Archive for December 14th, 2012

Rare chance for Mr Taylor

| 14/12/2012 | 59 Comments

We should probably not be too surprised to see that the recent arrest of the premier has not resulted in a quick resolution either by way of formal charges being brought or the premier doing the honourable thing and stepping down fully from his position until things have been settled. There are those who say that we should continue to pretend that its business as usual until justice takes its course.

The problem is that there is a real possibility, based on previous investigations, that so-called justice will take either a very long time or not materialise at all.

From what we have seen so far, we can either give credit to the RCIP and assume that they are up to something a bit more advanced than we normal people can understand, or that their "case" was not as strong (as frankly it should have been) before arresting someone in high office.

At this stage, with the prospect of this situation limping on right through to election day, the best action to get to at least a political solution which may minimize further harm to the country's reputation is for the governor, Mr Duncan Taylor, to force early elections or for the UDP members of government to replace Mr Bush, as has been called for by political opponents.

Either action would provide us with at least one desirable result, which is to remove what many view as an incompetent leader from the country's top position. And very few would disagree that this one result alone would provide a nice feel good factor for the country.

We are seeing early evidence that the UDP elected members and the party executive will do in this situation what they tend to do best: nothing. But while we may havelow expectations for the UDP, we should and must put more scrutiny on the actions of Mr Taylor in how he handles this situation from a political perspective (because we should not kid ourselves by denying he plays a highly important political role).

The country cannot sit by while due process takes its course, especially when it is becoming clear that the course could be several miles long, while the running of government and country, which is already in a fiscal and economic crisis, suffers from this major distraction.

His Excellency must act now to restore order because it is highly unlikely that this will be achieved by the elected members of the Legislative Assembly, despite the opposition leader's 11th hour threat to bring yet another no confidence motion.

None of us may be quite ready for early elections but maybe that gives the country the best chance to lift itself out of this mess.

Traditionally, Cayman's governors tend to be more hands off on domestic matters, but this is one of those real opportunities to use his powers in the public interest. Will he?

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Taylor refutes Bush’s claim

| 14/12/2012 | 57 Comments

_DEW9187_0.jpg(CNS): Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor has refuted allegations thrown at him that the premier’s arrest on Tuesday was nothing more than a vindictive witch hunt fuelled by the petty jealousies of the UK’s representative and political opponents. Speaking in Jamaica last night, McKeeva Bush came out fighting and pointed the finger firmly at Taylor. However, the governor’s office flatly denied the accusations. Meanwhile, in the wake of Bush’s denials of any wrongdoing and his insistence that he would remain premier, his party colleagues are understood to be holding closed door meetings while he remains in Jamaica.

The governor’s office stated Friday that Duncan Taylor had taken note of the comments made by the premier on Thursday evening, in particular that the investigation was politically vindictive, but said there was absolutely no foundation to the allegation. The office said that it would not be making any further comment regarding the accusations and the now broken relationship between the UK and the premier.

Bush has issued a statement that he intends to stay in office and will not resign; however, more than 24 hours later, not one of his party colleagues has come out to publicly support that position.

The opposition leader said Thursday that he would deliver a letter to the speaker of the House regarding a special meeting of the LA in order to press the UDP members to either publicly state their support for Bush or oust him from office in a no confidence debate.

The party’s silence in the face of their leader’s defiance and its failure to comment since Bush’s arrest on Tuesday indicates that the premier may no longer have the complete backing of all his caucus colleagues.

While his Cabinet and back-bench colleagues had supported him during the revelations about the police investigation into the infamous Stan Thomas letter, other financial irregularities and his part in the importation of a consignment of explosives without the necessary permits, the reality of his arrest appears to have shaken that support.

The premier, who is expected to return home this evening on the Cayman Airways flight from Jamaica, was hoping for a warm welcome from the public as supporters were organising a crowd to cheer Bush on. However, while Bush may retain considerable popular support, he may return to find he no longer holds the support of his party colleagues in whose hands his position currently lies.

