Archive for July 9th, 2009

FS denies being UDP ally

| 09/07/2009 | 13 Comments

(CNS): Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson did not allow the dust to settle before rebutting the leader of the opposition’s statement yesterday (8 July) accusing him of colluding with the UDP to discredit the previous administration and demanding an explanation for the deficit. Jefferson said he was not a “willing ally” in discrediting but he and his office were allies to the truth. He said he also welcome the first admittance by the PPM leader that his government had received a prediction in February from the FS of a $68 million deficit.

Stating that he stood by his statement delivered to the Legislative Assembly on 1 July, he said that the public should get themselves a copy and that there was no need of further explanation as requested by Kurt Tibbetts as he had already answered the questions.

“This 16-page statement is available at the Legislative Assembly and the public is encouraged to obtain a copy of it to acquaint themselves with the facts,” the FS said. He said he welcomed Tibbetts’ most recent comments as it was the first time he had admitted to receiving Jefferson’s 9 February deficit prediction, “…in stark contrast to recent public denials,” Jefferson added.  

The financial secretary also denied telling the previous government that the $29 million deficit was still true on 5 May.

“The Leader of the People’s Progressive Movement’s 8th July statement questions the credibility of the recent $74 million forecast deficit, by stating that on the 5th May 2009 the previous administration was told by the Financial Secretary that the projections for a forecast deficit of $29 million were holding true,” Jefferson said. “On the 5th May 2009, the Financial Secretary was in Miami, Florida. Moreover, the 5th May 2009 Cabinet Note did not contain projections; it contained actual results for the nine months to 31st March 2009.”

He said yesterday’s charge that the present hovernment had found a “willing ally” in the financial secretary in carrying out an exercise to discredit the previous administration was not true.

"The Portfolio of Finance are allies to the truth and are not involved in any exercise to discredit the previous administration,” he added.

Jefferson indicated that he stood firm on the 28 May forecast deficit of $74 million – broken down as a central Government deficit of $55 million and a net deficit of $19 million in respect of the activities of Statutory Authorities and Government-Owned Companies – for the year to 30 June 2009. He said it would prove to be more realistic than the 20 March forecast deficit of $29 million.

He also re-affirmed that the health of public finances at 30 June 2009 was severely challenged, and going forward a determined effort was required by legislators and the public service to restore balance between public revenues and public expenditures.

CNS note: There is now a link to the 16-page statement made by Ken Jefferson on 1 July on the bottom of the right hand column (this page below the CNS comment policy).

Continue Reading

Defence accuses cop of conspiracy in murder trial

| 09/07/2009 | 3 Comments

(CNS): In the second day of the trial of William Martinez-McLaughlin for the murder of Brian Rankine, the defendant’s counsel painted a different picture of the events of the night of 16 May 2008 than that presented by the Crown. Grilling the prosecution’s key witness, Jason Hinds, who has admitting to being with McLaughlin on the night of the murder, Mark Tomassi suggested that the brutal murder was committed by Hinds over a drug deal gone bad and that he had conspired with a local police officer to concoct his testimony and clear him from the crime.

Tomassi questioned the witness on the testimony he gave at the opening of the trial when Hinds had described Martinez-McLaughlin as the murderer. The defence’s lead counsel queried Hinds for a full day on his alleged movements on the night, his motivations and his relationship with Detective Sergeant Wright, who was one of the main officers handling the case. He suggested to the witness that it was him who was responsible for the murder of Brian Rankine because of his hatred for homosexuals and the failure of a drug deal. He then suggested that Hinds already had a family relationship with Sgt Wright from Jamaica, who was present at the arrest, and together they had conspired to clear him of the murder and put the blame on his client. “He was your buddy, wasn’t he?” Tomassi said. “Your friend from Jamaica?”

Hinds denied having a family relationship with Officer Right but did say he had known him from seeing him on the road in his home of Spanish Town in Jamaica. Hinds also said he had not conspired with Wright but had felt more comfortable telling him the truth over what had happened. “What you have cleverly done with the help of Sgt Wright is swap positions with my client,” Tomassi suggested.

During the cross examination, Hinds persistently denied Tomassi’s accusations often saying, “No Sir” or “I do not know what you are talking about.” However, Tomassi suggested that Hinds had a hatred for homosexuals, which he believed Brian Rankine to be after he had allegedly complimented Hinds on his dancing in the Eastern Star Bar in East End. Tomassi also suggested it was he who had set up the drug deal with Rankine and made the decision to drive to George Town and not the defendant as he had suggested. He said that when Rankine did not supply the amount of drugs Hinds had been expecting, it was he who murdered Rankin in a fit of rage as he suggested the witness was known as a dangerous man who should not be crossed.

