Archive for May 8th, 2012

Referendum will be a holiday

| 08/05/2012 | 59 Comments

Hooray.png(CNS): As a result of the need to have sufficient people to man the polling process, the premier has revealed that the referendum planned for 18 July on one man, one vote will now be an official public holiday. Although McKeeva Bush had previously stated it would not be a holiday, which had caused concern for those campaigning for the national ballot, on Tuesday afternoon in an official statement he announced that the government has decided to “declare July 18, 2012 a public holiday in order to facilitate the holding of the referendum on single member constituencies,” because of a number of logistical reasons.

“In order to have sufficient personnel to work in the polling process people will have to be off from work. The RCIPS will be using Special Constables; civil servants and private sector workers will be utilized as election officers and people will also be recruited as observers and scrutineers during the referendum process,” the premier acknowledged. “In order to ensure the smooth running of the referendum process it was thought best to declare July 18th a public holiday.”

On hearing the news Ezzard Miller said he was delighted that the premier had bowed to the pressure as it was obvious with the amount of volunteers involved in any poll that it would need to be a holiday. As one of the leaders spearheading the campaign for one man, one vote,the independent member for North Side said a holiday would certainly help the ‘Yes’ vote as it would be easier for people to get out to the polling stations.

He said that despite the difficulties represented by government hi-jacking of the referendum, he and the opposition members will still trying to get further amendments to the proposed bill.

Although he didn’t expect to get very far with that effort, Miller said it was drawing close to the point where the government needed to forget the need for a national ballot anyway. He said the premier could save public money by passing the legislation for one man, one vote before the 2013 general election.

“Given the widespread support across the entire country for the equality and accountable system of one man, one vote, the government and the campaigners could all be saved the money if the premier brought a bill to change the election law,’’ he added.

Continue Reading

Ex drug cop sues RCIPS

| 08/05/2012 | 4 Comments

(CNS): An officer who was once a member of the drugs task force and involved in undercover operations overseas is suing the commissioner of police over the way he was treated in the wake of assisting in a major drug bust. The officer, who served in the RCIPS since 1994, is making a damages claim against the police management as a result of suffering post-traumatic stress when his identity was revealed in a major case. Although placed in a protection scheme, the officer received death threats and says he was not properly protected, supported or trained to deal with the consequences of his exposure to the criminal gangs involved in drug trafficking.

The officer was employed with the police until May last year, when he was officially pensioned off as a result of his mental health issues. However, before his retirement during the course of his career the plaintiff participated in several major undercover operations resulting in the interdiction of a substantial quantity of narcotics.

Following one successful drugs operation he was required to give evidence in contested extradition proceedings in a foreign jurisdiction. His identity was revealed in the proceedings, resulting in the threats to his and his family's lives by individuals involved in serious crime and in particular the target of the legal proceedings.

As a result, in April 2005 he sought help from the then commissioner of police for protection for himself and his family. They were then placed in what the officer described as an ad hoc witness protection scheme in May overseas and what the officer describes as an enforced exile from his home.

The law suit filed in the Cayman Islands Grand court last week states that the officer was in “circumstances of tremendous stress and mental anguish” but “negligently, in breach of contract and in breach of his duty of mutual trust and confidence” the commissioner failed to provide him with the “support, care and protection consistent with international standards for the protection of exposed witnesses or officers,” the suit claims.

As a result, the officer sayshe has sustained severe psychiatric injury including, but not limited to, post-traumatic stress syndrome and has a number of medical reports substantiating his claim for financial recompense.

On 16 December 2010, under the Public Service Pensions Law a statutory Board found that he was "medically unfit" to carry out the job of responsibilities associated with his duty as an employee of the RCIP.  That board concluded that his persistent medical condition was "a direct result of the hazards of his occupation” which led to him being pensioned off from the service.

The former drug cop states that his psychiatric injuries including his post-traumatic stress disorder were caused by the RCIPS’ negligence and breach of contract. He claims that because he was neither trained nor given the minimum safeguards, despite being owed a duty not to be exposed to working conditions which were foreseeably likely to subject him to such stress, he is seeking financial compensation.

