Archive for February 27th, 2014

WB road case out of time

| 27/02/2014 | 59 Comments

(CNS): Justice Alex Henderson has ruled against the four West Bay women who challenged the closure of the West Bay Road, stating that their action was out of time. The judge didn’t make any significant rulings on the arguments in the case because, having decided that the clock was against the women, he didn’t have to consider the grounds of the challenge. However, the judge made a significant finding when he agreed that the ladies had a right to bring the case under the constitution and not as a judicial review, which will set precedent for future legal challenges to government decisions. The women are now considering an appeal on the time bar so that the actual arguments against the road closure may be considered.

In his 23 page judgment, Justice Henderson said the action, which was brought by Alice Mae Coe, Betty Ebanks, Annie Multon and Ezmie Smith and heard in December, was too late to be considered on its merits.

Justice Henderson disagreed with the ladies' argument that the clock only began on the action when the road was actually closed and not when the decision to close it was made. While he agreed with the lead attorney representing the West Bay women, Anthony Akiwumi, that the issue was a continuous process, he disagreed with him that the actual decision was only made when the road was gazetted.

The judge said the decision was taken at the point of the NRA agreement, which was signed between the government, its roads agency and the Dart Group in December 2011. He said the plaintiffs knew about this agreement and he said that, given the widespread publicity about the road closure, the gazette amounted to nothing more than compliance with a legal formality.

He said the plaintiffs had always been well informed about the road closure and there was nothing before him that justified the 14 months delay in bringing the action.

However, the ladies still question this point and in a short statement released via their lawyer, Irwin Banks, they pointed out that the agreement made on 15 December was not made available to the public and was not at that point a “done deal” and was subsequently subject to various amendments, including the actual length of road that would be closed should the deal progress to that point. In addition, the agreement was then subject to an independent review and, as a result, the agreement and road closure was by no means certain at the point it was signed in December 2011.

Despite the set-back, the women are not giving up on the battle to re-open the West Bay Road and said they will be considering the judgment closely with consideration to an appeal.

This was the second legal action filed challenging the legality of the road closure. Rupert Ackermon filed his action as a judicial review last year, which was also found to be out of time by Justice Charles Quin. So despite the legal action taken so far, no judge has actually considered the merits of the legal challenges being made to the actual closure of the West Bay Road to facilitate the beach front resort being developed by Dart on the former site of the Courtyard Marriott.

See Justice Henderson’s decision in the case below.

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CIFA urges support of local U12 football rally

| 27/02/2014 | 0 Comments

(CIFA): With clear weather forecasted for the upcoming weekend parents and football fans are being urged to support by attending the Cayman Islands Football Association U12 Rally at the T.E Mcfield Sports Centre on Saturday. Seven club teams contest the U12 round robin tournament. Academy SC, Sunset FC, Tigers FC, George Town Sports Club, Cayman Athletics Sports Club, Scholars International SC and Future SC. “The CIFA Under 12 league is a critical league for the development of our youth football and is the transition from Primary School football,” said Cayman Islands Football Association General Secretary Paul Macey.

“The rally provides an opportunity for the boys to showcase their talent. We encourage everyone to come out and enjoy the football and to show support for the future stars of Cayman football," he added.

Saturday’s U12 rally is one of two planned for the 2014 season.

The one day competition kicks off from 9:00 am and concludes at 3:00 pm.

The tournament rules and full schedule can be found on www.caymanfootball.com

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LA silent on basic wage

| 27/02/2014 | 44 Comments

(CNS): The members of the PPM government all remained silent on Wednesday during the LA debate on a private member's motion regarding the minimum wage. Even though the Progressives' election manifesto clearly states that introducing a minimum wage would be an “early priority” for a PPM administration, following a long speech read by the employment minister criticising the concept and Ezzard Miller’s motion, making it clear that she was not about to introduce a basic wage any time soon, none of the other PPM members spoke on the issue. In closing the debate on the motion, which was voted down by the entire government, Miller reminded the government of its campaign promises.

