Archive for March, 2013

UDP Lite reveal new name

| 27/03/2013 | 52 Comments

purple.JPG(CNS):  With purple already picked out as the campaign colour, the new tourism minister finally let the cat out of the bag late Monday on the official name that he and his minority government colleagues will be using for their election bid. Cline Glidden revealed that the current Cabinet ministers and the YUDP’s former leader, Richard Christian, would be running as a team under the moniker of the People’s National Alliance (PNA). Planning to launch their campaign after Easter, the group is expected to be just six strong. However, last week Deputy Premier Rolston Anglin pointed to possible alliances with other candidates, including those on the C4C ticket or independents.

Making his contribution to the adjournment debate as the Legislative Assembly drew to a close, Glidden spoke about the events of December 2012 and his change of plan about public office.

The West Bay representative had originally planned to step away from the political scene and return to the private sector once this administration was over as a result of a much earlier rift with former premier McKeeva Bush. A backbench UDP MLA at the time, Glidden has never commented publicly  on the obvious divisions between himself and the then premier in the wake of the GLF debacle over the cruise port talks, long before Bush’s arrest, which led to the break-up of the UDP government.

During the LA adjournment debate, Glidden said that the arrest of Bush andthe events that followed in December had led to breaks in loyalties and the end of friendships. However, his interest in politics and public service had been rejuvenated by his short time as a cabinet minister and being in a position to actually “follow proper process”, he said — referring to criticisms made of the previous administration, of which he too had been a member.

With this reinvigoration for public office, Glidden said he was happy to be running with the new team, which includes the current premier, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, his West Bay running mate, Deputy Premier Anglin, as well as the remaining cabinet ministers, Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour, who will be joined on the ballot sheet in Bodden Town by former YUDP leader Richard Christian.

The public split between the UDP and the People’s National Alliance will be a key factor in the forthcoming election as it will also lead to a split in the vote and more mudslinging on what may or may not have happened in the past. Speaking on Rooster’s talk show last week, Anglin said that he and his cabinet colleagues did the right thing when they joined with the opposition to support the PPM leader’s no confidence vote in government, given the circumstances. Despite making their own chances for re-election that much more difficult without the support of the party machinery, Anglin insisted it had been the right thing to do.

Since the split Bush has hit out at what he seesas the disloyalty shown by his former colleagues, and they are likely to be in his sights as targets throughout the campaign, especially in West Bay, where Anglin and Glidden are already the butt of an unofficial slogan, “Don’t vote for cut throats”.

Bush has said that the former UDP members have fallen into the trap of the UK’s deliberate efforts to divide and rule with their conspiracy against him.

Although the former premier faces criminal charges on eleven different counts, ranging from theft to offences under the anti-corruption law, he has emphatically denied any wrongdoing. Bush continues to insist that his legal difficulties are a conspiracy against him personally for the stand that he has taken against Cayman’s colonial masters, which he claims will be revealed in time when he is vindicated.

Despite the current divide and whatever the outcome of the vote in West Bay on 22 May, there is still considerable speculation that several members of the new alliance would return to the UDP fold post-election if they retain their seats.

Given that all of the members of the new party were long-standing and original members of the UDP and part of an administration where questions were raised about due process, good governance, transparency and integrity long before the former premier’s arrest, their eleventh hour distancing may have come for too late to aid their election chances.

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Teen arrested for cop assault

| 27/03/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 19-year-old man was arrested yesterday on suspicion of causing GBH and damage to property, in connection with an incident last weekend in East End in which a police officer was injured. The young man remains in police custody as the investigation into the incident continues. Meanwhile, the officer from the Uniform Support Group who suffered the head injury remains in critical care in what a police spokesperson described as a serious condition. The RCIPS confirmed yesterday that he was hurt while monitoring a crowd at the Pirates Cove bar in East End. However, the management of the local bar issued a statement on Tuesday denying that the officer was hurt on the premises of the bar.

It is not clear how the officer was injured and police continue to investigate the entire circumstances, but he was hurt while monitoring the crowd that had gathered at the establishment. 

