Archive for November 4th, 2011

No jail over trailer death

| 04/11/2011 | 21 Comments

court good.jpg(CNS): A 52-year-old woman received two years probation under house arrest, 240 hours of community service and a three year driving ban for the death of a bus driver when a trailer she had secured with bungee cords came detached. Veramae Watson was found guilty by a jury of causing death by reckless driving in July this year in connection with an accident that occurred in 2007 on Shamrock Road. Edwin Edwards was badly injured in the smash and later died from his injuries. Handing down the sentence on Friday, Justice Alex Henderson said that there were exceptional circumstances in the case which allowed for a non-custodial sentence.

The judge stated that there were no aggravating features in the case but a combination of issues led to him finding that the “mitigating factors were exceptional.”

He described the circumstance of the reckless death as a “momentary lapse of judgment  with tragic and unforeseen consequences” and said that there were no other dangerous circumstances in the case. In addition the judge found that Watson's family circumstances were also exceptional. While family situations are not ordinarily a reason not to send a person convicted of this offense to jail, the judge said the circumstances in this case were special and added to the mitigating factors.

“This is an exceptional case,' Justice Henderson stated as he made his ruling. “Most cases are not exceptional and will result in a substantial term of imprisonment.”

The judge ordered that the defendant stay in her home for the first year of her probation under house arrest, except for the time she spent attending community service and for six hours on a Saturday to attend church and purchase necessities.

During the sentencing Henderson described how Watson was driving a jeep with a trailer that had a doughnut hitch on its front which did not match the receiver. In an attempt to alleviate this problem she had affixed two rubber straps – which proved to be insufficient.

Witnesses had testified that just before the trailer detached she had been driving safely and well under the 50mph speed limit on the road. The driver of the bus that was hit by the trailer was estimated by experts to be traveling at least 59mph in the other direction when the trailer veered across the road into the path of the van.

Watson had believed incorrectly that she could tow the trailer safely and revealed during the trial that she had already driven with the trailer hitched in this way on a previous occasion without incident.

With no criminal record and no previous driving violations, together with the mitigating and special circumstances, Watson avoided a jail term as the judge noted that there was provision in law for a non-custodial sentence.

During her sentencing hearing Watson had presented a letter to the court in which she express her horror at the tragic loss suffered by  Edwin Edwards' family and stated that she never would have imagined that she could be involved in the death of another human being. “It will remain with me for the rest of my life and my prayers are with them always,”she told the court.

See related story here

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Barnes faces first charge in relation to teen rape

| 04/11/2011 | 0 Comments

Jeffrey Barnes.jpg(CNS): Police have now charged 32 year old Jeffery Barnes with one count of sexual assault following his arrest on Tuesday. Barnes is expected to appear in summary court sometime today (Friday 4 November) when his case will be remitted to the Grand Court. Police stated that the charge relates to an assault on a 17-year-old female in the George Town area on Thursday 27 October. Barnes was also wanted by police in connection with a rape of a 49 year old woman on Saturday morning in Admiral’s Landing and police said that enquiries into this and at least one other reported case are on-going.

Barnes is suspected to have raped one of his own family members as well as another woman who made a report to police from overseas on the evening before officers apprehended the suspected serial rapist at an apartment in Ocean Club in Spotts.

Police also reported that a short time before the attack that Barnes is suspected of committing on the women in Admiral’s Landing on Saturday morning he had also reportedly attempted to lure an 11 year old girl in to his car.

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Ritz developer still owes $6million to the public purse

| 04/11/2011 | 0 Comments

ritzcarlton_grand_cayman.jpg(CNSBusiness): Michael Ryan, the developer of the Ritz Carlton – Grand Cayman, has still not made any further payments to the public purse in respect of the duty he owes, which was deferred during the development of the five-star resort until it was finished in 2005. As local business owners struggle to find the money to pay duties, fees and other rising business costs during difficult economic times, one of the country’s largest developers still owes government coffers more than $6 million.

Go to CNS Business to read full story and comment

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Benefits of 2-party system

| 04/11/2011 | 39 Comments

The two-party system in Cayman started over a decade ago and today there is still considerable debate as to its necessity. Many of us remember the “good old days” when we simply had elected officials lumped into the overall Executive Council. However, it was impossible to expect that Cayman politics was going to stay that way. 

We may reminisce about our innocent youth, but we are never going to get it back. The two-party system is here to stay.

