Archive for August 26th, 2011

Bush hits back at governor

| 26/08/2011 | 130 Comments

(CNS):  Full story — The premier wasted no time inhis response to the governor’s criticisms on Friday in another statement, in which he defended his actions and again criticised the auditor general. Thanking Duncan Taylor for what he called his “sage advice”, McKeeva Bush said that there were, however, two sides to the matter. Bush said that he would speak out when he sees deliberate attempts to lay him to “waste in the public arena — particularly when those persons don’t have the commitment to this country” that he said he had or accomplished the good “I’ve done for" Cayman. Despite the comments made by the governor about showing restraint, he continued to call out the audit office saying the auditor general was “vindictive”. (Photo Dennie WarrenJr)

Bush claimed that the auditor general’s report did not revealed the full picture and Bush insisted he was being harassed by bureaucrats who were deliberately trying to say he had done something wrong when he said the procurement process had “deteriorated over the previous four years”, so he had called for a review of the finance law and procurement.

“I begged for a review of the procurement service long before the governor or anyone else at the time because of what I saw happening to Government expenditure,” Bush said. He said that when coming to office, his government found that bids for procuring services for government that should have been $3 million were going for $6 million. Although he did not explain that claim, he said government had to step in and cut them back to $3 million.

He also said that government had to step in with the CCTV “because it was going to a chosen friend for $3 million,” he said. “It took six weeks, but we got it cut back by $1 million. I and the Government have been chastised by the audit office for interfering.”

However, in his report the auditor general points out that the senior civil servant connected to one of the bidders (Eric Bush) had recused himself from the process at the get go and the actual tender was “generally in accordance”  with the proper process.

Bush came in for considerable criticism in the auditor’s report for his role in the Cohan and Co loan, but Bush insisted that because everyone was criticising the quality of financial service advice in the ministry he had sought outside assistance.

“The Auditor General says that in regard to financial matters that the Civil Service did not know what they were doing in procuring government financing. The Opposition, who were the last Government, complained bitterly and made accusations about the Financial Secretary of the country for giving them bad advice. If the Opposition and the Auditor General found these faults, why should I not go outside of the civil service to find advice? Why should I be criticized for trying to get advice?” he asked rhetorically. 

The premier said his complaints about bureaucratic harassment were genuine as it is his responsibility to get government’s finances stabilized. “Everything that I am doing for my people, they try to make it look nefarious,” Bush said of the bureaucrats.

He also took aim at the auditor over the Jazz Fest case study as he said the auditor general had “slammed “ him in his report but had not told  the whole story.

“When I got elected in May 2009 the Jazz Fest project and Alicia Keys were already decided and I was told by the Acting Director, Mr. Shomari Scott that it was already decided and I could not do anything about it. I have never seen the contract, as I was told that it was already agreed and the Chief Officer was also told that,” Bush said in his statement. “The Audit Office went to the Department of Tourism and asked if I had done the contract, they were told by Mr. Scott that the Minister had nothing to do with it as it had already been decided. Theywent to two other officers in the Department of Tourism and were told the same thing.”

Bush said that the auditor general had said when he made his report he would acknowledge this but the report did not clear up the matter at all and made it look like the premier was responsible.

“None of the explanations given by Mr. Scott as to why the commitments were made and as to how this type of business is done were included in the report,” the premier complained. “I take this as a direct slap in the face of the Premier and Minister of Finance and I will speak out when I see deliberate attempts to lay me waste in the public arena – particularly when those persons don’t have the commitment to this country that I have or have accomplished the good I’ve done for this country.”

Bush said that he believed in good governance and claimed that he has pushed for more good governance vehicles than any other legislator, fighting for the auditor general position, the Register of Interest, the complaints commissioner and has supported “many of the present vehicles” for good governance, he insisted.

“I believe in good governance but it must be peace, order and good governance, which under British common Law means fairness and unbiased administration, not vindictiveness and undue harassment,” he said, adding that the auditor general’s duty is to report his findings to the Public Accounts Committee and the Legislative Assembly.

“He should not be in these highfalutin every day interviews with the media. He should not be courting the press,” Bush said.

See details of Bush's promise to give back the civil servant's cost of living allowance in separate story here

See full statement below.

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New York flights cancelled in face of Irene

| 26/08/2011 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Due to airport closures at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City this weekend as a result of Hurricane Irene’s projected path, Cayman Airways has cancelled flight KX792 from Grand Cayman to JFK on Saturday, 27 August and flights KX793 and KX792 from JFK to Grand Cayman and from Grand Cayman to JFK on Sunday 28. On Monday 29 August the airline said that flight KX793 from JFK to GrandCayman will also be affected. According to the NHC Irene is expected to reach North Carolina tomorrow and New York sometime on Sunday.

