Archive for May 16th, 2014

Another cop and wife charged

| 16/05/2014 | 7 Comments

(CNS): RCIPS officials are remaining tight lipped over the latest arrest and charge of another serving police officer. An RCIPS spokesperson said Friday that a police sergeant and his wife were both formally charged on Wednesday with obstructing, preventing, perverting or defeating the course of justice. They have been summoned to appear before the Summary Court on 17 June and the officer has been suspended from active police duty. CNS can confirm that the case has not been investigated by the Anti-corruption Unit but the police have not released any other information. The news comes in the wake of the conviction of former PC Elvis Ebanks yesterday on corruption related charges, which police said demonstrated that officers were not above the law.

Following Ebanks' conviction, RCIPS management released a statement in which they said that the objective of the police service is to uphold the law without fear or favour; to prevent and detect crime and bring to justice those who transgress the laws of the land.

"PC Elvis Kelsey Ebanks guilty verdict reached by the jury yesterday is another example that the RCIPS will not tolerate corrupt police officers," police said. "The RCIPS takes allegations of corruption against its officers very seriously, and will pursue any allegations against its officers who disobey the laws. Police officers are not above the law and will be held accountable if they disobey the laws.

"Unfortunately, this type of dishonest behaviour smears the reputation of many of the RCIPS officers who are honest, trustworthy, hardworking and committed. The RCIPS will continue to strive to maintain the highest standards and professionalism and pride in our service to the public," the management spokesperson added, shortly before the revelations that another officer was facing criminal charges.

in addition to Ebanks' conviction Thursday, the RCIPS investigated a number of their own officers this year. In March PC Raphael Williams took his own life a few days after he was bailed, having been arrested in connection with a suspected blackmail and breach of trust case. Another officer is currently awaiting his fate regarding firearms charges and even the police commissioner is awaiting a decision from the legal department over the level of force he used when he ran over a fleeing suspect in his vehicle following an armed robbery in George Town.

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Rising stars shine in Wellington

| 16/05/2014 | 0 Comments

(CIEF): For twelve weeks at the beginning of every year, Wellington, Florida is host to WEF, the Winter Equestrian Festival, which draws in the who’s who of the international show jumping world. The 2014 season did not disappoint, but was so marked by the dominance of British show jumpers, that organizing CEO Mark Bellisimo joked that next year’s festival would be renamed the BEF – the ‘British’ Equestrian Festival. Two rising show jumping stars of Cayman were lucky enough to meet one of those British stars, Ben Maher, whilst catching the end of the festival. The youth riders were in Wellington to compete in the Second Annual FEI Group IV Caribbean Challenge.

Polly Serpell and Thea Millward travelled to Wellington at the beginning of April to compete in a three day Challenge event against other young riders from the Caribbean. The Challenge was organized by a combination of WEF, the US Equestrian Federation and the FEI’s Group IV members and a number of Caribbean countries each sent two riders. The visiting riders borrowed horses from a pool lent by riders from North America who also attended and competed at the Challenge.

After a warm up competition, the first event to kick things off was the Group IV Classic. Thea Millward had a great round and was delighted to finish in 2nd place, highest placed in the Caribbean, with Polly Serpell finishing 11th. At the next event, the Group IV Championship Competition, Millward had an unlucky refusal and was eliminated but it was Serpell’s turn to excel and she finished fifth, the highest placed Caribbean rider on the second day. Serpell was also awarded ‘Best Horse’ for the horse she borrowed, Montego.

For Serpell, this is priceless show mileage in preparation for her attendance at the Youth Olympic Games in August 2014, where she will compete for Cayman against the best youth show jumpers in the world. Serpell has been competing consistently in Florida since she qualified for the Games last year.

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Police round up latest GT burglary suspect

| 16/05/2014 | 3 Comments

(CNS): Police have rounded up another burglary suspect following two recent break-ins to homes in George Town last week. An RCIPS spokesperson said that a 40-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with two separate residential burglaries that happened at Tropical Manor, in Tropical Gardens off Crewe Road on Friday and Saturday 9 and 10 May. Police said the man was scheduled to appear in court on Friday morning.

