Archive for March 1st, 2012

Petition passes 2000 names

| 01/03/2012 | 21 Comments

IMG00455-20120224-1246 (240x300).jpg(CNS): The petition to trigger a people-initiated referendum to change the voting system from multi-member constituencies to one man, one vote has collected well over two thousand signatures in just two weeks of campaigning. But despite the soaring numbers, the petitioners have raised the bar and now hope to double the original target. The broad group of supporters backing Ezzard Miller and Arden McLean, who spearheaded the campaign, held their first public meeting in South Sound on Wednesday evening to address questions and explain the reasons why the Cayman Islands should adopt the more equitable and democratic voting system.

Sharon Roulstone, who chaired the meeting, explained to the audience that the introduction of single member constituencies may not be the answer to all of Cayman’s political ills and was by no means a quick fix but it would go a very long way towards putting democracy back into the hands of the people.

Roulstone said that the concept of one man, one vote gives a greater chance of getting a parliament that better reflects the wishes of the people. She also said that the goal to utilize the constitutional right of a people-initiated referendum showed that, despite everything the people did still have the power.

“The reaction of the current administration to the public support for the campaign and the premier’s sudden announcement that he now supports a referendum shows how much power the people still have,” she added as she urged everyone to stick with the campaign.

She said the people had to ensure that the referendum takes place before the general election in 2013 so that the next time the Caymanian electorate goes to the polls to vote for a government, they will do so under the principle of one man, one vote.

Asking people to join the volunteers and collect signatures, Roulstone said more people were needed to spread the word about single member representation and explain why it was more effective, more accountable and more democratic.

Given the announcement last Friday from McKeeva Bush’s office that he now supported the idea of a referendum, Miller said that he had now raised the target from 5,000 to 10,000 signatures, as he said it was no longer enough to merely trigger the referendum. He said the people now had to show government that they wanted this system before the next election and force his hand to change the election law, saving money and time by implemented one man, one vote before May 2013 without the need for a referendum.

Miller said he did not believe that Bush would introduce single member constituencies without his hand being forced.

The North Side MLA pointed out that Bush’s hold over the district of West Bay would be broken under the system of one man, one vote because he would find it much more difficult to carry all three of his fellow UDP members to parliament with him if they had to stand and be directly accountable to the electorate on their own two feet. This as well as Bush’s previous support for the idea which was later abandoned showed he could not be trusted to implement the single member constituencies.

Despite the challenges, Miller said he intended to ensure that the referendum would succeed and he had enlisted the support of the attorney general’s legal drafting team to oversee the draft legislation that he wanted to draw up for both the referendum law to trigger the national ballot and a new election law. He said that once enough signatures were gathered for a referendum the government was obligated to pass the referendum law and he said if the premier did not do so he would seek judicial review.

Urging people to help in the campaign, he said that this weekend the petitioners would be present at the local supermarkets but that petition books were available to sign at Walker’s Road Texaco, the Book Nook, at the Galleria Shopping Centre on West Bay Road, Pinnacle Condos on Seven Mile Beach and the Four Winds Esso at the four-way stop in West Bay. Miller also asked people to help with the door to door campaign which is now under way.

A list of people with petition books that can be contacted to collect signatures is posted below. Petitioners will also be at the Seaman’s Hall in Prospect Saturday between 2pm and 6pm for people to come and sign.

See details of the petition here

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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Utah woman dies after dive off Seven Mile Beach

| 01/03/2012 | 45 Comments

(CNS): Police have confirmed that another visitor to the islands is dead after taking part in a dive this morning. The 70-year-old woman was reportedly taken ill as she was getting back on the dive boat having been on a dive at the at the reef area close to the Kittiwake off Seven Mile Beach. The woman is from Utah and was vacationing on Grand Cayman with family members. An RCIPS spokesperson said that shortly after 9.00am this morning, Thursday 1 March, the police received the report that the woman had lost consciousness. CPR was administered by dive staff as they transported her back to the North West Point Dock in West Bay, where they were met by the emergency services.

The woman was transported to the Cayman Islands Hospital where she was pronounced dead and police said that enquiries are now on-going into the latest of a growing list of water related deaths in the last few months.

