and the PPM’s candidate for North Side Joey Ebanks will be the man joining Austin Harris has a co-host. Ebanks had been hosting the PPM’s own paid-for-show on Rooster during the election campaign but he will now become a permanent feature, replacing shock-jock Ellio Solomon who has taken up a seat on the back bench of the United Democratic Party government.

 Ebanks told CNS that he is looking forward to starting his new media career with Hurely’s entertainment and says although he is member of the opposition party he won’t be looking to pull the government down for the sake of it.“We want to give this government a chance to get to work,” he said adding that while he may be PPM Cayman is his country too and he hoped the new government would get down to work addressing the issues and the show would be about constructive accountability.

Randy Merren, managing director of Hurleys Entertainment said he was impressed with the natural talent Joey demonstrated while hosting the PPM live forums. "For a person who had never broadcasted before, he showed a lot of ability.” 

When asked if Ebanks was selected based on party affiliation, Austin Harris, said he was not.“Cayman Crosstalk has never been about party politics. It exists as a gate keeper to issues affecting the Cayman Islands. Now is the time for Cayman to come together to find solutions to our problems.  We are looking forward to the fresh perspective Joey will add to our discussions and debates,” Harris added.  

As Cayman Crosstalk hosts daily forums and debates over issues affecting all aspects of Caymanian life Merren said that Crosstalk is bigger than any of it’s hosts and  the show must go on. “We are therefore delighted to welcome Joey as a member ofthe team."

As the show runs weekday mornings at breakfast time Ebanks told CNS said he will also be engaged in local consultancy work as he will not be going back to the turtle farm in any formal capacity but said he is always happy to offer advice and the benefit of his experience to the management team and board.

Cayman Crosstalk is aired Monday through Friday starting at 7am on Rooster 101.9FM contact caymancrosstalk@hurleysgroup.com with comments and questions or for more info.

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Increase in burglaries blamed for rising crime

| 28/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With 168 break-ins reported to the police in the first quarter of 2009 compared to 104 during the same period last year Police are facing an overall increase in crime figures for the first three months of this year. The number of reported offences in 08 stood at 580 while 646 offences have been reported in 9. “The RCIPS has recognised that burglary offences have been creeping up and we have been taking measures to address this,” said Acting Commissioner of Police James Smith.

 

“Commanders are focussing efforts on identifying and prosecuting offenders and we are continually making the public are aware that homes and businesses should be kept secure at all times. In the first three months of the year we arrested 42 people for burglary and these efforts are continuing today,” Smith added.

There were also increases in other crime categories such as Public Order Offences, gambling, fraud and littering though the RCIPS said these rises could be a consequence of proactive policing which tends to result in more offences being identified and recorded. Areas which saw decreases include Violent Crime Other (which includes offences such as assault actual bodily harm and common assault) which dropped by 50 offences and sexual offences which are down from 11 to 8. Traffic statistics show a slight drop in collisions from 363 in 2008 to 341 in 2009 and fatal collisions are down from 4 in 08 to 2 in 09.

“Our Traffic Management Unit continues to target drivers who flout the traffic law and in the first three months of this year 2454 offences were detected,” said Smith. “Of note, speeding prosecutions went up by 101 indicating that motorists are continuing to put their lives are risk by driving above the speed limits. We all have a responsibility to ensure the safety of road users and drivers should bear this in mind every time they get behind the wheel.”

According to local television reports the new Police Commissioner, David Baines (who will be the sixth person in the post in the last 15 months) arrived in the Cayman Islands on Tuesday evening and is due to take up his post on 1 June. Not only will he be facing on increase in crime statistics and a perception of a much greater increase in all crime throughout the community, the commissioner will be facing low morale in the service and the fall out from the Special Police Investigation.

