Archive for March 2nd, 2010

Ezzard goes after clampers

Ezzard goes after clampers

| 02/03/2010 | 120 Comments

(CNS): Questioning the legality of the employment of parking management firms by landlords and developers to restrict the parking time of visitors to their premises, Ezzard Miller has filed a motion in the Legislative Assembly. Asking government to investigate and clarify the situation, the independent MLA for North Side suggested that some of the parking regulations being imposed could be illegal. Miller said he was concerned that the companies were charging substantial amounts to drivers who were clamped at premises they were visiting legitimately because of time restrictions which are not necessarily lawful and causing serious hardship and frustration.

In his motion, which was place before the parliament on Monday 1 March, the independent representative pointed out that having sufficient parking spaces is often mandated as part of a businesses planning permission. Consequently, they might not have the legal right to impose fines or clamp drivers who are parking in the slots in order to visit the premises for legitimate reasons. Miller said that, if anything, the clampers were breaking the Traffic Law, which states that anyone who interferes with a vehicle or any of its controls and equipment without the owner’s permission, which the clamping certainly wasn’t, was guilty of an offence.

Miller told the House he was issuing the advice to victims of clampers parked in premises they were visiting legitimately to call the police and ask them to enforce the Traffic Law 2003 and fine the clamper $1000 or sent them to jail for six months.

He said the high fines being imposed were causing hardship and resentment in the community and he was concerned that if the issue was not addressed someone was going to get hurt through tempers fraying and frustrations running high. The veteran politician said he believed that the parking companies were taking more and more liberties with people on this subject because they were getting away with it and no one was challenging their rights to do this on the public.

Asking government to investigate the situation, Miller added that there was a need to clarify the legal position of clients and visitors to commercial establishments and the right to park as required by the Planning Law.

Responding to his motion, the premier said government was willing to consider the motion since the planning laws were currently under review at present as government examined the wider issue of a national development plan. He said that he would ask and the committee to add this question as the entire question of parking restrictions, in George Town in particular, needed to be addressed. McKeeva Bush said he agreed that there needed to be clarity regarding the law and what exactly the landlords could and could not do when it came to people parking on the premises under the planning law.

Last year, David Guilfoyle took an unorthodox approach to paying a clamping fine when he gave the parking company 7500 pennies and brought the question of parking fines into the fore. He also noted that the clamping fine was greater than the fine he would have had to pay for parking illegally on the street and, moreover, the police would not clamp his car.

See News 27 video of penny fine payment

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Cops make court appearance re gas station assault

Cops make court appearance re gas station assault

| 02/03/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The two police officers who have been suspended from duty since they were accused of being involved in an assault at the Red Bay Esso gas station last year appeared in court on Monday for a preliminary enquiry. The incident resulted in a man, who was said to have been carrying a machete, having a broken arm after the off-duty cops had reportedly arrested him. Officer Rabe Welcome is charged with wounding and with common assault.  His colleague Adrian Clarke is also charged with wounding. On the night of the incident, the 911 Emergency Centre received a call that three off-duty police officers had arrested a man armed with a machete at the gas station.

When on-duty officers turned up, they found the arrested man had a laceration to his face and a broken arm.  The courts will now have to decide if the two officers charged used excessive force.

Go to News 27 video

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Capt. Charles Leonard Kirkconnell, OBE, 1922-2010

Capt. Charles Leonard Kirkconnell, OBE, 1922-2010

| 02/03/2010 | 0 Comments

Charles Leonard Kirkconnell was born on 6th December, 1922, in his maternal grandmother’s house which was at the corner of South Church Street and Boilers Road, Grand Cayman. He was the second child of Capt. Charles Gerald Kirkconnell and Olivine Elizabeth nee Eden. Olivine was a descendant of William Eden, one of the original settlers of Grand Cayman – in the late 1700’s.

Charles had a rich heritage, but was not raised with the proverbial ‘silver spoon’.He was the product of his time when ‘survival’ was the name ofthe game and the values of hard work, honesty and integrity were instilled in him and his siblings by their parents who endured many difficulties in order to succeed.

Charles was born into a family of seafarers. Both his grandfathers were sea captains. His paternal great-grandfather, William Maitland Kirkconnell came to Grand Cayman in the early 1840’s. In Hirst’s Notes on the History of the Cayman Islands, he is listed as a juror in an 1849 obeah trial. William was an Ensign on a British Navy ship that was returning to England from Jamaica when it was shipwrecked on the south coast of Cuba. He was brought from there to Grand Cayman on a Caymanian schooner so that he could return to Scotland on one of the many vessels that would stop here for turtles and water for their return voyage to Europe. However, he did not return to Scotland – he settled here instead – until approximately 1867 when he went to live in Honduras. He became a ship owner and captained his own vessel.

