Archive for January 3rd, 2012

Cayman leaves it late against USA South

| 03/01/2012 | 0 Comments

Picture1 (248x300).jpg(CRFU): The Cayman Islands Rugby Football Union continued a rich vein of form against their bigger, more powerful American neighbors on Monday, 2 January  (having recently triumphed over the USA South Men’s VII’s team in Barbados 19-14 on November 12 in Barbados) with a slim 16-15 win over the USA South U21 Panthers on home soil.  The Panthers arrived on island via cruise early Monday morning with the cream of rugby talent from the Southeast United States. The U21 Panthers, thought to contain as many as eight former junior Eagles as well as a number of top prospects looking to be nominated to the full USA Junior World Trophy squad for 2012 were obvious favorites to beat the young Caymanians. (Photos Caroline Deegan)

USA Rugby South is the territorial union for teams playing in the Southern United States. It is one of seven union's that govern specific regions of USA Rugby and is comprised of the North Carolina Rugby Football Union, the Georgia Rugby Union, the Palmetto Rugby Union, the Deep South Rugby Football Union, the Florida Rugby Football Union and the MidSouth Rugby Football Union.

Kicking off in front of a large crowd at the South Sound rugby pitch the Cayman U21’s started strongly and had the first opportunity at points when awarded a kickable penalty but with strong southern winds the usually sure footed Robbie Cribb pushed the ball wide.

Cribb later made up for the mistake when full back Joel Clark and inside centre Mike Wilson made inroads against a flailing Panther backline to bring up the opening try of the game but Cribb was again wayward with the conversion to make the score 5-0. The Panthers quickly responded with a kickable penalty of their own from Nick Vidger to make the score line 5-3.

As the American’s gathered pace it looked as though their size and strength would swamp the Cayman U21’s and indeed the Panther forward pack dominated the set piece. The Cayman front row struggled against a far more experienced front 3 and the Cayman lineout misfired time and time again especially after hooker Daniel McGrath was substituted after only 20 minutes still suffering from the ill effects of food poisoning picked up over Christmas break.

The Panthers scored again to take the lead before the half with a Dillon Sauerwein converted try to take the game to 5-10.

Cayman soon responded with another kickable penalty from Cribb to bring the game to within 2 points but by this stage Cayman were wondering why they did not have a more comfortable lead. The strong winds were plaguing Cribb’s kicking and with the Panther’s seemingly willing to give ample opportunity for shots a goal with a host of penalties within their own half the Panthers knew that they were lucky to have the lead after 40 minutes.

The Panthers extended their lead further in the second half as Tristan Gray crossed the line out wide after a long period of Panther phase play against some dogged Caymanian defense to take the score line to 8-15.

With the heat taking its toll on all the players fresh Caymanian legs were brought on to change the tide and bolster the Cayman pack and back line. The Changes did the trick as Cayman again pressured the Panthers in their own half and were rewarded yet again with a kickable penalty which Cribb slotted to take the score to 11-15. The Caymanian momentum continued to build as the seconds ticked away and once again the quick feet of Joel Clark broke the Panther’s defensive ranks and the crowd went into rapture as it looked as though Jeffrey Robinson had scored a decisive try close to the posts to once again take the lead for Cayman but the try was disallowed and a penalty was awarded to the Panthers as Robinson had made 2 movements on the ground to cross the line.

Picture5 (300x209).jpgThe call was a heartbreaker for the Caymanians and it looked as though the game would end with a score line in favor of the American’s but the never say die attitude of the young Cayman team saw out the a tense final 2 minutes as a scrum close to the Panther’s try line was secured by the Cayman forwards and a dummy pass from Robbie Cribb sent him through to put the winning points on the board 16-15. The missed conversion would have given some breathing space for the Cayman team but in the end it wasn’t needed as some feverish defense from the Caymanians wound down the clock and the final whistle was blown.

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Pedro bluff warnings planned

| 03/01/2012 | 34 Comments

pedro bluff (2).jpg(CNS): Following the tragic deaths of two young men who drowned over the Christmas and New Year holiday cliff jumping from the bluff in the Pedro St James area the police and the port authority say they are considering erecting warning signs in the area. The location is popular with young people as a place for daring ocean diving, stunts but the combination of strong currents and poor weather conditions can make the site an extremely dangerous. The police said Tuesday that the RCIPS marine unit is carrying out full investigations into the circumstances surrounding the drowning of the two young men in two separate incidents at the same location less than a week apart.

