Archive for March 7th, 2013

Joey bailed without charge

Joey bailed without charge

| 07/03/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The managing director of the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) has been released from custody and bailed by police to return at a later date as enquiries into the allegations against him continue. Joey Ebanks (49) was arrested at his home in Pedro, Bodden Town on Wednesday morning at around 7am on various offences relating to financial irregularities at the ERA which were uncovered during the authority’s annual financial audit by staff from the auditor general’s office. The police searched Ebanks' home and a drug utensil issue was added to the arrest list. On Thursday afternoon an RCIPS spokesperson confirmed that a 49-year-old man had been released and bailed until April.

Ebanks, who was suspended from his job at the ERA last weekend, is suspected of abuse of office, theft, and possession of a drug utensil. Since his suspension, Ebanks has been using his Facebook page to protest his innocence and hit out at those he believes are conspiring against him.

He claimed to have been told that his suspension related to him paying for a flight to Jamaica from ERA Funds. The flight, he said, was so he could speak on the former premier’s behalf at a university ceremony in which McKeeva Bushwas given an honorary doctorate, ironically days after Bush’s own arrest for suspicion of theft and corruption offences.

All eyes will be on Ebanks’ Facebook page in the coming days to see if he will continue to fight his battle in the virtual arena of the social media site.

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Diabetic teen found safe

Diabetic teen found safe

| 07/03/2013 | 40 Comments

Ashley McLaughlin.jpg(CNS): Updated – Police said Friday that the diabetic teenager who had been missing since Friday, 1 March had been found safe and well that afternoon in George Town. Fifteen-year-old Ashley McLaughlin left her home in Bodden Town around 7.00am on Friday to go to school at the Clifton Hunter campus, where she is a student. She did not return home after school and made no contact with members of her family. Ashley has been reported missing on a number of previous occasions and is known to frequent the George Town area. Officers said she was seen last Saturday evening with two other young females around 5.00p near the Emslie Memorial Church on the George Town waterfront.

Police were on the lookout for the teen for more than a week as a spokesperson for the RCIPS said it was not known when she was missing if Ashley was in possession of insulin to appropriately medicate her diabetes. In the past when she has gone missing, once located, she was taken to hospital to receive treatment.

Following her safe return the police extended their thanks to the media and the wider public for their assistance in finding Ashley.

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Cabinet hopes for consensus ahead of LA meeting

Cabinet hopes for consensus ahead of LA meeting

| 07/03/2013 | 19 Comments

_DSC7998-web_1.jpg(CNS): Government has announced that it expects to sit for three days next week in the Legislative Assembly and will be holding a business meeting with the other members to reach consensus on a number of bills it hopes to bringto the LA on Monday. From legislation facilitating human tissue donation for the first time in Cayman to the Marine Conservation Law amendment to protect stingrays in all Cayman waters, the premier said she wanted to gain the support of the opposition before all of the bills that Cabinet wants to present will be revealed.  As a minority administration, the government is in the hands of other members and requires support from its former UDP colleagues or the opposition before it can be sure of safe passage for any bills.

In what may be the final meeting for the members of the Legislative Assembly before the governor dissolves the parliament on 26 March, Cabinet has approved the Mental Health Bill for tabling in the LA Monday.

Mark Scotland, the health minister, said he was hopeful of getting support for the bill as it would be a significant achievement, given that the current legislation is 15 years old and does not address any of the major changes that have happened in recent years. The new bill takes into account new treatments and has dealt with weaknesses identified in the old law. He said it focused on improved patient-centred care and protects patients’ rights, especially when they are detained involuntarily for treatment.

Scotland said it also establishes a mental health commission, which will hear appeals from mental health patients. It introduces different detention orders regarding observation and treatment of patients as well as their medical needs.  Scotland said that once the bill was passed, the next step was a mental health policy, followed eventually by a much needed specialist facility. He said that government had already engaged with the private sector about the creation of a mental health care centre, but step one was getting the bill approved.