The reason the two-party system exists in human affairs seems to stem from human nature itself. In whatever social-political arena we examine, the people in them fall into two broad categories. For sake of simplicity we call them “liberal” and “conservative.” Everywhere we look in the broad spectrum of humanity, people are divided into these two categories. Everyone we know is either a conservative or a liberal. In actual fact, this seems to be decided at a very early age in our life. It is difficult, if not impossible, to change one’s mind-set. You are either left or right. You are either liberal or conservative.

For example, in Cayman, we have UDP (liberals) and PPM (conservatives). American politics is also divided between liberals (Democrats) and conservatives (Republicans.) Despite the monarchy, English politics is also divided between political parties that are clearly liberal and conservative. In the US, news agencies (despite their claims of “objectivity”) are divided between liberal and conservative: CNN is liberal, and Fox is conservative. This is clear as day. In Cayman, radio stations (as evidenced by their talk-shows) are also divided between liberal and conservative. Even in our immediatefamilies, we see this divide.  No matter where we look in the world, the divide between liberal and conservative exists.

Of course there is the minority “independent” viewpoint. There are some people who do not like to be categorized and will say, “I am liberal when it comes to social issues, but fiscally, I am conservative.” Be that as it may, this “independent” person can nevertheless be categorized as a liberal or conservative. And usually, it’s how you view things socially and /or how you vote. We can hide from labels all we want, but the truth is you can be categorized. You are either on the “left” or on the “right.” 

Now why exactly is the two-party system inherent in human nature, and what are its benefits? There seems to be a simple answer. Generally speaking, liberal minded people are concerned more with the future, progress. Conservatives are usually concerned more with the past, tradition. (I said “generally speaking.”) A balance is needed between these two viewpoints. If all one did was focus on the future, without sufficient attention to the past, there would be danger of cutting oneself off from continuity. A tree without roots becomes unplanted very quickly. On the other hand, the danger of focusing on the past, without sufficient attention to the future, is that it would stunt growth. What good are the roots of a tree that bear no fruit?

The future mustbe balanced by the past, and the past must be balanced by the future. In other words, liberals and conservatives both need each other. Both parties are necessary for the advancement of society. We learn this concept of balance in debate class where two opposing viewpoints are formed to argue a topic. One side argues in favour of one perspective, and the other side argues in favour of the opposite. The reason this is done is so that a higher understanding of the topic can be achieved. If everyone believed the same thing, how would we advance in knowledge? It takes opposite viewpoints to advance human knowledge and society. This is called “dialectic.” It’s what we mean when we say “looking at both sides of the coin” or “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.” And so there is no such thing as one viewpoint being more correct than the other. If you subscribe to the UDP, this does not mean that the PPM is wrong. And if you subscribe to the PPM, this does not mean that the UDP is wrong.

And so it is useless to call for the de-establishment of the two-party system. What is really important is to establish a proper playing field so that both parties can properly expound their viewpoint with the necessary counter-balance. We must realize that members of the opposition are integral to the advancement of Cayman’s society. People with different political viewpoints from you deserve your respect. It is very likely that you can, and will, learn something from a viewpoint you do not subscribe to.

As always, there is religious confirmation of this. In Israel 2000 years ago, the Pharisees were liberals and Sadducees conservatives. The Pharisees were more lax on Jewish customs, whereas the Sadducees held tight to Jewish law. Jesus’ apostles were also divided between liberal and conservative. St Paul and St Peter fought bitterly about their opposite viewpoints. When Christianity began to spread to the Gentile world, St Peter (the conservative) did not want to do away with Jewish customs. St Paul (the liberal) said that those traditions were no longer necessary (Galatians 2: 11 – 14.) Jesus Himself chose both liberals and conservatives to spread His Church. Surely this confirms for us the necessity of having two parties in Cayman. Christ, in whom all things converge, is both conservative and liberal, which is why He could break the law if He wanted (Mark 2: 23 – 28), while at the same time recommend his followers to adhere to it (Matthew 23: 2 – 3).

I am not in the LA on a day-to-day basis, so I cannot say for sure, but from the outside it often seems that the two parties lack respect for each other, and for the most part seem intent on destroying one another’s personalities. This shows a lack of respect and understanding of the raison d’être of the two party system. From such derisive division, how can we expect unity in the Cayman Islands?

