Archive for July 14th, 2010

Cayman conservationist on CNN

| 14/07/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Local artist Guy Harvey was featured in CNN’s online environment section on Monday (12 July). Describing him as “one of the world’s leading conservationists with a first class degree in marine biology and a PhD in fisheries management”, the US news organisation said that recently Harvey has taken on the plight of sharks. Sharks are also in danger in the Gulf of Mexico because of the BP oil leak. Harvey fears other fish are at risk too. He’s planning a new line of t-shirts to raise funds for research. "We have no idea when this is going to stop or how far it’s going to reach and what the life span of this disaster is going to be," Harvey told CNN.

Go to CNN article

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Local lawyers beef up employment team

| 14/07/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Locally based law firm Appleby’s has expanded its Cayman Business Team with the admission of Shaun Cockle (left) as an attorney-at-law in the Cayman Islands. Cockle joins Appleby’s Employment and Immigration section where he will join Nathania Pearson, Pamella Mendez and Bonnie Douglas working on the increasing number of employment and immigration related cases the firm said on Wednesday. Nick Joseph, who leads the Cayman Employment and Immigration Team, moved the application before Justice Cooke saying that Cockle’s expertise in employment law will be an asset to Appleby’s growingteam.

The attorney joins the Cayman office with well over ten years’ experience working in a specialist employment law capacity, Appleby’s said. His prior experience includes six years as in-house Employment Counsel at the United Kingdom Government’s Treasury Solicitors’ London office and, from 2006 until his arrival in the Cayman Islands, as a Specialist Employment Solicitor at the leading London firm of Field Fisher Waterhouse. 
Cockle said it was a great pleasure to join the growing Appleby team and he was honoured to assist with the myriad of increasingly technical issues facing employers and employees in the Cayman Islands.

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Cayman team heads to Puerto Rico for CAC games

| 14/07/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Central American and Caribbean games kick off with the opening ceremony this Saturday in Puerto Rico where the Cayman Islands will be represented by 41 athletes competing in nine different sports. For the first time Cayman will be competing in the equestrian and the rugby sevens. The country’s athletes will also be taking part in athletics, karate, swimming, shooting, sailing, squash and Beach Volleyball. Both the Fraser brothers, as well as Ronald Forbes and Cydonie Mothersill (left) willbe representing Cayman and hoping to put the country on the medal’s table.

Most of Cayman’s athlete will be competing in Puerto Rico but the rugby sevens team will be playing in Guyana and the squash players in Colombia as the host country is unable to accommodate those sports.
The forty plus Cayman team is led by Donald Mclean the National Olympic Committee President with Bernie Bush another NOC Member. Dalton Watler is the Chef de Mission and Al Bartice the’s team’s physiotherapist.

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Jury trials at risk

| 14/07/2010 | 57 Comments

(CNS): Local defence attorneys have raised very serious concerns over proposals to remove the right of an accused person to be tried by a jury. In its review of the country’s criminal justice laws the government wants to remove the right of defendants in any kind of firearms case to a jury trial and have them face a judge alone. Fuelled by police concerns over jury intimidation and the failure of the prosecution to gain convictions in gang related violence, the authorities are taking what the Cayman Islands Criminal Defence Bar Association believes is a step too far. Vehemently opposing the move, the CICDBA said the system of trial by judge and jury is of fundamental constitutional significance and called on the community to back their request to have the proposal removed from the bill.

