Archive for August 29th, 2012

Deputy governor creates new civil service gongs

| 29/08/2012 | 28 Comments

good-job-blue-ribbon.png(CNS): In the wake of revelations that there are significant plans afoot to reduce the numbers of Cayman’s civil servants, the deputy governor said Wednesday that he is committed to building a new sense of morale throughout the public service and believed the new DeputyGovernor’s Awards will help. Franz Manderson said the service was informed about the awards this week which highlight the outstanding efforts of civil servants across core government so that both the people and their actions can inspire their peers. The awards set high standards, which are expected from all Cayman Islands civil servants.

“The Deputy Governor’s Awards are designed to recognize the excellent work performed by civil servants in the area of customer service, and towards reaching the goals of their respective departments,” he added. The accolades are an internal rewards scheme for civil servants who will be participating within their departments on a monthly basis.

“Every day civil servants go about exceeding the expectations of their customers, and it is important that such excellence is recognized,” said the deputy governor. “I look forward to the launch of this exciting new programme and would like to take this opportunity to encourage all of my fellow civil servants to continue to strive for excellence in service.”

In the light of the government’s fiscal problems and pressure from the UK to reduce borrowing and return to the principles of prudent financial management as set out in the Public Management and Finance Law, the public sector is beginning a process of retraction over the next five years which will see a significant number jobs shaved from core government.

In a statement issued to the media on Tuesday evening the premier said that the civil service would not fill 80% of the posts that were originally budgeted in the 2012/13 and there would be a continuation of strict hiring moratorium in future years. He revealed that there would be a reduction in headcount of the civil service by 360 over the next 5 years, a pay freeze on civil service salaries and the implementation of a voluntary separation scheme – meaning redundancies.

All new civil servants will have a revised health plan where they will co-pay and new police officers will face a revised housing allowance.

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Pool death witnesses wanted

| 29/08/2012 | 0 Comments

Vicente Inga Sinchi - cropped passport photo.jpg(CNS): Updated Wednesday 4:30pm — Although the police do not suspect foul play in the death of a 39-year-old George Town resident, found dead in a pool at Treasure Island on Monday night, they are appealing for witnesses. Officers are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of Vicente Ruben Inga Sinchi, from Ecuador, on behalf of the coroner, and are appealing to anyone who may have seen or spoken to the deceased that night to come forward. Enquiries have revealed that on the night of Monday, 27 August, he had been drinking at The Billy Bones Bar located at Treasure Island. Sometime just before midnight, it would appear he entered the swimming pool and was found about ten minutes later at the bottom of the pool.

His family in Ecuador has been informed and police have confirmed that there would appear to be no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. Sinchi was described as  5’4’’ in height,  medium build, black hair and was wearing green checked shorts and a green t-shirt on the night he died.

Officers are appealing to anyone who may have seen or spoken to the deceased that night to contact Detective Sergeant Charmaine Huntley on 949-4222.

Meanwhile, police also confirmed that there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of a 46-year-old woman whose body was found outside her home in Patrick’s Avenue last Monday. An RCIPS spokesperson was unable to given any details on how the woman had died, whether it was natural causes or an accident, but the police said a post-mortem took place Thursday 23 August and they were satisfied that there were no suspicious circumstances.

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New urban search & rescue team ready and able

| 29/08/2012 | 5 Comments

Urban Search and Rescue 087 (244x300).jpg(CNS): Cayman now has a certified urban search and rescue team which will be deployed in variety of circumstances, including post impact situations such as a damaging earthquake, fire or following a hurricane where buildings have been damaged or collapsed. Officials from Hazard Management said this week that 15 civil servants went through a rigorous five week training programme held at the Fire Service Headquarters on Airport Road and coordinated by Senior Divisional Officer, Duane Tibbetts. Participants are fully certified by the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) guidelines, a global network of urban search and rescue and field coordination.

INSARAG sets international standards and establishes the methodology for response coordination in the aftermath of earthquakes and collapsed structure disasters, CIHM said in a release.  In addition to this certification the new Cayman Islands rescue team has also been provided with an equipment package to enable them to effectively carry out their duties.

The training course was included as an output of the EU funded R3i program, a regional risk reduction initiative which is also funding a vulnerability analysis of critical infrastructure in the Cayman Islands and which seeks to increase regional capacity in the British and Dutch overseas territories.

Lead Trainer Ron Mobley explained that the only reason why the Dutch and UK Overseas Territories got the Urban Search and rescue training is because McCleary Frederick, Director of Hazard Management Cayman Islands saw a need and pushed for it.

