Archive for March 11th, 2014

Talk show host bailed as assault probe rolls on

| 11/03/2014 | 35 Comments

(CNS): The host of Cayman CrossTalk was interviewed by police Tuesday and bailed to return at a later unspecified date, the RCIPS said this evening. Facing allegations of an alleged assault on a female friend and damage to property following a melee at a private residence in Governor’s Harbour at the weekend, Austin Harris is also on suspension from his job. Harris’ headphones at the Rooster studios in Grand Harbour, George Town, are currently being worn by his former talk show pal and latterly ousted politician Ellio Solomon, who made his first comeback appearance today – a situation that according to Harris’ boss, Randy Merren, will continue until Harris' issues are resolved.

With no indication how long the enquiry will take to resolve, with or without charges, it could be sometime before Rooster listeners will be hearing from Harris.

While the return of Solomon to the airwaves may be welcomed by some, the failure of the independent members to turn up to the station this morning shows the degree to which Solomon polarizes opinion. The former UDP backbencher during his five years representing George Town incurred the wrath of almost the entire opposition benches of the House at one time or another and, sources tell CNS, members of the government as well.

The former fourth elected member for the capital also reportedly drove the current premier to punch him during a break in the Legislative Assembly proceedings in 2011 in the parliamentary tearoom as a result of what those present at the time said was significant provocation.

Nevertheless, despite his rocky relationship with the members of the current administration, Solomon is also understood to be employed by local cable company WestStar TV as a government liaison for the firm.

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Drunken US honeymooner fined $500

| 11/03/2014 | 20 Comments
(CNS): A 33-year-old American national was fined $500 today in the Cayman Islands Summary Court this morning after a drunken fight with his new wife aboard a Delta aircraft on Sunday night (9 March). The flight, which was on its way from Atlanta, Georgia, to Costa Rica, where the couple were planning a second honeymoon, was diverted here to Grand Cayman as a result of the unruly behaviour of Michael Scott Foret, who was arrested by the RCIPS when the plane landed at Owen Roberts International Airport. The drunken errant husband left his wife on board and was forced to sober up alone and spouseless in the George Town lock-up, where he spent both Sunday and Monday nights before being charged.

 
The US citizen was formally charged with two offences under the Air Navigation order of 2001 and taken before Magistrate Valdis Foldats on Tuesday morning. Foret, who was represented by local attorney Ben Tonner, pleaded guilty to being drunk in an aircraft and acting in a disruptive manner before he was released to catch the first flight back to the United States where he was planning to try to get to Costa Rica to be reunited with his wife.

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Archer still keen on SMCs

| 11/03/2014 | 38 Comments

(CNS): Despite the government’s narrow rejection of a motion in the Legislative Assembly last month calling for the introduction of 'one man, one vote' in single member constituencies (SMCs), at least one Cabinet member still appears to be very much in favour of it. A closer inspection of the Marco Archer’s speech in the LA during the debate on Arden McLean’s motion indicates that he will still be backing the original proposal of OMOV in 18 SMCs as per the referendum in 2012, for which he vigorously campaigned. The debate saw two of government’s own backbenchers rebel and three Cabinet members miss the vote, including Archer, but as government begins a controversial review of another type of voting, it may not have thesupport of its finance minister.

Despite stating that he may have been wrong about multi-member constituencies, allowing representatives to escape blame or pass blame, Archer made it clear that he was still a stalwart supporter of the system of OMOV in single member constituencies.

He made little comment on the idea of 'at large' candidates or the size of constituencies throwing up anomalies and “bizarre results”, as was suggested by Premier Alden McLaughlin when the government leader made his first unexpected comments regarding government’s U-turn on the idea of the issue of 18 single member constituencies.

One of the Cabinet members absent from the vote, as he stated he was attending his child’s school reporting session, had Archer been present for the vote he would have been required to vote with the government or stand to lose his post as the finance minister.

East End MLA Arden McLean and Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush had challenged the premier to allow the government members to vote on their conscience because the issue was not a government motion dependent on Cabinet collective responsibility but a private members debate. However, it was apparent that the premier did not accept that challenge. His PPM team and his coalition members, whom he has claimed were behind the U-turn, were all required to reject the motion.

Clearly uncomfortable during the debate with the new direction on this now controversial issue, Archer said in his speech that no one could know how many of the 65% of voters who voted for the referendum in July 2012 were making an anti-government statement or were genuinely calling for 'one man, one vote'. However, the government member made a subtle declaration that he still believed in the ideal as he trod a political tightrope.

“We may never know how much of the OMOV and SMC campaign’s success should really be attributed to the ideal and how much it was a vote against the government of the day,” he said. “The referendum was intended to implement 'one man, one vote' in single member constituencies for the May 2013 election. Having failed to achieve that, it was always intended that it would be implemented with effect for the 2017 general elections. Eight months in office and three years remaining, I cannot afford any distractions, but I remain committed to its implementation for the 2017 General Election.”

Despite his support for OMOV and that of his back bench colleagues Al Suckoo and Anthony Eden, who took their chances and voted in line with their genuine beliefs and supported McLean’s motion, at least one front bencher is in support of the original ideal. However it may not be enough.

As government now begins another review of the political landscape requiring a new boundary commission to explore the concept of ‘at large’ national candidates, along with a reduced number of constituencies, a lack of political agreement in government saw the premier make it clear that he would not implement voting change without the full support of all of his government.

Despite the three years until the next election, it is looking increasingly unlikely, despite election promises, that Cayman voters will have equality of franchise in May 2017.

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Private water firm starts pilot project on leaks

| 11/03/2014 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Cayman Water is beginning a pilot project in the half mile radius around its Abel Castillo Water Works, located off the Esterly Tibbetts Highway, to detect leaks, using helium tracer technology. In a release from the company on Monday it said the water was safe to drink as the noble gas is odourless, colourless, tasteless, non-toxic and will not affect the quality of the water. The pilot project is aimed at pinpointing leaks in its buried water mains, as the firm said it loses between 12-14% of water produced through pipe leaks. The water firm said that the technology has been used safely and effectively in both the Untied States and Europe and the project has been approved by Water Authority-Cayman.

The private water company that supplies the West Bay area said the gas dissolves in the water and whenever water leaks are present in the piped water network, the dissolved helium leaks out along with water. The helium quickly separates from the water and rises through the soil to the surface. Trained technicians with specialized detection equipment then detect the elevated level of helium to identify and pinpoint the leak location for repair.

Helium, the gas used in party balloons, is a naturally occurring element and is the second most abundant element in the universe. The atmosphere we breathe contains 5 parts per million helium concentrations. The company stated that it is an approved food additive and the product used for this project is National Sanitary Foundation ANSI 60 standard certified for drinking water use, which it assured customers produces no ill effects.

The firm said the pilot project was aimed at reducing waste to improve efficiency of the water service and limit the effects of necessary repair work on the roads. It also said it would reduce CO2 emissions because it would cut down on electricity use as well.

See statement below.

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Triple car smash mashes up popular restaurant

| 11/03/2014 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Guests at Coconut Joes restaurant on the West Bay Road in the heart of Grand Cayman’s tourist district had their evening rudely interrupted Sunday when a 3- car smash up piled over onto the restaurant patio at around 7pm. One driver was arrested for driving under the influence and another was taken to hospital, police said. No customers in the restaurant were hurt but the restaurant sign was damaged by a Chevy Tahoe involved in the collision. News of the crash comes in the wake of recent statistics from the RCIPS indicating there were more than 1,200 crashes in Cayman last year and 211 people were arrested for drunk driving. Photo courtesy of Cayman 27

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