Archive for April, 2013

Children’s law leads to reform of family justice

| 29/04/2013 | 10 Comments

(FamilyLaw.jpgCNS): New rules for the protection of children came into effect Monday as a result of the passage of the Children Law last July. Officials from the courts said the newly issued Children Law Rules and Allocation Order form a part of Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s proposals to reform the family services offered by the courts. The rules and forms will help to ensure that the interests of all parties are properly taken into account and decisions are made on the basis of the best interests of the children involved, the court stated. At present the initiative is led by Justice Richard Williams, who has been asked by the CJ to serve as judge for the case management of all family and children cases coming before the Grand Court.

“Regrettably, here in the Cayman Islands like everywhere else, there are a significant number of divorces as well as many children born to parents who are not married to each other,” said Justice Williams. “The biggest single factor in a child’s adjustment to the parents’ divorce or separation is how well the parents restructure their relationship to continue to meet the needs of the child; overall the Law and the Rules focus on what children need and how parents can be helped to better meet these needs during and after relationship break down.” 

The new provisions are designed to help all parties find the most appropriate and suitable arrangements. Another concern that the new provisions seek to address is the way a child is being cared for and when it may be necessary to consider the child’s care outside of the family. 

Provision is also made for cases in which it may be necessary for the family to be required to change the way they live in order to make sure that the child’s needs are properly met. 

The Law, Rules and Forms aim to make sure that children’s and parents’ interests, as well as those of the wider family who are involved in the care of the child, are properly considered.  In some such cases, the court can appoint an independent guardian to help it decide what is in the best interest of the child.

Chief Magistrate Nova Hall liaises with Justice Williams for the management of the cases which come before the Summary Courts. This will harmonise the work of the Grand Court and the Summary Courts and provide a specialised forum for family members to seek legal address in all family-related disputes, officials explained. Later this year, Family Division Judges and Magistrates will be supported by a Family Unit within the Civil Registry, which will process applications for family-related cases whether they relate to child care, maintenance or disposition of property.

A Family Division of the Grand Court was identified in 2009 and the intention is to work towards setting up a Family Court when the new court building is available. The Family Court will then have a wing of the building dedicated to the conduct of children and family cases under the administration of dedicated judicial and other support personnel.

The public may access the Law, Rules and Forms on the “Court Rules” page on the judicial website. The website also has a guidance section which explains what applications can be made, how to make them, and what to do if served with an application. This information will also be available from the court.

The Law and the Rules make major changes; important issues that they seek to address include:

  • giving non-resident parent’s relationship with a child the importance that it has in practice in the lives of many children;
  • the emphasis placed on the relationship between the child and relatives in the wider family;
  • speeding up procedures to identify issues of child safety and making them more effective;
  • making proceedings less adversarial and more about seeking settlement – an adversarial approach often inflames the acrimony that often exists between separating couples, making things worse rather than better;
  • alleviating the feeling of some parents that contact with children was allowed by the court in a way that put their or their children’s safety or well-being at risk;
  • treating resolution as an ongoing process at which parents needed to work over the long term rather than as a one-off event that ended with the court’s decision;
  • giving the court enhanced powers to enforce orders for contact, avoiding the need for cases to go back to court repeatedly and increasing the likelihood of cooperation.
  • The reforms are wide ranging and are designed to:
  • introduce timetables to deal with cases involving children so that proceedings are not delayed more than absolutely necessary;
  • provide better arrangements for the children of separating or divorcing parents;
  • keep parents who are separating or divorcing properly informed of the alternatives open to them and, indeed, helping both parents to help their children;
  • ensure that parents are treated equally in respect of the children and that both parents accept responsibility for their children;
  • minimise animosity among parents;
  • give grandparents rights (including situations where the child is “in care”);
  • overhaul the powers to protect children from abuse or neglect;
  • provide a more modern, framework for ensuring financial support for a child.