Twenty one year old Adam Rankine was killed on New Year’s Day when he drowned after he is believed to have jumped into the rough waters at around 4:30pm. Although the emergency services attended the scene shortly after the alarmed was raised, just over one hour later Rankine’s body was pulled from the water.

On Boxing Day emergency services had already dealt with the first tragedy at the location. At the same spot at around the same time 17 year old Justin Henry from George Town was reported to be in difficulty in the ocean. One of the young men with Justin was also said to have jumped into the sea after him but he was unable to assist in the rough conditions and strong currents. The emergency services were also unable to trace Justin before night fall and his body was eventually recovered by the marine support unit at around 9:30 the next morning (Tuesday 27 December).

According to reports on Cayman27, the local television station, the family believe it was out of character for Justin to have voluntarily jumped into the dangerous waters and they are not convinced he was cliff diving.

The area is however, a popular spot for ocean diving, not just with locals but with visitors to the islands as well, as the site has been identified on both Trip Advisor and Facebook as a place for cliff jumping.

Last July the emergency services pulled two St Matthews students out of the water safe and well after a local marine officer jumped into the water himself with life vests to save the men who had gotten into difficulty.  A teenager from Cayman Brac also drowned at the location in 2003 after jumping into the ocean during rough conditions.

In the wake of the recent deaths there has been an outcry from the public to ban cliff jumping in the area but government is unlikely to want to legislate against people diving into the ocean. It is more likely to opt for clear signs indicating the risks to swimmers such as the power of the currents, the water depth and the increased dangers during rough seas as well as the difficulty in finding a safe place to come ashore.

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Immigration clamping down on half-done applications

| 03/01/2012 | 11 Comments

immigraiton 33_0.jpg(CNS): The new redesigned immigration forms and checklists for business staffing plans, permit grants and renewals, temporary, seasonal and business visitors-permits as well as the new Term Limit Exemption Permit (TLEP) are all now available on line. Officials in the department said the forms had been redesigned in an effort to streamline the departments growing operations. The new forms and expedited document-processing are expected to speed up the process and officials have warned that from 1 March this year the department will no longer accept incomplete applications.

“These documents were updated after efficiency evaluations were carried out in recent weeks,” said Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans. “The new checklists should help ensure that customers provide all the supporting paperwork with their applications…“This is critical, for as of 1st March 2012 we will no longer accept incomplete applications as this has demanded a large amount of time in the past.”

Users of the Immigration Department services are encouraged to check online and verify their documentation against the newly-created checklist in order to avoid delays in their applications being processed.  Deputy Chief Immigration Officer for Administration Samantha Bennett has responsibility for customer service and the intake of applications. She said that, to improve service standards, the department requires all of the correct, completed and essential documentation to support each application.

“Application processing times can be much-improved if all paperwork is complete at the time of submission,” said Bennett. “Forms are often submitted with unanswered questions or incomplete signatures and information, leaving the Boards unable to make informed decisions, which may lead to refusals or deferred applications. This is one of the major steps we need to accomplish in order to improve the customer service standards of the Department.”

 

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Local teachers to follow written standards

| 03/01/2012 | 19 Comments

math-4-u-color.png(CNS): To ensure what it described as “consistency” and to “promote excellence throughout the government school system” the education ministry has created a set of national professional standards, which it says all teachers in the public system will be expected to follow. The standards are said to define the professionalism, attributes and skills that are expected from educators in the community. The ministry said that as Cayman has a multicultural set of teachers from around the world, it is important that each has a clear understanding of expectations. Education Minister Rolston Anglin presented the document to teacher representatives on 16 December.

“When the national standards development came under construction, our hope was that it would become a key feature in the education system, and we would like teachers and educators to see it as critical in their everyday work,” he said.

The document will set a milestone in further developing educational standards for the Cayman Islands, the ministry stated. Lineth Monteith, principal of John Gray High School, explained that while teachers have followed verbal standards, the development of standards written in black and white would make it easier for them to know where they stand and where they can go throughout the education system.

According to the standards, which cover eleven different areas of teacher’s responsibility from respecting cultural differences to understanding the education law, all teachers working for government will be expected to hold positive values and attitudes and adhere to the teachers’ code of conduct in their professional role, including dress and deportment.

The standards talk about having high expectations for the children and young people they teach and for teachers to develop an understanding of and respect for the Caymanian culture.

The standards cover the requirement for teachers to make a positive contribution to the general life of the school in which they work as well as focusing on their own personal development and their teaching skills and ability. The standards also require teachers to provide students, colleagues, parents and guardians with timely, accurate and constructive feedback and assessments on students’ attainment, progress and areas for development.

See full standards below.

