Archive for April 11th, 2010

Cuts could improve efficiency says governor

| 11/04/2010 | 23 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline News(CNS): The governor has said the decision by Cabinet to allow the civil service management to make the cost cutting decisions is not a cop out and that the administrative arm of government should look at the 2010/11 budget target as an opportunity to improve efficiency. Duncan Taylor said the scale of the cuts that have been made to personnel should mean there will be no enforced redundancies but that jobs will be lost through natural wastage.  He confirmed it was a Cabinet decision to cut the budget and set a specific target for government to spend which has been left to the deputy governor and the civil service senior management to decide how best to achieve the cost cuts and make the service more efficient.

“Cabinet has made the decision to set the targets and now the civil service is looking at how to achieve those cuts,” the governor said last week. “These are challenging times and no one likes pay cuts but this is also an opportunity to improve efficiency. I don’t want to second guess what the deputy governor and management believe is the best way and I don’t agree with people who say its a cop out," Taylor said.
The governor said the target presents the service with a challenge to find more efficiency in the way public services are delivered. He said it did not necessarily mean there would be pay cuts across the board or any redundancies. The governor said he expected the cuts would come through a package of different measures and noted the legal issues surrounding salaries cuts to those on contract.
But Taylor said he believed there were ways to make the cost reductions and this was a chance to increase productivity and think of new ways as to how public servants could continue to keep
delivering services under the circumstances.
Since the announcement was made that the civil service had been set a target for spending on both its own personnel costs and for the operational budget to deliver services, a number of people have pointed out that these are policy decision that should be made by the elected arm of government.
The president of the Cayman Islands Civil Service Association (CICSA), James Watler, recently told CNS that the public would now have to decide what services they could do without, and explained that while it may be possible to trim what people have described as ‘fat’ in some areas of government, many departments are already understaffed.  While government is facing the need to cut expenditure, Watler pointed out that it was still asking for its programmes and policies to be carried out. “It is not possible to have one’s cake and eat it,” Watler said, explaining that it is the duty of the public sector is to deliver the services and programmes the government of the day wishes to implement.
In a statement to all civil servants and the wider public last Thursday, CICSA management committee pointed out that civil servants had been handed the responsibility of deciding where expenditure reductions should be made but that it was the remit of the elected arm of government to make decisions about spending based on policy. The management council said members faced thedilemma of being asked to make cuts on one hand and a demand for more public services on the other.
The government’s 2010/11 budget is expected to be presented to the Legislative Assembly on 30 April, and according to a memo from the deputy governor’s office on 30 March, with the limits on what government can spend next year, operating expenses will total around $487 million. However, government will also have to make more than $20 million in payments on its borrowing.
Adding the human resource targeted cost of $219m to the target for supplies and consumables, transfer payments to statutory authorities and NGOs and other expenses of just over $268 imllion, plus loans payments of around $20 million, government will now need to earn at least $507 million in revenue to balance 2010-11 budget.
At this stage there are no indications what, if any, fees will be increased in the next budget, but with government revenue still falling, it is very unlikely that any of the fee increases introducing in 2009/10 will be reduced.

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Department of Environment continues lionfish battle

| 11/04/2010 | 14 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Science and Nature News, Lionfish in the Cayman Islands(CNS): The Department of Environment says there are now over 300 divers and snorkelers trained on the course developed by the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) and certified by the Marine Conservation Board to catch and remove lionfish from Cayman waters, and between them they have removed over a 1,000 fish. The battle to control these invasive and aggressive fish is a tough one but the DoE has said that, having begun to address the fish’s numbers early in Cayman waters, despite their widespread invasion of the wider Caribbean region, it is still possible to control the numbers in local waters. (Photo by Alex Henderson)

Lionfish were first seen in Florida in 1992 where people believe the fish, which is native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, may have escaped from an aquarium during Hurricane Andrew. Now they have spread throughout the east coast of the US and the Caribbean, from Rhode Island to Venezuela, with their range expanding each year. In the Cayman Islands, the first lionfish was seen in 2008.
Lionfish mature in less than one year, spawn every 30 days and have no natural predators in the Caribbean, so their populations quickly get out of control. They are ravenous predators of small fish and invertebrates and with their exploding numbers can wipe out native species. This makes them a critical threat to reef ecosystems and to diving, fishing, and tourism industries.
As a result of the invasion the DoE, local divers and operators have partnered with REEF and other researchers in many Caribbean countries to document and control the spread of lionfish. In the Cayman Islands specifically divers have been licensed to catch lionfish and remove them from our waters. Given the rapid spread of lionfish through the Caribbean, the goal is not to eradicate them, as experts say it would be impossible, but to reduce their population.
In the summer of 2009, Alex Andryszak, a senior at Erskine College, USA, also assisted the DoE with the new lionfish research programme. He and DoE officers caught and collected lionfish and logged all captures into a database. Ongoing research efforts include mapping distribution of captures, taking DNA samples, measuring and dissecting fish to determine maturity, sex, and stomach contents, and monitoring ocean currents to predict patterns in the spread of juvenile fish.
“Every fish caught represents millions of eggs not released and reef fish not eaten,” the DoE said in its recent Marine Research Newsletter. “We are fortunate that the Cayman Islands responded to the invasion early and have seen an incredible response from dive operators and the public. This gives us a chance to control lionfish in our waters and see our native fish and invertebrate populations survive.”
The DoE said that if anyone sees a lionfish they should not attempt to catch it without a license but to notify your dive operator or call DoE. Anyone who wishes to be certified to remove the fish can be certified. The course takes one evening and all scuba divers may also participate by taking part in a Dive Tech lionfish hunt and spotting lionfish for licensed cullers to catch. The DoE has established a lionfish Facebook group (DOE Lionfish Culling Group), where people can post sightings for licensed lionfish cullers to catch, share photos and videos and discuss lionfish capture gear and techniques.
To report sightings or arrange training Grand Cayman: 949-8469 or 916-4271. Cayman Brac and Little Cayman: 926-2342 or 916-7021. Email:

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SPIT cops back with full time RCIPS contracts

| 11/04/2010 | 60 Comments

(CNS): Police have confirmed that a number of former UK police officers who have worked in Cayman before “in specialist roles” have been employed by the RCIPS but have not confirmed if Richard Oliver is the new head of the police anti-corruption unit. Oliver worked with the special police investigation team (SPIT) on the discredited Operation Tempura and the unresolved Operation Cealt and was involved with the prosecution of Deputy Commissioner Rudy Dixon. He reportedly also played a role in the case against Lyndon Martin. Both Dixon and Martin were found not guilty in trials last year. Dennis Walkington, another member of SPIT, is also understood to have been offered a permanent position within the RCIPS.

The two retired UK officers are believed to have worked with controversial senior investigating officer Martin Bridger (above) when he was still in Cayman and were recruited to SPIT via BGP Global services, a firm which, according to a special report by the auditor general’s office, had been recommended by Bridger and which received more than $1/2 million from the Cayman government.
Following reports on News 27 on Friday night, CNS was able to confirm through other sources that Oliver and Walkington have been offered positions with the RCIPS but the police refused to name any of the newly recruited officers from the UK who have been offered contracts.  
“The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has recently undertaken an overseas recruitment campaign to secure the services of specialist officers for specific departments within the force. A number of people from Canada, Jamaica, Barbados and the UK were interviewed and some have been offered contracts,” an RCIPS spokesperson said.
However, the RCIPS did indicate that an unspecified number of the recruits had worked in Cayman before. Falling short of admitting they were part of SPIT, the spokesperson added,  “Some of the officers appointed have previously worked with the RCIPS in specialist roles. It would not be force policy to discuss contract details of specific employees or to confirm if named individuals have been offered employment by the RCIPS.” 
Walkington and Oliver, who worked for BGP, were retained by the RCIPS as consultants following Bridger’s departure and continued to work on the prosecution cases against Martin and Dixon.
Neither of the men were part of the original Bridger team that came from Scotland Yard in September 2007, triggering Operation Tempura and eventually costing the Cayman tax payer well over $6 million, but came to Cayman after September 2008. The two BGP consultants, along with several other former and retired UK cops, worked with SPIT on the information they had allegedly collected about corruption, which was later renamed by the acting commissioner at the time, Jim Smith, as Operation Cealt.
BGP Consultancy, a specialist private firm made up of ex-police officers from Scotland Yard, was, according to the auditor general’s report, paid $585,700 for what were described as “debrief services”.
As a result of their direct connection to the tainted Operation Tempura investigation and the ongoing matter of Operation Cealt, CNS understands that some officers within the RCIPS have some genuine concerns about the decision to employ these two men.
Public sentiment regarding the cost, the nature of the investigation, the behaviour of some of the officers as revealed in the tabloid press in the UK, and the failure of the investigations to reveal any corruption, despite more than two years work, could mean this decision may turn out to be something of a PR error for the RCIPS at a time when it is in desperate need of the community’s support.  

Operation Tempura began in the Cayman Islands when the former governor, Stuart Jack, announced the presence of Scotland Yard in Cayman in March 2008. The then police commissioner Stuart Kernohan, the deputy commissioner Rudolph Dixon and a chief superintendent John Jones were suspended from their jobs and places on required leave. 

The investigation began as a result of suspicions by employees of Cayman Net News that their boss, Desmond Seales, was in a corrupt relationship with Deputy RCIPS Commissioner Anthony Ennis. SPIT said Ennis was exonerated early in their investigation but the UK cops continued to investigate what they said were both unrelated and related matters of potential corruption. The investigations resulted in the unlawful arrest of a local judge, the arrest of former police inspector Burman Scott, the sacking of Kernohan and failed prosecutions against Dixon and Lyndon Martin, a former Net News employee.

Jones was given his job back last year and cleared of suspicion but despite the not guilty verdict at his trial last year, Dixon remains on required leave on full pay. Both Kernohan and Scott  have filed suits against the RCIPS and the SPIT officers claiming significant damages, which have yet to be settled.

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Richard Dawkins: I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI

| 11/04/2010 | 0 Comments

(Times Online): Richard Dawkinds, the atheist campaigner, is planning a legal ambush to have the Pope arrested during his state visit to Britain “for crimes against humanity”. Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author, have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church. The pair believe they can exploit the same legal principle used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in 1998.

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