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Government spends $600k on new cemetery

| 29/04/2013 | 34 Comments

bt cemetery.jpg(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government has purchased two parcels of land in Bodden Town for CI$600,000 and applied to the Central Planning Authority for planning consent to develop the property as a cemetery to address the shortage of burial plots in the district. The property, which totals just over four and a half acres, is located on Bodden Town Road near Lake Destiny Drive (Block 43D and Parcels 8 & 75) and includes 0.8 acres on the ocean front and 3.75 acres on the land side. The plans are to construct 16 vaults immediately in the first phase on the landside, with a potential to develop up to 924 vaults on the acquired land in three phases. 

Premier Juliana O'Connor-Connolly, who has responsibility for Lands, said that acquiring this land was a step towards addressing the concerns of the people in Bodden Town who want to be buried near family members who are already buried in the existing cemetery.

“The last thing we need our people to deal with when they are grieving is where they are going to bury family members. It has taken some time to get to this point, but I am happy that we have found a solution," she said.

Dwayne Seymour, the recently appointed cabinet minister in the minority government who is running for office on the PNA ticket, said he was pleased that government was “able to get the funding for such a worthy project, especially in these hard financial times.”

Using the opportunity to take a dig at the previous PPM administration and engage in a little electioneering, the minister added that it had been required for a long time but the and former elected members did not think it was a priority, even after being warned about the lack of space at the site. “I am happy to be one of the representatives who saw it necessary to get this done for the people of Bodden Town so their loved ones don't have to be buried in Prospect.”

Mark Scotland, who is also hoping to be returned to the district, echoed his fellow PNA running mate’s sentiments.  “What we have done by acquiring this site is to ensure that we continue to provide affordable burial plots for residents in Bodden Town. This is something we have said we were going to do and we have. We wanted to try and do it on existing government land but we weren’t able to achieve that," he added.

Despite government’s extremely tight budget, the PNA cabinet was able to find the significant sum at the eleventh hour before the 22 May election. However, with no sign of a law to allow cremation in Cayman, which could cut costs for all, the issue of burying the deadwill continue to be a pressing and expensive issue for any future government at a time when it needs to cut spending.

See proposed plans for the cemetery below.

Vote in the CNS poll: Should government continue to buy land for cemeteries or build a crematorium?

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Child abuse victims need more support and justice

| 29/04/2013 | 3 Comments

(CNS): Officials from the HSA have warned that Cayman must offer more support to young victims of sexual abuse and deal appropriately with offenders as more cases come to light. “Over the last few years I have seen victims of sexual abuse ranging from as young as 4 years through to 17 year olds who have experienced both contact and noncontact forms of abuse primarily alleged against individuals familiar to them,” said Sophia Chandler, the child psychologist at the Health Services Authority. “Unfortunately, for a myriad of reasons, we have not seen a corresponding assignment of culpability.

“While on the surface it might be tempting to say there is an increase in incidence, what might in fact be happening is that the taboo or discomfort with making initial reports is decreasing and more cases are reaching the attention of the authorities,” she added.

Chandler said authorities must be ready to act to provide support for victims as well as the appropriate responses to the offenders.

The HSA also needs more resources to tackle the problem and Hedge Funds Care (HFC) Cayman said it is doing what it can to support the resources needed to address the issue.

The charity said it is currently funding a number of programmes providing education, support, and treatment for Caymanian residents regarding child abuse and neglect. Over the last 8 years HFC Cayman distributed over CI $1.3 million in 40 grants to Caymanian organizations that are preventing and treating child abuse.

“In order to ensure that Caymanian children receive the protection they deserve, HFC Cayman has partnered with a number of both governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations," the charity stated.

The Ministry of Education, Training, and Employment provides child sexual abuse prevention training in Caymanian public, and now private, schools.

The Department of Counselling Services is preventing abuse from occurring in the first place by providing services to adolescent parents and fathers. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is training its police officers to properly investigate abuse cases while the Health Services Authority is providing therapy and treatment to children who have been abused.

