Archive for November 21st, 2011

Police charge West Bay teen over gun

| 21/11/2011 | 3 Comments

(CNS): A West Bay teenager has been charged following the recovery of an illegal hand gun in the wake of a car smash last week. Sources have revealed that Robert Aaron Crawford, who was one of three men acquitted of the fatal shooting of Alrick Peddie just over four months ago, has been charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm after police apprehended him as he tried to escape from the scene of the crash on Esterly Tibbetts Highway at around 3am Friday. A police spokesperson confirmed Monday that a nineteen-year-old man will appear in court Tuesday over the weapon and ammunition found in the bushes close to where he was caught.

Crawford was one of two men arrested by officers from the Uniform Support Group after they followed what they said was a suspicious vehicle in the early hours of 18 November. The officers were on patrol in the area close to the Grand Pavilion, West Bay Road, when they noticed the car making off from the location. It drove along West Bay Road towards George Town and turned onto Esterly Tibbetts, where at a point close to the rear of the Ritz Carlton, the car collided with a road barrier. As the police approached the scene of the crash, two men ran away from the vehicle.

The officers pursued one of the men into the bush area and he was arrested when the gun and ammunition were found nearby. The weapon was not fired and no one was injured. The second man was arrested a short time later on suspicion of leaving the scene of an accident and police said this man remains in police custody while enquiries continue.

Crawford’s co-defendant in the Peddie murder, Jose Sanchez, was arrested only days after he was acquitted for possession of an imitation firearm and was scheduled to face trial this week in connection to the incident outside a West Bay bar, but the trial was postponed on Monday. Sanchez remains in custody after breaking his bail conditions and has now spent the best part of the four months back in Northward since his release in the wake of the murder trial .

In April 2010 Crawford and Sanchez, along with Deward Roger Bush, were charged with the murder of Peddie, who was gunned down in broad daylight in a West Bay yard last year, and all three were remanded in custody. The men remained in jail for well over one year until their acquittal this summer.

Anyone who has information that could assist the police with this or any other crime is asked to contact George Town police station on 949-4222, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777 or the confidential Crime Stoppers number 800-8477(TIPS).

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CS will want more benefits if charged for health cover

| 21/11/2011 | 50 Comments

(CNS): Government is currently reviewing the need for civil servants to start paying towards their own healthcare cover but they will want to see proof of extra benefits if they are forced to contribute, Dr Paulino Rodrigues, of the Cayman Islands Civil Servants Association, has said. The senior civil servant said that government workers don’t perceive healthcare as “free” but as a benefit of around $1,000 per family per month, in lieu of other perks common in the private sector such as share options or pay rises. “We would have to see deep discussion and proven benefits if we were required to pay an extra $500 a month, for example,” he said at last week’s national health conference.

Speaking on a panel looking at the patients’ role in reducing healthcare costs at the government sponsored Healthcare 20/20 conference atThe Ritz-Carlton, Rodrigues told the audience that if local civil servants are to contribute to their healthcare, as private sector employees in the islands was required to do, they need to see something for it.

Healthcare covering civil servants, veterans and seafarers and indigents cost the government $93.4 million in the 2009-2010 financial year, or just less than one fifth of the total budget, a figure which both the premier and the health minister have stated is unsustainable.

Jennifer Ahearn, the health ministry’s chief officer, said they were currently reviewing expenditure in all areas, and looking at whether civil servants should pay something towards their healthcare and their overall benefits package in general was definitely “on the table”.

The preliminary findings of a civil service survey revealed that most civil servants are relatively happy with their present healthcare coverage from the government’s health insurance provider, CINICO. But they are not satisfied with waiting times and have issues with the quality of care and lack of specialist service.

Rodrigues presented these initial findings to the audience, sayingthat he represented the 4,000 civil servants and their dependents, which totaled between 12,000 and 15,000 individuals, or about 20 per cent of the population. The survey of 30 questions was sent to all civil servants and they had so far received responses from about 20 per cent of them, which he said was “pretty good”.

