Archive for May 26th, 2011

Cops charge suspect bakery robbers

| 26/05/2011 | 19 Comments

(CNS): More than seven months after their arrest two teens have now been charged in connection with a robbery that occurred last September at a bakery store in West Bay. The young men aged 18 and 19 years are scheduled to appear in court next Tuesday (31 May) to answer to charges of robbery and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery at the Caribbean Bakery on Mount Pleasant Road on 29 September. The robbery took place on a very rainy day just before noon when the armed assailants escaped with a small amount of cash after threatening a female member of staff. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

The police helicopter was deployed in the wake of the robbery and police arrested three teenagers soon after the incident. Officers were seen arresting two of the young men close to the entrance of The Shores along Batabano Road and the third suspect was apprehended along Mount Pleasant Road.

Police gave no details regarding the reasons for the longdelay in charging the teens with the crime.

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Bridger left out on legal limb

| 26/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Full story — As arguments opened in court today between teams of attorneys over claims made by former police commissioner Stuart Kernohan, it was revealed that the Cayman government's legal team was no longer representing the former senior investigating officer of Operation Tempura, Martin Bridger. As Martin Griffiths QC, who is representing the attorney general and the governor, argued to have the former and current governor (who is now cited on the new claim) and other issues struck from the writ, the question of why Bridger was no longer being represented by the AG’s office was said to be part of a closed ruling made some weeks ago by Justice Charles Quin.

Bridger, who is now one of five people listed in the claim, was represented at the hearing by local defense attorney Anthony Akiwumi, who has not yet made submissions in connection with his new client. The judge queried a number of times why he could not know the reason that the attorney general, who is also listed in the claim by Kernohan, was no longer acting for Bridger.

Sir Alan Moses of the UK Court of Appeal, who was brought in especially for this hearing, described the entire case relating to Operation Tempura as “opaque and bewildering” but also questioned why Bridger had been “hung out on a limb”. He said that this gave the appearance of adding fuel to the conspiracy theories alleged by the plaintiff (Kernohan) in his latest statement of claim.

The main focus of the current hearing, which opened in a public court on Thursday morning, is for the judge to rule on exactly who will be named in the claim when the case itself is heard, the circumstance of how far the claim will go and the issue of security of costs in the event that Kernohan was to lose.

The writ filed by Kernohan names the former governor Stuart Jack, the current governor Duncan Taylor, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, the former acting commissioner James Smith and the actual Operation Tempura senior investigating officer Martin Bridger. In response to the writ the AG's legal team is claiming that the only defendants who should be considered in the actual claim are the Attorney General's Office and Bridger.

Kernohan, who was fired in 2008 when he refused to return to the Cayman Islands during the Tempura investigation, despite the orders of the then governor Stuart Jack, says that the people listed in his claim were all directly involved in his suspension and subsequent sacking and they acted in bad faith.

The former top cop was one of three senior police officers removed from office during the discredited Tempura corruption investigation but he was never charged with any misconduct relating to the investigation or found to have committed any act of wrong doing.

He states that the governor and the attorney general were both party to the decision to allow two Cayman Net News employees to go looking for evidence of a corrupt relationship between the owner of the local newspaper Desmond Seales and Deputy Commissioner of Police Anthony Ennis, so they should never have suspended him for that decision. Kernohan claims that by doing so both men are as liable as Bridger for the subsequent chain of events.

Griffiths argued, however, that if Kernohan has a case at all it is nothing more than a wrongful dismissal and the former governor cannot be personally liable for that. Griffiths claimed that Kernohan was not sacked because of his part in Operation Tempura or the alleged break-in to the newspaper offices by the employees but because he refused to come back to work, as he tried to steer the arguments away from the now notorious UK police investigation.

Answering the allegations by Kernohan of misfeasance in a public office, the AG’s attorney argued that the plaintiff had not offered anything like enough evidence for that to stand up and therefore he should not be allowed to make the claim.

