Archive for August 20th, 2009

Mothersill goes into semi-finals in 200m in Berlin

| 20/08/2009 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Cayman Islands hotshot athlete Cydonie Mothersill won her heat in the Women’s 200m at the World Championships in Berlin, Germany, yesterday. Mothersill finished with a time of 22.69 seconds, which qualifies her to go onto the semi-finals. And in the Men’s 100m on 15 August, 19-year-old Kemar Hyman made his debut at the World Championships running alongside former World Champions Tyson Gay and Kim Collins, and placed 4th in his  heat with a time of 10.59 seconds. (Photo: Tyson Gay left and Hyman right)

Kemar had hoped to post a faster time but felt a slight pinch in the right hamstring, a release from the Cayman Islands Athletic Association reported. After the race he said, “Now that I have experienced the World Championships, I now know what I need to do now in preparation for the Commonwealth Games and CAC Games in 2010.”

Coach Kenrick Williams said of Hyman, “He is very young and has tremendous talent and youth on his side. He now needs to rehab his leg and resume training with his college coach. This is his first World Championships and to finish 4th in a race with the likes of Tyson Gay and Kim Collins speaks volume for the future of Track and Field in the Cayman Islands.”

In the release the Cayman Islands Athletic Association congratulated Hyman on his achievements and wished him all the best in his future athletic career. CIAA also wished Mothersill all the best in the semi-finals 200m which takes place this afternoon (Thursday).

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Bill weakens to cat 3 as it heads for Bermuda

| 20/08/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The first hurricane of the Atlantic season which had reached category four status in a matter of a few days of its formation has now dropped back to a three as it heads on a northward path through the Atlantic. However, the National Hurricane Centre in Miami has warned the storm is likely to strengthen again and become a category four storm today or tomorrow.

At 5:00 am AST Bill was located about 790 miles south-southeast of Bermuda where a hurricane or tropical storm watch will likely be put in place required later this morning. Bill is moving toward the northwest at around 18 mph with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph and higher gusts.  The NHC said that a NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft is currently investigating the condition of Bill.

With Hurricane force winds extending outward up to 85 miles from the centre and tropical storm force winds some 230 miles Bill is a large hurricane and swells associated with it will be impacting the islands of the northeast Caribbean Sea, the Bahamas as well as Bermuda. NHC also predicted that large swells associated with Bill will also affect portions of the east coast of the United States this weekend.



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Civil service pensions frozen

| 20/08/2009 | 70 Comments

(CNS): According to an internal memo sent to chief financial officers in the civil service on Monday, the proposed government ‘pension holiday’ for civil servants will begin this month and last until the end of June 2010. The memo from Kenneth Jefferson indicates that government departments are to budget for pension contributions for public sector workers at 0.125% for each civil servant from government with a matching 0.125% from the employees. The temporary suspension of the full 12% payments (6% from the employee and 6% from government), which government will be legally obliged to pay back in the future, was announced by McKeeva Bush on 10 August.

As a result of the projected massive deficit of around $132 million, government has been seeking ways to reduce public expenditure and theleader of government business told the press last Monday that the administration could save in excess of $44 million by introducing a pension holiday during the 2009/10 financial year and was looking into ways of implementing the temporary freeze.

In the memo seen by CNS, the financial secretary notes that it is too late to suspend the full 12 months of the pension contribution for the 2009/10 financial year, as deductions and payments for July 2009 would have already been made, but indicates that financial officers would start the accounting process from August.

“In preparing your Annual Budgets, you are to budget for the month of July at the normal rate of 12% (being 6% employer and 6% employee),” Jefferson states.

He also explains why a nominal ¼ percent contribution is being recommended instead of a full freeze on all payments. “From a legal perspective, one cannot refer to a 0% contribution as that is a contradiction of terms,” the memo states. “To address this issue, it is being recommended that Government pays a nominal contribution of 0.25% (being 0.125% employer and 0.125% employee) into the pension fund as pension contributions for the remainder of the 2009/10 fiscal year (ie from August 2009 to June 2010, inclusive).

Jefferson added that department  budgets should therefore be prepared to reflect the recommendation for August 2009 to June 2010 inclusive, and the normal 12% pension accrual contribution for the month of July 2009.

