Archive for October 28th, 2013

UK investigators call for ban of amphibious vehicles

| 28/10/2013 | 11 Comments

(CNS): Following two major incidents involving amphibious vehicles in the UK, investigators there are calling for a ban on these vessels until buoyancy issues have been addressed. Often referred to as 'duck boats', the vehicles are buses that go into the water and have become popular for tourist excursions. At least two companies are operating several amphibious vessels in Cayman, despite numerous questions surrounding the safety of these types of vehicles. According to media reports from the UK, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has blamed buoyancy foam for accidents in Liverpool on 15 June and London on 29 September.

Although one vehicle sank because of flooding,and the other involved a fire, the link between both events is the foam inserted into the vehicles to provide buoyancy, the experts have said, and the MAIB has recommended that the all amphibious vehicles are preventedfrom operating until the issue of how much foam should be used is addressed and standards of buoyancy and stability can be achieved without affecting safety.

Here in Cayman there have been no incidents or accidents involving the vehicles, which are all understood to be new vessels. It is not clear if they use the same type of foam or what safety questions have been asked and answered about them and their operations locally.

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Museum to celebrate local sea captain

| 28/10/2013 | 6 Comments

(CNS): A brand new exhibit honouring Captain Paul Hurlston will open next month at the National Museum in the Special Tributes Gallery. The exhibition depicts the local retired seafarer’s life from his family history and early catboat ventures to his work with international shipping companies as well as his life post-retirement. Voyages: A Sea Captain’s Legacy, tells the story of one of Cayman’s living legends of the sea. The exhibition will form part of the museum’s 22nd anniversary. In addition the popular exhibit about migratory birds which opened in May has been extended.

Passing Through: Migratory Birds of the Cayman Islands which is on display at the Changing Gallery will continue until next year after it re-launches next month with additional enhancements on featured birds and information on recent sightings.

Meanwhile, the museum is extending at invitation to all for the Big Ole Looky Ya, when traditional, as well as contemporary artisans/artists will be displaying and selling their work and wares in the museum courtyard and the adjacent Goring Avenue.

“Everyone is encouraged to support our local artisans and bring the family out for a day of early Christmas shopping, kids’ activities, and food,” said a museum spokesperson. “This is an event all will enjoy, from kids to adults, locals and visitors alike. Vendors are still being accepted, so interested parties should contact the National Museum to reserve tent space as soon as possible.

This free event is scheduled for Saturday, November 23rd 2013 between 10:00am and 2:00pm for more information call 949-8368 or

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Ebanks arrested again

| 28/10/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Although the police have not named a 50-year-old man arrested for breach of trust and government fraud this morning, the man is understood to be Joey Ebanks. Police said the suspect was detained at George Town Police Station and interviewed but has since been released on police bail. The beleaguered former Electricity Regulatory Authority managing director and failed election candidate is already facing a catalogue of charges for corruption, theft and drugs offenses. Commenting on his Facebook page today, Ebanks said he was arrested at his home at around 7am this morning (Monday 28 October) in connection with his former job at the ERA. Ebanks said this time the cops arrested him in relation to his attempts to implement a failed project to install solar panels in residential homes.

Making more allegations over irregularities relating to the arrest and claiming it was because he continues to speak out about corruption himself, Ebanks suggested that the police did not have a warrant and that Police Commissioner David Baines was called during his trip to the police station in order to update him so he could approve a release to the media. However, the media did not receive a release about the arrest; a short report from the police followed enquiries triggered by Ebanks' comments on Facebook.

Ebanks first came to the attention of the police in April this year when the auditor general's office raised the alarm following its discovery of financial irregularities during the ERA's annual audit.

This led to an investigation, which resulted in a catalogue of charges against Ebanks relating to corruption, fraud, theft and drug charges ahead of the election, in which Ebanks ran as an independent candidate in North Side. Ebanks also began a Facebook campaign against the authorities and private citizens, making numerous allegations against his opponent, Ezzard Miller, the police commissioner, ERA officials and others that resulted in at least one civil action being filed against him.

He also triggered a probe into the ERA's solicitation process for the generation of additional power and the cancelation of the award to DECCO, part of the Dart Group, when he accused officials of trying to doctor the bid.

Ebanks has already denied more than 17 charges in the Grand Court and several others in Summary Court and is scheduled to stand trial next year.

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Domino players attacked by armed men

| 28/10/2013 | 7 Comments
(CNS): Four men had their domino game rudely interrupted by two masked armed men on Saturday night in a foiled robbery attempt. According to a report from the RCIPS, the men were playing outside in the backyard of an apartment block in Rock Hole, George Town, at 9:43pm when they were approached by by the two assailants. The robbers were described as being fully masked and wearing dark clothing. One of the culprits was armed with a machete and the other was armed with a silver handgun, police said. The suspects tried to push the victims into a nearby apartment, but they were prevented by the home owner who closed the door.