“The quality of our system of criminal justice is a key marker in the Islands’ international reputation as a first-world jurisdiction and a leading financial centre,” the association noted in a letter to the attorney general spelling out its objections to the proposal. “Our association submits that in relation to all but minor criminal offences, the task of determining whether a person is guilty should remain within the province of the jury. Indeed, the more serious the crime, the more important the role of the jury becomes.”
The tradition of being tried by a jury was enshrined in what has been seen as the world’s first proclamation of human rights – the Magna Carta of 1251. Today, the commonwealth jurisdictions of the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, as well as the USA, continue to use the jury in serious cases. Both English common law and the United States Constitution recognize the right to a jury trial to be a fundamental civil liberty.
In their efforts to dissuade the attorney general from removing this fundamental human right the local attorneys drew on Lord Devlin’s book "Trial by Jury", spelling out the significance of the move. “The second object of any tyrant would be to overthrow or diminish trial by jury, for no tyrant could afford to leave a subject’s freedom in the hands of twelve of his countrymen. So that trial by jury is more than an instrument of justice and more than one wheel of the constitution: it is the lamp that shows freedom lives, “Devlin wrote.
The defence lawyers pointed out that under the country’s laws juries are “peculiarly well equipped” to decide who is guilty or not and that they maintain the high standard of proof in criminal trials, since at least five people, or twelve in murder cases, must be satisfied of guilt in order to obtain a conviction.
“Learned as our judges are in the law, we are confident that to a man they will readily concede that they are no more qualified than the layman, who harkens to his own experience of life and human affairs, to determine matters of fact in the criminal jurisdiction,” the CICDBA wrote.
The lawyers say that by reducing the “tribunal of fact to a single individual” it will increase the risk of innocent people being convicted of serious crimes. “That should concern each and every one of us. Recent events in the Cayman Islands should remind us that none of us, even judges, are immune from wrongful arrest and prosecution by the State,” the attorneys noted.
They pointed out the concept of a jury trial is instrumental in maintaining fundamental rights and the rule of law illustrated by its reintroduction in countries when totalitarian regimes collapse.
While jurors are also subject to human frailties and prejudices as are judges, the association pointed out that they are exposed by fellow jurors during deliberations. “The sheer number and diversity of jurors, each with their own knowledge and experience serves to challenge prejudice, pool knowledge and guarantee fairness.”
Acknowledging the increasing gravity and frequency of firearms offences in Cayman, the lawyers said, however, that the more serious the charge, the more necessary a jury trial becomes.”This is why juries have always been required in more serious cases as opposed to trial by single judge in less serious cases and why murder, the most serious of all crimes, requires 12 jurors instead of the usual seven,” their letter stated. The need for ordinary members of the public to be engaged during a time of rising crime was also noted by the CICDBA. “Since it is the community we are striving to protect, surely it is the community that must have a share in the process.”
The association also questioned where the evidence was to suggest juries were being hampered as they said it was very rare and where it happened jurors had come forward to make the report.
The comparison recently made by the police commissioner to the Diplock courts in Northern Ireland, which tried terrorist cases, does not support an argument to extend the principle generally, the lawyers contended.  They also raised concerns of the implication that juries are acquitting where they should be convicting because their judgement is poor or they are biased
“To hold this position is to insult the intelligence or integrity of the public. In the absence of evidence, it could just as easily be postulated that juries are convicting where they should be acquitting. Such suggestions are completely unsubstantiated. Any legitimate concerns as to the impartiality of jurors should be addressed by examining the vetting system rather than simply abolishing juries out of hand,” the defence lawyers argued.
They also pointed out that ‘gun courts’ in Jamaica, where judges try cases without a jury had failed to stem the increase in violent gun crime in that country.
The association pointed out that removing civil liberties was not the way to address some of the problems the crown faced in gaining prosecutions. “Measures should first be introduced to improve basic policing and detection rates so that jurors can be satisfied that they are being invited to convict the guilty rather than the innocent,” the letter stated.
The CIDBA said the proposal was both unconscionable and indefensible and urged the attorney general and everyone who believed in the virtues of liberty to support the association’s plea for the removal of the offending proposals.

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Stingray City restaurant boat arrives in Cayman

| 14/07/2010 | 43 Comments

(CNS): Although local businessman Bernie Bush met with considerable opposition to his project to take a licensed restaurant boat to the Sand Bar, his vessel has now arrived in the Cayman Islands and will be opening later this month. The first of its kind, Bush says the floating restaurant surpasses all government requirements for safety and operation and says it will be environmentally friendly. Bush told News27 yesterday thatthe special attraction is not at risk from his restaurant boat. With over 16 garbage cans on board, no capability to dump at sea, and using only eco-friendly cleaning products, Bush says his boat will not leave anything behind.