"The whole region has benefitted from Mr. Frederick's vision and foresight," explained Mobley, "We have already completed the training in Aruba, TCI and Curacao and both Assistant Instructor Dwayne Straun and I are in agreement that this team in the Cayman Islands is the crème de la crème, it is the best group we have seen so far. They came together for the training and by the end they were a family."

The 15 members of the Urban Search and Rescue team come from a variety of Government Agencies including, Police, Fire, Customs, EMT, Cadets and Prisons and the variety of knowledge and experience adds to the capacity of the group. Both Instructors had high praise for Tiffany Ebanks, the sole woman who went through the training.

"The Cayman Islands is now a little better situated when it comes to our response capacity, not just for hurricanes, but for other events such as earthquakes where we could be facing the possibility of collapsed buildings,” said Frederick at the graduation ceremony. “The team will activate through CIFS, or alternatively during certain incidents we may also choose to deploy the team through the Search and Rescue Sub Committee of the National Emergency Operations Centre."

The Urban Search and Rescue training program was comprised of Emergency Medical Responder, Hazard Management Awareness, Incident Command Systems, Lifting and Shoring Loads, Search Techniques and Considerations, Rescue Levels I and II, Rope Rescue Level I and II, Mass Casualty Management, First Aid and CPR, Emergency Medical Responder and Stress Management in Disasters. The Leader of the Cayman Islands Search and Rescue Team is Whitney Tatum, a Fire Officer based in Cayman Brac and Deputy Leader is Adrian Clarke from the RCIPS.

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Purple reigns as Broadhurst win

| 29/08/2012 | 1 Comment

week13a (240x300).jpg(CRFU): Confucius once said, “Every journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step”. The Proclaimers sang something similar but preferred to break the journey down into two equal 500 mile segments, presumably stopping for refreshments half way through. I’m fairly sure Confucius wasn’t referring to the long and often arduous journey of a team working their way through their very first touch rugby season but, with a bit of a stretch, I think he would accept that the analogy works with regard to Division 2 newcomers Broadhurst.

DIVISION 2

When their name first appeared on the roster, the sage and the wise of Cayman Touch Rugby said “Who?” But then, in a moment of clarity they wondered, “Could this be the team of which the ancient scrolls prophesied? Legend foretold of a legendary team whose legendary rugby skills are the stuff of erm… legend. Legend says they were so amazing, in fact, that their opponents would go blind from over-exposure to the brilliance of their sheer awesomeness! You think I’m exaggerating? Think again.

The first glimpse of the Broadhurst phenomenon was of an extra-terrestrial vision in purple – purple shirts, purple headbands, and purple wristbands. Was it corporate branding gone mad, some cultish uniform or had someone simply left their plum-coloured undies in the communal kit bag? It matters not.

Their journey on the path to touch rugby Enlightenment did not start well with some faltering steps, stumbling and bumbling along with early defeats and scant sign of the team they would become.

But in this tortured mixed metaphor of travel and mystical spirituality their “Road to Damascus” (groan) experience came a couple of weeks ago when back-to-back wins transformed them from average journeymen into butt-kicking jiujutsu warriors. They began to demonstrate to the world ninja-like abilities of death-defying speed, agility, cunning, poise and balance. It seemed that the laws of gravity and quantum physics did not apply to this dynasty of dragon masters. They are the Seven Samurai of touch rugby except there are only… well… six of them (on the pitch anyway). Such is the bond between them that they have given secret names to each other. The world may know them as Glanfield, Miller, Keenan, Austin, Murray and O’Connor but during a game cries of Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper, Monkey and “Sonny Bill” can be heard. Such is the lightning speed of Jason “Silky” Scarff that he can actually be in two places on the pitch at the same time.

Leading this band of merry shogun terrors is Mistress Po herself Kate McClymont. Zen-like in her demeanour, lethal in defence – her touches are more like Vulcan death grips – and resplendent in pink shorts (pink with purple – really?) she mixes the power of a supercell-tornado with the quiet stillness of a butterfly at rest.

With all that going on it’s hardly surprising they narrowly squeaked a 4-3 win over Walkers who proved a worthy adversary to these purple purveyors of portent. Tries from Scarff, Andrew “the Beast” Childe and Ma(n)tt(is) Keenan sealed the deal whilst Paul Smith and Vikki Piaso answered for Walkers. It was a case of the purple reigns on Walkers parade.
Campbells continued their run of fine form with 9-0 humping of Island Heritage.

Sometimes in sport everything clicks into place, every pass connects, every move works and for Campbells it was that day.  There were big performances across the whole team and the minutes spent on the training paddock are clearly paying off.