The Cayman Islands Crisis Center provides a 24-hour toll free crisis line and an emergency shelter for abused women and their children. Through such programs, HFC Cayman and its grantee partners are committed to preventing child abuse and protecting all of the Island’s children and families.

If you would like to get involved with Hedge Funds Care Cayman, please contact David Wolfenson at DWolfenson@HedgeFundsCare.org.

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Lionfish lose badly in fishing tournament

| 29/04/2013 | 8 Comments

Derek-Team-Teal-Tigers 1004 (208x300).jpg(CNS):  Nearly 600 lionfish were culled in the Foster’s Food Fair Earth Month Lionfish Tournament over 24-hour period this weekend. Eight culling teams, which were sponsored by restaurants across the islands and 48 people took part in the marathon attack on the fish throughout Cayman waters. Tukka in East End was the winning restaurant as their team, the Teal Tigers, brought in 198 lionfish. 75% of the catch from the teams went to the restaurants while the remaining 25% was delivered to Foster’s Food Fair for sale in the seafood section. In total 587 fish were caught weighing a collective 438lbs.

The public can now enjoy the weekend’s haul of lionfish at the restaurants listed below where chefs will be creating some new lionfish menu items or the lionfish can be bought fresh at the seafood department at Foster’s Food Fair to be cooked it at home.

The tournament is just one of many initiatives continuing in Cayman to try and control the invasive species. As DoE officials have noted over fishing has worked on many of Cayman’s own native fish. They hope to have the same impact on the Lionfish and prevent its spread by encouraging everyone to catch and eat the fish to halt the negative impact on the local reefs where they are eating smaller fish and competing with other larger fish for food. With no natural predators of their own here in the Atlantic the native of the Pacific Ocean is just one more threat to the diversity of Cayman’s marine environment.

Abacus
Brasserie
Cobalt Coast Resort
Greenhouse Café
Guy Harvey’s Grill
Rum Point Restaurant
Tukka

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C4C candidate won’t pick sides as election nears

| 29/04/2013 | 12 Comments

mervin (226x300).jpg(CNS): With just over three weeks to go before the general election, Mervin Smith said he would not pick sides when it comes to stating ahead of Election Day which of the two parties he would support to form the government. Along with most of the candidates who are not with one of the two political parties, Smith, who is running for a seat in West Bay on the Coalition for Cayman ticket, was not prepared to say if he would support the Progressives or the United Democratic Party if neither of them gained a majority. Smith also said that he would not be asking the West Bay voters to support anyone else with their remaining votes except for his C4C running mate, Tara Rivers.

As the clockticks towards 22 May there is an increasing likelihood that the two parties will still hold the most seats on the morning after. It will then be a fight on 23 May for the leaders of the PPM and the UDP to recruit independent candidates to help one of them form a government. Smith, who has voiced his opposition to the UDP on a number of occasions, still refused to commit to assisting either party to form a government.

“The electorate will decide who will serve in the House.  If elected I will maintain my independent status while working with persons I believe are the best representatives to lead this country,” he said.

Although voters in West Bay have four votes, Smith said he would not tell the voters how to use their 3rd and 4th votes. “I am running as an Independent. I will not promote any other candidate other than my fellow independent, Tara Rivers, in the district of West Bay. I urge the West Bay voters to educate themselves about all the candidates that are running in this election for the district of West Bay.” 

Given his reluctance to support a party, if he is elected, Smith is unlikely to find himself as part of the next government. But like all back-benchers, if he can find one other person he has the right to a private members motion to the Legislative Assembly for debate and government consideration if he can persuade a majority to support it. The West Bay hopeful said he would use the opportunity to bring a proposal regarding government procurement and expenditure to institute clear lines of accountability.

“Our people are simply struggling too much for the government to continue its wasteful spending through the procurement process. I will also push for enforceable criminal charges for those who misuse government funds,” Smith told CNS as he spoke about his aspirations for office.