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Israel’s foreign minister resigns following charges

| 14/12/2012 | 0 Comments

(BBC): Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has resigned after being charged with breach of trust following a long-running investigation. Lieberman has also resigned as deputy prime minister, and said he would fight to clear his name of the charges. The case against him relates to a financial scandal dating back more than a decade. His resignation comes five weeks before Israel's general election."Though I know I committed no crime… I have decided to resign my post as foreign minister and deputy prime minister," Mr Lieberman said in a statement released by his office. He also said he would waive his parliamentary immunity in order to settle the charges quickly, according to Reuters.

Mr Lieberman is the leader of Yisrael Beitenu, the second largest party in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud-led coalition government.

The two parties were due to run together in January's general election, with polls suggesting they were on course to win.

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BT coalition calls for investigation into dump deal

| 14/12/2012 | 26 Comments

bt dump.JPG(CNS): Following the arrest of the premier this week as a result of a number of criminal investigations, the Coalition to Keep BT Dump Free has called on the authorities to also examine the deal between government and Dart that involves the relocation of Grand Cayman’s landfill. Charles Clifford, a former tourism minister and MLA for Bodden Town, alongwith other coalition leaders said the agreement has been cloaked in secrecy, and invites serious suspicion of abuse of office, conflicts of interest and disregard for the law. The group also said the Dart dump deal makes a mockery of the recently adopted Framework for Fiscal Responsibility (FFR).

“The so-called ‘ForCayman Investment Alliance’ (FCIA) agreement raises serious questions of possible wrongdoing. It must be suspended immediately, investigated and exposed in order for Cayman to prove to the world that it’s indeed committed to transparency, due process, good governance and the rule of law,” Clifford said.

Pointing to the Central Tender Committee’s rejection of the Dart proposal to move the dump and its approval of a bid to deal with the George Town landfill on site with waste-to-energy, coalition leader Alain Biener believes that that with the recent amendments to the Public Management and Finance Law and the adoption of the FFR, the deal may be illegal.

“Aside from the need for all major public projects to be fairly bid upon, valuable Crown land is being ‘swapped’ as part of the FCIA deal, with no open tendering process to determine its value. These are substantial assets which belong to the people, and they’re being left to Premier Bush to give away,” he said.

Clifford said there had been an abuse of office with government’s “muzzling” of its own Environmental Advisory Board, which had recommended that it be mandated to identify the best waste management solution for Grand Cayman, and that an open and independent site selection process be conducted. But, instead, it has been limited to reviewing only the Dart proposal.

In addition, Cardno Entrix, the consulting firm charged with carrying out the EIA was also involved in defining the TORs, despite being the entity that will undertake the study. The firm is also being paid by Dart and not government, which coalition leader Gregg Anderson described as “a blatant conflict of interest”, stating that no one should seriously expect an honest, reliable and independent assessment.

The coalition still stands by their point that no government entity has ever made the decision that the GT dump must be closed and moved and that there has never been an independent site selection process

“Moving the dump instead of fixing the problem where it is may be in the interests of a private developer, but clearly not in the interests of Caymanians,” Anderson added.

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Cops report over 50 smashes in 11 days

| 14/12/2012 | 7 Comments

_DEW0427-main.jpg(CNS): The local police have revealed that there were some 54 road crashes in Cayman over an eleven day period in the middle of the RCIPS’ festive season road campaign. In the regular update on the 'Stay Alive' road safety drive, police said they were disappointed that motorists continued to ignore police warnings and the important safety issues associated with offences such as drinking and driving, speeding, cell-phone use, dangerous driving and disqualified driving.  Keeping the roads safe is quite clearly not a priority for many drivers on Cayman’s roads, the police said as they counted up the ticket and arrest toll.

Twenty-one people were arrested between 30 November and 11 December. Twelve of those arrests were for DUI and the remaining nine for dangerous driving, disqualified driving, leaving the scene of accidents, no licence and no insurance. Another 49 people were ticketed for speeding, 20 for cell-phone use and 57 for not wearing seatbelts. More than 120 other traffic offences were uncovered and ticketed, while 54 drivers ploughed into each other or street furniture.