The LoGB has also indicated that legislators are now seeking ways to amend the Pensions Law in order to allow the private sector the opportunity to voluntarily also freeze pension payments. Bush said this would free employers and employees of their respective legal obligations to contribution 5% each of earnings paid to employees into a pension fund. He said that employers would have to be in compliance with the law before this was allowed and have the agreement of the employees.

Cast your vote: Is the government ‘pension holiday’ for civil servants a good idea?

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Netnewsgate trial set

| 20/08/2009 | 6 Comments

(CNS): The trial of former Member of the Legislative Assembly and Cayman Net News reporter, Lyndon Martin, on charges in connection with Netnewsgate will begin on Monday, 31 August. Martin, who is charged with falsely accusing another person of a crime and doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice, told CNS he was looking forward to having his day in court and clearing his name with regard to the alleged break-in to the offices of his former employer, Desmond Seales, and revealing details of the events that triggered Operation Tempura.

Martin was originally arrested in March of 2008 on the same day that Governor Stuart Jack announced to the Caymanian public that three senior RCIPS officers had been placed on ‘required leave’ and that there was an undercover UK Metropolitan special police investigation taking place in the Cayman Islands.

He was subsequently charged with some 17 counts relating to burglary and false allegations as it was alleged by the Scotland Yard team that Martin had falsely accused Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis of a corrupt relationship with Desmond Seals, the proprietor of Cayman Net News, where Martin was working at the time as a reporter. In the ensuing 18 months, however, nearly all the charges against him were dropped leaving just two on the sheet, which will be heard before a jury on 31 August.

Since Martin’s arrest a number of key players in this particular part of the Operation Tempura investigation have left the island, including the senior investigating officer from the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT) Martin Bridger and Richard Coy, who arrested Martin. Key witness John Evans, the Net News reporter who was also alleged to have unlawfully entered the premises of the paper where he worked at the time, has since returned to the UK.

The former police commissioner, Stuart Kernohan, who was sacked by the governor during this investigation, and former chief superintendent, John Jones, with whom Martin and Evans had shared their suspicions, have also since left the island. Both men were cleared by the previous acting commissioner, James Smith, but Kernohan has never returned to Cayman, and although John Jones was reportedly offered his job back, he has yet to take up his post.

While Bridger is not expected to return, Kernohan and Jones are both reportedly down as witnesses for the two week jury trial, along withJohn Evans, who told CNS via e-mail on Wednesday (19 August) that he would only return subject to guarantees from the appropriate people, including if necessary the governor, that they would take steps to ensure his safety.

Evans also indicated  that he required “absolute protection and immunity from any malicious action that my former employer, or anyone acting on his behalf, may be planning.” Evans added that he had not yet received any such guarantees.

“I recognise that my presence is essential to Lyndon Martin getting a fair trial and I believe that I have a duty to him as a fellow journalist to attend. It is my opinion that our former employer has gone to great lengths to prejudice the judicial process,” Evans added. “I believe that both Lyndon and myself have issues relating to material published since 27 March 2008 that need to be raised with the RCIPS and look forward to the opportunity to do just that.”

The long awaited trial will be the second legal drama directly associated with Operation Tempura and Martin Bridger, the former Scotland Yard officer. Bridger brought the charges against Martin and was behind the suspension of Kernohan and John Jones, as well as the unlawful arrest of Justice Alex Henderson, who received $1.275 million from the CI government in damages following a judicial review, which found his arrest for misconduct in a public office was an unarrestable offence. The charges against Henderson also related to the alleged unlawful entry into Net News.

Bridger also charged Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon with misconduct in a public office, and that trial is scheduled for September. RCIPS Inspector Burmon Scott was another victim of Bridger’s investigation and was arrested in connection with the charges made against Dixon. However, no charges were ever brought against Scott, who along with Kernohan now has pending legal action against both Bridger and Coy as well as the police commissioner.

The two week courtroom drama is expected to hear from a number of witnesses and reveal hitherto unknown details of the still mysterious Operation Tempura investigation, which was supposedly investigating police corruption and has cost the Cayman tax payer in excess of $6 million.

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