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Cruise visitor found phone

| 01/03/2012 | 0 Comments

Nathan Clarke 24 Feb 2012.jpg(CNS): A cruise ship passenger who happened to be snorkelling some fifty metres off the public beach on Wednesday was the person who found the cell phone that belongs to Nathan Clarke, who has been missing since Saturday evening. The police revealed that around noon yesterday, the visitor spotted something glistening on the seabed as he snorkelled not far from the shore line where the missing teachers' aide was scene before he disappeared. The snorkeller had retrieved the phone and had intended to take it as a keepsake of his visit to Cayman until he heard of the missing person hunt from staff in a local store, who advised him to call the police. (Photo: Nathan on 24 February)

DS Marlon Bodden, who has oversight of the investigation, said Thursday that the visitor was able to give an accurate and detailed description of where he was when he found Nathan’s phone, which was an area which has already been thoroughly searched, but investigators were unable to draw any conclusions from the location.

Given the currents and tidal movement, Bodden explained that the discovery does not necessarily offer any specific indication of what may have happened to Nathan. Items in the water and on the seabed can shift considerably within a very short period of time, he noted.

“RCIPS Marine teams will continue to search the area with a view to finding any other property which may assist in establishing what has happened to Nathan,” Bodden said at a second media briefing on the disappearance of Nathan who has now been missing for five days.

He indicated that the focus of Thursday’s searches would now be in the water but a call had also gone out to all of the cruise lines whose ships have called into Cayman over the last five days to see if any other property had unwittingly been taken off island.

Althoughit is not certain whether Nathan was carrying his keys at the time of his disappearance, his girlfriend, Lisa Beck, has been unable to locate them since he went missing. Also, Nathan was believed to have a wallet with him but he may not have been wearing shoes. He was at the time of his disappearance wearing beige shorts but he had given his T-shirt to Lisa sometime before he was last seen at around 8:30pm on Saturday night.

Bodden also revealed that, according to information from the telecommunications provider, the last call made from the phone, which has now been recovered, was placed at 8:07 and ended at 8:09pm on Saturday evening.  “There was no further activity registered on that phone,” Bodden stated. “The reported activity after he was last seen has now been confirmed as calls being made into Nathan’s phone from friends. None of those calls connected.”

The senior officer was, however, reluctant to reveal if the police were aware of the movements of the cell phone since Nathan’s disappearance as tracked by cell sites based on the signals from the handset and the incoming calls. He denied that there were any signal from the phone in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Speaking about the mounting speculation about what had happened to Nathan, Bodden said there was no reason to suspect he was the victim of a crime. While concerns were obviously mounting now that he had been missing for a significant time, the senior officer said there was no evidence that Nathan was abducted and added that the speculation was both unhelpful and causing distress to Nathan’s family.

Bodden emphasized that it remained a missing person enquiry and while everyone was still hopeful they had to be realistic and, as time went on, they were becoming more concerned about what had happened to the missing 31-year-old man.

The senior officer also dismissed allegations that there were any problems between Lisa, her parents and Nathan’s parents and said they had all been kept abreast of developments and were fully supportive of the RCIPS and the efforts of dozens of volunteers involved in the search.

Philip Beck said that his daughter’s fiancé was a strong swimmerand he treated the sea with a lot of respect as a watersports instructor but he could not say whether or not Nathan would have been inclined to swim after dark because his disappearance was such a mystery.

An information email line has been set up nathanclarkeinfo@yahoo.com and people can call the RCIPs on 949-3999 or 949-3990.

Details are also being updated on the Finding Nathan Facebook page and the next dive will take palce at 4pm this afternoon. Volunteers are asked bring their own equipment and to report to the RCIPS command post.