Talking about the liability of civil servants when it came to healthcare costs, Rodrigues said that most civil servants were healthy and that most healthcare costs came from the very young and the elderly. “The vast majority of civil servants don’t use the healthcare system that often, only about 4 per cent,” he said.

He did concede, however, that about a quarter of civil servants or their dependents had pre-existing conditions which required long term healthcare provisions. Rodrigues added that the civil service was open and willing to look at where costs were coming from. “We will work with the Ministry of Health, CINICO and the Health Services Authority, whoever can help to reduce costs,” he said. 

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Young boxer takes on second pro challenge

| 21/11/2011 | 1 Comment

Peter Lewison.jpg(CNS): Local pro boxer Peter “Lightning” Lewison will be fighting his second professional boxing match against Florida’s Brant Skyler on Saturday 26 November. The 24-year-old Caymanian boxer, following in the footsteps of his role model, Caymanian boxer Charles “Killa” Whittaker, made the transition from amateur to professional boxer in June this year when he fought his first professional fight, alongside Whittaker, in “Ambush” at Camana Bay. Lewison knocked out Florida fighter Alex Lubo in the second round, despite Lubo’s greater experience. As an amateur boxer, Lewison excelled in the New York Golden Gloves competition and spent time training at the world famous Gleasons Gym in New York, which has trained world class boxers such as Mike Tyson. 

Saturday’s event looks set to be an exciting one, also featuring undercard fights by local up and coming amateur boxers Thomas McField, Aaron Powell and Dariel Ebanks.

Doors open at 6:30pm at the D Dalmain Ebanks Boxing gym in the Truman Bodden Sports Complex. Tickets are available now. Call 927 0092 or visit www.lightninglewison.com for further details.
 

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Government’s young politicians back Dart deal

| 21/11/2011 | 29 Comments

For Cayman alliance.jpg(CNS): The youth branch of the country’s ruling party has said that it supports the ForCayman Investment Alliance, a controversial deal the government proposes to sign with the Dart Group. While admitting that not everyone in the Young United Democratic Party (YUDP) is in favour of all aspects of the deal, the president believes that overall the plan is a good one for Cayman. Richard Christian said that after the YUDP reviewed the proposal, it felt the deal would stimulate what he described as a stagnant economy. The young potential future politician said the YUDP also wanted to be sure Caymanians would be given priority for employment in the projects relating to the deal. 

“While not everyone supports all aspects of the partnership, including some YUDP members, we recognized the importance of the alliance and overall benefits," said Christian. “You will rarely get all people to agree on a subject but we at times have to do what’s in the best interest for the majority.”

The YUDP said there were several reasons why it would support the alliance, including Dart’s promise of a new waste management facility in Bodden Town and the capping and remediation of the existing dump in George Town. The party also said it welcomed the commitment from the developer of some $18 million in cash for education, housing and community projects.

Christian admitted that although there was much controversy over the West Bay Corridor Projects, which include enhancements to Public Beach, the extension of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway and the redevelopment of a new 4-5 star hotel in place of the Courtyard Marriott Hotel, the membership is in favour of expanding the public beach and the closure of the West Bay Road.

“I see no real threat or detriment in having the proposed road closed,” added Christian.

The YUDP leader said the deal had enormous economic implications for the country and would facilitate infrastructure projects that otherwise would not get the funding. “Some say we are giving too much away. I don’t think so. Had we addressed these infrastructure projects before now, there may not have been the need for this partnership.”

Offering support for the independent financial and legal review that government has said will be part of the due diligence process, Christian said he believed the Dart Group had demonstrated that it was committed to making Cayman a better place for the future.

“I admit, when I first heard about Dart in the mid 90’s, it wasn’t anything good,” Christian stated. “I now realize it was all negative propaganda. They have proven themselves to be a great corporate citizen, employing over 500 persons, 60% Caymanians, and donating millions of dollars each year to local charities.”

