Archive for February 27th, 2012

Search continues for teacher

| 27/02/2012 | 64 Comments

Capture_16.JPG(CNS): Updated 5:30pm – The search continued on Monday evening for assistant teacher Nathan Clarke, who has been missing since Saturday evening. Police said that throughout Monday officers worked side-by-side with civilian volunteers as they search for any trace of the 30-year-old West Bay resident. Clark was last seen at around 8:30pm near Calico Jack's beach bar on the West Bay Road and friends, family and the RCIPS marine and air units have been searching for him since Sunday lunchtime. Police officers will be visiting condo complexes on the West Bay Road to hand out flyers asking for information. In addition, the RCIPS mobile command post will remain in situ at public beach.

The command post will be manned until just after midnight and anyone who has any information that could assist in the search for Nathan is asked to call into the command unit and speak to a police officer.

Chief Inspector Richard Barrow, West Bay Area Commander, thanked the many volunteers who came out today to help with the search on Monday.

“Unless there are any significant developments tonight we intend to resume the search tomorrow morning,” Barrow stated. “However, I would appeal to anyone who is thinking of searching later tonight or tomorrow to contact the police staff at the command post first. It is essential that the search pattern is monitored and managed appropriately – and while we appreciate that people do feel the need to do something, we would ask that they do that in conjunction with us.”

Friends and family of Clarke have said that he is most unlikely to go missing and are increasingly concerned about what has happened to the Cayman Prep teachers' assistant. When he was last seen Nathan was walking towards West Bay wearing beige swim shorts but no shirt.

Anyone with information can attend the command post on public beach or call the police on 949-4222.

See flyer below.

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Alden is backing petition

| 27/02/2012 | 47 Comments

(CNS): The opposition leader has said that he fully supports the petition that is currently being circulated for a people-initiated referendum posing a reform of the country’s voting system. Alden McLaughlin added that not only does he back the petition’s goal to have a referendum on one man, one vote but he was one of the first people to sign. However, the PPM party leader said he had reservations because, having already experienced a referendum while in government, he did not think there was enough time to organise the national ballot properly. Ultimately, the constitution still leaves the date of the vote in the hands of Cabinet so he believed the efforts were likely to be for nought.

McLaughlin told CNS on Monday that comments he had made, which had been picked up by the premier to suggest he did not support the referendum, had been misunderstood. He said he was one hundred percent behind the principle of one man, one vote and that the PPM was the only party that had consistently supported single member constituencies.

He pointed out that even independent MLA Ezzard Miller, who is organising the petition, and radio talk show host Gilbert Mclean, who is also a strong supporter of holding the vote this November, did not support the principle when they were members of the UDP.

“I have always supported the idea of one man, one vote,” McLaughlin said. “But there is no one around who knows better than me the problems of organising a referendum and I have genuine reservations that there will not be enough time to educate the public about the change to the system and campaign for the vote and then be able to implement the system by the 2013 election.”  He said this raised the issue of not having a free and fair election if the voters were not sure about the new system.

As the leader of the opposition, he said, it was his duty to point out to his constituents what he thought were the potential pitfalls. The most obvious was that, although the constitution asks that the wording of the referendum law be drawn up in a “reasonable time period”, the actual date for setting the national poll still remains in the hands of Cabinet.

McLaughlin said the premier has already made it clear that he has no intentions of organising the referendum before the 2013 election and he believed it was not technically possible to implement the referendum and then change the country’s voting system in the time frame.

“If it can be achieved I support the goal but I cannot in all honesty see how it can happen in time,” he added. He said that if the petitioners were successful and managed to persuade government to have the referendum in November, he would be encouraging the electorate to support single member constituencies. He said he believed that the problem was it had been left too late. “I just have doubts that it can be achieved,” the opposition leader told CNS as he rebutted allegations that he did not really support the idea of one man, one vote

McLaughlin pointed to the not insignificant task of trying to organise and then campaign for the constitutional referendum, which had the backing of the government and did not require a petition to trigger that national vote.

