Archive for September 16th, 2014

FIFA suspend Watson from watchdog committee

| 16/09/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Local businessman Canover Watson, who was arrested by the RCIPS last month on suspicion of corruption, has now been suspended from his role with the international football body on its audit and compliance committee. The chairman, Domenico Scala, said Tuesday that a decision had been made “to temporarily relieve, until further notice, Canover Watson” of his duties, but added that the presumption of innocence still applied to the now suspended official. He also said that there appeared to be no connection with the allegations here in Cayman, which are denied by Watson, to his role in football administration on the eight-member committee meant to scrutinize FIFA's books.

Scala said that although preliminary investigations had not established any connection between the allegations and Watson's role in football, he had been suspended while the police investigation in Cayman continues.

"After a preliminary clarification of the facts of the case and the allegations of the Cayman Island investigating authorities against Canover Watson, no connection with football and/or his role at association level has been established at this stage," FIFA said. "This should not be regarded as routine procedure, because cases like this or of this nature must always be assessed on their individual merits," added the association, which has itself been embroiled in years of corruption related scandals.

Canover Watson was questioned last month by officers from the anti-corruption and financial crime units over allegations relating to a swipe-card billing system implemented at the hospital and the details of the tender. At the time the $11+ million contract was awarded Watson was chair of the Health Service Authority board. Police arrested him on suspicion of abuse of public office, breach of trust, conflict of Interest and money laundering. Watson was released on police bail until 29 September.

Following his arrest Watson issued a short statement denying the allegations, stating that in due course he would set out his position but while the police investigation continued, his attorneys had advised him not to make any further comment.

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Cops urge drinkers to use taxis or sober driver

| 16/09/2014 | 41 Comments

(CNS): After arresting six people at the weekend for drinking and driving, the RCIPS Traffic Management issued a warning to drivers, who are not following the laws to get a taxi or use a designated driver if they are drinking. Having caught six drunks behind the wheel, despite the widespread warnings to motorists not to drink and drive, the traffic cops said motorists risk being disqualified from driving as well as injuring themselves and others. “Motorists are not adhering to the Traffic Law, and they are not heeding our warnings; always have a designated driver or take a taxi,” said Inspector Barnett who is in charge of Traffic Management.

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Fuel duty cuts years away, says finance minister

| 16/09/2014 | 41 Comments

(CNS): The minister of finance and economics has said that any further duty cuts on fuel may be as much as three years away. Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on Friday in regard to a motion filed by the opposition leader asking government to cut the duty and give the Cayman people a break, Marco Archer said that government could not yet afford to reduce the duty any further than the cuts in this year’s budget. Although the minister said government wanted to bring down the current duty levels by some 45 cents to bolster the economy and reduce the burden on the community it was going to take two to three years to bring down the rates.

Archer said he had to remain prudent with the budget and the economy was simply not growing enough to justify further cuts and he wanted and was working on sustainable solutions to help people not cuts that would have to be increased again because government couldn’t balance the books.

He pointed to the help he was giving by cutting the duty on CUC bills in January which should result on a four percent drop in domestic and commercial bills as well as the reduction of almost all duty on retail goods for merchants. That 2% cut came into effect in July and government has promised to ensure that the cut works is way through to the public at the point of sale.

The minister also pointed to the introduction of a free trade and business license for micro Caymanians business to encourage people to set up home industries. He described a micro business as a commercial operation with four or less employees and an annual gross revenue of less that $250k.

Meanwhile, Archer said that small businesses could receive a 50% or 75% cut on license fees depending on their district location. He also said that the government has implemented an amnesty for any existing business owner who still owes trade and business licensing fees so they can reapply for government contracts.

“We won’t be chasing you for the money,” he promised as he responded to McKeeva Bush’s private member’s motion which was no accepted by the PPM government bench.

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Cayman’s first radio station returns with new content

| 16/09/2014 | 1 Comment

(CNS): More than forty years after the station first hit the airways in the Cayman Islands when the college opened in 1973, ICCI-FM has returned to the airways with a range of new shows produced by students. The localstation was off air for two years but the jazz, classical, and easy listening station is back with programmes that include interviews with local politicians and other personalities. The station is part of the college’s educational programmes and David Marshall, the ICCI president said the school will be partnering with local radio stations to develop formal internship programmes to encourage Caymanians in radio careers.

“This station holds significant historical value on the Island and now that it is back, we are renewing our commitment to use ICCI-FM for the benefit of our students and the wider community in Cayman,” said Marshall.

He explained that three ICCI students, Priscilla Eden, Clement Patterson, and Gelyssa Rankin are providing the station with its first original re-launch content after taking an 11-week course to prepare them for the work.

The students produced their own radio shows which began airing on Monday. Each was responsible for interviewing an MLA, an on-Island radio personality, and other ICCI students about the importance of education to young people in Cayman. The Education minister Tara Rivers, opposition member Bernie Bush, and Alva Suckoo, a government beack-bencher were all interviewed by the students. 