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Local captain calls for clampdown on ‘fronting’

| 01/03/2012 | 0 Comments

dexter.PNG(CNS Business):  A local watersports operator, who has been in business in Cayman for 25 years, is calling on government to stop the practice of “fronting” whereby a Caymanian owns a boat but allows an expat to become the de facto owner. Dexter Ebanks of Fantasea Tours said the practice is widespread in the watersports industry where boat owners with business licences lease the use of their craft, allowing others to effectively run the company under their licence, which hurts legitimate operators. “If you don’t own the boat, you should not be able to take somebody’s boat and operate that boat as if it’s yours,” Ebanks said. Read full story on CNSBusiness

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Proud takes 50k ultra marathon crown

| 01/03/2012 | 2 Comments

DSCN3213 (221x275).jpg(CNS): Conrad Proud certainly had plenty to be proud about when hecrossed the finish line first on Sunday at this year’s Off The Beaten Track  ultra-marathon, completing the gruelling 50k run in 5:06:15. Elizabeth Berns was the fastest female individual runner with an amazing finishing time of 6:18:50. Meanwhile, the team effort was won by  The Leftovers as Marius Acker, Chris Rose, Jonathan Shillito, Tristan Von Kirchenheim, Carl Grant and Ray Welds ran the 50k in 3:43:24 seconds was.  Welds ran the last leg, being the first runner of the day to complete the race.

The fasted coed relay team was Marco’s Marauders finishing in 4:20:47.  This team included: Marlon Crowe, Marco Miranda, Gabriela Davies, Martin Davies, Roger Davies and Sam Ellis. The Ogiers Girls, who have participated in all three years, finished the race with a time of 4:47:57.  The ‘girls’ consisted of Lisa Kehoe, Claire Lloyd-Hickey, Dawn Kirton, Kirsten McMillan, Pat McCallum and Claire Hughes.

There was also an award given to the top corporate relay team, RBC Wealth Management, finishing in 4:50:03. Their runners included: George Carvallho, Jana Heath, Graham Coleman, Marius Deysel, Marco Gasper and Johan Heath.

Governor Duncan Taylor’ also had a relay team which finished third with a finishing time of 4:26:11. Taylor ran leg 1 of the race throughout Safehaven and parts of Seven Mile Beach.
Organisers said this year’s race attracted over 100 participants including 17 relay teams and 9 individual runners.  This one of a kind trail run which kicked off at 6.30am is unique to Cayman, as it ventures ‘off the beaten track’ on the beach, dirt roads, through brush and even water crossings. Ken Krys, CEO of KRyS Global and founder of the race, was very proud of all the participants.

“This is the third year for Off The Beaten Track and I am very happy with the outcome.  Every year the route changes and gives runners the opportunity to see parts of Cayman they are probably not familiar with”, Krys said. “This year we made the course a little more challenging incorporating the kayak challenge in the 6th leg of the race, so that added a whole new element to the race”. 

KRyS Global also had a relay team, with Krys himself finishing the last leg of the race.
The course was 50 kilometres long and covered different areas of the island, including: Seven Mile Beach, George Town, South Sound, Airport/industrial park area, Safehaven and West Bay.  Since the race is broken up into 6 parts, each relay team member runs approximately 8.3K each.

Proceeds from the race are going to benefit Facing Africa, Cayman’s ARK and the School of Fitness.  Facing Africa is a charity dedicated to helping children in Nigeria and Ethiopia who suffer from a disease, NOMA.  Cayman’s ARK also had two relay teams participate in the race.

“Being able to help out these charities and organisations is very rewarding…that is what the race is all about,” Krys stated.  “We had tremendous support from the local community.  We would also like to give a huge thanks to all of the volunteers, the race could not take place without them.”

Off The Beaten Track had donations from many organisations and individuals, including main sponsors: KRyS Global, Tower Marketing, BrownRudnick, Conyer, Dill & Pearman, Caymanian Compass, and Ritch & Conolly.   They also had volunteer photographers assisting: Jenn Smith, Ioto Iotov and Colleen Stoezel.

To view race times visit www.offthebeatentrack.ky
 

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Local swimmers begin fight for CARIFTA team spot

| 01/03/2012 | 0 Comments

Stingray Burner Meet 15-Oct-11 - 33 (242x300).jpg(Stingray Swim Club): The upcoming Pete Ribbins Memorial Consolidated Water Meet, hosted at the Lions Aquatic Centre by the Stingray Swim Club from 29 Feb – 4 March will see eligible swimmers between the ages of 11-17 years old focussing on making qualifying times for the Cayman Islands 2012 CARIFTA Swim Team. This meet take place over four days, offers an array of events from the traditional sprints to the longer 400m, 200m and 100m events and is the final meet in which qualifying CARIFTA times can be attained. In the week following the conclusion of the meet, the Cayman Islands Junior Swim Team will be selected and final training for CARIFTA – which takes place in the Bahamas from April 12-15 – will begin.