There must be acceptance and open communication between both sides. Recognize that both parties are necessary for the advancement of the Cayman Islands. St Peter and St Paul did not share the same views, but they came to an agreement because they had the same common goal: Christ. In the same way, PPM and UDP do not have to share the same views, but they must come to agreements from time to time for sake of their common goal: Cayman.

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Slow progress on review of FOI

| 04/11/2011 | 4 Comments

Dilbert crop_0.JPG(CNS): The information commissioner says she is still waiting on the outcome of the Legislative Assembly’s review of the Freedom of Information Law and despite her requests the committee has refused to reveal any of the public input it has received. A committee of the whole Legislative Assembly was created some 18 months ago to review the Freedom of Information Law to ensure it is functioning as intended. In the latest report from her office, Jennifer Dilbert notes that she submitted her recommendations to the committee more than a year ago but so far there has been no progress regarding any amendments.

The LA committee has formed a law review sub-committee, which is chaired by the attorney general and Dilbert submitted her recommendations to that committee in September 2010. A position paper on anonymity and fees was also sent to the FOI Law Review Committee in January of this year.

“On 7 April, the committee sought public input on changes to the law with a deadline for submissions of 8 May,” Dilbert said, adding that in order to facilitate public participation, the ICO published the two documents. The commissioner then requested that the committee provide her with copies of any input from the public and the FOI Unit so that she could give input.

“But the sub-committee declined to provide her with this information, indicating that they would prefer to wait until they have completed their review of the FOI Law before releasing any information which they are considering during their review,” the quarterly report reveals.

In early September, the information commissioner was invited to appear before the Law Review Committee but the meeting was postponed and a new date has still not been set.

See latest information commissioner’s report below.

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Trafficking fears raised over Filipino workers ban

| 04/11/2011 | 30 Comments

(CNS): The Philippines government has stated that it will stop processing of new workers to the banned 41 countries including Cayman by the middle of November, but a member of government there has warned of an increase in human trafficking cases as a result of the decision according to the Philippines media. On Wednesday The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) adopted a recommendation of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to stop the deployment of Filipino migrant workers to countries that lack laws to protect their rights but there are now concerns that it could but workers at greater risk.

“Should this go on for a long term, I foresee that we shall have a drastic rise in human trafficking because the demand for Filipino labour is dictated by market forces,” Ako Bicol party-list Representative Rodel Batocabe told Manila’s Sun Star. Batocabe said the government should have categorized the countries that lack protective measures for migrant Filipino workers first instead of immediately banning the deployment to these countries. Only those with serious violations should be banned, he said.

“This is a very drastic move by our government but I would like to believe that this is just on a short-term basis designed to strengthen the leverage of our government in negotiating for better terms and security for our workers in these countries,” Batocabe said.

However government has said it is already looking into treaties with governments of the countries affected

"We are not shutting the door to any host country but paving the way to reach a bilateral agreement and strengthening the diplomatic ties between the Philippines and the host countries. We do not want to antagonize them," DFA Ambassador Vic Lecaros said.
Despite the ban, OFWs will still be allowed to apply to countries with companies and contractors with international operations as provided by the Amended Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 which includes the Cayman Islands.

CNS has contacted the CI government to comment on the situation and to establish if a treaty will be signed in order that workers who are here will be able to renew contracts legal and whether local employers can continue to recruit from the Philippines and is awaiting a response. There are estimated to be more than 2500 Filipino workers on permits and the workers comprise the second largest group of foreign national migrant works after Jamaicans.

Check CNSBusiness on Monday for more on the ban and its impact on local business

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NHDT clients get new for old

| 04/11/2011 | 10 Comments

Nov%2030%20Government%20affordable%20-pic (240x300).jpg(CNS): Despite the increase in the value of the new properties being built in George Town, existing National Housing Development Trust clients in good standing will get a ‘new for old’ straight swap and will not be faced with an increased mortgage, officials have confirmed. The NHDT director said that existing home owners who are up to date and in good standing with their payments will be given a new home at the same cost as their original properties. Janet James the general manager confirmed that all mortgage clients will be subsidized by government equally.

There have been a number of concerns that owners of the older homes at the Windsor Park site which are being rebuilt would face an increase in their mortgages because the cost of the replacement homes is considerably greater than the original houses. Government has stated, however, that the houses will be replaced with better quality homes without any costs being borne by the owners.

