Archive for December, 2012

20 more smashes during road safety campaign

| 27/12/2012 | 18 Comments

_DEW5196.jpgCNS): Despite efforts to improve the levels of safety on Cayman’s roads and to clamp down on traffic infringements, the police dealt with a further 20 road smashes in the week leading up to Christmas and in the middle of the RCIPS campaign "Stay Alive". Police said that during the third week 17 people were ticketed for speeding, nine for cell phone use and four for not wearing seatbelts. An additional 44 offences were also ticketed. Since the campaign started on 30 November, 24 drivers have been arrested for DUI and 230 tickets have been dished out for various traffic offences with a further 75 tickets for speeding.

“Members of the public are urged to be responsible road users over the holiday period and in particular to use designated drivers where necessary,” a spokesperson for the RCIPS said.

The police public education campaign will run until Friday 4 January.

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Five more suspected dengue cases investigated

| 27/12/2012 | 1 Comment

Aedes-Aegypti-3.jpg(CNS): Health care workers in Cayman continue to treat several people in hospital and as outpatients for suspected dengue fever as officials await confirmation on 24 results. Since the beginning of the year there have been 91 suspected cases of the disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Since 16 December there have been 5 new cases under investigation, public officials said this week. Of the 5 only one had travel history to an endemic area. No new results have been received from Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) this week but this does not impact patient care as they are treated as if they were positive, officials stated.

There have been 31 confirmed cases this year 20 of which have been transmitted locally. 16 of the locally transmitted cases were residents of West Bay, 2 from George Town and 2 from Bodden Town.

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Mac visited 34 nations

| 27/12/2012 | 97 Comments

travel-guide-where-to-go.jpg(CNS): After he took office in May 2009 the former premier of the Cayman Islands visited at least 34 nations across the world, spending more than 403 days on business and a further 142 days of personal time away from Cayman — almost one third of the time he served as leader. Criticised for the amount of money and time spent off island, a partially granted FOI request by CNS to the premier ’s office revealed that McKeeva Bush took some 74 overseas trips as premier, from Greenland in the frozen North to Indonesia in the Far East. Venice, Paris, New York, Dubai and Shanghai are just some of the destinations he visited before he was ousted from office by his former colleagues on 18 December.

With more than a dozen trips to London, Miami and Jamaica, the premier’s overseas travel included major international meetings as well as “go sees” related to possible investments, many of which did not materialize, or trips to sign international tax exchange treaties. Dozens of different staff members accompanied Bush on the various trips at different times, some of which took the former premier away for as much as three and a half weeks.

Although the response to the freedom of information request, which came more than 75 days after it was submitted and following several breaches of the freedom of information law, the request was not complete. CNS had also asked for the costs of the trips but that part of the request was denied as the office stated that the credit card bills and receipts have been seized by the police and now form part of the enquiry. It appears that the office has no other way of knowing how much the numerous, and often lengthy, trips involving several staff members have cost the public purse.

CNS has requested an internal review, and although the ministry has not yet acknowledged that request, we intend to press the matter further in order to establish how much tax payers money was spent on international travel and to allow the people to decide if they got value for money.

During his time as premier Bush vigorously defended all of his overseas trips stating that they were all related to important business, promoting Cayman, addressing its position with the OECD, attracting investment or dealing with public finances among other issues.

See details released under the FOI request below.

Alert CNS readers have found more trips not mentioned in the FOI response:

Panama party cost $70k (CNS 6 July 2012) about trip at the end of May

‘We must move on port’ Bush says during Roatan trip (CNS 14 March 2012)

Minister calls Mac to London (CNS 12 November 2011)

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$1M thief gets 5 years

| 24/12/2012 | 48 Comments

david self.jpg(CNS): A former insurance firm manager was handed down a five year sentence on Christmas Eve by Justice Alex Henderson for the theft of around US$1 million from clients who used his services. David Self (53) admitted stealing money from his clients over a twelve month period, which began in January 2011 when the company he owned got into financial difficulties. The major shareholder of Monkton Insurance, which offered services to captive insurance firms, Self stole money from Warco, a captive created for a group of US auto-dealers that he managed, to top up his own flagging income, the court heard, rather than adapt to his declining earnings.

For almost a year Self took money from different clients’ accounts and used other clients’ money to pay them back in a spiral of crime which left Warco as the last clients out of pocket when CIMA declared Monkton insolvent.