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PAC delays public meetings on governance reports

| 16/05/2014 | 16 Comments

(CNS): The Public Accounts Committee recently cancelled a proposed public hearing on a collection of damning reports from the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) dealing with the management of resources, accountability and good governance. The five reports were published by the auditor general in January but now will no be publicly scrutinized until later in the year because, the PAC chair said, witnesses were too busy to come to the meeting due to budget preparations. The reports revealed that values and ethics are being applied only selectively in government and while Cayman has a sound governance framework, officials are simply not following or implementing the rules as designed.

The auditor general found systemic and structural problems in government which leaves the public purse open to abuse. Fundamental controls that should ensure lawful expenditure are not robust and are not good enough to even say if budget appropriations are accurate. No one can be sure that the money legislators vote on government is the money that is really required or spent.

Despite the damning revelations, the PAC chair waited until the week before the budget would be delivered for 2014/15 to call a meeting in order to question civil servants on the OAG’s findings. However, Roy McTaggart told CNS that he had cancelled the meeting.

“Following the issue of notices to witnesses and members by the LA staff last week, I was made aware that because of ongoing budget preparations, ministry personnel would find it particularly challenging to attend the meeting as required by Standing Order 77(8),” he told CNS in an email on Wednesday in response to questions.

“In the circumstances, I thought it best to allow the budget preparations to continue without disruption, thus I chose to postpone the meeting until afterthe budget session,” he said.

So far, since it was established in June of last year following the May 2013 general elections, the PAC has held only one public session. That meeting was held in September and the committee examined reports dealing with inappropriate board and political interference at several statutory authorities. During that meeting McKeeva Bush, the former premier and now PAC deputy chair, attacked the auditor general and refused to accept his findings.

The committee has not yet submitted its report on that hearing, any minutes of its closed door meetings or an annual report of the committee's work over the last 12 months.

The former PAC chair, Ezzard Miller, said he was disappointed to see that the new PAC had fallen back into old habits and had not maintained the pace he set when he was chair of not only scrutinizing reports in a timely fashion but keeping the Legislative Assembly informed of the PAC’s work.

Miller has criticised Premier Alden McLaughlin on numerous occasions for nominating and voting for Bush to take a seat on the committee, which will be tasked with examining reports that take aim at his time as premier, which Miller believes will hamper the work of the committee.

The independent member’s fears may also have been born out as sources close to the matter tell CNS that at least one recently completed audit report that should have been sent to the PAC has been withheld by the legal department. This, CNS was told, is because the content infringes on the criminal case against the former premier, who is due to go on trial this September facing charges that relate to the misuse of a government credit card.

“This is an example of the absurdity of this situation when the relevant authority cannot send a report to PAC to undertake the work it is duty bound to perform because it may concern one of its members,” he added.

Bush has vigorously denied the allegations against him and since he was first charged, some eleven counts relating to theft have been dropped. The former premier is now facing allegations of misconduct and abuse of office.

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20 year resident challenges new immigration law

| 16/05/2014 | 35 Comments

(CNS): A Jamaican woman who has been resident in the Cayman Islands for almost 20 years without a break in stay is seeking the court’s intervention over the changes to the immigration law. Birdy Morrison, who is employed by Sherri Bodden-Cowan, the former chair of the immigration review team, has applied for a judicial review to challenge the retrospective application of the law to her case, refusing her a final one year work permit after an appeal on her permanent residency denial was refused. Morrisonhad appealed her PR refusal before the immigration law changes and Bodden-Cowan is arguing that she had an expectation of a final year long permit before she would be forced to leave.

When Morrison filed her appeal against the decision to refuse her PR application it was before government changed the law regarding the appeal process, which is now more costly and foreign workers can no longer stay in Cayman during that appeal process.

But in the application for judicial review Bodden-Cowan points out that her employee had a genuine expectation that if her appeal was unsuccessful she would have one final year’s employment before being deported after two decades living in Cayman. Instead, Morrison was given just three months to leave. But she is no asking for a judicial review to hear the case and quash the chief immigration officer’s decision to issue the three month permit and order the board to hear an application for a final 12 month permit.

