Archive for January 25th, 2012

Local bank offers financing for electric cars

| 25/01/2012 | 0 Comments

Wheego3.jpg(CNS Business): Drivers keen to go green with an electric car, ready for the implementation in the next few weeks of the traffic law that will allow electric vehicles on Cayman’s roads, can now borrow the money from the Caledonian Bank, which has become the first institution to offer car loans for electric vehicles and has partnered with Cayman Automotive to help drivers reduce their carbon foot print. Drivers will soon be able to charge their electric vehicles free at one of 12 solar panel stations planned across Grand Cayman. Read more on CNS Business

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UDP reps miss BT meeting

| 25/01/2012 | 110 Comments

kurtibbts.JPG(CNS): Passions ran high on Tuesday evening when well over 100 people gathered at the Bodden Town Civic Centre to discuss the proposal to move the landfill to the district. Although the PPM was in full force, declaring its support for the Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free along with the North Side MLA, neither of the two government MLAs for the district were present. The meeting focused on the long held plans, based on research, to address the dump at its current location and why it should not move to Bodden Town. The significant local opposition to the move was evident as was the anger over the failure of the UDP’s district representatives to consult residents over the issue.

The public meeting was hosted by the district’s opposition MLA Anthony Eden in partnership with leaders of the coalition. Ppposition Leader Alden McLaughlin formally revealed his party’s position and said it supported addressing the problem of the dump on site in George Town via a waste-to-energy solution based on the research already conducted during the PPM administration, which had been supported by the current government until the Dart plan arrived.

Vincent Frederick, a coalition leader, said the movement to oppose the dump relocation was not a political one but he welcomed the support of the opposition. He was however disappointed that despite the coalition’s continued requests, the UDP members, Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour, were not prepared to come and answer the people’s questions.

“We can get five MLAs from all over the island but we can't get our two UDP representatives to come here and answer our questions,” Fredericks lamented as he welcomed the PPM member’s support.

Former PPM leader Kurt Tibbetts said the opposition MLAs did not have the numbers to fight government in the Legislative Assembly and encouraged the people to voice their opposition.

“The biggest mistake government has made is not to come to you and consult you all about the dump,” Tibbetts stated. “Your elected representatives … those of us who are not in government can say all we want but it is going to take you all to stop this,” he said to thunderous applause. Tibbetts said that the people had marched against the East End Sea Port and this deserved no less.

A rally is being planned in Heroes Square to take place during the first Legislative Assembly sitting for 2012, the audience heard, but dates for that sitting have not yet been announced. Aside from encouraging the residents of Bodden Town to take to the streets, however, the meeting focused on the original government plans for addressing the dump.

Arden McLean, the former public works minister, said that during his time in office a cross party committee had completed extensive work on the problem of the landfill. Based on scientific research and the current state of the existing dump, a waste-to-energy solution combined with recycling was considered by everyone, including the UDP committee members and  government technocrats, as the most effective solution.

The issue of cost had delayed the project, McLean explained, but he said the current administration had in 2010 issued an RFP for the dump as a privatization project based on the previous work, which was supported by the PPM.

The original plans had involved digging out the dump to convert as much of it as possible to energy over as much as twenty years. Eventually, through mining, Mount Trashmore would have been reduced to no more than a few feet. Government had also planned to introduce a separation system for recycling.

Contrary to current claims, McLean said, there is more than enough room on the current landfill site to do all of this work there rather than trying to embark on the risky project of attempting to cap and remediate the dump and move the landfill to contaminate another site.

McLean said that the Dart group had made a similar offer to the PPM government to move the dump to BoddenTown during his time in office but as there were too many problems, according to the experts, with remediation and as he opposed moving the dump he declined the offer of a land swap.

McLean said the plans were not thought up overnight. Since 1992 government has been examining the best way to solve the islands’ particular garbage problem and it had been agreed that WTE was the way forward. It would not only tackle the obvious problem of the dump but it would also reduce energy costs.

He said experts in the field have warned of significant problems attempting to cap Mount Trashmore because of the high levels of gas and chemicals. The former minister said it would be decades before the site would be safe for recreation if the plan to cap and remediate goes ahead. In the interim there will be significant risks of gas and chemical build up.

