Archive for May 24th, 2012

Referendum voters urged to apply for postal ballot

| 24/05/2012 | 3 Comments

vote here 2_0.jpg(CNS): Campaigners for oneman, one vote and single member constituencies are urging all voters to apply for a postal vote if they won’t be able to go to the polls on referendum day. With the bar set by government to an almost impossible height, the campaigners are encouraging everyone to voteeven those that will be away on 18 July when the critical vote takes place. The supervisor of elections confirmed Thursday that application forms for voting by post are now available and that they must be submitted by 6 July with a copy of a travel ticket. Returning Officers in the electoral districts will issue postal ballots once they have the requisite lists of approved applicants.

“Postal ballots will be mailed by registered post to approved applicants and may be returned either by post, courier or by hand up until the close of the polls on 18 July, Kearney Gomez, the elections supervisor said.

He said all registered electors who are planning to be off island on Referendum Day can collect forms from the Elections Office, 150 Smith Road, 2nd Floor or download them online from www.electionsoffice.ky

“Once completed, forms must be submitted to the Elections Office along with evidence showing that the applicants will be off islands on that date.  This evidence could be in the form of a copy of an e-ticket, travel itinerary or a regular airline ticket,” Gomez added.

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Thundery showers still linger as system moves away

| 24/05/2012 | 0 Comments

IMG-20120521-00100 (1).jpg(CNS): Cayman’s weather forecasters said that the area of disturbed weather that has been affecting the Islands over the last few days was deteriorating but Satellite pictures continue to show lingering showers over the northwest Caribbean. More heavy, thundery showers dumped further rain on the Cayman Islands Thursday and experts predicted more of the same for Friday before a decrease in cloudiness and shower activity with the winds shifting to the east to southeast by Friday evening.

Thursday evening’s forecast called for cloudy skies with a 40% chance of showers andsome thunder. Temperatures will fall to the upper 70’s. Winds will be south to south-easterly 10 to 15 knots with higher gusts. Seas will be moderate to rough with wave heights of 4 to 6 feet especially along the south coasts. Small crafts should continue to exercise caution over open waters.

The outlook for Friday was for more cloudy skies with a 40% chance of showers andpossible thunder.  Temperatures will rise to the mid 80’s. Winds will be south-easterly 10 to 15 knots. Seas will be moderate with wave heights of 3 to 5 feet.
 

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2nd gun earns man 12 years

| 24/05/2012 | 39 Comments

prison cell.JPG(CNS): A 23-year-old man who hid a loaded semi-automatic handgun in his girlfriend’s freezer has been sentenced to 12 years in jail. Joshua Brown, who was found guilty of possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition following a trial in March, was handed the sentence by Justice Panton on Thursday morning after the court heard that this was Brown’s second firearms offence. The George Town man had previously received a seven year sentence in 2007 for the illegal possessionof a gun and had only been free for a few months before the police found a Colt 45 hidden in a freezer. The judge told Brown, who wept quietly in the dock, that his crime was extremely serious.

Pointing to the mandatory minimum sentence imposed by the legislators, the judge said it was a reflection of how extremely serious they considered possession of an unlicensed firearm to be. “In a case such as yours the court must — not may but must — impose a minimum of ten years,” Justice Panton stated. With no exceptional circumstances in the case to allow him to waive the mandatory minimum, the judge handed down the 12 year sentence.

Although there was no evidence in the case that Brown had used the weapon or had any intention of using it in a crime, his previous conviction added to the already lengthy sentence. Police also found a mask and gloves in the apartment where he was staying in Marina Drive at the time of the search.

The court heard that Brown had first been incarcerated on a firearms possession case when he was only 17-years-old and had essentially spent his adult life in custody, having only been released shortly before the raid on his girlfriend’s apartment by officers acting on intelligence.

On 8 September last year officers from the RCIPS’ armed response unit, the Uniform Support Group, had searched the apartment and found the loaded semi-automatic Colt 45 weapon wrapped in a white t-shirt in the freezer draw of the refrigerator in the kitchen. The gun was later linked to Brown as a result of DNA evidence.

Brown denied possession of the firearm and six rounds of ammunition and as a result automatically faced the statutory minimum ten years jail time mandated in law for the offence.

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Armed men rob TV station

| 24/05/2012 | 57 Comments

_DEW1144.jpg(CNS): The Weststar customer service department at the local television centre in George Town has been held up by armed robbers in another daylight heist. The police confirmed Thursday afternoon that early reports indicated that three masked men entered the premises armed with guns, threatened staff and made off with a sum of cash at around 3pm. A spokesperson for the RCIPS said that officers are currently at the scene of the crime, which is off Eastern Avenue,and an investigation is now underway. No shots were fired and no one was injured. (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

The TV station said the police are reviewing CCTV footage of the robbery at the payment office where officials from the company said staff had been trained to deal with such situations. “The most important thing is that everyone is safe. The staff are understandably shaken up, so we have brought in a counselor from the EAP to talk to them.,”Customer Care Manager Shayne Whittaker said in the wake of the robbery.

