Archive for June 23rd, 2010

Tower to measure local consumer habits

| 23/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): As a result of growing demand for detailed market information in the current competitive economic environment a local publishing firm says it will be conducting new research this year. Tower Marketing is currently developing the sixth edition of its Omnibus survey, the largest of its kind in Cayman which started in 2006. As a direct result of requests from clients and customers wanting specific information to help with sometimes difficult marketing and business decisions, organisers said it is now offering local business the opportunity to invest in a customised question to add to the thirty core questions provided by Tower.

Having shelved what had been a biannual survey last year as a result on the down turn in the economy Managing Director of Tower Marketing, Lynne Byles said she recently saw a surge of enquiries about market information and realised more than ever businesses need to understand local consumer behaviour.
“We are currently conducting a number of customized market research projects for large and small businesses,” Byles said. “We have never seen such a high demand for these types of services.  It seems that businesses are being faced with some tough decisions and realize the importance of having the right information.  With this in mind, we realized that the unique Omnibus survey could be a huge help.” 
 As with previous Tower Omnibus surveys, this 6th edition will include a set of 30 core demographic and media questions, (such as, age, gender, size of household, newspaper read, education level among others) combined with specific questions purchased by Omnibus customers. The core demographic questions will provide a framework to help clients understand the answers to their individual questions.
 “The beauty of an Omnibus survey is that clients can share the costs of the market research, because it includes questions for more than one client”, explains Richard Smith, Sales and Marketing Manager at Tower. ”This means that clients can get answers to their questions on a confidential basis and gain access to high quality research, without incurring the full costs of setting up an entire survey on their own.” 
Organisations interested in learning more about the Tower Omnibus survey or in purchasing questions should contact Richard Smith at 623 6710 or email richard@tower.com.ky.  More detailed information can also be found at www.marketresearch.ky
 

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Mac blames perks on protocol

| 23/06/2010 | 119 Comments

(CNS): The personal benefits which the premier has received since taking up the new office come with the job, McKeeva Bush said during Tuesday’s Finance Committee hearing. Hitting out at the media, the Freedom of Information Law and the community over the criticisms about his bills being paid by the public purse, Bush said it was all down to the new Constitution. The issue came up during the finance deliberations as a result of questions asked by back bench MLA Ellio Solomon about the governor’s perks. Bush said that he had never voted for the Constitution and the perks were not of his making. He also told the committee that he had not taken all of the benefits that he had been offered.

When Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks came before the committee to answer questions regarding the civil service, Solomon requested a break down of the bills and staff that were financed by the public purse for Government House and the governor. Solomon said it was in the interest of transparency so the people of the Cayman Islands could make a comparison with the benefits given to the UK’s representative with those given to the premier, which seemed to be causing a fuss.
During the discussion Bush noted that he had not asked for any of the benefits that he now received and that it was established by the Protocol Office. He reminded everyone that he had not voted for the Constitution, which had created the office of premier, and therefore it was not him that had created these new benefits. The premier also said he hadn’t taken all of the perks which the office said he should. He had not taken a cook because when he had people to dinner his wife and his son usually cooked, he said, adding that he did not hold cocktail parties.
Bush suggested that the public criticism was coming from certain people who believed that he, in particular, didn’t deserve the benefits or the office.   “It’s only because it’s McKeeva Bush,” he said. “If I had come from George Town it would be a different thing but it’s because of who I am and where I come from,” the premier said of the backlash over the revelations about the benefits.
A statement was released by the premier’s press office on Tuesday which said the list of benefits and privileges given to the premier was drawn up by the Cayman Islands Government’s Protocol Office after researching the perks given to other country leaders. The office had rejected some of what they described as protocol services as they were not feasible, including the idea of an official residence for the premier.
“A list of protocol services for the Office of Premier was put forward to Cabinet after the post of Premier and Deputy Premier became constitutional positions,” the statement read. “Much has been made about the premier having a cook. The Premier was offered a housekeeper and a cook. However, the Premier did not accept a personal cook but did take a housekeeper.”
Despite rumours to the contrary and surveys by the Planning Department, the premier says he rejected having a security wall built around his property, although according to the statement from the press secretary this is seen as acceptable for the residence of a territory’s highest ranking political leader.
The benefits attached to the office of the premier regardless of the individual that occupies the office are said to be as follows:
An official vehicle and driver; 24 hour security at residence; paid utilities; a housekeeper; and residential upgrades to the house and/or property as required for security purposes and public access.
The government has also paid for security systems in the homes of former ministers, and while the premier already had a security system, the police made recommendations for certain upgrades, which were paid for by the government. Bush also has an office in his home in which he conducts official business, the press statement said, and he also hosts community groups at his house which he pays for himself.
According to the breakdown given by Ebanks, the governor has one social secretary, two housekeepers, a chef and a house-manager and has his utilities paid at both his office in George Town as well as Government House, which is an official residence.
“On 20 May 2009 the people of the Cayman Islands went to the polls and decided to advance the Cayman Islands Constitution. In so doing, they also voted to elevate the office of Leader of Government Business to that of Premier. With that new office came more responsibility and visibility,” the press statement said in connection with the perks now given to the premier.
Speaking to CNS on Monday, Charles Clifford, the former minister of tourism and PPM representative for Bodden Town who lost his seat in the last election but had formed part of the government’s constitutional review team, said there was nothing in that document saying bills at a premier’s private residence  should be paid for from the public purse. “There is nothing in the Constitution that says a premier must have his utilities paid at his own home or benefits given to him in connection with a private residence,” Clifford said, adding that it was an insult to the wider civil service who were being told that their salaries needed to be cut while he awarded himself extra benefits.
In a recent FOI request by a member of the public it was revealed that utility and other household bills, such as Christmas lights, were being paid for at the Bush family home in West Bay, even though the property is not an official residence of the premier.
Bush said that it was Freedom of Information that was causing the trouble and said it had gone too far for this “little two by four country”. When Jennifer Dilbert, the Information Commissioner, finally came before the committee he told her the law was costing the country money to give people information so they could be scandalous and vile. He said he wanted to look at that law so that people could get information without being personal or threatening people’s lives.

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Government rejects motion over MLA pay cut

| 23/06/2010 | 45 Comments

(CNS): Members of the government benches have rejected an opposition motion to take a bigger pay cut in MLA salaries. Following the premier’s retreat on a proposed 20% cut for members and 30% cut for himself to one in line with the civil service cuts, the opposition PPM announced recently that it would be moving a motion for a Finance Committee stage amendment for all members to take the 20 percent. Kurt Tibbetts read the motion, which he said was a party position, on Tuesday afternoon. The premier and other UDP members accused the opposition leader of political opportunism and suggested it was not a genuine gesture. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

Tibbetts said the motion spoke for itself and asked all members of the House to take the original cut proposed by the premier in March rather than the 3.2 percent for MLAs and 10 percent for the premier and Leader of the Opposition’s salary, which had been more recently decided. The opposition leader had pointed out that at the time of the announcement Bush had said all of the government MLAs had agreed, so he hoped that they could agree tothe more substantial cut again.
 
However, the premier said because the wider civil service had rejected the cuts he had originally posed for their salaries, the MLAs could no longer be expected to take such major cuts in isolation. Bush told the Finance Committee members that the 20% reduction was meant to offer a lead to the cuts he was seeking in civil servants’ salaries, starting at 5% for those earning over $3,000 per calendar month and rising to at least 15% cuts for senior officers.  
 
Following the civil service rejection of pay and benefit cuts, however, Bush said the minsters could no longer be expect to take such major salary reductions as it would mean they were earning less than their senior ministerial staff. “We couldn’t expect ministers in government would take a 20% cut when their CEOs and middle managers were earning more,” Bush said.
Government backbencher Cline Glidden said everyone recognised the move by the leader of the opposition for what it was but if it was a genuine gesture why didn’t the opposition take the reduction on their own salaries.
 
The premier said the move was a political ploy and admitted it was a good one as it would get the attention of the press, the blogs and the radio shows, and said the opposition was going to have a good time with it. But Bush maintained that the people knew what he was trying to do. “No matter how you spin this, people are not stupid; they know it’s a ploy … You don’t want this any more than a crown of thorns,” Bush told Tibbetts.
 