Eschewing the more traditional two-up or three-up play preferred by some teams, Campbells allow their girls to indulge in a new four-play system that had the crowd enthralled before throwing the ball out wide for speedsters like captain Peter-Arthur De Vere and Nick Quin. Bryan Little had an immense game and was involved in many of Campbells best moves. He racked up three tries as did Wikiboo Hitchman whose interplay with Dicky Sawle-Thomas has become key to Campbells recent success. Jonny Lewis showed his worth with some great defence often making last gasp touches to halt Island Heritage in its stride. Rohan Monty did a great job in the early phases of Campbells attacks and the explosive Marcus Cumber made a real impact in a mouth-watering display especially in the final phases of the game. Shelly Cox, playing against doctors’ orders having recently sustained a near fatal broken fingernail injury, showed her class on more than one occasion with an excellent defensive performance. No-one was going to slip through her channel.

At the end of the game De Vere, swollen with pride or possibly just water retention, couldn’t wait to wax lyrical about his teammates. “Little was large. Quin was mighty. Hart is the soul of our team. Cox was rock solid and our wiki-dicky combo gave them a lot of problems. I brought Rhian off in the second half because I wanted to keep Minty fresh for next week. By the time the fourth try went over some people thought it was a dead rubber but I wanted to be safe and take precautions so I used Jonny for protection at the back. But it was certainly a happy ending for me with Cumber’s climatic explosive finish at the end.”

Campbells are on a roll and judging by this performance it’s a roll in the shape of a big bap packed with ham and cheese and served with soup and salad. Hungry anyone?
Deloitte destroyed DMS 7-1 in the inaugural “Double-D Cup” (next year I am sure Dart and Delta Force would like to take part too). Kathryn Scott took the plaudits as MVP. Not only did she score a great try but her overall play signaled her as the stand out player. Alistair Lum, David Acutt (2),Nick Brierly, Jacque Hastings, Bella Crooke also added their names to the scoresheet; David Bakker replied for DMS.

Rawlinson & Hunter took on the mighty Maidens and came off second best. The 4-0 score reflecting the difference in finishing ability which has become a feature of the Heineken Light Maidens. They are deadly from short distance playing with pace and precision from five metres out. It is extremely difficult to defend against and Vangie Raftopoulos was singled out for special praise.

Last week I proclaimed UBS’ first win of the season and blow me down if they haven’t gone and done it again. Cracking work from Jacqui Davies, who scored a brilliant opening try from her own break, was added to by Stuart Reed who scored the second. Harmonic could rarely find their way through some very stubborn defence with Gavin McMaster crossing the white line just the once. Final score 2-1 to UBS. What odds on them making it three out of three for next week? 250-1…  they are playing Campbells who are on fire!

DIVISION 1
Like Bryan Adams interminable stay at the top of the charts with the classic Everything I Do I Do It For You or Whitney’s incessant warbling on I Will Always Love You,  what can start off as something fresh and exciting can soon become predictable and mundane.

And so it is with SteppingStones. They have sat atop the table since early June and so their victory over Ogier hardly raised an eyebrow – until you see the score-line of 4-3. This is a team that has wiped the floor, then buffed and shined it with the shirts of the opposition all season, rarely breaking sweat with their Dream Team of superstars. So the story here is not that SteppingStones won but rather the fantastic effort of Ogier to run them so close. Ogier have struggled for results this season but their overall play has been both full of commitment and skill.

This is a tough division and they have run teams close on a number of occasions.  Every team needs a dynamic line-breaker and in James Waters they have a man who can step off either foot and then put that foot on the accelerator. Recently timed at 2.97 seconds for 20 metres, Waters is technically faster than a Ford Mondeo Estate although this may be due to the fact that the driver was somewhat delayed by messing around with his seatbelt and driving gloves [however, safety first is important I think we all agree]. Angel Hawkins added a third and SteppingStones were looking at the first dropped points of the season. In the end, Scott McCarty, Rudolf Weder (2) and Simon Raftopolous ended the Ogier dream. But, as the Black Eyed Peas sang for 14 eternal/infernal weeks at the top of the US Billboard charts, I Gotta Feeling that an Ogier win is just around the corner.

Maples1 may be the most structured, organized team in the Division and by being almost religiously zealous in their modus operandi of three hit-ups they know that if they execute their plan well few can live with them. Their opponents, Dart, play apply a more, some might say, “off-the-cuff” style and one which largely subscribes to the chaos theory of touch rugby. Against less well-organised opposition Dart have notched some notable victories on their rugby bedpost but they were to go home empty handed after this one.