As he handed down the five year sentence on Monday, Justice Henderson said the appropriate starting point was eight years but he gave Self a full discount as a result of his complete cooperation with the authorities from the beginning and his obvious remorse, after Self was said to have handed over his entire assets, including his home, to the liquidators.

Comparing Self’s case to the recent theft by the former Chamber Pension plan manager, David Shultz, Henderson acknowledged that while Self had taken considerably more money, he had not attempted to abscond, as was the case with Shultz.

Once the hopelessly insolvent position of Monktoncame to light, at which point CIMA appointed liquidators, Self made a full and frank confession and was described as assisting both the authorities and the liquidators in the case.  The 53-year-old chartered accountant had no previous convictions and, once confronted by the offences, as well as making a full admission he surrendered to custody and gave up everything he owned.

Self’s defence attorney told the court that his client accepted full responsibility for taking the money and his efforts to cover up one theft with another in order to sustain the lifestyle he and his family were accustomed to rather than rein in expenditures.

The judge confirmed that the time Self had already spent in jail would be taken into account.

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Cops charge murder suspect

| 24/12/2012 | 0 Comments

jakson murder_0.jpg(CNS): Updated 3pm — The man accused of killing Jackson Rainford (23) was charged by police on Sunday evening. Tareek Ricardo Ricketts (21) appeared  in court Christmas Eve to face one count of murder and one count of possession of an unlicensed firearm in connection with the first fatal shooting of the year. Ricketts is accused of shooting Rainford multiple times as he sat in a car in the Printer’s Way area on Sunday 16 December at around 10:30. Police picked up the suspected shooter early last Monday, a few hours after Rainford, a Jamaican national living in Spotts-Newlands, was pronounced dead. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

The case was transmitted to the Grand Court where Ricketts, who was represented by Defence attorney Prathna Bodden, will next appear on Friday, 11 January.

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Lest you forget

| 23/12/2012 | 83 Comments

As I begin this article, an old joke comes to mind: A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to theground into a large field. While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some steaming hot dung on him. As the frozen bird lay there covered in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was. The dung was thawing him out! He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy.

A passing cat heard the singing bird and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

There are 3 morals to the story:
(1) Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy.
(2) Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.
(3) And when you're throat-deep in shit, it is best to keep your mouth shut!

The Nuremberg and subsequent lesser-known war trials held by the Allied Forces after the end of World War II were organized to punish the remaining surviving members of the Nazi leadership. The idea that Hitler did not operate in a vacuum, that he did not act alone, but was in fact willingly supported by millions of his people was widely accepted by the world. It did not matter whether Hitler controlled the most prominent members of his regime through fear, intimidation, or charm; the point was irrelevant.

Members of his regime were not mere spectators, as many tried to argue later, but willing participants. All were directly and indirectly implicit in many of Hitler's crimes. Even today, men across the world are still being hunted for being participants in the horrors of the Second World War.  Among these are what one could argue low-ranking individuals who played minor roles — regardless of their rank, and rightly so, they are still being held accountable.

For the four years that McKeeva Bush was premier of the Cayman Islands, and the leader of government, he also did not act alone. Among his most ardent supporters were the UDP 5. They, along with McKeeva's remaining motley UDP crew, provided Bush with the power base that allowed him to maintain control. McKeeva could have been a simple footnote in history had they withdrawn their support four years ago, once they realized that he did not follow commonly-accepted procedures. But, out of self-interest, they explicitly and tacitly allowed McKeeva to act with impunity and do as he pleased.  

As many have correctly argued across various CNS forums, the little reform that the UDP 5 have recently demonstrated is far too little and far too late. The UDP 5 are not the martyrs that they now want the world to believe they are. The fact that they jumped ship last minute and thus somehow saved the country is absurd. It was pure self-interest at its best once again. Beside, had they not ousted the premier, events certainly would have.  The only certainty in this matter is that the premier was going to go down, one way or another. Though McKeeva may have some miracles left in his bag of tricks, none were available fast enough to help him having to give up his coveted throne.

It is a shame to see how quickly some people fail to understand and remember. The five former UDP martyrs are not martyrs at all — they were willing conspirators in McKeeva Bush' failed regime. To try to somehow argue that they jumped ship out of love for country is laughable and comical. Not only did they not repent for their past sins, they haven't even bothered to provide the slightest explanation to the public for their blind support of  McKeeva for so many years. 

