Archive for May 9th, 2013

Observers to arrive one week ahead of poll

| 09/05/2013 | 15 Comments

poling staiton sign (213x300)_0.jpg(CNS): The mission to observe the Cayman Islands 22 May General Elections will arrive in Cayman on 15 May and stay until the 29 MAy. The six man team, led by Mario Galea, a Member of Parliament in Malta, will include Senator Philip Ozouf from Jersey; Margaret Mitchell, MSP from Scotland; Randolph Horton, MP from Bermuda; Fern Narcis, a Legal Officer from Trinidad and Tobago; and Juanita Barker, a Legal Officer from Guyana. Prior to Election Day the team will observe some of the mobile voting and on Election Day will be deployed to the districts. The governor said Thursday that the remit includes several factors from the campaign itself, finances, voter education, polling, the ballot, processes and procedures, tabulation and to complaints after the fact.

Observers will be in place to observe the opening of the polling to the completion and publishing of tabulated results. The mission will attempt to visit at least 90% of all polling and counting venues and will spend a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour at each polling station.

Within a week of Election Day, a preliminary report will be produced and disseminated via a press conference, and within two months of the preliminary report’s publication, a final report will be produced and disseminated to all stakeholder before the publication of a final report.

The Election Observer Mission is being arranged by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) British Isles and Mediterranean Region (BIMR), in partnership with Electoral Reform International Services (ERIS), a not-for-profit organisation which provides support and advice on democratic processes around the world and with the Association of Caribbean Electoral Organisations (ACEO). 

For full details see attached information released by the governor’s office.

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$16M tax breaks stalls deal

| 09/05/2013 | 65 Comments

dart shovels.JPG(CNS): The government has said that the third amendment to the deal between government, the National Roads Authority and Dart Realty Cayman Ltd was stalled over concessions and tax breaks for the planned Seven Mile Beach hotel, worth some $16 million, and their efforts to achieve a “better deal” for Cayman have failed. Speaking at Thursday’s press briefing, the ministers confirmed that the closure of the remaining part of the West Bay Road would now be delayed beyond the election and it would be down to the next administration to pick up the negotiations with Dart, who yesterday pulled out of the talks regarding changes to the original deal as they said they could not reach a new agreement with government.

An agreement between government, the NRA and Dart was signed in December 2011. That agreement has been amended twice since and the document has undergone a review by local consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers. However, none of these documents have yet been released to the public, although drafts of the deal were leaked last year.

Ministers Cline Glidden and Mark Scotland said Thursday that they hoped to release all of these documents on Friday, along with the third amendment, which has now been rejected by Dart, so that the people of Cayman could judge for themselves the value of this deal with the islands’ biggest developer.

Although the Cabinet members continued to insist that the deal still represented value for money, even without the third amendment, Gliddenand Scotland both said that their efforts over the last six months were to try and get “more value for money” and a “better deal for the people of Cayman”. However, the developer would not agree to a reduction in the concessions regarding the new hotel, which will be developed on the site of the old   Courtyard Marriott.

Scotland explained that the hotel concession package in the original deal, which according to previously leaked documents is believed to include a 50% cut to Dart of all room taxes collected there for the first ten years, was based on the developer starting the hotel some time ago. As the development has not yet started and there has so far been very little economic stimulus from the project, the package was under re-negotiation, but the two parties could not agree.

Glidden stated that during the last six months, as well as getting agreement over the widening of the rest of the Esterley Tibbetts by-pass, they had removed the crown land at Salt Creek from the deal. They had also negotiated land in South Sound to widen the public beach at Smith Cove and in Barkers for another new public beach there. But all of that has now faltered on concessionsworth around $16 million, which is believed to be only a fraction of the value of the overall deal.

The situation now is that Dart wishes to revert back to the status of the agreement at the point of the second amendment and questions remain over the obligation of the next government for this deal.