At times the match resembled synchronized swimming versus a playground bundle. In this analogy, Jyoti Choi would be the synchronizer-extraordinaire around whom the team takes its cue. Four tries and deadly from dummy half or broken play, Choi is rapidly adding his name to the pantheon of famous JCs’ – James Cagney, James Coburn, Jacques Cousteau, Joan Collins and Jamie Lee Curtis. Marcus Cumber, so often the jack-in-the-box for Dart continued his splendid scoring season with another two tries.  Final score 7-2 to Maples1.

Trident Titans with their “active management” player recruitment policy do more wheeler-dealering than at a Used Car Convention for dodgy motors. Nic Swartz, a slightly better-looking version of Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”, has an uncanny knack for finding new players to ensure the Titans franchise goes from strength to strength. Formal introductions of players are made at the team huddle and name tags are given out for ease of recognition.

Lisa Bird was humming and Phil “Hands of” Fourie scored a try apiece whilst Neil Ainscow, like Frank Sinatra but without the Mafia connections, made a fantastic comeback to touch rugby and scored a try that will ease the anxiety of his long term shoulder injury. It’s his right one folks so go easy, he is delicate.

Maples2 have a new recruit too in the shape of Camilo “Chile” Ramirez. He brings the average age down by quite a few years and the average speed up by a fair bit as well. His try was a highlight in an otherwise tiring game for Maples2 who are still hamstrung with injuries and absentees. A welcome addition to the team.  Final score Trident Titans 3 Maples2 1.

Division 3 results not available at time of going to press.

 

 

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Shark week is over

| 29/08/2012 | 0 Comments

(GCFFA): Only two weeks are left in the regular season of the Dart Women’s League under the Grand Cayman Flag Football Association, and the final two playoff spots will be a battle between Subway Stingers, Lone Star JagerMonsters, Maples Bliss and Hot 104.1FM Cheetahs. Burger King Wolverines, Hammerheads Lady Sharks, Zulu Warriors and Androgroup Killa Panthers are the top seeded teams likely to dominate the playoffs Last Friday night’s games at the Camana Bay Field saw Subway Stingers with their second victory over the Lone Star JagerMonsters, 12-0. Quarterback for Subway, Christina Pineda completed 11 of 16 pass attempts, with one interception thrown.

