Archive for May 15th, 2013

East Ender arrested over flare gun and mask

| 15/05/2013 | 1 Comment

(CNS): A 47-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possession of an imitation firearm following a house raid in East End in the early hours of Wednesday morning. An RCIPS spokesperson said that police made the arrest at around 5.45am today (Wednesday, 15 May) when officers searched a house in John McLean Drive, in the heart of the district. During the search the police recovered a flare gun, mask and bayonet. The man remained in police custody Wednesday evening while enquiries continued.
 

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C4C eyes irked Progressives

| 15/05/2013 | 131 Comments

c4csmall.jpg(CNS): The Coalition for Cayman has accused unnamed Progressive candidates of betraying their leader. In a statement released Wednesday, the C4C claimed that some PPM hopefuls have approached them, unhappy about their party’s management. In the collective statement the group, which still insists it is not a political party, all rejected working with former premier McKeeva Bush if they are returned in the general election next week and made it clear that they would be happy to include disgruntled PPM members in the coalition government they believe will be formed after the result is in.  Rejecting their claims, the PPM leader said the comment reflected their desperation following a failed campaign.

The C4C did not say which members of the Progressives had approached them and who was reportedly unhappy. However, they said they welcomed the opportunity to work with them in a coalition-led government if they are elected. The statement came shortly after all of their candidates had responded to a CNS enquiry regarding their position on working with Bush and rejected that possibility.

“As independent candidates, our goal is to achieve a coalition government led by independent candidates,” the seven coalition would-be MLAs stated. “We will not form a Cabinetwith the United Democratic Party. To those candidates of the Progressives (PPM) who have approached us and who are unhappy with their party’s leadership, we welcome the opportunity to work with you in a coalition-led government if you are elected and prepared to put the people of these Islands first,” they added.

In the wake of accusations that the PPM candidates were not behind the party leadership, Alden McLaughlin, the opposition and party leader, said he welcomed, at long last, the group’s renouncement of the UDP and helping McKeeva Bush form a government.

“We have been calling on the C4C candidates all through this campaign to tell voters who they would be prepared to work with to form the next government,” he said.  “Better late than never.”  However, McLaughlin said the statement appeared to reflect “a certain level of desperation as they seem to have finally faced the stark reality of failure on Election Day”, adding that the C4C campaign was misconceived and without substance, offering voters little except anti-party rhetoric. 

“We are a mere week away from the General Elections,” the PPM leader said.  “Yet the country is still wondering what the C4C stands for and what is their position on the challenges the country faces. It is unimaginable that a group of candidates who claim to be the answer to Cayman’s myriad of problems has been unable to put together a plan which they are prepared to commit to and be held accountable for.”

McLaughlin queried how any group of candidates could be taken seriously without producing a collective manifesto laying out the policies they will follow if elected as a group.

So far on the hustings, the coalition candidates have supported very different policy initiatives. At the Chamber forums Roy McTaggart rejected a minimum wage and declared his wish to privatize the education system, which does not seem to be supported by the others. Jude Scott in the same forum questioned the plan to develop cruise berthing facilities in George Town, while others have thrown their support behind it. Mervin Smith has been emphatic in his rejection of the West Bay Road closure, while others in the group have hedged around their support for the Dart deal.

“If they are unable to agree on a plan for the country before the elections, what chance is there of them agreeing on one if they are elected?” McLaughlin asked. “The Progressives is fielding a slate of 15 candidates. We are optimistic that we will win enough seats to form the next government. If we do not, we will work with other elected members who share the views and philosophy to which we subscribe. These are the principles of honesty, integrity in office, transparency, accountability and compassion for our people,” he added.

Despite the obvious and well-documented problems and instability associated with coalition governments, C4C claimed that in western-style democracies such as Canada, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, coalition governments are the reality. 