Taking aim at the employment minister, the North Side member said that during the twenty years that parliamentarians have been wrangling over the minimum wage, he had never heard such adiatribe of excuses from a minister and even suggested that Tara Rivers' response on the minimum wage was even more convoluted than the one delivered by her predecessor, who was very well known for his long-winded meandering presentations to the LA.

Given the manifesto and campaign promises and the premier’s own oft repeated regrets about not implementing the minimum wage when he was labour minister between 2005 and 2009, Miller said that when he last brought this same motion to the LA, the premier had been very much in favour.

Hitting back at many of the objections to the motion raised by Rivers, Miller said most were excuses not genuine objections. One of the many examples he gave was the minister’s suggestion that a minimum wage could impact government finances and wage rates and that would have to be examined. Miller said if she didn’t know what that impact would be she could have just asked the finance minister over the weeks since the government postponed the private members motions in order to consider them.  If not, the rates were available on line, he said, as he pointedout that government’s lowest hourly rate is over $9.

He said the issues about domestics and measuring benefits in kind was already in the labour law so half of any basic wage could be in kind. He said the rate had nothing to do with hours or contracts of employment or any other element of working conditions.

Miller said that if Rivers had difficulties understanding what was meant by a minimum wage, it was simple: it was the lowest hourly wage rate people could expect to be employed. He said $5 was very basic and the government has had plenty of time to ask its experts and technocrats how that low basic rate would impact the economy.

He also pointed out that her fears about jobs being wiped out was unfounded. This was not the problem, Miller said, because there were 20,000 jobs already that Caymanians could not get, but a minimum wage might just change that for some.

After Miller had described the Progressive government a dozen times as the "Regressive" government because of its u-turn on the commitment, the premier called for a point of order from the speaker to prevent Miller from using the term again, as he said it was insulting and unparliamentary. After a consultation in the dictionary, the speaker agreed that the term was legitimate in context but the North Side member should not use it as an insult.

Miller pointed to the criticisms and insults to him from the employment minister, who had suggest Miller was an "arm chair economist", who had done no research into his desire to implement a minimum wage and had plucked it from the sky.

As the debate deteriorated into a disagreement between Miller and the premier, the independent member said it wasn’t him that took the debate “into the mud” but said he was not afraid to go there on behalf of his constituents, as he urged the government to implement a minimum wage and help the people.

The motion was voted down, with all 12 government MLAs voting 'no', despite their election commitments, versus the five opposition and independent members ‘yes’ votes.

The LA resumes Thursday at 10am with the continuation of the debate on OMOV and SMCs following the premier’s revelations that government is rethinking the approach to Cayman’s election landscape and voter equality.

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Bush: strangulating bureaucracy delayed hospital

| 27/02/2014 | 37 Comments

(CNS): When the former premier and now leader of the opposition was asked to deliver remarks at the opening of the Shetty hospital, McKeeva Bush said it would have been opened long before now had it not been for the “strangulating bureaucracy” and opposition from the previous governor and deputy governors. However, the CUDP (formerly UDP) leader said it was the former overseas territories minister, Henry Bellingham, in the end that offered his support to the UDP administration’s efforts to facilitate the development. Lamenting the red tape dominating modern politics in Cayman, he pointed to the same problems facing the current government over the dock and the dump.

Speaking at the formal opening ceremony of the Health City hospital in East End, Bush reviewed the history of the project when the idea of the Shetty hospital surfaced, and the circumstances surrounding it. He revealed it was not until Bellingham took the OT minister’s post that Bush got the support he needed.

“Despite the then governor and his deputy not supporting the project and the then opposition and others not supporting the project, Bellingham understood where I wanted to go with the project and gave me his approval,” the opposition leader said, in a speech that went well over his allotted time and was not as well received by the audience as the opposition leader may have hoped.

CNS understands that at the time the governor, Duncan Taylor, had reportedly raised questions about the legislative changes to medical professional standards that were needed to facilitate Shetty’s hospital, and the North Side member Ezzard Miller had opposed the plan from beginning to end. However, the PPM had been cautiously supportive of that project and of all the planned projects proposed by Bush during the UDP administration, the hospital and Cayman Enterprise City had been backed by the then opposition.