Dionne Anglin led Subway’s offense with three catches, followed by Keisha Anglin and Joanne Remillard with two catches each. Pineda managed to spread the ball around to everyone on her offensive line, which allowed Subway to keep JagerMonsters’ defense on their toes.
  Leading the defense for Subway were Sasha Tatum and Anna Nyaudi with five tackles each. Playing safety for most of the game, when Nikki Ebanks stepped up to rush, she managed to sack the JagerMonsters’ quarterback one time. In the last minute of the game, Joanne Remillard intercepted a ball and ran it back 20 yards for a defensive touchdown, tying the game which led into overtime.
During overtime, it was Pineda’s spectacular 30 yard pass that Ebanks snatched in-between two defenders and ran in a final 10 yards to secure what would be the winning touchdown for Subway Stingers.
  It was a tough loss for the Lone Star JagerMonsters as they kept Subway from scoring till the last minute of the game. Quarterback duties were shared between Tricia Miller and Erica Bosch. Miller completed 15 of 25 pass attempts with one interception thrown, and Bosch didn’t hit any receivers on either of her two pass attempts.
  Bosch was on fire on both offense and defense, catching six of Miller’s passes. Monique Roberts had four receptions, followed by Renee Thompson with three. Devon Smith caught the lone touchdown for JagerMonsters off the one-yard line.
  Thompson led the way on defense with four tackles, followed by Tricia Bell with three. Miller and Smith each had a sack, and Bosch had three tackles and an interception that nearly led to a 40 yard defensive touchdown, but was tackled right outside the end-zone. Lone Star JagerMonsters were unable to secure a touchdown in overtime, and Subway walked away with a hard-fought win.
  Friday’s second game saw Zulu Warriors beat Maples Bliss 12-0. Jessica Pawlik was the main quarterback for Zulu, completing just 10 of 29 passes with three interceptions thrown. Dionne Whittaker stepped in as quarterback relief and completed one of three pass attempts.
  Whittaker was the warrior on offense with five receptions including two touchdown catches in the end-zone. Schmarrah McCarthy received three balls and Emily Vakauta had two receptions.
  On defense, Shari Seymour had one of her best games of the season with five tackles, followed by Wendy Torres with four, and Tanjana Campbell and Whittaker with three each. Adrianna Christian and Agueda Blake had one sack each, and Hortencia Jackson and Maggie Ebanks came up with one interception each.
  Quarterback for Maples Bliss, Ellenor Berry completed 10 of 21 passes with two interceptions thrown. Berry’s favorite look on offense was Diannera Whittaker who had four catches, followed by Sheyla Torres with three. Isatou Sey and Marleena Smith had two receptions each.
  Key defensive player for Maples, Somali Hall, had five tackles and one interception. Berry also came through with three tackles and two interceptions, and Sheyla Torres also added three tackles to the defensive play. Maples have one game up on both Subway Stingers and Lone Star JagerMonsters, and need to secure the next two wins to ensure their spot in the playoffs.
  The week’s biggest upset came from Androgroup Killa Panthers putting an end to the Hammerheads Lady Sharks’winning streak, shutting out last year’s championship team 20-0.
  Quarterback for Androgroup, Christina Hefner enjoyed a great passing game, completing 19 of 36 pass attempts. Lisa Malice also stepped in as quarterback with one of two passes completed.
  Hefner saw Alicia Dixon the most on offense, as Dixon had six receptions including one touchdown she ran in a few yards and catching the conversion points in the end-zone. Heather Roffey saw two receptions, including one catch in the end-zone for a touchdown, and Kara Coe caught the third touchdown pass for Killa Panthers. Janique Samson also contributed to the score with her catch in the end-zone for conversion points.
  A tight defensive game helped shut down the Lady Sharks, as Roffey and Samson led the way with three tackles each. But it was the rushers who put the pressure on Hammerheads’ quarterback that helped seal the win for the team. Cassandra Bodden had two sacks, and Glenita Logan and Stephanie Watler had one sack each. Androgroup hasn’t lost much of their roster to players returning to school or out with injury, and their strong team line-up is making them a great contender to walk away with this year’s championship.
  For Hammerheads Lady Sharks, quarterback Hong Nguyen’s passing game was pressured as she only completed 12 of 25 pass attempts, and was sacked a number of times.
  Rebecca Lucas led the offense with four receptions, followed by Sophia Foster with three, and Lilia Conolly and Judy Rivers with two catches each. Although Hammerheads were able to reach within 20 yards of the end-zone, Androgroup proved too tough to score on in Saturday’s game.
  On defense, Judy Rivers excelled with six tackles, followed by Lucas with five. Sophia Foster also chipped in with four tackles. Having a depleted team may hinder Hammerheads’ chance to retain their championship, and the team will have to better protect their quarterback to ensure a more effective offense.
  A dwindling roster and injury to the Burger King Wolverines’ quarterback is also affecting the team’s chances of winning the championship, as they tied with the Hot 104.1FM Cheetahs 0-0.
  Both Joni Wood and Alex Terry shared quarterback duties, with Wood completing nine of 19 pass attempts and Terry completing just three of ten, with one interception thrown.
  Shinette Rhoden, normally just a defensive player, led her team on both offense and defense, catching four balls. Terry also had four receptions, and Alexandria Saintville, also mainly a defensive player, had three catches.
  Rhoden had the most tackles on defense with six, followed by Carrie Barnett with five. Saintville also had three tackles and Jah Thomas sacked the Cheetahs’ quarterback one time. The Wolverines are unsure if their star quarterback, Antoinette Lewis, will return in time for the playoffs, as what looked like a championship season for the team may just slip out of their grasp with the possible loss of one of their key players.
  The Hot 104.1FM Cheetahs played an incredible defensive game against the Wolverines, but were unable to move the ball down the field or score against their opponents. Jamesette Anglin was the quarterback for Cheetahs, and completed 11 of 14 pass attempts, an excellent record for the QB who picked up the role more than halfway through the season.
  Tonia Ebanks-McLaughlin led her Cheetahs with four receptions, followed by Chantell Range-Ebanks with three. Trenny Nelson and Jessica Richards had two receptions each.
  The ever-spirited Tracey Seymour is proving to be a vital defensive player for the Cheetahs, picking up ten tackles on defense. Jennifer Cotarelo had four tackles, and Sara Dixon had two sacks to the Wolverines’ quarterback.
  Although the ball didn’t move much at all for either the Wolverines or Cheetahs, the game was intense as the Cheetahs being one of the lowest seeds held the Wolverines- one of the highest ranked teams- from securing a win or even scoring.
  This Friday night at the Camana Bay Field sees the Androgroup Killa Panthers versus the Burger King Wolverines at 8pm on field one, and the Zulu Warriors against Hammerheads Lady Sharks on field two. Saturday morning begins with Lone Star JagerMonsters taking on the Hot 104.1FM Cheetahs at 10am, followed by Subway Stingers against Maples Bliss at 11am. 
  

