Archive for March 16th, 2012

Clumsy cash bag robbery attempt lands man in jail

| 16/03/2012 | 9 Comments

court house.JPG(CNS): A 41 year old man was jailed for nine-months on Friday after pleading guilty to what the judge described as a “hopeless and clumsy” attempt to rob a security guard of a cash bag outside a supermarket in Savannah last December. Calmore Range was handed the custodial sentence by Justice Charles Quin after a sentencing hearing when the judge heard that prior to his bungled robbery attempt Range who is originally from Venezuela had received bad news from home about family health problems and had also been drinking.

Range who has Caymanian status, had until this unplanned and opportunist attempt at getting money no criminal record. Since his arrest at the airport a few days after the robbery attempt Range has admitted his culpability and shown remorsefor what he himself described as a stupid attempt to get the money. No weapons were used during the spontaneous foiled robbery, it was not planned and as soon as the guard punched Range and put up a struggle he ran off into the bushes.

Justice Quin said that it appeared to be combination of the alcohol and his emotional state after receiving the news about the health of his family members overseas that caused the defendant to make such a clumsy attempt that was bound to fail. He said things had combined to compel the defendant to think he could gain instant wealth by grabbing the cash bag from the guard.

According to a social enquiry report the defendant was described as having a low risk of reoffending but the judge said it was still an unnecessary and alarming attack for the guard, despite that Range was not armed he was forced to hand down a custodial sentence, Justice Quin added.

The judge found that a twelve months would be appropriate but discounted that to nine months for the defendant’s guilty plea and order time served to be taken into consideration.

The foiled robbery took place outside Foster’s at the Countryside Shopping Village at around 7:30pm on 2 December. Range saw the security guard coming out of the supermarket door, heading for his armoured truck with a cash bag in his hand. On seeing the bag Range had grasped at it but was punched by the guard. A tussle ensued between the man as Range tried in vain to get the bag from the guard before he let go and ran into the bushes causing the guard to fall to the ground.

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ESO calls on businesses to take part in key surveys

| 16/03/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Businesses in the Cayman Islands are being asked to participate in two important annual surveys that will measure the pulse of economic activity of in the Cayman Islands. Starting next week, Monday, 19 March and continuing into May, the Balance of Payments (BOP) and System of National Accounts (SNA) surveys seek to provide a true picture of the Cayman Islands’ economy. These surveys are conducted by the Economics and Statistics Office (ESO) on an annual basis and cover all local industries, core government, statutory authorities, government enterprises, and non-profit organisations, including churches and voluntary organisations. Read more on CNS Business

 

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Housing trust investigation is on-going says minister

| 16/03/2012 | 6 Comments

Group - Ribbon Cutting(1).jpg(CNS): The LA member for East End got few answers on Tuesday when he questioned the minister for community affairs about the status of the police investigation into issues relating to the National Housing and Development Trust. Although government has claimed the work of the Trust as one its success stories because of the amount of affordable homes that have been built since the UDP administration took office, those achievements have been marred by allegations of fraud and corruption. Minister Mike Adam told Arden McLean that he could not say anything because the investigation was ongoing.

In October last year a member of the board was arrested by police in George Town accused of manipulating his position of trust to sell insurance to applicants who applied to buy homes at the East End site. Police did not name the man who was arrested on corruption and deception offences and no charges have been brought against him.

"The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has launched an investigation into allegations of misconduct within the National Housing Development Trust,” the police said at the time. “As part of that investigation a 59-year-old man was arrested at his home in the George Town area this morning, Monday 17 October. He was arrested in terms of sections 13 and 17 of the Anti-Corruption Law 2010 for breach of trust and abuse of public office, as well as suspicion of obtaining property by deception."

At the Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday McLean asked about the status of that investigation but was told by both the premier and the minister that government could not discuss the issue. in a heated argument between the premier and the East End member,  McLean said that government had to take responsiblity for what had gone on at the trust.

McLean revealed that he had also submitted parliamentary questions about the board some twelve months ago but had only recently received a written answer from the minister. Following up, he queried how it was that the board members' stipends had been increased to $400 per member and a whopping $800 for the chair.

“I believe that made them the highest paid board members ever,” Mclean said.

The minister admitted, however, that board members' stipend for attending meetings had at some point been increased as their own rules allowed them to vote themselves more money. But he said that the pay had recently reverted back to $300 for members and $400 for the chair.