He added that he has since regretted not pushing for the principle of one man, one vote in the constitution itself. He said the opposition from the UDP was so significant that the PPM government’s goal of reaching cross-party and cross-civil group support for the constitutional document led to the compromise of leaving the style of democracy down to the country’s legislators to decide. That compromise back-fired, as the premier campaigned against the document regardless.

McLaughlin said the goal to change the voting system had to be properly understood by the electorate. If they voted for the principle of single member constituencies, there then had to be time for both the electorate and those who will run in the 2013 election to understand what the changes would mean and prepare for an election under a brand new system, unfamiliar to the country’s registered voters, in order for the 2013.

Offering his full backing to the principle and his support for the petition's aims, McLaughlin said his only concern was that the electorate understood exactly what they were voting for in the referendum if it came before the 2013 election. If the majority voted for single member constituencies and the one man, one vote principle, then everyone involved needed to appreciate the significant change that would be to the general election and the need for an education campaign.

Vote in the CNS poll:

If the petition for one man, one vote triggers a referendum, how soon should this take place?

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Why should we adopt Single Member Constituencies prior to the 2013 elections?

| 27/02/2012 | 44 Comments

I would like to thank the residents of the Cayman Islands for their overwhelming support of the petition to trigger a referendum on the One Man One Vote question. Our group has been working very hard to not only gather signatures but also, more importantly, to educate those who require additional information prior to making a decision to sign, and to demonstrate that this movement was derived from a desire to see these islands adopt a system that guarantees equality, accountability and fairness.

There are those who will accuse us of being politically motivated, and in truth there are some aspiring and veteran politicians working side by side on this effort, but our underlying motivation is to introduce a modern approach to political organization and voting systems to the Cayman Islands. We are NOT motivated by self interest, and I would not personally align myself with a group or initiative which I did not believe had the best interests of the Cayman Islands at heart.

Now that the UDP and PPM have agreed that we need to either implement single member constituencies and or hold a referendum, leaving the choice to the voters, it is clear that the Cayman Islands are approaching the point when single member constituencies will become the political system of choice and the electorate will finally adopt a system which guarantees a much higher level of voter satisfaction and interaction with their representatives. One cannot dispute that we need more accountability from our elected officials and One Man One Vote, when implemented, will guarantee that representatives pay close attention to the needs of the public.

The ‘single member’ debate now centres on when would be the best time to hold a referendum and/or implement single member constituencies because a majority of Caymanians voted for a change to the political system when the new constitution was adopted a few years ago.

The individuals who are championing the push to hold a referendum on single member constituencies unanimously agree that the time has passed for the relevant question to be asked and for the country to move forward. We estimate that the cost to hold a referendum, will not be astronomical as is being suggested, and while this is an additional cost to the country, we feel it would be well worth the effort and cost to guarantee a political system based on the principles of equality and fairness. We have spent far more in order to gain much less and this will undoubtedly be a worthwhile investment.

If the UDP’s position is that we should hold the referendum at the next election, resulting in a delayed implementation of some 4 years, and the PPM suggest that they will by-pass the referendum and simply implement single member constituencies if and when they control the Government, both parties are effectively saying that the country must wait 4 years before the benefits of having single members will be available to the voting public.

The question we should now be asking is can we afford to wait that long?

I would therefore encourage both parties to support our efforts and move to hold the referendum prior to the next general elections. We cannot afford to wait a further 4 years to introduce a voting system that is modern, fair and democratic. Countries such as the USA and UK adopted the system many years ago, and we are doing our people a disservice by delaying its implementation.

The argument that there is not sufficient time to educate the voters and hold a referendum prior to May 2013 is flawed. One Man One vote is less complex than the current system, and it is a poor assessment of the intelligence level of our electorate to suggest that we need in excess of 12 months to fully comprehend what is a more simple and straightforward way to hold elections. I do believe the Caymanian public is more sophisticated and educated than some opponents are suggesting.