Cayman Airways will advise all affected passengers of any updates as they are received. Yesterday CAL confirmed that customers can change dates for flights free of charge or can take a voucher for a replacement flight valid for one year.

With Irene expected to pass right over New York, officials have ordered nearly 300,000 residents to leave waterfront neighborhoods and announced the impending shutdown of the city's vast transit system, two unprecedented precautionary steps according to the US media. Irene will likely be a Category 1 hurricane when it reaches the city but it will bring high winds and 8 to 12 inches of rain

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news briefing Friday, "We've never done a mandatory evacuation before now and we wouldn't be doing it if we didn't think this storm is going to be serious."

For more information please contact Cayman Airways Reservations by calling toll free on 1-800-4-cayman (within the United States) or 345-949-2311 (within the Caribbean).

 

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North Side MLA to unveil district jetty plans

| 26/08/2011 | 7 Comments

(CNS): The independent member for North Side will be revealing the proposals for what he has said is a much needed new jetty for his district on Saturday. Ezzard Miller will be unveiling the plans at a family fun day in partnership with the district’s pirates committee. North -Siders will also be taking on Brackers in a special volleyball tournament and the district’s two Miss Cayman Islands 2011 contestants will also be there hoping to drum up support for next month’s pageant. Miller has been working for some time to enhance the facilities at Old Man Bay and the details will be presented on Saturday.

The gates for the fun-day open at 2pm and the old Man Bay jetty plans are scheduled to be unveiled at 2:30pm. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly will also be in attendance as will the Designer & Architect of the dock, Marco Whittaker who will offer a detailed explanation of the project.

North-Siders will take on the visiting volleyball players from the Brac at 4pm to add to the family fun afternoon with a variety of free entertainment, live music, face painting, wow balls and refreshments.
 

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Gov pulls up Mac over AG

| 26/08/2011 | 75 Comments

(CNS): For the first time since taking up office, the UK’s representative has directly criticised the Cayman Islands premier for what he says is “unacceptable behaviour”, in connection with comments about the Auditor General. In a short statement released on Friday defending the work of the audit office, Duncan Taylor said McKeeva Bush’s remarks were “unhelpful”. He said he had spoken with Bush and asked him to “show restraint” and work with the governor to address the auditor general’s recommendations. In an extraordinary move by a representative of the Foreign Office, Taylor raised his concerns publicly about the premier’s attack on the Auditor General and his staff following the release of the office’s latest detailed report on the problems surrounding government procurement. (Photo Dennie Warren JR)

“It is perfectly legitimate for the premier to respond robustly to any points made in reports issued by the Auditor General and I would always defend his right to do so.  But, in my view, it is unacceptable to respond by making personal attacks on the Auditor General and his staff,” Taylor said in his statement. “I do not think it is helpful to accuse the Auditor General of bias, of 'seeking out banner headlines', of being used 'as a hit man', or to accuse his staff of being 'spiteful' or of 'indulging in bureaucratic harassment',” he added.

Taylor said that Bush had made serious accusations against Alastair Swarbrick and his team.

“I have seen no evidence to justify them,” the governor stated.  “I believe that the Auditor General and his staff have acted in a responsible, objective and professional manner, as I would expect of all Civil Servants. I have spoken with the Honourable Premier and made my concerns known to him.  I have urged him to show restraint.  I hope that we can rather focus, together, on how to respond to the Auditor General’s recommendations.  The Auditor General’s reports have highlighted an urgent need to tighten up Government Procurement practices.  It is one of my main priorities over the coming months to ensure that all of us in Government work together to achieve this,” Taylor stated.

In the last two public broadcasts on TV and radio made by the premier he has taken direct aim at the auditor general and his office, publicly criticising him in a similar way to the attackshe made on Dan Duguay, the previous auditor, who had also produced reports critical of Bush’s handling of various projects and procurement’s of services.

While this is the first time that the governor has publicly criticised the premier, Bush has taken aim at the governor in the past. Even before Taylor arrived, during his address when he was sworn in as the country’s first premier in November 2009, Bush warned the new governor when he arrived that he was now “the chief defender of the Cayman Islands”, and he had fought the UK’s representatives in the past and won and he would do so again. He warned Taylor not to try and micromanage.