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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Earthquake rocks Honduras

| 28/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The tourist heart of Honduras has been rocked by a major earthquake today, (Thursday 28 May) which also triggered a tsunami alert in the region. The powerful 7.3-magnitude quake left five dead and at least 13 hurt and shook countries as far away as Mexico. At around 3.30 am local time the earthquake occurred north of the Bay Islands of Honduras near the tourist resort of the Islas de la Bahia at coordinates 16.7 North and 86.3 West. A tsunami watch was issued for Belize, Honduras and Guatemala which ahs since been withdrawn.

 

The quake reportedly damaged two bridges, 50 homes, 10 schools, two public buildings, two hotels, a factory and a church and a total of 17 aftershocks, all above magnitude four, have been recorded. Officials also said they expected the death toll to rise as reports come in from poor villages and towns in the mountainous area around Honduras’ Caribbean coast.

The Cayman Islands own Hazard Management issued a release following the quake noting that while Cayman was not included in this morning’s tsunami warning or in any danger the islands are vulnerable to this natural hazard and plans are in place for the establishment of a Caribbean–wide tsunami warning system and the Cayman Islands expect to play a part in that effort.

The Caribbean tsunami warning system should be operational by 2010 / 2011. A network of seismographs is being established for the Caribbean region and this is part of a global project being run by UNESCO’s International Oceanographic Commission,” Hazard Management said.

IT noted that the Cayman Islands Government has commissioned a seismic monitoring network, and one of these already operating in Frank Sound detected this morning’s earthquake and the information was relayed through to HMCI as expected.

Hazard managementCayman Islands (HMCI) said that Earthquakes do occur from time to time in the vicinity of the Cayman Islands as we are located near to the boundary of the North American plate, with the Caribbean plate sliding past to the south.

The likelihood of a large catastrophic earthquake in the Cayman Islands is considered a very remote possibility; however the threat does exist nevertheless,” HMCI added. “In December 2004 a 6.8 magnitude earthquake occurred 20 miles to the south of Grand Cayman. Since the formation of HMCI in 2006 the agency has embarked on a proactive public education campaign to raise awareness of the earthquake threat in the Cayman Islands.”

 

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Violation of the Constitution

| 28/05/2009 | 35 Comments

Much has been said and will continue to be said about the General Elections held on May 20, 2009, and my name has been used quite extensively in relation to the challenging of the two UDP winners in Bodden Town, Mr. Mark Scotland and Mr. Dwayne Seymour, as a result of my media comments following the announcement of the results.

Let me make it quite clear from the onset that I am not a sore loser (I accepted my loss immediately), but my concern is for the upholding of law and order in this country. Everyone is aware that these two individuals violated S. 19(1)(g) of our Constitution by not declaring publicly (ie: by Gazzette notice) their interest in Government contracts in the required time frame. If this is allowed to go unchallenged, simply on the basis that they were elected by majority, what does this say to others following or watching now? It’s ok to break the law, as long as the majority is on your side? I don’t think this is the case and I am sure you the reader will share this view.

Individuals elected as MLAs are sworn to uphold our Constitution and to Legislate (ie: make Laws) for these islands. It follows naturally that these are the last people that should be seen to be violating either of these. The Attorney General and the Governor share in this responsibility and I am totally at a loss as to why neither of these gentlemen have not stepped forward in the public interest and dealt with this issue before now. The Attorney General is apparently off island at this crucial time and therefore his views or those of his office are unknown or unheard. The Governor made a statement and basically stated that he cannot challenge as he not a designated “challenger”. This is ironic, when one considers that this same Governor has cost the country millions of dollars by ordering investigations into “alleged” corrupt practices of the judiciary and police, which to date have ended up with one law suit after another against this country. Yet, here we have a clear violation of our Constitution, which he is sworn to uphold, and he does nothing – apart from swearing them into office!

So I say to all and sundry that if this action by my new Representatives in Bodden Town, Mr. Scotland and Mr. Seymour, is allowed to go unchallenged we will have set a dangerous precedent in this country. How are we going to stop future abuses of this type and others, when those at the top appear to have wanton regard for rules and regulations, by breaching our over-arching legal document, our Constitution. It’s ironic that this comes at a time when we have just finished the long drawn out process of getting a modernized Constitution for these islands, which has just been accepted by a majority of the people through the first ever Referendum process and will be implemented in due course.