“Prior to 2001, the Cayman Islands was led successfully by coalition governments before the introduction of a personality driven party system,” they said. However, the emergence of the UDP in particular, and then the PPM was as a result of the horse trading that had historically followed elections and, more so, the direct result of the 2001 Bush-led coup which resulted in the fall of the administration led by Kurt Tibbetts. 

“Unlike the party-led governments, coalitions foster independent thinking, broader representation for the people and require leaders to find compromise on opposing views while focusing on the single most important mandate for a Member of the Legislative Assembly, serving the people,” the coalition went on to state.

The C4C candidates have not indicated who they would back to be premier if they were elected or how far they would compromise if any of them are returned when it comes to holding a government together that will not have an agreed policy direction.

Whichever group of 18 people is elected next week they will be expected to select a cabinet of seven members, one of whom will be appointed premier and another deputy premier, within one week as the new government and members of the LA are traditionally sworn in seven days after the general election.

Those seven Cabinet members will also need to be supported by at the very least three back bench government members to ensure the Cabinet can pass legislation and implement policy to run the country. If not, every piece of legislation presented by Cabinet will involve having to reach some consensus or compromise with all legislative members in order to move things on. With the bureaucratic nature of government to also contend with, a minority administration would be unlikely to move very much forward, despite the pressing need for numerous controversial changes to existing laws, as well as the reform of immigration and a conservation law.

Following an appointment of a Cabinet, its members will have only a few months with which to draw up a cohesive plan for governing as the Public Management and Finance Law requires government to deliver a strategic policy statement by 1 December setting out its plans for governance. The new government will also need to begin working on a budget almost immediately. While it can vote an interim budget to get it through the first quarter of the 2013/14 fiscal year, it will need to work on the remaining nine months.

Without a shared direction, however, that could prove difficult for a new inexperienced group or if the members of the new Cabinet have philosophical differences over where government cuts can or cannot be made and where fees, duties and taxes can or cannot be raised.

The parties come with a distinct advantage as their strategic policy statements will be informed by their manifestoes, which in turn will inform the budget. The parties, if voted in as a majority, will already have a designated premier and it is likely both have already designated potential ministers, dependent on the vote.

While the concept of a coalition continues to appeal to the popular imagination, with the idea of the best coming together to work for “love of country" or to “do the right thing”, in reality a coalition government by its very nature will face some serious obstacles as it tries to navigate the real business of governance.

Vote in the CNS poll: How will you be voting?

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Minister releases last minute sports policy

| 15/05/2013 | 5 Comments

Shannon Crew (m).jpg(CNS): With just one week to go before the general election and after four years in office, Mark Scotland, the minister responsible for sports, has launched a national strategic policy. The eleventh hour release comes hot on the heels of various other strategic policies and long term plans for various government departments, including the same minister’s health plan. The policy document sets out plans for the next five years, which Scotland will be hoping, no doubt, will not be rejected by his successor should the poll not go in his favour. According to the document, the purpose of the plan is “to define the vision, values, strategic directions and objectives for the development of sport in Cayman Islands” and to develop local sports talent.

“A national policy and strategic framework is vital to sport development," the document states in the executive summary. Its development requires the building of partnerships among legally established independent entities and agencies and the National Strategic Sports Policy (NSSP) is cited as the instrument that will provide direction and coherence for the many stakeholders involved in improving the delivery of sport throughout the Cayman Islands.

The document states that Cayman has developed a track record of producing world class athletes, particularly in swimming and track and field, and there was strong motivation and enthusiasm among a small core of sporting individuals. Several National Sports Associations (NSAs) have clear development plans and achievement targets and there is a well-established, WADA compliant anti-doping commission.

There is, however, a lack of coaching expertise for some sports and the limited amount of highlevel competition locally is a challenge. While schools have  a Long Term Athlete Development Model (LTAD) compliant PE curriculum there is a shortage of infrastructure and resources to deliver it and there is no guiding vision for sport at the national level.
The sports minister said that he believed that sport presents a tremendous opportunity to advance a number of health, community and business related goals.