William had a son, Walter Aaron, from whom all Caymanian Kirkconnells are descended. He was born on 30th June, 1854 on Cayman Brac. His mother was Sarah Ryan, nee Foster. Walter Aaron was a very ambitious and enterprising man with a lot of grit and determination. In 1894, he started selling basic necessities such as flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, margarine and kerosene oil from his kitchen. This was the first merchandising venture for the Kirkconnell family. Two years later, he completed the building of his first sailing vessel, the Eva Swift. In 1904, on his deathbed, he told his seven sons: Reginald – William – Ebert – Moses – Walter – Nathaniel and Charles Gerald (4 of whom were lost at sea), that if they wanted to be successful, they must stick together – and they heeded his advice. Each succeeding generation has seen the wisdom of that advice and although few are left in the Cayman Islands, there is a very strong bond between the family members and Charles was one of the anchors that helped keep them together.

Charles spent his early years in Tampa, Florida and went to school there. After the 1932 hurricane devastated Cayman Brac, Mr. Aston Rutty persuaded Charles’ father to return and help rebuild the Brac. The family returned to live in Cayman Brac in 1933, and Charles went to school on the Brac until 1939 when his father sent him to Munro College in Jamaica. When he arrived there, he found that he was strong in only two subjects, English and Math. He had only two years to catch up on the other subjects – but he was up to the task and in 1941, he earned his Cambridge School Certificate. His headmaster was very pleased with his results and wrote him a congratulatory letter, an excerpt which reads as follows:-

“Congratulations on passing your School Certificate, and on getting such a good one. You obtained credits in History, Geography, French and Mathematics, and you passed in English Language , English Literature and Religious Knowledge. In History you came equal first. You worked exceptionally well all the time you were with us, and we are all delighted over a success that was thoroughly deserved.”

Shortly after leaving school, Charles accepted a job with the Bank of Nova Scotia in Jamaica. He had no plans to go to sea, he wanted to work on land. However, before he could leave Cayman Brac to go to Jamaica, his father had an accident. His father’s ship, the Rubens, was in Belize loading mahogany logs for Pensacola, Florida when his father broke his leg. At his mother’s insistence, Charles left home and joined his father‘s ship in Belize. One of the other family vessels, the M/V Allocate, was on her way from Jamaica to Belize and she stopped at Cayman Brac to take Charles to his father. Several weeks later, the Rubens returned to Cayman Brac and Charles’ father was replaced by Charles’ Uncle Reggie, who asked Charles to stay on the vessel with him, which Charles willingly agreed to do.

Charles found that he enjoyed sailing – he was able to use the skills his father taught him when he was a young boy sailing with him during his summer holidays. He knew how to read a compass, steer and do other jobs on the vessel. He enjoyed it so much that after a few months at sea, he decided to make the sea his career. In the early 1940’s, Charles was sailing with his father on the Kirksons when they got caught in an extremely strong hurricane off Isle of Pines, Cuba. During the hurricane, his father was concerned that the vessel’s anchors were dragging and asked for someone to volunteer to go to the bow of the ship and check if the anchors were holding. No one volunteered so Charles said he would go. He checked the anchors and when he was returning, a large wave knocked him off his feet and just as he was about to be washed overboard, he managed to grab onto the ship’s rigging. Later that night the anchors slipped and the vessel ran aground – but all on board were safe. It was many days before they could get word to Havana – and on to Cayman Brac – that they were safe. The vessel ended up three (3) miles inland sitting high and dry on top of mangroves. A channel had to be dredged up to the vessel to free her. A task that took three months to complete.

On 12th December, 1945, Charles earned his Mate’s Licence and on 16th January, 1946, he joined the United States Merchant Marine as 3rd Officer on the SS Somme, a T2 Tanker. He received an honourable discharge on 20th August, 1947. The tanker was first in the Philippines and then in the Mediterranean and Suez. He often enjoyed telling us that he was in Manila when Gen. MacArthur gave the Philippines their independence on 4th July, 1946.

On 14th March 1947, Charles gained his Masters Certificate from the Marine Board of Jamaica, and this enabled him to play an even bigger role in building up the family’s shipping business. There were many sea captains of his generation and they all worked together for the common goal of increasing the number and tonnage of ships owned and operated by their family.