Tomassi questioned Hinds in detail on his testimony and asked why, if his accountwas true, that he had not driven off and left Martinez-McLaughlin on the many occasions that presented themselves to report the murder. Hinds said he was shocked and confused as well as being scared of the defendant and was not thinking clearly.

Tomassi also asked why, having already driven once from George Town to East End that night, he was prepared to do it again late at night without seemingly knowing why. Hinds insisted he was simply doing his co-worker a favour and he had been offered compensation for the gas. Hinds also denied being involved in any drug deal but was unable to give an account of what he thought the drive to George Town to McField Lane was all about and what was supposedly going on between Rankine and the defendant.

Tomassi also raised the issue of a missing machete that was not in the evidence list, which Hinds admits to using to bury his own clothes that Hinds said the police had taken. Tomassi also questioned why a knife belonging to Hinds that was at the scene of the arrest was not taken into evidence and tested.

He questioned Hinds on his drug use, and Hinds said that he had used ganja in Jamaica but had given it up since arriving in Cayman and had only taken one pull from a spliff that had belonged to McLaughlin on one occasion.

Having established that Hinds was no stranger to drugs, Tomassi continued his inference that it was he who had taken Rankine, whom he described as a vulnerable and scared young man, to George Town for the intent of securing drugs, but when the deal went bad Hinds had killed Rankine, whom he considered a homosexual, in an angry rage and then set about creating his story, which was helped by the good fortune of his friend Sgt Wright being on the case.

Hinds continued to deny all of the lawyer’s repeated allegations throughout the day and on re-examination by the Crown told Solicitor General Cheryll Richards that he had given up smoking ganja when he moved to the Cayman Islands four years ago because of the stiff penalties.

Continue Reading

No complaints process in key departments

| 09/07/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): An audit by the Office of the Complaints Commissioner determined that for six government entities a failure to establish an effective internal complaints process (ICP) amounted to maladministration. It made this ruling against the Department of Employment Relations, the Planning Department, the Royal Cayman Islands Police, the Immigration Department, the Ministry of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Tourism. In all, the OCC found that 22 government entities did not have a formal ICP, while the DoER, the DoT, the Legislative Department and the Planning Department had no ICP at all.

Nevertheless, the audit of the ICPs of 76 government entities revealed that since the inception of efforts to encourage government entities to develop and implement ICPs there has been a significant increase and improvement in customer complaints processes.

An effective ICP is a process by which complaints against an organization are received, investigated and resolved in an orderly manner. Maintaining an effective ICP is essential for an organization to capture and utilize information about what customers are feeling, experience and expect from an organization. A formal ICP includes a documented procedure that the organization follows when processing a complaint. In some cases an informal ICP can be effective.

In 2005, the OCC launched a project to determine which government entities had a formal or informal process through which they received and addressed any concerns of the public they served. Each entity was surveyed and asked to say if they had established a formal or informal ICP. There have been three such surveys which in turn produced three reports – one in 2006, another in 2007 and the most recent in 2008.

In June 2008, in order to judge for itself whether the entities had indeed established ICPs and whether they were formal or informal and effective or ineffective, the OCC declared an Own Motion Investigation. The report on this investigation, “Do government entities hear their customers? An audit of their Internal Complaints Processes”, was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Friday 3 July 2009.

This audit confirmed that while the majority of the 76 entities audited had formal ICPs, 22 entities did not, despite the OCC’s efforts to guide them in establishing one. Some of these entities have a high volume of interaction with the public while others almost none.

The OCC found that the Department of Employment Relations, the Department of Tourism, the Legislative Department and the Planning Department had no ICP at all. The Cinematographic Authority and the Public Health Services both have their complaints addressed through the ICPs of their associated bodies.

The following entities had informalICPs: Cayman Islands Postal Service, Cayman Islands Stock Exchange, Department of Children and Family Services, Department Counseling Services, District Administration, Elections Office, HM Prison Service, Immigration Department, Lands and Survey Department , Mosquito Research and Control Unit, National Housing and Development Trust, Portfolio of Finance and Economics, Radio Cayman, and UCCI, as well as the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, the Ministry of District Administration, Planning, Agriculture and Housing, and the Ministry of Health and Human Services.

In the cases of maladministration, the OCC found that the Department of Employment Relations had previously had a formal ICP but had subsequently abandoned it and had not replaced it with an effective formal or informal ICP.

The Planning Department did not have a formal or informal ICP and officers were not able to provide clear information as to who handled complaints or how they are handled. It admitted to receiving complaints, but was unable to verify how many or how they were actioned.

The RCIP admitted that although it had a formal ICP and a Professional Standards Unit to address complaints, its system did not function properly. It admitted to needing to overhaul its ICP and that it had began work on that process.

The Immigration Department was found to have an informal ICP but the public was denied access to the process through the Immigration frontline staff, who were found to be blocking people from filing complaints. The Immigration process also failed to meet reasonable timelines.