The remaining stretch of the West Bay Road, which runs in front of the site where Dart proposes to develop a new five-star resort, remains open and in crown hands, despite forming part of the original deal signed by former Premier Mckeeva Bush and promised to Dart in the complex swap. The obligation for government to close that stretch would now “be challenging to meet” Glidden told the press Thursday, as he said that there were obligations under the original deal on all parties which have not been met.

With the election less than two weeks away, Glidden and Scotland made it quite clear that they hoped voters would see their efforts over the last six months to improve the original deal favourably. However, as the talks have now stalled, Cayman is left with a deal which although reportedly giving value for money is, as indicated by the PNA ministers, not “the best deal” for the Cayman people as a result of different criteria.

Glidden told the media that while the PWC report found that the value of the swap was fair, as a representative of the people there were other criteria to consider. When he joined the negotiations in December, after allegedly playing no part in them until that point, Glidden said he did not think it was in the best interests of the Cayman people to divest the land at Salt Creek even if the value was fair.

Despite the Cabinet’s insistence since February that the third amendment negotiations were essentially agreed and that only the final details were being ironed out, it was quite clear on Friday that while Cabinet had approved and agreed that third amendment, Dart had not. While PWC had included the third amendment in its review, since it was never signed it is not part of the deal.

The ministers said government was still willing to negotiate but they felt that other criteria in addition to value for money was important, but they had not been able to reach a deal.

CNS Note: All of the documents relating to the NRA deal, the value for money report,the amendments to the deal which were agreed and the third amendment which was not, have all been posted here

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Bank robbers found guilty

| 09/05/2013 | 52 Comments

CNB robbery_0.jpg(CNS): Updated with full story:  It took the five men and seven women of the jury more than six hours to find David Tamassa, Rennie Cole, Andre Burton, George Mignot and Ryan Edwards all guilty of armed robbery. The jury deliberated over two days but came back on Thursday with an across the board verdict for all five defendants, who, despite their differing roles in the daylight bank heist at Cayman National Bank in Buckingham Square last June, had all been charged with robbery and possession of illegal firearms. The five men were convicted based mostly on the testimony of one key witness and co-conspirator, Marlon Dillon, who was arrested a few hours after the heist and made a full admission naming the other five men as his accomplices.

The men were all remanded in custody and were expected to have their first sentencing hearing Friday.

The crown’s case against the five men was that on 28 June last year they, along with Marlon Hudson Dillon, who pleaded guilty to the crime and is awaiting sentencing, robbed the Cayman National Bank shortly after 9 o'clock and made off with around $500,000. Their escape from the scene, however, was hampered by a security van that arrived at the bank just as they were fleeing and blocked their getaway vehicle. The robbers then took to the road on foot, dropping a significant chunk of the loot as they ran.

Ryan Edwards, who was arrested in Jamaica, was also convicted of the removal of criminal property as he was found in possession of more than $35,000 cash from the robbery. Edwards was believed to be the man who introduced the idea of the bank heist to David Tamassa and Marlon Dillon in 2011.

The alleged mastermind was David Tamassa, who, the crown argued, not only organized the crime but provided the guns. In his evidence Dillon told the court that the pump action shotgun used in the robbery belonged to Tamassa and the Lawson handgun had come from his friend. Despite the cell site evidence confirming Tamassa's alibi on the morning of the heist, Dillon’s evidence was enough to convict the Jamaican national, despite his absence from the crime scene.

The self-confessed robber also helped to bring the man he described as his betrayer, as he used Dillon’s own car for the job, to justice. AndreBurton was the getaway driver, and although the jury was presented with an alternative charge of accessory after the fact of robbery, he was convicted of armed robbery. Burton had claimed to be delivering ganja to a friend at the time of the robbery but the jury found him guilty.

Although Rennie Cole went into the bank bare faced and a valid check in hand to cash that morning, the jury was unconvinced that he was an innocent bystander in the robbery and believed he was used as the "bait" to distract the security guard, which allowed the other robbers to enter with ease, Dillon had claimed  in his evidence.