During his time answering questions about his ministry Adam, who was seeking to increase his appropriations mostly because of poor relief, revealed that funds for the 'build your own home' initiative would not be required as there had been no response from the community.

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Little Cayman invites all for second annual Ag show

| 16/03/2012 | 0 Comments

Little Cayman  Agriculture Show-Exhibit 082 (286x300).jpg(CNS): The last and smallest of all of Cayman’s agricultural shows will take place next weekend on Little Cayman. This will be the islands second show and will be held on Saturday, 24 March at the Museum Grounds. Linton Tibbetts' family has allowed his property to be used and despite being small organisers say it will be nonetheless entertaining and is expected to attract several hundred visitors. Highlight of include tractor rides on  Sonny Johnson’s historical 70 year old tracker  as well as the coconut toss and the popular dog show will return and residents will once again have a chance to enter their pets in the various categories, including best trick and best dressed.

The agricultural displays will mainly represent produce from backyard farming which is in keeping with Minister O'Connor-Connolly's vision for Agriculture of making Agriculture everybody's business.“Little Cayman residents are committed to a sustainable lifestyle. Most residents grow something – mangoes, pumpkins, callaloo, peppers, tomatoes and all the resorts’ chefs have gardens. This is what this show is all about,” Chairperson of the Little Cayman Agriculture Show Debbie Truchan said.

Last year, the Little Cayman Agriculture Show attracted 19 vendors who displayed a little bit of everything – arts, crafts, jams and jellies and Ms. Truchan noted that the organisers were expecting a similar turnout this year. There will be a variety of foods on sale including local specialties, BBQ and jerked chicken. The Little Cayman Education Services will provide lemonade and coconut water.

Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly encouraged Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman residents to support the Little Cayman show.

“The show offers the usual extravaganza of colour, competition and showmanship along with displays, and is a great opportunity for social interaction in a close-knit community. The good thing about agriculture in Little Cayman is that just about everyone does their part. They understand the importance of backyard farming and rely on each other, with neighbourly support,” she said.

Tickets costs $5 for entry and $10 to include an entry into the raffle. The first prize is $1,000, with many other prizes.

 

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New centre to focus on rehab not punishment

| 16/03/2012 | 12 Comments

IMG-20120315-00052.jpg(CNS): The minister with responsibility for community affairs said that the new youth centre being developed by his ministry will be a place of protection and support that will set a high benchmark for the entire region for dealing with young offenders and troubled youth. At the ground breaking ceremony at Fairbanks in George Town on Thursday evening Adam called for support from the community for the resolve to “move beyond a punitive approach” and embrace the new programme based on the now famous Missouri model which calls on young people to confront their behaviour and account for their mistakes.

Officials revealed that Lalev Construction had been awarded the contract via the central tenders committee, to begin the foundations for the youth centre which Adam said would be finished by May 2013.

The development of the centre was fuelled bya requirement in the new Cayman Islands Constitution to separate young offenders from adult prisoners. Instead of building a new facility at the Northward Prison site, the ministry decided to adopt a new approach and build a different type of centre. The new centre includes a secure unit for the young people who have committed very serious crimes but it still will allow government to introduce an adapted version of the Missouri model which has had resounding success in giving young people in trouble a chance to get out of the criminal justice system and start a new life.

The premier, who delivered a message at the opening ceremony via the health minister Mark Scotland, said the programme was not a “soft touch” as research shows the model works. He said the young people are monitored constantly and the programme works by getting young offenders to confront their own behaviour and recognise their own mistakes. The premier saidthat the opening of the centre demonstrated that government was not giving up on the country’s troubled youth.

Adam said that juvenile offending is always a symptom of other problems from poor parenting drug and alcohol addiction in families, emotional, sexual and physical abuse among other which he said had to be addressed and the centre would be about addressing family problems as well as the behaviour of the young people ordered to attend the facility.

The centre will be a step towards opportunity rather than just punishment and instead of always reacting to the problems of youth crime the centre would provide interventionist programmes too in an effort to prevent young people ending up in a life of crime.
Justice Richard Williams also spoke on behalf of the chief justice who was unable to attend but wanted to record the judiciary’s support for the centre, which was first brought to the attention of the ministry by former chief magistrate Margaret Ramsey-Hale who is currently in TCI.

“The judiciary has good reason to be optimistic about the centre,’ Williams said on behalf of CJ Anthony Smellie as he pointed to the Missouri model as generating deep change.