“Reports suggested around 100 people were in attendance,” the police said. “The officer was struck while he was monitoring that crowd outside the premises. He was standing directly across the street when he was struck,” the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service spokesperson added.

The USG officer and his colleagues were called to the location after local officers had first attended the scene, where burning tyres and drug use had been reported. When the officers from Bodden Town police station returned to their police patrol vehicle, they discovered that the tyres had been cut and called for back-up. It was then that the officers from USG arrived on the scene and stayed to monitor the large crowd at the Pirates Cove.  At some point, while carrying out this duty, the officer was struck on the head.

The bar issued the following statement: "The Management of Pirate's Cove Bar would like to give our sympathies to the family of the officer that was injured while on duty Saturday morning. We wish the officer a full and speedy recovery. We would like to clarify that contrary to reports made by the media, the incident did not occur on the premise of the bar. We hope that the facts of the incident will be circulated in the future rather than misinformation. We continue to corporate with the police and look forward to the speedy apprehension of the person(s) involved."

Anyone who was in the area at the time of the incident and has any information which could assist the police should contact Bodden Town police station on 947-2220, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477(TIPS).

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Regional FOI conference sets precedent

| 27/03/2013 | 0 Comments

ICO.gif(CNS): For the first time, Caribbean governments and civil society have come together to discuss access to information, public participation in governance, and access to justice at a landmark conference held in Kingston, Jamaica. Representatives from eleven Caribbean countries attended the “Regional Conference on Freedom of Information in the Caribbean: Improving Management for the Environment,” including Information Commissioner, Mrs. Jennifer Dilbert and Deputy Information Commissioner, Mr. Jan Liebaers. “Not only has Cayman passed legislation, but we have legislation that is operational and being enforced by the ICO. We have found that in many Caribbean countries, while they had the law on the books, the law was not enforced and we were able to provide guidance,” said Commissioner Dilbert.

At the close of the two-day conference on 21st March, 2013, governments, civil society, and media announced the decision to launch a Caribbean network on freedom of information to support processes to improve standards for access to information in the region.

Dr. Carolyn Gomes, chairperson of the Access to Information Advisory Stakeholders’ Committee and Executive Director of Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) said, “freedom of information is the most powerful tool for ordinary citizens to arm themselves with the information they need to change their lives. Launching this freedom of information network will build opportunities for collaboration, learning and capacity building among information commissioners, civil society and media across the region.”

Countries reviewed the status and effectiveness of freedom of information laws, the number of requests for information being made in each country, and institutional structures for implementation and enforcement. Jamaica is one of seven Caribbean countries (Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Cayman Islands) to have freedom of information laws in force. Five countries have draft laws pending, and Bahamas and Guyana have passed laws but they are not yet in force. Gaps in implementation were noted in Belize, Antigua, and St Vincent and the Grenadines, which have laws that have not yet fully been utilized by the public.

“Freedom of information laws ensure that citizens can access official documents from their governments and give them a voice in decisions that directly impact them and the environment,” said Danielle Andrade, Legal Director of the Jamaica Environment Trust.

The conference was funded by the Cayman Islands Information Commissioner’s Office, The Commonwealth Foundation, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Organisers included the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), World Resources Institute (WRI), The Access Initiative (TAI), Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), The Mona School of Business and Management, and the Access to Information Unit of Jamaica.

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CIAA presents CARIFTA track and field Team

| 27/03/2013 | 1 Comment

2013cariftateam.gif(CIAA): On Monday, March 25, the Cayman Islands Athletic Association (CIAA) formally presented the 17-member 2013 CARIFTA track and field team that will be representing the Cayman Islands at the 42nd CARIFTA Games in Nassau, Bahamas between March 29 and April 1. The athletes were introduced at the official gathering of CARIFTA athletes, parents and CIAA officials at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, which was hosted by long-time sponsors of the CIAA and track and field, Caribbbean Utilties Company, Ltd. (CUC), prior to the team’s departure. CIAA President Dalton Watler, emphasized in his opening remarks the importance of Cayman’s youth participating in sporting activities, which he believes builds good character.