In 1961, Charles’ father died and it was time for the next generation to take the helm. Charles stopped going to sea and, with his cousin Barton, managed the ships from their office in Kingston, Jamaica. Charles was ideally suited to do that because he was able, at a moment’s notice, to take the helm of any of their ships when a captain fell ill or had an emergency.

The late 1960’s and early 1970’s were troubling times on the Kingston waterfront. There was a lot of unrest – and there was a great push to unionize the Kirk Line ships, but Charles flatly refused to allow it. He took on the trade unions with the same strength of character and determination that have served him well throughout his lifetime. I remember well, spending a lot of time on my knees praying that he would return home safely.

In 1970, one of the trade unions ran the captain and crew off the vessel Kirk B and took control of her. After a few days, she began to list. Charles, being a man of action, decided that he was going to retake control of the ship – he was not going to allow her to sink at the dock. He, with the help of the Commissioner of Police, the crew and others, devised a daring plan to retake the ship. Early one morning they retook the Kirk B without a shot being fired. With Charles at the helm, the Kirk B left the dock. I remember watching (through binoculars) from our home on the hill, the Kirk B limping very slowly towards Port Royal. The crisis was over and the shipping company never had any more trouble with the trade unions.

That incident caused Charles to seriously consider returning home to the Cayman Islands and, in December, 1971, Charles moved to Grand Cayman with his young family. He came here to retire and possibly “dabble in a bit of real estate”. But that wasnot to be. He joined his brother, Eldon, in various commercial ventures inGrand Cayman and he took over the operation of Kirk Plaza Supermarket at the end of 1972. At the age of 50 years he began a completely new career of supermarket management and over the past thirty-seven years, with Charles at the helm, their holdings substantially increased.

On 26th May, 1944, Charles was united in marriage to Amy Foster and from that union, three children were born. Yorke Slader (who pre-deceased him on 27th June, 1989), Michael Gerald and Elizabeth Carolyn.

In December, 1965, he married Adelina Gallegos who became critically ill and sadly passed away in just a matter of months after their marriage.

In 1967, Charles met Carole through a mutual friend and they were married on the 4th January, 1969. From that union, three children were born: Brigitte Carole, Charles George and Kristine Diana.

Now turning to the continuation of Charles’ life in Cayman. Charles continued his supermarket management and kept occupied with other business ventures but never considered himself to be a politician nor did he have any thought of entering politics. However, in 1975, Charles’ very close friend, Capt. Ashton Reid, MLA for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman was gravely ill and he told Charles that he would not be able to stand in the next General Election and he wanted Charles to offer himself as a candidate for the seat. Capt. Reid died shortly after that and Charles being a man to his word, stood as a candidate and won the By-Election which was held in early 1976. Later that year, he was re-elected in the general election and served three terms with distinction (1976 – 1988) as one of the two Elected Representatives for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. He was a member of Executive Council for two terms – eight years – and retired from office in 1988, but not from a continuous interest and support for what was best for the Cayman Islands. Charles was very pleased to serve on the Executive Council because he knew that was where he could be the most effective in helping the people of the Cayman Islands whom he always held in very high regard.

Charles served as the Executive Council Member responsible for Communication, Works & District Administration and that put him in an ideal position to help Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. He was especially interested in the welfare of the Sister Islands which were suffering economic hardship at that time. He recognized that if they were to get ahead, Cayman Brac needed to have the proper infrastructure. He was fortunate that his colleagues in the Legislative Assembly were also interested in helping the Sister Islands. As a result of this, the present dock, airport, hospital, across- the- bluff road, and the Aston Rutty Civic Centre all became a reality during his tenure in office.

Charles always said that he was fortunate that his colleagues shared his vision and voted the necessary funds to help the Sister Islands and the Cayman Islands in general. During his term of office, the country experienced a level of infrastructural development that continues to serve our country well today. Charles strongly believed that Government should be run as a business and he always applied hard-work, good business ethics and a measure of good common sense to any project that he dealt with on behalf of the Cayman Islands. He always considered that anything he did for the country, and whatever projects were completed, were all a genuine team effort and always gave credit where credit was due. The Master Ground Transportation Plan on record remains a cause that he championed without fear or favour.

