Archive for July 12th, 2012

Full Dart deal exposed

| 12/07/2012 | 181 Comments

dart shovels_0.JPG(CNS):  The deal government and the NRA have signed with Dart is a stand-alone agreement for which the review period for any changes or for either party to pull out appears to have passed, even though the review by an independent auditor has not been made public. MLA Ezzard Miller has now revealed to the public via CNS (posted below) the full document after he received the agreement in the post from an unknown concerned citizen. Despite comments by the premier that it should not be in the public domain, the North Side representative said everyone should have an opportunity to see this deal, which raises significant concerns for the Caymanian people.

Miller has made it clear that he thinks this is a bad deal and judging by the comments on the CNS site this week after some of the details of the deal were posted on Monday, so does a significant portion of the Cayman public. More than 255 comments were posted on the story regarding the fact that government has agreed to give Dart 50% of the tax revenues not only on newly developed or renovated hotels and tourist accommodation but also on any hotels that Dart might buy. This concession threatens existing revenue streams to government as well as reducing potential new ones.

Aside from what Miller describes as excessive concessions and waivers, the North Side MLA also has concerns about the plans for the Esterley Tibbetts Highway Extension, which he says will not be a highway after all, as it appears that there will be numerous roundabouts and exit-entrance ramps along the road. The deal allows Dart to place roundabouts on the road every 1,320 feet and entrance-exits every 600 feet, giving the developer access to land it owns. Miller said that, in effect, this means the Esterley Tibbetts is just another regular road and not the highway originally gazetted by the NRA to carry traffic quickly from George Town to West Bay.

He furtherpointed out that a section of the road is being raised as a bridge that will allow for canals, which, it seems, the Dart Group intends to develop through to the back of the new boutique five-star hotel it intends to build at the Courtyard Marriott site.

“I sincerely hope that Dart does not intend to cut canals all the way through to Seven Mile Beach but even cutting a canal that close to the beach will leave West Bay hanging like a thread to the rest of Grand Cayman,” the MLA stated as he warned about what that could mean during a severe storm.

While the details of the plans regarding the road and the canals are of significant concern, Miller is mostly concerned about the deal itself, which he says is extremely bad for Cayman as the development it is meant to encourage will offer no benefit to the Caymanian people other than trickle down at best.

He said the review period in the agreement ended on 31 March, which is more than three months ago, and this means that the Cayman government may now have no chance to extricate itself from what Miller said was a terrible deal. He said he was concerned about how long it has taken for the review of the agreement by independent auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers, which was meant to be finished before March to be published.

The delay in the publication of this independent review of the deal may mean that no alterations can now be made to what Miller believes is a “bad, bad, bad deal for Cayman but a very good one" for the Dart Group.

“The one thing that the UDP government has proven since it came to office is that selling out the Cayman Islands and giving away massive concessions is not the answer to turning the economy around,” Miller said in answer to Bush’s criticisms that he has no solutions. “Creating jobs in the Cayman Islands is not the problem; we have more than 20,000 of them held by work permit holders. It is the decapitation of Mr Entrepreneur which is the problem caused by allowing large conglomerates to wipe out Caymanian small businesses, which are the life blood of our economy.”

The independent MLA pointed to the massive fees and tax increases that have hit small local businesses while large wealthy investors are handed major concessions. The UDP government, he said, had increased the cost of doing business and the cost of borrowing money and it was polices to address these fundamental problems that were needed, not massive waivers to major corporations. 

See full Dart Agreement below.

Vote in the CNS poll: Is the ForCayman Investment Alliance good for Cayman?

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CIMA to release newly designed CI$10 notes

| 12/07/2012 | 9 Comments

queen on $10.JPG(CNS): The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) is set to release the latest of the country’s redesigned and security enhanced notes. Officials said the $10 D Series banknote will begin to come into circulation next week starting Monday 16 July.  The new note is predominately red with violet and dark grey highlights and a yellow-green centre. It bears images of crabs on the front and a plume of Wild Banana orchids on the reverse. In addition to the general security features, the $10 note also boasts upgraded security features.  (See full sample image below)

One is the unique ultraviolet reactive image known as the “Gemini”, which in natural light reveals an outlined shell on the back, near the top left-hand corner. Under ultraviolet light, a second colour appears. Each denomination has its own Gemini.  The serial numbers are different for each banknote and the metallic window security thread is a silver band imprinted with the ‘CIMA’ acronym, weaving in and out from top to bottom on the front of the note. When held up to the light the new $10 note also has a turtle watermark with the ‘CIMA’ Electrotype horizontally, above the turtle.