Bush, however, lamented the opposition and challenges he said he faced and said the hospital could have been completed much sooner had there not been such opposition, but he was now vindicated for taking the steps necessary to pave the way for what would be the start of the third leg of the economy.

“When all is said and done, this morning we will have witnessed a significant step towards that targeted diversification of our economy because medical tourism has arrived, although they said we were fools,” he added.

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Londoners to dine at Brixton prison

| 27/02/2014 | 0 Comments

(BBC): A restaurant in a south London prison staffed by inmates has opened to the public. Diners are able to eat food prepared and served by prisoners in the former governor's house at HMP Brixton. The Clink – run by The Clink Charity, which also has restaurants at HMP High Down in Surrey and HMP Cardiff – aims to train prisoners nearing the end of their sentences. The serving of alcohol is forbidden on the premises. Chris Moore, chief executive of the charity, said yeast – which can be used to make alcohol – is also bannedin the prison so sourdough is used in meals instead. "Everyone that works in The Clink has been through the prison service's security procedures and these men are nearing the end of their sentence,” he said.

"The sole aim of the charity is to reduce reoffending and we recruit prisoners throughout the prison and train them up over a period of six to 18 months to gain their City and Guilds qualifications in food service and food preparation," Moore added.

He said the restaurant will give prisoners "valuable skills to get them back in society". The prison is category C and D which, said Mr Moore, means inmates are low risk and unlikely to attempt escape.
A three-course meal with coffee will cost around £21 a head, Moore said.

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Premier: Hospital is ‘transforming moment’ for CI

| 27/02/2014 | 10 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands premier described the opening of the Shetty hospital as a ‘transforming moment’ when he spoke at the opening of the facility, which promises to launch Cayman as a medical tourism destination. Alden McLaughlin said everyone knew that the country, having survived the global recession, could no longer rely on just the familiar two pillars of the economy, but medical tourism had the capacity to create a ”resilience to economic shocks”. The 52-year-old premier said Cayman had changed so much over his lifetime, as there was no tourism or financial sector when he was born, but he pointed to key historic moments that had transformed the islands and led to its success.

“This occasion today … I believe is one of those transformative moments for Cayman as was the case when the first seaplane landed in the North Sound in the 40s, as was the case when we passed the first banks and trust companies law in 1966, as was the case when Benson Greenall built the first hotel on Seven Mile Beach in the 50s,” the premier said. “This is one of those kinds of moments.” He said people would look back on the day and say it was a moment that changed Cayman. 

Commending Dr Devi Shetty, the visionary, word renowned surgeon behind the project and his partners Harri Chandi and Gene Thompson, he acknowledged that the project commenced during the previous administration.

He said, however, that from the onset the team took time to invite the opposition on many occasions to talk about it. From the very beginning, the premier said, the opposition were apprised on what the project was about and, as a result, they were able to offer support in the Legislative Assembly and understand enough about it so that when the government changed, there was a seamless transition to help deliver the project in a short time frame.

McLaughlin pointed to the resilience of the health industry because people get sick in good times and in bad times, andthat, regardless of the economic conditions, people need care when they’re sick. He said he believed they would come to Cayman and bring their families, guaranteeing economic benefit for Cayman.

The premier pointed to the positive benefits and impacts he believed the hospital had brought so far, especially the jobs that had been created during construction, which had been largely taken by Caymanians.

“The impact, I believe, we can only just begin to imagine,” he said, as he described the technology associated with the hospital, which he said could be the kernel for a whole range of new business possibilities.

“Cayman stands today on the threshold of a whole new set of opportunities,” McLaughlin added.

The premier also noted the need to start influencing Caymanians about the world of possibilities offered by the hospital and the potential for careers outside the staple areas locals have traditional found work: finance, law and construction. McLaughlin said the success of the project was linked to the success of Cayman’s future.