It was submitted by his defence counsel that George Mignot was frequently absent from work with a particular habit of being on leave on Thursdays. Despite the evidence, the jury seems to have relied more on the DNA evidence found on the cap retrieved from the getaway vehicle, as well as Dillon's testimony in court. Mignot was found guilty of the robbery and possession.

After 4 weeks of statements and interviews, viewing footage and photographs as well as observing various witnesses being cross examined, the jury reached a unanimous verdict, leaving all five convicted men looking at a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years.

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The ideal government

| 09/05/2013 | 20 Comments

With 56 candidates running for 18 seats, it would appear that there are many choices in this election. The truth is, there is one very stark choice facing every voter in the Cayman Islands and that is a vote for a good and efficient government guided by integrity and accountability and bolstered by experience, reputation and the willingness to do what's right for the country.

After the last four years of rank mismanagement and charges of corruption, the county cannot afford another four years with even a single thread of the kind of leadership that took place since 2009.

There is everything at stake, not least the reputation of the country, the standards by which Cayman does business and the steps it will take to improve the economy and bring back prosperity.

So, what would an ideal government look like? Having considered all the candidates, here is my suggestion.

West Bay: Tara Rivers, Mervin Smith, Woody DaCosta, Rolston Anglin

George Town: Kurt Tibbetts, Alden McLaughlin, Roy McTaggart, Sharon Roulstone, Winston Connolly, Bo Miller

Bodden Town: Anthony Eden, Alva Suckoo, Charles Clifford, Ossie Bodden

Cayman Brac/Little Cayman: Moses Kirkconnell, Juliana O'Connor-Connolly

North Side: Ezzard Miller

East End: Arden McLean

The ideal Cabinet:
Ezzard Miller — Premier
Arden McLean — Deputy Premier
Ministers: Rolston Anglin, Roy McTaggart, Moses Kirkconnell, Alden McLaughlin, Charles Clifford

Marco Archer — Attorney General
Jude Scott — Financial Secretary
Cline Glidden — Speaker

This strikes a balance between experience, expertise and the principled kind of government on which Cayman was built.

It is also a balance of independents and party candidates, while picking the best people for Cabinet and leaving others available for understudying roles in the Legislative Assembly.

Of course, one can already anticipate the opposition to the suggestions for premier and deputy premier, but the fact is that these two gentlemen have proven in no uncertain terms where their hearts and minds lie when it comes to standing up for good governance and for the short, medium and long term interests of the country.

The rebuilding of Cayman — morally, socially and economically — over the next four years will require bold leadership that these two gentlemen can provide and they have the ability to unite the country and govern by consensus.

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Mobile polling begins in Sister Islands

| 09/05/2013 | 6 Comments

(CNS): The Elections Office team will be heading to the Sister Islands on Friday to begin the mobile polling. In order to ensure that none of the housebound residents who have registered to vote ahead of Election Day miss out on their democratic right, Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez is urging electors to remain at home until the team arrives. The teams will be calling those who have registered to vote a few minutes ahead to alert voters to their arrival and confirm that they are home, he said, and warned that they will not have time to go back and forth if voters are not at home when they arrive.

Gomez explained that the team would be setting up the mobile station in Little Cayman at the public works quarters for all the electors on that island who have registered to vote early to avoid having to go to Cayman Brac on Election Day, as there is will be no polling station on the smallest island on 22 May. With no shut-ins needing to vote on Little Cayman, all mobile voters on that island need to go to the temporary station.

Meanwhile, on Cayman Brac the team will be visiting the homes of all those who are housebound or shut-in, as well as the rest home and the hospital.

“We are urging all voters who have applied for mobile voting to remain at their homes until our team arrives,” Gomez said. “We will telephone ahead to say we are coming but given the time pressures we will not be able to go back and forth to homes if voters are not in when the mobile voting team arrives.”

For those able bodied voters who have registered to vote early, the static mobile booth will be set up at the Aston Rutty Civic Centre.