Marshall also said the college plans to work with primary and secondary schools to provide opportunities for their students to boost their communication skills and confidence by writing and voicing essays which ICCI-FM will air as part of its programming.

“This is a real pathway for young people to move into on-air, sales, production, and even engineering careers right here on Island. It is awesome to help create employment pathways in radio for our very talented youth,” said Marshall.

In August 2012, a lightning strike damaged the ICCI-FM radio tower and equipment and put the station out of action. The college is now on a fundraising campaign to purchase more instructional equipment and to provide scholarships for students interested in studying broadcasting.

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Activists warn that more jail doesn’t work

| 16/09/2014 | 58 Comments

(CNS): In the wake of two private members motions being filed in the Legislative Assembly asking government to consider increasing prison sentences for aggravated burglaries and robberies, a local activist group has warned that this is a backward step. Youth Anti-Crime Trust (Youth ACT), a non-profit group which works on reducing youth crime and advocates for responsible policy regarding juvenile punishment and treatment, has said that more jail time is not a quick fix as research shows that longer sentences do nothing to deter crime but are costly and detrimental to young offenders rehabilitation and many countries that implemented long jail times have since overturned those laws.

Bonnie Anglin, a spokesperson for the group, said that Youth ACT has written to members of the LA imploring them not to introduce more prison time for younger offenders as it just doesn’t work

“Countries, including the UK, have repealed the 'three-strikes' law after it proved to fill the prisons and were unable to fund the legislation,” she said.

In the lette, on behalf of the charity, she points to reputable research that demonstrates harsher penalties have unintended consequences without any evidence of a reduction in crime.

Anglin said that if a person is not deterred by prison in the first place, longer sentences don’t make any difference to the criminal act.

“Politicians believe that tougher legislation will reduce crime but the evidence and history have proven, country after country, it has not worked and governments need to look beyond the criminal justice system to stem increases in crime,” she added as she warned that politicians cannot cut crime with the stroke of a pen. Anglin warned that the country’s leaders were in danger of repeating the same costly mistakes, over and over again.

The charity points out that while government wants to increase prison spending, for a lot less it could increase funding for youth prevention programmes. With $1.5 million set aside for a new concrete prison wall, Anglin suggest shaving off just $50,000 of that to redevelop Eagle House to create a suitable secure environment for young people already in jail geared towards rehabilitation and to partner with ACT to build the long-awaited youth offender facility.

Anglin also points to the significant increase in recent years of genuine poverty among ordinary families in the Cayman Islands. Despite having one of the highest GDPs in the world, the local activist pointed out that there are currently an unacceptable number of families without water and electricity, children going to school hungry, high unemployment and a serious increase in child sexual abuse.

In the letter to the MLAs Anglin echoes comments made by Ezzard Miller that the CIG has budgeted as much for dealing with sexual abuse as it allocated to the Humane Society for dogs.

Youth ACT is made up of qualified and experienced volunteers who, without political motive, offer their expertise and time to work with politicians, civil servants, students, parents and the community to develop and implement constructive and proven effective measures to address the increase in crime.

See the full letter from ACT to the country’s politicians below.

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Teens get arts scholarships for study in US

| 16/09/2014 | 2 Comments

(CNS): Two Caymanian teenagers have received scholarships worth a maximum of US$20,000 per year for the next four years to help cover the costs of the arts courses in the United States. 19 year old Simon Tatum and 18 year old Lorena Morejon, have been awarded the Deutsche Bank’s – National Gallery Visual Arts Scholarship so study Art History and Painting and Film, Photography and Visual Arts. Given the increased interest in tertiary arts education, the scholarship is becoming increasingly competitive, said NGCI Director, Natalie Urquhart.

“This is an unparalleled opportunity for creative young people in Cayman wishing to further their education, develop their talents, reach their potential, and in doing, enhance the community in which we live and work,” she said, adding that these two students demonstrated their passion and dedication to fine art and film studies respectively, making them very worthy recipients. 

Simon Tatum has been involved in the National Children’s Festival of the Arts and was employed by the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands as a Summer Intern in 2013. This September he begins  his second year of studies at the University of Missouri where he is majoring in Art History and Painting.

“The future of our country relies upon our ability to conserve and promote the history, culture, and heritage of the Caymanian people,” he said. “This includes the promotion of the Caymanian art and artists both within our community and abroad. As a young Caymanian and prospective artist, I hope to contribute to this area. I find myself truly blessed to have been granted the Deutsche Bank’s – National Gallery Visual Arts Scholarship, for the funds that this scholarship provides will help relieve me of a large portion of my college finances and allow me to concentrate solely on my studies. Moreover, I am grateful for the opportunity to be abroad and hope to learn as much as I can during my time there, so that I may benefit the art, culture, and community the Cayman Islands when I return.”