Perhaps it's out of hubris — that they're somehow above having to explain anything to the public; perhaps it's out of sense of shame …  I doubt either is true.  My belief is that they have no explanation; that they're guilty as charged. Unlike McKeeva though, the UDP 5 have learned that when you're throat-deep in shit, it is best to keep your mouth shut.

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Rankin arrested re-permits

| 21/12/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Local businessman and UDP stalwart Mario Rankin said he was arrested Thursday on suspicion of work permit violations, not only by immigration officers but two UK police officers, who appeared to be from the fraud squad. Speaking candidly about his arrest to CNS, Rankin denied any wrongdoing, stating that the immigration department had made the arrest based on allegations that he was employing a dump truck driver without a permit and issues relating to the transition of ownership of a group of local bars. Rankin said he was able to demonstrate the inaccuracy of all the allegations but remained suspicious that the immigration issues were not the real reason for his arrest.

Rankin said he had the necessary paperwork and documents and was able to show the immigration department that he had committed no offences. Explaining to CNS that during the complex transition of ownership of the Brick House, Oar House and Club House bars from former owner Harry Lalli, he had to pay staff who were owed money before the various licences were transferred. 

Rankin said that in order to secure jobs and the viability of the businesses, the bills had to paid from the proceeds of those businesses, which were still in the name of Lalli, but the proceeds had been transferred to his accounts and then out again to pay bills. He said there was precedent for this type of thing at other tourism related businesses, such as at the Marriott.

Having given the authorities the relevant documents, he said he was able to satisfy the questions of the immigration officers. Nevertheless, Rankin told CNS that the two UK police officers, who he said did not appear to be members of the RCIPS, still insisted on a search of his businesses and home. He said that, strangely, given the alleged basis for his arrest, the officers were not interested in the business computers at the Brick House and other bars but were more interested in searching his home and seizing his personal computer.

“I find it strange, having worked myself in enforcement, that immigration would require the assistance of British officers from a fraud squad to investigate alleged work permit violations,” said, Rankin who was previously employed by immigration. “Immigration arrests people every day over these types of allegations but never in the history of the Cayman Islands have they been accompanied by UK police for such an offence.”

Rankin said he was not able to comment on whether his arrest had anything to do with the arrest of McKeeva Bush earlier this month and stated that he had no business interests of any kind with the former premier.

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Where loyalties lie

| 21/12/2012 | 58 Comments

When Margaret Thatcher, the ‘Iron Lady’ who led Britain as prime minister for more a decade, was ousted from power, she felt betrayed by the Tory party which forced her resignation and she left Downing Street in tears. And yet, she went on to serve two more years on the backbench of the House of Commons before retiring from the lower house of parliament in 1992.

Because whatever anyone might think of Thatcher and her politics, her loyalty to her party and to her country was never in doubt. She stepped down because the Conservative Party did not believe that they could win the election with her as leader, and in the UK, as in all established democracies, people vote for the party that they believe will lead the country as a whole to greater prosperity and social cohesion.

Thatcher wasn’t happy but ultimately she put party and country first. Now compare that to McKeeva Bush, who has given his party far greater reason for his removal from the leadership role but is having what can only be described as a hissy fit over it. Desperately trying to retain a stranglehold on political power at the expense of the party is not patriotism, certainly not party loyalty, nor is it putting the people before self, which are all traits that we expect in any true leader.

Anyone who thinks that Bush should have remained in office does not care or just does not understand that the police investigations into his suspected financial irregularities, even before the drama of his arrest, were dragging the Cayman Islands down and the ‘Post-UDP 5’ made the right decision for the country. (See this viewpoint.)

The word “traitors” keeps popping up in the comments to refer to those UDP members who finally mustered the courage to force Bush out of power, but the context isalways traitors to Bush, not traitors to Cayman. So where do the loyalties of Bush and his supporters lie? Certainly not with the party, because party politics – the real kind – does not depend on any one individual; it is an allegiance to a certain set of values and ideas. Blind support for one man (or one woman) is no more or less than a personality cult, which is a destructive force in any society.