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BT dump protestors deny political affiliation

| 16/03/2012 | 9 Comments

dump demo (242x300).jpg(CNS): The leaders of the Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free have refuted allegations made by the premier that their activist group is associated with the PPM or any other political party. The leaders say there are no PPM members on the committee and it has not taken any money from the opposition party. The BT Coalition says it is a single issue activist group with cross party support and no political affiliations. The coalition is committed and determined to stop the relocation of the landfill to Bodden Town and is campaigning for government to address the dump aka Mount Trashmore on its current site in the capital.

“In response to coalition demands for answers and documents supporting the relocation of the dump, government hid behind a smokescreen of false promises, scare tactics and outright lies,” said Alain Beiner, one of the coalition’s leaders following last Thursday’s government public meeting in Bodden Town, where the activists protested the government's plans.

“They knowingly lied about the Coalition being controlled by the PPM. Premier Bush, Minister Scotland and BT MLA Seymour are well aware that we’re non-political and completely independent of the PPM.

“While individual members of the PPM may well support the Coalition’s campaign – as do a number of UDP members – the Coalition has nothing to do with the PPM, nor with any political party. There isn’t a single MLA or PPM official on our Coordinating Committee, and the Coalition has not received a penny from the PPM,” Biener added

Gregg Anderson another leading figure in the group said the coalition has equally condemned past and present governments for neglecting the George Town landfill.  “We accepted an invitation to present our position to a PPM public meeting in January and we’d just as readily accept an invitation to speak at a UDP or any public meeting where we can explain why moving the dump to Bodden Town would be disastrous for all of Grand Cayman,” he added.

The coalition members have also pointed to the irony of the accusations made against the protest group of political affiliations. The public meeting was advertised in the local press as a government projects update but the meeting  “…was nothing but a UDP election rally,…” the coalition said.

Speech after speech had attacked the coalition and the PPM, the coalition stated and it also rejected what they called the scare tactics of the environment minister and first elected member for the district Mark Scotland

During his speech he had claimed that government would have to raise import duty to 30% to operate a waste-to-energy facility, and that it would cost ‘over a $100 million’ in capital costs to fix the George Town dump where it is however, the coalition pointed to government’s earlier plans and the Central Tenders Committee (CTC) recommendation to award the waste-to energy contract to Wheelabrator.

“Wasn’t that deal in fact to be financed by Wheelabrator, with operating costs supported by new revenue the sale of energy to CUC, a tipping fee such? Beiner asked rhetorically as he suggested that Bodden Towners may never know the truth and unless government discloses the terms of that deal, and explains why they inexplicably ditched it along with due process, in favour of the Dart proposal.”

The government’s own technical team had rejected the Dart submission and the CTC expressed “great concern” about the impact of a dump in an “environmentally sensitive” area.

The coalition also asked if the running costs for the new waste-management site would come from as Dart has said it won’t be managing the new site.

“If the money will be there then, why not now, and avoid contaminating a new site. In the name of ‘good governance’ and ‘honesty’, government agrees to award a contract for a waste-to-energy facility to fix the George Town dump, it then comes to Bodden Town to denounce our Coalition’s support for that same option, claiming that we can’t afford it, and then promises to add a similar facility at the Bodden Town site,” Vincent Frederick another coalition leader added, as he suggested whatever credibility thegovernment still had on this issue in Bodden Town they now had none.

The coalition members were also sceptical about the promise made by Bush to an organised tour of waste-management facilities in the USA . During his speech Bush had suggested that he would take hundreds of people to see how they work.

However, given the cost of suchan exercise when government claims it’s a lack of funds that is forcing them to move the landfill miles from the source of most waste, and to transform a pristine residential area into heavy industrial use, the coalition said it was unlikely to materialize.

“They even mocked our placards for the few dollars we spent on them,” Frederick added.

“Where will they find the money to pay the travel expenses of a hundred people – in addition of course to their own coterie of ‘experts, tour guides, coaches and spin-masters’? No one was fooled last Thursday by this smokescreen of contradictions. The people of our district still don’t know which government entity decided that the GT dump had to be relocated, who selected Bodden Town as the best site, and on what these decisions were based. These real questions remain unanswered.”

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TCI governor calls on Misick to return and face music

| 16/03/2012 | 20 Comments

MichaelMisick20060330IA.jpg(CNS): The Turks and Caicos governor engaged in a war of words with the former premier of the islands this week after he was called out for cursing on public radio. However, RichardTodd turned on what he said was the hypocrisy of Michael Misick and called on him to return to TCI to face the questions of the investigators involved in the country’s corruption enquiry. Misick released a statement after Todd used the word ‘sh*t’ on a local talk-show, claiming his behaviour was consistent with “an arrogant and heavy handed approach from this colonial ruler who continues to demonstrate scant respect” for the TCI people.