Although a staunch advocate of keeping the West Bay Road open, Smith said he hoped that the legal proceedings against the road’s closure and the NRA agreement would end with the best result, but did not indicate whether he would attempt to use his seat in the Legislative Assembly to change the current situation.

With significant unemployment in Cayman and in his district in particular, Smith’s campaign has focused heavily on addressing unemployment and Smith takes the position that the current immigration law has to be enforced. He explained that work permits should only be approved if there is no qualified Caymanian for a post.

“That is the existing law of the land and it must be enforced,” he said. “The current structure does not link the work permit approval process closely enough with the Labour Department. This must be done if we are to see any decrease in unemployment.  I also believe that the use of seasonal work permits should be encouraged in industries with seasonal work so that our own people are not the first to be laid off during the slow season. I have also proposed an incentive system to return Caymanians to the tourism industry,” Smith stated.

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Genesis sink a few Heinekens

| 29/04/2013 | 2 Comments

wk4b (441x500)_1.jpg(CRFU): Match Day 4 of the KRyS Global National Mixed Touch Rugby Championships 2013 turned out to be a day of history, mystery and suspense at Cayman Rugby’s South Sound Ground. It produced the game of the season so far and also the joint biggest winning margin of the season. There were some flashes of supreme touch rugby and more than a few moments of sublime comedy too. The game of the day saw the never-beaten Heineken Brew Crew take on an ever-improving Genesis Trust. Heineken have labored in their efforts this year showing only glimpses of the swagger they had last year. Genesis Trust was the first opponents they have faced this season that could realistically unseat them and so it proved.

Genesis Trust 5 Heineken Brew Crew 4

In a pulsating game the result was never certain until the final whistle. Genesis opened the scoring with an Alex Pineau try involving a fine jumping one-handed catch high above his head. It was worthy of the NBA and he managed to get it down for the first try.
The omens did not look good for the Brew Crew-ers as Genesis dominated with wave after wave of attack. The ball was moving nicely across the line and tries seems inevitable until critical errors were made at key times and the ball spilled. They must have been rightly anxious as we have become all too familiar with Heineken’s ability to score from the unlikeliest of plays. And so it proved. Mark Westin leveled the scores and although Pineau put Genesis in front again, tries from Steve Henshaw and Paul Westin gave Heineken a surprising 3-2 half time lead. 

As the second half progressed, General Neil Montgomery started to dictate the plays with his now famous pitter-patter running style, jack-knifing side-step and majestic ball trickery. Nippier than an attack on Pearl Harbor, Montgomery exploited the space provided by a tiring defence. He was more ubiquitous for Genesis than Phil Collins in the mid-80’s, appearing everywhere Heineken didn’t want him to be. A sublime back-of-the-hand pass and equally impressive one-handed take (again) from Pineau leveled the scores before Monty himself gave Genesis the lead with a typically dashing break.

Still Genesis kept the pressure on and Sharon Stainrod is worthy of mention for her efforts in her first season back in touch rugby for a few years. A calm head under pressure and sure hands make her a valuable addition to the roster.

But for all their chances Genesis could not stretch their lead. Now, I know the RCIPS are very busy these days investigating all manner of crimes here in Cayman but some time must be given to the worrying “Case of the Missing Magic Gloves”. In Genesis’ last game Jerry “Mr. Glover Glover” Beck rattled in five tries dazzlingly bedecked in his porcelain-white sports gloves. These gloves possessed such magical powers that the ball would stick to them like the proverbial [fill in the appropriate euphemism here]. But it would appear that a person or persons unknown have secreted away these gloves and replaced them with a fraudulent copy, a counterfeit so accurate in appearance that they mock the wearer.

Beck seemed cursed as his balls dropped to the ground more than once and his day of torture was complete when he put the ball down believing he had crossed the try line only to find he was five metres short. He isn’t the first person ever to do this, nor will he be the last but in a game as tight as this it could have been a costly error. What price the ransom for these magic gloves? I do not now but pay it man and get them back unharmed with all fingers and thumbs intact.