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Sports minister applauds Webb’s historic achievement

| 24/05/2012 | 7 Comments

Mr. Webb with FIFA President in Budapest (276x300).jpg(CNS): Following local football boss Jeff Webb’s election as president of CONCACAF in Budapest Wednesday, the sports minister, who was also at the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) congress, said he would become one of the most important men in the world of football. Given the size of the Cayman Islands, Mark Scotland said, it was an historic achievement by Webb as well as a proud moment for the Cayman Islands. Pointing to the importance of administrators to the game, he said Webb was arguably the best football administrator in the Caribbean region.

“Behind football’s famous clubs and players stand the administrators, such as Mr Webb, who quietly ensure the smooth running of the sport,” Scotland said.  “With his can-do attitude combined with his leadership skills and signature diplomatic style, Mr Webb’s contributions to the growth of the sport of football in the Cayman Islands are unsurpassed.”

Webb became president of the Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) in 1991. A year later CIFA became a member of CONCACAF and in July of that same year the association became a member of FIFA.

Scotland said Webb had both passion and vision, not just for Cayman Islands football, but the development of football locally, regionally and internationally.

“It is safe to say that under Mr Webb’s leadership, football has become an every man’s – and woman’s – sport in our Islands. The Association currently presides over sixteen domestic league and cup competitions, ranging from under 13 boys, under 15 boys, under 17 boys, under 17 girls to the senior men and women's level,” the minister added.

During his tenure as CIFA president Webb has also served as a member and deputy chairman of the FIFA internal audit committee, the FIFA transparency and compliance committee, the Caribbean observer on the FIFA executive committee and a member of the CONCACAF youth committee. Most recently he led the CFU normalization committee. 

See related story on Webb’s election here

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MLAs cite Bush probes at regional conference

| 24/05/2012 | 59 Comments

ardenee (235x300).jpg(CNS):  The police investigations surrounding the Cayman Islands premier were used by opposition MLAs attending a regional conference in Jamaica to question whether the rules and sanctions for parliamentary democracies and their members in the Caribbean are adequate to maintain integrity among politicians. Arden McLean, the PPM member for East End, and Ezzard Miller, the independent member for North Side, questioned what happens when politicians ignore the rules and when, as is the case in Cayman, refuse to step aside in the face of serious allegations.

Speaking at the 37th Conference of the Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region in Kingston, Jamaica, last week, McLean, who presented the paper written by both men, asked if it was time for special rules to apply to sitting politicians accused of crimes or corruption.

McLean said that the announcement that McKeeva Bush was the subject of the police probes came as “no surprise to many” but the long wait for the determination of whether charges are to be brought and “excuses about the inadequacies of the Anti-Corruption Law by the police” were now a source of contention.  He also pointed to civil society’s lack of participation in the political process between elections, which he said emboldens would-be corrupt politicians.

He spoke about the use of external investigators because of the reluctance of local enforcement authorities to arrest or successfully prosecute people in leadership positions.

“This deficiency runs the risk of reinforcing the belief that some are above the law, thereby undermining a fundamental principle of the rule of law as well as of the legitimacy of the criminal system,” he said. “Secondment of senior police officers from other CARICOM countries seems to work quite effectively because they have no axe to grind and can investigate without any bias.”

He pointed to the Cayman Islands' case, where he said a combination of an apparent lack of intervention by the governor and the UK government and the reluctance of the premier’s party members to ask him to step down had left the premier still in office, despite being accused of corruption and facing three different police investigations. McLean said it was clear nothing had been learned from the TCI experience, where systemic corruption led to the UK imposing direct rule.

“While the majority of countries have legislated to ensure that would-be corrupt politicians toe the line while in office, unfortunately, as we all know, there is no single prescription for success, and regardless of the institutions in place, there will be those who find loopholes to justify their ends,” McLean said, adding that there was a need to regularly review and update laws and rules.

“In many countries there are some who perceive there is nothing wrong with selling their votes and seeking favours from political leaders in return for political support to office," he said. “This political culture requires a paradigm shift through programmes that communicate that behaviour as corruption.”

The PPM member said that selling one’s vote is “deleterious to democracy” but it was difficult to prove and few effective sanctions against it.

“Ultimately it is committed politicians and citizens who must assert the principles that govern politicians by, firstly, reporting these breaches of rule-respect, and secondly, legislating to ensurethat all donations and other sources of party revenue are made public; that donors and the amounts of their donations are identified in the public record; and that candidates disclose links to lobbyists, as well as sources, types, and amounts of support, both before and after elections,” he added.

See the full presentation below.

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Jubilee celebrations start with torch relay

| 24/05/2012 | 0 Comments

3506489.png(CNS): The launch of Cayman’s part in the royal jubilee celebrations starts this weekend with the Diamond Jubilee Torch Run. Simultaneously, Premier McKeeva Bush will start from the West Bay library while MLA Ezzard Miller, will journey from the civic centre passing to the runners who will carry the torches along the Queen’s Highway, East End and Bodden Town. The entire race will include MLAs, government dignitaries, local athletes and others across the Cayman Islands. The final leg will be run by the acting governor Franz Manderson, who will light the Jubilee Beacon at Pedro St. James around 6:00p.m.