I anxiously await a response on this matter from the Attorney General of this country and I call on him to take a stand against this violation by our elected representatives and to request the Chief Justice of this country to make a ruling on the matter in the interest of all concerned. I need not remind the legal luminaries that “delay defeats equity”.

I agree with those that say let’s move on and work together for the betterment of the country but we cannot do this unless we start on the right footing. This matter must be resolved and then we can move forward in the proper manner.

Finally, I wish to thank the people of Bodden Town for the humbling privilege of being your Representative over the past four years and I believe history will show that I served your interest well, with dignity and integrity in all my dealings. I also wish to thank all of my supporters island wide for your outpouring of love and concern for me and my family, before and since the elections.

May God continue to bless these beloved islands we call home and may “justice for all” be upheld in our land forever.
 

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Ennis writes of own injustice

| 28/05/2009 | 13 Comments

(CNS): The Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Anthony Ennis, has written a letter to the Caymanian Compass, copied to CITN, in which he sates that he too has suffered an injustice and has laboured privately with the shock and disbelief for 15 months over what he has called the “reprehensible and egregious acts” that he says were brought against him by the former Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and others.

Following the announcement by Kernohan that he is filing suit against the governor, the acting commissioner, the attorney general and the former senior investigating officer of the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT), Ennis indicates that he was damaged by the actions of the former commissioner and is still looking for answers over what happened.

“I am eager to know the full extent of all the actors involved; their actions and their motivation, although I have a compelling working theory as to the latter,” Ennis wrote.

He stated that he wanted to know why warrants and letters of suspension were put forward against him; why a basic investigation was not done to clear his name before Scotland Yard was called in and why, given that Kernohan was aware of Ennis’ own potential legal action against Desmond Seales (the proprietor of Cayman Net News whom Ennis was accused of being in a corrupt relationship with) a six month clandestine investigation was launched against him without the FCO or SPIT being aware of that action.

“Before engaging Scotland Yard at significant expense to the Cayman Islands taxpayer, why weren’t certain basic investigative techniques undertaken that could have easily established that the allegations were false or rubbish,” Ennis stated in the letter.

He said that as a consequence of the actions against him, his career will be defined indefinitely by the events. “Any opportunities to seek employment here or abroad potentially will be in jeopardy since a simple Google search will reveal these events and while I too was exonerated it will make any prospect of employment very precarious,” he wrote.

Ennis went on to write that he had not had an apology from anyone and he and his family had suffered from an unwarranted and ill-advised investigation, and he looked forward to the whole truth being revealed.

Although the letter does not state that he will be filing his own suit Ennis, told CNS in an email that he would not be commenting further on the content of the letter and was taking advice from his attorneys.

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Hocky players go golfing

| 28/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Ball Hockey Association (CIBHA) held its first annual Golf Tournament on Friday 15 May at the Britannia Golf Course. It was a tremendous success, say organisers, and played host to 80 golfers. Everyone enjoyed an afternoon of golfing while raising money to support the CIBHA’s trip to the 8th World Senior Ball Hockey Championships to be held on June 13th -20th in Pilsen, Czech Republic.

The Reflections Team of Sam Houston, Sean Houston, Lito Retumba and Denny Edward (right) won the tournament with second place going to Scott Gossen, Mike McDonald, Chris Creighton and Tony Fantasia. Richard McMillan won long drive while Lito Retumba won closest to the pin.

“For our first tournament it was a resounding success with many CIBHA members taking part. Everyone had a great time and I look forward to a bigger and better tournament next year. I believe we raised enough money to pay for our team uniforms and track suits.” Mark Thompson, CIBHA President commented.

Cayman Islands Sauce Company and Essential Services hosted a side game which consisted of shooting a hockey ball into a net 50 yards away. This raised some additional funds with the winner of a two nights stay at The Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort being Jeff Hart determined by a shootout on the Lone Star Bar & Grill patio.