The leader of the opposition said the motion was a position taken by the party but it was not meant to be a unilateral position. He reiterated the point that everyone on the government bench in March had agreed and the opposition had accepted it as a forgone conclusion, something which the members needed to do in order to make a sacrifice as the premier had asked.
 
Bush said cutting MLA salaries by more than 3.2% was no longer required to balance the budget so there was no point and he was not going to cut his pay by 30% as he paid three mortgages of constituents as well as his own from his salary, and while everyone criticised him for the benefits he now got as a premier, that was not his salary, most of which he gave to other people. “I know all members here are bombarded with requests from constituents and I pay out half my salary,” he added.
 
The motion to increase the members’ salary cut was denied, leaving members pay reduction in line with that given to civil servants of 3.2 percent, while the premier and leader of the opposition’s pay was cut by 10 percent. MLA pensions and health benefits were also left untouched.
 
In the CNS online poll "Should MLAs take a pay cut?" only 3% of the voters believed the legislators should not take a pay cut, while more than 86% wanted to see a cut of at least 10% in all members salaries.

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Dudus plans not to fight extradition

| 23/06/2010 | 9 Comments

(Jamaica Observer): Following the arrest of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke in Kingston yesterday, his extradition hearing has been set for tomorrow by Director of Public Prosecutions, Paula Llewellyn according to an Observer source. The hearing is set to be held within the secure confines of the Jamaica Defense Force headquarters in order to avoid action by Coke’s sympathisers. Coke has reportedly expressed his intention to waive his right to an extradition hearing and face his accusers in the United States without delay. Coke is accused of drugs and gun running by the US authorities and if found guilty he will be sentenced to life in prison and have his assets seized.

 

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RCIPS gets involved with a younger generation

| 23/06/2010 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service spent a few fun-filled hours with the Kindergarten 2 class of the Achievement Centre on the 11 June. This included seeing the new police helicopter and getting informed on the Traffic Department and K-9 Unit, as well as Air Operations coordinated by the RCIPS Neighbourhood Policing Department. Superintendent Adrian Seales said the cops enjoyed hosting the kids and could have laid some groundwork for the future. “We were delighted to play host to the children. They all seemed to have a great time meeting the police dogs and handler, seeing our mobile unit, a police motorcycle and, of course, the new police helicopter.”

 He added enthusiastically, “You never know, we may have a few potential recruits in the class and we look forward to receiving their applications in another 15 years or so!”

The staff of the Achievement Centre got in contact with the RCIPS about the visit and they were more than happy to assist and get involved with the children.
“The experience offered to the young students has made an indelible impact on their young minds.” said Mrs Wedderburn of the Achievement Centre.
The RCIPS enjoyed the company of the kids and hope to continue working as closely as possible with young people throughout the Cayman Islands. A police spokesperson said they would be delighted to host future visits to allow our young people to learn more about the RCIPS.

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US pirate hunters target movies

| 23/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(BBC): An organisation set up in the US to track down and punish illegal file-sharers is coming under increasing scrutiny from civil liberty groups. The US Copyright Group (USCG) has been working on behalf of a range of movie makers, most notably those behind box office hit The Hurt Locker. It has pledged to target 150,000 illegal downloaders in coming months. But civil rights groups have questioned its motives. On its website USCG offers to help film industry leaders, producers and copyright owners to recover losses due to illegal downloading. It promises to assist with halting copyright infringement which is a huge problem for the movie industry.

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Cops charge teen pizza robbers

| 23/06/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The police have now confirmed that the four teenagers arrested in connection with the Dominoes Pizza robbery have been charged. Three teenage girls and one boy all aged 17 have been charged with robbery and are expected to appear in court this afternoon (Wednesday 23 June). The incident occurred at around lunch time at the Savannah branch on Thursday 3 June when the three girls reportedly entered the pizza parlour armed with machetes and threatened staff. The young girls fled the store into a waiting car with two bottles of soda and an undisclosed amount of cash.Police said the four teens were apprehended after operations in the George Town and Prospect areas on Sunday 20 and Monday 21 June.

