Archive for May 21st, 2013

Former speaker passes away on eve of the election

| 21/05/2013 | 8 Comments

EDNAMOYLE210X277B.JPG(CNS): A stalwart of Cayman politics, Edna Moyle, a former Speaker of the House and representative for North Side for four terms, passed away at the Cayman Islands Hospital, George Town this afternoon (21 May). A mother of five, she was a founding member of thePeople’s Progressive Movement and served as speaker of the Legislative Assembly from 2005 until 2009. An experienced legislator and politician, Moyle lost her battle with cancer after being ill for several months on the eve of the 2013 election. With a long career in in politics, Moyle began as secretary to the Administrator of the Cayman Islands in 1966 to 1969, then became deputy clerk of the Legislative Assembly in 1971 until 1979. A working mother throughout her life, she also championed the cause of women.

The leader of the PPM Alden McLaughlin was deeply upset of the passing of Moyle on Tuesday and said she would be sadly missed.

“The Progressive family is deepened sadden at the loss of one of its founding members, Edna Moyle. She was instrumental in the founding of the party and a major asset to us not just for her parliamentary experience and but her knowledge of parliamentary procedure,”  he said. Moyle was also a key member of the PPM team which crafted the 2009 constitution.

“As a deputy clerk before being a member of the Legislative Assembly and then a minister, she brought a wealth experience. Ms Edna was an outstanding representative and widely loved. She was well known for her concern about social issues and the role of women in Cayman in general and in particular in public life,” he said, adding that the party had sent heartfelt condolences to her family.

Her successor in her native North Side, Ezzard Miller, echoed the sentiments of McLaughlin when he said that she was a champion of gender affairs locally and did a great deal to advance the cause of women in public life.

“She will be deeply missed and this evening I will be turning what was meant to be a final meeting in the district into a tribute to Ms Edna, where everyone will be able to remember her and the contribution she made to the Cayman Islands political landscape," Miller said.

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Engine trouble lands 30 Cubans on Little Cayman

| 21/05/2013 | 3 Comments

(CNS): A group of Cuban refugees which includes several people who have landed and been deported from Cayman before has turned up in Little Cayman. The group of thirty migrants which includes one woman developed engine trouble near Cayman Brac this morning. However, the refuges pressed on after the weather cleared, stating that they were on their way to Honduras, but instead ended up in Little Cayman. It is not clear where the migrants are now but immigration officials say the group includes a number of repeat travellers, including one person who has been to the Cayman Islands three times previously.
 

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Start of year sees serious crime increase by 7%

| 21/05/2013 | 5 Comments

crime_scene.jpg(CNS): Five attempted murders in the first three months of 2013 along with four cases of defilement compared to only one arrest for those crimes in the first quarter of 2012, plus a surge in burglaries have all helped to  push up local crime statistics. Figures released by the RCIPS this week show that there were 123 burglaries between January and March this year compared to 98 during the same period in 2012, a more than 25% increase. Despite one less robbery, two less firearms possession and a major fall in cases of wounding and GBH compared to 2012, the 400% increase in attempted murder has pushed up what should have been a fall in violent crime.

As a result of a dramatic fall in the number of thefts reported, domestic violence cases and drug offences, the overall number of crimes has fallen to 519 from 707 in the first quarter of 2012, representing a more than 26.5% fall in crime overall.

Despite dealing with almost 200 less crimes during the start of 2013 than in 2012, the police had to deal with far more serious crimes and detection rates have also dropped off. According to the statistics, so far 170 of the 519 crimes reported this quarter have been solved while during the same period last year the RCIPS detected  more than half of the 707 crimes reported.

Meanwhile, on the roads the police dealt with 100 more traffic offences, not least because of the introduction of the new crime of using a mobile phone while driving, and 242 people were fined for using their phone behind the wheel in the first quarter of the year. Although DUI offences dropped by 36% across the first quarter, from 64 last year to 41 this year, offences such as failing to wear a seatbelt more than doubled. The already high traffic accident rate also increased by 20%, as there were 446 road accidents in Cayman in the first quarter of the year, two of which were fatal.

For full details of the latest crime statistics see document below.

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Former C4C candidate backs Progressive in BT fight

| 21/05/2013 | 12 Comments

552789_332856983483616_991623282_n.jpg(CNS): Kent McTaggart, who had planned to enter the race in Bodden Town before he was forced to withdraw as a result of the election law requirements regarding residency, has given his backing to a party candidate as well as another non-coalition independent. McTaggart has endorsed both Al Suckoo from the PPM and Charles Clifford, a former PPM member and now independent candidate who has already stated he will support the PPM to form government if they have the largest group. A staunch advocate for the anti-party movement, McTaggart is asking his supporters to vote for Suckoo, as he says he will put Cayman first, despite being a party member.