Back again came Heineken. Like a satisfying belch after an over-sized gulp of the eponymous ale Mark Westin leveled the score with a fine solo effort to make it 4-4. There was still plenty of time on the clock.

The decisive break came from no other than Genesis’ Ruler-in-Chief himself, Roger “Grand” Priaulx. This man is a phenomenon. He is a wonderful husband, amazing father, trusted friend, successful entrepreneur and sporting leviathan – a giant of a man in every aspect… except height, in that he’s just above average.  And he needed all these attributes to break through the massive gap afforded to him by the Heineken defence. He put on the afterburners and headed for the corner with 30 metres between him and glory. Not every forty-something can get away with wearing bright orange boots (these are usually reserved for younger athletes with a few less miles on the clock) but Priaulx showed why he can just about get away with it as he outpaced the defence and dived over the line with all the elegance of Shamu the Orca soaking the punters in the Splash Zone at Sea World.

The end of the game could not come quick enough for Priaulx. He must have felt like he was in the third level of Inception-time as the seconds dragged by. Heineken’s Paul Deegan nearly stole the headlines with a fine break but was touched just short of the line. As the final whistle blew everyone realised they had witnessed history. Heineken Brew Crew’s first ever defeat in touch rugby. But more importantly they had seen a fine game of touch rugby, the season’s best so far. Well done to all.

wk4c (500x403).jpgSteppingStones 14 KMPG 0

I guess “The Fabulous Raftopolous Show” sounds like a mid-morning light entertainment show on Greek National TV. With an ardent viewership of housewives, the unemployed and students, it could well have mildly amusing pieces on how “black” is, for the eight hundredth year running, still the couleur du jour for any fashion-conscious elderly Greek matriarch, or give you killer recipes for moussaka and taramasalata, or even tell you how to operate asuccessful late-night mobile kebab business called Jason’s Doner-van but it is in fact a description of the sensational performance by two of SteppingStones’ South African touch rugby titans Simon and Vangie Raftopolous.

Playing against a KPMG side bereft of player options, SteppingStones spluttered and stumbled in the early exchanges and looked far from the tournament favourites that international Asian betting rings allegedly have them hotly-tipped. KPMG put in 110% for effort but lack quality at vital times. SteppingStones have quality coming out of their ears but found motivation hard to find. The win was, in effect, a guarantee but they made hard work of it early on. It took an opening try from Captain Scott McCarty to settle the nerves and then Morgan Shelver put in a top shelf performance with great running lines and a rolling body swerve akin to a French high-speed TGV train hurtling through the Gallic countryside. He corners so smoothly that you could balance a cold one on top of his head and not spill a drop. More than once Simon Raftopolous played wingman to Shelver’s squadron leader. Always in the right position to support, time and again Raftopolous gratefully gobbled up Shelver’s final pass to run in unchallenged. By the games end he had scored not one, not two, not even three tries… but six. Six of the Best. No-one in the National Touch Rugby Championships has scored more in one game.

But this was not a one-man show because just as influential was his better-half Vangie Raftopolous. As the game wore on her impact became more pronounced and she bagged a couple of fine scores herself. The standout moment though was her interception of a wayward KPMG pass 10 metres from her own try line. With nothing in front of her she set off at a fearsome pace across the dusty plains of the SSG. Could she make it all the way to the try line in the distance? The crowd was on its feet as she covered the terrain with her long stride. However, in pursuit was fellow Saffa Matt “Sticks” Volkwyn. Standing at six foot five, with legs that are five foot six long, the scene reminded me of a slender female Springbok being hunted down by a ravenous baby Giraffe. As the gap closed, the crowd were willing Vangie to score but just as she got to the line Volkwyn made the desperate last ditch try-saving touch. His triple fist pump as he made the kill was probably a bit excessive as SteppingStones scored immediately from the next phase of play. Sadly, the rest of his herd had not retreated with quite the same degree of urgency he had shown and they were hopelessly outnumbered in the wide areas for an easy score to SteppingStones.