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Political food for thought

| 03/01/2012 | 39 Comments

Judging by the blogs on CNS and public comment elsewhere, the current administration may be about as popular as this Christmas’ sour eggnog, but brace yourselves people because you could be drinking a whole lot more come May 2013 as the official opposition is not rated much more highly than the stale mince pies. There’s no denying that the current administration is hardly a smash hit with the people but given the current political landscape, it is highly likely that McKeeva Bush will still head up the next government.

With only around 14 months to go before nomination day for the 2013 election, the UDP remains the only cohesive political group that has at least half of the 18 candidates ready to go and a platform of proposals that could be loosely defined as policies to campaign on.

It’s evident that many people don’t like those proposals, be it the ForCayman Alliance or the partnership with a Chinese firm to build the cruise port, and they may not even like many of the candidates but the UDP still has some recognisable policies and lingering loyalty. It is also poised to take far greater advantage of the complex and unbalanced political landscape than the opposition or any of the new political groups that are rumoured to be emerging.

Despite speculation that this administration would likely collapse before going to full term because of the reported autocratic style of the premier in Cabinet, internal conflicts and, of course, the still mysterious investigation “into financial irregularities”, the administration has held on. In the face of one outrage after another, nothing has happened and Bush’s feet remain firmly under his very expensive desk on the fifth floor of the Government Administration Building.

And while most people are struggling just to pay grocery bills let alone keep their homes or businesses afloat, just enough of the party faithful are being assisted just enough to ensure their loyalty for the next election.

With the eighteen seats for May 2013 now confirmed in such a way as to ensure the political landscape will not be disturbed too much, by the time the poll comes around the UDP is still likely to be the most cohesive group to secure enough of the seats to ensure Bush remains kingmaker – even if he comes out without a majority he is still likely to head up the largest loyal group.

Although very few people who are likely to join the political race in 2013 have yet declared their hand, the street is already abuzz with the prospect of a whole slew of new national teams. These groups will be made up of independent candidates, none of whom are likely to share any sense of loyalty or policies and the only common ground is likely to be their opposition to the current government. Given the shortage of cash in Cayman at present, few are likely to be in a position to raise the money required to fund a winning political campaign.

The Cayman Popular Front, the People’s Democratic Caymanian Front, the Popular Front of Caymanians or even the Democratic People’s Popular Front of Cayman alongside the numerous independents that won’t join any groups or teams, will all ensure that the vote against the government is split enough to return the UDP to power because of the albeit small loyal voters the party is likely to maintain in several of the seats it will fight.

If the anti-government vote is split among what sounds like as many as five possible teams, groups and independents as well as the official opposition, the PPM will also not be able to make up the necessary ground it needs to return to power.

With only five members in the House and very little indication of who will be running with the PPM team in 2013, the opposition faces an uphill struggle. While there may still be 14 months to decide on where and who will be representing the opposition, this is not a particularly long period of time to create a cohesive policy-led party that can offer the electorate a real alternative to the current administration.

The UDP has done a very good job of never letting the voters forget that the leader of the opposition spent too much on schools. Now while that may not be a vote loser in most other democracies where education is exactly where the electorate wants government to spend money, for inexplicable reasons the Caymanian voters did not think it was a wise investment.

The dislike of the current government is only matched by the disappointment in the opposition, which has left it exceptionally late to regroup and reshape itself into a government-in-waiting. If the PPM manages to pull together a strong and viable team and begin talking real policy plans about what it would do rather than depending on the current government to be the author of its own demise, it still has a glimmer of hope.

However, even the slickest comeback and party political cohesion could be undermined by the threatened emergence of these various popular fronts if they all become separate vessels sailing on the election campaign sea. If they manage to pull together into one cohesive movement that defines how it will work together and what it will do to give Caymanians hope for the future – the ever elusive third way – then it is possible that a coalition of independents could horse trade their way to government. But without loyalty in the ranks and no policy guidelines, its administration could be very short lived.

The more likely scenario emerging is a vote split guaranteeing the usual clean sweep in West Bay for the UDP and probably enough lingering loyalty for the party to scrape through in other multi-member constituencies, such as George Town and the Sister Islands.

In 2009 in West Bay the vote against the UDP candidates was divided up among seven other candidates, and what’s more, those voting for independent candidates did not use all their votes. While the 3,036 voters that turned up on polling day had over 12,000 votes at their disposal, less than 9,500 of them were actually used.