Gregg Anderson, another coalition leader, echoed McLean’s comments and said the campaign had done considerable research and the move presented serious threats. He said the coalition could not find a single report, document or piece of research that justified the move. Anderson said it was simply going too far and the people in the district had to draw a line in the sand as he pointed to the dangers of capping and remediation. He warned that leaching systems can fail, which could result in catastrophic consequences if the dump was covered up and gas unable to escape.

“There is no need to move the dump. All of the research shows it can be dealt with on site in George Town,” Anderson said.

He said that while the value of properties in Camana Bay may increase, the value of properties in Bodden Town would fall and investors would be deterred from ever looking at the district in the future. Anderson pointed to the loss of important wetlands habitat and the risk to the surrounding environment, wells and grazing lands. He also said that with more than 200 extra trucks a day on the roads, lives for all residents would change.

Wayne Panton, a former lawyer and a Bodden Town resident, spoke for the community when he said he was annoyed that the people were meeting not to talk about economic or social advancement for the district but a dump. “The circumstances surrounding it are an insult to every Bodden Towner,” Panton stated.

Everyone understood that government plans had always been to eradicate the landfill on site, he said, as shown by the technical committee’s review of the RFP when the only responder who proposed to relocate it was placed at the bottom of the pile.

He said if government wanted to relocate there should have been a national discussion first not a declaration. He warned the people not to trust government claims about the promise of a site that would have little impact.

“Everything this government has touched so far smells rotten and this doesn't bode well for the Bodden Town dump,” warned Panton as he urged his fellow residents to support the coalition.  “Unfortunately your UDP reps are metaphorically and literally dumping on you and the time is coming when you can return the favour.”

North Side’s MLA Ezzard Miller also lamented the failure of the government’s district MLAs to meet with the coalition while Dart, he said, had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars promoting the move. He warned that all of the experts and technocrats recommended dealing with the landfill on site and it was only because of Dart that the government was embarking on the enormously significant proposal of actually moving a landfill site.

He said government had bundled all of the projects associated with Dart together to deliberately confuse as he asked people to take to the streets in their thousands against the proposal.

“People can no longer believe anything that comes out of the mouths of UDP members,” he said, adding that he would be on the streets with them outside the LA on the dayof the rally.

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Pizza-man escapes gunman in foiled robbery

| 25/01/2012 | 15 Comments

crime-scene-tape.jpg(CNS): A hooded would-be robber escaped empty handed on Tuesday night when his would-be victim screamed and ran away. Police said that at around 9:30 last night the 911 emergency centre received a report of an attempted robbery on a Pizza delivery man. The driver had gone to the wrongaddress in the vicinity of Candover Street, North Sound Estates, Newlands, Savannah. When he knocked on the door and asked if the residents had ordered a pizza the person said they had not. As he returned to his vehicle, he was approached by the lone robber who pointed what appeared to be a hand gun in his face and demanded money. The pizza man ran towards his vehicle screaming although followed by the gunman, the pizza-man ran around his vehicle to escape him.

He then ran back to the house where he had knocked on the wrong door.  The assailant then ran off into the bushes towards Newlands empty handed. Described as having a brown complexion, a slim build and wearing a blue “t” shirt the gunman’s face was covered with a hoodie. No shots were fired and the victim was not physically injured.

Anyone with information in relation to this incident please call the CID at Bodden Town Police Station at 949-2240 or Crime Stoppers 800-8477 (TIPS)

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Jeffers is killer says ex-lover

| 25/01/2012 | 0 Comments

Jeffers.jpg(CNS): The former girlfriend of Raziel Jeffers, who is on trial for the murder of Marcus Ebanks and the attempted murder of four other men in a gang related shooting in July 2009, told the court Tuesday that he had confessed to her that he was one of the gunmen. As the trial moved into its second week, 19-year-old Megan Martinez, who is the mother of one of Jeffers’ children, took the witness stand and stated that the defendant had told her he had shot Ebanks by mistake because on the night of the shooting it was dark and he looked very like Jose Sanchez, the man who was his enemy and intended target.

From the witness stand, Martinez said Jeffers had told her that, because Sanchez wanted to kill him, it was a matter of “kill or be killed”, as he made his alleged confession while the two of them sat on the boardwalk at Ocean Club condos in March 2010. Martinez said the couple were discussing the “innocent people” who had been killed in the war between the gangs in West Bay when Jeffers had told her he was the shooter.