Osbourne Bodden, the health minister, said the PPM government would continue what was started under the previous administration and live up to their legacy on this project and keep it going. He said the hospital, which was a centre of excellence, had been built with the sweat of many Caymanians and was offering services that were only previously available abroad. It was also a centre of learning and source of employment, as well as medical tourism. He described Dr Shetty as "remarkable", as he also paid tribute to him and his team. 

The health minister said the government believes Shetty and his team will fit right in here in Cayman as they are roles models for innovation and government had the highest level of confidence in the project. Bodden said the hospital’s potential to save hundreds of lives in Cayman and around world had put the country on the global healthcare map, while lowering costs for government health care.

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Local Under 14s footballers sparkle in Vegas

| 27/02/2014 | 0 Comments

(CIYFP): The Under 14 team from the Cayman Islands Youth Football Programme returned to Grand Cayman last week after competing in the 2014 Mayor’s Cup International Showcase in Las Vegas,  Nevada.  The team returned with a more than respectable record of three wins and one loss, missing out on advancing to the quarter finals in their age group by a single point. This was the second year in a row that the team competed in the popular youth football tournament in Nevada.

The 20 boys, five staff members – including three coaches Ernie “Gillie” Seymour, Antwan Seymour and Ken Downey, team manager Norman Joseph and team doctor Dr. Verley Campbell – and a number of parents, departed Grand Cayman on Wednesday, February 12 brimming with pride and high hopes that come with representing one’s Programme and the country.

The Mayor’s Cup International Showcase is one of two annual football (soccer) tournaments co-hosted by the Downtown Las Vegas Soccer Club and the City of Las Vegas, the other being the International  Tournament, which is played in October. Each year, the tournament welcomes amateur and professional clubs from Canada, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Poland, France, Australia, Dominican Republic, Denmark and Africa.
The Under 14s from the Cayman Islands Youth Football Programme (formerly known as the PFL Youth Football Programme) have been together since March 2011, training once per week and playing in as many friendly games and competitions with local and foreign teams in preparation for tournaments such as the Mayor’s Cup.

At the tournament, the Caymanian youngsters defeated Cook Inlet Velocity from Alaska 3-1, the Colorado Rapids Burgundy from Colorado 2-0 and Tucson TSA 00 Red from Arizona1-0, and lost to eventual group winners Michigan Jaguars Green from Michigan 0-1. In contrast during the 2013 tournament, the team only managed one victory and three defeats.

Our young men were true ambassadors for the Cayman Islands as they represented their country superbly on and off the field in Las Vegas. The team’s exploits even caught the attention of one of the many sports journalists from local Las Vegas newspapers who cover the tournament on an annual basis. This particular sports writer compiled an entertaining article about the team and the Cayman Islands and included a photo of Kareem Foster celebrating a goal against the Cook Inlet Velocity team from Alaska.

The trip to Las Vegas was financed through corporate sponsorship and fundraising efforts by the Programme’s players, parents and coaches.  Coordinator of the Cayman Islands Youth Programme Neil Murray said, “The tournament was a great learning experience for our boys. In comparison to 2013, the results this year spoke volumes about how far the Programme has come and how the players have improved in a relatively short space of time.

"Special thanks to the coaches who continue to work tirelessly in preparing this group of players for not only this tournament but for what’s ahead. Special thanks to all the parents and the many sponsors who made this trip a reality and to those who supported the Programme’s fundraising efforts. This group of youngsters is special and they will do great things in the future," he added.

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Teen charged with South Church Street burglaries

| 27/02/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police have arrested and charged a teen with a number of burglaries and break-ins which occurred in the South Church street area of George Town and as a result will be able to return some stolen property to its rightful owners. An RCIPS spokesperson said that the 19-year-old was arrested on Tuesday and charged today, Wednesday 26 February with burglary, attempted burglary and consumption of ganja and appeared in Summary Court Wednesday afternoon. The police said a number of stolen items were recovered from the suspect which have been identified by the victims of the burglaries.

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