Once the early voting is taken care of in the Sister Islands, the team will begin its visits to the districts on Grand Cayman. They will be in North Side and East End at the local civic centres on Monday, at the Bodden Town Civic Centre on Tuesday, at the elections office in George Town on Wednesday, and the mobile trailer will be located at the West Bay Library on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the deadline to apply for postal ballots has now passed and, as of Wednesday 8 May, 553 people had applied to vote via post.

For more details or information about mobile polling contact the Elections Office on 949-8047 or log on to the Elections Office website or visit the Election HQ at the Smith Road Centre 150 Smith Road, 2nd Floor George Town.

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Youth sailors on a mission

| 09/05/2013 | 1 Comment

Csailing (387x500).jpg(CISC): A team of ten youth sailors pitted their skills against the elements in a 12 hour “sailathon” on April 20th. The sailors and their parents hadto get out of bed early on Saturday for the 6.00am start. Sailing is not just about arriving at the Cayman Islands Sailing Club and picking a boat. Excited sailors were rigging their boats at 5.30am in the dark to be ready to set off at 6.00am.The youth sailors have all come through the schools sailing programme and are experts at setting up their boats. They sail most week days and weekends and are popular members of the Club.

They are dedicated to improving their sailing expertise with punishing training programmes and competing at the regular club events alongside the adult sailors.

The sailors had elicited sponsorship from their friends, family and members of their community. They managed to raise over $4,000.00 for their efforts.  These funds are to be used for travel to overseas regattas so that they can compete against the best sailors in the region. You can still contribute by contacting the CI Sailing Club at admin@sailing.ky. There was a strong core group of supporters who encouraged the young sailors so they completed their designated hours while the coaches at the Club ensured that the sailors were safe on the water.

All 10 youth sailors achieved their goal of sailing non-stop for 12 hours. Conditions were perfect and having circumnavigated North Sound they visited Kaibo via Booby Key, Starfish Point and Stingray City on their way to Camana Bay before returning to the Club to sail the last couple of hours at home base. A flotilla of small boats encouraged them on the last leg of their journey.

Exhausted but exuberant they still had energy to celebrate on the giant trampoline donated by Compass Marine. The Youth Reps were on hand to provide luscious fare from the barbeque for all sailors and their supporters.

Many thanks to all those who gave generously towards the youth fund for overseas regattas. These sailors are the future of Cayman sailing and deserve our support as they are down at the club nearly every day. Florence Allan, Pablo Bertran, Jesse Jackson and Andreas McDermott have their sights on the Youth Olympic Games in China in August 2014.  Allena Rankine is hoping to attend the Optimist Worlds in Argentina next year and the remaining kids are gearing up and preparing for their first overseas regatta later this year.

 

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Bolt just squeezes out team mate after slow start

| 09/05/2013 | 19 Comments

bolt   london   aug 12 028.jpg(CNS): Usain Bolt’s first 100-metre race of the 2013 season last night at Cayman’s invitational meet was a sluggish opener for the track superstar, with one of the slowest times of his career. Bolt failed to break the 10-second barrier, beating Kemar Bailey-Cole by a hair’s breadth in a photo-finish as they both clocked 10.09 seconds. Bolt started slowly but accelerated at the half way mark to the finish line in front of a capacity crowd of some 5,000 at the Truman Bodden sports complex. Despite his up-beat comments at the pre-race press briefing on Tuesday, Bolt admitted it wasn’t what he had hoped for. "It wasn't the best start of the season," Bolt said. "It was good to get a win but now it's time to go back to the drawing board."

Bolt, the 26-year-old world record holder, had targeted the 9.86-second run by USA’s Tyson Gay in Kingston last Saturday but started slowly and had to rely on an injection of speed to pip Bailey-Cole to the post, with Daniel Bailey from Antigua coming in third with a time of 10.23. Cayman’s Kemar Hayman finished 6th with a time of 10.33.