The president said the young political party would be seeking assurances from the government that Caymanian companies and workers would be given priority for employment. “We have persons losing their homes and can't put food on the table for their families. We need to really look at the overall benefits in this alliance and get these projects going so persons can provide for their families and get back their dignity,” the YUDP President added.

Government announced its intention to enter into the deal with Dart in June, more than five months ago, and has since reportedly been involved in negotiations towards signing the final agreement. As yet, the full details have not been revealed nor has a date when government expects the deal to be finalized.

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Cayman ‘let down’ by UK

| 21/11/2011 | 154 Comments

union-jack-on-houses-of-parliament-hdr-f003f003f00545620ba5.jpg(CNS): Although the majority of Caymanians want the islands to remain a territory of the United Kingdom, many feel that in recent years the relationship has not been a positive one and the UK has let Cayman down. The committee tasked with collecting the opinions of the people about the future of the relationship for a new UK white paper revealed their findings in a report of its review published Friday. Among their many other findings, the report reveals a clear contradiction that the committee said would be difficult to balance. On the one hand there is a strong desire for more local autonomy from the British but on the other hand the people want the UK to act as a stronger check on their own government.

Although only a few people believed that the UK-Cayman relationship had broken down completely, many believed that the UK had not represented Cayman’s best interests on the international stage, with the parties appearing to be at “loggerheads”.

Among the many issues the review uncovered was the belief in the community that when the Cayman Islands came under pressure from the international financial community, it was let down by a failure on the part of the United Kingdom government to fully represent the interests of Cayman and protect them where necessary.

However, the report also found that people believe the relationship with the UK creates an image of stability for the financial services industry and there were concerns that steps towards the independence of the Cayman Islands would almost certainly result in a major loss of confidence in the sector.

During the review the committee saw that Caymanians were interested in pursuing not just a “greater awareness of precisely what the United Kingdom can provide by way of assistance”, but also ways in which this relationship could be nurtured and become more productive. 

“An improved relationship is likely to require a process of mutual education, with the United Kingdom and its people needing to learn about and better understand the various Territories and their distinct features; as opposed to a one-way process where the people of the Territories merely had to come to terms with what the United Kingdom prescribes,” the report stated.

Like the findings of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United Kingdom Parliament, the reviewers said people want the UK and Overseas Territories relationship to be based on something more than an annual meeting of the Overseas Territories Consultative Council. "Properly consulting and representing the Overseas Territories in issues that affect them is an important part of creating the type of ‘modern partnership’ which may prevent the need for direct intervention,” the report said.

The committee found a significant contradiction in the community, with a desire for more control for Cayman to govern itself but at the same time more checks on the potential excesses of those elected to office and the administrative arm of government.

“What is sought is an additional check on local governance as part of the overall balance in the constitutional arrangements,” the report revealed, while at the same time seeking greater local autonomy.  “In some senses these may well be straining in different directions, although there is nothing to say that more local autonomy could not be ceded, while at the same time establishing a relationship that effectively builds in the necessary controls.”

Although not expressed in technical terms, the option of a free association agreement, somewhat akin to the position in Bermuda, which has not previously been made available to Cayman, was an idea commonly put forward in the wider community, the committee found.

When it came to good governance, the report says that the community welcomes and wants greater transparency and accountability from its government.  “This sentiment was manifest both in the context of procurement and in the operation of boards and committees appointed by government," the report said, adding that the people called for elected officials and senior civil servants to be subject to enhanced provisions to reveal and prevent conflicts of interest.

The review heard calls for more stringent application of anti-corruption laws and increased checks and balances to be enshrined in the constitution because, the public said, even the perception of corruption is potentially damaging, not least because this can deter investment and inhibit development.

Many people also said the formalization of party politics is a problem for Cayman as it is too small to sustain two or more different parties.  The party system was described as too divisive, feeding patronage and creating unnecessary animosity.  But the people also made it clear they want more political say and that it was important to engage people in the political process. There were evident concerns “that people need to be free to express themselves without fear of victimization and intimidation.” 

