Archive for November 27th, 2011

CIG has 4 years to sort debt

| 27/11/2011 | 64 Comments

(CNS): The agreement signed by McKeeva Bush this week in Londongives the Cayman Islands government just over four years to address its debt problem. In the meantime, the Financial Framework pins the government down to some stringent rules and will see the UK taking a closer eye on how money is spent and managed. The agreement calls for “robust cost benefit analysis” on all development projects and the need for independent accounting, legal, financial, environmental and other technical advice on all public-private partnerships.  All future projects will need to be properly justified and the appraisals published for public scrutiny before procurement.

According to the final draft of Framework for Fiscal Responsibility agreement (FFR) (attached below), from now on the Cayman government will need to retain sufficient expert advice “to ensure it is an intelligent customer” when it comes to private sector suppliers and partners on major projects. It also calls for “competent teams to manage all projects” and ensure quality of service.

The deal requires government to monitor civil service spending and performance as well as monitoring actual results against the annual budget. In future government will need to pay much closer attention to its liabilities, such as health care and the public sector pension’s burden. The FFR also calls on government to publish actuarial assessments publicly at least every three years.

The new arrangement requires the local government to send information to the UK regarding Cayman’s finances on a regular basis and on request. From tri-annual reports of contingent liabilities to monthly reports on its liquid assets, the UK will also be able to request, among other things, detailed updates on the progress of projects on demand as well as proposals for projects

Any breach of the arrangement will see the UK more or less take control of the local public purse and prevent government from making any significant spending decisions.

The stringent requirements of the new deal will put pressure on government to spell out the full details of any proposed project which involves government assets and public sector involvement, such as the proposed port development, the airport renovation and the ForCayman Investment Alliance.

Furthermore, the FFR highlights the risk of government companies and statutory authorities that may need significant funding to prop them up and has ratedCayman Airways, the National Housing Development Trust, the Tourism Attraction Board and the Cayman Turtle firm as having an 80% risk of requiring further government subsidies.

See final draft of FFR signed in London last week below.

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Internet bullying suit filed

| 27/11/2011 | 0 Comments

_DEW4857-web.jpg(CNS): In what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the Cayman Islands, a law suit has been filed in the Grand Court in relation to accusations of internet bullying. Local community activist and former political candidate Sandra Catron has filed a suit against a former boyfriend and two women for web-based harassment as a result of the failure of the local authorities to protect her from the bullying, which she fears may escalate. In the suit Catron said that Jose Venner and the other defendants undertook “a systematic defamatory attack” on her character and “committed both libel and slander” against her on internet sites including Facebook. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

Catron said the defendants made false police reports about her and accusations that were completely unfounded as they bullied and harassed her on the internet. She is claiming $100,000 indamages.

She approached the authorities but was told by the police that there was not much that they could do to prevent the harassment. She said that she felt her only option was to try and put an end to the problem via a civil suit.

The local activist told CNS that she had genuine concerns that the online harassment could go further. Since the police say they cannot do anything, by filing a suit Catron said she may prevent what she fears is a dangerous escalation and put an end to the cyber-attack, which has gone on for several months.

Although Catron tried to put an amicable end to the harassment, her efforts were met, she said in the claim, by further attacks by all three defendants.  Catron said she continues to pursue her complaints with the police and has complained to the employers of the people she said are bullying her, as well as filing complaints to the immigration department, but the bullying has continued.

“Several cease and desists emails were sent directly to all three defendants,” Catron stated, adding that  Venner has been warned on at least three occasions via email and other times verbally to remove his defamatory comments but Catron said he hasn’t done so and has added further postings.

In the statement of claim Catron said the man with whom she had a relationship, his current girlfriend and his mother have used both Facebook and other sites to attack her and ruined her reputation both in the Cayman Islands and abroad to satisfy “a personal vendetta".