The legal immigration expert in the judicial review application states that the decision by immigration is a breach of her employee’s human rights and the rules of natural justice because the law that officials are now applying was not the one in force when Morrison began the process of appeal.

The PPM government changed the immigration laws last October to remove the seven year rollover and the barrier to PR application for all work permit holders except those given key employee status. However, to counter themove, which would allow thousands more people to reach the point where they could apply for residency, the process to PR has been made more difficult and the appeal process even more challenging. This was designed, government officials have said, to prevent abuse of the system.

In the past, PR applicants could stay even after their applications were refused throughout what can be a very long appeal process and continue to work, sometimes for years. This led to many work permit holders being resident in Cayman for long periods with no legal rights, an issue that has always led to concerns about potentially successful human rights challenges to residency refusals because of the length of time foreign nationals have lived and worked in the jurisdiction.

When government changed the law last October in an effort to address that issue, it amended the legislation so that applicants who are refused permanent residency can no longer remain in Cayman during an appeal process and are now given just three months to leave once an immigration decision has been made against them.

Although Morrison had her appeal heard before the legislative amendments were implemented and under a regime which allowed for a final twelve month permit to be issued to someone denied residency, following her appeal she was then treated under the new regime and given just three months.

Bodden-Cowan argues that the immigration authorities must deal with her client under the law that was in force when she made her appeal and not the one that came into effect after the application but before the decision was revealed.

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Public urged to reduce dependency in wake of storms

| 16/05/2014 | 13 Comments

(CNS): Monday’s public holiday is also Cayman’s national preparation day, in which residents are encouraged to get themselves ready to face another Atlantic Hurricane Season. The deputy governor said people should take steps to minimize their dependence on government, family or friends to support them in the aftermath of a storm. “Regardless of the forecast for the season, it only takes one storm to cause damage and disrupt our lives,” said Franz Manderson in his annual preparedness message. “So please don’t let your guard down and let us be prepared for the hurricane season and beyond.” Manderson said all civil servants have a duty to maintain a high level of personal and family preparedness at all times.

“The country depends on our emergency services and first responders to be ready in a time of crisis; following the 'All Clear' all civil servants are expect to contribute to the recovery, including the performance of additional duties above and beyond their regular work schedule during the response phase,” he added.

This year’s theme to galvanize people into making the necessary preparations before a trom is already on its way is “Preparedness for you, your Home and your Family”. The day is observed on the public holiday so residents have the opportunity to review their respective family plans and personal preparedness for the hurricane season.

Representatives of Hazard Management Cayman Islands will be on hand this holiday weekend and next at hardware stores, meeting with residents, answering questions and handing out disaster awareness information. Residents are encouraged to visit the stores and enter, at no cost, to win a preparedness kit. At the start of hurricane season, five winners of disaster preparedness kits will be drawn on TV with the support of local hardware stores which have sponsored the National Day of Preparedness activities for a number of years. 

The Cayman Islands are vulnerable to a number of different hazards, including hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and floods, but with the beginning of the hurricane season on 1 June Hazard Management officials said it is especially important residents are ready for the hurricane threat.

“When a hurricane threatens there is a lot to do and many important decisions to be made. If you leave things to the last minute there really is only time to scramble to gather some vital supplies – if there are any left in the stores – so prepare now,” officials warned.

See prep tips and the Deputy Governor’s message below

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Local artists create installation exhibit

| 16/05/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A group of four established Caymanian artists have come together to form a new group to discuss their art, aims, and ideas as well as exhibit installation work. C4 (Company four) is a collective including David Bridgeman, Aston Ebanks, Kaitlyn Elphinstone, and Christopher Mann. Their first show titled X1 (Exhibition 1), opens to the public next week and will exhibit new works representing ideas the artists have wanted to develop and show for some time, but had required a suitable venue and the right opportunity. These new installation concepts are being displayed in an environment where the artists are also interacting and sharing their ideas.

Artist Kaitlyn Elphinstone said the group was looking forward to bringing the “off-the-canvas concepts to life.”