When it comes to economic development, the report reveals there are suspicions of the concessions provided to the so-called “big names” and there was a call for more support for small business and innovation.

There is a desire to enhance the relationship between the Cayman Islands and the United Kingdom, the report found, and an interest in greater local governance, while at the same time ensuring that every necessary check is in place to guarantee that there is good governance and transparency.

The report will form the basis of the Cayman Islands premier’s position on behalf of the Cayman people when talks about the new white paper begin in London this week at the Overseas Territories Consultative Council. The UK has also received feedback from all its territories via the open website, which has enabled everyone to freely comment about the future of the UK and its last remaining territories.

Premier McKeeva Bush said Friday that he would present a copy of the report to Henry Bellingham, the UK’s FCO minister with responsibility for the territories, as well as his colleagues at the council meeting. Since the aim of the exercise is to improve and strengthen Cayman’s relationship with the UK, Bush said Cayman was willing to change, such as in areas of procurement, but “we are not going to sit still or be taken advantage of,” he added.

See full report below.

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Local Pioneers and King James Bible stamps released

| 21/11/2011 | 0 Comments

xmas stamp 75c.JPG(CNS): The Cayman Islands Postal Service has released two new sets of stamps this month: one makes up this year’s Christmas stamp collection, which also celebrates the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, and the other honours the Cayman Islands ‘Pioneers of Our History’, and features Capt Royal Brazley Bodden Sr, Almeria Alberta McLaughlin Tomlinson, Miss Irksie Leila Yates and Major Joseph Rodriguez (Roddy) Watler. The five-set Christmas series features King James I, the monarch who was responsible for organising the most famous English translation of the Bible, which is one of the most published books of all time. A portrait of King James is featured on the 75¢ stamp.

The 25¢ stamp depicts the cover of the KJB and illustrates the apostles Peter and Paul seated above the central text, flanked by Moses and Aaron. In the four corners, sit Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, authors of the four gospels, with their symbolic animals.

The 80¢ stamp features William Tyndale, who in 1526 translated the first version of the New Testament into English. He is considered to be the ‘Father of the English Bible’, but rather than being a hero, he was imprisoned and later tried, defrocked and sentenced to death. The $1 stamp depicts the printing of the King James Bible and the $1.60 stamp is of the translators, a group of 48 scholars.

The ‘Pioneers of Our History’ series was released on Friday, 11 November and later on that day, the families of the four pioneers celebrated the launch at the Governor’s House along with Governor Duncan Taylor and his wife, Marie-Beatrice Taylor, Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and Speaker of the House Mary Lawrence.

pioneer stamps.PNGCapt. Royal Brazley Bodden Sr, MBE (1885–1976) was a skilled architect and shipbuilder. His works included the vessels Lady Slater and the Cimboco. He designed and constructed the Elmslie Memorial Church, as well as the General Post Office, Public Library and Town Clock, andthe town halls in West Bay, Bodden Town and East End, among other landmark buildings.

Mrs Almeria Labertha McLaughlin Tomlinson (1882–1974) was a highly respected midwife on Cayman Brac, who delivered hundreds of babies from Spot Bay to West End and also in Little Cayman, to which she travelled by catboat, sometimes in very rough seas.

Miss Irksie Leila Yates (1899–1996) hailed from Grand Cayman and was drawn to nursing from childhood. After leaving school, she worked with Dr Overton, the island’s only doctor, receiving valuable training in handling both deliveries and infectious diseases, and by 1919 she was known as Nurse Leila. She delivered her first baby in 1923. In 1952 she began delivering babies at the Cayman Hospital.