Here in the Cayman Islands party politics is still in its infancy and, to be fair, neither party has really been clear about any cohesive social, political or economic philosophy that ties its members together and enables its supporters to feel that they have some idea as to how the party will react to future unpredictable events. In fact, it’s hard to discern exactly where on the political spectrum any politician in Cayman actually hangs his or her hat, once you get past the catch phrases and platitudes.

Without a clear political ideology that holds the politicians together there is no ideology for voters to support, and all too often it boils down to family or other ties, blind trust, a new fridge, favours to be returned, or which candidate will get the most money to spend on their district.

The PPM does at least function as a proper party. Kurt Tibbetts stepped down as leader after losing the 2009 election, which one would expect, and the next leader, Alden McLaughlin, was elected by the party members. Honesty and integrity are moral rather than political ideals and establishing openness and transparency are methods of governing, not economics, but if these are the chords that bind, it’s a good start. However, they need to establish what their party is – ‘not McKeeva’ is not good enough.

On the other hand, the UDP, the first and the second version, never did seem like a party so much as a vehicle for Bush to be the leader of the country and it appeared, from the outside as least, that those who joined him did so purely to either get elected or gain a cabinet position (or both). The shattering of the UDP over the ousting of McKeeva Bush supports this idea that the party was always just a means to an end for the ambitions of its politicians. If this is so, where do their loyalties lie?

Discounting for a minute the rampant speculation that personal gain is an essential motive, it seems that the main players of the now polarized UDP owed their allegiance either to Bush, who carried them into office by sheer force of personality, or to the districts that elected them.

A glaring example of district loyalty over country is the Hurricane Hilton on Cayman Brac. A party with an holistic view of the country (which decided it could afford a hurricane shelter) would ask the basic question as to which district was in most need of a shelter. The leader of the country and the rest of Cabinet (including the deputy premier) should want to protect as many of its citizens as possible in the event of natural disaster and place a new shelter where it has the potential to save most lives, and I don’t think anyone would argue that this was the Brac.

Juliana O’Connor Connolly was always the odd one out in the new UDP in that she never did need McKeeva Bush to get re-elected, but (and this is an important 'but') she does need to be a part of whatever political grouping is in power to have a place in Cabinet.

However, the way she has influenced the allocation of funds during the Bush administration – diverting resources, with questionable legality, from Grand Cayman to pave the roads on Cayman Brac, for example  – indicates that her mindset is still district politics, not country or party politics: get what you can for ‘your people’ and to hell with the rules.

Many Brackers don’t have a problem with that, just as many West Bayersfeel entitled to Mac’s largesse. But, just like West Bay, the funds and favours have not resulted in any real lasting improvementin the economy. Those lovely paved car parks didn’t create any new customers for the merchants, and the prices at the shops, the dwindling pay-packets and rising costs for small businesses (which is all of them on the Brac) are enough to make you weep.

It remains to be seen if the ‘Post-UDP 5’ will form a proper party and if they have enough political maturity (not granny wits) to move away from Bush-style politics, an unhealthy mutual dependency between politician and voters, in which love of country – called upon often but practiced rarely – takes a back seat to benefit the few, where secret deals are negotiated behind secret doors, due process is optional and dissent must be stifled.

The ‘Post-UDP 5’ have loyally stood behind Bush in the past, even as he attacked his enemies and vilified the media – or even taken potshots themselves. I wonder, now that they are on the receiving end of his wrath, whether they finally understand that personality-cult politics, which they nurtured, creates an unhealthy atmosphere for society at large. You might enjoy the feeling of power at the time but it brings with it extremes of emotions in the people you govern that will not benefit you or the country in the end.

Neither Juliana nor Alden McLaughlin has the right personality to create a personality cult. This is a good thing. I remain hopeful that enough voters have been horrified by the chaos created by McKeeva Bush’s government that in the next election, if he stands, he will be relegated to an echo chamber of dwindling supporters.

Then, if the two remaining parties – PPM and whatever the ‘Post-UDP 5’ become – are able to set out and explain to the public what it is they stand for, the rest of the country could have an election that is about ideas, not who is loyal/dependent on whom, and a debate on policies rather than puerile insults.

One can always hope.