There are also those who suggest that implementing single member districts will result in the residents of those districts making unreasonable requests, such as wanting stadiums and post offices, but in reality those claims are unfounded. What would motivate a voter to demand a hospital in a district where there in a hospital in the neighboring district? We are not suggesting that we erect fences and cordon off each district’s public services so that other surrounding districts will not be able to make use of them, and I suggest to you that common sense will prevail and the sharing of public services will continue based on feasibility and justified needs. It would be disingenuous to suggest that single member districts will encourage unbridled and unrestrained spending on unnecessary services.

The One Man One Vote initiative is critical to the future of democracy in the Cayman Islands; each and every resident of this country should ensure that they conduct their own research and attend the planned meetings to discuss the pros and cons of the suggested system. I, unlike others, have great faith in the intelligence of our people to make the right decisions and I have no doubt that in the end this effort will be successful.

Thank you all for your continued support, and let’s do what is right for the sake of our beloved country and ALL of the people who reside here.

Please contact us via email for more information or to arrange to sign the petition. We will be publishing the location and times for several planned district meetings for those who would like to attend and sign the petition. 

Vote in the CNS poll:

If the petition for one man, one vote triggers a referendum, howsoon should this take place?

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BT protest signs stolen

| 27/02/2012 | 34 Comments

yard-sign-1 (240x300).jpg(CNS): More than two dozen signs that had been erected in gardens, yards and private property in Bodden Town protesting government's proposed plan to relocate Grand Cayman's landfill to the district have disappeared. The Coalition to Keep Bodden Town Dump Free said it had reported the theft of the signs, which occurred some time yesterday evening, to Constables Forbes and Davis at Bodden Town police station and are demanding a full investigation. Members described the theft as an attack on democracy and called on the UDP administration to condemn the theft. An investigation is now underway into the theft, police confirmed

“We vehemently condemn this malicious action perpetrated against opponents of the Government/Dart plan to relocate the George Town dump to Bodden Town,” said Alain Beiner, a coalition leader. “The Coalition signs were systematically removed and taken away. This is an attack against our democratic right of expression. We also call on government and Dart to condemn this theft, to disassociate themselves from this action, and to appeal to their supporters to respect our right to disagree.”

Gregg Anderson, another Coalition leader, said the theft violates the right to free speech and peaceful dissension as well as private property rights as well.

“Our signs were posted on our supporters’ property, as is their right,” he said. “Producing our yard signs is a costly effort, and this theft is a serious blow to our very modest financial resources. We rely completely on the generous donations of our hard working supporters, and this is money robbed from their pockets. We don’t have the financial resources of the Government/Dart PR machine, but this attack against our campaign will not shut us up.”

The coalition is encouraging each affected supporter to contact the police to complete the coalition’s report, while it orders new yard signs to replace each and every stolen one.

The campaigners will also be launching a fund drive to recoup the cost of the signs, and is appealing for help to all those opposed to the senseless relocation of the dump to Bodden Town.

“The problem of Mount Trashmore can be solved where it is, with no need to contaminate a new site, and with no need to turn a residential/agricultural area into one for heavy industrial use,” Anderson added as he pointed to the wide support for the option selected by the Central Tenders Committee, favoured by independent engineers, and adopted by the government before its “inexplicable about-face” on the idea of a waste-to-energy facility, proper management of the GT dump, and a concerted recycling programme at the current site.

“This is also the conclusion of the 2008 APEC Engineering study commissioned by government,” he said.

The Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free is a non-political, single issue community organization open to everyone, regardless of political affiliation. It supports no political party, and condemns equally past and present governments for neglecting their responsibility in regards to proper management of the George Town landfill and the elimination of Mount Trashmore.

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Construction of young offenders centre to start March

| 27/02/2012 | 16 Comments

mike adam_1.jpg(CNS): The country’s first specially designed young people’s centre to help rehabilitate young offenders and young people at risk will break ground on 15 March, Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam has announced. The facility will be known as the Cayman Islands Youth Centre and is part of a new approach to address the problems and risks faced by young offenders aged between 13 and 17 and is based on the specialist Missouri Model, which has a proven track record of success with young offenders. The  Bonaventure Boys home has already been renovated and ten boys are currently resident there in a pilot programme.