New Banknotes-D Series_PR Photo_$10-jpg.JPG

An Iridescent band runs from top to bottom on the front of the note and the denomination appears within this band when the note is viewed at a shallow angle in the light. The denomination also appears within the dark, lace-patterned circle located to the right of Queen’s portrait when the banknote is held up to the light.

All of the country’s six denomination notes were redesigned in 2010 emphasizing the country’s environmental heritage and with upgraded security features. In April 2011 CIMA released the $25 and $5 denominations into circulation followed by the $50 and $1 D Series last July. Now it’s the turn of the ten dollar note leaving only the $100 banknote which officials said will appear at a later date.

For more information on the common features of each note and other security highlights of the D series, visit the CIMA website at: www.cimoney.com.ky

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Jamaica going ahead with controversial CHEC deal

| 12/07/2012 | 9 Comments

GregChristieP20060919IA.jpg(CNS): Despite the on-going concerns of Jamaica’s contractor general the government says it still intends to go ahead with the signing of a deal with the China Communications Construction Company – the parent company of China Harbour Engineering Company. According to the local media Transport Minister Dr Omar Davies said “some agreement” will be signed next week that will be import to the future of Jamaica's economy. According to the Gleaner the minister has not revealed details about the nature of the deal but it is believed to be connected to further infrastructure projects. The news comes against the backdrop of a courtroom battle between the government and Greg Christie (left)

Jamaican government officials are currently in dispute with the Office of the Contractor General over a Cabinet decision to appoint an independent oversight panel to advise on three projects including the north-to-south link of Highway 2000. Davies has taken the matter to the Supreme Court, seeking to bar Contractor General Greg Christie from compelling members of the oversight panel to report to him.

The Chinese company is stirring up controversy across the Caribbean as it becomes more and more involved in major capital development projects.

CHEC has also been touted by the Cayman Islands premier as the company he wishes to develop the long awaited cruise berthing facilities in George Town, but McKeeva Bush has also come up against problems as a result of the way he selected CHEC.

The UK has warned the premier that it will not approve the deal he  is currently negotiating with CHEC until the process returns to best international procurement practice which means it will need to be properly tendered based on a strategic business need.
Bush has however remained defiant and stated in the Legislative Assembly recently that “they will not stop him” in his goal to work with CHEC on the cruise port project. Bush said it was unrealistic to try and attain some UN ideal in connection with the goal to get a cruise facility on Grand Cayman and that the Chinese represented the best option as the CIG did not have the money.

The proposed deal has risen from a $180million estimated project to one exceeding $300million and one which will see the Chinese firm take a percentage of the fees paid by passengers to the port authority as well as a 50 year lease on what is understood to be a mammoth upland development that will require land reclamation and some fear will dwarf the current downtown area.

 

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Fire-fighters wrestle with blazing cars on dump road

| 12/07/2012 | 9 Comments

Fire being doused (255x300).jpg(CNS): Another fire near the George Town landfill had local crews battling to dampen the blaze Thursday morning. Plumes of smoke were visible across the capital as five derelict cars caught fire on the edge of Mount Trashmore on Dump Road. Fire crews quickly got the fires under control and out before anyone was hurt but the blazing vehicles created significant smoke and attention. On this occassion it was scrap cars  that caught fire but the landfill often ignites as a result of the decomposition which generates substantial heat.

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OMOV final debate before Referendum Day

| 12/07/2012 | 3 Comments

vote yes_0.JPG(CNS): Members of the local social activist group Generation Now will be hosting the last public debate on the issue of one man, one vote and single member constituencies before the big day next week, on Thursday evening. Organisers said the debate starts at 7pm at the Harquail theatre and will see Rolston Anglin, Ellio Solomon, Ezzard Miller, Wayne Panton and David Kirkaldy discuss the critical issue in front of a live audience. The debate will also air on Radio Cayman and offer voters a last chance to listen to the two sides of the argument before going to the polls.

Organisers will be pitching questions about accountability, representation, the country’s history, division, politics, the coat tail effect, investor confidence in the political stability and the balance of power among many other issues at the centre of the debate.