Despite taking most of the day to present his case, Griffiths essentially argued that the suit should be edited down to a wrongful dismissal case against the attorney general and Martin Bridger. He also said that the financial claims made by Kernohan should be limited to the terms of what remained on his employment contract – which would amount to nine months pay and benefits — although he said that Kernohan’s attorneys should, according to the rules of the court, spell out that figure.

The UK based QC representing the AG also asked for costs in security of around $75,000 as he described Kernohan as an “extremely mobile and evasive plaintiff” that would prove difficult to enforce any financial judgment against were his claim to be unsuccessful. Thelawyer said that the legal team had already had to employ a private detective to track Kernohan down as his attorneys had failed to provide an address. Griffiths revealed that the former top cop was now living in Pasadena, California, where he is understood to have been completing his helicopter pilot’s license.

Kernohan’s legal team made a start on arguments of his behalf before the court was adjourned and said they stuck by their claim that this was a case of bad faith and in short the entire episode was outrageous. Andrew Hogarth QC, who is arguing Kernohan’s case, pointed out that the allegations they hoped to prove “were very serious”.

The core of the former police officer’s claim is that as Jack and Bulgin both knew what course of action Kernohan had taken in regards to trying to find evidence of leaks of police information to the owner of Net News, and to allow him to be suspended six months later for that action amounted to misfeasance and essentially an attempt to cover up their own culpability in the decision. Kernohan is also accusing all of the players of bad faith over the fact that a ruling made by the chief justice in refusing a search warrant to Bridger for Kernohan’s home had exonerated him even before he was suspended from office. This ruling however was not revealed until after he had been dismissed.

Hogarth will continue submissions on behalf of Kernohan spelling out why the governor, in particular, needs to remain on the writ and why the claim is much more than a case of wrongful dismissal. Lord Justice Moses said he would sit through Saturday if necessary to give the lawyers chance to thrash out all their arguments while everyone was present in the Cayman Islands in order to clarify exactly what and who will be in Kernohan’s claim when the case itself is eventually heard.

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HSA issues health warning on illegal medication

| 26/05/2011 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Following several cases where patients have suffered life-threatening conditions resulting from drugs procured locally from unauthorized people, Health Services Authority (HSA) Medical Director, Dr Greg Hoeksema is warning the public to never take any illicit or unfamiliar medication – prescription or otherwise. In the health and safety warning, Dr Hoeksema emphasises that registered healthcare professionals such as physicians, dentists, optometrists and podiatrists are the only persons who can prescribe medicine.

“Unless designated to do so by the law, it is illegal to give out prescription medication to anyone. Moreover, many drugs, even over-the-counter, can produce adverse consequences, from side effects to allergic reactions and other potential risks, including death,” he said in a release from the HSA. “Our recommendation therefore, is to always check with your doctor or pharmacist about how, when and where to take medications.” He cautions the public to check the labeling and to buy only from reputable sources such as registered pharmacies and healthcare facilities.

“Take the necessary steps. If it is not labeled, do not take it; if it is labeled, but looks unfamiliar or comes from an unknown source, research the drug or ask your pharmacist before taking it,” Dr Hoeksema stated.

Chairman of the Pharmacy Council David Pellow reiterated this advice adding that patients should beware of counterfeit drugs. “There are many unscrupulous manufactures, distributors and suppliers in the world today and the counterfeit drug business is threatening the chances of improved health for the public,” Mr Pellow said. “Many of these illegal pharmaceuticals do not contain any or the appropriate amount of active ingredients and may even contain harmful ingredients.  So please make sure you know what you take.”

Before taking medication ask these questions:
• What is the name of the medication, and what is it supposed to do?
• When and how do I take it?
• Should I avoid alcohol, any other medications, foods, and/or activities?
• What are the common side effects?
• What are the dangerous side effects and what should I do if these happen?

Before taking medication, be sure to:
• Know what your medication is supposed to do. Should it eliminate the illness or cope with the symptoms?
• Read the label. Ask the pharmacist if you think what you've been given is not what the doctor prescribed, or is the incorrect amount or dosage.
• Heed any label warnings, such as taking medications before or after eating, or vehicle driving / equipment operating safety.
• Keep prescription and non-prescription medications out of children’s reach.
• Keep medications in their original childproof containers so you will have the label, instructions, expiration date and information for ordering a refill, as needed.