Mike Adam told a public meeting last week that the construction of the centre, which will finally see young people under 18 who have committed an offence serving time in secure accommodation separated from adult offenders, is a requirement of the Bill of Rights which comes into effect in November. Anticipating that construction will take around one year he said the target date for completion of the young offenders facility is next April.

In the interim renovation work has paved the way for a pilot project to start at the Bonaventure home in West Bay, where ten young people are now under 24-hour 'eyes-on' supervision under the Missouri Model, as the department transitions towards what is an award winning youth rehabilitation system. Some of the boys are educated on site following an approved curriculum but some also go to mainstream school.

Adam said that specialist staff have now been recruited to help implement the model and existing staff have also been trained in the system, which includes structure, accountability and internalized change in a safe home-like environment.

“We now have the opportunity at our fingertips to chart the way forward for empowering our children and young people and securing the future of our islands,” he said, noting that there would be a learning curve as it is the first facility of its kind.

“I am convinced it is the right direction to holistically address the needs of our youth who may be at risk or disadvantaged because of social, economic, environmental or family factors in order to avert destructive behaviour, promote their strengths and resilience so they can reach their full potential,” Adam told the crowd gathered behind the court house.

Going forward, the ministry’s goal is to address the issue of young people with behavioural problems as well as those who have already entered the criminal justice system under the proven Missouri Model, which has shown to have exceptionally high success rates in rehabilitating young people and preventing them growing into an adult life of crime.

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Cops charge Club 7 shooter with attempted murder

| 27/02/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police have now charged Leighton Rankine Jr with common assault, attempted murder, unlawful use of a firearm and possession of an unlicensed firearm in connection with a shooting that occurred outside Club 7 on West Bay Road in the early morning hours of Wednesday 22 February. Two men were injured during the shooting, one of whom was treated at the Cayman Islands Hospital for gunshot wounds to the face. Rankine, who was arrested at the scene following the shooting, was due to appear in Summary Court Monday morning, a police spokesperson stated. Police also recovered a firearm that was believed to be the weapon used in the shooting on the night of the arrest.

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Selita enjoys two foot tall birthday cake at celeb party

| 27/02/2012 | 0 Comments

Selita_0.jpg(CNS): Cayman’s very own celebrity supermodel was captured enjoying a special birthday cake at a party thrown for her in Trinidad during the 2012 Trinidad and Tobago Carnival.  Selita Ebanks enjoyed the sweet treat at her surprise 29th birthday party held at a private venue with some of her closest friends and family. The two-foot tall croquembouche birthday cake was designed by pastry chef Khalil Ali of Pêche Pâtisserie. The party was thrown by entertainment and special events firm Antilia and attracted a number of other celebrities as Ebanks shared the birthday spotlight with Trinidadian pop star Aaron Fresh, who turned 19 on Carnival Monday.

Former NBA player and television personality John Salley; NAACP Image-Award winning actor Lance Gross, best known for his role as Calvin Payne in TBS sitcom "Tyler Perry's House of Payne"; and television personality Terrence J, host of BET's popular music video countdown show "106 & Park" were there. Top Trinidadian soca singers Machel Montano, the 2012 Road March champ, and Kees Diffenthaller were among the local VIP guests at the celebration, both of whom delivered enthralling performances.

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$2.6 billion vanished in pension funds via Cayman

| 27/02/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): About 200 billion yen ($2.6 billion) in pension funds managed by Tokyo-based AIJ Investment Advisors Co has disappeared after it was transferred to a fund in the Cayman Islands, followed by a trust bank in Bermuda and then moved to the Hong Kong account of a major European bank, Japanese media is reporting. The Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC) has not so far been able to trace where the money went after reaching Hong Kong but the Japanese financial regulator plans to unravel the complex flow of money from the investment advisory firm and find out how the money disappeared. SESC suspects that AIJ may have used the Cayman Islands to hide information on its investments. Read more on CNS Business

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