Gregory S. McTaggart, VP (Cayman) Operations offered the following – a poignant tribute to a colleague and an athlete who understood that swimming could make a meaningful difference to Cayman’s youth,.

“Consolidated Water's commitment to swimming in the Cayman Islands was started many years ago by the late Pete Ribbins, himself a former Ironman triathlete,” he said. “Pete understood the value of physical activities, participation in organized sports and competition to the proper development of young people — these things helping to instil the principles of dedication, perseverance, fair play and accomplishment.

“It seemed natural for a water company to champion swimming and Consolidated Water is proud to continue Pete's legacy in supporting the Stingray Swim Club and its mission to help develop young bodies and minds into outstanding young people," McTaggart added.
Stingray Swim Club is proud to continue Pete Ribbins’ legacy of sporting achievements and is grateful, once again, to Consolidated Water for their sponsorship of the meet.

“This four day meet provides swimmers with the opportunity to test themselves in the longer distance events which are not part of the faster sprint meets,” said Brenda McGrath, President of Stingray Swim Club. “For the younger swimmers it can be a daunting but challenging experience to embark on a 100m race for the first time; and for the senior swimmers it is the opportunity to turn months and sometimes years of training in to the fulfilment of a dream: to reach a standard worthy of gaining entry into CARIFTA, the Caribbean region’s most prestigious swimming competition.”

A great turn out is expected with 140+ swimmers from Stingray Swim Club (SSC), Camana Bay Aquatic Club (CBAC) and TI Team (AAP Coaching) signed up. Members of the public who have never attended a swim meet are encouraged to make time to visit the Lions Aquatic Centre during the meet. Admission is free and with four sessions there are four opportunities for you to come out and support Cayman’s youth. Meet sessions are on Wednesday from 5:30-6pm; Friday 2nd from 5:30-8:30pm; Saturday 3rd from 8:30am-12:30pm and Sunday 4th from 9:00am-12 Noon.

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‘Dart in political process’

| 01/03/2012 | 105 Comments

arden new.JPG(CNS): The opposition representative for East End has said that comments made by the premier in his constituency on Tuesday evening made it "quite clear that Dart is involved in the political process.” Arden McLean said that the offer of $200,000 by McKeeva Bush to John McLean Jr from the "Dart donation" to spend on local projects pulled the developer directly into the political wrangling. McLean accused the premier of giving his potential opponent money to campaign against him, while he had been forced to “beg from the private sector” to get an afterschool programme started in his district. 

Responding to the attack on him by the premier at what was supposed to be a public government update and not a political rally, as it was hosted by the premier’s office and paid for from public funds, McLean said, “The blatant lies about me were unbelievable.”

He also noted that the offer of money to his likely opponent from Dart, which was supposed to go to the general public coffers since the money comes from the sale of the people’s assets, was extremely worrying.

“The people of this country must realise the man they call premier is a disgrace to their intelligence and the sooner they realize that the sooner we can get back to good governance,” McLean said, adding that it did not necessarily mean voting for him.

McLean said he just wanted to see proper governance and pointed to what he called the outrageous untruths told by Bush at the meeting.  The MLA, who is now serving a third successive term in the district, said he was appalled by the premier’s comments but not necessarily shocked by them.

He also freely acknowledged that the people of East End could choose to vote for who they liked in an election, but if Dart was now funding the political campaigns of candidates he wondered exactly how much the islands’ largest developer and biggest investor would be able to spend to help fund Bush’s entire campaign.  

The former minister accepted that the voters could very well elect his potential opponent, who ran against him at the previous election, but he said he would not give in without a fight, despite Dart’s money. He wanted the people to know that he had gone to government to try to raise money for what he saw as priority issues in the district and had been refused.

As far back as May 2010 McLean had gone to Cabinet with a presentation about the programmes required in his district (posted below) in which he had asked the ministers to consider funding a number of initiatives.

