Archive for October 3rd, 2013

BT cop-shop chief to host crime prevention meeting

| 03/10/2013 | 3 Comments

(CNS): Residents of Bodden Town are being invited to a public meeting next week to discuss crime prevention issues in the face of a surge in violent and gun related crime recently. Chief Inspector Brad Ebanks from Bodden Town police station encouraged all of the residents in the district and particularly  business owners to attend the public meeting next Wednesday, 9 October. The senior officer said that the meeting will provide an opportunity for discussions around crime trends, crime prevention and community safety.

Security company staff will also be there to demonstrate their latest products and services and guest speakers from the Department of Public Safety Communications and Woody Foster will take part.

The meeting will be held in Savannah Primary School Hall and begins at 7.00pm sharp.  For more information see the attached flyer below

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Locals to get help with jobs

| 03/10/2013 | 90 Comments

CNS): Government has announced the formation of a new task force to review the National Workforce Development Agency (NWDA) to ensure that the department fulfils its remit. In the meantime, government officials and the country’s political representatives have committed to helping all unemployed Caymanians take up posts currently occupied by term limit exemption permit (TLEP) holders. As government begins the first step in its major overhaul of the immigration laws and policies, the regularization of TLEPS will not happen until all the positions they hold are advertised and jobless locals are given the chance to apply for those jobs.

In order for that to happen, out of work Caymanians are being urged to submit their details to the NWDA agency which will be involved in the government wide effort to identify unemployed Caymanians and match their skills with the vacancies.

As part of the first major set of amendments to the immigration law the TLEPS whose special permits expire at the end of October will be regularized or rolled over. Employers are being given 45 days to apply for normal work permits for these ex-pat employees but every one of the more than 1500 jobs must be advertised first.

According to a release from the premier’s office Thursday, the National Workforce Development Agency will be provided with a list of all the jobs that are currently held by TLEPs which will be used to assist Caymanians who have the necessary qualifications or experience to apply for those jobs.

A task force is being created to review the NWDA which has been severely criticised in the past for failing to link people registered as unemployed with jobs held by permit holders. A recruitment drive is also expected shortly to increase the staffing levels so that the agency can do the work it was created to do.

“We recognise that in order to adequately meet the needs of the community the NWDA requires additional staff,” said the chief officer for employment, Mary Rodrigues. “The necessary approvals have been received by Cabinet and we are expecting to receive approval to begin recruiting shortly."

While government says it is working to match unemployed Caymanians with jobs held by those on work permits, a task force has been formed to review the NWDA and identify areas of priority that need to be addressed so that staff can deliver the services and the support necessary to aid in the training, development and employment of Caymanians in the short and long-term.

“The NWDA was established in 2012 to help prepare Caymanians to take part in current and future economic opportunities,” said Bodden Town MLA Alva Suckoo, the councillor in the home affairs ministry who will be leading the review committee.  “Government sees a need to step in and help the agency refocus its original remit so that Caymanians can get jobs and employers can confidently hire local employees. 

“We must assist Caymanians to become better prepared to make a meaningful contribution to our society and this initiative goes a long way towards offering them the assistance they need in order to become better employees, while removing the obstacles and pitfalls they often find in their way,” he added.

The committee will analyse the priority areas and current NWDA operations and submit a report for each area advising how the agency is delivering its services. The Task Force will take all information and suggest ways to enhance the NWDA’s abilities to carry out its duties.
Suckoo will be joined in chairing the committee by Dr Tasha Ebanks, deputy chief officer in the ministry of education, employment and gender affairs and they in turn will work with o a cross section of human resource professionals, members of the financial services industry, tourism professionals, small business representatives and others. The Task Force will begin meeting next week and is expected to submit its final report in January, 2014.

In the meantime, however, the NWDA will be involved in the push over the next few weeks to try and get locals in the available jobs that the TLEPs transition presents. All TLEPS expire on 28 October and under the proposed immigration reform, no new TLEPs will be issued after that date. Employers will be given until 9 December this year to apply for work permits for these 1,500 foreign workers but they will need to advertise the positions enabling all efforts to be made to identify a Caymanian who is capable and available to fill the position.

All employment applicationsmade to any employer, including those who have workers on TLEPs, should be copied to the NWDA so that agency can track applicants and inform Immigration when there is an available Caymanian. Caymanians who are looking for a job are urged to immediately register with NWDA so they are in the database of available Caymanian employees.

In addition, to the agency and the work of government officials all elected members of government and MLAs have committed to providing assistance and help match their jobless .constituents with the TLEP vacancies.

The employment minister, who has said very little publicly about unemployment or the PPM government’s decision to change the immigration laws, said in the release that she felt, “passionate about the fact that our Caymanian people must be able to access the real job opportunities in this economy.”