“The mortgage clients that bought the existing homes that will be re-housed in the new models will not be forced to pay the difference of the cost on the new houses as the original cost of the property will stand,” Janet James the NHDT general manager told CNS.

The trust confirmed that demolition started at the Windsor Park site in June and the residents began moving in April. Government is paying the rent of homeowners who are in good standing until they are able to return to their homes.  According to an FOI request by a member of the public seen by CNS, the cost up to the beginning of November was just short of $200,000 for 6 months rent and deposits.

Last month the trust was thrown into turmoil when one of its board members, who has still not been named officially, was arrested under the anti-corruption law and police announced a full scale investigation into fraud and corruption.

The board which had been reduced down to only three members by the eve of the arrest was reappointed with a combination of new and returning members. According to a recent Freedom of Information request, a family member of one of those returning members had received a contract from the board in relation to the development of the new properties.

The anti-corruption law states that neither officials nor their family members can profit from their positions. However, the general manager stated that the board member in question had declared his interest.

According to the FOI request by a member of the public shown to CNS, Boldwin Jackson Construction was paid $27,750 for architectural services on the Windsor Park re-development and the owner of that firm is the father of Jaron Jackson, one of the returning board directors.

The trust said that in this particular tender five bidders were requested but only three bids were received for the job. “The director in question declared his interest and was not involved in the selection process,” James stated. The FOI revealed that the second bidder submitted a bid which was around $500 less but it also revealed that another $6000 was paid to Boldwin Jackson Construction at later date for further work on the drawings. In addition another $5000 was paid to Tropical Architectural Group for revised plans and amendments to the original plans for Windsor Park, the FOI revealed.

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Cayman teen signs withUK football club

| 04/11/2011 | 37 Comments

Photo 2 Sebastian Martinez (264x300).jpg(CNS): Local teen football star, 13-year-old Sebastian Martinez, has been signed up on an 18-month contract with Swindon Town Football Club in the UK. Martinez has already scored his first goal for the U13 development team against Bournemouth as the teen begins living his dream, officials from GIS have reported. With outstanding technique, speed and a remarkable feel for the game, Sebastian stood out from early on as he played for local Academy Sports Club’s U13 side. Before his departure, he was also named this year’s Most Valuable Player in the U13 league as well as the League Cup.

“It is an opportunity of a lifetime and I think it is brilliant that he has the chance to do this,” said dad Barry Martinez, who said the road to Swindon Town was paved with the help of many ardent supporters.

“Sebastian’s coaches at Academy Sports Club, Mr Winston Chung and Mr Virgil Seymour, were always looking and pushing for opportunities for him. He also had tremendous support from the Office of the Premier, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Sports and Footballs’ Technical Director, Carl Brown, who introduced him to former Swindon player and talent scout Fitzroy Simpson, who visited the Cayman Islands earlier this year,” Martinez told GIS.

What started as a two-week trial this July, turned into six weeks with Sebastian playing football at Liverpool, Birmingham City, Aston Villa, and Cardiff to name a few. Impressing his adopted club, he was subsequently offered the year-and-a-half contract.

Preparing for his first really cold winter, Sebastian stays in touch with friends and family via phone calls and BBM.

“I hope this opens doors for the many other talented players we have in the Cayman Islands,” said his dad. “We seriously need to pay attention to developing our young athletes. The fact that Sebastian is playing for a major club overseas shows others what is possible.”

Sports Minister Mark Scotland said the ministry would continue to work with the Cayman Islands Football Association to create opportunities for local players.

“Sports development is high on our agenda. Not only does this give talented youngsters opportunities to broaden their horizons, but it also gives our young people positive ideals to aspire to,” the minister said. “I would like to commend Sebastian’s parents for their tireless efforts in creating this opportunity for him”.

Scotland added that the ministry and CIFA are looking forward to a long-standing relationship with Swindon.

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Sex offender list needed now

| 04/11/2011 | 25 Comments

Sex_Offender1 (268x300).jpg(CNS): Local activist Sandra Catron says the latest sexual assaults demonstrate the need for a sex offender’s register in Cayman. She said the latest victims of suspected serial rapist Jeffery Barnes could have been saved if the register had been in place. Catron said that, given his distinctive look, if the victims had been armed with more information they may have been more vigilant and alert to the danger he posed. “This particular suspect already has several convictions for sexual offences and would have been the ideal candidate for the registry,” said the activist, who has campaigned for the register for several years.