As a result the two suspects ran away empty handed. No one was hurt and no shots were fired during the incident. 
Anyone with information s asked to contact the George Town CID at 9494222 or Crime Stoppers at 800 -8477 (TIPS).

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Body found in George Town

| 28/10/2013 | 7 Comments

(CNS) Updated: Police have now confirmed  earlier unofficial reports that a body of a man was found behind the Cox Lumber store in George Town this morning. An RCIPS spokesperson said the body was reportedly discovered on Spruce Lane, off Courts Road, Monday at around 7:30am. The RCIPS have said very little but CNS understands the death may be linked to a missing person report that was filed with police on Sunday afternoon but was not made public. The RCIPS has not released any further details regarding the cause of death, but police did say that scenes of crime officers have visited the location and the death is being treated as suspicious and an investigation has been opened. Check back to CNS for more later.

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Fears over NWDA capability

| 28/10/2013 | 41 Comments

(CNS): With the passage of the new immigration law, employers holding Term Limit Exemption Permits (TLEPs) must begin the process of advertising the posts and looking for Caymanians this week before getting new permits for these workers. Bosses have just 45 days to regularise their expatriate workers or find a Caymanian. Those guest workers who have not been here eight years and do not get a new permit will need to leave. However, there are real concerns that the National Workforce Development Agency (NWDA), which has been tasked with helping locals apply for the posts, will not be able to cope. The concerns were highlighted in Finance Committee, when seniorcivil servants said they could not release the contact details of jobless locals to employers due to issues of confidentiality.

In an absurd example of bureaucracy and a ‘jobs worth culture’, the minister responsible for employment, as well as the chief officer and deputy chief officer in charge of the NWDA, said that the agency staff could not give out the names of people looking for work to employers because that would entail giving out personal information.

As legislators probed the line items during Finance Committee last week, the issue was brought up by the North Side MLA Ezzard Miller after he related an experience in which he had tried to find a common labourer via the agency for some work at his own home.  He said the agency refused to give him the names and addresses of potential candidates and the only way the NWDA could help was if he posted the job with them. Then some time in the future they would send him a candidate as no list of unemployed people existed.

During the scrutiny of the education and employment minister's appropriations for this budget, Miller quizzed Tara Rivers and her ministry staff about what was going on and pointing to the role that the agency would be expected to play in the forthcoming situation regarding the TLEP holders and getting locals into those jobs. The ministry staff said that a list did exist but they could not release the list to members or potential employers for confidentiality reasons.

MLAs seemed dumfounded by the sheer bureaucratic idiocy of such a policy, as they pointed out that someone who had registered with the agency who was looking for work had given their contact details and skill sets to the agency with the very hope that this would be given to potential employers.

As of today, 28 October, employers must begin trying to find locals to fill their TLEP holder posts before they can apply for a work permit. However, with some 1,500 positions and around 2000 unemployed locals, at least a thousand of whom are now registered with the NWDA, members remained unconvinced the agency will be able to help these people find work. Despite the PPM government’s good intentions to clamp down on abuses, many Caymanian workers who could do the jobs currently held by TLEPs may never even get a chance to apply because of what many say is the sheer inability and incompetence of the NWDA to do what it is supposed to do.

At a time when government is under pressure to make its new immigration regime work, the decision by the NWDA to withhold names and addresses of workers from employers for confidentiality reasons is unlikely to help. Many believe this will make the process lengthy and bureaucratic and unlikely to have the desired result and do little to address the mounting crisis of local unemployment.

Although government has established a task force to reshape the agency and make it work as intended, the review may not come in time to help government demonstrate as early as possible that its new immigration regime will not make local unemployment even worse.

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Miller plans legal challenge

| 28/10/2013 | 99 Comments

(CNS): The independent member for North Side has said he intends to challenge the newly passed immigration law in the courts if the governor assents to the bill because he claims it is not constitutional. During the debate Wednesday Ezzard Miller said that, contrary to government’s position, there was no emergency to allow it to waive the constitutional requirement that laws are published 21 days before the start of the meetingin which they are to be presented. Although the Immigration Amendment bill 2013 was published several weeks before members debated the controversial changes to local immigration policy, it did not comply with the three weeks. The government's position was that this had to be waived because of the emergency surrounding some 1,500 Term Limit Exemption Permit  (TLEP) holders.

If the government had not changed the law, the 1,500 expatriate workers who still hold TLEPs would have all been required to leave today, 28 October. Government’s fear was that such a mass exodus would have a serious negative impact on the economy.