Major Joseph Rodriguez (Roddy) Watler (1890–1965) served the Islands in the Police Force for over 30 years, principally as Inspector of Police but also as warehouse keeper, lighthouse keeper, bailiff, customs officer and aide-de-camp to the Commissioner of the Cayman Islands and visiting governors. Major Rodriguez was also honoured with a medal of bravery for actions during the 1932 hurricane, when he and another person traveled in a canoe from South Sound through Prospect and Red Bay, rescuing people who had been swept from their homes. He was given the title Major during World War II as head of the Home Guard.

Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow said, “From the beginning, we planned that this series would be a living, breathing issue in which the public would be able to participate by nominating pioneers.” Each pioneer is celebrated in a booklet containing a brief biography as well as stamps.

The subcommittee for this stamp issue has already met to begin working on the second ‘Pioneers of Our History’ set of stamps. “What we are asking the public to do when making a nomination is to complete it with the person’s biographies and several pictures of that person,” Glasgow said.

The criteria set by the Stamp Advisory Committee are that the persons nominated should have been deceased for at least 10 years and that they made a significant contribution to the national development of these islands. Persons may be nominated in the following categories: maritime, architecture, science, environment, health care, politics, sports, arts, education and performance.

The ‘Pioneers’ and the Christmas stamps are currently on sale at all post offices. For more information, contact Philatelic Bureau 946-4757.xmas stamps set.JPG

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Charity survey to strengthen civil society

| 21/11/2011 | 0 Comments

charity.jpg(CNS): The estimated 250 registered charities operating in the Cayman Islands, as well as all non-registered Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are being invited to take part in a survey, which Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor says will provide a comprehensive picture of the civil society sector in the Cayman Islands, identifying their sphere of activity and influence in the community. According to Marilyn Conolly of Innotiva Ltd, who is managing the study, the research will be broad in scope covering non-profit and non-governmental agencies, such as the Cancer Society and Special Olympics as well as churches and professional associations that all are included in the civil society sector.

The key outcome of the research project is to build capacity of civil society in the Cayman Islands to encourage their role as advocates, and supporters of good governance in our community. 

The research is co-sponsored by the Governor’s Office and the Office of the Premier, and all CSOs who complete the survey will be listed in Cayman’s first comprehensive online civil society directory, as well as being eligible to win CI$1000 worth of advertising from dms Broadcasting and CI$700 worth of advertising from Cayman News Service and CNS Business.

While government and the private sector support a significant number of non-profit and non-governmental organisations, there are many unanswered questions about the role, scope, finances, and activity areas of these organisations as well as the impact of these organisations on the community at large, a release from Innotiva says.

Governor Duncan Taylor explained, “The Cayman Islands and the Caribbean Overseas Territories as a whole are undergoing significant social, economic and environmental transformation.  This research will provide a comprehensive picture of the civil society sector in the Cayman Islands, identifying their sphere of activity and influence in the community.  I am pleased that my Office is able to support this worthwhile and important exercise.’”

The survey that will be accessible to the public online and will be used as a tool to examine the needs of CSOs and the extent to which they collaborate, share resources and support national priorities. The survey responses are strictly confidential and the names of organisations will not be disclosed in the survey analysis.  

Premier McKeeva Bush acknowledged the work done by civil society organisations for the enhancement of the common good of the community. “I encourage all relevant organisations to take part in this survey because the government and the public at large need to have a clearer understanding of the role of civil society organisations, and the challenges they face.  We know that a large number of non-profit organisations are at least partly funded by the government; we know too that there are some generous private donors,” he said.

“In these difficult economic times however, we need to collaborate more and share resources for most cost-effective results.  From professional associations to grass roots organisations, the role of the civil society sector in this community is likely to expand, as the public-private partnership in our islands is enriched by broadened corporate social responsibilities.  This research will provide us with much needed data on how we can develop that partnership more effectively.”

Government said that it intends to make good use of this research to facilitate the timely evolution of a more far- reaching partnership with CSOs.

To learn more about this research and to take the survey go to caribbeancivilsociety.org or contact Marilyn Conolly at 938-6300.

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