“Throughout the entire relationship Mr Venner was extremely dishonest and apparently only sought to use me for financial gain and obtaining job security here in the Cayman Islands,” Catron said in the statement of claim. “I have email evidence in Mr Venner's own words to support this statement. It appears that both he and Ms Keisha Christian concocted a scheme for him to be able to use me to find a new job etc. and then return to her once my usefulness to him expired,” Catron stated.

The issue of online bullying, and in particular on Facebook, has reached the courts in other jurisdictions and there have been a number of criminal cases in the US where people have been charged with harassment. In the UK, under the new cyber security strategy, the police and courts are being encouraged to make more use of existing "cyber sanctions" to restrict access for online bullies.

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Sex offender jailed for truck terror

| 27/11/2011 | 11 Comments

court house_1.JPG(CNS): A judge has sentenced a 38-year-old man to four years in jail after he subjected his date to a terrifying ordeal when she refused to have sex with him. Murphy Powell pleaded guilty to wrongful confinement and dangerous driving as a result of keeping a woman in his truck as he drove erratically across the length of Grand Cayman, taunting her after she rejected his advances. Justice Charles Quin said that although Powell, who already has several convictions for sexual related offences, did not physically harm the woman, it was clear “that the woman was frightened out of her wits” by the speed he was driving and because she had no idea what he planned to do to her.

A considerable part of his victim’s ordeal was recorded by 911 emergency services as she had the foresight to dial 911 on her cell phone, which she had in her bag, once her date with Murphy turned into a nightmare.

Colleen Cummings had spent the afternoon of Sunday, 31 January, on a date with Powell, in which they had gone to a few bars around Grand Cayman. As the afternoon turned into evening the victim said she wanted to go home. But when they finally departed from the eastern end of the island and began heading back to George Town, where the victim had parked her own car, Murphy turned to his date and told her that her that he was going to sleep with her that night. The woman refused, pointing out that they had only recently met and needed to get to know each other.

From that point on, Cummings said, Murphy changed and, after being perfectly well behaved throughout the date, began to be verbally abusive. He told her that if she was not going “to put out, then she should get out” of the truck, which he was by this time driving erratically at a frightening speed, making it impossible for his victim to escape.

In shock by the sudden turn of events but unable to get out of the car without risking her life as they charged towards South Sound, Cummings repeatedly told Murphy she would not sleep with him and asked him to stop the truck, which he would not do. As the defendant reached South Sound he turned the truck around and headed back east. She then dialled 911 on her phone and beganengaging him in conversation to direct the attention of the operator to her plight and her location.

Her ordeal was then recorded for some 42 minutes as Murphy drove her to the High Rock area of East End, where he drove down a dark road and the woman said she was “distraught and hopeless” as the police had still not come to her aid. At this point the victim was afraid that she would be raped or even killed. Although the truck was not locked ,she could not get out as Murphy was driving dangerously fast.

Close to the quarry in the area, Murphy stopped the truck and ordered her outside, where she said it was pitch dark and she was far too afraid to get out. The defendant then started up the truck again and continued on his hair raising ride across the island taunting and verbally abusing his date.

As the truck reached Midland Acres Murphy spotted a police car and he sped up to some 90 miles an hour, and despite her pleas for him to slow down, he carried on at break-neck speeds through Bodden Town with no lights as the police gave chase.

Eventually the defendant appeared to become concerned and began to slow down as they approached Savannah and the victim seized the opportunity to jump from the truck. The defendant sped off.

The police continued to chase the defendant, who, despite crashing the truck, ignored the instructions of the police and continued speeding away. With more police in pursuit, the defendant continued driving dangerously weaving across traffic and on the wrong side of the road into George Town, where the police ordered the cars in pursuit to stand down and the defendant escaped the authorities.

However, two weeks later he gave himself up to police and eventually admitted his guilt and apologised to his victim.  “I was doing stupidness and going too far,” Murphy admitted to the court, as he said he was vexed his date had refused to have sex with him and he had had too much to drink.