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GT grocery store robbed at gunpoint

| 26/05/2011 | 10 Comments

(CNS): No one was injured and no shots were fired as a single armed man robbed the McRuss Grocery Store on  Party Lane in George Town last night. Police say they received a report that the robbery had taken place at 8:50pm on Wednesday, 25 May, by a man described as brown skinned, about 5 feet 5  inches  tall, and  wearing blue jeans, a green camouflage jacket, black gloves and a black ski mask. The cashier at the store told officers that  the man  had  entered  the  store  armed  with  a  handgun  and  demanded cash from  the  till. She had handed over the days takings and the offender had fled on foot. 

Police are appealing for witnesses who saw this man acting suspiciously prior to entering  the shop or when he fled after committing the robbery.

 

 

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IT touted as cost solution

| 26/05/2011 | 25 Comments

(CNS): The government is planning to introduce more and expand existing on-line and e-services in the hope of making it more efficient for less money. In the Throne Speech delivered to the Legislative Assembly on Monday by the governor, the government has cited the use of information technology as a cost cutting solution for delivering services and information to the public. Duncan Taylor said that computer services would be expanding online government services and implementing advanced automation and business reporting systems. “These efforts will help government agencies increase efficiency, without increasing staff numbers,” he said. 

Computer Services’ expansion of the electronic document management system will offer government agencies the ability to revamp processes and procedures, improve workflows, and minimise costs for storing and manipulating paper documents, the governor said. Fom paying fines on-line at the court to submitting information to the Cayman Islands Gazette website, government will be using the internet for more services.

He also said that civil servants would be offered “blended e-learning” to provide them with targeted, accredited training and qualifications through the Civil Service College, in partnership with top universities. 

The governor spoke, too, about introducing video links to the prison to reduce the number of journeys inmates on remand have to make to and from the court, which would be both a cost cutting and safety measure. The country’s planned CCTV project will also depend on the upgrading of technology to improve community security.

The Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing finally has plans to develop e-services for the renewal of drivers’ and vehicle licenses, allowing people to pay on-line and avoid one of the islands' most notorious queues. At Lands and Survey, scanning of all survey files is also expected to be completed this fiscal year to allow full online research facilities for licensed land surveyors and department staff. 

The government has been slow to take advantage of the possibilities offered by new technology and in particularly delivering services, the ability for people to pay on line and providing information. Despite having set up an e-business commission, government departments are still not offering comprehensive e-services.

Although nearly every government department and public authority has a website, few utilize them to their full advantage. Many have not been updated since they were established as a tool to assist with the implementation of the Freedom of Information Law.

Speaking at a Chamber of Commerce “Be informed” series presentation on Wednesday evening, the deputy chief officer in the Ministry of Labour talked about plans to re-organise labour, training and pensions. In his speech Vaughan Carter pointed to the fact that the job placement unit is still attempting to match employers to employees with manual lists of candidates and jobs. Immigration and labour service are two areas in particular that many believe could dramatically improve government efficiency and cut costs if more oftheir services were available on line.

However, given that customs has only just begun accepting payments at the office by credit card, any immediate expectations of a revolution in e-government may well be disappointed.

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Domestics cited as stumbling block to minimum wage

| 26/05/2011 | 112 Comments

(CNS): The minister for labour has pointed to the country’s 600 or more domestic workers as the main stumbling block to Cayman having a minimum wage. Rolstin Anglin said Wednesday that he still has no plans to introduce a set basic pay but a group would be examining the possibility. There were a number of considerations with the issue, he said, that were not easy to address. The minister indicated that he didn’t want to go to the county’s parliament and have to exempt one of the biggest categories of workers from the get-go. The largest group of employers wasn’t business, he added, but regular people who employ domestics, most of whom earn less than $5 per hour, which has been suggested as a possible starting point.