The suit claims the defendant owed a duty not to expose the plaintiff to living conditions which were likely to subject him to such stress or illness taking into account any susceptibilityof the plaintiff of which the defendant was, or should have been, aware.

On top of damages relating to his psychiatric condition, the officer is also seeking special damages for the loss of his home in Grand Cayman because of his circumstances.

The officer revealed to CNS that he has been engaged in negotiations with the RCIPS over his situation for some seven years. He said that during this time various government officials and commissioners have promised to address his problems but the officer says no one wants to want to take responsibility for what has happened to him and as a result he is now taking direct legal action.

Continue Reading

Close the GT dump

| 08/05/2012 | 126 Comments

The ecologically detrimental, aesthetically offensive, air and water contaminating George Town landfill is not just a George Town or Dart issue but it is a major threat to the quality of life to the entire Cayman Islands. The site is not lined and the drain-offs are harmful to our health and the eco system and will have a long-term negative impact on our tourism product.

A sensible and sustainable solution is urgently needed in the interest of the future attractiveness of this country as a place to live, work and visit.  The decades long debate, research and political rhetoric has to date failed to advance us any closer towards a solution. MLA for East End, Arden McLean, has repeatedly indicted the People Progressive Movement (of which he was the Minister with responsibility for the landfill) for its failure to deliver to the people of this country a workable solution to the George Town Landfill crisis.

With a national consensus and mandate on the urgency for a remedy to the dump, the United Democratic Party (UDP) has proposed closing the George Town landfill, remedial development of the existing site, and the development of a state-of-art refuse disposal site in the district of Bodden Town with no direct cost to the Cayman Islands coffers. The new site would be properly lined and embrace best practices of waste management and would not resemble the current site that was not afforded the conventional wisdom of current practices. 

As a resident of George Town who drives past the landfill every day and witnesses the stench and unsightliness first hand, I welcome this proposal. However, I am amazed that the long awaited solution is being resisted by a segment of the society, including Mr Arden Mclean and the PPM. This resistance is obviously politically charged because there is no obvious intellectual rationale against having the commonlyaccepted threat of the George Town Landfill being remediated and the processing of the national refuse being moved to a less travelled and less densely inhabited area of the island. In the absence of logic in an argument, politics is normally endemic. 

While all people should have a right to object and state their opinions on matters of national importance, it is wrong for the objectors of the new waste management facility to embark on a campaign of misinformation and scare-mongering in order to make their case. At a public meeting in Savannah, on Monday May 8, several preposterous statements were made by the PPM representative for Bodden Town and the leader of the Coalition to Keep Bodden Town Dump Free, where they claimed that people as far as 10 miles away from the new facility would get cancer and a litany of diseases that even they could not pronounce.

If their claims had any validity, the hospital would be packed with the hundreds of George Towners who have lived all of their lives within a three (3) mile radius of the current dump – and clearly it is not! Furthermore, by implication, these objectors are saying that it is perfectly acceptable for the residents of George Town and the entire western end of the Island to be adversely affected by the mismanaged waste for the entire island, if its effect (as they say) is felt as far as 10 miles away.

No individual is desirous of having the landfill in his or her “backyard” but it must be placed somewhere. George Town, the country’s capital, has hosted the garbage dump and its residents have suffered for decades. It is foolhardy to perpetually compound the problem by adding more garbage to it. It must be relocated, with all modern waste management expertise employed at the new site. 

Accordingly, the residents of Bodden Town will not have a similar experience as those of George Town who suffered from aesthetic, air, water and noise pollution.  

Continue Reading

Test runs begin ahead of 2012 hurricane season

| 08/05/2012 | 0 Comments

Photo for NRA Hurricane Release.jpg(CNS): Government officials are warning the public not to be alarmed if they see hurricane shutters being erected on government buildings and hurricane shelters in Grand Cayman on Thursday. The Public Works Department (PWD) and the National Roads Authority (NRA) are carrying out their annual hurricane preparedness exercise, in preparation for the upcoming hurricane season which is less than one month away. In Grand Cayman employees from the and PWD will be involved in the exercise of shuttering 100 buildings including 15 hurricane shelters.