He also explained that it is jet driven so it won’t damage the sea bed and the boat is too big to get too close to the Sand Bar itself.
Following demonstrations in George Town last year against the project, Bush spoke with CNS and defended the floating licensed restaurant and explained his boat will be providing high quality, tapas-like dishes of local food prepared by local chefs to give visitors a real taste of Cayman.
He said that the alcohol license was secondary to the food and that even if that had been turned down he would still have gone ahead with what he says is a restaurant, not a bar.
“The one thing that the critics have missed is that this is a restaurant and I want to showcase Cayman food to people and give them a chance to try things they ordinarily wouldn’t do. People get hungry too when they are out on the water and there is nowhere for people to get food while they visit but yet everyone is already drinking out there,” Bush added.
He said that though at least four of the tour operators have licensed boats that are serving alcohol, none of them are offering food and he said that his initiative would tap into that market. He said that from the very beginning he wanted to make sure that the restaurant would not have a detrimental environmental impact on the area and everything he will be using, from plates to cutlery, will be bio-degradable and drinks will be served in souvenir cups.
Acknowledging that it is a Wildlife Interaction Zone that has special protection, Bush said he could understand why some people would like to see alcohol banned from the area altogether. But as so many boats already have licences and with people taking their own drinks on private boats out there, especially at weekends, he said what he proposed to do was at least offer food into that mix.
“I hope to further the experience of those coming to Cayman and give them a taste of some of our best local dishes. At the moment we already have the booze out there; what we don’t have is food,” he added.
Bush also has cameras on board the boat to be able to monitor every side and angle to ensure that visitors abide by the rules and keep everything on the boat. Bush said he will be going to every length to prevent people littering and to ensure the restaurant offers a positive experience.

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Maples open top of rugby touch summer league

| 14/07/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Androgroup Summer Mixed Touch Rugby series kicked off this month with a round of seeding matches to place teams in divisions which has seen Maples already dominating the leagues. Although there are many familiar teams competing in the league for the first time teams will be spread over three divisions. With each division fielding 8 teams of 14 players the 2010 Androgroup series will see approximately 300 competitors take the South Sound Rugby Pitch for some fun, fast paced action over the summer months. In week 1 as teams fielding new players came to grips with the rules of the game and the need for fitness the more experienced players took every advantage to get on the score sheet. (Photo Caroline Deegan)



In Division 1 Maples, winners of the CRFU corporate touch day stamped their authority over Harmonic whilst previous Androgroup Touch Champions 5 Nations made little work of PWC with a 5 point win. League new comers DMS and CML managed to finish their game as equals whilst former touch rugby powerhouse Appleby were undone by fellow legal eagles and former champions of the CRFU Winter Touch league Ogier.
The action in division 2 was much tighter knit with the best performing team only able to separate themselves from the competition by 3 points. Walkers, 2009 winners of the 2nd division competition managed to stay 3 points clear of KPMG 1 in their encounter. The game promised to be a much closer affair with KPMG 1 looking very strong in the seeding games but Walkers were too slick over the 30 minutes of game time. Division 2 once again hosts the only all female team “the Maidens” who were undone by UBS 4-2 but with so many close games Division 2 may be the one to watch.
The newly formed Division 3 provided the most points on the score cards after week 1 (a total of 35 points scored) thanks in no small part to high scoring clashes between DART and Island Heritage, an encounter which DART managed to hold on to a slim 2 point lead albeit for a late onslaught by Wayne Morgan of Island Heritage who ran in a late hat trick of tries.
Morgan, not to be outdone by Ross Connerton of DART also recorded a 3 try haul on the day. Elsewhere in Division 3 Matt Smith of Trident Titans saw his team beat Prime Fund Solutions by massive 6 points thanks in no small part to Smith’s 3 try effort.


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Premier puts on tourismminister hat for latest trip

| 14/07/2010 | 9 Comments

(CNS): The country’s premier is meeting with Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) officials today in Miami to discuss the Spotts cruise ship landing, port security and Boatswain’s Beach. Accompanying McKeeva Bush on this business trip is the Ministry of Finance, Tourism and Development Chief Officer Carson Ebanks, as well as backbench MLA for West Bay – ministerial councillor for tourism Cline Glidden and Boatswain’s Beach managing director Timothy Adam.

Following the Miami meeting, a government spokesperson said the premier and his wife will be taking a brief vacation although the destination was not revealed. Before returning home to the Cayman Islands the premier is scheduled to meet with the Department of Tourism’s Toronto office and executives from WestJet Airlines.
The Canadian based airline will begin a scheduled service between Toronto andGrand Cayman in November of this year. Also attending the Toronto meetings are Chief Officer Carson Ebanks and CITA President Harry Lalli.
Bush returns to the Cayman Islands and back to his office on 30 July. During the Premier’s absence Deputy Premier Julianna O’Connor-Connolly is acting premier.