At a Chamber of Commerce “Be Informed” presentation by Anglin’s ministry staff about planned changes in the areas of labour, training and pensions, the issue of the minimum wage was raised by Jim O’Neill, the president of the Chamber.

Anglin said that a motion for minimum wage was before the Legislative Assembly suggesting $5 (brought by Ezzard Miller, MLA North Side) but he said his ministry was not ready to mandate a basic rate of pay. Describing himself as a fiscal conservative on a number of occasions, Anglin has said he is not opposed to the principle but has proved reluctant to move forward on the issue which many people believe would help to address work-place exploitation.

Although no official commission or committee has been established, he said the ministry would be forming a group to explore the question and look at what is happening in the local economy and the labour market. The results of that, he said, would influence any further moves towards establishing the minimum wage.

“It’s quite easy to aspire to a minimum wage,” Anglin told the audience, adding that he didn’t think that many people disagreed with the idea that there should be a minimum amount of money that every person should make. “But it has to take into consideration the economy, the workforce and your current economic climate,” he said.

With more than 600 people employed by individual employers as nannies, gardeners, domestic helpers and caregivers, he said most of them do not earn $5 and that government would have to figure out what to do with this category of workers before it could consider the move. He also said there were problems for waiting staff in restaurants and bars and the questioned whether employee tips should be part of a basic wage rate.

Anglin said he believed it was a complex issue and not one that could be so easily sorted with the introduction of a low flat arbitrary rate that has been suggested.

Ezzard Miller, the LA’s only independent member, has tried to introduce a basic wage on several occasions via amendments to various legislation being steered through the House but has failed to gain any traction with government. During the next parliamentary meeting Miller has again filed a private members motion with the hope of at least opening the debate properly on the floor of the LA and encouraging support from the community, despite government reluctance.

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Travers awards spoof gong to tax haven critic

| 26/05/2011 | 27 Comments

(CNS): In a press release circulated on behalf of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange, the chairman, Anthony Travers, has revealed his intention to give $1000 to a local charity chosen by the author and member of the Tax Justice Network, Nicholas Shaxson, in a spoof book award. In an undisguised sarcastic swipe at the man who wrote Treasure Islands, Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World, Travers has given the book the Cayman Stock Exchange’s inaugural Book of the Year award. Describing it as a “sublimely entertaining” account of bad guys, tax wrongdoers and hidden treasure, Travers said Shaxson was a worthy winner of the “FairyTale” category.

Although Travers is no longer chair of Cayman Finance, during his time in that role he declared his intention to respond to all critics of the Cayman Islands that he believed misrepresented the jurisdiction and the offshore financial services sector.

In Treasure Islands, Shaxson, who is a Chatham House associate fellow, points a finger at tax havens as being at the source of the world’s economic problems and the untold story of globalization. He says that tax havens are not just about tax but escape from criminal laws, creditors, prudent financial regulation and democratic scrutiny and accountability as well as tax.

In the book Shaxson describes tax havens as “the silent battering rams of financial deregulation” that have forced other countries to remove financial regulations, to cut taxes and restraints on the wealthy, and to shift all the risks, costs and taxes onto the backs of the rest of us. “In the process democracy unravels and the offshore system pushes ever further onshore. The world’s two most important tax havens today are United States and Britain,” he states.

As well as criticizing onshore tax havens, Shaxson takes aim at Cayman and other offshore financial centres.

A vocal critic of Shaxson and the organisation, Tax Justice Network, of which the writer is a member, Travers is taking a different approach in his latest public criticism with the spoof award. However, he appears to be genuine about handing out the cash as he says a $1000 award will be paid to the Cayman Island charity of Shaxson’s choice.

“We are pleased to make this award to a worthy winner. This is a work of intricate speculation where the author has managed to layer mischaracterization on misrepresentation on half truth and omission to create a fabulous tale of exuberant  derring-do without feeling the slightest obligation to resort to the research or evidence presented by the IMF the OECD, IOSCO  the FATF or indeed the US General Accountability Office,” the stock exchange chair said about the book.