Along with the amendments to the Marine Conservation Law regarding stingrays and the new limitations on board members, he said he was brining minor amendments to the National Cultural Foundation’s legislation as well as the Health Practitioner’s Law.

The Human Transplant Bill, which is the final missing piece of legislation in the deal government struck with Indian heart surgeon Dr Devi Shetty to bring his proposed health city to Cayman, is also going to be tabled in the LA Monday. Work is now underway at the hospital and with changes already made to the Health Practitioner’s Law and the tort reform laws to limit the liability of the doctors at that hospital, the passage of the Human Tissue and Transplant Law fulfills the legislative side of the bargain government struck with the surgeon.

The law will regulate the use of human tissue and establish a council to monitor compliance. It has taken several years to draft and will allow organ donation schemes in Cayman to save lives and allow lawful organ transplant operations. It also deals with live donations and prohibits the trading in human organs or tissue.

Alongside the health related legislation, the government will also be seeking to bring bills that relate to last year’s budget and fee increases affecting the offshore sector. The premier spoke of other possible legislation but she said she wanted to first secure some consensus with other members and a press release would then be issued relating to the business government hoped to complete in what is expected to be a three day sitting.

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More NRA deal changes

More NRA deal changes

| 07/03/2013 | 94 Comments

_DSC3519-web.jpg(CNS): Government has revealed that it has asked Dart Realty to extend the Easterly Tibbetts Highway along the Harquail By-pass into a duel carriageway to address safety concerns and future traffic volume as part of the agreement between the two parties and the NRA. Cabinet ministers said Thursday that the delayed closure of the first stretch of the West Bay Road is as a result of new negotiations introduced by government as part of what they said was the third and final amendment to the deal. Last week a writ was filed in court against what is known as the NRA agreement but the premier said this had nothing to do with the delay nor had it impacted the talks.

Speaking at the press briefing on Thursday morning, Health Mnister Mark Scotland was the first of the Cabinet ministers to reveal that government had now asked Dart Realty Cayman Ltd to widen the original stretch of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway from the Butterfield Roundabout in George Town to the Camana Bay Roundabout at the junction of Lawrence Boulevard from two lanes to four. He said this was in order to address concerns about the number of accidents on that road and because of the expected increase in traffic volume once the rest of the Easterly Tibbetts is completed through into West Bay.

Deputy Premier Rolston Anglin denied that this new request from government was an indication that there were still questions regarding value for money about the controversial deal, which the former UDP government signed in December 2011 with Dart and the National Roads Authority.

Anglin said that there was no question of the deal not offering value for money and this request from government was “nothing to do with clawing back anything” but about getting more from the deal where possible.

He said the independent review conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has still not been made public, confirmed the deal offered value for money for the public purse from the very onset and the negotiations for changes and amendments do not change the value of the overall package.

Anglin told CNS that if the developer agreed to undertaken the highway expansion, Dart would be able to recoup the costs of that work via additional concessions in duty, taxes or fees in the future but the overall balance in terms of crown land values and other assets being swapped would not change.

A few weeks ago Cabinet members announced that the third amendment to the NRA deal centred on the exchange of beach land for the road swap. Dart had originally offered beach front close to Victoria House on the West Bay Road as a site for the development of a second public beach. However, government wanted to change that because of the impracticalities of that location and instead were looking at taking a much larger stretch of beachfront property from Dart in Barkers and some additional land next to Smith Cove in South Sound.

Once this change was settled, government had said, the stretch of West Bay Road between Governor’s Way and Raleigh Quay was set to be closed before the end of February. This would then facilitate the upgrade to public beach in time for Easter. However, the expectation that the third amendment would be finalized was not met, the ministers said, because of the new negotiations.

“We were expecting to be able to have an agreement but the issues on the third amendment are not finished,” said Tourism Minister Cline Glidden, who said any confusion was down to an “expectation gap” as the talks were not yet concluded.