At the end of Charles’ term in 1988, he did not stand for re-election. He felt that he had accomplished all that he set out to do and it was time for him to step aside. He took great satisfaction in knowing that he was able to help the people of the Cayman Islands and especially the people of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman – but he never spokemuch about his accomplishments. His many deeds for charities, churches and community projects went unheralded because he was a very private man.

From time to time, his children would hear of something that he had done in the past, and they would say – “Dad, I didn’t know you did that!” Sometimes he would elaborate and sometimes he would just smile and say, “Yes, I did that.”

In 1991, Charles was awarded the O.B.E. for public service an award that he valued and accepted with great humility.

Charles loved the Lord. He committed his life to Christ in the mid 1970’s in the Chapel Church of God on the waterfront. More recently, he sought an even deeper relationship with Christ and was baptized by immersion on the 6th, September, 2009, by Dr. Randall Von Kanel at Smith’s Barcadere. His spiritual life was very important to him and he often quoted these lines: “Only one life ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last”. He sincerely believed that.

For over thirty-five years, it was Charles’ custom to read his Bible, meditate and pray every day. However, ten years ago, after his lung cancer surgery (his chance of survival was 30%), he used to say that God had given him extra time for a purpose and he set about seeking to do God’s will – to fulfill whatever purpose God had for him. He began making his decisions with eternity in mind and sought an even deeper walk with his Lord and Saviour.

He no longer desired to involve himself in the daily controversies of life and often when his family would be discussing a hot button issue, he would listen for a while and then say – “I’ve heard enough about that, find something else to talk about”. This once fiery middle-aged politician who was not afraid to take on with great passion any issue that came his way, had set his eyes toward Heaven and actively sought peace with his fellowman. He would often quote the lines of the well known hymn – “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”.

It has been said that you are not truly prepared to live until you are prepared to die and Charles understood that. Often we make great preparations for how we will spend our retirement, which can be very fleeting, but give little thought as to how we will spend eternity.

When Charles learned that he had inoperable cancer of his esophagus and that his only option was chemotherapy, he said he was prepared for whatever God willed. He told me that God is Sovereign and, if He wanted him to live, he would be grateful – but if He was ready to call him home, he was ready to go.

During Charles’ last five days, he experienced a great deal of discomfort, caused by the effects of chemotherapy, but throughout his illness, he never had any pain. God had granted his wish. The morning of the day he died, Thursday, 18th February, his brain was still alert – and he was smiling. He knew he was coming home. Unfortunately, about two hours before his departure, he took a sudden turn for the worse. Charles returned home by air ambulance, and Drs. Vivek and Mohanty tended to him at home and settled him in his bed. At 7:45 p.m., he simply slipped away into a glorious eternity. His family is comforted by the fact that they were all able to see him one last time and that they had an opportunity to say their last good-byes.

Our family would like to express our heartfelt thanks and deep appreciation to Drs. Mohanty, Vivek and Ostroski for all their love, care and concern for Charles. Dr. Mohanty was always very kind to Charles and did everything he could to help him.

Dr. Vivek has been Charles’ family physician and dear friend for many years. I was always impressed with the excellent care he took of Charles. Although Charles was well cared for in hospital in Miami, he missed Dr. Vivek’s personal touch and we often wished wehad Dr. Vivek beside us to explain the many things that perplexed us.

Dr. Ostroski is a true friend to all Caymanians, and he was a tower of strength to us. We have him to thank for putting Charles return on fast-track and getting him home so quickly. On Wednesday, he gave the orders to arrange for an air ambulance to take Charles home the following day and the lady in the office told him it could not be done. Dr. Ostroski then told her that if she couldn’t arrange it, then he would. With that, she started making the necessary telephone calls and everything was arranged within two hours! Charles always looked forward to Dr. Ostroski’s visits and his face would light up when he entered his room. Charles would always reach out to hold his hand and say to him – “My brother”.

During Charles’ long life, he had to face the loss of many loved ones. The passing of his first son Yorke in 1989, which was mentioned earlier, was extremely difficult for him. He lost his second wife, Adelina; his son-in-law, Len Leggett in 2008; his brother-in-law, Clendon (who was more like a brother to him), passed away in 2004; his sister, Alex (Clendon’s wife), preceded him in death in 2007. Charles loved Alex dearly and it is fitting that he will be buried next to her in the Garden of Memories.