Although he did not physically harm his victim, Justice Quin said he had still subjected her to a terrifying ordeal as a result of her not knowing what the defendant was going to do and because of the sheer speed and dangerous manner in which he drove.

Referring to Murphy’s decision to take his victim to the quarry in East End, he said this was when she was in greatest fear for her safety. “This was wrongful confinement which caused extreme mental anguish … and the complainant experienced a nerve shattering ordeal from which she is still recovering,” the judge stated in his ruling.

The judge gave Murphy two and a half years in jail for the crime of wrongful confinement and a further 18 months to run consecutively for the dangerous driving, resulting in the four year sentence. He also gave a two year driving ban to begin after his release from prison. The court heard that Murphy had a number of previous convictions, including four for sexual assault and one for assault.

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Dart to divert gifts from tenants to the needy

| 27/11/2011 | 0 Comments

Food hamper to Willard Morais (240x300).jpg(CNS): The Lions Club of Tropical Gardens is hoping to double the number of Christmas hampers it gives to families in need this holiday season. Last year the service club managed to deliver 32 baskets  but with the help of  Camana Bay and the Regatta Office Park they hope to help more families. Colleen Cummings, Assistant Property Manager for Dart Realty said that instead of giving Christmas baskets to the firm’s office tenants the funds would diverted to help those who are truly in need. “Christmas is the season for giving and sharing time with our loved ones, and we wholeheartedly support the Lions Club of Tropical Gardens in their efforts to help those who may not be able to afford to prepare a holiday meal for their family,” she said.

Lion Belinda Blessitt Vincent, President of the LCTG said that this initiative has impacted many families in the community and has allowed the Club to make a positive difference in these lives and the sponsorship will allow the Club to provide for more families this year. The Lions Club is now collecting the names of families who are in need and would benefit from this effort.  “Please contact us at lctg1993@gmail.com if you or you know someone who would like to benefit from this initiative,” Vincent said.

Ed Semans, Senior Property Manager for Dart Realty (Cayman) Ltd said Dart was keenly aware that there are many families in the Cayman Islands who are struggling to make ends meet, let alone give their children a memorable Christmas.
“As a community we have a responsibility to assist these families and Dart Realty is proud to play its part by helping several worthy local charities and organisations to continue their amazing work at this time of year,” he added.
 

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Doctors call for return to family-based healthcare

| 27/11/2011 | 7 Comments

the-doctor (216x300).jpg(CNS): Two of Cayman’s medical practitioners have called for more focus on the relationship between patients and family doctors and less on specialists referrals for every medical need. The local doctors said that family-based medicine was the cornerstone of healthcare and could help to reduce escalating healthcare costs. Dr Steve Tomlinson said patients should only be going to the ER if they had a real emergency and should not be hopping from physician to physician and demanding procedures that they did not need, while Dr Virginia Hobday, vice president of the Cayman Islands Medical and Dental Society, said that quality care was not always expensive and that change was needed.

She pointed to the spiraling cost of care, particularly obstetric and tertiary level care, combined with exponential medical malpractice coverage. “At some point a breaking point will come,” she warned at the Healthcare 20/20 conference, held last at The Ritz-Carlton earlier this month. “The CIMDA does not want to see doctors forced out of obstetrics in the Cayman Islands, as has happened in other countries.”

Dr Hobday said that even though tremendous research had been undertaken, modern healthcare systems did not consistently deliver safe, effective and affordable healthcare. “In the US, spending is twice that of other developed countries, yet key quality outcome indicators lag behind international benchmarks,” she said.

The doctor used the example of palliative care as a good indicator of quality and cost effective healthcare, stating that as the medical director of Cayman Hospice Care she saw patients, as in other parts of the world, incurring huge bills pursuing aggressive treatments and debilitating chemotherapy, which their doctors had advised.