“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has confirmed that sport helps to foster positive youth development, it helps to improve academic achievements and assists in the transfer of positive values and life skills that aid in employability. Young children develop their physical and cognitive capacities through play and as they move through from early to mid-childhood sport helps them to enhance their motor ability which can ultimately lead to more active lifestyles and mitigate against problems associated with sedentary behaviour and obesity,” Scotland, who is also the health minister, added.

He pointed to the reduction of gang involvement among young people who are involved in structured sporting groups

“The tried and tested method of achieving the benefits of any programme is to have a plan,” he said, adding that the policy was developed in collaboration with public and private sector leaders to outline the vision, goals and objectives for sport in Cayman.

See the full policy posted below.

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‘Indies’ say no to Bush

| 15/05/2013 | 50 Comments

c4c poster.jpg(CNS): Following the declaration last week by two of the current PNA ministers that they would not join a UDP government led by former premier McKeeva Bush, Minister Rolston Anglin was keen to add his voice to that of his colleagues Mark Scotland and Cline Glidden, when he also made a public statement Tuesday in the final Cabinet press briefing before elections that he would not join a Bush government. Following emphatic refusals from independent candidates Arden McLean, Ezzard Miller and Charles Clifford to work with Bush or any government that included the current members of the UDP, there was a surge from the Coalition for Cayman candidates Tuesday night to reject the possibility that any of them would support Bush.

When CNS previously asked C4C candidates and other independents where they stood in regards to supporting either a UDP or a PPM led administration, those that answered had avoided rejecting outright the idea of supporting either party. However, in response to an email sent by CNS Tuesday asking for a 'yes' or 'no' answer, there was very little sitting on the fence.

Roy McTaggart stated an emphatic 'no' and also went on to reject any possibility of working with Bush on Tuesday night’s episode of 'The Panel' on Cayman27. All of the other C4C candidates, Jude Scott, Sharon Roulstone, Jackee Haynes, Winston Connolly and the West Bay team of Tara Rivers and Mervin Smith, all said ‘no’ when asked if they would support McKeeva Bush to form a government.

Gregg Anderson, who is running on his own ticket in Bodden Town also rejected the possibility. “No, my core values and moral compass don't correlate with his,” he told CNS.

With the camp against Bush becoming more emphatic in their rejection of him, the former premier and political veteran will be looking to secure a majority but it is likely that he can still call on the support of some of his former UDP colleagues as well as John McLean JR, who is running in East End as an independent but who has been formally endorsed by Bush.

Juliana O’Connor-Connolly has not ruled out working with the former premier and Dwayne Seymour stated last Thursday at the weekly press briefing that he would need to consult with his constituents if he was re-elected and was asked by Bush to help him form a government.

West Bay’s first elected MLA and three decade long representative may also be able to count on one or two other former colleagues to back him if the Cayman public do not deliver a majority for his UDP or the Progressives.

Vote in the CNS poll: How-will-you-be-voting?

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Deputy governor’s minutes shrink in content

| 15/05/2013 | 27 Comments

iStock_000019519438XSmall (242x300).jpg(CNS): The minute record of the weekly meetings between the deputy governor and the civil service ministry heads are increasingly shorter and reveal less and less about what goes on at the high level meetings. Although Franz Manderson was blazing a trail of transparency when he first began voluntarily releasing the record of what goes on behind the close doors of high-level public sector meetings, the scant information on the minutes being released is offering less insight into the workings of government rather than more.

With Freedom of Information under attack from budget cuts, an ingrained culture of secrecy, political pressure and fear of exposure by either corrupt or incompetent officials, what was originally seen as a victory for transparency is becoming less rather than more informative for the public as time has gone on.

There has been no indication why the minutes released to the press each week are shrinking in content but it is becoming apparent that the minutes which are made public are very different from the full minutes that are being taken during the regular high level meetings.

