Archive for February 6th, 2012

Dart $5m reported toACC

| 06/02/2012 | 72 Comments

dart shovels.JPG(CNS): A complaint has been filed with the country’s Anti-corruption Commission over the $5 million cash donation the Dart Group made to government in connection with the ForCayman Investment Alliance. North Side representative Ezzard Miller says it appears that the payment by the islands’ largest developer to government falls foul of section 15 of the anti-corruption law and needs to be investigated. The independent MLA told CNS that he has made an official complaint with the commission as he says the money seems to have been paid to influence an outcome and not as a transaction on the crown land it is seeking to swap.

Miller explained that if this cash donation is a part payment or deposit for the purchase of the West Bay Road land then the cash should be going into the general treasury coffers and not earmarked for a specific project, which seems to be the case.

The recent $5 million cash donation is understood to be part of a $20 million payment that the Dart Group intends to pay when or if government enters into a full agreement with the developer.

This first sum of money is part of a package known as the ‘West Bay corridor projects’, which involves land swaps, a road extension, the enhancement of the public beach and the closure of a disputed length of the West Bay Road in connection with the development of a five star resort on the former Courtyard Marriott site.

The money the Dart Group has given was earmarked for a “Save the Mortgage” initiative, which will see it used to help people facing the loss of their homes as a result of mortgage arrears. The rest of the cash, according to statements made by both government officials and Dart, will also be specifically earmarked for certain educational and community projects, as opposed to joining general revenue.

According to Miller, the fact that the developer has had input into where the cash will be spent and that the money has not gone through the treasury demonstrates that it is not being given as a payment for purchase but as a payment to influence a government decision. And, he added, if it is for a transaction then it is not being handled correctly and still needs investigation.

“What was this $5 milllion for, other than to influence a specific outcome?” Miller asked. “If it is for a deposit or a transaction then it is being misappropriated because the person making the payment should not be allowed to specify where the money is being spent as it should be going to general revenue and form part of the budgetary process.”

The North Side MLA added that, in this case, the people “making the contribution are involved in deciding how it is going to be spent,” he said. “I have asked the Anti-corruption Commission to investigate as I believe this contravenes section 15 of the law.

“I question the developer’s ethical commitment on this proposed deal with government to due process,” he said. “If the payment is made in order to negotiate a political advantage, that cannot be considered due process.”

Miller also stated that, despite public claims that the Dart Group will be transparent and follow the process regarding the various projects, it is already undermining that claim by using a section in the national roads law that will allow the developer to avoid having to submit valuations and bring the proposal to the Legislative Assembly over the West Bay Road swap.

Section 14 of the roads law allows government to simply add land from a closed road to an existing portion of land. “This avoids the process of valuing the land, debating the transaction in the Legislative Assembly or any input from the governor,”Miller stated.

Aware that his critics believe he is opposing without offering alternatives, Miller told CNS that his concern is the need for process and transparency in what is viewed as an unusual and controversial proposal.

He said that a major project such as the ForCayman Alliance should not involve the politicians at the technical level. The independent member said that if he were in government, such a proposal would be assessed and managed by government’s technical arm, and not the political arm, to ensure transparency and due process with an objective assessment of the pros and cons for the entire Cayman Islands.

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Police arrest hammer wielding intruder

| 06/02/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): An intruder who made off with only a bottle of rum after breaking into one Seven Mile Beach condo and attempting to break into a second was arrested by police in Bodden Town last week. The RCIPS confirmed Monday that officers were called to the Island Club Condos on the West Bay Road after an occupant found an intruder inside the apartment armed with a hammer sometime before 10 on Tuesday night. The would-be burglar had demanded cash but when the occupant shouted out the offender made off with a bottle of rum. Shortly after police received a report from a neighbouring condo at Casa Caribe where the burglar had attempted a similar condo invasion but he was unable to gain entry.

Police said the suspect left the condos in a vehicle and a short time later that vehicle was stopped by police in the Bodden Town area and a man was arrested. A police spokesperson said the suspect has since been bailed while enquiries continue and confirmed that no-one was hurt during the incidents.

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Expert says keep dump in GT

| 06/02/2012 | 52 Comments

landfill (300x278).jpg(CNS): The local civil engineer who worked on the latest buildings erected at the George Town landfill has stated that government should not move the dump but address the problem on site. Sam Small, the consultant engineer who signed off on the sorting and recycling structures built at the George Town landfill during the previous administration, which have yet to be used, said there is sufficient room to create the envisioned modern waste management system on the current site. He explained that since the scrap metal was removed, there is now space to cap and remediate the existing dump while simultaneously setting up an eco-waste park at the same facility.