More recently, at an Overseas Territories Council meeting in the BVI last month, Bush said the UK should leave the overseas territories alone and said he would be telling that to both “my governor” and the UK.

“Don’t ask if we can do it. Just see where we came from. We came from nothing to what we have. All we need is not for you to handcuff us, all we need is for the United Kingdom to help us and show us the way and in showing us the way, do not handcuff us because the same good governance (and I don’t care how people feel when it comes to that because it’s an issue that is strong to my mind) for 60 million people will not always determine the facts of good governance on my Island. The culture is different,” he said.

See the full statement from the governor’s office below.

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CIG reneged on promise to young college student

| 26/08/2011 | 61 Comments

(CNS): Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam and the Premier McKeeva Bush’s Young Nation Builders Programme have provided financial assistance in part to Japheth Ebanks, an American teenager with Caymanian parents who was accepted into the Florida Atlantic University (FAU)at age 13. According to Japheth’s mother, Marvel Ebanks, after the boy was accepted by FAU they were contacted by Adam, who said that the Cayman Islands Government would be there to support his educational expenses. However, she claims that the government has stopped paying their expenses and Japheth is now at risk of having to leave the university.

According to Marvel Ebanks, she and Japheth were living in Washington at the time he was accepted into FAU and was contacted by Adam, who said that the government would be there to support Japheth’s educational expenses. At the minister's request, government officials made flight arrangements for Ebanks and her son to get to Miami and assured them that they would be flown back to collect their remaining belongings.

“The Cayman Islands Government’s assistance at that point was the only reason that Japheth was able to start college at 13-years-old,” said Ebanks. “The child's momentum and enthusiasm was in high gear as he eagerly entered into a very demanding and challenging course load.”

Ebanks claims that when Japheth started college, they had no transportation or accommodation close to the campus and he was not eligible to live in the campus dormitories due to his age, so they were forced to walk miles to catch a bus or train to the university, and as a result they often experienced delays in getting there. When classes finished in the afternoon, the whole process of getting there was repeated again in reverse, and he often collapsed at night from exhaustion, she said.

Later on, he was offered a scholarship from the premier’s Young Nation Builders Programme. However, due to the fact that Ebanks was Caymanian and Japheth was American, they requested his birth certificate. “The premier emailed me a letter that government would pay for his educational and living expenses through his doctoral level,” said Ebanks. However, the application has yet to be approved, and they have also not been provided with the promised trip back to Washington to pick up their belongings, which they are now in danger of losing.

“It is unfortunate at this time that a way was provided and not sustained because of lack of follow-through and answers by the Cayman Islands Government,” she said.

Government also paid for motel accommodation that was six minutes away from the university and government officials even visited the university, met the owners of the motel, got billing information and amounts, and reassured them that they would cover the expenses. However, the accommodation was mouldy and this made Japheth so sick that he had to see his paediatrician.

“The paediatrician, who was gravely concernedabout the motel causing the child to become sick, wrote the Cayman Islands Government to inform them that accommodations were desperately needing to be changed since our current placement was causing the child to become sick and be prevented from remaining in school, being so sick,” said the boy's mother.

Ebanks and her son had to eventually leave the motel with over US$5,000 still owing and were forced to live with Ebanks’ mother, who lived in a different city. She then accompanied her son once more on a two hour trip each way by public transport.

“The lack of these basic necessities of food, accommodation and school supplies caused him to suffer, as well as his grades, from a 4.0 GPA the first semester college classes in his first year to failing some of his classes at the completion of his second year last month, which has caused him to be placed on academic probation with the university and could possibly exit him from the university if not rectified immediately”, said Ebanks

“I, as a Caymanian, am prayfully hoping that with the recent announcement that the Cayman Islands Government is seeking to increase the population, that they will now urgently re-visit this issue and grant my 15-year old son his Caymanian Status, so that he can continue to thrive, because he was on track to make history at Florida Atlantic University as being 17-years old with his Bachelors Degree,” said Ebanks.

“The delay of not getting paperwork done, as well as no answers being given to basic questions, is causing this amazing opportunity to be placed in jeopardy," she said.

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All roads lead to Dartville

| 26/08/2011 | 224 Comments

You have made up your minds. There is little anyone can say that will change your likes and dislikes when it comes to political thought and policy. I will not try to change your mind. Rather, this letter serves to enlighten and inform and to make clear what I see that others may have overlooked. In the Wizard of OZ, the Yellow Brick Road led to Emerald City, the golden glowing edifice that Dorothy and her friends were seeking in desperation for having their greatest wishes granted. 