Vice President of the CIAA Bernie Bush, presented the team to the media and commended the athletes for their dedication and hard work in achieving the qualifying times and distances. He anticipated a good showing from the Cayman contingent as in previous years, and expressed the Association’s appreciation to the coaches, parents and many volunteers who worked tirelessly to prepare the athletes for this important regional competition.

President and CEO of CUC, Richard Hew, said, “Our long relationship with the CIAA has produced regional and international champion athletes of whom we are extremely proud. The greater pleasure, however, is knowing that for every champion produced there are hundreds of Caymanians who are better citizens today because they participated in the CIAA programme that built character in their developing years. For this we congratulate and thank the CIAA Executive, its coaching staff and numerous volunteers and we look forward to continuing our relationship for many years to come.”

Mr. Hew congratulated the athletes on their achievements and urged them to always perform at their best. 2013 marks 34 years that CUC, the main corporate sponsors of the CIAA, has been involved with the Association and its endeavours, particularly the CARIFTA Games. Mr. Hew expressed CUC’s pleasure in being able to assist with the development of the CIAA and the Islands’ outstanding athletes over the years.

The 17-member team leave for the Bahamas on Wednesday.

Representing the Cayman Islands at this year’s event will be:

Under 17 Girls:

Lacee Barnes – Shot Put, Discus
Daneliz Thomas – Javelin

Under 17 Boys:

Tahj Lewis – 800m, 4x400m
Jamal Walton – 200m, 400m, 4x400m
Duval Gregory – 4x400m
Jeavhon Jackson – 4x400m
Rashaun Connolly – 4x400m
Daviel Foster – Javelin
Javdon Nelson – 100m

Under 20 Girls:

Ashleigh Nalty – High Jump
Tiffany Cole – 800m
Ameilia Gillespie – Pentathlon
Pearl Morgan – 100m

Under 20 Boys:

Brandon Johnson – 200m
Troy Long – 200m
Jorel Bellafonte – 800m, 1500m
Alex Pascal – Javelin

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Election campaigns kick-off with flurry of meetings

| 27/03/2013 | 2 Comments

voteforme_1.gif(CNS): Election campaign action went into full swing on the eve of Nomination Day in West Bay with the launch of the UDP’s district campaign and the first public meeting of the two C4C candidates Tara Rivers and Mervin Smith. Tuesday evening will see the UDP formerly introducing its West Bay team that will be going up against not only the usual collection of independents but at least two of its former members and for the first time four PPM candidates, as well as the new coalition team.  The UDP meeting starts at 7-30pm at Ms Beulah Yard on North West point Rd while Rivers and Smith will be meeting the district opposite Fosters Republix at 8pm.

After Nomination Day the action for both the UDP and the C4C had been set to move  to the capital but the UDP has cancelled the meeting to launch their fight for control of Cayman’s largest district as aresult of the expected bad weather. The five coalition candidates will launch their George Town platform at ALT’s parking lot on Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile,  in East End Arden McLean a former member of the PPM and more recently an independent will be starting his bid to return to the legislature for the fourth time, onWednesday, in what looks likely to be a head to head fight with John McLean Jr who although having declared as an independent as well, has received the endorsement of the UDP. McLean will launch his campaign from Pac-a-Sac store at 8pm.

Both the PPM and the interim government team, who have not yet revealed their name though they are understood to be running under a national alliance of some kind, will be beginning their formal campaigns after Easter.

The PPM will begin its the national launch on 8 April at Grand Harbour next to the Royal Bank where all fifteen candidates will be formally introduced to the voters.

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Students join job shadow programme

| 27/03/2013 | 0 Comments

job-shadow.gif(CNS): Junior Achievement of the Cayman Islands launched its Job Shadowing Programme earlier this month with Dart Cayman Islands as the pilot private sector organization. The Job Shadow Programme is an international Junior Achievement programme, praised for its success in motivating students to focus on their studies. Job Shadowing allows participating students to experience a ‘day at work’ and highlights the day-to-day connections between academic studies and careers. It exposes students to different careers by placing them in a workplace environment and pairing them with a mentor in that organisation for the day. “We were pleased to be invited to pilot this new Junior Achievement initiative locally,” said Glenda McTaggart, Learning and Development Manager at Dart.