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7MB skyscrapers coming

| 14/07/2010 | 73 Comments

(CNS): Along with a number of significant amendments to the Development and Planning Law which passed in the Legislative Assembly this week, government has made a number of changes to the planning regulations. During the final occasion that regulation changes will come before the country’s lawmakers, the seven storey height restriction on Seven Mile Beach was lifted. Developers will now be able to build up to ten storeys in the islands’ main tourist zone —  one of 15 changes to the specifics of the law. The premier said he expected some people would disagree but the poorly defined definition of height meant some buildings on the West Bay Road were already this high. The change, he said, would give momentum to development on the beach, allowing old properties to be renovated or rebuilt. (Photo – one of the highest buildings on 7MB)

The regulation change means that hotel and condo developments along Seven Mile Beach will surpass the heights of the beach’s existing tallest buildings, such as the Ritz Carlton, Caribbean Club and Watercolours.
Speaking in the House late on Monday night McKeeva Bush the current definition of height refers to vertical distances measured from the centre line of the fronting road. “There has been no end of discussions with this through the years,” he said. “After Hurricane Ivan, many persons have increased the height of their property, making the problem even more acute.  The revised definition uses the average finished height of the development site instead of the road centreline.”
Bush told his legislative colleagues that this would more accurately define building height and provided more clarity based on roof style. Buildings will now be measured to the lowest point where the underside of the roof slope meets the exterior wall. 
The height increases will apply to buildings in the hotel/tourism Zone 1 which is the area bounded to the north by the West Bay Cemetery and to the south by Dixie Cemetery. The maximum height of buildings will now be or 130 feet (or ten storeys, whichever is less). 
“As you know, the current regulations allow 7 storeys or 91 feet,” the premier reminded the House, emphasizing that the changes do not apply to other tourism zones but only to the West Bay Road tourist belt. 
“I know some of my colleagues … may seek to disagree with this measure. I am sure they will agree that attracting development to the denser area of Cayman’s tourism product is preferable as it will encourage inward investment. This will give momentum to the renewal of some of the older properties on the beach allowing them to be renovated or rebuilt,” Bush stated.
Given the way the previous definition for building height has been interpreted, he pointed out that there were already some buildings in the area that approach that height at the moment. 
Bush added that there are no changes to height limitations in General Commercial Zones with seven storeys downtown and five storeys in other General Commercial Zones.
In high, medium, low and beach resort residential zones, the maximum height has been increased to 40 feet from the current 33 feet, but the maximum number of storeys stays at three. The extra seven feet, the premier said, was to allow for higher ceilings, air-conditioning equipment and structural beams.
The amendments to the development and planning law, as well as changes to the regulations were all passed in the legislative assembly on Monday evening with support only from the government bench.

Vote in the CNS online poll: Do you support the removal seven storey height restriction on 7MB?

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Acting bank president made official

| 14/07/2010 | 10 Comments

(CNS): After nine months acting in the role Tracy Ebanks has been appointed as the President and General Manager of the Cayman Islands Development Bank (CIDB). The bank provides local people with small business and student loans, as well as mortgages. Confirmed in her post Ebanks says she strongly believes in rekindling the economy by assisting local growth, creating jobs and counselling and advising customers. With more than two decades of banking experience, particularly in lending, Ebanks’ position as a board director ensured her direct involvement with CIDB management as long ago as 2002.

She honed her skills during a series of commercial bank positions at CIBC Bank and Trust and then at Scotiabank where, as senior account manager, she handled some of the major commercial borrowing clients.
At CIDB, Ms. Ebanks chaired two committees dealing with credit review and loan delinquency respectively, and in August 2009, she took her appointment as vice president/deputy manager quite in stride.
Just three months later, the resignation of the bank’s president saw her promotion to acting president and general manager.
Ebanks brought her reputation for down-to-earth pragmatism to an institution that handles high risk loans, promoting the economy by stimulating the Islands’ entrepreneurial spirit.
“No application is too small for CIDB,” she noted. “The bank considers loan requests from locals to start up or run a range of small businesses, from automobile repairs, bakeries and beauty salons, to farm applications and retail tourism sales.”
In addition, the bank recognises the need to assist small and modest home owners in restructuring their mortgage loans.
Ebanks uses her extensive credit background to assess application viability while also protecting CIDB assets.
“It is great to work with a government entity that has the same focus and recognises the role that banks have to play,” she said. “I find returning to my grass roots and helping Caymanians achieve their goals and dreams to be hugely rewarding,” she added.

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