CIBHA would like to thank all participants and sponsors who made this tournament a great success especially the Britannia Golf Course Team who worked hard to ensure that everything ran smoothly and the management and staff of Lone Star Bar & Grill which hosted the buffet
dinner afterward.

Our sponsors included: CayBrew, Budget Rent a Car, Caledonian Bank and Trust, The Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, Martlett Design, Funky Monkey, Cayman Hot Sauce, Essential Services, Derek Bogle Insurance, Cutting Edge Marketing and Design, EFG Bank, FCIB, O-Bar, Cayman Contemporary Construction Ltd, Reflections, Smile Dental, Aqua Beach, USA Risk Group, NKY- Camana Bay, Ricoh, Jacques Scott, Greenlight Re, Legends, Eats Cafe, Yoshi Sushi, Copper Falls, BDO and Lone Star Bar & Grill.

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Bush to broaden government

| 28/05/2009 | 42 Comments

(CNS): The new Leader of Government Business, McKeeva Bush, says he intends to broaden the governance of the Cayman Islands and will be introducing an Island Council, which he said would sit in the Legislative Assembly (LA) and would embody members from every district and include expats. He said he intended to use the skills and talents of everyone on the island to find the solutions, and the council would examine every sector of the local economy.

He did not say how the council would be able to sit in the LA, but in his first speech as the new government leader, following the official swearing in ceremony at the LA, Bush said the country could not move forward unless all of the expertise and talent was harnessed to work for the betterment of the islands. He said government could not do it alone and that everyone had to work together.

He also told the House that he would be utilising his backbenchers in supporting roles within the ministries. He said he had discussed the issue with the governor and he intended to give responsibility for certain specific areas to non-ministers. “We have taken the bold step to include all of the back benchers to work on specific projects within the various ministries,” he said.

He explained that the third elected member for West Bay, Cline Gidden, who did not receive an actual cabinet position would, however, be given a considerable amount of responsibility, from dealing with the ICTA to the George Town dump. Bush said Glidden would also take responsibility for the Electricity Regulation Authority and would be addressing the current arrangement between government and CUC. Bush said the recent contract with CUC does not benefit the consumer of Cayman Islands and the UDP had a mandate to change it. He said Glidden would be working on plans to introduce competition to electricity generation long before the current timeframe established in the recent deal

Bush said one of the major issues his new government faced was the economy, and while things were in dire circumstances he intended to meet the challenges. “The government will establish a mechanism to provide assistance to businesses and to those who are at risk of losing their homes as a result of the crisis.” He said in two weeks he would announced the full details of how that assistance would be offered but he said bureaucracy would not stop it. Bush added that he would be meeting urgently with various stakeholders to formulate a short term economic recovery plan which would be in place by 30 June.

He further said he wanted to address the problem of immigration and human resources. “We must put in place a strong long term plan for our development of the country’s human capital. This will be tied to the needs of our economy,” he said. “Our first task… is to commission a study on the creation of a Human Resource Authority. It will be the body that brings together all the key areas that impact the development of human resources, such as education, immigration and training,” he told the LA.

Bush said that economic recovery would not be easy but not only would it recover but it would grow and that would only happen by attracting investment and through development.

“It is not that there is not money in the world,” he said. “Money is in the world, but money is afraid, of course, and these islands must create the right approach and the right atmosphere to bring that money here.”

He said none of the problems the country faced could be addressed until the country attracted money again and he would do what he could to encourage development. “We must find the areas that can draw investment here.”

He said the governor had given him the responsibility for financial services and he would improve the lobbying situation in Washington and in other places and implement the necessary regulation that the sector needed. Bush confirmed he would be meeting industry stakeholders this morning, Thursday 28 May. He said when it came to tourism there was a pressing need to review the tourism plan and move quickly on the way forward, and as a result he would also be meeting those stakeholder in the afternoon.

He said he hoped people would work with him to move country forward and that while people believed it might be too difficult to move forward, he said the country can and would meet the challenges.