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Invisible men

| 29/08/2012 | 46 Comments

They are not action heroes, but their ability to maintain a well paid position in elected office during the past 3 and a half years by doing next to nothing is akin to a superhuman feat. These are the members of the Legislative Assembly that are rarely seen to be doing any of the people's work, submitting the occasional private members motion (if that) and generally taking it easy on the job.

To be clear, no one should confuse 'shouting louder' or seeming to have a strong presence on the floor of the LA with actually doing a good job for the people (we have some clear recent examples of how this is not the case). But Mr Dwayne Seymour, Capt Eugene Ebanks, Mr Kurt Tibbetts and Mr Anthony Eden have managed to let 3 and a half years pass without any demonstration that we are actually paying them to do anything. Aside from occasionally appearing on a local radio talk show (and only one of the above has done that) it is hard to understand why they are being paid. And rambling on on radio about 5 or 6 times in 3 years is hardly the beacon of an example of a good representative.

Everyone understands the difference in the influence of a back bencher versus a minister so I guess we should temper our expectations a bit. But that is no excuse for being virtually invisible, particularly in these times. If nothing else these gentlemen should proffer up their own ideas on the challenges and what they see as the solutions to address them.

One of the common responses to any criticism of such elected members is that they are actually doing "key political work" on the ground in their constituencies, for example going from house to house helping the elderly/needy etc.

That works well in support of the next election campaign and to be fair I'm sure it also provides some assistance to members of the community. But is that what we are really paying upwards of CI$500,000 a year collectively to these 4 men to do?

It makes all the sense in the world that we tend to focus on cabinet members when scrutinizing the government. But in a time when finances are a challenge and we are about to add a further 3 seats to the Legislative Assembly because we are "under capacity", can we continue to affordthese invisible men?

Most of these individuals are 'nice' enough and I'm sure one or two of them have been more active on behalf of the people in past years, but we are not paying their salaries today for work done in the past. They can still speak with their constituents, present the government with a few private members motions, advocate for policies that can make Cayman a better place, arrange focus group discussions with members of the community, stand up and be counted during debates on important issues in the House and a lot more.

If you are ever interested in finding out the truth on how hard your representatives are working for you and country, have a look on the website of the Legislative Assembly to see how active they have been in debates, motions, and anything else that legislators should be doing. (I am hoping to summarise the findings in a viewpoint in the near future).

And its not just the invisible men that we should be concerned about. A step above them are a fewslightly more active backbenchers who get by with attending a few meetings each year, sit on 1 or 2 House committees (and missing many committee meetings when the media is not watching), refuse to read the documents they are supposed to speak to, and take 3 hour lunches in the common room that we pay for (in between fist fights and running their private businesses). All on our watch and tax dollars.

This is a mockery of accountability and one of those clear signals that as a country we need to demand more from politicians and wannabe legislators in the upcoming months. None of us can get away with this type of behaviour while earning a cool 10 to 12 thousand dollars per month. So why should we continue to let them off the hook?

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Mac accuses media of lies

| 29/08/2012 | 137 Comments

_DEW2505.jpg(CNS): Full story —  The Cayman Islands premier has launched another attack on the local media, this time over reports about the UK’s budget conditions. McKeeva Bush said that the UK would not be “so spiteful as to suspend powers of a government that has produced a budget with an $82 million surplus.” In statement from his office he hit out at both The Caymanian Compass and CNS for reports pointing to the UK’s conditions for approval of the budget as essentially stripping the premier of his functions as finance minister. “The whole matter of these media reports is vicious and deliberate in trying to hurt me and in so doing, harmful to country,” he said. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

In the statement the premier claimed that the establishment of a “Budget Delivery Board” under the leadership of the deputy governor and not the minister of finance was because the vast majority of the commitments to cut costs in this and future budgets impact the civil service. He listed a number of examples, including the as yet unannounced reduction of some 360 jobs over the next five years, as well as pay freezes, voluntary redundancies, a revised health plan and the centralization of both finance and human resource functions.

Bush said that the minister of finance, as with all elected ministers, had no “domain over the civil service” and it was for that reason he was not heading up the board. He described media reports about the functions of the finance minister being stripped from him as a “quantum leap from the truthful explanation” that he gives in his statement. 

The premier stated that the articles were “tragedies" of reporting because they were “viciously inaccurate; and viciously misleading” and said that he was going to “tell the Cayman Islands and the entire world, the truth” regarding the agreement between the Cayman government and the FCO.

“There are no matters existing in these islands on which the FCO would have grounds to remove any minister from office or to remove responsibilities from any minister,” Bush said. “In as far as my responsibilities as Minister of Finance – the Opposition, including the Compass, CNS and others would love to see me so embarrassed and are probably hoping for such an action, not caring what the consequences are for the Cayman Islands.”