ChrisMann explained this exhibition was not about drawing and painting. “Our work can be more accurately described as sculptural assemblage installation. We work as individuals, with the aim of exhibiting our work as a group. The collective is significant to our art practice because of; the sharing of views and disciplines, the discussion of ideas and approaches, and the social support and networking opportunities.”

Work by the C4 artists can be found in significant corporate, public and private collections, including the National Gallery of The Cayman Islands.
All four members of the group are known for their eclectic use of materials and imagery and agree they have enjoyed the experience of meeting over the last few years as a discussion group.

Artist David Bridgemen explains, “C4 is committed to producing and exhibiting contemporary artwork created in Grand Cayman.  The collective thrives on the sharing of ideas, collaboration and mutual support. The group shares a common desire to give voice to their personal and unique expressions.”

Artist Aston Ebanks said it was great to share concepts and bounce ideas off each other. “That is what artists are supposed to do in a collective. We are motivated, first and foremost, by the desire to express our individuality and in doing so we find common ground. Redefining preconceived notions of what Caymanian Art is just happens to be a byproduct of our collaborative efforts,” he added.

The exhibition takes place at Block 6, Unit 3, Market St., Camana Bay and opens to the public Friday 23 May at 6:00pm until 9:00pm with a cocktail reception and local DJ. The space will be open daily from 3:00pm until 9:00pm and will close with a coffee morning and panel discussion 1 June from 9:30am until 3:00pm.

The group also plans to host a Pop Up Critique night 30 May from 6:00pm until 9:00pm. Admission to the exhibition and related events is fee. For inquires contact C4 by emailing c4artists.cayman@gmail.com.

About the C4 artists
David Bridgeman (b. 1959) is primarily a painter but also works in mixed media. As a British Caymanian his works have strong emotional ties to the landscape, both past and present, and contain images and symbols that bridge the gap between the Caribbean and his country of birth. Bridgeman works in a variety of media to convey these feelings, which often involve an underlying social commentary about life on a small island. Bridgeman has exhibited throughout the Caribbean, Paris, and Toronto. His artwork forms part of the collections in Grand Cayman’s National Gallery, National Museum, Cultural Foundation and Government House. They also form part of the global collection of Deutsche Bank and other corporate collections in Grand Cayman as well as the writer Earl Lovelace. He has also illustrated a book of children’s stories and has produced book covers for the Caribbean Writers Series, published by Heinemann Press.

Aston Ebanks (b. 1974) is an interdisciplinary conceptual artist whose current works are primarily made with recycled materials. Ebanks manages to take theses discarded materials and find a relevance in them, reassembling, reforming, and in the end representing them if only temporarily in a whole new way. Always pushing the boundaries of what is considered Caymanian Art, Ebanks’ philosophy is that, “Art should first cause you to stop and think, and only after you have done so should you have an associated feeling.”

Kaitlyn Elphinstone (b. 1985) isan interdisciplinary artist that works in digital media, assemblage, and with found objects. Having grown up in the Cayman Islands, her work explores the abundance of nature and rich coastal environments found on the Islands. She uses visual images to examine and comment on human relationships with natural environments. Elphinstone studied Visual Art and Art History at the University of Toronto and has a Masters Degree in Arts Policy and Management from the University of London (Birkbeck). She currently works at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands.

Christopher Mann (b. 1955) is a British artist who has lived and worked in the Cayman Islands since 1987. His work includes; painting, collage mixed media and sculptural assemblage. He explores landscape, both physical and emotional, incorporating elements and imagery from; Cayman, Britain and Europe. His work ranges from interpretations of the Caymanian natural environment, to starkly expressionist figuration, incorporating social commentary, with many works featuring both. He trained at Goldsmiths College, London; studying drawing, painting and printmaking, before specializing in ceramics and sculpture. Chris has exhibited in England, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, and New Zealand. In Cayman his works are in the collections of; The National Gallery, National Museum, National Archive and the Cayman National Cultural Foundation. His work is in corporate collections including Butterfield Bank Cayman and Ogiers Group.

 

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