She added, “The students were exposed to the wide range of career opportunities available within the Dart Group of Companies, and gained an understanding of how their classroom learning transitions to the workplace. We hope this experience has highlighted the importance of doing well in school and transferring that success to the workplace.”

The Job Shadow Programme targets students who are in year 11, a pivotal point in determining their career path.  By having direct access to mentors who are employed in their chosen areas of study, participants were able to discuss career path options for the profession they were considering.  Participants also saw firsthand how work readiness skills such as communication and teamwork are used every day in the workplace.

Mark VanDevelde, Chief Executive Offer at Dart, shared his personal career journey and facilitated a question and answer session with the students, who were then teamed up with their Dart mentors. Mentoring teams included: Information Technology, Building Operations, Construction, Customer Service and Horticulture. 

Students also participated in a group lunch and discussion led by Jackie Doak, Chief Operating Officer at Dart, who highlighted the importance of having a good educational foundation, relating this to her own personal experiences.

At the end of the Job Shadow experience, students expressed their excitement and enthusiasm for the entire experience with words such as “awesome”, “really cool experience” and “not ready for it to end!”

Teresa Owen-Foster, Programme Director of Junior Achievement commented, “We are pleased with the outcome of the Job Showing Programme at Dart and feedback from the students has been encouraging. The Job Shadow experience gave them some real, practical insights into their career selection and development. We want to thank Dart for its continued support of Junior Achievement in the Cayman Islands and we look forward to having other companies participate in the Job Shadowing Programme.”

Dart Cayman Islands encompasses a number of businesses that operate in Grand Cayman and is also the developer of the Town of Camana Bay.

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Governor closes parliament

| 26/03/2013 | 23 Comments

temporarily-closed.jpg(CNS): The country’s Legislative Assembly has been prorogued after the Cayman Islands governor, Duncan Taylor, signed the necessary proclamation on Tuesday and the details were published in the Government Gazette. This paves the way for Nomination Day to take place on Wednesday, when more than 40 candidates are expected to formally declare their intentions to run for office in the 22 May General Election. At least half of those candidates will be contesting the six seats in the capital, where more than 7,500 people are registered to vote and where the battle for the LA will be focused. The incumbent members made their “swan songs” in the parliament Monday night, reflecting, with mixed views, on the last four years.

Looking both back and ahead, the MLAs all offered their thanks and congratulated themselves for what they saw as their achievements as well as expressing their hopes to be returned.

The opposition leader described this term as the “most eventful” that he had ever been involved with. While there was no point in going over what had happened, the members were not leaving the parliament on a high note, he said, in passing reference to controversies surrounding the former premier and the charges laid against him for theft and corruption offences.

He pointed to the continued uncertainty at home and abroad and the confusion that he felt would dominate the election campaign with so many candidates, but also with the two political parties, the Coalition for Cayman, as well as the interim government’s team and then the various lone independents. Alden McLaughlin warned that Cayman did not need any more uncertainty but that was what it faced if the country tried to cobble together a government of independents on 23 May.

“It will be much more challenging to come up with the necessary policies needed and for ten disparate people to come to some degree of consensus on major issues," he warned. "It is not an easy undertaking.”

McLaughlin also talked about the myth of the good old days of independents, noting that politicians had always run in teams. Pointing to the one and only election where there were no national teams in 2000, he said he didn’t have to remind people what a disaster that was and how, in the end, it gave rise to the birth of a formal party system in Cayman so that the voters would know what they were voting for.

Although he said he was “a reluctant convert to the party system”, experience had taught him that without a group that has sat down in advance of the elections and hammered out broad policy objectives, it was a recipe for disaster. The opposition leader said voters had a choice of choosing the government or choosing the people who would choose the government for them.