“With strong determination and decisive leadership and with the support of everyone, we can and we will do it. Starting today we must pick ourselves up and make the decision that we will work together in a united fashion to address the country’s challenges. Together we can and will make a difference,” said Bush. “Whether your family has been here for five generations or whether you have been here for five years as an expatriate worker, we must all roll up our sleeves and get to work.”

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Golding sends best wishes to Bush

| 28/05/2009 | 40 Comments

(CNS): Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding has sent a message of congratulations to Cayman’s new Leader of Government Busines, McKeeva Bush, on the United Democratic Party’s victory in last week’s General Election. Golding said that he recalled that the Cayman Island’s new leader had always been very supportive of him and had attended his own swearing-in as Prime Minister of Jamaica in September 2007.

According to a release from the Jamaican Information Service, in a message to Bush, Golding said his the victory was a clear and convincing statement of support from the people of the Cayman Islands. He said his government looked forward to continued good relations between the Cayman Islands and Jamaica.

During the PPM administration the long standing relationship between Jamaica was shaken with Jamaican’s living in Cayman feeling disgruntled when the government began to implement the rollover policy and removing a number of Jamaican nationals from the islands. The implementation of a visa requirement on Jamaicans by the PPM government in 2005 was quickly reciprocated by the then Jamaican PM PJ Patterson

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Scott next in line with suit

| 28/05/2009 | 27 Comments

(CNS): Following on the heels of the former Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan’s law suit, Burmon Scott has also filed a writ seeking unspecified damages from the Acting Commissioner of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, the Attorney-General of the Cayman Islands and Richard Coy, a member of the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT). Scott, a former and highly commended police officer, was arrested, unlawfully his writ states, by Coy in May of last year and held in lock down overnight.

According to the writ, which was filed on Tuesday afternoon by Campbells, Scotts’ attorneys, the 28-year veteran of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service was arrested on suspicion of having committed the offense of Misconduct in Public Office which, “is not an arrestable offense in the Cayman Islands, and, accordingly, the Plaintiff’s arrest was unlawful,” the writ states.

Scott was arrested by Special Constable Coy, second in command of SPIT, which was headed by SIO Martin Bridger and part of the so-called ‘Operation Tempuar’ investigaitons, and he was escorted to the Central Police Station. The writ tells how his personal property was taken from him, he was photographed, swabbed for DNA, finger printed and subjected to a “pat down” search. Following that, the veteran officer was then taken to the offices of the Financial Crimes Unit and interviewed for several hours. Upon returning to the Central Police Station, he was refused bail, and his medication was denied to him in part.

Scott remained in custody overnight, was re-interviewed the following day, and released on bail at approximately 6:00pm on 16 May 2008, and as a condition of bail his passport was confiscated.

The writ states that on 31 July 2008, Scott was informed by letter that he would not be charged with any criminal offense arising out of his arrest.

Scott explained how deeply the arrest had affected him. “I underwent bouts of depression, including sleeplessness, loss of appetite, and anxiety over my job, reputation, and the future in general,” he said. Earlier this year Scott described his experience to CNS as a nightmare. “I could never have imagined in all my life that this was happening to me. After all my years working so hard and having retired with a good name, it was a shock that is hard to explain.”

In 1977, as a recruit constable in Cayman Brac, Scott received an award for bravery for his role in disarming a violent offender who had stabbed his wife six times. In 1980 he received another commendation for the most drug-related arrests in Cayman Brac. In 1989 he served as RCIPS Liaison Officer, in charge of the community relations department, which was responsible for all resident beat officers in all districts throughout the Islands. In this role, he wrote the drug skits that were performed in all the local schools. He also “took to the stage” as an actor in the popular “Barney” show the RCIPS put on from time to time for the kids. Until his retirement, Scott was the Commander for every Remembrance Day parade held in Cayman Brac for many years.

The writ indicates that Scott is seeking damages for assault, damages to reputation, loss of earnings, exemplary and aggravated damages, as well as costs.

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