In the most recent two sets of minutes there is an indication that the government bosses reviewed public sector policies that have been implemented but gave no details about them, and while pointing to a new travel policy, there was no indication what it was or what the feeling about it was among the civil service management.

The meeting also included discussions regarding the 2012/2013 accounts but very little was recorded about what was said regarding one of the most controversial areas in government administration. The agenda also included a discussion about the training for the new government and feedback was allegedly provided, but there was no record at all of what was said by whom about the training the civil service proposes to offer newly elected MLAs.

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

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Local sports hero features in online graduation

| 15/05/2013 | 0 Comments

pascal.jpg(CNS): Friends and family of Cayman’s Javelin star Alex Pascal will be able to watch the local sporting hero graduate from Florida Air Academy on Friday, as the college is streaming its graduation ceremony on line. Pascal, a gold medal winner at the recent Carifta Games, will graduate as part of the class of 2013 in a ceremony that may not have changed in the school's 50 year history, but which has embraced modern technology to allow more and more people to join the celebration. Pascal will wear his formal military uniform and accept his graduation certificate from FAA President, James Dwight. He will then join graduates in the “Hat Toss,” a joyful tradition marking the end of the graduate’s time at Florida Air Academy.

With a student population representative of 21 countries, from all corners of the globe, officials from the Florida Air Academy said the college had embraced the “internet revolution as a tool for improved communication with parents,” and attempted its first real time streaming in 2005. However, delivery was slow, drop-offs were common, and in some countries the broadband access was not sufficient to deliver the stream successfully, or was blocked by the host government.

Working with Cavalry Chapel in Melbourne, Florida, the college has worked hard over successive years to overcome the problems using more advanced technology to deliver the event around the world.

Live streaming will commence at 2.00pm EST, Friday 17 May, 2013.  Log onto event.calvaryccm.com

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Voter ID cards not compulsory for polling day

| 15/05/2013 | 4 Comments

P5200133_1.JPG(CNS): Election officials reassured voters Tuesday that electors who do not have a voter ID card can still vote on General Election Day. The cards are meant to speed up the process but all registered voters can attend the polls with any form of picture identification, even if it has expired. Even voters who have no photo ID of any kind can still vote as presiding officers can administer oaths to confirm an elector’s identity. If voters bring picture ID to the polls, however, and if they know their registered voter number then the process of getting into a stationto vote will be quicker and contribute to a smoother voting process overall on what is expected to be a busy polling day.

“Contrary to rumour, any elector who wants to vote is encouraged to do so. Any form of picture identification such as a passport (even if expired) driver’s license or employee ID is acceptable. The poll clerk only needs this to determine whether the elector is the same person on the register of electors,” Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez said. “For those individuals who have no form of identification the presiding officer may administer the oath that the elector is the person intended to be referred to in the official list of electors.”

When entering the polling station, voters must state their name, street address and occupation and then present to the poll clerk his or her elector’s registration card or whatever other form of ID they have.

Gomez also reminded voters that children are not permitted in polling stations and voters are not allowed to carry anything into the polls, such as handbags, and all cell phones and cameras or strictly prohibited.

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Polls emerge as campaign tool but results secret

| 15/05/2013 | 7 Comments

Comedy ballot.JPGCNS): A number of politicians in the 2013 general election campaign have used polls to help them gauge their strengths and weaknesses among voters. Although common in most democracies, with the major pollsters becoming increasingly accurate, the election tool is relatively new in Cayman and so far, as the voter surveys and straw polls have been funded by the politicians, the results have been kept under wraps. The secrecy surrounding the results may be an indication that no party or group is happy with the outcome. If not entirely accurate, the polls can offer at least a gauge of the mood of the voting population ahead of the polling day and help target campaigning.