Left to mourn the passing of Charles Leonard Kirkconnell are: his wife of forty-one years, Carole, and their children, Brigitte, Charlie and Krissy. His children by his first marriage, Mike and Beth and their mother Amy; son-in-law Patrick Shaughness and daughter-in-law Stacey. Grand children Wayne and Tom Kirkconnell, Matthew Leggett, Charles Jackson and Leila Kirkconnell and Erin and Nathaniel Shaughness; his brother and sister-in-law, Eldon and Pat Kirkconnell; three nephews: Gerry Kirkconnell, Don and Gary Foster and one niece: Debbie Guyton.

It can be rightly said that God blessed Charles with a long, prosperous, successful and fruitful life and, of his success, he always said: “It all belongs to God”.

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Government guarantees more cash for cheap loans

Government guarantees more cash for cheap loans

| 02/03/2010 | 1 Comment

Caymnan Islands News, Grand Cayman business news, Cayman Islands Development Bank(CNS): Following the huge take up on the Cayman Islands Development Bank’s low cost loans to help struggling businesses through the recession, the government has sourced more cash to keep the programme going. First Caribbean Bank has stepped in to fund the programme with a loan of US$5 million to the CIDB at 3.2%, which will be guaranteed by the government. The premier and minister of finance brought the motion for approval of the guarantee to the Legislative Assembly on Monday to enable the Development Bank to meet loans which have already been approved and offer more new ones. (Left: CIDB chair Paul Byles)

The bank closed down the cheap loans, which were offered to business and home owners to help them through the recession and to stimulate the economy last August, after receiving over 273 requests for assistance, with more than CI$4 million being allocated to qualified individuals and businesses from June of 2009 when the stimulus loans were first offered.

The initiative, which included offering loans as low as 1%, ran for six weeks and Paul Byles, Chairman of the Development Bank Board, said at the time the bank would seek further funding to help with the current economic downturn.

McKeeva Bush told the house that $2 million worth of applications were waiting in the pipeline for money and the bank would, with the new loan guarantee, be able to fund those approved loans and offer new ones as well. He explained that the CIDB itself had only limited access to funds that it could lend, hence the need to seek outside funding for the scheme.

Bush said the government wished it could do more to help people but at least this money would enable the bank to save businesses and protect the homes of those who had been hit hard by the recession.

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Civilians appointed to anti-corruption commission

Civilians appointed to anti-corruption commission

| 02/03/2010 | 5 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, Sir Peter Allen, Interesting Times, Cayman Anti-Corruption Commission(CNS): Sir Peter Allen, known for his time in the Ugandan judiciary during and after Idi Amin’s time in power, has been appointed to the Cayman Islands Anti-corruption Commission, along with Leonard Ebanks. The two civilians join the commissioner of police, the complaints commissioner and the auditor general on the body which will administer the new law passed in January of this year. Although the introduction of the legislation has been widely welcomed, criticisms have been made regarding the fact that the police commissioner will chair the board.

Given the delicate nature regarding potential corruption and law enforcement, some have said it may have been wise to place a different person at the head of the commission while still havingpolice representation. An example of the potential future problem has been illustrated by expectations that one of the first things the Anti-corruption Commission is likely to review is the report of Operation Cealt regarding the information collected by the UK special police investigation Team (SPIT) that alleges police corruption.

The commission’s purpose is to consider and investigate any report of corruption, including any attempted offences or conspiracies to commit corruption. It will also analyse and disseminate any information about corruption or suspected corruption and assist overseas anti-corruption authorities with corruption investigations.

The commission also has the power, under the law and with the assistance of the Grand Court, to order a freeze on a person’s bank account or property for up to 21 days if there is reasonable cause to believe that the person is involved in corruption. Commission members can also request banks and other entities to release information needed in corruption investigations.

Sir Peter Allen, who has been a permanent resident of Cayman for the past 20 years, served for eight years in the British Royal Artillery before joining Uganda’s British Colonial Police, where he served for eight years as Assistant Superintendent. Following this, Sir Peter taught at the Uganda Law School, eventually serving as the school’s principal. In 1970 Sir Peter became the Uganda Judiciary’s Chief Magistrate and was later appointed as judge – serving at a challenging time of bloody revolt and governmental change in that country. In 1985, Sir Peter was appointed Chief Justice of Uganda, a post he held until he left the country a year later.

He was knighted in the New Year’s Honours of 1987 before he retired to Grand Cayman, where he has acted several times as a judge and chaired two commissions of inquiry. Sir Peter has also published several books about his experiences in Uganda, including Interesting Times.