The cabinet members indicated that the expansion of the Harquail Bypass from two to four lanes would have been part of the negotiations in the second phase of the Dart proposal, which would deal with the landfill. However, given the increase in traffic and fears of a bottleneck on this stretch of road, fueling concerns that safety would become even more of a problem on an already notorious stretch, government felt it had to push for the road widening sooner rather than later. As a result, the issue was now on the table with the NRA agreement, which meant talks were continuing and the closure of the West Bay Road had been delayed.

Scotland said the public was well aware of the concerns about this stretch of road and, given government’s financial position, it could not take on what would be a major capital project. But government saw the Dart/NRA deal as an opportunity, he said.

The cabinet ministers said that, although the review period was now over, the parties were continuing the talks in good faith. However, Anglin said it was fair to say that both sides “were anxious to reach a conclusion” as everyone was aware of the need for an enhanced public beach and the jobs that would be created once Dart starts the hotel.  He added that, as is the case with any protracted negotiations, there could be frustrations but all parties were committed to working through to a beneficial conclusion. The ministers were quick to insist, however, that, regardless of the outcome, the PwC review had found that the deal already provided the necessary value for money required.

The deal continues to divide the community, however, and the writ filed by four West Bay women last week will still have to be dealt with by government. The activists have claimed a catalogue of human rights and constitutional breaches and are hoping to have a judge rule against the closure of the road and force government to negotiate an alternative with the developer. Asked about the writ, Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said it was being handled by the legal department and Cabinet had received no instructions from them to stop talks with Dart as a result of the legal action.

With the final deal and the value for money review that was started by PwC a year ago still not public, suspicions and questions about the details of the deal and the true value to Dart versus the value to the public purse and the community at large persist.

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Port bid will be open

Port bid will be open

| 07/03/2013 | 27 Comments

cruise ship beautiful.jpg(CNS): The tourism minister has confirmed that government will be going ahead with a full open competitive tender bid for the cruise port facilities in George Town, which will be open to all of the cruise lines that have expressed an interest in partnering with government on the critical project as well as developers. So far, at least four different cruise lines have expressed an interest in the project but they will not be getting any special favours as the project is going out to competitive bid. However, Cline Glidden noted that the lines would have a built-in advantage over other potential developers and the UK has said that, as long as local procurement legislation is followed to demonstrate value for money, it should be a local decision on how the government approaches the project.

Speaking at Thursday’s weekly post cabinet press briefing, Glidden said the UK had acknowledged thatthe solution for the cruise port development might lie outside traditional methods and as long as there was an open and competitive tender following international best practice and the project moved forward following local legislation and requirements, it would be a decision for the Cayman government not the UK.

The tourism minister explained that, despite the advantages the cruise lines may have, the tender which government is now preparing will be an open one. He said that all of the cruise lines appeared to be willing to compete in a proper process, so it will not just be the four cruise lines that have said they want to be part of the project.

“It will be an open tender allowing anyone to bid,” he said, adding that it was fair to say that the lines would have the distinct advantage of being able to offer passenger guarantees. However, the minister said the bid had to be open in order to allow the best possible solution to emerge. Glidden added that by all indications the cruise lines would be involved in the bids and government valued their interest in a partnership, but the tender would not be restricted.

Following pressure by Mark Simmonds, the UK’s overseas territories minister, on the former premier, McKeeva Bush, to get the cruise berthing negotiations back on track, government has been trying to find a way to use existing resources and information to put together a package for an open tender.

Once the talks stopped with China Harbour Engineering Company and CIG, several cruise lines moved to try and take advantage of the opening. While they may in the end prove to be the best solution to the on-going cruise berthing project dilemma, it is clear that the UK is not prepared to allow the CIG to enter into any more talks outside of a competitive bid.

Meanwhile, referring to other port business, the minister said that commercial boat owners had been caught up erroneously in the new boat fees introduced on luxury vessels but this was being addressed.

Glidden said that commercial operators were not intended to be caught in the new tax net and that the possession of a Trade and Business Licence for commercial boat owners should have been sufficient to ensure that they were not charged the new fees designed entirely for leisure craft. 