A final score of 14-0 was what is technically known as a “pasting” but KPMG will re-group and come out next time and give it their all. In addition to Simon’s six and Vangie’s two, the Weders, Rudolf and Marcia scored three between them, with Jacqui Davies, Wiki Hitchman and Scott McCarty adding the rest.

Walkers 6 DART 4

The opening game of the day pitted Walkers Blue Iguanas against DART. Walkers are a solid team and even without top try scorer Paul Smith, they have enough guile and skill to cause problems to their opponents. Lacking numbers for the third game in a row, DART toiled with the barest of squads. It has become a familiar refrain for them but absences whether through injury or unavailability are hard to combat. DART have a good team on paper however touch rugby is played on grass and they fell to their third defeat in a row.

Walkers opened the score through Vikki Piaso. DART’s Andy Childe equalized with a fine jinking, swerving run that resembled a man weaving his way down the sidewalks of West Bay Road late on a Friday night. Rumours that Childe was practicing those self-same manoeuvres the night before have been discredited. After this, Walkers had an extended period of dominance and raced into a 6-1 lead with tries from Rolf Lindsay, James Melen, Rupert Bell, Emily Vaka-uta and new arrival Elaine Kerr. Kerr’s contribution was telling and she was increasingly involved in Walkers brighter moments. She definitely adds to a fine triumvirate of female talent.

DART had a couple of blistering runs from little Mickey Mulligan. Suffering from bruised ribs, these lung-busting runs left him sucking fumes but showed his commitment to the cause. No-one begrudged him his enumerate extended comfort breaks after that.

DART did receive a boost halfway through the second-half when team captain Stacy Ottenbreit arrived. Falling foul of the difference in time zones between the Rugby Club and the rest of South Sound her belated arrival, along with that of Ruan Van Vuuren, changed the complexion of the game. Suddenly DART started to exert some pressure. Scott “Spaghetti-Man” Murray was as elusive as that last string of pasta in the bottom of the bowl and he and Childe racked up three quick tries. Had the game been ten minutes longer or had DART had a full complement of players from the start the result may have been different. We’ll never know as the final score of 6-4 to Walkers is all the history books will record.

Photos by Caroline Deegan

 

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FOI under resourced but Cayman battles on

| 29/04/2013 | 4 Comments

dilbert.JPG(CNS): The Cayman Islands information commissioner is not alone in her battle to deal with a mounting workload in the face of declining resources. Jennifer Dilbert and her team joined 33 other offices around the world in a survey recently undertaken by the Centre for Freedom of Information based in the UK. The research found that many commissioners believe they are under resourced. According to the results, 58% said their financial and staff resources were insufficient, while another 19%, including Cayman, reported that its resources were ‘not at all sufficient’. Nevertheless, Dilbert said Cayman had made great strides despite the resistance to the law.

“When looking at the overall results of the survey, it is evident that the Cayman Islands legislation and enforcement holds up well with respect to time taken to deal with appeals, the completion of appeals within statutory timeframes and the powers of the Commissioner,” Dilbert said. “Unfortunately, in terms of capacity to deal with current and projected workloads, Cayman falls into the 19% of commissioners who believe that their financial and staff resources, are not at all sufficient.”

Dilbert added that the survey demonstrated that Cayman should be recognized for the strides it has made over the past four years in the area of access to information. She said she was proud to report that, despite the challenges she faces with respect to resources and resistance to freedom of information, Cayman continues to be an example both regionally and internationally of a small island state where access legislation is making a difference in the lives of many people.

The Centre for Freedom of Information is a joint venture between the School of Law, University ofDundee and the Scottish Information Commissioner and focuses on the implementation, interpretation and enforcement of laws which provide rights to information globally.