Despite what appears to be widespread support for one man, one vote across Grand Cayman from those with a political interest the battle for the campaigners continues to be the high bar set by the UDP government.  With voter apathy and ignorance of the issues the biggest enemies of the massive grassroots movement towards a switch in the voting system the debate will offer an opportunity for the campaigners to make their case.

Even with support from the Chamber and the wider business community the introduction of a fairer, more equitable and democratic as well as a more accountable system of representationstill has an uphill battle to achieve the magic number of 7582 votes in favour for the referendum to carry.

See flyer below for full details on tonight’s debate
 

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Cruisers take advantage of good winds

| 12/07/2012 | 0 Comments

Pie Seas leads Shanti (236x300).jpg(CISA): The second of thesix race Harbour House Marina 2012 Cruiser Series around North Sound took place on Sunday 24th June to coincide with the summer sailstice (sailboats worldwide winching up some canvas to celebrate the summer solstice). Unusually southerly winds gusting to 20 knots didn't dissuade the eight competing boats and all enjoyed a fast race.The only catamaran, Clive Bodden's “Yahoo Yahoo “ took line honours crossing the finish line at Kaibo after completing the 13.2 mile course in 1 hour 54 minutes.  Bruce Johnson's Blue Runner took second with Jonathan Cuff's Pie Seas III third.   Yahoo Yahoo and Blue Runner are now neck and neck on overall standings with a race each.

“The cruiser series is a collaboration between the Sailing Club and Harbour House Marina” explained Rick Caley, manager of the sailing club. “A lot of the smaller cruising boats or those new to sailing are put off by the thought of competing against professional racers. It’s not like that at all. We have nice easy courses and always finish up somewhere for a bit of a social. It really is about having fun taking part with the added thrill of being in a race. We hope more and more sailboats that are tucked away down all the canals will come out and join in the fun.”

Sunday July 15th sees race three with a change of course and 11am start off Governor's Harbour. The finish line will be at the sailing club where a post race bbq awaits competitors and guests.  If you are interested in participating or would like more information please contact admin@sailing.ky

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Miller takes Bush on over Dart-NRA Agreement

| 12/07/2012 | 13 Comments

ezz talking.JPG(CNS): Updated with full speech — Now in possession of the full agreement that the government and the National Roads Authority has signed with Dart Reality regarding the West Bay road elements of the ForCayman Alliance, Ezzard Miller says that when the people of Cayman see it they will be very angry with the premier. Following McKeeva Bush’s criticism of Miller in a statement broadcast on Radio Cayman on Tuesday evening for exposing part of the deal “out of context”, the North Side MLA will also be using government radio this evening to hit back and reveal more about the deal, which he says is so bad the premier can’t possible have read it.

In a statement to be broadcast after the 6pm news on Radio Cayman (Thursday 12 July) the independent member questions why the review from PricewaterhouseCoopers has not been shown to the public and why the premier did not want the people to see the whole agreement until it is too late.

Miller will point out in his own statement to the people about this deal that Bush has failed to defend the fact that he and his fellow members of the UDP have negotiated such a bad deal for the people of the Cayman Islands and instead attempted to shoot the messenger.

Although Bush has said the agreement is subject to change on completion of the review by PricewaterhouseCoopers, a document which is several months overdue, Miller points out that the deal the government and the NRA has signed is a stand-alone agreement and unless there has been an addendum to it, the timeline for changes is well past.

Check back to CNS later this evening for Miller’s full statement and the complete Dart agreement.

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JetBlue coming to GCM, flights from JFK and Boston

| 12/07/2012 | 0 Comments

JetBlue.jpg(CNS Business): Budget airline JetBlue Airways has announced that this November it will begin flights to Grand Cayman from New York and Boston. "Our Latin America and Caribbean destinations continue to flourish and based on this support that we continue to receive from our customers, we are excited to add the beautiful Cayman Islands to our growing network," said John Checketts, director of route planning for JetBlue. "Whether travellers are seeking relaxation or adventure, attractions like Seven Mile Beach, swimming with stingrays, snorkelling or scuba diving are just a few options to explore in this tropical, aquatic playground." Read more on CNS Business

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Apathy will be the enemy of OMOV campaign

| 12/07/2012 | 18 Comments

003_0.JPG(CNS): The supervisor of elections, Kearney Gomez, has said that mobile voting on the one man, one vote went like clockwork in George Town on Thursday but after visiting five out of the six districts, officials say not everyone who signed up to cast a mobile vote turned up to the democratic road show.  Apathy will be the enemy of the OMOV campaign as government has set a high bar for the referendum to pass. Campaigners for the change have warned that people who stay home are essentially voting ‘No’ to the democratic principal of one man, one vote and single member constituencies.

