Archive for September 26th, 2011

Stop the downward spiral

| 26/09/2011 | 13 Comments

There is only one word which adequately describes the situation Cayman is in today – FAILURE: by our leaders (elected and official), by some parents; by the government education system; by immigration policies; by our police; by our development policies and plans (none existing); by our religious organizations to deal with the festering social issues; by the business community to adequately invest in local human capital because it was easier to import foreign cheap labour, while building wealth; by all of us for not recognizing that the good ship Cayman was heading for the rocks.

Why the Caymanian people are not mad as hell and demanding the resignations of their entire leadership is unbelievable. In any other democracy there would be demands for those in charge to accept responsibility and step aside, especially now that our dear leader thinks there is a conspiracy in the works against his government; but not in Cayman. Why?

For the past 25 years respective governments have been cajoling, spoon feeding  and using the “left behinds” in our society for votes at election time, when they make them false promises, throw them a victory party and send them back to their holes of hopelessness until the next election, when they are trotted out again. This worked for several cycles, until the internet, social media and other wake-up tools became freely available and now the” left behinds” have figured out the truth and are takingmatters into their own hands.

Some time ago, some politicians stated that there was nothing which could be done to save this generation and that they would have to be written off. Well, that’s exactlywhat we did – but guess what! They didn’t go away and are back reminding us.

Cayman is now doing what it always does in an emergency – reacting, because it does not appear that we have plans to deal with anything – while continuing the very policies that got us into the mess in the first place. We lack the very ability to recognize the present position in order to make corrections.  And forget about anyone admitting they may have made mistakes. How sad!

For Governor Duncan and Commissioner Baines, some advice:

Please visit immediately the families of all the victims; you may learn some things. You have to step down to their levels because they cannot step up to yours. There is none or very little communications with these folks, thus another reason they feel neglected.

Declare a “National Day of mourning” during a work day. Shut this country’s business down for a day (including alcohol sales) to allow our people to focus and realize how serious this situation is and understand that this is what life will become if these issues are not resolved now.

Encourage people to take the day to get out of their comfort zone and visit family, friends and acquaintances they may not have seen in a while. (Call it ‘touch a friend day’.) Cayman needs to take a long hard look in the mirror.

Take your NSC meetings on the road. Visit the districts and build bridges and listen to the people, not insult them like the premier does at every opportunity. Come prepared to listen not to lecture. Our people feel cut off from our government, therefore no reason to try and assist as they should.

This country is no longer on the edge of the cliff. History will show that September 2011 will be the month that we fell into the abyss  and all indicators point to a continuous downward spiral. There are going to be rougher days ahead, so our people need to prepare themselves accordingly.

During the last election campaign I recall a candidate use the analogy of Cayman’s runaway development being like a moving train. The train was travelling so fast that it left some of the people behind and others kept falling off, yet the conductor (our politicians) wanted more speed. Well, those folks who were left behind simply decided to dig up a piece of the rail track, so when the train came back, it would derail. That derailment now has a name: “MURDER”.  I thought this was a simple and practical analogy, and yet so few voters seem to grasp its relevance at the time.

Some months ago I heard on the radio a discussion about the contractors asking government to fund a skills training program for the unskilled, unemployed in North Side and they were asking for the equivalent of keeping one prisoner in jail for a year – CI$60,000.00; but the government would not support the idea as they claimed they could not afford it. Yet they could afford to give the churches $7 million and build a Hurricane Hilton in the Brac for some $9 million.

But the real reason they did not see fit to support it was political; it was not the UDP’s idea and they will not give anyone else credit for anything. The premier is only capable of seeing issues in one dimension: “politics”.

Perhaps they should reconsider the Brac monster and put that money in a “lock box fund” to help buy food and pay CUC’s billings for the poor to keep this place from turning into total anarchy. Don’t think it can’t happen. One year ago this week Colonel Kaddafi of Libya was addressing the United Nations General Assembly. Today he is hiding in a hole, untold numbers dead and wounded and Libya is in ruins. That’s the power of disenfranchised people when theydecide they have had enough. But unlike Cayman, Libya has oil. We are even short on turtles.

To those who are committing these crimes, I beg of you to stop now. You have made your point loud and clear. Youare killing your friends, perhaps even family members, and while you may think they are your enemies, most of you are too young to have enemies. Instead, put your energy into designing placards and signs expressing your grievances and peacefully demonstrate in the public domain so everyone can know you and help find solutions to your grievances, in order that we can all have a better life going forward. If you don’t you will certainly kill Cayman and we will all loose.

For us to get through this crisis and rebuild the country for the next generation it will require a new vision, new leadership and new policies and plans, which must be fully inclusive of all our people. We must abolish this political party divide that is destroying us; we are simply too small for it to work here.

Career politicians need to be replaced with individuals who have already made their careers on their own abilities. Those were the types of leaders our forefathers were and they worked together for the betterment of all so we could reap the benefits of a 40 year period of unprecedented success.

For those who feel reluctant to stand up and be counted, please remember, “He who has the most, has the most to lose.”

But we have children and God knows we cannot afford to lose any more of them.

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Two injured in single vehicle crash in North Side

| 26/09/2011 | 10 Comments

(CNS): A major smash involving a single vehicle closed the North Side road in both directions on Sunday in the heart of the district. The collision which involved a BMW occurred at around 7:30pm when the car reportedly smashed into railings close to the North Side cemetery. Both men inside the car, which was flipped onto its roof a considerable distance from where the car had collided, were taken to the George Town hospital. Although police have not yet confirmed the details of the smash or the condition of the driver and his passenger it is understood the men do not have life threatening injuries. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

Anyone who witnessed the accident is asked to call the RCIPS traffic management on 949 4222

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No backdoors to status

| 26/09/2011 | 74 Comments

(CNS): Workers who take up government’s rollover reprieve over the next two years will not be able to count that time in a permanent residency application, according to Sherri Bodden-Cowan, chair of the team of immigration experts tasked by the premier to give the Immigration Law a full review. The rollover suspension will not impact any other area of immigration law currently in operation, nor will it mean that all 5,686 individuals who may have been rolled over between now and 2013 will get to remain on Island or move to permanent residency and status. Bodden-Cowan has warned of a rigorous procedure where only the most needed workers will remain.