If you know the story, you know the Wizard turned out to be just a regular man who used trickery to deceive people in order to make Oz look most inviting.

In Cayman we have a similar scenario happening in the form of Camana Bay. And of course we all know who the Wizard is. I will not express my opinion on this matter. My concern lies more with the Yellow Brick Road. There is a major difference between the Yellow Brick Road leading to Oz and the roads leading to Camana Bay. The yellow brick road was barren. It meandered through hollow forests and open meadow. There was no commerce along that road. No place to stop and get a meal or see a movie. It was simply a means of getting the traveler to Oz.

In Cayman, all roads used to lead to the Capital of George Town. It was once the center of commerce. It was our Oz. Now we have a Wizard amongst us who has built his own Oz which I called Camana Bay. Of course to get there the Wizard needs a system of roads to capture the travelers and make it more likely that they will be diverted there. I have no problem with this either. If I were the Wizard I would want as many Yellow Brick Roads as possible leading to my Oz.

The problem here is this: this Wizard wants his village to be everything to everybody. In this effort he is opening shops and businesses that copy or duplicate others in the community to include, movie theater, book store, coffee shop, restaurants, clothing stores, office complexes, entertainment facilities, gyms, jewellery shops and more. It doesn’t matter to the Wizard that these establishments already exist in the community and are hurt by his doing this. He does what he wants to suit his needs under the pretense that it is for the greater good and the ultimate success of Oz.  Again, although I do have a problem with this, I will not address it here.

The problem of greater concern, which most people have overlooked, is the road situation. By diverting the road on Seven Mile Beach and creating a parallel road leading to Camana Bay and his other developments, numerous existing businesses and shopping centers will have their existing Yellow Brick Road bypassed. And eventually, as the new route becomes the norm, new businesses will sprout up which the Wizard himself will likely have a hand in, which will completely destroy the existing businesses that managed to survive.

If this is for the greater good and serves to make us better, I would like someone to please show me what I’m missing here. If you own a business on West Bay Road and can see what’s coming, maybe now would be a good time for you to speak up.

 

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Paypal Billionaire building new worlds out in ocean

| 26/08/2011 | 1 Comment

(Orange news): The billionaire founder of PayPal is planning to create his own countries – by building them on giant floating platforms in international waters. Peter Thiel, 43, is funding a project that intends to create new societies governed in a radically different manner from conventional states. The communities would be run accordingto libertarian ideals and be housed on gargantuan ocean platforms. And the first experimental example of the radical scheme could be built off San Francisco as soon as next year. Thiel, 43, who is worth an estimated £910million, has given £763,000 to the Seasteading Institute planning to build the floating nations.

He admitted many saw it as a crackpot scheme but added: "There are quite a lot of people who think it's not possible. That's a good thing.  We don't need to really worry about those people very much, because since they don't think it's possible they won't take us very seriously. And they will not actually try to stop us until it's too late."

Seasteading argues that building in the ocean "is the only option to create new societies on Earth".

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Hit and run driver hands himself in to police

| 26/08/2011 | 5 Comments

(CNS): Police have now confirmed that a 27 year old man has handed himself into George Town police station after leaving the scene of a crash on Wednesday night in which two people were hurt. He was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving, leaving the scene of an accident and driving without insurance. The man was driving a black Nissan Skyliner motorcar and was making a left turn into the Jet Nightclub on West Bay Road at around 10:40 on 24 August when he hit a motorcycle which was travelling along West Bay Road towards George Town carrying two people. (Photo courtesy of Cayman27)

The rider and pillion passenger were thrown from the motorcycle and both were injured in the crash – the rider sustained injuries to his arm and the pillion passenger to his shoulder. The men were taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town for treatment and while the pillion passenger was released earlier Thursday the rider remained in the hospital.

The driver left the scene before police arrived.

Any witnesses to the incident are asked to contact their nearest police station, the Traffic Management Unit on  946-6254 or the confidential Crime Stoppers number 800-8477 (TIPS).

 

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Young sailers ‘get better’ at special clinic

| 26/08/2011 | 0 Comments

(CISC): As part of the preparations for Race Cayman 2012, the Cayman Islands Sailing Club recently held a week long Optimist sailing clinic. Six of our local sailors were joined by three sailors from Jamaica. Head Coach Raph Harvey ran the clinic himself. “It is vital that kids spend time on the water if they are to get to the top levels of the sport. However that time needs to be spent sailing the boat correctly and utilising skills learned from their coaching. A five day clinic allows for intense instruction and a variety of wind conditions.”