The changes to the immigration law are expected to be debated in the Legislative Assembly later this month following the budget debate and the finance committee hearings which begin next week.

The immigration department has released a document listing the positions held by TLEPS but the department is urging Caymanians looking for work to contact the NWDA and not their office to help in the process of matching their skills to the jobs on the list. Immigration officials confirmed that until the employers have advertised the positions and considered all of the qualified Caymanians spouses of a Caymanians, and permanent resident applicants and determined that none of the applicants meet their requirements only then can the employers of TLEP holders submit a work permit grant application for consideration.

Government has also announced a series of town hall public meetings to present the immigration changes which will start in West Bay next Tuesday, 8 October, at 7pm

See list of permit holders and the immigration amendment bill below

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Search still on for lost suspect

| 03/10/2013 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Despite an extensive land and sea search throughout Wednesday for 33-year-old Anthony Smith, who dived into the ocean to evade police on Tuesday night, there is still no sign of him. Police said Thursday that they are continuing the search for Smith. An RCIPS spokesperson also said they have now been in contact with various family members and friends and are continuing that liaison in the quest to locate him. Smith, who is the subject of a Fail to Appear warrant in relation to multiple offences before the court as well as police drug related matters, disappeared on 1 October at around 9:50pm when police lost sight of him in the sea near the West Bay public beach.

Police had approached Smith Tuesday evening as he sat in a stationary car close to Alfresco Restaurant. They asked him to step out of the car but as he did Smith ran from the officers and dived into the rough seas. The strong tide started pulling him towards the West Bay dock, so officers immediately called for assistance and the air operations unit was deployed.

Uniform officers and the Air Operations Unit carried out a shoreline search and a cell phone and shoes were recovered. The search was suspended due to the severe weather conditions. It was resumed around 7:30am Wednesday and continued throughout the day until nightfall but there was no sign of Smith.

Smith is described as 5 ft 10 inches, large built, light complexion, wavy hair, usually in plaits. If anyone has seen Smith since 9:50pm 1 October, they should contact their nearest police station as a matter of urgency. 

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Start talking with sense

| 03/10/2013 | 17 Comments

Good leadership in any country must be by persons with the persistence to create the future they dream of and a rational capacity to avoid reactionary decisions while believing that the result of rational and pragmatic management will always be the closest approximation to democracy that is ever achievable. 

Unfortunately for the Cayman Islands and its people, reactions rather than rational thinking and planning is well established as the status quo. There should therefore be no wonder than the PPM, after having won the May elections by encouraging anti-foreigner sentiments for several years as a way of unseating Hon. McKeeva, is now being burnt by the very fire they started.

Tara Rivers won in West Bay not because she was a part of the C4C but because she is a West Bayer, like Mac.  And Mac is in all his politics nothing more than a village chief, who will oust or crown as it suits himself, but more so his constituency upon whom he depends for his control of the votes. What is wrong with giving up one seat to gain three? Tara would have joined Mac anyway if the UDP had won the majority nationally.

Are three seats not the majority, signifying he is still village chief, in spite of his being accused of selling out to Dart and the foreigners? How importance must these issues have been in his village?

Please explain to me how important the public beach and the ForCayman Investment Alliance issues were if Mac got three of the four seats in West Bay and the third went to someone who can play on any side at any time and perhaps next time on Mac’s side.

Face it, Mac has long searched for his successor and perhaps after the PPM’s immigration bill, set to come before the House, he might very well find his successor. She will play with the issue until she finds a chance to walk across to the village fold, and he will be there waiting with open arms too. Not saying she walking now, but next time. Mac will give her that space to learn and develop and so will the other villagers. She will not be like Rollie or CG; she will be more like Julie, and we knowfor a fact that Mac can deal with that.

Forgive me Mac and Alden, but this every four years changing the party we don’t trust for the party we don’t like is destroying governance more so than any lack of transparency or lack of accountability or corruption ever could. Alden knows what a hot seat is. Power is fire and I am sure that the power he has is well worth the heat he feels, so Arden or somebody, say: “To Hell to ambition!” and bring in our Labor Party.  

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Crawford returns to dock over firearms charge

| 03/10/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A West Bay man who was recently freed on appeal from a mandatory ten year prison sentence after he was convicted of possession of an unlicensed firearm will return to the dock on Thursday facing the same charges, following his arrest in the early hoursof Sunday morning in George Town. Robert Aaron Crawford (21) was arrested and subsequently charged after a foot chase on Sheddon Road at the weekend, when officers from the Unit Support Group recovered a loaded gun that the suspect was believed to have thrown away during the police chase. The USG officers were patrolling the area when they approached Crawford, who immediately took flight.