Glidden said there should have been a clearer specific exemption carved out for boats that are being used in a business operation and the government was now dealing with the issue.

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Family needs answers over violent death

Family needs answers over violent death

| 07/03/2013 | 44 Comments

263469_10151103481591491_1184378356_n.jpg(CNS): The family of a local man who was shot dead in Honduras last October is appealing to the local authorities to help them find out what happened to Seaford Lee Russell. The George Town man’s mother began a protest outside the government headquarters recently, and the family hope that the RCIPS or the governor’s office can help them get information from officials in Honduras, where they believe the murder has been ignored.  Russell was killed in La Ceiba around 13 October in what the authorities there believe was a gang related killing.

While the family has acknowledged that the local authorities cannot conduct an investigation on foreign soil, they are concerned that more could be done to get information from the Honduran authorities, who have told the family almost nothing about the circumstances of Russell’s violent death.

What they do know has come third hand from people travelling between Honduras and Cayman, and the family believes that if this was the son, brother or father of another foreign national or someone who was connected to influential people, the Cayman government or the UK government would be knocking on doors and demanding answers.

“To this date, our family have not received any information surrounding Seaford's murder,” said Russell’s sister Patricia Bryan. “Had this been the murder of a member of the Cayman Islands Government or someone else of political, social stature and status, or someone from another country getting murdered in the Cayman Islands, the world would literally watch the coverage and resources used to get information from Honduras or the Cayman Islands,” she said.

Although the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS), the governor's office in the Cayman Islands, and UK consulates have reached out to the Honduran authorities for information, the relevant paperwork relating to the investigation and the autopsy, the family say they have had no response and have failed to press for the information.

“Reportedly, the governor's office, periodically when requested by me, has advised that the consulates efforts are basically in vain, with no forthcoming responses from the Honduran authorities, despite some indication some months ago that this would be supplied,” Bryan said.

Following several emails to the local police, Bryan said she met with the police commissioner and an investigating officer in December to establish where local officials were with the inquiry with the Honduran authorities but she has heard nothing of any significance.

The family is being repeatedly told by the RCIPS that there is nothing they can do as they cannot go to Honduras and investigate the murder themselves, which Bryan says the family realise but they do believe that more could be done to persuade the Honduran government to reveal more. As Russell was a British Overseas Territory citizen, the family feel that the UK authorities could put more pressure on the Honduras authorities to be more forthcoming with the necessary paperwork and information surrounding the killing.

“If he was an American citizen we can be certain the American government would have gotten some results and answers for their own by now,” Bryan said. “Why then is the UK not able to get more results for our family? Not one shred of information, as have been reported to us,” she added.

Told by a Honduran national who has been living in the Cayman Islands for many years and who was in Honduras in December how Seaford was killed, the family are concerned that other information coming to them second-hand indicates the Honduran authorities are not taking the investigation seriously. 

Bryan said the authorities here need to help the family get answers about how Russell died, why the Honduran police removed bullets from his body before it was inspected by the mortician, the results of the autopsy, his personal possessions and the details of where the current investigation has reached.

The family wants the UK government and the Cayman Islands government to reach out to them and explain how they can get answers from the Honduran authorities.

“We are not asking them to go in and conquer Honduras but to get answers,” she added.

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Amateur swimmers take to open water

Amateur swimmers take to open water

| 07/03/2013 | 0 Comments

CBAC Water Swim Series_LR (338x400).jpg(CBAC): Swimmers – and water walkers – are gearing up for the second part in the Camana Bay Aquatic Club (CBAC) Open Water Swim Series, which takes place on Saturday 9 March. Originally scheduled for last weekend, the series was postponed due to the Nor’wester storm. The event starts with a 200m Lollipop Dash, followed by a 600m Sea Swim and a 600m Water Walk. This is the second year the local competitive swim club has hosted the open water series, which is open to swimmers of all ages and abilities. The series will conclude on Saturday 23 March with a 200m Lollipop Dash and a rewarding 800m Sea Swim and a 800m Water Walk.