She told CNS that if someone is at their seven year term limit they will be allowed to apply for up to two year’s extension, which will allow them to continue to work, but this will not entitle them to count that time in a PR application.

According to the European Convention on Nationality (to which the UK is a participant), individuals who have been legally resident in a country for ten years should have the opportunity to become naturalised citizens of that country. Consequently, fears have arisen in the local community that thousands of people, if they take up the opportunity to apply for another permit after their seven years are up, will be eligible to apply for PR and ultimately status as a result of the suspension of the rollover policy, expected to come into effect in the next few weeks.

Ensuring that the extra two years does not count towards an individual’s permanent residency application was an important factor when deciding how to implement the rollover suspension, Bodden-Cowan explained.

“One of the challenges we face is that people are saying that this move is just a back door to granting Caymanian status,” she said. “Status can only be granted if someone has been resident for 15 years, and naturalised for five years. Giving someone a two year extension from year seven to year nine gets them nowhere near the criteria they would need for Caymanian status. The most that it could do is make them eligible to apply for permanent residency under the points system, if the fact that the law says it shouldn’t count is challenged.”

Bodden-Cowan said it was extremely irresponsible for anyone to suggest that this is a backdoor grant for status. Confirming that extensions for individuals approaching their term limit would only be granted to employers who demonstrate a genuine need for the worker, she added that employers will need to show that they have pursued every other possible avenue in their economic power given the size of their business to train, promote and replace that employee with a Caymanian.

The boards will have to be very careful to justify the need for employers to continue to employ such a person, she explained.

Even so, the extension period does not prevent any employer from applying for the position of key for any employee. And if that request is turned down by the board, the employer can reapply every three months.

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Troubled kids to integrate

| 26/09/2011 | 68 Comments

(CNS): The education minister has revealed that children who have behavioural problems in school will no longer be excluded from the mainstream education system and sent to the Alternative Education Centre. Rolston Anglin said that the AEC is going to close because it has been a “complete failure” as almost three quarters (73%) of former students are currently in jail or have been killed in gang violence. From now on, young people who behave badly in the classroom will be treated within the mainstream system by trained teachers. Those who have very serious behavioural problems that cannot integrate will, once it is completed, attend the new therapeutic centre being developed by the community affairs minister.

Explaining the new approach to dealing with troubled children at a public meeting in West Bay last week, the minister said that the country had to change how it dealt with troubled children as so far it had failed.

“The Alternative Education Centre has been one of the biggest failures this country has ever had,” he said. “Seventy-three percent of children and young people that have gone through the AEC are currently either dead or in Northward prison. That’s the reason why I have taken the decision that it is going to be disbanded and we are going to replace AEC with an inclusion system where we train our teachers and keep our children … even the most challenged, in school.”

There is going to be a small overlap in the school year as the new therapeutic community for young people being created by the community affairs ministry is not yet finished. He said that there would be some youngsters who cannot be integrated in to themainstream system and they will be accommodated within the new therapeutic centre which will be addressing juvenile offenders and young people with severe behavioural problems.

The new centre at Bonaventure, in West Bay, will eventually house the country's juvenile offenders unit as well as provide supervised accommodation for exceptionally troubled youngsters who may not yet been sentenced by the courts.

“There’s going to be some young people for which the mainstream system doesn’t cut it. We have to be realistic about that. Those young people, they will be taken care of and managed at the therapeutic community,” Anglin added.

He said that over the last six years or so, almost every one of the young men that have been shot and killed had not been in high school. He said that when people have called for an overhaul of the entire education system, what people really meant was a reform of how the system deals with at risk youth.

The minister told the people of West Bay that the system now had included technical training courses in the system and workplace programmes. He also said that a new secondary afterschool programme had started to deal with kids between between 3pm and 5:30pm, when it is believed children are most at risk, and some 450 children had already signed up.

“We are trying to get an extended an afterschool programme in every single district for primary schools,” he said, adding that the George Town sports club had taken ownership of the programme that is going to be run out of George Town. He said that educators have known for a long time that between 3pm and 6pm was the most vulnerable time for young people but there has never been any kind of school based activity to fill that time.

Rolston said that the vast majority of the young people currently involved in the gangs did not start after they left school but were already involved in that activity and long before they finished school. “It is often a contributing factor to them going up to AEC and ultimately out of the school system,” the minister stated.

During the meeting the problem of a lack of job opportunities and career progression for Caymanians had been raised by West Bay resident and advocate for local opportunities, Mervin Smith, who pointed to the rising unemployment among local young people as a key contributing factor in the rise in violent crime. He said many of them did not have jobs, whether through choice or circumstance, but one of the young men murdered in West Bay recently had been looking for work and despite making many applications he had no calls back for a job.

Smith spoke for a number of people when he that he believed the forthcoming removal of rollover was likely to make things worse for young people who were failing in the job-market.

However, the education and labour minister said that while creating opportunities for young people to find work was very important and government had to put in mechanisms to create opportunity, it was how the country dealt with its at risk youth from an early age that would influence the levels of criminality.

The AEC was created for students aged 12 to 17 years who had been excluded from high school and was intended to create a different kind of learning environment for troubled youngsters.

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