Although they are continuing to fight a valiant campaign for equality in the Cayman Islands voting system, the OMOV grassroots organisation has had to fund its own educational campaign against the government machine. Despite the fact that this is a government sponsored referendum, the UDP administration is fighting against the more democratic move. In order for the referendum to carry, it needs 50% plus one of the entire electorate rather than just half of the turnout. This means that anyone who does not vote will be undermining the possibility of the referendum carrying.

However, because ‘no’ voters do not to go to the polls, those that do go are more likely to be voting ‘yes’.

So far 92% of those registered for a mobile vote turned out in the Sister Islands, 95% in East End, 88% in North Side, but only 75% in Bodden Town turned up to cast a vote at the mobile station. Meanwhile in George Town 84% of registered electors who had signed on for the mobile vote came out to cast their vote.

But all is not lost. Colford Scott, the deputy supervisor of elections, said that because officials want to ensure that noregistered voter is disenfranchised, those who applied to vote at the mobile trailer but for whatever reasons were unable to make it can still vote on Referendum Day on Wednesday 18 July when polls open at 7am or anytime until they close at 6pm that evening.

Today, Thursday 12 July, the trailer makes its last stop  in West Bay at the John A cumber Primary School for mobile voters in that district to have their say.

OMOV campaigners are urging people to turn out next Wednesday and be one of the 7,582 people required to change the country’s voting to the democratic, equitable and accountable system of one man, one vote in single member constituencies.

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Now is not the time for One Man, One Vote

| 12/07/2012 | 55 Comments

Over the past several months there has been much discussion and debate in relation to the One Man, One Vote (OMOV). While writing this article, I had to first understand and figure out why so much emphasis was being focused on the matter now. I concluded that over the past several years, many people of the Cayman Islands have become disgruntled and unsatisfied with politics and the representation of our elected officials, and in some cases I have to agree with them.

Some of our elected officials have not lived up to the expectations that we would have expected. So it is understandable that persons would want a system or some form of change to get better representation.

However, simply looking at OMOV from the view that it promises more accountability, equality and better representation in my opinion is misleading. Personally I do not like guns or use drugs, but I’d like to use two simple illustrations on them. Guns do not kill people, its people that use guns that kill. Drugs don’t destroy people’s lives, its people that manufacture and sell drugs that ruin people lives. Similarly, a system (OMOV) alone cannot promise better accountability or representation; it is the responsibility of an individual, a representative to provide great leadership. Now I am not saying that OMOV could not help facilitate this in some way, what I am saying is, a system alone is not the answer to our desire for better government representation. It is more so an individual mindset and work ethic that will accomplish this.

After doing my own research, I found that some form of Multi-Member Constituent/Districts (MMD) still exist in many democratic countries today. Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man (according to Wikipedia), which all have a slightly larger population than Cayman still use both MMD and Single-Member Constituent (SMC). To me this signifies the system to use is unique to each country/district and we should not merely suggest that SMC works for us just because other countries use it.

After deep thought on the matter, some of the areas that concern me the most about OMOV are as follows:

1. Under SMC I feel we will get less representation. For example, if one constituent has 1,000 voters, let’s say Candidate #1 receives 300 votes, Candidate #2 receives 250 votes, Candidate #3 receives 225 votes and Candidate #4 receives 225 also. Candidate #1 would win by obtaining more votes individually. However, the 700 voters (70%) that did not vote for Candidate #1 are somewhat un-represented. The other concern is 100-200 of those voters that Candidate #1 got could potentially be family and close friends alone. Remember, a representative is supposed to represent the majority, however how can you truly represent the majority if only a handfull of people elected you? MMD promotes a more diverse roster of candidates, you will more than likely have someone within the bunch that can relate to your needs and concerns and therefore represent you. According to this link below, there is a good deal of evidence to suggest that women are less likely to be elected under a SMC regime. Why would we want a system that puts women at a disadvantage of being elected? Especially knowing that a group of women in Cayman stood for their right in the 40’s and 50’s and demanded that they be allowed to vote and stand for election in Cayman.