As well as checking shutters public sector workers will also be checking generators in shelters and key government buildings as well as assessing water levels ahead.

Once shelters and buildings are shuttered, Inspectors will carry out detailed inspections to certify that the facilities are adequately secured. This exercise duplicates the activities that will take place in the event of a real hurricane. Some statutory authorities are also participating in the exercise, by securing their own facilities.

Members of the public are encouraged to review their own protection plans as the start of the hurricane season is only a few weeks away.  At a minimum, the general public are advised to give thought to how they will cover windows and glass doors in the event of a hurricane and how will they be installed as its usually too late to consider this once a hurricane warning has been issued.
The public is advised to check if there home is a safe place to stay in the event of a hurricane and for those living on the ocean or in poorly constructed homes they need to plan where they would stay.

Due to the limited number of hurricane shelter spaces people are asked to make every effort to stay in a safe home or at a workplace. Staying in a hurricane shelter should be considered a last resort, as shelters will be crowded and uncomfortable.

For additional information, please contact the Public Works Department at 949-2547.
 

Continue Reading

Mixed fortunes for rugby young and old

| 08/05/2012 | 0 Comments

biscayne3 (276x300).jpg(CRFU): Cayman Rugby’s Youth and Oldies scene took to the South Sound rugby pitch on 28 April with the visit of Key Biscayne Rugby Club “Rugby Rats” to the Cayman Islands. The Cayman U13 squad previously visited Key Biscayne in January and narrowly lost that match 29 – 27. Understandably, Key Biscayne's return visit was eagerly anticipated by the Cayman players. The spoils were shared in the warm up games on Saturday with Cayman winning the first game and Key Biscayne winning the second game. The stand out players were Lleyton James, Dylan Bostock and Devin Mourao but the whole squad adapted well to playing sevens (7 a side as opposed to 13 a side) on a full pitch.

The dryer conditions promised a fast flowing game on Sunday and so it proved, with Key Biscayne powering into an early lead straight from the kick off. Cayman hit straight back through strong running from James, Bostock and Josh Bolland. An opportunistic try by Aiden Clemens from a tap penalty saw Cayman take the lead but credit to Key Biscayne who stuck to their task and did not let Cayman run away with the game. Poor tackling from Cayman close to their line let Key Biscayne back into the game with a soft try.

A series of substitutions brought fresh legs on to the pitch for Cayman and powerful running from forwards Duncan Petrie and Matteo Polloni put Cayman back into control after Petrie crossed over for the try. However, Key Biscayne would not back down and only gritty defence and powerful cover tackling from Josh Hubbell and Mourao preserved Cayman's lead. Slick passing from Drew Milgate and Bolland gave Will Edwards a sniff of the try line and Edwards beat two Key Biscayne players to cross in the corner for the decisive try.

Final score Cayman 35-15 Key Biscayne.

Credit for the victory must extend to the whole squad of 30 players and, whilst not all the players took the field due to the 7 a side format of the games, the squad's dedication in training and commitment in the Iguanas vs. Buccaneers games has raised the standard of rugby at the U13 level beyond the coaches’ expectations. The younger, less experienced players will be pushing for places next season when the U13’s look forward to touring again later this year.

Training for the U13’s resumes in September and all are welcome to join.

Whilst there were numerous successes for the younger players the Cayman Knackers started their 2012 season with a loss to the Key Biscayne Rats. The Key Biscayne team, made up almost entirely of Argentinian expats started the game at a high tempo, although their lack of recent matches showed in the soaring penalty count with numerous infringements in most facets of play.

The teams traded one try a piece in the early exchanges and with the score set at 7-5 to the Rats, the remainder of the first half action was to be found in the middle of the pitch.

The referee had a hard time keeping up with all the infringements from the wily argentines and was soon reaching to his pocket and sent one of the Rats to the bin for continual infringements. Not to be outdone, Stuart Bostock of the Cayman squad decided he too wanted a breather and the chance to replenish his Heineken and got a bit overzealous with the boot in the ruck.