“It’s disappointing that so many people continue to ignore our advice,” said Superintendent Adrian Seales. “Too many families have already lost loved ones on our roads, and we all need to play our part to make our roads much safer. We are not going to let up on our enforcement activity and my advice to everyone is to use taxis, busses and designated drivers to make sure you get home from your celebrations in one piece.”

He warned drivers to stop and think about the implications a death, serious injury or loss of income could have on their families. “If you don’t stop and think for yourself, think of your wife, your husband and your children and how they would survive without you, or if you lost your job as a result of a driving ban.”

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service said that road safety is a 365 day a year priority for them but the focused festive public education drive 'Stay Alive' will run until Friday 4 January next year.

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Cruise visitors hold tax demo at Ugland House

| 14/12/2012 | 0 Comments

IMG-20121213-00379 (215x300).jpg(CNS Business): Around fifty visiting cruise ship passengers caused something ofa stir in George Town Thursday afternoon with a demonstration outside Ugland House the home of legal offshore specialists Maples and Calder. The protesters were traveling with the US based magazine The Nation on a special cruise and social justice group CODEPINK took the opportunity to highlight what is seen as the injustice of large companies being able to avoid paying their fair share of taxes in the country’s they are headquartered because of the use of tax shelters. Tighe Barry a film and TV producer and a member of the demonstration (left) said the target of the protest was the American government and not Cayman as he said he was well aware it is a tax free jurisdiction. Read more and comment on CNS Business

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Cayman Finance stresses industry independence

| 14/12/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): In the wake of the premier’s arrest this week in connection a number of investigations, including financial irregularities the body representing the Cayman Islands financial industry has stressed the independence of the sector andits regulators from the government. Distancing the offshore business from the political arm of the government Cayman Finance said it had taken steps to ensure the interest of Cayman’s financial services industry was well represented and that the body had been dealing with international media enquiries. It added that any change of leadership would not affect the workings of the administrative part of government or the regulator. Read more and comment on CNS Business

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Governor is enemy, says Mac

| 14/12/2012 | 140 Comments

bush.JPG(CNS): The premier pointed the finger at the Cayman Islands governor, Thursday night, as the reason for his arrest, according to media reports from Jamaica. In the wake of his Commencement Address at the UCC in the nation’s capital, Kingston, McKeeva Bush said that Duncan Taylor, was his "enemy" and implied that his arrest this week was orchestrated by the UK governor along with other political foes. "We are a British overseas territory and as such it is run by the governor and the commissioner of police. And so I can't miss that it is nothing but a political, very vindictive political witch hunt," Bush told reporters.

According to a video of a press briefing posted on The Gleaner, Bush said he wanted to reveal the "whole story" behind his arrest but his lawyers advised him not to speak specifically about the allegations. However, a defiant Bush said he was confident of vindication in the coming months.

"I would just say that I have done nothing wrong," he said. "I have made a lot of friends and I have made a lot of enemies. There are a lot of jealous people in a very small island."

There was no sign of Bush’s famous catch phrase regarding his clean hands and pure heart but the premier showed his fighting side while in the neighbouring country. Bush said he believed the investigation was a plot by political enemies trying to weaken him and smear his reputation. Speaking more freely than in his statement to the Cayman media before he left for Jamaica, Bush gave an indication of what the public at home can expect in the coming weeks when he will be forced to fight for his political future.

Having shrugged off the allegations and declared that he will not resign, Bush headed to Jamaica Thursday morning. Although he did not receive the promised honorary doctorate at the University College of the Caribbean he nevertheless delivered an address in which he told the students to always play by the rules and tell the truth.

"A reputation takes a lifetime to build and a moment to dismantle," said Bush, who reportedly only made only a few passing references to his arrest during the presentation, which was entitled “Integrity: the Language of Leadership”.

Since his declaration yesterday that he would not be stepping down as premier, there has been no comment from any member of the UDP Cabinet, backbench or wider party membership. The only exception being a call from the entourage that has reportedly accompanied the premier to Jamaica for the people of Cayman to come to Owen Roberts International Airport on Friday evening when he returns to show their support.

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