The beleaguered former premier, McKeeva Bush, said he had been in office seven terms and had paid dearly for that support and having the audacity to move forward, but the West Bay people usecommon sense as they know that he is a worker. Bush said he had piloted many projects over the 28 years which had benefitted all Caymanians. 

Noting what he said had been a difficult time over this four years, he said those in “officialdom” had not given him “the support they are supposed to give elected officials” and claimed much more could have been accomplished had they done so. “But there was too much sabotage … everyone knows,” Bush added, saying that time would record what had happened.

Despite the fact that he worked, and worked hard, day and night to keep "the good ship Cayman afloat", Bush lamented the criticism made of his government . He said the UDP had taken up office “under striking circumstances” and had been faced with tough decisions to make. “We had to raise fees or we would have turned belly,” he said as he accused the FCO of trying to force direct taxes on government. However, he claimed they had worked hard and succeeded to some extent to turn things around.

He implied that those who believed that a new administration was "going to be a cake walk” were misguided, and suggested they would have to fire 500 people from the public sector.

Agreeing with the opposition leader, the former premier said the elections were going to be challenging because many candidates were "coming out of the woodwork”, and he pointed to the Speaker as the only person he didn’t think was running. “But we must have an elected body that is cohesive,” Bush added. “No one or two people can do it by themselves; a group has to work and decide together. It’s not party system that’s wrong.” 

The former government leader closed by saying that he knew there were doubts but he said, “God doesn’t take sides … whatever God ordains is best.”

See the proclamation signalling the close of the Legislative Assembly below.

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Parties lay out plans for future government

| 26/03/2013 | 42 Comments

alden_1.jpg(CNS): This weekend the PPM and the UDP both gave a broad outline of how they plan to tackle the economic woes faced by Cayman if they are elected to government in May. The Progressives finalized their 15 member team, while the UDP confirmed the 12 people it is fielding in the three larger districts. A number of very similar policy plans were outlined by the parties as they made early campaign promises. Alden McLaughlin for the Progressives and both Walling Whittaker and McKeeva Bush for the UDP spoke about  micro-financing for small businesses, the need to attract new investment, plans to redevelop the airport and find a partner for the cruise berthing facilities, as well as the replacement of the rollover policy, but there were also notable differences.

McLaughlin spoke about the need to renegotiate the ForCayamn Investment Alliance with Dart and keep the West Bay Road as a through route, while Bush promised more foreign investment. McLaughlin rejected any proposal to relocate the dump to Bodden Town, while Whittaker, who had been a champion of that move, back-pedalled on the Dart proposal and promised to reveal the UDP plans for the dump later.

While the UDP promised a 100 day plan that would reduce unemployment by 25% in six months as a result of a multi-faceted emergency job creation programme, the Progressives spoke about the need to roll back many of the hefty taxes imposed by the previous administration.

The UDP claimed that almost 300 people had attended their general assembly to hear what plans the UDP now had in the face of the party split, following McKeeva Bush’s fall from office as a result of his arrest in December and subsequent charges earlier this month. Meanwhile, the PPM laid claim to well over 500 attendees at their party conference, which included a keynote speech and performance from country star Jimmy Wayne, entertainment from local cultural icons Daphne Orrett and Quincy Brown, as well as an endorsement from former MLA and minster Norman Bodden.

During his speech to the membership the opposition leader spoke at length about the need for open and transparent government and to rebuild trust after the last four years.

“I gave my personal guarantee … that any government that I have the privilege to lead will remain true to the highest ideal transparency and accountability,” McLaughlin stated. Referring to the international news headlines about the former premier’s arrest and charge for theft and corruption offences, he pointed out how damaging this had been to the reputation of the country. "If you were a credible investor, is this the place you would feel that your money is safe?” he asked rhetorically.

McLaughlin promised that the first order of business for the Progressives would be to restore confidence in the government of Cayman Islands both locally and internationally. “Investors must have certainty that the Cayman Islands is a country that plays by the rules and that those rules are equitable and transparent.”