2. Under a SMC regime, boundaries would constantly have to change due to the change in population. We would find Bodden Town for example, the fastest growing district, constantly changing boundary lines each election or census, resulting in voters being moved from one constituent to another and causing confusion over polling locations. I have read several articles within the US where severalstates are having heated debates, even taking matters to court trying to decide how to divide boundary lines. In Hawaii last year, it was proposed to re-implement MMD and although it did not pass, it raised a concern that it has become problematic to constantly shuffle boundary lines. It should also be highlighted that SMC has proved in other parts of the world and potentially in Cayman, to become a political problem, as there will be politicians wanting to influence how the boundaries are divided.

3. According to the Electoral Boundary Commission Report 2010 (EBCR), it stated that “several” attendees to the meetings were concerned about the cost of the 3 additional MLA’s that would be implemented in 2013. On June 15th 2012, The Caymanian Compass also published a survey where persons were not in agreement of the 3 extra seats because of the additional cost. The EBCR and the Caymanian Compass survey showed that our people are concerned about the cost of public spending, which they should be. However, sadly to say the cost of the 3 extra members should not be the only concern. We need to also consider the cost for implementing SMC; will a board or committee overseeing the Electoral boundaries be compensated? What about the cost in having the boundaries redrawn ever so often? Last year, Hawaii spent US$664,000 in redrawing district boundaries. Just recently in Minnesota and Kansas, it cost the respective state governments $628,000 and $614,000 to settle a boundary redrawing dispute in the courts.

This could potentially, be an ongoing cost for the Cayman Islands as the population grows, a cost we simply cannot afford. Despite what others think, people WILL want certain amenities, such as parks, within their own constituents. I have seen signs of this first hand and residents WILL pressure their politicians to cater to them, which in turn will increase the cost of government.

As we can see, our government is currently indebted over $600m and finding it hard to balance our budget each year. Where there is an increase in services there are only two options you have, increase fees (taxes) or make cuts. The additional cost from SMC, whether it is from implementation, court disputes or constituent amenities will only make the cost of living more difficult and bring more pressure and hardship on the many families that are already struggling today. The other option would be to cut jobs or cut services, which would only be more detrimental. I know some persons will feel there is no cost for true democracy. But to say we currently do not have real democracy is again misleading; Thank God we have the freedom to vote and we have seen governments changed in the last 3 elections. To me that shows the people have spoken and will continue to speak under MMD.

I am at the realizationthat time changes and so do things, however, I can confidently say that I do not support OMOV coming into effect for 2013, as I feel it will be a financial strain on the country and will potentially bring a number of issues with it. I would be more open to supporting it when our public finances are in better shape and we are more educated on it. We have to take our time to figure out exactly how it is going to work, be implemented and affect us. I have spoken to quite a bit of young people about OMOV and the sense I get is many are not educated about it. We need to do a proper informative campaign on OMOV and not shove it down people’s throats.

I have said several times before, the party system is not the problem, nor is MMD the problem with our politics. The solution is we must elect better persons, individuals with strong characters, persons who really understand what it is to serve, representatives who understand what accountability is and have high moral and ethical standards, persons who are great rolemodels both publicly and privately, giving our citizens role models to look up to and aspire to follow. Cayman does have such candidates, but many of those persons shy away from politics.

In closing, I truly feel there are genuine supporters of OMOV lobbying for its implementation, however what concerns me and should also concern the people of the Cayman Islands the most, are those out there that are trying to push it through purely for political gain and their dislike for the current government and its leader, not taking into account the effects OMOV will have on the Cayman Islands financially and socially for years to come. 

We have several issues in Cayman that we need to address, financially, socially, jobs and educating our people to name a few, but now is Not the Time for One Man, One Vote.

I leave you with a partial statement from a letter that Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney of Georgia wrote to Members of Congress in 1995:

“My bill would modify a 1967 statute that requires single-member districts in order to allow states to adopt multi-member districts for congressional elections using one of three modified at-large voting systems: limited voting, cumulative voting and preference voting. Modified at-large systems would promote fair representation for voters of all races, increase representation of women and increase voter participation and at the same time, avoid requiring states to face the high costs of drawing single-member district lines and handling legal challenges to plans.”

Richard Christian is President of the Young United Democratic Party

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