Celebrations will include the presentation of The Order of the Cayman Islands Awards, where a number of persons will receive Medals of Honour, Medals of Merit and Long Service Awards.

“Everyone is invited to join in celebrating the past six decades of Her Majesty’s reign,” said Diamond Jubilee Committee Chairperson Mary J. Lawrence, MBE, JP.

The Saturday evening celebrations at the historic site will continue with local foods and an evening packed with cultural expressions – including music from Swanky Kitchen Band, Cayman Folk Singers and others culminating in a display of fireworks.

Events the following weekend will include, on Saturday, 2 June, a Camana Bay fund-raising lunch for the Cayman Islands Olympic Team, a flotilla of decorated boats at 5:00p.m and end with a display of fireworks in George Town Harbour. On Saturday and Sunday (2 & 3 June) church services will be held island-wide, with a special Thanksgiving Service at Elmslie Memorial Church at 4:00p.m. Sunday afternoon.

Then, on the holiday Monday, 4 June, there will be a parade and international celebration downtown. The next day (5 June) will see the beginning of the effort to plant 6,000 trees by year-end.  After the summer break there will also be a student essay competition.
Similar activities will take place on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

Connecting Cultures is the theme for the Jubilee festivities locally, and throughout the Commonwealth. At Her Majesty’s request, the celebratory activities will also focus on young people.

For more information on Cayman’s Diamond Jubilee festivities, as well as events in the UK, visit: www.Facebook.com/CaymanIslandsProtocol; Twitter.com/CaymanProtocol; call 949-9809 or email CINA@gov.ky. Also, visit the UK’s official website: www.TheDiamondJubilee.org.

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Fathers encouraged to bond with daughters

| 24/05/2012 | 0 Comments

family connect (213x300).jpg(CNS): AS part of the Child Month celebrations the department of children and family services (DCFS) organized a father-daughter evening last Wednesday to encourage those relationships. The community affairs minister joined the George Town evening with his own daughters and granddaughter at Corita’s Cooper Kettle where he spoke the importance of a healthy father/daughter relationship.  Mike Adam encouraged fathers to secure a loving relationship with their daughters by spending quality time and expressing ever-lasting love. He reminded families to cherish their relationships as is it is one of the foundations to a happy home as well as a strong community.

For a full list of the remaining Child Month events, contact DCFS at 946-0024, or email Cassandra Parchment, Child Month programme coordinator at cassandra.parchment@gov.ky.

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Failures revealed at CINICO

| 24/05/2012 | 37 Comments

wasted-money.jpg(CNS): In one of two reports released by the auditor general on Wednesday Alastair Swarbrick pointed to shocking failures in the management of government’s health insurance company and a plethora of weaknesses that put public money at risk. An audit report into CINICO, “Management of Overseas Medical Services”, revealed that the $30 million of public money spent each year on overseas medical care was not being properly controlled. From managers appointing case management firms without the company or board’s knowledge to a paucity of documents to show how CINICO manages overseas cases, the report reveals a catalogue of poor governance, leaving public money and the government owned company at risk of abuse.

Although Swarbrick said his office was unable to determine the amount of overspending, how much public money has been wasted, or conversely what could have been saved under better management, he was concerned that it was a significant amount. He also noted that while he did not see any evidence of direct misappropriation, given the lack of proper processes the system was vulnerable to corruption and abuse.

Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday, he explained that the audit covered a two year period from May 2009 until April 2011 and revealed a number of significant weaknesses in the operations of CINICO. The audit pointed to the failure of CINCIO officials to attend key meetings intended to ensure the effective management of overseas cases, a lack of evidence that CINICO was ensuring the case management company was carrying out its key responsibilities to avoid overseas medical costs, and a lack of good governance practices in place.

“I found CINICO did not have sufficient management and board practices that would have ensured expenditures relating to overseas medical services were being effectively controlled,” Swarbrick said. “In several individual cases, I could not find evidence supporting decisions taken that would have ensured cost effective patient care.”

The audit identified a number of wider issues concerning good governance which created an environment of increased risk, including the absence of a strategic plan and no identified goals or performance measures. The board had not approved any kind of plan since 2005.

One of the most significant criticisms by the auditor was a management decision to engage a second case management company in contravention of the exclusive contract held by the first firm and without any authority. The auditor said this raised a number of questions which it was unable to answer as there was no documentation and Swarbrick said the former manager would not cooperate with the audit.

Despite his concerns about the failure of CINICO to manage the significant spending in the past, Swarbrick said the new management team and board had demonstrated a willingness to take action to address the report’s recommendations.

Responding to the report on Wednesday afternoon, CINICO management said it was in general agreement with the findings but with the appointment of a new CEO in December 2010 many of the auditor general’s recommendations were now being implemented. It also stated that safeguards were in place to manage medical services but it was poor record keeping that was at the heart of the problem.

“While we do recognize the areas needed for improvement, we would like to point out that … practices were in place that managed medical services rendered, however they were not documented properly … that would allow for comprehensive review,” CINICO stated.

See full statement from CINICO and the AG’s report below.

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