“Cayman has serious challenges ahead, which have been mainly caused from outright corruption, compounded by apathy of others,” he said. “We must have representation that not only believes in doing the right thing but also is willing to put their face, name and reputation on the line to put the best interests of Cayman first. I know Al is a worker, I know he is willing to have an opinion prior to knowing if the subject matter is popular or not." 

He continued, "I believe Al is a person that is not defined by the brand he is wrapped around, but rather his personality is part of what defines the brand. I believe that Al will continue to be an independent thinker, and will not follow party lines if there is a better option and result for the people of the Cayman Islands."

Acknowledging that party members can be independent thinkers too, McTaggart, who was a founding member of the Coalition for Cayman (C4C), said that because of his experience with Al and knowledge of his ethical compass, he had no hesitation in endorsing him.

“I have asked many of the voters who pledged support for me during my time as a candidate to give Alva a serious look and consideration for one of their votes. I am suggesting all voters in the district do the same, as Alva Suckoo has given me his word that he will not be defined by a party or label; he has given me his word that he will always do what he considers to be in the best interest of Cayman above all,” McTaggart said.

Suckoo said he humbly accepted the endorsement from McTaggart, with whom he worked closely on the OMOV campaign.

“I know that he is sincere in his statement and that he also wants the best for these islands. I pray that I am successful tomorrow along with my colleagues and I am committed to doing my best to make all our lives better. I think this endorsement is a testament to our love for Cayman and Caymanians and I ask for the people's support at the polls tomorrow," Suckoo added.

McTaggart also offered his backing to Charles Clifford, who is running on an independent platform and did not seek support from the C4C. The former coalition candidate said Clifford and Suckoo had the ability to make decisions that would put the county first, but also the personalities that would not put unnecessary road blocks in the way of working with others in the next government for the betterment of our country. 

“There are many qualified individuals available to receive your votes, but there are very few that have all the boxes checked and the personalities that will allow them to work with other like-minded independent thinkers for the betterment of our islands,” he added.

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Did women really get the vote in our own right?

| 21/05/2013 | 14 Comments

I was chatting with a friend on the weekend; this is a friend who is voting for the very first time in Cayman. Both she and her husband, after nearly 20 years here, have now been granted status, become naturalized and have signed on to the electoral roll. This particular friend told me that she was at home alone the other night and heard a knock on the door. When she answered the door, there stood one of the political hopefuls in the upcoming election. 

He asked if her husband was in; she said no, unfortunately he wasn’t yet home. This particular political candidate explained that he simply wanted to talkabout the upcoming elections and answer any queries her husband may have and just have a general chat.  She said, “Oh that’s great – it’s the first year that we’re both voting in theelections and we’re pretty excited about it – we’d love to chat to you a little more to help us make an informed decision.” To which he said, “Well, I’ll look forward to speaking to your husband later then,” and off he went.

I wondered if the candidate was being chivalrous and simply didn’t want to be in her home without her husband present, but then I thought about it a little more and decided that if that was the case he simply had to say that he’d prefer to continue the conversation with her husband present so that he could talk with both of them at a convenient time. And so I became quite offended by his behaviour, given the only two other reasons I can think of why he wouldn’t take advantage of the obvious opening she presented him with to help win her over are: he doesn’t consider her vote to be terribly important (because she’s a woman?) or that he’s only interested in talking to her husband because, as long as he can win the husband over, he must, of course, get her vote by default. Won’t the husband tell his wife which way to vote anyway!

Having spent a little more time pondering it, I realized that this is the third election I will be voting in. I have served jury duty (one of the ‘perks’ of being able to vote), and yet I’ve never received a visit from a political hopeful (not that I’m encouraging everyone to now come knocking but it’s interesting nonetheless). And now this year, the first year my husband is entitled to vote and has signed on to the electoral roll, having only been on the roll since February, he has received five letters/flyers in the mail addressed to him personally (not to us jointly) and I’ve received none – not in the past two elections or this one.

I’d be fascinated to hear if someone else has a different viewpoint but it certainly smacks of chauvinism and, interestingly, the political hopeful referred to above has lost any hope of getting not only the vote of the (girl) friend who relayed the story but also of her husband, and sadly for him he’s also lost mine and my husband’s vote. 