Unfortunately the ref had no choice and a red card ensued leaving the Cayman men with 14 players for the remainder of the game. After a stern talking to from the referee, both captains manage to reign in their players and the second half was a hard fought but clean affair with the Rats tackling well in defense and not allowing the Cayman team to get onto the front foot. Some good backline running from the Rats enabled them to score 3 second half tries to seal the game.

Final Score Cayman Knackers 5-24 Key Biscayne.
 

Continue Reading

Charges pending against senior cop for assault on PC

| 08/05/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A high ranking officer from the local police service may find himself in court soon facing assault charges as a result of a complaint by a police constable. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service management have refused to comment on the details of the alleged incident, which reportedly occurred when both officers were on duty and in the vicinity of the court house. Other sources tell CNS that charges are anticipated in the case, which was handed to the legal department for a decision. Although questions have been submitted to the RCIPS, at this stage no one has offered any details of the incident or stated if the officer in question has been suspended from his post.

 

Continue Reading

Alden warns Mac to talk

| 08/05/2012 | 53 Comments

alden rally (226x300).jpg(CNS): The opposition leader has once again demanded answers from the premier over the police probes and in particular the letter sent to Stan Thomas before he says he will tell what he knows. Alden McLaughlin warned McKeeva Bush that if he did not step aside or offer a full explanation to the country about his demand for $350,000 he would reveal more to the public during a planned outdoor session of the LA on Wednesday, where the opposition intended to debate the no confidence motion. Speaking at a PPM meeting on Monday evening, the opposition leader asked Bush to explain what he had done for the money and how much was previously paid to him and for what.

Stating that Bush may be presumed innocent in a court of law and have a right to silence because of his position, in the court of public opinion he was obligated to answer the many questions surrounding the three police investigations into financial irregularities and the illegal importation of 32 tonnes of dynamite.

“Mr Bush, you are our premier, elected by us and accountable to us, the people who sit in court of public opinion,” he said, adding that the 'court' had evidence of what appeared to be wrong doing as he pointed to the infamous Stan Thomas letter.

He listed a number of questions that he said Bush had to face in the public arena, which he must have already explained to his party colleagues to convince them that he had done no wrong. McLaughlin said he continued to be bemused that if Bush had enlisted their support by demonstrating the letter was a legitimate business transaction, that none of Bush’s party his colleagues had chosen to reveal what he’d said in his defence.

McLaughlin said his failure to explain was increasingly problematic and the people needed to ask why, if “his hands were clean and heart pure”, he had not offered a reasonable explanation to either the police or the people.

Despite the premier’s claims, the opposition leader said the investigation was nothing to do with the governor, the FCO or the opposition. He reiterated the fact that it was a member of the local judiciary that discovered the letter and passed it to the governor, who called the police in. “It wasn’t Alden, or Ezzard, or Arden, or the FCO making up some story on you,” the opposition leader told the premier. “This investigation was initiated by a Grand Court judge.”

McLaughlin explained how the land owned by Thomas in Cayman was already going through the zoning application when the Texan developer bought it and that the CPA had already recommended the re-zoning be completed to the minister of planning back in 2003. When Thomas bought the land in 2004, he found that that the Cabinet approval was suddenly being deferred as Bush was said to be absent from the meetings. According to government records, for some unexplained reason the zoning on the Thomas land was repeatedly deferred until July, when it was eventually passed.

The opposition leader also pointed out that the letter in question, written by Bush, was sent to Thomas demanding the balance of outstanding funds only a matter of weeks after Grand Cayman was devastated by Hurricane Ivan. This, McLaughlin said, showed clearly where Bush’s priorities were in the midst of a major national crisis. “So, Mr Bush, so much for putting the interests of the country before your personal matters,” McLaughlin declared. “Your fellow Caymanians may have been desperate, hungry and homeless but that was not going to keep you from demanding from Mr Stan Thomas the payment.”