Although the kids ended up pretty exhausted at the end of each day they were enthusiastic about the progress they had made. Evan Langford from Montego Bay Yacht club in Jamaica commented, “We are having a great time and the conditions and coaching are awesome”.

Harbour House Marina heard about the clinic and offered to donate Gill sailing gloves to all the participants. Jonathan Cuff, manager of Harbour House said, “We are always pleased to support Youth sailing. After all, they are the sailors of tomorrow”.

The clinic ended with a mini regatta which saw Cayman sailors take the podium positions with Florence Allan winning from Pablo Bertran in second and Allena Rankine in third.

Rick Caley, the CISC manager said, “We know we have a great venue for sail training here on North Sound and we are delighted that our neighbours from Jamaica could come over and join us. Our coaching staff is excellent and they have proved that they can run high class training clinics like this one. We hope to host other overseas sailors with similar events in the build up to the Western Caribbean Optimist Dinghy Championships in March 2012”.
 

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Evidence enough for safe conviction, says QC

| 26/08/2011 | 0 Comments

(CNS): As Andrew Radcliff, QC made his closing speech to the judge in the case against Devon Anglin for the murder of four year old Jeremiah Barnes last year, he told the court that the eye-witness evidence supported by the circumstantial evidence was powerful enough for there to be no doubt of a safe conviction. He said that while the crown’s case depended heavily on the eye witness account from Jeremiah’s parents at the Hell gas station in West Bay that night he said it also relied on the CCTV footage analysis, clothes, the grudge between Anglin and Andy Barnes, gunshot residue and the defendant’s presence in the getaway car minutes after the murder.

The crown said that the discrepancies between the eye-witness evidence of Jeremiah’s father Andy Barnes and Dorlisa Ebanks his mother and inconsistencies in the various statements they gave were not so great and easily explained. The key issue was that both Barnes and his now wife (nee) Ebanks pointed the finger at Anglin immediately and spontaneously the very night of the shooting (15 February) evidence he said that there was no concoction between them.

Radcliffe said that the defence’s attack on Barnes’ character was an “unhelpful distraction” as he said there was no evidence that he was deliberately trying to frame Anglin.

“Logically and sensibly who would want an innocent man convicted of killing one’s child while the true murder remains free?” the QC asked the court to consider.

Radcliffe noted that Barnes said he saw the gunman’s face because the defendant had not fixed his mask before he came into view. This counsel said was the most important mistake the gun man made. He said this was supported by Ebanks’ evidence as she said he was not wearing a mask at all and as she instinctively ducked down under the dash board when the shooting started it followed that she would not have seen the gunman once the mask was across his face.

The crown counsel pointed out that the two witnesses were identifying someone they both knew very well, in very good lighting conditions with an unobstructed view. When they gave their statements just two hours after the incredibly traumatic event, Radcliffe said both of them spontaneously stated that Anglin was the gunman.

In response to numerous questions from the judge about where the crown’s case would be if he was to consider the eye witness evidence “worthless” Radcliffe said he had circumstantial evidence that supported the testimony. Radcliffe disagreed when Justice Howard Cooke said that circumstantialevidence could not “support worthless” if that’s what he was to decide, as the crown counsel said the judge must look at the totality of the evidence. Radcliffe pointed out however that the evidence could not be worthless as there was no evidence that the two witnesses were lying.

However, he said the CCTV analysis and other circumstantial evidence could stand alone. Support for the crown’s case came from the clothes which Anglin was wearing at court on the morning of the killing, as well as his hairline matching those of the gunman. His presence in the proven getaway car minutes after the shooting without a top and the evidence that he took a shower at someone else’s home very soon after the murder only yards from his own home and borrowed a shirt.

The CCTV expert had also matched the jeans, shoes and underclothes worn by Anglin to court on the morning of the shooting which was caught on CCTV by those worn by the gunman that night. Radcliffe conceded that the gunshot residue on Anglin's clothes at arrest could have come from contamination but it is also possible they did not and added to the “powerful eye witness accounts” as well as the known grudge between the men there could “be no question that it will be a safe conviction,” Radcliffe told the court.

Emphasising the quality and the certainty of the eyewitness accounts given by Jeremiah’s parents he added that the circumstantial evidence went a long way to support that evidence which he said was “the nub of the crown’s case” against Anglin.

The case continues Friday morning with a closing speech from the defence counsel before the judge retires to consider his verdict.

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