However, the premier maintained that the UK has no such authority and no reasons under the Constitution to remove his functions.

Despite Bush protestations regarding the media reports and the comments made by the opposition leader, the FCO has attached a number of stringent conditions on the budget approval and will have considerably more control over public finances going forward.

As well as the budget management board, Bush, as finance minister, will not be allowed to add any supplementary appropriations to this fiscal year’s budget; he must make the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility agreement law and follow it; and finally, the FCO’s economic advisor is to be given unfettered access to the country’s ‘books’ once per quarter to ensure that the budget is on track.

See the premier’s full statement below.

Related article:

Mac stripped of finance job

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Election’s office begins drive for new voters

| 29/08/2012 | 27 Comments

election (260x300).jpg(CNS):  With an estimated 10,000 people eligible to vote but not registered with the Elections Office, in preparation for next year’s General Election the office is beginning an election drive next month in conjunction with a number of local activist groups who are also encouraging those who can to register to vote. The recent referendum on one man, one vote focused the minds of many people who would qualify to vote but were unable to do so because the national poll was announced on the eve of the closure of that quarter’s register, preventing many people from exercising their democratic right.

As a result, the OMOV team are also now focused on promoting voter registration along with the newly formed Cayman United group, which is also hoping to recruit as many of the non-registered ten thousand as possible.

The Elections Office drive gets underway on Saturday 1 September, although they have not yet said where the Saturday registration stations will be located, and will continue through until 1 December. The final date for registration for people wanting to vote at the May 2013 General Elections will be 2 January 2013. 

“All registered electors are requested to inspect the register of electors for their respective districts to ensure that their particulars as shown on the list are accurate,” said the elections office in a release announcing the drive. “It is essential for all registered electors who may have changed their address, whether within the same district or to another district, to complete the requisite Form 13 and submit it to the registering officer in that district or to the Elections Office.”

Officials from the elections office said they welcomed the groups interested in getting qualified individuals registered and asked them to bring these prospective electors in to the Saturday registration stations or the Elections Office. Officials explained that it is the registering officers who are responsible for compiling the registers of electors and determining whether a person qualifies.

The current register of electors is now posted at all post offices and public libraries for inspection.  The list can also be accessed on the Elections Office’s website.

“All qualified individuals who are not now registered must remember that if they are not registered they cannot vote. TheElections Office is here to facilitate voters and to ensure that they have an opportunity to exercise their franchise,” officials added.

It should be noted that if an elector is already registered there is no need to re-register.

The Elections Office voter registration office for Cayman Brac & Little Cayman is at the Brac Executive Services office, which will beopen for the next four Saturdays 10am-2pm. For more details, visit the CB&LC registration office Facebook page.

CNS has asked the Elections Office where the Saturday registration stations will be located and will publish this as soon as the office replies.

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Explosive import fine $1300

| 29/08/2012 | 43 Comments

wile_e_coyote_and_the_tnt_by_bjnix248-d3d8xsa (289x300).jpg(CNS): Midland Acres was fined $1,300 by a magistrate Wednesday following the guilty plea by the firm’s MD to four counts of importing explosive materials without the correct permits. Having taken what his lawyer said was a “commercial approach” to the charges, Suresh Prasad chose not to fight the case, having entered into talks with the crown about the blasting materials and secured the return of the explosive cargo to a local licensed company in partnership with his firm. Prasad admitted that the company had erred in its efforts to hasten the production of a significant quantity of marl for the first major contract Midland Acres had secured with the Dart Group.

The court found that this was a regulatory error and accepted the defence lawyer’s case that there was “no sinister motive” and that the explosive materials had been imported for a legitimate purpose but an important step in the process, put in place by the authorities not as a revenue raising measure but for issues of public safety, had been omitted.

Magistrate Valdis Foldats said that Midland Acres was a reputable firm that had been transparent about the importation of the materials, had paid the necessary duty, had not deliberately attempted to evade the law and had cooperated with the authorities from the start. However, he pointed out that explosives are inherently dangerous and as such the law and regulations concerning the importation of such materials were there to protect the public. He said anyone dealing with explosives should ensure they do so properly.

The magistrate pointed out that the maximum fine was only $1,000 for each count and that was for the worst offence. He said the case before him could not be considered as such, coupled with the guilty plea by company’s managing director, so for three of the counts he was handing down a fine of $300 and for one $400, totalling a maximum of $1,300.

The blasting caps andsome of the explosive materials which had been seized by the authorities were ordered released to Precision Drilling and Blasting Services Ltd, a licensed local company that deals with and stores explosives. However, the shipment of one chemical emulsion which Precision said they were not able to store was forfeited to the crown.