He said Bush was compelled to explain and provide answers to what rezoning issues he had ensured were dealt with by Cabinet; if it was a government transaction, why it was on his company letter, and why he charged Thomas for assistance.  He pointed out that MLAs and ministers are not allowed to charge for helping the public as that is part of their job. The opposition leader asked Bush, if it was a private transaction, why had he used his position to further the interests of one of his clients and why did it take eight months to approve the re-zoning. He queried how many times it was deferred and questioned what he had told the planning minister.

Pointing to the fact that the letter asked for a balance, McLaughlin questioned what amount had been previously paid. In the face of continuing speculation about the details of the deal, McLaughlin also asked the premier if he had met Stan Thomas in Las Vegas in March 2004. He said he knew much more than what he had said but it was up to Bush to tell the people what happened. “Stand aside McKeeva or the worst is yet to come,” McLaughlin warned.

The questions had to be answered, the opposition leader told the crowd, and if the premier would not debate the lack of confidence motion where these questions could be asked and answered, the opposition would be debating the motion, no matter what, outside the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday. The opposition leader called on everyone to come out and join the debate on the streets of George Town and show they wanted the premier to explain or stand aside.

Continue Reading

Pet owners warned of salmonella in dog food

| 08/05/2012 | 1 Comment

DiamondPetFoodRecallAfterSalmonellaScare_640.jpg(CNS): Fourteen people in at least nine states have been sickened by salmonella after handling tainted dog food from a South Carolina plant. Diamond Pet Foods have recalled a number of products because of the bug found at its Gaston facility. At least five people in America have been hospitalized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said although no pets have yet been reported sick. According to shoppers in Cayman the affected foods have found their way to local pet shops.

The recall covers a number of pet food brands made at the Gaston plant, including Canidae, Natural Balance, Apex, Kirkland, Wellness Complete Health, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul, Country Value, Diamond, Diamond Naturals, Premium Edge, Professional, 4Health and Taste of the Wild.

“People who became ill, the thing that was common among them was that they had fed their pets Diamond Pet Foods,” said CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell. “Our folks are really wanting people to be aware of it. They want to be aware that this is causing people to get sick because they may have product in their homes. For every one that isreported, there may be 29 others.”

People can get salmonella by handling infected dog food, then not washing their hands before eating or handling their own food, health officials said.

The plant was temporarily closed last month and Diamond Pet Foods has issued four rounds of recalls for food made at the plant,

Agriculture officials found the strain of salmonella during routine testing of dog food on April 2 and health investigators noticed there was a possible link to the food made by Diamond Pet Foods. An ill person still had some of the food, and authorities were able to link the cases to the food, the CDC said.

Continue Reading

Dr Frank appears at PPM rally

| 08/05/2012 | 93 Comments

dr frank ppm (251x300).jpg(CNS): Former UDP Cabinet minister Dr Frank McField received a warm welcome when he appeared as a surprise guest on the platform of a PPM political rally in Savannah on Monday night. The controversial character called for his former party colleague’s resignation and condemned comments made recently by Ellio Solomon that if the premier had done something wrong in connection with the Stan Thomas affair and land re-zoning, then the rest of his Cabinet colleagues did too. McField said that it was McKeeva Bush not the other Cabinet members that wrote to the developer demanding money as he called for a return of integrity to politics.

McField offered his appreciation and support to the opposition leader for inviting him to the PPM meeting. He said he welcomed McLaughlin’s move to reach out to a broader coalition of people that would be able to take the country back “to begin a new phase of honesty and prosperity for the Cayman Islands,” McField said.

The former minister for sports, gender and community affairs in the UDP’s first government accused Bush of forming the UDP as a tool merely to ensure he would remain as leader until he decided to retire, because clearly he “had no use for a political party”, McField said. He said that up until a few months ago he continued to try and offer the premier advice on how he could solve some of the economic and social challenges we have in the island but to no avail.

Although the premier is consistently blaming others for Cayman’s economic stagnation, McField said, the real reason for the country’s economic woes was down to politicians putting their own interests before the interests of the country.

“It’s these actions that cause people to become suspicious and trigger off investigations, that cause people to believe politicians are benefitting from deals being made,” he said. McField pointed to the dock, the hospital and other projects where he said people now had a feeling that had become entrenched that the politicians were looking after themselves and making something from the deals while the considerations of the country came long after.