The main results of the survey found that 76% of commissioners expect the number of appeals which they will receive this year (2013) to ‘increase substantially and none expected the number to decline. 77% of said their resources are insufficient.

The reported time taken to deal with appeals varies significantly from country to country. The shortest reported average time taken to dispose of cases is 3 days and the longest time is 380 days.

See full survey below.

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More PPM signs vandalized

| 29/04/2013 | 78 Comments

ppm board (279x300).jpg(CNS) Updated Tuesday 9am: Folllowing the vandalism of PPM signs in George Town at the weekend, more of the party's signs have been torn down, not just in the capital but in Bodden Town as well. In the latest act the PPM posters were ripped from a board, which was pulled out of the ground and then tied to a UDP sign. Although a banner for one Coalition for Cayman candidate was stolen and Ezzard Miller’s poster was subject to lighthearted graffiti, the PPM boards appear to be the subject of more deliberate and ominous vandalism. Despite pleas by the Elections Office for a fair fight and sportsmanlike conduct from all those involved in the campaign, the targeting of the PPM is becoming increasingly sinister, the party leadership said Tuesday.

tied to udp signed (300x186).jpgIn the first instance the signs were slashed along thecandidates’ throats, while this time they were ripped from the display boards. The Elections Office and the police have been notified and an investigation is now underway. The opposition leader said he was saddened by the vandalism but urged the party’s supporters not to react.

“I am very disappointed by the measures resorted to by our political opponents and urge everyone to understand that the billboards and posters are part of the legitimate campaign process and they should be respected,” he said, as he urged everyone associated with the campaign to engage in a fair fight. “I urge Progressive supporters not to retaliate, as that is not what we are about, and leave it to the police to investigate."

Although vandalism of signs during election campaigns is nothing new, the PPM believes that the targeting of their signs and the level of destruction suggests the vandalism goes beyond childish pranks and is deliberate and politically motivated.

photo 2 (3).JPGKenny Bryan, one of the PPM’s six George Town candidates, pointed out that with election observers set to arrive in Cayman in just a few weeks, this was embarrassing for the whole country. However, he said the party would not be deterred in their determination to return to office and begin restoring confidence in government.

“The democratic process is very important to the Progressives and we want to see the process kept at a very high standard,” he said. “These actions will not deter the Progressives from their goal of putting the Cayman Islands back on a steady track to prosperity for all Caymanians."

There are other issues surrounding campaign billboards, with a number of questions raised in both the CNS comments and other local media about the size and location of some of the boards.

photo 1 (241x300).jpg

Political signs do not need planning permission but they should be located at least 12 feet from the road. Any signs on crown land that are too close to the roadcan be removed by the National Roads Authority. A UDP board placed in a church yard in the swamp area and sitting on the shoulder of the Easterly Tibbetts Highway appears to be less than 12 feet but election officials said that, as it is posted on private property, there is nothing they can do about it.

Following the official confirmation that a delegation of observers from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Organisation, the Elections Office has welcomed their planned arrival but has advised the governor’s office that they need to come the week before the election in order to be present for mobile voting and to ensure that have time to speak with the office and candidates. Plans for the team to come on the Sunday before the 22 May Election Day were too late, they have advised.

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Recycling Mount Trashmore and more

| 29/04/2013 | 19 Comments

When will it dawn on the human race that the planet Earth has an ultimate recycling mechanism which will, in due course, remove all traces of the existence of humanity? I refer, of course, to the subduction zones of the tectonic plates that slide one piece of rock beneath another, and melt everything — metals, plastics, rock, even discarded flip-flops and plastic water bottles — in the magma beneath.

It cannot be beneath the wit of man in these days of precision guided weapons to place whatever needs to be disposed of at exactly the right place such that it will be digested in the earth’s maw. The precision is important: the speed of the Cascadia subduction zone, for example, off the pacific coast of North America, is currently estimated at 40mm per year, (Wikipedia) or about 15 inches in ten years, so any waste must be placed in close proximity.  But, the subduction zone is about 800 miles long.  So, if items were in, say, one foot thick bricks, one foot wide, over four million cubic feet of material could be removed from the planet surface in ten years at this site alone. 