The first event, held on Saturday 9 February, saw more than 130 participants turn out for a host of beginner- friendly events.

“It went really well,” says CBAC Assistant Coach Jessica Siegele. “We had great parent and volunteer support, which led to a well-organised meet and a positive experience for the swimmers, many of whom were taking part in an open water race for the very first time.”

More than 20 little ones enjoyed a Lollipop Dash, designed for swimmers 10 and under, while more confident swimmers participated in a 400m Sea Swim. The last event of the day was a 400m Water Walk, where participants walked through the water at waist height. “The Water Walk is a great beginner event,” explains Siegele. “It’s all about encouraging less confident swimmers to come out and experience a new sport, build water confidence and basic swim skills, in a social safe environment.”

The Sea Swim was won by Darren Mew, who completed the race in an impressive 4:40 minutes. Second place went to Will Balderamos, with a time of 5:06 minutes. Coral Tomascik finished third with a time of 5:15 minutes. “The Sea Swims are great practice for the Flowers One Mile Sea Swim in June,” adds Siegele.

A Camana Bay Aquatic Club travel team also had a unique opportunity to practice for the 2013 CARIFTA Swimming Championships taking place later this month. A team of 24 swimmers recently travelled to Jamaica to compete in the Walter Rogers Age Group Swimming Championships, held 14 – 17 February at the National Stadium Pool in Kingston.

Not only is the Walter Rogers Championship a CARIFTA-qualifying meet – the National Stadium Pool is also the venue for the swimming championships taking place 30 March – 3 April. “The Walter Rogers meet was a great opportunity for our CARIFTA team swimmers to get to know the event pool and to achieve their times to make the team,” explains Siegele. Eight Jamaican teams, two Caymanian teams (CBAC and Stingray Swim Club) and one USA team competed in the event.

As one of only three international teams, CBAC finished in an impressive third place and saw a record-breaking number of fast swims. Overall, the team achieved 111 Personal Bests, 18 gold medals, 15 silver medals and nine bronze medals and set a new meet record. Highlights included Eddie Weber, who saw a huge time drop in his 400m Freestyle to finish in third place with a CARIFTA-qualifying time. Avery Lambert, Carmella Ylagan, Maeve Anderson and Amber Barnes all achieved Personal Bests in the 50m Backstroke, with Lambert taking first place. Danielle Boothe smashed the previous meet record for the 200m Individual Medley, clocking an impressive time of 2:26.16 minutes.

“We are very proud of all our swimmers,” says CBAC President, Jeffrey Wight. “The team swam really fast and there was a great team spirit. The results are just one of many examples of the success of CBAC’s swim programme – congratulations to all the swimmers, coaches and volunteer parents on a successful meet.”

“We’d also like to thank our sponsor MaplesFS for their continued support,” adds Wight. In June 2012, MaplesFS became CBAC’s first platinum sponsor, signing on to supporttraining of CBAC’s top training group, now named MaplesFS Select, as well as to assist with team travel expenses and to support a scholarship programme. “Their sponsorship shows the willingness of the community to support what we are doing, and it’s also recognition that we are doing it well. Less than a year into the two-year sponsorship, it’s rewarding to be able to stand back and see where we started and how we have grown. And not just in numbers, but what we have grown into and achieved.”

The Club is now getting ready for Saturday’s open water swim event. Taking place at Governor’s Beach, the series is open to the public and is a great way for everyone in the community to learn a vital life skill, enjoy a great workout, get wet and have fun.

For more information on the Open Water Series and upcoming CBAC events, visit, email or call 345.640.2878. To stay up to date with the latestClub happenings, like Camana Bay Aquatic Club on Facebook.
REGISTRATION: Registration is CI$30 for a Series Package (all three races) or CI$15 per individual race. All swimmers will receive a CBAC Swim Cap, and those who sign up for the Series Package will receive a CBAC Open Water Series T-Shirt. Registration can be made on the day at the event or online at

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