He explained that when the Stan Thomas land came to Cabinet for re-zoning it was passed to facilitate plans for a resort to create jobs and boost the economy but none of the other Cabinet members asked him for money. “None of us wrote any letter to any developer demanding any sum of money for that particular act,” McField said, referring to himself, Gilbert McLean, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and Roy Bodden, who were the elected Cabinet members at the time alongside Bush. “Nobody should have profited from that …”

McField said he has already called on his former party colleagues in the UDP to ask the premier to retire as leader of the party and as leader of the government because it is “their responsibility under the party constitution to make sure that he is disciplined and dealt with” and allow the party constitution to function.

“But nobody there seems to have the courage,” he said. “Nobody there seems to have the courage to stand up against Big Mac.”

McField’s surprise appearance was well received by the PPM party faithful at a meeting, which attracted around 300 people. Among others that lined up on the PPM platform was Woody DaCosta, who is one of seven new recruits that has expressed an interest in running on the PPM party ticket at the next election, if selected by the party membership.

He said it was time for people to unify and come together to address what he said would be grim times ahead. Da Costa said the new constitution provided new opportunities for more autonomy but it was being abused. The petition on one man, one vote showed that the people had a voice and should not accept being ignored. 

The potential West Bay candidate said that although the odds were stacked against the referendum after it was hi-jacked by government, it was still not impossible, as he urged everyone to come out and vote. However, he said that if the referendum day was lost, the people could hold government accountable in May 2013.

Continue Reading

Man pleads guilty to assault but denies having gun

| 08/05/2012 | 0 Comments

court good.jpg(CNS): Jovin Omar Fuentes (21) admitted punching Aaron Chisholm in a car park outside a Bodden Town bar last October when he appeared in Grand Court Monday to face trial over the possession of an imitation firearm with intent, but denied having a gun. At the start of the trial over the weapon, which has not been recovered, the 21 year old pleaded guilty to assault. The crown’s case against him is based on the evidence of Chisholm who says that Fuentes was armed the night the two men fought outside the Everglo bar. Chisholm said when he fled from the defendant and hid in the brush Fuentes came after him with a 38 revolver.

Although no shots were fired and no weapon was ever recovered the crown contends that Fuentes was carrying a gun, or an imitation firearm, when he started a fight with the complainant outside the Bodden Town bar, just before midnight on Sunday 9 October, when the two men had traded insults before coming to blows.

Chisholm said he caught a glimpse of the weapon when Fuentes turned away from him during their fight to grab a rock to throw at him. Having spotted the gun the complainant said he took flight behind the bar and headed east across the bar’s empty lot.

He then hid in the brush behind some boulders but Chisholm said that Fuentes got in his car and came after him. He pulled the vehicle up close to where Chisholm was hiding in the bushes, the court heard, before he got out of the car and pointed the gun right at him. The complainant told the judge that was pointing the gun towards him at a forty degree angle and repeatedly called to him, “Come out so I can put some lead in you.”

Chisholm said he remained hidden until Fuentes drove away. The complainant said he was then collected by friends who had gone with him to the Bodden Town bar. Once inside his friend’s car, Chisholm said he called 911 and reported the incident to the police. About an hour or so later he accompanied the police including officers from the armed unit (USG) to Fuentes’ home in Bodden Town where he was arrested but no gun was found.

Although Chisholm admitted to drinking around five bottles of Dragon Stouts that evening he denied being drunk or being mistaken about seeing the gun.

He told the court that he knew Fuentes for around three years but it was not until a month or so before the incident that there was any problem between the two men. Chisholm said they had engaged in a verbal disagreement over Chisholm’s younger brother when he told Fuentes to leave him alone.

The trial continues Tuesday in court one and is expected to last four days. Fuentes is being represented by Lucy Organ from Samson McGrath while the case is being prosecuted for the crown by Kenneth Ferguson and presided over by Justice Alex Henderson who is sitting alone without a jury.

Continue Reading