She said she had spoken about Jeremiah Barnes, a four-year-old child who had been gunned down the month before at a local gas station asa result of the gang war. She said it was then that Jeffers told her that Marcus wasn’t meant to die and he felt bad about what had happened. But he said he had gone into the yard and zoned in on Ebanks thinking he was Sanchez.

Although Sanchez was present in the yard on the evening of the murder, he had escaped injury because he ran into the house immediately as the two masked gunmen approached the yard. When he had given evidence, however, he said he was unaware of anything between him and Jeffers and had failed to identify the shooters.

During her evidence Martinez said she had often seen her former lover with guns, including an AK47 as well as revolvers and hand guns. She said that one firearm was kept inside a broken armchair at his father’s home in Fairbanks Road. The teen told the court that Jeffers had even named one of the guns he had shown to her as “Grumps”. Martinez said she believed most of the guns that the boys in the gangs had access to came from Scranton in George Town, which is where they were hidden.

The teen mother said that she and Jeffers had an on-and-off relationship, which had not gotten off to a very good start because after she discovered she was pregnant he had denied being the father and it was not until his son was sixweeks old that he had acknowledged that it was his child.

She said she had discovered she was expecting Jeffers' baby when she went to the hospital after Jose Sanchez had assaulted her one evening in 2008 when she had gone to visit with Sanchez’ girlfriend at the time, who, Martinez said, was her friend. She told the court that as he beat her he told her to get her “bad man Raz” to come to her defence.

Martinez said that after their child was born she, Jeffers and the baby moved into an apartment together in West Bay and it was shortly after that the shooting at Bonaventure took place. She told the court that she did not know that Jeffers was the shooter that night but she suspected deep in her heart that he was.

On the afternoon of the shooting, Martinez said, a man called Osborne, or Ozzy, had visited their apartment in Nickel Lane, off Birch Tree Hill Road. She said it was the first time she had met him but he made her feel uncomfortable as he was “soulless” and she did not want him around her son. 

She said the men went outside into the yard to talk and smoke marijuana. After a while Jeffers told her he was going to take Ozzy to Scranton and they were going to do some “fishing or start a mission”, which she understood meant they were looking for their enemies.

Later that night, the witness said, Jeffers called her and told her that people had been shot and someone had been killed in Joseph Hurlston’s yard in Bonaventure. Jeffers had said he could not trust the police not to assume he was involved and so he would not be coming home. She said he did not say he was responsible and did not tell her where he was going to stay. Martinez said he had instructed her not to tell the police that Ozzy had been anywhere near their house.

She admitted that she had given the police a false statement when they came to interview her a few days after the killing while Jeffers was still under arrest as a suspect in the immediate wake of the shooting.

Martinez said she did not tell the police the truth until May 2010, when she went to them and told them everything she knew, including about the confession.

At the time of the shooting, she said, she did not trust the police and she was afraid for her life and that of her son. The witness said that she was aware of people who had spoken to the police who were killed and fed to the fish. The teenage mother, who was at the time of the shooting only 16, also revealed to the court that Jeffers was not only her boyfriend and baby’s father but because she had no parents he was also her legal guardian. 

“So I lied,” she said, addingthat she later retracted the false statement and told the truth about everything.

Martinez told the court that she had loved Jeffers and still cared about him but she had to think of a better life for her child.

Under cross examination by Peter Champagnie, Jeffers' defence counsel, it was revealed that she had given some eleven statements in all to the police. She admitted that she had lied in the first statement, given on the 11 July in the wake of the murder, but denied being an untruthful witness. She said she had not lied about the events she described in the statement but just the date when they happened.

As the defence counsel tried to get Martinez to admit she was not a truthful witness, she said that she knew Jeffers was a murderer. That was not her judgment to make, Champagnie said, as he pointed to what he said were at least eight lies in her first statement.

She said she could not be clear about dates and that Jeffers had beaten her senseless so she could not see well. Reluctant to answer the defence attorney’s questions, she accused the lawyer of deliberately confusing her and that the last statement she had given to the police was the truth.

The case was adjourned Tuesday afternoon and Martinez is expected to return to the stand on Wednesday morning.

Prior to Martinez’ evidence, Miami based ballistics expert Alan Greenspan gave evidence in relation to the bullets and casings found at the scene. He confirmed that at least three weapons were used in the shooting at Bonaventure on the night Ebanks was murdered and two other men were gunned down. He said that at least one of those weapons was also used in a previous crime in Cayman.

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