Predictions for the 2013 result have been coming in hard and fast to the CNS newsdesk too, all of which appear to differ greatly, ranging from a UDP victory squeezed from the jaws of defeat to a PPM slam dunk, from a deadlock between the parties, as a result of the now even number of seats in the LA, to a coalition led by Ezzard Miller. With 56 candidates in the race for 18 seats, the forecasts have been as varied as there are possible outcomes.

With such widely differing opinions, the 18,500 voters in Cayman appear to be divided and many still remain undecided, even though there is only a week to go before polling day.

So far, none of the political groups, most of which have been using polls as an information resource since well before the start of the campaign, have released their findings but polls were also used to help pick teams and party slates, the results of which are apparent.

Where polls are used in other democracies, the results tend to increase in accuracy as election day draws closer because more people have made a decision, but it is unlikely that Cayman’s political parties and teams will be continuing with their polls during the final week of the campaign.

While Cayman is still a long way from having the widely publicised pre-election polling that now dominates election landscapes in the United States, Canada, the UK, across Europe and in other major countries with ever more accurate predictions, the introduction of more polls this year suggests that in future elections the voters may begin to get a feel of the mood of their fellow voters before Election Day, information which can be extremely influential.

In the absence of a scientific independent poll, Cayman News Service has opened its own on-line poll this week to gauge how readers on Cayman’s most interactive news source will be voting, giving us an idea of how influential the 13,000 daily CNS users are on the political landscape. We are asking readers if they will be voting ‘straight’ for either the UDP, the PPM or independents or if they will be mixing up their vote with a party and independents.

To join in the CNS straw poll click on the link below and tell us how you think you will be distributing your votes:

CNS Poll: How will you be voting?

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Mac: I believe I can win

| 15/05/2013 | 177 Comments

udp.jpg(CNS): The UDP were the hands down winners on Tuesday in the West Bay battle of the meetings when McKeeva Bush demonstrated that, despite the 11 criminal charges laid against him, his popularity in his home district is as strong as ever. While Bush’s former political colleagues in the PNA struggled to attract even a hundred supporters and the Progressives had to be content with a pedestrian crowd of less than 200, Bush and his West Bay team attracted more than 500 enthusiastic, cheering, supporters to his meeting at the Four Way Stop. “I believe I can win … there are more for me as against me,” Bush told the crowd but warned his people not to be complacent.

Appearing on the hustings Tuesday night with his three district running mates, Velma Powery, Bernie Bush and Capt Eugene Ebanks, as well as Jonathan Piercy from his George Town team, the former premier demonstrated why he has been returned to office seven times. Bush delivered a similar speech to the one he has made repeatedly over the last four years when he spoke about the need to attract investors and criticized the PPM for what he called the “borrow and spend” policies during their administration.

Bush absolved himself of any responsibility for the increased unemployment in the district levels but said it was the blindness of those people who had opposed him. He criticised what he described as the “sentimentality” of those that wanted to preserve the West Bay Road and defended the Dart Deal with the NRA and government.

He also took aim at his former colleagues, ironically, given the stack of charges he faces himself, criticising Rolston Anglin's recent drunk driving conviction. Bush told the crowd not to be fooled by the C4C. However, he saved his worst condemnation for the PPM, which he said did not deserve to get one single seat in the LA.

Despite the show of force, he warned that the UDP had not won yet, as he urged supporters to spread the word to vote for the United Democratic Party and implored them to vote straight. “Do not split your vote,” he said. “It is a dangerous thing.” Displaying a sample ballot sheet on a large screen he told the crowd how to vote.

Meanwhile, in the Turtle Farm parking lot just a mile or so away, Bush’s former running mates Rolston Anglin and Cline Glidden of the PNA were still hopeful that they could cut into the solid support he commands in the district.

Speaking to an eager but far smaller crowd of around 75 people, Glidden said they made a mistake running with Bush in the past and were now going to correct that. Distancing themselves from the spectre of corruption which has dogged the last four years of the government of which they were a part, Glidden tried hard to break the dependency culture that he and Anglin have helped to perpetuate and on which the UDP has built support.