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Cops arrest suspected West Bay muggers

| 21/12/2012 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Police arrested two men yesterday in connection with an early morning street robbery in West Bay. The men, aged 25 and 30, are currently in police custody after their arrest in the district Thursday evening on suspicion of robbery. The two men are accused of holding up a couple at knife point in the early hours of Wednesday, 19 December, in the vicinity of the Four Way Stop in West Bay close to Centennial Towers. The man and woman who were mugged reportedly received minor injuries but police have not stated if anything was taken from them.  Meanwhile, police have also confirmed that the 20-year-old man arrested over the murder of Jackson Rainford in George Town Sunday remains in custody.

The young man arrested in connection to the shooting the 23-year-old Jamaican national in a car in Printers Way around 10:30 Sunday night has not been charged with the first killing of 2012 in Cayman.

Rainford was reportedly shot several times by a single gunman while sitting in the passenger seat of a white Honda Civic. A police spokesperson said the gunman made his escape from the scene on foot and the 20-year-old was arrested on suspicion of murder shortly after 1:00am Monday.

A murder incident room has been established at George Town police station and a team of 15 officers is currently dedicated to the investigation. DS Bodden urged anyone who may have information to call the murder team directly on 649-3057 or 649-4522. Alternatively, people can call the confidential Crime Stoppers number 800-8477 (TIPS).

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Ellio begs cash for Mac

| 21/12/2012 | 282 Comments

CollectionBox_LocalCharity.jpg(CNS): The general secretary of the UDP called on the party faithful to give money to the former premier of the Cayman Islands on Thursday night, in order to help him fight the legal battles ahead. Ellio Solomon asked people to give cash as he said the UDP leader, McKeeva Bush, was not a wealthy man but was now facing some hefty legal fees as a result of the allegations and investigations against him. Solomon said a committee would be established to manage the fund, claiming that, despite the accusations, Bush was not rich. He said the donations did not need to be large but if people could give even as little as five dollars it would help to raise some of the money he would need to pay his lawyers.

Although there have always been questions regarding Bush’s own personal wealth, he has always denied being rich because he says he uses his money to help many people. Although no longer the premier, Bush will continue to earn a monthly salary in excess of $10,000 until May at least, plus his parliamentary pension. However, given his current circumstances, he will need to fund a defence team himself, because his earnings are too high for him to qualify for legal aid.

Solomon made the call for donations during a public meeting in front of the courthouse in George Town, where he also began his own campaign for re-election in the district.

Attacking his former party colleagues for their part in ousting the former premier from office, the fourth elected member for George Town compared Bush to US presidents (who retain the title 'President' for life) and said he should still be called 'Mr Premier' as he was the first person to holdthe office in Cayman. Miguel Barcelo, the in-coming YUDP president, the youth arm of the party, referred to Bush as the ‘people’s premier’.

Before Bush came to the podium to make his first public speech in Cayman since his arrest and fall from high office, Barcelo, Solomon, Capt Eugene Ebanks and Mike Adam all offered their support for the UDP’s beleaguered leader.

Solomon was the most vociferous against the former 'UDP 5', who, he said, had betrayed the premier. Describing them as "Judases", he said they had drank from the “bitter cup of betrayal” as they let the party and the country down. The general secretary of the UDP accused them of joining in the conspiracy to bring down the premier but they were no longer members of the party. At the May elections the UDP would return to government, Solomon declared, as they would have majority after running four candidates in West Bay, four in Bodden Town and a full six in the capital of George Town.

He continued to criticise his former colleagues and said the UDP had a duty to shake them loose. Although Solomon pulled no punches in his attack on the new cabinet, his main target was the RCIPS, which he accused of being a discredited organisation.

Heavily criticising the police over Operation Tempura and what he said were their false arrests, Solomon questioned why they had never brought the former police commissioner Stuart Kernohan back for questioning as a result of his role in that fiasco. Describing more of the mistakes he said the RCIPS made, he asked why the police were unable to arrest Hassan Sayed, the former president of UCCI, who had used a government credit card to steal some $300,000. Solomon criticised what he called this hypocrisy in the RCIPS which undermined its credibility, as he asked how much longer the people would tolerate the behaviour of the RCIPS bosses.

He said the police were discredited and not accountable to the people, despite the fact that the public paid their wages and paid for the mistakes. Given what he called the tarnished reputation of the organisation, he asked how the people believe the trumped up allegations against the premier and claimed the police were pursuing the agenda of the FCO.

Solomon asked how could it could be fair for a person, whether he was premier or not, to lose his job purely because of suspicion as everyone was innocent until proven guilty.

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