Bolt, falling well short of Yohan Blake's 9.84 meet record, was shaky throughout the race but he told the BBC that it was not the hamstring injury which kept him out of last weekend’s race in Jamaica. "It was just a bad race. It wasn't a bothering pain so I can't blame it on that," he said.

Meanwhile, in the women’s 100-meters, Carmelita Jeter of the United States set the track on fire and became the first female sprinter this year to break 11 seconds in her race, setting the meet record with a time of 10.95 seconds. Jeter, the silver medalist at the London Olympics in the 100, won the Cayman Invitational last year in 11.04 seconds.

See the race here.

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Eastern allies won’t help UDP

| 09/05/2013 | 108 Comments

ex n ard (219x300)_1.jpg(CNS): The two independent incumbent candidates in North Side and East End will not work with a United Democratic Party or even support a coalition Cabinet with any members who ran on the UDP platform in this election, the men told CNS Wednesday. Both Ezzard Miller (NS) and Arden McLean (EE) said they were confident of victory and asked electors in the other three constituencies in Grand Cayman not to give a single vote to the UDP. Ezzard Miller said that if the UDP managed to squeeze into government as a result of the split vote in George Town, he believed the UK could impose direct rule and confirmed that he would not support a single UDP candidate to be part of any government.

Miller said he hoped to see a mix of PPM and independent candidates returned across the rest of the islands but if he was forced to choose he would back the PPM, and while he would not serve in a Progressive Cabinet, he would offer his support to that party if necessary to keep the hands of government away from former premier McKeeva Bush. Arden McLean, a former member of the PPM and a close ally of Miller, said he would work with anyone except the UDP and would not support a UDP led coalition.

If McKeeva Bush has the largest group in the LA on 23 May, Miller told CNS that he would not support a single candidate in any position who had run on the platform with the former premier. “I have told all of them that," Miller stated, adding that he would not support Bush in the position of speaker either.

“I am not going to be part of a PPM Cabinet but I would support them to form a government if I was forced to choose,” he stated. Miller said that he did have some philosophical differences with the Progressives and, as a result, he was confident that there would be a balanced mix of candidates returned in the major districts, which would result in a coalition between independent members and the PPM.

Urging everyone not to vote for any UDP candidates in any district, Miller warned what could happen if the UDP were able to gain control of government.

“I believe that should the unthinkable happen and they wind up with enough seats to form a government or be in a bargaining position to do so, the UK would suspend the constitution,” the North Side candidate stated. “The people in all three major districts in Grand Cayman need to consider that when they go to the polls, especially those voting in West Bay.”

Miller said he believed that the political parties would win or lose the election in George Town and he was confident that the people in the capital would have the sense not to vote for anyone on the UDP ticket, as he predicted a split between the PPM and the independent candidates running in the capital.

Miller reminded voters that the UDP leader had been removed from Cabinet twice now, as he referred to Bush’s departure following the First Cayman Bank scandal in the 1990s and his more recent difficulties.

“The leader of the UDP is before the courts facing eleven serious criminal charges,” Miller added. “It is inconceivable that the electorate can support him or any of the people running on his platform as their very appearance on that platform indicates they support him in his bid to regain the position of premier. People simply must not vote UDP.”

McLean echoed the sentiments of his political ally and added that they were both going head to head with candidates who may profess to be independent but who were both supported directly by the UDP. The independent incumbent for East End told CNS that he was confident of victory in his district because he had worked very hard on the ground and the voters there know that not only does he have the experience but he also has integrity.

“I am confident in the voters' judgement to be able to distinguish who is the most credible candidate to be their representative in parliament and who also has the ministerial experience,” he said. He added his support to Miller’s position that a vote by anyone in the larger districts for a UDP candidate was a dangerous thing as he gave his staunch commitment to opposing any efforts by that party to cobble together a government on the morning of 23 May.

“I am not going to be part of making any UDP government. I will work with anybody but I will not work with any candidates who are returned on the United Democratic Party ticket,” he said, pointing to the last four years and the more recent arrest of the former premier.

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