Glidden said that the district did not need to elect the UDP to get their veterans' benefits, pensions, scholarships, jobs or other support which comes from government. Glidden said the money came from tax-payers, not Mckeeva Bush,and the district was not beholden to him or dependent on him for its financial well-being.

At the Ed Bush stadium in the heart of the district, the PPM had a small crowd of around 175 people who were considerably more restrained than those that came out to support Bush. Ray Farringinton, Dalkieth Bothwell, Woody Da Costa and Capt Bryan Ebanks did their best to highlight the shortcomings of the representation in the district over the last dozen years.

The opposition team, which is still facing an uphill struggle in the district even though the UDP also faces a split vote, warned people not to vote because of favours or for those who trumpeted their Christian values while behaving dishonourably. The candidates spoke a great deal about the PPM manifesto and their plans for office and were joined by their George Town team mates Joey Hew and Marco Archer.

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Youth centre scrapped

| 15/05/2013 | 52 Comments

youth centre.jpg(CNS): The plans to build a young offender facility to ensure that the Cayman government is compliant with the bill of rights and separates its younger criminals from adults, have been scrapped. The government does not have the cash to either build the centre or run it once it is built, the minister for community affairs announced Tuesday. Dwayne Seymour stated that the Missouri Model was being dropped in favour of a Cayman model because of costs. The minister, who took over the ministry in December, pointed to concerns that had been raised by the governor regarding the cost of the project, which officials broke ground on in 2012, and which had been allocated some $8 million in this year's budget. However, Seymour said that the estimates had been as much as $11 million and government did not have the money.

However, strapped for cash or not, government is under obligation to separate young offenders from adult criminals, as per the bill of rights, which came into force in November 2012, and had already extended its obligation to do so until November of this year.

The project was also designed to make a greater impact on turning around the lives of young people who were making early steps on the road to a life of crime with speciality programmes. The former minister, Mike Adam, had identified the Missouri Model as a solution for the problems Cayman is facing with its young offenders and had designed the young offenders’ facility around that model.

Seymour said Tuesday, however, that the project would likely have to go back to the beginning as the costs were too high and the country could not afford another ten or eleven million on a building to house just ten or fifteen children.

“It will need to be dealt with by new the administration,” Seymour stated. “I wasn't able to get Cabinet approval because of the cost,” he said, adding that it was possible it would need to go back to the drawing board with a change to the scope of the plan to one that suits Cayman.

The community affairs minister said that if it was the Missouri Model that was driving costs so high it would have to be scrapped for a Cayman model.

Cayman’s young offenders are currently mixed with prisoners at HMP Northward, and although Eagle House was designed as a separate facility for juveniles, overcrowding at the prison has led to adults being housed there and younger more difficult prisoners being housed in the main jail. A recent report about HMP Northward carried out by the UK’s prison inspectorate noted that the prison was barely fit for human habitation. There have been endless reports of bullying and neglect of younger offenders inside the prison walls and some have been accommodated alongside sex offenders.

“We evidenced juveniles and young adults put at risk of sexual predation and recruitment into gang crime. One adult prisoner on C wing (Eagle House) had been convicted of sexual offences against children, and another was suspected of being involved in recruiting young people into gang crime on release,” the report revealed. “We had very serious concerns for the safety of a small number of children and young adults held at Northward," the inspectors said. “There were no systems to protect them from predatory behaviour, and it says much that those who seemed most concerned for their safety were other prisoners.”

The regime at HMP Northward does not meet the specific needs of juveniles and young adult prisoners and staff are not trained to work with young offenders or in child protection. With plans for the youth centre now scrapped, hopes of a new dawn for those trapped into the criminal justice system early in life have faded and it is clear that the next government will be facing the very real possibility of law suits without some interim measure to remove young offenders from HMP Northward before the year end.

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