“Some of these are futile and can cause unnecessary suffering at a stage of disease which cannot be cured or the patient even given useful time,” Hobday said, adding that there was also excessive use of technology to investigate when the outcome of these tests would no longer make any difference to the care the patient receives.

Palliative care had been proven to be cost effective globally, because it was community-based, nurse-led and low technology.  It avoided patients being admitted to hospital which saved money and kept them at home where they wanted to be, she said.

Looking at medicine as an art as well as a science might help to reduce costs, Dr Hobday suggested.  “Robust primary care, preventative-based healthcare and family based medicine are the cornerstones of healthcare systems, rather than open access and specialist-led care, would reduce costs. Practicing defensive medicine never will,” she said.

Engaging the consumers by providing information on conducting healthy lifestyles was also necessary and providing programme options to allow them better access to services based upon their personal needs was also crucial, she said.

Dr Steve Tomlinson, founder and physician at the Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital, said that the increases in costs for healthcare in Cayman were caused by a number of factors, including importation of commodities mostly from the US, a lack of benefit from economies of scale, escalating malpractice premiums, utilities among the highest in the world and immigration costs.

“We know that healthcare is costly and every effort must be made to stop it spiraling out of control,” he said, stating that a country’s healthcare must rely on its economic model. Dr Tomlinson said that health began with being healthy and that all health professionals could help more with this. He said patients should avoid the over utilisation of healthcare services and only go to the ER if they had a real emergency.

The doctor told the audience patients should stop jumping from doctor to doctor when they could not get a 24 hour service and stop demanding procedures from their doctors that they did not need. He also warned patients to only sue a medical professional when it is absolutely necessary and not simply because they did not like the doctor and wanted some extra cash.

He urged patients to use local services whenever possible. “Too many consumers use overseas services unnecessarily, even for a Pap smear,” he confirmed and referred to Dr Hobday’s speech when she said family-medicine ought to be the cornerstone of healthcare, using specialists only when necessary.

“Properly implemented this will reduce healthcare costs,” he agreed. “The more specialists in Cayman the less patients have to spend on going overseas.”  
 

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Alyssa Chin back after injury

| 27/11/2011 | 1 Comment

Alyssa_Chin (228x300).jpg(CIFA): After eight months of rehabilitation recovering from an injury, 17-year-old Alyssa Chin returned to the Cayman Islands Women's National Program this week. Chin, who attends the Raburn Gap Nacoochee School in Georgia, USA, returns after a long layoff from football. At times during the long road back from injury, she questioned whether she would ever play football again, but as she re-joined her team mates in her first week of training since the injury, it was clear to see she was happy to be back. Chin represented the Cayman Islands at the under 17 level. She was part of the Cayman team that made it to the final round of World Cup qualification back in 2010.

Women's Technical Director Thiago Cunha is delighted to have Alyssa back.

"Alyssa is a very talented player and she will add quality to the team, she will also bring plenty of experience to the group as she has already played in World Cup Qualifiers before," she said.

Alyssa has been taking part in morning and evening sessions as the Cayman Islands under 20 National team prepare for the final group stage of the Caribbean Football Union World Cup Qualification process. The ladies will travel to Santo Domingo in early January to face the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Haiti.

The Cayman Islands will start their campaign against the hosts Dominican Republic on January 6, 2012 and then face Jamaica on January 8, 2012 before finishing up with a game against Haiti on January 10, 2012.

Group E Fixtures to be played at the Estadio Panamericano, San Cristobal:

Date             Time
6/1/2012      14:00   Jamaica vs. Haiti
6/1/2012      16:00   Dominican Republic vs. Cayman Islands

8/1/2012      14:00   Cayman Islands vs. Jamaica
8/1/2012      16:00   Dominican Republic vs. Haiti

10/1/2012    14:00   Haiti vs. Cayman Islands
10/1/2012    16:00   Dominican Republic vs. Jamaica 

See Alyssa Chin scoring the winning goal for the Cayman Islands against Haiti in March 2010 here

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