In Bodden Town Dwayne Seymour was voted into office with less than 37% of the electorate. In other words, 63% of the people in that district did not vote for him but he won the seat because of the split vote. The complexities of the local multi-member constituencies means that the political party with the most cohesive joint campaign that persuades the voters to vote straight (the secret of the PPM’s success in 2005) will be the victors.

It seems almost inconceivable that Bush could be premier for another four years given his rock bottom popularity factor but the irony of Cayman’s democracy is that the wider the choice, the more disparate the electoral field, and the greater the number of candidates on offer, the less democratic the government will be in the end.

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First public servants graduate from CS college

| 03/01/2012 | 0 Comments

CSC - RBodden & SWhittaker (241x300).jpg(CNS): Two years after the civil service college opened at UCCI graduates were celebrating their achievements last month. Police and fire officers as well as public sector workers from planning, the economics and statistics office and the Cadet corps were among those who made history as the first graduates from the college. UCCI President Roy Bodden pointed out that as full time civil servants they faced greater challenges to study than other students.“Most of you – with full-time jobs and families – have surmounted challenges that most ordinary students don’t have,” he said. “You are now on the path to self-actualization and upward mobility, and UCCI is prepared to partner as you expand your knowledge.”

The graduation took place on Thursday, 15 December when five of the inaugural CSC graduating class completed the Associate of Arts in Public Administration programme – three with honours. They are: Jason Azan (Hons.), (Francisca) Elena Calzado (Hons.), Siscely Solomon (Hons.), (Myra) Joy Watson (Valedictorian) and Sidehan Whittaker – who received the CSC Spirit award. As part of their training, these graduates also completed the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) certification.

Several other civil servants also completed the ILM training including  Joyce Christian of the Economics and Statistics Office, Egbert Jackson of the Planning Department and Major Ricardo Henry of the Cadet Corps,
Senior Fire Control Operator Carson A. Ebanks, Fire Officer Shimar Harding, Lead Fire Officer Ian McLaughlin, Station Officer Gilbert Rankin, Sub-Officer Carl Christian and Sub-Officer Rodney Rivers, Detective Constable Beverley Sullivan and Constable Cardiff Robinson.

Deputy Civil Service College Director Andrea Fa’amoe explained that officials opted to include the ILM certificate as part of the associate’s degree curriculum because of the solid grounding that it provides in business, management and leadership; subjects that were felt to be key components of performing well in the civil service.

“It is hard to believe that we only started this programme two years ago. In addition to the dedication of our students, I believe that our choices with regards to content and delivery are key reasons that we were able to accomplish so much, including offering courses online, in so little time,” Faamoe remarked

The commencement address was presented by Franz Manderson, the chief officer in the portfolio of internal affairs but who started his own civil service career as a 16-year-old intern but who is now the deputy governor designate who said he hoped it would not be too long before he was able to celebrate further gains by the graduates. .
“What’s Next?” he asked them. “Another degree, a master’s, a doctorate, what’s your career plan? When is your next promotion? I hope that, before long, I will have the opportunity to celebrate with you on your next achievement.”

Meanwhile, the current deputy governor who will be retiring later this month noted the importance of an educated public sector. All government workers have a duty to be as knowledgeable as possible about the services they provide, Donovan Ebanks said. “How else can we be modern and efficient?” he asked.

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Civil Service discusses new plan for reform

| 03/01/2012 | 21 Comments

PIE EBush    05 (235x300).jpg(CNS): Officials from the Deputy Governor’s Office and the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs (PIE) have begun work on a new strategic plan aimed at improving personnel, productivity and efficiency, good governance, rehabilitation of offenders, public safety, and customer service, throughout the public sector. Facing a number of challenges and changes in the coming years, including the growth of government with the introduction of two new ministries and three extra MLAs at the next election, the future plan should be finalised and presented to Cabinet by the first quarter of 2012 before being made public. Senior staff began shaping the plan on a two day retreat last month.

“We conducted this retreat in an effort to identify and address the common issues facing our Portfolio and our departments, and to identify synergies and increase communication,” said PIE’s Chief Officer Franz Manderson.
He explained that, from the plans prepared by each department, similar challenges such as budget processes and managing human resources were identified allowing a collaborative approach on finding optimum solutions. “Focussing on the key priorities will help ensure the most effective use of available resources,” he said.

Over the coming weeks public servants will revise and fine-tune these plans before submitting a comprehensive document to the Deputy Governor Donovan Ebanks for his consideration and approval. 

During the two day working session Deputy Chief Officer Eric Bush said the civil servants first determined the current situation in their respective agencies, shared these in presentations and then identified and debated their five-year goals. The end result was a collective outline plan for meeting current objectives and future challenges.

 

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