However, Miller disagreed and said this was not an emergency because for every permit holder that left, if a local did not take the job a new worker would have been recruited in the same way that others who are rolled over are replaced with new workers when Caymanians are not available.

He said the government was acting as though it was an emergency for an inexplicable reason, as he implied that pressure had been applied by someone or something to make it act in this way.

During his contribution to the debate, Miller said the new law, which was passed in the Legislative Assembly in the very early hours of Thursday morning, spelt economic genocide for Caymanians and was the worst law that any government has ever brought, save for the Health Practitioners bill brought by the previous UDP administration.

Miller, who has been a vocal opponent since the government announced the planned changes to the immigration regime, said there was nothing at all in the bill to help local people and it would  make things worse for them at an already very difficult time. He said the decision to rush the law through had to be at someone’s request and that some special interest was influencing government because the situation could not be described as an emergency.

He pointed out that the employers were given the term limit exemption permits by the UDP administration in order to give them two years to sort out their human resource issues and stagger the departure of workers. However, as no one had done a single thing about it, government was now rushing through terrible legislation because of appallingly bad management on the part of employers. 

“We need to understand that business owners have never placed enough importance on these people to apply for the key employee provisions in the existing law,” he said, adding that this was surprising as the key employing provision was wide enough that even his dog could probably get it.

“But all of a sudden, because of bad management by businesses we have to do this,” he stated. “They have had seven years, and more recently another two, but they did nothing. So, because of bad HR managers and no succession planning we’re told we have a national crisis.”

While he said he was not naïve enough to believe all 1,500 jobs would go to Caymanians, many were still being blocked from posts held by TLEP holders. Miller pointed out that where a local did not take up a TLEP post, a new ex-pat would be brought in, so government’s fear of a mass exodus was unfounded.

“There is no moral reason or crisis that we need to allow people to stay,” Miller said as he asked exactly who it was that was exerting such influence on government to force this law.

The member also took aim at the attorney general, pointing once again to the government lawyer’s conflicting advice. Miller said when the TLEP certificate was introduced, the government was advised by his chambers that this permit could not count toward a holders' ordinary residence and therefore could not entitled them to apply for PR under the old regime. However, here was the new government saying that they had been advised by the very same attorney general that in fact it could count and if government did not to allow them to stay, there could be a surge of law suits.

Ripping the law to pieces in a long debate, Miller said there was nothing at all in it to assist Caymanians, as he railed against the “Niagara Falls” of abuses against local workers that were now being exposed, not just in the private sector but in the public sector as well. 

He also used the recent appointment of an ex-pat CEO at the local telecommunication company LIME as an illustration of what he saw as the marginalisation of local workers in every sector, at every level. He said that despite the fact that locals had applied for the post, for the first time in 25 years the firm would not be led by a Caymanian.

The North Side member told his colleagues that he had significant concerns about the government’s promise to enforce the law regarding the immigration process, noting that it is already an offence to lie to immigration but there had not been a single prosecution, despite what legislators know to be thousands of transgressions.

Setting out his intention not only to vote ‘no’ but to challenge its entire legality, Miller said he could be persuaded to support the new bill with a number of changes. He set out a list of amendments, which included the publication of business staffing plans in companies. This would enable workers to see their employers' plans for recruiting, training and succession planning for locals leading to the departure of all TLEP holders before the change to rollover was introduced. However, all the suggested amendments were defeated during the committee stage deliberations in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The bill will not only allow the 1,500 TLEP holders to stay until they reach year nine, the removal of the seven year term limit has opened the door for all workers from today to be able to stay and apply for PR if their work-permits are renewed.

Despite a much more stringent regime, which is likely to see far more people refused and the government hopes will also act as a barrier to most people applying, there are still major concern about the law. By adding two years for ex-pat workers to stay, Caymanians will have to wait longer to get the chance to apply, as many people believe government will still not be able to enforce the law that locals get first refusal on all jobs for which they are qualified before a permit is granted.

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Ex PC takes legal action against CoP

| 28/10/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Yet another former police officer is taking legal against the RCIPS after he was sacked from the service without explanation. According to court documents, John Morrison, who became a Caymanian status holder while serving as a police officer in June 2011, was sacked in December 2011 without warning and two months after he had received a letter in October 2011 stating that his contract would be renewed for another three years. Although the commissioner has the right to kick officers out of the RCIPS if he deems it is in the public interest, he is supposed to give reasons. Morrison claims no explanation has ever been given to him.

This is one of a number of mounting court actions that have been filed against the commissioner over the termination of officers without explanation and the way police have been treated.