Leonard Ebanks, who retired in 2004, had a distinguished banking career spanning 40 years. This included senior banking positions in Jamaica, St. Lucia and the Cayman Islands. He served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank (Cayman) Ltd, a position he held for over 23 years. He also holds the distinction of being the first Caymanian branch manager of a major international bank. Spanning four decades, Ebanks has served on numerous government boards, including as chairman of Cayman Airways Ltd and The National Housing Development Trust. In May 2001 he became one of three Constitutional Review Commissioners, marking the first time that Caymanians have been appointed to review their Constitution.

Ebanks currently is a trustee of the Public Service Pensions Board, serving as a member on the Human Resources and Investment committees, and chairman ofthe Audit Committee. Appointed as a Justice of the Peace in 1987, he sits regularly on the Juvenile Court Bench and has served in the Youth and Summary Court. He also served as president of the Justices of the Peace Association.

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Green Iguana days numbered

Green Iguana days numbered

| 02/03/2010 | 71 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news, Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly(CNS): After years of unintended protection enabling the Green Iguana to flourish, the law is about to be amended to enable the reptilian pest to be controlled. Although the endangered Blue Iguana, which is indigenous to Grand Cayman, and the Rock Iguana, endemic to the Sister Islands, will remain protected under the Animals Law, the green lizard, which is not native and multiplying in numbers on an almost daily basis, will no longer be protected once government brings an amendment to the law. The decision to change the legislation came as a result of a private member’s motion brought to the Legislative Assembly yesterday by the opposition.

The motion brought by Alden McLaughlin on Monday (1 March) and seconded by Anthony Eden seeks to remove the current protection of the Green Iguana to enable the species to be controlled as a result of the increasing proliferation of the reptile and the amount of damage it does to crops and gardens.

The current law protects all iguanas, as the offending lizard was not present on the islands in the 1970s when the Animal Law was first enacted. While the purpose of that law has been to protect Cayman’s extremely rare and placid indigenous iguanas, the aggressive green iguana was unintentionally caught up in the protective net.  

McLaughlin said that both the Blue Iguana (Cyclura lewisi) and the Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila Caymanensis) would remain protected, while his motion proposed to enable the Green Iguana to be controlled properly, offering some relief to gardeners, farmers and the islands’ wildlife in general.

The motion was supported on both sides of the House as it was agreed that the iguana is a pest which is currently out of control and certainly poses a threat to the local environment in many ways.

During the debate on the motion, McLaughlin noted why the issue had not been tackled beforehand as it seemed obvious to many people that the lizard needed to be culled. He pointed out that the removal of the protection was written in to the National Conservation Bill, which was derailed as a result of controversies surrounding other issues in that bill that have not yet been passed. McLaughlin said that, given the increasing problem with the green lizard, its population having increased significantly since Hurricane Ivan, it seemed sensible to change the existing Animals Law now as an interim measure before the conservation law is enacted.

The government recently stated that the conservation bill was returning to the discussion phase and therefore there is little hope that it will become law any time soon.

“While people obviously want to take measures to control these pests, they fall foul of the law if they do …The problem is obvious and the solution is quite clear,” McLaughlin said to the agreement of the House.

Mark Scotland, the minster with responsibility for the environment, said that he would consult with the relevant departments and seek to amend the necessary legislation as soon as possible. He noted that government had to ensure that if the creatures were to be culled that it would be done so humanely and a proper programme would need to be put in place. “It will be important to deal with the problem properly and we will need a collaborative approach,” Scotland said.

Leader of the Opposition Kurt Tibbetts also added to the debate and said while he was reluctant to use the expression it was probably time to “annihilate them”.

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Anglin appears in court with no legal defence

Anglin appears in court with no legal defence

| 02/03/2010 | 0 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, Cayman court news(CNS): Update 6:30 am – The man who has been charged with the murder of four-year-old Jeremiah Barnes appeared in Summary Court on Monday lunchtime without an attorney. Devon Anglin (24) from West Bay (left) was brought to the courts from Northward Prison, where he is currently on remand, under heavily armed guard. Armed police officers patrolled the George Town Courthouse as members of Jeremiah’s family gathered in the area, including the child’s father. Inside the court Anglin, who is currently without legal representation, made an application for legal aid. (Photo courtesy of News 27)

Facing a murder charge, Anglin is entitled to full legal representation and magistrate Margaret Ramsey-Hale granted the legal aid certificate to facilitate the defendant’s ability to secure a lawyer. In the meantime, Anglin was remanded in custody until his next appearance, which is expected to be early next week.