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Cops renew appeal for Anglin

| 23/06/2010 | 11 Comments

(CNS): The man police wish to question over a violent attack on a young woman in West Bay last week is still at large. RCIPS detectives renewed their appeal for information today (Wednesday 23 June) regarding the whereabouts of 30 year old Chad Anglin (left). Police said that they are actively pursuing Anglin and have made contact with friends and family during the course of their enquiries. The senior detective on the case also issued a warning that anyone harbouring the suspect could also find themselves in trouble.

What police have described as a vicious assault took place in the early hours of Thursday, 17 June 2010 in Garvin Road, West Bay. The woman sustained injuries to her face and a cut throat during the attack which was interrupted by police patrolling in the area who were then able to administer first aid to the victim but were unable to pursue the attacker.
Detective Chief Inspector Peter Kennett said this was a very active enquiry. “We have searched a number of houses, executed a series of warrants and we are interviewing family and friends of Anglin to try and establish his whereabouts,” he added. ““There have been a number of unconfirmed sightings of him reported to police since the photograph was issued. So far we have made no arrests but I would remind anyone who is assisting him in his attempts to evade the police that they too may end up being arrested and charged.”
Anyone with any information about this crime or the whereabouts of Anglin should inform the police immediately. Calls can also be made to Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS).

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Sailing Club gets ready for ‘Another Summer’

| 23/06/2010 | 0 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island sports news, Cayman Sailing Club(CNS): Once again the Cayman Islands Sailing Club (CISC) is offering its popular ‘Another Summer’ series of summer sailing camps. The ‘Another Summer’ sailing camps are designed to give youngsters a chance to really learn how to sailing and windsurf and follows on from the recent successful open day which gave participants a flavour of what sailing is all about. The camps will start at the end of June 2010 and run throughout July and August. Each camp is run for two weeks, Monday to Friday 9am-4pm, and is open to children and teenagers between the ages of five and eighteen. Campers are grouped into ability levels and learn sailing and windsurfing skills. There will also be sailing trips to various locations around North Sound.

CISC coach, Raph Harvey, will run the camp along with a staff of five certified sailing coaches and assistant coaches.

Healthy lunches will be available from the Brick House.

Camp dates are:

Camp #1 June 28 – July 9
Camp #2 July 12 – July 23
Camp #3 August 2 – August 13
Camp #4 August 16 – August 27

For information or to register, please contact Rick Caley at admin@sailing.ky or 947 7913.
 

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Mac speeds up finance review

| 23/06/2010 | 25 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline News, Cayman Finance Committee(CNS): In his first time as chair of the Finance Committee the premier managed to wrap up the scrutiny of the government’s annual spending plans in a record breaking two sittings. A process which normally spans across a two week period was ‘done and dusted’ in one nine hour sitting and a second eleven hour sitting as the premier kept his promise to “do things differently”.  McKeeva Bush made history on Monday (21 June) when the Legislative Assembly adjournedthe budget debate to enter into Finance Committee for the first time under his chairmanship as an elected finance minister. (Photo by Mani Bina)

Before the adoption of the Cayman Island Constitution 2009, Finance Committee was chaired by the financial secretary, the third official and unelected member oft he country’s parliament. Bush took the chair’s seat for the first time on Monday afternoon and warned members not to make long speeches but to seek advice and ask relevant questions of the witnesses.   
When deliberations began members sat until 12.30am on Tuesday morning (22 June) during their first session before resuming around 10am that same day for the second session, which lasted until 9pm Tuesday evening.
As a result of the late hour, both the Education and the Housing and Community ministries’ appropriations were examined without the benefit of civil service assistance. The speed with which the chair pressed the committee to examine the appropriations had opposition member Arden McLean expressing concern that the financial line items were not given the usual level of scrutiny associated with the committee. McLean said he was concerned that the premier was trying to stifle the democratic process as he cut short opposition members’ questions.
It took only 20 hours for the members to vote on more than 300 separate financial appropriations for all of the various government ministries, portfolios, agencies, statutory authorities and government companies.
The Legislative Assembly resumes on Thursday morning to vote on the entire budget, which the opposition leader Kurt Tibbetts and the independent member Ezzard Miller have already said they do not feel they can support as a result of the fuel duty increase of 25 cents per gallon.

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