Despite filing an appeal through the internal processes for public servants in the wake of his dismissal, two years later Morrison has had no word on his fate and has made a decision to have his dismissal examined by the courts. He has now filed for a judicial review against the commissioner and the deputy governor seeking damages and back pay.

According to the application for judicial review filed by local attorney Charles Clifford on Morrison’s behalf, after he was thrown out of the police he began preparing an appeal without resorting to legal action. Through the channels established for such matters, he appealed what he believed was the commissioner’s unlawful decision on 2 February.

Then, having heard nothing, he wrote to the deputy chief officer in the Portfolio of the Civil Service asking for an update on that appeal. On 28 September he wrote to the deputy chief officer again after a meeting with crown counsel from the Attorney General’s Chambers saying he was willing to accept any of the suggestions which they had offered to settle the issue. 

However, in January of this year, instead of a settlement he was given a date for his appeal, which he attended in May, but more than five months after that hearing and nearly two years after he was dismissed, there has been no decision made in his case.

As a result, Morrison says he has been forced to seek the judicial review and is seeking his back pay as well as pension and other entitlements from December 2011 until October 2014, when his contract would have run had he not been dismissed, as well as damages relating to the impact on his reputation, financial loss, hardship and emotional distract by what Clifford describes as “a grave injustice”.

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Philatelists in for a right royal treat

| 28/10/2013 | 18 Comments

(CNS): With the Cayman Islands stamps always a draw for collectors, royalists are in for a particular treat this week when the Cayman Islands Postal Service releases a collection of stamps on 31 October to commemorate the birth of HRH Prince George of Cambridge. The set of four stamps celebrate the birth of the new prince in July and feature the Royal family outside the hospital where the newest British royal was born, St Mary's Hospital in Paddington. The stamps consist of four values. The 20c stamp features Prince George and the 25c depicts Duchess Kate Middleton holding the Royal baby. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, holds his son, who is third in line to the throne, in the 80c stamp and the $2 stamp includes the entire family.

The set also includes a first day cover.

Prince George made his first public appearance with his parents on the steps of St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington on 23 July, the day after he was born. The three were greeted by a barrage of admirers, cameras and news reporters from across the globe, and the applause of well-wishers. 

Kurt Tibbetts, the minister with responsibility for the Cayman Islands Postal Service, said, “There is high interest amongst our collectors for stamps featuring the Royal Family and we expect this issue to be popular. For weeks the media speculated about the gender of the child and the expected time of birth. The Cayman Islands has now helped to commemorate the moment through this stamp issue.

“This also gives collectors an opportunity to begin collecting stamps on HRH Prince George of Cambridge as a baby and follow him through to adulthood,” he said.

The royal baby stamps go on sale on 31 October 2013 at all post offices in the Cayman Islands. For more information, please contact Philatelic Manager Karen McField at 946-4757 or visit the Philatelic Bureau at the Seven Mile Beach Post Office.

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Librariesoffer free computer training to jobless

| 28/10/2013 | 4 Comments

(CNS): As government continues its battle to get local people back to work in the face of rising unemployment, the Library Service has launched a computer training programme. Already available at the George Town and West Bay libraries, the basic computer skills courses will also be taught at the Bodden Town and North Side branches. The course is free to those registered with the National Work Force Development Agency but costs $10 for others. It lasts eight weeks. with one and a half hours of class per week. Library Services Director Ramona Melody said the goal was to help people find work.

“The Ministry of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs has charged the Public Library Service with the responsibility to develop as a learning partner for the community, providing point-of-need learning opportunities within the various districts,” she said. “This is one such programme we are offering to meet that goal. Providing community members with opportunities to learn computer basics will assist their ability to secure employment, enter educational institutions and access consumer information.

“Our goal this year is to teach Introduction to computer basics courses three times at George Town and twice at West Bay. We would also like to teach the course at the BoddenTown branch twice, but, it will be dependent on the number of computers available,” she added.

An introduction to computers the course includes training in Microsoft (MS) Windows operation and Windows Internet Explorer. Other topics are to include: interface, editing and formatting in MS Word, as well as the Internet and email.
Robert Geofroy, who teaches at the University of West Indies Open Campus will lead the course at the West Bay library.  All other locations will be co-instructed by Library Services Director Ramona Melody and Librarians Deborah Powery-Zureigat and Terri McLaughlin.

The course is available to all residents and is offered at a nominal fee of ten dollars to cover the use of supplies.  As there is a limit of eight spaces per course, registration and payment are required to secure a seat.

This program is also available at no-charge to registered members of the National Workforce Development Agency (NWDA). For more information please visit your local library or the library website at or call 345-949-5159 (George Town), or 345-949-7659 (West Bay).

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