“The Mount Trashmore facility should have many more years in it now the scrap metal has been removed and it already has a recycling centre there as I was the engineer of record who signed off the buildings some years ago,” Small said, adding that the Dart Group could cap the existing landfill and remediate it where it is.

“Instead of moving, build on the adjacent free government land where the waste metal was stored a state-of-the-art anaerobic digestion plant and incinerator, which does not smell and could cope with the waste after recycling without destroying any more of Cayman’s environment,” the expert advised this week in the wake of a publicity campaign by the ForCayman Alliance regarding its proposals for opening a new waste management facility in Bodden Town.

Small, who is a resident of the district, says he backs the position of the Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free because the landfill issue should be addressed in George Town. “Mount Trashmore can best be solved where it is instead of contaminating a new site,” he said.

With over twenty years experience both in the UK and in the Cayman Islands and an avid environmentalist, Small said he is supporting the coalition, not least because moving the landfill so far from the main source of the waste was “a really daft idea”.

Despite claims on the new flyer circulated by the Dart Group to Bodden Town residents, Small said that the proposal for the new site is not really any different from what currently happens in George Town with the exception of the proposed liner.

“What ForCayman Alliance is offering for Bodden Town is exactly the same as we have at the GT landfill, apart from a liner under the proposed landfill,” he said.  “When the GT landfill started it was not common practice to line tip areas. However today it is best practice to do so, but this does not deal with the run off which is seen entering the North Sound.”

He questioned what would be in place to stop run off at the proposed new site contaminating the wetlands area. “Dart has openly stated that they are not going to operate the site and so the same operators who currently run GT landfill will operate BT landfill with the same guidelines of covering the fill on a daily basis as they are meant to today,” Small said.

He pointed out that the pictures on the website for the new landfill show buildings which are exactly the same buildings currently at the George Town recycling centre that are not being used. “Why are we expected to believe that the same operators are going to suddenly do things differently from what they currently do?” the engineer asked. “There are no formal mass recycling programs today because DEH is underfunded.”

As the battle to stop the proposed move gathers pace, the coalition has also raised concerns about the latest claims by the alliance regarding “discussions” with several government agencies. None of the coalition’s FOI requests have turned up any documents to reflect this, with the exception of one meeting last September with the Water Authority, Dart and engineering consultants APEC

In this meeting Dart stated that the new waste management facility would provide for the same processes carried out at the current landfill site and not, as Environment Minister and district representative Mark Scotland has claimed, “bear no resemblance whatsoever to, nor will it be operated in a similar manner as the dump” at the current location.  

In its latest promotional material Dart has pointed to three studies which concluded that the George Town landfill should be moved, but none of those pointed to Bodden Town and all were published before 2003. The most current study commissioned by government, published in 2008 and costing $148,000, was written by APEC and concluded that the present site in George Town with a waste-to-energy facility could be used for the foreseeable future and with proper management the waste problem could be tackled at the present site.

The lack of any report pointing to Bodden Town as a potential location continues to fuel the concerns of the coalition members, who say that the landfill should not be relocated just to please one developer. The lack of specific plans and information on the proposal is also an issue as the coalition states that theonly thing that has been produced is “meaningless artist’s conceptual” drawings of the proposed new waste management site. 

Small said that in the interest of the country as a whole there needs to be an independent, legal, public enquiry into the issue of Grand Cayman’s municipal waste issue.  “The environmental issues alone, if mismanaged, could destroy Cayman’s eco system, thus affecting our health and well-being, future tourism revenue plus additional government costs, as well as affecting this country’s ability to repay its national debt, thereby incurring additional liability for the UK,” the engineer warned.

See minutes from WAter authority Dart/APEC meeting and Flyer on BT landfill proposal below.

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CEC stopgap offices revealed by Cabinet Order

| 06/02/2012 | 0 Comments

CEC-Special-Economic-Zone-3.jpg(CNS Business): The temporary office space for Cayman’s first ever special economic zone has been revealed by a Cabinet Order published on the government gazette website on Friday. Until Cayman Enterprise City is actually built, tenants who fall into one of the six areas ring fenced by the law will be able to lease offices in one of four locations around George Town for up to five years. Breezy Castle, Grand Pavilion, Mirco Centre and Bay TownPlaza have now been formally designated as the stop-gap offices for the venture which will offer these techy tenants considerable benefits and concessions. Read more on CNS Busines

 

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