Other political hopefuls take note – not only did women get the vote but some of us may not actually even vote in accordance with how our husbands may choose to vote. And in extreme cases, some of us may even be able to persuade our husbands on the merits of certain candidates – at least those lucky enough to be married to men who realize we might be able to make informed decisions all on our own!

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CNS stands by ‘honorary degree’ article

| 21/05/2013 | 20 Comments

herbert_thompson.jpg(CNS): While The Jamaica Gleaner has claimed that CNS has been threatened with a law suit over a recent article, neither this media house nor CNS journalist Wendy Ledger have received any such threat. Following the publication of an article which revealed that the RCIPS and the Cayman Islands Anti-Corruption Committee were investigating a money transfer made to the University College of the Caribbean (UCC) of US$1 million in relation to the honorary doctorate that the former Cayman Islands premier was scheduled to receive, the UCC chancellor, Dr Herbert Thompson (left), demanded that CNS publish the full correspondence between him and Ledger, but we have received no request to remove the article or any specific complaints of factual error.

Dr Thompson, in an email sent four days after the article appeared on the CNS website, claimed that Ledger had put her “own political spin to it” and said, “I have consulted with our UCC lawyers and before we proceed to take the appropriate action, we demand that you publish in full your letter to me and my response to your letter.

“Please ensure that this is done with immediate effect or we will go to all media houses in Cayman and expose the facts re your seeming political preferences based on the twists which you have put on my letter to you.”

“Since CNS has always maintained a policy of publishing source material so that its readers can make up their own minds, we were more than happy to publish the email exchange," Ledger said. "In any case, Thompson’s original response to inquiries about any monetary gift in exchange for the former premier’s honorary doctorate appeared to endorse the article rather than prove any political spin. Far from refuting that such a gift existed, Dr Thompson clearly states that ‘the gift was returned’. However, the question of where the gift came from was not answered and we would still be grateful if he would answer that.”

The only threat that Dr Thompson has so far made, other than “appropriate action”, is that he will “go to all the media houses in Cayman”.

“How the Gleaner translated that into a threatened law suit is most peculiar,” said CNS General Manager Nicky Watson. "We have not so far received any correspondence from the UCC lawyers or any demands that we remove all or part of the article, and while he clearly does not like it, Dr Thompson has yet to explain what is factually wrong with Wendy’s article. And we are quite sure that any media house that is interested in this story will contact UCC, rather than the other way round, and would hope that Dr Thompson would answer their questions more fully than he answered ours.”

Related articles:

‘Gift’ for Mac’s PhD probed (CNS 16 May 2013)

Bush denies buying $1M PhD (CNS 17 May 2013)

UCC's Thompson Threatens To Sue Cayman Newspaper (Jamaica Gleaner 21 May 2013)

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Change limited for new gov’t

| 21/05/2013 | 55 Comments

hands tied (300x283).jpg(CNS): Despite the commitments and promises made by all of the parties, groups and independents on the campaign trail, whichever group of politicians ends up forming government over the next week or so will be very limited in what they can do. How the budget will look for the next two to three years has already been agreed with the UK; the major cuts in spending being promised are likely to take several years to have any affect; and with the UKdemanding that CIG return significant surpluses until it is back within its own legal parameters for its borrowing ratios, the next government will find it difficult to cut the fees and taxes and also spend money on the projects and initiatives they are promising.

The budget is critical to the direction of any government as policy is dependent on how much a government can, or more importantly is prepared to, raise from the community in fees and taxes and how it will spend that revenue.

With all of the politicians talking about prudent spending and no one wanting to impose any more taxes, the new administration will find it difficult to implement any major changes. While everyone is currently pointing to the spending side of the balance sheet but promising no major cuts in jobs or services, it will be very difficult for the next administration to cut the existing $200 million tax package added to the tax-payers' burden over the last four years.

While most parties and political groups have pointed to a reduction in fuel duty in particular as a result of its impact on the whole community and the wider economy, the revenue from that tax is currently included in the next two budget forecasts. Without a dramatic cut in public services or the civil service headcount, whoever is returned will face a battle to balance the books and meet their campaign commitments.

Whichever group of ten or more MLAs forms the next government, they will need to begin working on a budget almost immediately as the financial year ends in just over one month. While the new government will pass an interim spending plan to cover the first quarter of 2013/14, it will need to have a full budget for the year completed and approved by the UK well before the end of September.