The court heard broad details of the crown’s case against Anglin, including CCTV, the getaway car and gunshot residue. The court was also informed of a reported incident between Anglin and Jeremiah’s father a few weeks ago when Anglin reportedly threatened to kill Andy Barnes.

See News 27 report

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Police given power to tag bailed suspects

Police given power to tag bailed suspects

| 02/03/2010 | 17 Comments

(CNS): The country’s legislators have passed a law to enable police officers to fit suspects they release on bail under a curfew with an electronic tagging device without going to the courts for permission. Under the existing legislation officers from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service can release suspects on police bail and impose a curfew if they feel the suspect is likely to repeat offend. The change in the law will allow the RCIPS to tag those suspects when released to prevent them from breaking curfews and re-offending while police continue their investigations to bring charges.

The law was brought to the LA on Monday (1 March) by Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks, who explained that it was simply an amendment but would greatly assist the police in being able to keep an eye on known offenders in the community and allow certain categories of suspects to be kept out of custody while enquiries continue.

Ebanks explained that the tagging devices use GPS and enable police to set an electronic fence for a suspect, usually within the confines of their homes. The electronic devices are linked to the 911 Emergency Communication Centre, which would be alerted the second a tagged suspect stepped outside the electronic boundary.

He stressed that the new law does not give the police any new or extra powers to bail those they have arrested but merely gives them a more secure way of bailing certain types of offenders. Electronic tagging has already been used by the courts and this would simply extend the authority to use the devices to police officers. He confirmed that the tag could be used on individuals who had not been charged with any crimes but were under investigation.

Extending the use of the device would be welcomed by the police, the deputy governor said. He explained that often the type of offenders likely to be bailed on curfew were also the offenders likely to go and commit the same offence they were just bailed for again, almost as soon as they leave the station.

"The bill does not extend the current authority of the police to impose a curfew on a person granted bail," Ebanks explained. "It should improve the effectiveness of the exercise of that authority by providing actual evidence of violations of a curfew."

With overcrowding at the George Town central lock up and other police stations being a serious problem, Ebanks added that the amendment to the law would allow the police to bail suspects and offenders more securely while easing the pressure on the cells and still allow them to conduct their investigations and prevent the suspects from committing further crimes.

The legislation was supported by both sides of the House.

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Secret witness bill now law

Secret witness bill now law

| 02/03/2010 | 16 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news, Cayman Legislative Assembly(CNS): The government has now passed the Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Bill 2010, which will enable people to give evidence anonymously to the police during investigations and  to the court during trial proceedings. The bill was presented to the Legislative Assembly on Monday afternoon by Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, who admitted that, as a result of the urgency to pass the new bill, the criminal the defence community had not been consulted. However, Bulgin said the new law protected the rights of the accused as well as the anonymity of witnesses with a genuine fear who would not come forward without that protection.

The attorney general said the new legislation demonstrated that, as in the past, when necessary the members of the Legislative Assembly were prepared to do what it takes to pass laws that would help the police to combat the rising levels of crime in the country. However, Bulgin warned that the legislation was no silver bullet and that Cayman “could not legislate itself out of the current scourge” of rising crime. “What we need is people power and for people to come forward with what they know about the crimes that are being committed,’ Bulgin added. “We have to trust someone with what we know.”

He noted that the new legislation was aimed at protecting those that did have such information when it came to violent crimes involving weapons and when there was legitimate fear on their part. He noted, however, that in order for this legislation to work people had to have absolute faith in the anonymity, and he said those who administer this law had to maintain its security. “It would take only one breach for the whole thing to unravel,” the attorney general warned. “When people come forward the state must uphold its side of the bargain.”

The AG pointed out that the anonymity had to be only in cases of genuine fear and that there would be safeguards in the law to ensure the accuracy and credibility of witness testimony and that the rights of the accused to confront their accuser would not be undermined. Bulgin stated that the fundamental right to a fair trail had been protected under the new legislation.

The country’s top prosecutor said there was a genuine need for the legislation as there had been a number of cases in recent Cayman history where witnesses had “been subtly and disturbingly intimidated” and threatened. This law would facilitate the ability of witnesses to bring evidence without the fear of harm. The AG also pointed out to the Legislative Assembly that the law was not incompatible with the European Union Convention on Human Rights.

The new law provides for witnesses’ names and other identifying details to be withheld or removed from materials disclosed to any party in criminal proceedings. It allows a witness to use a pseudonym and prevents questions of any specified description that might lead to the identification of the witness. Witnesses can also be screened or their voices subjected to modulation.