Lorena Morejon has already won several awards as a student of art and film. Two years ago she entered the Cayman Islands National Cultural Foundation’s Young Image Makers Short Film Competition and won two awards – the People’s Choice and Overall Winner of the competition – which entitled her to an all-expense paid trip to Manhattan to participate in the New York Film Academy summer camp. Morejon also participated in a short news broadcast contest with two other students and won first place for capturing and presenting a controversial topic, and has won high school titles for most outstanding in art, most outstanding in advanced placement art and artist of the month at Triple C School.

This September she will start her first year in upstate New York where she is pursuing a BFA in Film, Photography and Visual Arts at Ithaca College and Full Sail University.
“Words alone cannot express the gratitude that I feel for receiving the Deutsche Bank’s – National Gallery Scholarship and being able to pursue my goals at collage. I am looking forward to a great first year,” she said.

For more information about the Deutsche Bank’s – National Gallery Visual Arts Scholarship and other opportunities for students at the National Gallery, email or call (345) 945 8111.

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Premier: OMOV in SMCs will secure party-politics

| 16/09/2014 | 15 Comments

(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin has said the introduction of one man, one vote in single member constituencies will secure the future of party politics in Cayman. Although some believe that by having one vote in a constituency with a single representative, independent candidates will have a better chance at the polls, the premier said that would not be the case. During the Legislative Assembly debate last week on the government motion regarding electoral reform McLaughlin said party politics would still dominate the political landscape, as he pointed to the cost of campaigning and advised the independent members to join one or set up a new party.

“I have heard many people say SMCs will somehow break the party system and make it easier for independents to get elected,” he said. However, the premier said this was unlikely and the system was more likely to entrench the party system and favour the dominant parties.

McLaughlin said that OMOV in SMCs still favoured the party politics, which he supported because it was a far better system as people knew when they voted for a party, group or team who the leaders would be and what, if that party formed the government, they could expect from the administration.

McLaughlin said that rather than being afraid of OMOV in SMCs, as has been implied, he embraced it because experience had taught him that organized politics was essential in the modern era and without it “chaos ensues”. He said independents could not expect to get elected on separate platforms where they have nothing in common and then lead the country as a cohesive government when they are thrown together and unable to agree on policy.

Ironically, McLaughlin said that any independents that still managed to get elected would find themselves on the side lines getting nothing done. The comments came, however, in the debate on a motion that he had earlier admitted government brought to the House not least because of the pressure the independent members, Arden McLean and Ezzard Miller, had applied to get this issue on government’s agenda sooner rather than later.

Nevertheless, despite their work pressuring government on OMOV and other issues, such as championing the minimum wage and a fair trade commission, McLaughlin advised his former party colleague McLean and Miller, who was a founding member of the UDP, to pick a party to join or start their own.

He said this was not just a matter of cohesive politics but costs because it would get harder and harder for those funding their own campaigns as the cost of fighting an election continued to escalate. He described the costs as astonishing and said independents would struggle without the benefit of the party machinery.

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Image of illegally parked car is too old, says RCIPS

| 16/09/2014 | 41 Comments

(CNS): The RCIPS said a picture of a police car parked in an illegal spot is not, as indicated on the date stamp, a recent image but at least two years old, preventing them from investigating the matter. The picture, which was posted on Facebook and sent to CNS by a reader, angered the Blue Spot campaigners who are working hard to keep able-bodied drivers out of disabled parking bays but who have catalogued numerous occasions where police officers are using the parking spots despite not being on an emergency call.

On this occasion the police say it is too old for the Professional Standards Unit to pursue the possible parking infraction.

The parking space in question at Camana Bay is no longer designated for disabled drivers or passengers and they say the image is misleading the public.However, as result of police being caught on camera abusing parking spaces on numerous occasions the issue remains a real concern. The police management have stated, however, that the RCIPS does take these parking abuses seriously.

“We do take this offence seriously and regret that due to the significant passage in time that it might be difficult to identify the officer responsible. All of our officers are aware that such violations will be prosecuted pursuant to the Traffic Law,” an RCIPS spokesperson stated.

Earlier on Monday (when the image was believed to have been taken last week) the police commissioner had also told CNS that the matter was being investigated and if the circumstances were as they appear — that an officer was not attending an emergency — the driver would receive a ticket. 

“The public has a right to expect officers not to abuse their positions or flout the law. I expect that also,” Commissioner David Baines said. “Officers are being repeatedly reminded of their obligations, however if common sense and logic do not work, then enforcement will be the approach taken, in order to reinforce the basic standard of conduct and care I expect and the public deserves.”

Security personnel at Camana Bay stated that the picture shows a blue spot parking space that has since been changed to a regular parking slot. (See photo above)

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