Meanwhile, Mckeeva Bush also made a commitment to integrity in office and announced the introduction of a code of conduct for all of the UDP MLAs.

McLaughlin and the former premier also converged on the need for attracting investment in order to create jobs and get the economy moving again. McLaughlin spoke about the need to strive for a balanced budget to pay down debt and fund government's underfunded pension liability and its liability for healthcare. He also said the Progressives would seek public private partnerships in order to carry out much-needed infrastructure improvements.

Bush spoke about making Cayman attractive to foreign investors and said that a UDP government was an inclusive government that would not turn anyone away. He promised that the UDP would work very hard for everyone in Cayman — all 126 nationalities. Bush said he had always been a hard worker and the 12 candidates that would be running on the UDP ticket would also work hard for the people.

The former premier made a number of passing references to the recent and very public split between himself and five of his party members, who are now holding the helm of the minority government. Speaking about loyalty, he said the people in West Bay had been saying, “Don’t vote for cut throats!” and he hoped out loud that there would be no split among his new team.

The candidates who were confirmed on the UDP ticket included the addition, as expected, of Bernie Bush to the West Bay team with Velma Powery-Banks to complete the slate in McKeeva Bush’s own constituency, along with Capt. Eugene Ebanks. Just two UDP candidates were confirmed in Bodden Town — Theresa Pitcairn and Chris Saunders. Meanwhile, the George Town candidates were confirmed as incumbents Mike Adam and Ellio Solomon, who will be joined by Jonathan Piercy, who ran with the UDP in the last election, newcomer Rayal Bodden, Walling Whittaker, who ran as an independent in 2009, and finally Renard Moxam, a local business man who has not sought political office since the 1990s.

Both political parties have enough candidates to form a government and the numbers to deliver on their policy promises if they are returned. However, both face a split in their votes by an array of independents and the new interim government candidates. Although the lone candidates are disadvantaged under the multi-member system and unlikely to win seats in the larger districts, they and the former UDP members will undermine the straight fight between the parties.

The Progressives leader and the UDP boss, who remains at the helm despite speculation that he was considering handing the baton of leadership over as a result of his legal difficulties, spoke about the virtues of party politics. Bush said the party system worked, given Cayman’s adoption of the Westminster model of government.

McLaughlin said that the Progressives were the best team to take Cayman forward and that he needed them all with him, as he highlighted the 15 members’ mix of skills, talents and experience, both inside and outside the political arena.

The party leaders both urged their respective membership to go out and spread the word and vote for all of their candidates,signalling the start of their campaigns and the goal to win ten seats or more to avoid the need for horse trading and compromise — a situation that could easily follow on 23 May if neither party has a clear majority.

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Caymanian only jobs law passed by legislators

| 26/03/2013 | 0 Comments

9536concierge_desk (235x300).jpg(CNS Business): Government pushed through eleventh hour legislation on Monday that will allow Cabinet to designate certain positions, jobs, types of work or business areas as the sole purview of Caymanians. An amendment to the immigration law does not specify any role or business which should be reserved for local people, leaving the next administration to carve out the occupations dependent on its policy decisions. But despite its lack of specifics, the law came in for criticism from across the crowded opposition benches as mere “electioneering” and “unnecessary political window dressing” that will not solve the fundamental immigration problem of boards not enforcing the law. Read more on this and other stories on CNS Business


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Diabetic runaway teen found safe in GT

| 26/03/2013 | 26 Comments

Ashley McLaughlin.jpg(CNS): Update — Ashley McLaughlin, the fifteen-year-old diabetic teenager who was reported missing again this week, has been found safe and well. Police said Wednesday afternoon that she had been traced in the George Town area this afternoon. Earlier this week the police said that her family in East End had not seen her since left home at around 7am on Wednesday 20 March to go to the Clifton Hunter High School, where she is a student. Ashley has been reported missing on a number of previous occasions after running away, including earlier this month when she was found in the George Town area a few days later. The teen is diabetic and police said they were unsure if Ashley had insulin to medicate her condition.


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