The officers followed on foot and say they saw him discarded an object as he ran. When Crawford was apprehended, according to a police report, a search of the area where he was seen to toss an object uncovered a hand gun and several rounds of ammunition, in an eerily similar set of circumstances that landed him in jail following an incident in November 2011

A suspected West Bay gang member, Crawford was sentenced to a decade behind bars in January of this year following his conviction in 2012. However, the conviction was overturned in August by the Court of Appeal and Crawford was released from prison. Since his arrest on Sunday following just two months of freedom, he has been remanded in custody.

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CPA trip to South Africa cost public purse 13K

| 03/10/2013 | 23 Comments

(CNS): The recent trip to the annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, by Speaker of the House Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush and Education Minister Tara Rivers cost the public purse just over CI$13k, according to records released by the Legislative Assembly. As the regional representative for the Caribbean, Americans and Atlantic and a member of the Executive Committee, O’Connor-Connolly’s flight was paid for by the international CPA. The speaker cost the public purse just $1,650 in total for her expense allowance. However, the public purse paid for the flights for both Bush, who delivered two papers at the conference, and Tara Rivers, who attended but did not present.

Rivers' flight cost $4,232.21 and the flight for the opposition leader was $3,868.75. Both were also given an expense allowance of $1,650. Accommodation for all of the Cayman delegates was also provided for by the CPA.

The trip stirred up considerable controversy for Rivers in particular, as the education and employment minister had been away from her desk for several weeks before the ten day trip as a result of a legal battle challenging her eligibility to run for office. The minister was also criticised for leaving the islands at a time of rising unemployment and numerous challenges relating to scholarships and teaching issues at the start of the school year.

As the regional representative O’Connor- Connolly was expected to attend and the local branch of the CPA had opted to send the opposition leader after he was invited by the international CPA to give two presentation papers, one on ethical tax-raising in small states and a second on self-determination.

The local membership also made the decision to send Winston Connolly as its third delegate, as a new member of the LA. However, at some point after that meeting Connolly was replaced by Rivers.

The public disclosure of the education minister’s decision to go to Johannesburg was not made until the minister was missing from her seat when the Legislative Assembly met to deal with outstanding supplementary appropriation issues. Despite two previous occasions when government could have detailed Rivers' decision to go, it appeared that her trip was kept under wraps.

As a result of the backlash, on her return Rivers issued a lengthy statement in which she accused the media of sensationalizing her trip and of gender discrimination as she attempted to justify her reasons for going. However, the statement was greeted with considerable skepticism, and with almost a 140 comments on the CNS report relating to her statement, only a handful appeared to defend the new minister. 

See document released relating to expenses for CPA trip below and check back to CNS tomorrow for details of Bush’s presentations.

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Suspects accused of taking $8K + in WestStar robbery

| 03/10/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): After weeks of legal arguments between the crown and defence, the four men accused of robbing the local cable company’s offices in an armed stick-up in May 2012 went on trial this week before visiting judge, Justice Alastair Malcolm. Andre Burton, David Tamassa, George Mignot and Ryan Edwards are all alleged to have entered the offices of WestStar TV in the middle of the day on 24 May, armed and disguised, and to have made off with $8,269.36. The crown is relying on Marlon Dillon, its key witness in the case, after he pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods from the proceeds of the robbery and admitted his involvement and knowledge of the heist. Edwards has also pleaded guilty on one of the charges relating to the crime.

The crown’s case against the men depends heavily on the evidence of Dillon, who has been termed a 'robber with a conscience'. He claims that when he had returned to the island after a trip to Jamaica, he was contacted by Tamassa and Mignot for an urgent meeting. Dillon has said that when he arrived at Tamassa's residence, the men were discussing a robbery but he did not want to be involved. However, Dillon admits to offering to give the men a ride to School House Road close to the TV station offices.

It is alleged that it was Clarke, however, who was the driver of the Red RVR motorcar, which prosecutors said the robbers used to get to the scene in George Town. In turn, it was Edwards who was to be the switch driver for the getaway in a white panel van. The prosecution also said on Tuesday, as the case opened against the men, that it was Mignot, Burton and Tamassa who went into the offices with a handgun and directed the customers to lay on the floor before they took the money from the cashiers.

The four men have all denied being part of the armed hold-up and claim Dillon's evidence is inconsistent, as the witness gave different accounts to the police about the lead up to the robbery. The defence submits that the crown’s case was built on Dillon’s incorrect evidence, which does not tally with the later confession from Ryan Edwards but which falsely identifies the accused men. While Edwards admits that he had some involvement and knowledge of the robbery, he has stated that his co-conspirators were not the men who sit with him in the prisoners' dock. He claims that his accomplices are two Jamaican men who escaped by canoe after the hold up.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions TrevorWard, QC, the lead crown counsel on the case, told the court that Dillon's account must be accurate and true because of the many details he revealed relating to the robbery. The crown contends that Dillon could not have known these details without being involved or at least being told by one of the men who committed the offense. Ward also submitted that DNA evidence along with telephone analysis and government CCTV footage would support the credibility of Dillon's evidence.