"He has disrespected the Christians that might have been listening.” Misick said in a press statement.. He accused Todd of recently passing guilty verdicts on those accused in what the former premier described as the “bogus, multi-million-dollar politically-motivated corruption investigation case” before a trial has taken place. “This is nothing more than an abuse of power, corruption of the judicial process, and a monumental travesty of justice,” he added.

.Among many other criticisms made by Misick of Todd, he questioned the governor’s morality because he had appointed a gay man to the post of chief executive.

In his response to Misick, Todd said he had apologized for the use of the word as he had misheard a caller but he said the former premier’s disrespect for the people was laid bare in the Commission of Inquiry Report, which had listed in tremendous detail the probability of systemic corruption during his administration.

“These matters are now the subject of a criminal investigation by the SIPT. Mr Misick should return to these islands as soon as possible to face the questions that the SIPT has for him,” he added.

“With regard to my participation in yesterday’s Expressions show, I have apologised for my use of a certain word. In stating this word I believed at the time that I was quoting back at my questioner what they had said to me, when they verbally attacked me, accusing me of having talked “… a crock”. In using this phrase I unfortunately used the full phrase that the caller clearly meant. I apologised then and I apologise again now for any offence caused. It was a genuine and human mistake,” Todd said in the wake of the talk show in which officials said the governor was repeatedly called a “liar and a dictator” but had, they said, remained calm.

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Spotts Jetty costs balloon

| 16/03/2012 | 55 Comments

spotts.JPG(CNS): The premier has revealed that the cost of re-developing the Spotts Jetty as a future alternative cruise port to George Town for ships that can still tender has doubled in cost from the last estimate of around $3 million. McKeeva Bush has not explained why the development is now twice the price but there are fears that the ballooning bill will eventually be paid by the Cayman people. Ezzard Miller says this sudden doubling of costs is worrying as it does not bode well regarding the rest of the cruise facilities, which CHEC, government’s current preferred developer, will build, as all of these costs will eventually come from the public purse. (Photo courtesy of Cayman 27)

He warned that the more grandiose the three cruise port related projects become, the more the public purse will eventually suffer. Despite claims by the premier that the port developments will not cost the government money, Miller says this is misleading as he believes part of the financing will come from passenger tax.

“If, as government claims, the passenger fees are not increasing, then the developer must be taking funds directly from the existing fees, which would normally be collected by the Port Authority and added to government coffers. If that money is lost because it has gone to CHEC then new taxes will have to be implemented to replace the missing revenue,” Miller pointed out.

He said government makes around $13.5 million per year from cruise fees but if all or part of that goes to pay for the port then the drop in government earnings will need to be replaced from somewhere.

Although the premier has stated that CHEC will be making its money from the upland element, he has not denied that there will not be some money coming from passenger tax but he has denied any major hike in the tax, as suggested in a report by KPMG last year for the Port Authority.

“The increase on the Spotts project is frightening. It has more than doubled. Does that mean that we can expect the same thing on the main $300 milllion project?” Miller asked and he queried why it is the cost of the Spotts Jetty has more than doubled as he called on the premier to explain the increase. He said he could not imagine how it could be justified to spend so much on a back-up port that would be used on no more than a couple of dozen occasions throughout the year.

The original Port Authority plans for a basic revamp of the area at Spotts had been estimated at around $1.5 milllion, a more comprehensive upgrade was then price at about $2.3 milllion. When the premier first signed an MOU with China Harbour Engineering Company and negotiated an advance to make a start on Spotts ahead of the main agreement, the price tag had risen to $3.3 million. Plans for that cash advancement were shelved because it appeared the sum would have had to be included in government borrowing.

Speaking at the special meeting of Finance Committee on Tuesday, Bush revealed that the Spotts project was now between $6 and $8 million.

“There was no explanation for what this extra money was for,” Miller said. “And if this goes the way of other UDP projects, then it will be closer to $8 million rather than $6milllion.”

The independent member for North Side warned that there does not appear to be the same kind of checks and balances that existed in the framework agreement between the former proposed developer GLF and government with the CHEC deal so he questioned how the project could be prevented from ballooning.

“The Chinese proposals includes financing, designing and building, so the more they can finance, design and build the more profits all round,” he added

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