“It was a brave literary vision not to do so given the overwhelming weight of hard and established fact to the contrary and his decision not to address the conventional and established wisdom but to ignore it in its entirety in creating his tale of legend, allegory and fantasy makes Mr Shaxson our clear favourite for this year’s award in the fiction category.”

In the release, Travers added that the book had even caused some US Senators to believe that this fairy tale world exists and that there is a “veritable pot of gold sitting waiting for the swashbuckling US legislator at the end of the rainbow” described by Shaxson in the Cayman Islands, which confirmed Shaxson as “meritorious winner” of this spoof award.

“We look forward to hearing from Mr Shaxson with his designated charity,” added Travers  “It’s a rattling good light read, hugely entertaining and, my goodness, very, very,  humorous.”  

CNS has contacted Shaxson to ask if he will be taking Travers at his word and ensure that a worthy cause benefits from the rivalry between the two men.

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‘Defective work’ delays school

| 26/05/2011 | 62 Comments

(CNS): The education minister has said that of all the problems plaguing the development of the new high schools the issue of the poor standard of work by the former general contractor has been the main cause of the delay in completing the Clifton Hunter campus. Rolston Anglin said that it was not design changes or government budget considerations that  slowed down the project but the need to repair the defective work by Tom Jones International (TJI) which has cost both time and money. The minister said the extent of the defective work had been so significant that putting it right may well exceed his project manager’s recent estimate of over $2 million.

Despite issuing non-conforming notices to the contractor, Anglin said TJI did not repair the defective work but he said the cost would eventually be charged back against the former contractor. In the meantime government has had to pay for roofing work, windows, exterior door frames and exterior wall finish work, which were all impacted by what he said was “defective concrete work.”

The minister said the shoddy work had a far greater impact on slowing things down than any of the changes that his ministry had decided to make to the original plans or any other considerations.

“Getting the building watertight is critical to the interior finish work and progress on almost every window and door opening was impacted,” he explained. “The project was delayed because of the general contractor's breaches and the resulting need for a construction manager, and this meant that funding decisions had to be phased.”

Anglin said the government would not have had to phase the high schooldevelopment projects had it been for the former general contractor's poor standard of work.  “The delay and the additional costs have been incurred solely as a result of the general contractor's actions,” Anglin told CNS this week.

Of all the problems related to the projects, he added, “the general contractor’s actions have thus proved to be the most problematic, not least because they are at the root of a number of subsequent challenges, including repairing the deficient work, as well as getting a construction manager on board and procuring the services for the trade scopes of work.”

The problems are most acute, Anglin said, at the Clifton Hunter Campus in Frank Sound as work there was more advanced than at the new John Gray High School site, but the minister added that there was deficient work at that campus too and similar repair work had to be undertaken.

The former contractor walked off the government job in November 2009 over a dispute regarding payment. Since then TJI has been involved in a courtroom dispute with the ministry of education. Following a hearing in which government failed to have the claims by TJI dismissed the case is expected to go to a full trial.

Following the latest comments by both the minister and David Bennoit, the project manager now employed by the education department to oversee the phased development of the schools, Tom Jones International has denied the allegations of defective work. Although the minister said that the contractor was issued with notices, TJI claimed through its spokesperson, David Legge, that it had not been informed by the ministry of any deficiencies in the work.

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‘Killa’ to take on new foe at Camana Bay

| 26/05/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Local boxing hero, Jr middleweight Charles ‘Killa’ Whittaker (36-12-2, 23 KOs) will be fighting David Toribio (19-12, 12 KOs) next month on home turf, here on Grand Cayman, after the unbeaten Jermell Charlo pulled out of the planned bout with Whittaker on Wednesday morning. The fight is slated for 11 June at the Art & Recreational Centre at Camana Bay. The local favourite will take on Toribio for the WBC USBC belt. Also scheduled is welterweight Damian Frias (16-4-1, 7 KOs) vs Alex Perez.

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