With the exception of the school canteen, which McLean said the education minister Rolston Anglin had found the money for, he had been forced to approach the private sector to help with the rest because there was no more money coming from central government.

McLean explained that he had managed to raise the money to fund a $70,000 per annum after school programme for the next three years from private sector support.

“I have requested many things which I considered were priorities and presented my case,” McLean said. “Aside from the canteen, there was no other money so I had to go out and beg in the private sector,” he added.

McLean was also angry that Bush had accused him of opposing Dr Devi Shetty’s medical tourism project when he had consistently supported the concept, a fact that was on the record from his Cabinet presentation.

At a public meeting on Tuesday evening the premier fully endorsed John McLean as his preferred candidate for the district of East End, even though the younger would-be politician says he will be running as an independent and not on the UDP ticket. Aside from the emphatic endorsement, the premier announced he would be giving McLean Jr some $200,000 from the money that was given to government recently by the Dart Group as part of the ForCayman Investment Alliance deal.

See related CNS story here: Mac backs new Mclean

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Who in their right mind thinks we need 15 MLAs?

| 01/03/2012 | 118 Comments

Question: Why does a tiny country with a population of 50,000 need 15 elected representatives? Answer: It doesn’t! Maybe the public has lost count over the years. But, believe it or not, we currently have 15 MLAs who are paid nice salaries to represent the people. Why? That’s about seven too many. What is the need for all these seats? And, don’t forget, this is in addition to what is practically an army of permanent civil servants who get virtually all of the real work of running the country done.

A society with a population this size clearly does not need so many representatives. Couldn’t we manage as well or better with one paid politician per district? Or, if you prefer, zone the islands into five or six electoral districts based on population numbers and let each area choose one representative.

If our current bloated political machinery worked for free and actually got things done then sensible people might be able to overlook such a farce. But the present situation in the Cayman Islands is inexcusable. Currently we have a horde of mostly self-serving barbarians who are elected by handfuls of people. So what if Cayman’s political landscape has been carved up into imaginary kingdoms called “districts”. (That’s what they are called here, but anywhere else they would be called “neighborhoods”.) We can change how we elect leaders anytime we want to.

The people of Cayman need to reduce the number of their MLAs before Grand Cayman sinks into the sea from the weight of all the pompous nonsense produced by our fleet of MLAs. Aren’t we supposed to be a culture blessed with a natural strain of superior seamanship? Well, let’s jettison some dead weight, weigh anchor, and set sail for sanity. Erasing half or more of the current MLA positions would save money and time, and allow us to recapture some of our dignity.

Why does West Bay need four representatives, for example? West Bay is not that big, either in size, population or complexity. Let’s consider the record. Having four well-paid MLAs has not stopped that district’s slide into violent crime in recent years, has it? Why do we need four captains? Couldn’t one MLA fail at crime prevention solutions and other priorities just as well four have!

If we are going to be inefficient, corrupt (allegedly),and incompetent, why not do it in a thrifty and streamlined manner, with fewer MLAs to pay? With the amount of money wasted over the years on salaries, expenses, and crazy projects by unnecessary MLAs, we could build our own cruise ship dock and have money left over to feed every child a proper breakfast at school.

Not only would eliminating half the Legislative Assembly chairs currently filled by empty vessels be good for Cayman, it would also be consistent with our supposed political philosophy. Isn’t Cayman strongly conservative? Well, one of the pillars of conservatism is small government. So why aren't all our passionate right wingers interested in shrinking the size of Cayman's ridiculously oversized government? One does hear about whacking the jobs of low-level civil servants from time to time, but never a peep about the most damaging bloat of all. It is important to understand that unnecessary MLAs do harm far beyond their salaries and expenses. They write checks for nonsense ideas that the people have to pay for. Where is the always conservative leadership of the Chamber of Commerce on this? Their members love to pose like rock-solid conservatives on almost every issue but oddly don’t seem to have the inclination to speak up on this one.

It’s simple, people: Fewer MLAs means fewer grand projects that never amount to anything, less money spent, less paperwork, less embarrassment, and more sanity for the Cayman Islands.

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