The Ministry of Health and Human Services admitted to not having an ICP. It acknowledged the importance of having an ICP and committed to taking action to create a formal ICP for its Ministry. The Department of Tourism admitted that it did not have an ICP and also committed to establishing one as quickly as possible.

The OCC reported that it has experienced a drop in the number of complaints made against government entities, which the Office believes is due partly to the improvements to operating procedures in many government entities, including ICPs, and partly to the existence and influence of the OCC.

“The first three reports were based on the surveys of the government entities,” said Complaints Commissioner Dr John Epp. “This investigation, however, was an objective assessment of the claims made in the 2008 survey and is therefore an accurate reflection of the levels of preparedness of government entities to process complaints.”

Through the course of this investigation, the OCC recognized that while the majority of government entities have implemented an ICP, a continued effort is required by many to ensure that the public is encouraged to make complaints using these processes.

The OCC is located on the 2nd floor, 202 Piccadilly Centre, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, phone number (345) 943 2220. The website is www.occ.gov.ky.
 

Continue Reading

Sharp rise in H1N1 cases in Cayman

| 09/07/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The local H1N1 countis up to 33 after CAREC confirmed 11 more cases since the beginning of the week. However, Health Minister Mark Scotland said his ministry is closely monitoring the situation and the H1N1 flu strain currently in Cayman is not a serious threat. According to a WHO update, new guidelines will soon be released advising countries with confirmed H1N1 cases to cut back on testing all suspected cases and move toward larger surveillance indicators, such as influenza-like illnesses or pneumonia hospitalizations.

“I am confident that these figures reflect the accessibility of our health care system as well as the robust surveillance system that is in place,” Scotland said. “However, to make sure that we are doing all we can, Cayman is hosting a meeting today with our regional Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) representative Dr. Ernest Pate. As part of PAHO’s ongoing support and technical assistance, Dr Pate will meet with public health officials and hospital staff to review our response to the current flu pandemic.”

The Minister of Health continued, “I have further confirmed with public health officials that they will continue to follow the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s guidelines in formulating our response strategy.”

Minister Scotland gave the assurance that any change in the local response will be communicated to the public as soon as possible. “Our health services are ready to respond, in the event that the nature of this flu strain should change. For now, the strongest message remains: When you are sick, stay at home,” he concluded.
 

Continue Reading

Man shot dead in West Bay

| 09/07/2009 | 58 Comments

(CNS): Updated 7:45 am Thursday —  One man is dead and two teenagers have been wounded in a shooting which occurred on Bonaventure Road in West Bay last night. Police said that the 911 centre received a call just before 8pm on Wednesday night (8 July) reporting that shots had been fired in the area. Police and medics responded and the three men were taken to hospital, where the 20 year old man was pronounced dead. The 18 year old, the brother of the dead man, is being treated for injuries and the 14 year old boy is in a critical condition fighting for his life and is expected to be flown off island today .

Two men were spotted by police leaving the area soon after the shooting and were taken into custody for questioning to ascertain their reasons for being in that area. “This is a tragic incident which has claimed one life and left two others seriously injured,” said Superintendent Kurt Walton, who will be leading the enquiry.“Our sincerest condolences go out to the families of those involved.”

Walton made an emphatic plea to the public for any information about what took place. “These young men’s lives have been destroyed and their families are devastated. We need all the information we can get to help piece together what led to the events that took place,” he said.

Scenes of Crime Officers continue to process the scene and detectives are carrying out enquiries and taking statements.

Following the shooting incident, a disturbance broke out outside the government hospital in George Town. A fight erupted in the car park involving a number of men. One of those involved ran into a chain link fence, tripped over and sustained a serious neck injury for which he is currently receiving medical attention. Police at the scene arrested a 19-year old man. What sparked the disturbance is currently under investigation.

“What has happened has rocked the community,” said Walton. “But now is the time we must come together to bring those involved to justice. We do not need any more violence. If you have information about what took place, please come forward and assist us.”

Last night people at the scene said that as many as ten shots were fired at the junction of Turtle Road and Bonaventure.

Officers would like to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time of the incident who may have seen something that can help the enquiry or anyone with information about the events leading up to the shooting.

“If you saw anyone in the area or any vehicles leaving the location we would like to hear from you,” said Walton. “Any small piece of information could help us piece together what happened.”

Residents are asked to contact West Bay police station on 949-3999 or Crime Stoppers on 800 TIPS (8477). All persons calling Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous.

Family Liaison Officers are working with the relatives of the victims and counselling will be made available.

West Bay officers will be out in force providing reassurance to residents over the coming days. Anyone with concerns who would like to speak with an officer can call their Neighbourhood Officers or Area Commander, Chief Inspector Angelique Howell, at the West Bay police station on 949-3999 or email angelique.howell@rcips.ky.   

Continue Reading