Subduction has been continuing at this particular site for an estimated 200 million years, so it is reasonable to assume that it will continue for the foreseeable future. There are many others (conveniently spaced?) around the globe. Who knows? Garbage may even lubricate the junction between the plates, and reduce the risk of earthquakes.

About now, the environmentalists and the politically correct will be going ballistic, as all subduction zones are under water. A lot of water: about eight to ten thousand feet. I am not suggesting that waste should simply be dumped at sea (enough countries do that already, hence the flip-flops and water bottles on the beach) or that this is a substitute for careful management of waste, and conservation of the limited resources available, or that it would be an easy solution. But it is not something that I have found considered elsewhere and is, at least theoretically, possible. I know of no other permanent earth-based solution. It has to be worth serious consideration and research – unless you have another answer? I appreciate that it could not be started next week, or probably next year, but I doubt that any meaningful effort will be made to deal with Mount Trashmore in that time-scale either.

It does also, however, presuppose that waste is actually managed at a waste management facility by someone who knows what they are doing.  Everything arriving needs to be sorted, or even sorted before collection. Sorry about that: it’s not difficult though. Most civilized countries do it.  Are useful car parts stripped out and sold from the written off wrecks? Thought not.  Sell the bodywork and engine metal for recycling, and remove the major metal from the dump. Tyres? They can be ground up and used in the asphalt mix for road resurfacing. Or perhaps you would like to re-introduce a fashion for Whompers? Paper and wood products can be bundled together and recycled, or at least used as an energy source.

Hard core (a.k.a fill) commands a high price in Cayman, so should not be used in the dump to cover other waste. And then there are the plastics and medical waste. Medical waste probably has to be incinerated. Organic material will not leave any residue, but will generate CO2 (and water). Other residue would have to be lumped in with the plastics and encapsulated (I believe the Mafia used concrete) and then could be deposited in a subduction zone. So: no need for a new dump. Nothing more than a temporary stop at a waste processing plant somewhere. In the meantime, a start could be made on processing Mount Trashmore. After all, that’s what the present owners and all the rest of Cayman want, and none of it would need to end up in Bodden Town.

Provided no items are allowed to float to the surface, it would seem to be an infallible, if slow, permanent solution.

 

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Board members to face mandatory training

| 29/04/2013 | 24 Comments

(CNS): Following the revelation from the minutes for last week's civil service heads' meeting that new MLAs will be offered an orientation programme after the May General Election, the most recent minutes circulated by the deputy governor’s office say that mandatory training of board members is now being considered. According to the minutes for the 15 April meeting, Franz Manderson told his management team that a proposal for mandatory training of members of boards and committees on good governance and applicable laws would be presented to the new government

The deputy governor said that the Portfolio of the Civil Service had facilitated a Handbook for Directors on the subject of public sector good governance and was prepared to offer training when new boards were appointed. He also said that UCCI had expressed an interest in assisting with the training and that a Code of Conduct for new board members was being discussed by the chief officers.

During the latest top level public sector meeting, the senior civil servants discussed government IT and data security. They also examined the latest draft policy on the voluntary severance package for the service to help with the much needed cuts in the government head count.

Martin Ruben, from the Office of the Auditor General, and the audit team presented an overview of a draft performance audit plan for the review of travel and hospitality expenditures in core government. The report is planned to be issued at the end of September and the team said it was looking forward to getting cooperation from government officials during the course of the audit.

The issue of travel expenses and entertainment of local politicians was a thorny issue during the previous administration in the light of the significant amount of travel undertaken by former premier McKeeva Bush and the current premier, Juliana O’Connor Connolly, while she was his deputy.

See minutes released by the deputy governor’s office below.

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