Despite the campaign promises, it is very unlikely that Cayman will see any new initiatives, tax cuts or major changes in services in the 2013//14 budget, regardless of who is in charge of the finance ministry as the flexibility of the budget is now constrained by the plan agreed last year with the UK and by the Budget Oversight Committee.

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No certainty on election eve

| 21/05/2013 | 26 Comments

alden wb rally.JPG(CNS): Following a weekend when both the political parties and independent candidates were putting on shows of force across the islands with motorcades and rallies, the question of who will be premier on Thursday remains uncertain. Despite his long list of criminal charges and the latest revelations concerning a $1 million transfer to a Caribbean university in connection with an honorary doctorate, McKeeva Bush is still very much a contender for the top job. Even though no one outside of the UDP is willing to work with the former premier, Bush may just squeeze a majority depending on how close the vote is between his and his opponents' candidates in the capital as a result of the split vote.

Although the opposition to the UDP, and Bush in particular, is believed to be running at more than 70 percent of the electorate, that opposition to the former premier is split across several different groups — the PNA, the C4C and other independents, as well as the Progressives — and the UDP could, therefore, still steal the day on Wednesday, returning Bush to the premiership.

With the PPM’s show of force on Monday evening’s motorcade, however, expectations that the PPM can squeeze out the UDP in the capital were raised but it is still too close to call.

The widely popular concept of a coalition remains in question, too, as the independent vote in the major constituencies is also split. With no grass roots collective support for groups such as the PNA or C4C, compared to the party loyalties that carry block votes for both the UDP and PPM candidates, the independent candidates have the biggest hill to climb when it comes to attracting the significant number of votes that will be required to win in the major battlegrounds of West Bay, Bodden Town and George Town.

A parliamentary deadlock is also a definite possibility, with nine PPM candidates and their independent supporters being returned across from nine UDP candidates. If a number of independent candidates are elected then Cayman’s next premier could even end up being an individual who has never served inside the country's parliament before. While the main contenders for Cayman’s third premier remain Alden McLaughlin, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, McKeeva Bush and Ezzard Miller, should either Jude Scott or Roy McTaggart be returned they may be pushing for the top job as well. 

With no official independent polls and only those financed by parties and the media, the results that have been revealed are varying widely. Although the CNS poll has the PPM commanding 42% of the straight vote, the UDP a mere 7% and the independents and split vote running highest with 47%, by comparison the Cayman 27 poll shows the PPM, the UDP and the split vote neck and neck with just 23%, 22% and 23% respectively.

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

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Former airport accountant turns to courts

| 21/05/2013 | 4 Comments

shelly ware 2may2013.jpg(CNS): The troubles at the Cayman Islands Airports Authority are continuing as the former financial controller at the government authority is seeking the court’s intervention in the decision by the board to sack her last year. Shelley Ware has filed a judicial review stating that she wants her job back and a finding from the courts that not only was there no misconduct on her part but that she was an exemplary employee. Following an internal audit conducted by one of the directors on the board, Ware was fired by the board chair, Richard Arch, in December 2012 after more than three years at the airport. Ware states in her application that she was never given an opportunity to respond and that the chair did not have the authority to sack her in the first place.

Ware disputes the findings published in the internal auditing report, which was leaked to North Side MLA Ezzard Miller, who passed the document to CNS earlier this year. The report listed a number of allegations against the former airport senior accountant and found that she was guilty of serious misconduct. As a result the board fired her from the authority.

However, Ware states that the board did not have the authority or the grounds to fire her and she was never given a chance to answer the allegations or appear before the board to defendherself.

In her law suit Ware asks the judge to overturn the decision, order her re-instatement and remove any suggestion of misconduct from her record, as well as pay her the salary and pension benefits that she would have earned since last November.

Since the report was leaked, the CEO at the airport, Jeremy Jackson, was also fired and Kerith McCoy has been appointed as the Acting Chief Executive Officer.

The internal audit documented a number of serious issues at the airport, including the misuse of the government credit cards, boozy lunches paid for by the public purse and cases of unresolved theft.

However, following the leaking of the report other information has also been leaked which shows that the board chair and other directors are conflicted as they have direct business interests at the airport and that they have not necessarily removed themselves from meetings or proceedings when the board was discussing issues that could impact those businesses. In addition, the board chair had refused to sign a document regarding conflicts for the preparation of the airports regular annual accounts, as is required by international accounting standards.

Related articles on CNS:

Airport boss report leak

Airport board conflicts

More conflicts exposed at GT airport

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