The case continues this week in Grand Court 1.

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CCTV helps direct crime fight

| 03/10/2013 | 23 Comments

(CNS): Despite the recent surge in violent crime on Grand Cayman, government officials have said that the 300 cameras in about 85 different locations around the island have made a major difference in the ability of the RCIPS to apprehend suspects and put together stronger cases for court. Even though crimes are rarely committed in full view of the cameras, the national CCTV network is helping in many other ways. Since the system went live, the office manning the CCTV has handled 526 requests from police for evidence images or license plates. The screens are generally passively monitored but because the CCTV is linked to police stations and the 911 call centre, as soon as a crime is reported, the relevant cameras can be monitored in real time.

Brent Finster, head of the 911 emergency centre, told CNS that as soon as a crime is reported, his team can switch immediately to the cameras in that area and begin looking for any vehicles or suspects that have been described and can help direct the police investigation.

With a number of misconceptions in the community about the quality and use of the CCTV system and its role in the crime fight, Finster confirmed that the system is fully functioning and has less than a 5% error rate. However, the need for security limits how much can be divulged about the assistance the system is offering at the start of an investigation as well as corroborating evidence in cases that make it to the courts.

Jullian Lewis, who is directly responsible for the cameras and the team that monitors the screens at the emergency centre, described the system as “invaluable” for law enforcement. “It has done its job already in directing resources and we have collected some good stuff for the RCIP,” he said. Lewis also said the cost of the cameras compared very well to home security systems but was of exceptional high quality and built to withstand the elements.

Looking over road junctions at crime hotspots and places where public reassurance was needed, the CCTV system is helping in a number of different ways, those using it said.
Detective Superintendent Robert Scotland said that the cameras were of significant assistance to the RCIPS in various ways, from utilizing resources more effectively in the wake of a crime to the protection of police and suspects.

“It has given us the ability to identify evidential leads, coordinate our response and better deploy resources,” he said. “Officers are now trained to undertake stop and searches of any suspects in the view of cameras as this makes things safer for all concerned,” he said. This means that the interactions with people are recorded ensuring the officers involved do their searches by the book and make it far less likely that the suspects would attempt to resist or use any weapons in their possession.

CCTV footage has already been used in a number of high profile major cases to help secure convictions and the police and emergency centre team say that more is in the pipeline. The police have also found that they have been able to trace suspects from the scene of an incident to their hiding places, enabling them to apprehend dangerous suspects very quickly after a crime.

The centre is also a back-up for evidence, so the days of lost video footage, which has plagued the RCIPS in a number of courtroom embarrassments over the years, should be a thing of the past. Lewis said that once tape is identified by the RCIPS as evidence, the centre keeps and secures a copy of that tape as a master.

Wesley Howell from the Ministry of Home Affairs explained that the CCTV footage is being managed as if Cayman had a data protection law and in conjunction with the existing bill of rights so the footage recorded is only used for security purposes. The tape is kept for just 60 days and after that, if it has not been requested by police and tagged for evidence, the footage is purged. No one can use it to spy on neighbours or errant husbands, the officials stated.

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Nightly robberies continue

| 03/10/2013 | 20 Comments

(CNS) Updated 12:05pm Wednesday: The RCIPS arrested two men in connection with last night’s robbery at Domino’s Pizza in Midtown Plaza within an hour of the robbery taking place. The suspects, aged 28 and 29, were arrested on suspicion of robbery following an operation in the George Town area and remain in police custody whilst enquiries continue. Domino’s was robbed on Wednesday night just 24 hours after a gas station was targeted by armed robbers in the industrial area and the fifth robbery in as many days. The armed masked men entered the business at around 10:30pm carrying what were believed to be handguns, held up the occupants and fled with their ill-gotten gains. Police said that no shots were fired and no injuries were reported.

Anyone with information to share on this or any other crime is urged to call 949-7777 or 800 TIPS to remain anonymous.

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HBO & Weststar still in dispute over broadcast rights

| 03/10/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Negotiations between HBO Latin America and local cable television operator WestStar TV have reached an impasse, the international TV channel has stated, pointing the finger of blame at the WestStar management for not accepting proposals from HBO that would legalize the cable company’s rebroadcast of HBO programming under a licensing agreement. According to a release from HBO are hoping that either the Cayman government or its regulator the ICTA will step in before the TV channel takes action in the courts.  However, the local cable firm has said that it signed all 9 agreements with HBO Latin America requesting minor changes which were rejected. Read more on CNS Business

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