Midland Acres’ attorney told the court that the firm would pay for the re-export of the emulsion back to the United States as the NRA had expressed concerns about the costs and environmental risks associated with attempting to destroy it here in Cayman.

The crown also revealed that the four counts which were laid against Prasad in person would not be pursued following the guilty pleas he had entered on behalf of the firm but would be left on file.

During Wednesday’s hearing the court was told how it was that the firm had come to import the goods without the correct permit. It was revealed that while Midland Acres normally used the services of Precision to import, store and use the explosives to remove marl, when the firm had secured the new contract with the Dart group it had sought ways to speed up the process and find new materials that could blast deeper. Having entered into discussions with the US based firm, Florex Explosives, to try a different combination of blasting materials, Precision Drilling had told Midland acres that, while they were willing to store and use the new materials, they were not prepared to take on the financial risk.

As a result, the court heard, Midland Acres simply went ahead and paid for the goods and imported them without checking the requirements. It was not until a representative of the firm went to customs to sign for the goods when they arrived on island in February that they were informed that the goods required a permit from the NRA.

The firm applied for the permit but the NRA refused it as the application was after the fact. Despite Prasad’s efforts to enlist the help of Precision Drilling, the NRA was unable to release the goods to that company as it was not the importer of the more than 1,000 blasting caps and thousands of pounds of explosive chemicals and materials.

During the explanation of the facts neither the crown prosecuting attorney, Candia James, nor defence counsel for Midland Acres, George Keightley, mentioned the fact that Prasad had also attempted to enlist the assistance of Premier Mckeeva Bush to have the explosives released.

However, the MD had written to Bush in March explaining that the goods had been seized and asking for his help. The premier had then emailed the collector of customs and copied the director of the NRA with a short memo requesting that the materials be released. As a result, the then director of the NRA, who has since been fired, reported the situation to the police.

According to Police Commissioner David Baines, the premier’s efforts to have the explosives released despite the contravention of the law forms part of a third investigation the RCIPS is currently conducting into the premier. The first is into a land deal that Bush was involved in with developer Stan Thomas in 2004 and the second has merely been described as other “financial irregularities.”

See related articles:

Forfeiture becomes focus in explosives case

Explosives in legal question

Man charged over dynamite

Dynamite request in question

Government road boss fired

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Lead cop warned by judge to attend trial

| 29/08/2012 | 17 Comments

courts good.jpg(CNS):  A Grand Court judge expressed his concern on Monday that a man in custody had to have his trial postponed because the lead police officer in the case notified the court at the last minute that she was unable to attend. Robert Aaron Crawford (19), who is facing charges of possession of an unlicensed firearm and was expecting his judge-alone trial to begin on Monday 27 August, will now have to remain in Northward on remand until 1 October when the trial has been rescheduled. Justice Charles Quin said the officer, who had known about the trial for ten weeks, should not have left it until the eleventh hour to announce she would not be there and warned that this could not happen again.

Crawford’s attorney, Nick Hoffman, expressed his concern about the situation because the defence requires the opportunity to cross examine the senior officer, who is a key witness in the case, and said how unfair it was for his client, who had been told on Friday evening that a key witness in has trial, due to start Monday morning, would not be available.

The lawyer said the prosecuting attorney was not at fault since he had notified the defence as soon as she was aware the officer would not be attending as she was reportedly overseas. 

However, Hoffman pointed to the officer’s position because she had known about the trial date for well over two months but she had left it until the last minute to inform those concerned. The lawyer said that the there was no choice but to adjourn the case, and while his client had agreed to the postponement, it was not something he had either wanted or caused.

Crawford is currently on remand at HMP Northward, where he has been since his arrest last November. “The RCIPS should take these matters far more seriously” when defendants are in custody, Hoffman said.

Justice Quin said he was sympathetic to Hoffman’s position and that of his client, who has been in custody since last year. The judge said the officer in charge of the case should be at trial from the start and remain throughout and that it was unsatisfactory for the court to be told at the eleventh hour that a police witness would not be attending. He pointed out that not only was the court and the defendant who were inconvenienced but the other civilian witnesses who were also present and ready to give evidence as well. The judge made it clear that he hoped he would not to see a repeat of the situation.

The judge’s comments come in the wake of several more made by his fellow judge, Justice Alex Henderson, who has noted that the postponements and continued long periods that defendants spend waiting for trials will cause the prosecution significant problems once the bill of rights is implemented in November. He has warned on numerous occasions that the delay in justice may result in cases being lost before they even start if the course of justice takes too long.

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