The public register that Catron has envisioned would include sex offenders’ photos, descriptions, identifying marks and previous crimes.

“The idea is that the registry provides needed information on offenders and arms the general public with the knowledge of who these people are so that they can be avoided, as knowledge is power,” Catron said. "I just that I hope that this case will be the catalyst to finally let the authorities see the usefulness of a sex offenders registry and finally it will be picked up by the MLAs.”

Earlier this week in the wake of Barnes’ arrest, DetectiveSuperintendent Marlon Bodden said the RCIPS was in support of the sex offenders register but it was a policy decision that wasn’t his to make. He said that while the police do keep details of offenders, this is not open to the public.

Catron submitted her petition to Franz Manderson (now the deputy governor) for the register more than a year ago in October 2010 but says she has heard nothing since. She believes, however, that there is still overwhelming public support and hopes any objections can be overcome and the register finally established.

Although the register has gained support there are still concerns that identifying the offenders may also identify victims as most cases of sexual assault in Cayman occur between relatives. While Catron admitted that on an island this small it’s a possibility, she believes educating the public about not stigmatizing victims could address that issue.

She also noted that some of the suggestions on the petition regarding the issue were adopted into the last Children’s Law amendment, such as mandatory reporting.
Frustrated by the unexplained hold-up, Catron says she can see no legal block to creating a register with just convicted offenders as all of that information is already public and merely needs to be collated.

“It’s ironic to ask the public to help the police on the one hand but then seemingly advocating a cloak of silence on the other,” she added.

During the most recent attacks, Catron said, every woman in the community was at risk, even young children, and she urged the authorities to establish the register and begin education campaigns.

“The scourge of rape and sexual abuse does not stop with the one victim but has lasting implications for all members of our community and we have to take a proactive approach to stopping this violence in our community,” Catron added

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CNS Business launched today

| 04/11/2011 | 4 Comments

Busy_office_worker_IS354-007.jpg(CNS): A new website dedicated to business issues in the Cayman Islands and news relevant to our business community was launched today. Cayman News Service’s sister site, CNS Business, starts with a bang with a Business Viewpoint by former CIMA chair, Tim Ridley, on “The corrosion that is corruption”, while Butterfield Bank’s Phil Turnbull weighs in on the currency market with “An uncertain landscape”. There’s an update on the debt to government by the developer of the Ritz Carlton, while Health Minister Mark Scotland talks to CNS Business about the spiraling cost of healthcare in the Cayman Islands.

On the day that CNS readers can cash in their vouchers for a free brew from The Cayman Islands Brewery, CNS Business reports on the success the products of the local had this week at the Caribbean's largest beer festival — and readers can then try the products for themselves, compliments of CNS and CIB.

Today only, Friday 4 November, CNS readers are invited to share a free Caybrew, CayLight, Ironshore Bock or White Tip Lager to celebrate the launch of CNS Business, which can be claimed at one of three participating venues – Brick House and Dog House at Grand Harbour in Red Bay, and Club House at the Treasure Island Resort on the West Bay Road. Just click on the ad at the top of the CNS Business home page, next to the CNS Business logo, to download a voucher for your free beer (just one per person), which can be claimed at any time today.

“When Wendy and I launched CNS, we heard a lot about what we couldn't or shouldn't do if we wanted the site to be a success. Fortunately, we ignored much of it,” said CNS owner Nicky Watson.

“We felt that the Cayman Islands was ready for something a bit different, including — perhaps especially — the ability for readers to post feedback anonymously on the news articles. ‘Dem Bloggers’ have certainly ruffled a few feathers but have also helped shed light on what people who previously had no voice in these islands think about the issues of the day. With the launch of CNS Business, we're expecting our readers will also have a lot to talk about concerning business in the Cayman Islands — and many points to disagree on. We hope that anyone interested in the finance and tourism industries or local business will share their points of view, whatever they may be.”

CNS Business will be the first business publication in the Cayman Islands that will update every weekday, and to help us with this, the former editor of The Cayman Islands Journal, Lindsey Turnbull, is joining the CNS team.

“We want CNS Business to be a useful tool for the business community as a vehicle to let the movers and shakers and the decision makers know what is really happening, what you think of the issues and what you need,” said Watson. “Cayman needs a freeflow of ideas and people to listen to them, and we hope to be one avenue to help this along.”

If you have any ideasfor CNS Business, please post them in the forum topic CNS Business – what do you want to see?.

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