The law states that consideration must be given to the general right of a defendant in criminal proceedings to know the identity of a witness, as well as the credibility of the witness. It asks the court to consider if the evidence is the sole or decisive evidence implicating the defendant and if the evidence can be properly tested, whether on grounds of credibility or otherwise, without his identity being disclosed, and whether there is any reason to believe that the witness has a tendency or motive to be dishonest in the case. The law also indicates that the judge should warn the jury appropriately to ensure witness anonymity does not prejudice the defendant.

The law will apply to murder, manslaughter, rape and robbery, as well as an attempt to commit any of those crimes where any weapon is involved and not just a firearm.

The AG stated that the government had received assistance from the Ministry of Justice in the UK, where the legislation is already in place but he regretted the fact that the legislation had not had the usual 21 days public consultation period. He said he had not had time to contact the criminal defence bar for their opinions on the legislation but hoped it had been drafted in a clear and concise form covering the key areas and protecting the fundamental right to a fair trial.

The bill received backing from both sides of the Legislative Assembly, though Alden McLaughlin pointed out that it was extraordinary legislation which reflected the circumstances in which Cayman now found itself.

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Mac cuts MLAs’ pay by 20%

Mac cuts MLAs’ pay by 20%

| 02/03/2010 | 217 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman headline news(CNS): In a surpriseannouncement in the LA this afternoon, the premier announced a cut in the salaries of all MLAs. Cutting his own pay by 30%, McKeeva Bush said he was reducing all the other legislators’ salaries by 20%. The premier also told his parliamentary colleagues that they would now have to pay a 50% contribution to their health insurance. Bush said members of the House had to set an example given the dire circumstances surrounding government finances. He added that theirs would be the first pay cuts before government began discussions on an assessment of where government could cut other public sector workers’ remuneration in order to address the newly predicted $56 million deficit.

The premier said that with the latest forecast indicating that operating revenues will under-perform their budgeted levels by CI$72 million, government had to cut operating expenses further.

“Operating Expenditures are forecast to be CI$516 million, some CI$9 million less than the budgeted level of CI$525 million," said Bush. “I said last Thursday that government was not content with an under-spend of CI$9 million and would review expenditures again with a view to reducing them even further.”

He added that government has been considering the expenditure review process and members of the United Democratic Party agreed that elected members of the Legislative Assembly must set an example. “We agreed that effective March 2010, the premier would have his salary reduced by 30% and all other elected members of the House would have their salaries reduced by 20%,” Bush added.

He said constituency allowances would not be cut but government would require elected members to pay 50% of their health insurance premiums.

He said this was the start of wider salary and benefit cuts for public sector workers in government statutory authorities and government companies

Although nothing was set in stone, the premier said government would be discussing cuts to public servants’ salaries, starting with those earning $3,000 to $4,499 per month who would face a 5% pay cut, earners in the bracket $4,500 to $9,999 a 10% cut, while top earners could face a salary reduction of 15%. Bush also said the government was considering asking civil servants to make a 50% contribution to their health care coverage and a possible civil service pension holiday.

“I intend to have a meeting with chief officers and the Civil Service Management Council to examine different remuneration reduction scenarios that could be applied to the civil service and the wider public service, “ he stated. “The government will decide, once the analysis is completed … the remuneration-reduction strategy for the … public service.”

He said government would bring the relevant legislation at the next sitting later this month and that he was determined to reduce public sector costs.Given an improvement in economic fortunes, he said, any salary changes that happened would be reversed, but in the short term salaries and benefits would be cut throughout the public sector.

Following the announcement, Ezzard Miller questioned whether, now that MLAs were paying half their own health care costs, they could choose a private scheme instead of CINICO and all its limitations, and was told probably not.

Alden McLaughlin also queried whether the extra benefits that had been given to the premier’s office and that of the deputy premier with regards to the chef, housekeeper, driver and security positions had also been cut. The questioning resulted in an extremely heated exchange between the government and oppositionbenches in which Bush accused the PPM of creating the trappings of the premier’s office, which he had not voted for, and also suggested they had all been given security systems in their homes and issued with guns — a point the opposition noted was not true.

In the CNS online poll "Should MLAs take a pay cut?" 853 people voted and 64% said they should take a 20% paycut while 22% said they should take a 10% cut.

Check the CNS online poll: Should MLAs take a pay cut?

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