Archive for October, 2014

Cops net Tortuga suspects

| 31/10/2014 | 7 Comments

(CNS): Two men have been arrested in connection with yesterday evening’s robbery at the Tortuga Rum Company in George Town. The police nabbed the suspects just a few hours after the heist, which had taken place before 6pm in the car park of the North Sound Way headquarters. The men, who are aged 35 years and 34, are residents of Bodden Town and George Town and were picked up by police at around 11:30pm on Thursday night. Both men remained in police custody Friday as detectives from Drugs and Serious Crime Task Force (DSCTF) continue the investigation in which a substantial amount of cash was taken.

Anyone with information on this crime are asked to call the RCIPS Major Incident Room tip-line at 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers on 800 8477(TIPS).

See related story on CNS
 

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Child stabbed, police reveal

| 31/10/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following a post-mortem examination Friday, the police confirmed that 6-year-old Bethany Gabriel Butler died from multiple stab wounds. The little girl’s body was found by police in the early hours of Monday morning in a car parked just off Queens Highway. Although her mother, Tamara Olita Butler, has been arrested on suspicion of her murder, she is currently in hospital, having been admitted under the mental health law and has not yet been interviewed. Soon after Bethany’s body was found the child’s mother was arrested a short distance from the car. Police said she had been treated in hospital for superficial cuts. It is understood that Butler had attempted to take her own life before she was arrested on suspicion of killing her daughter. (Photo Tamara Butler with Bethany)

Butler has not yet been charged with murder and she remains under police guard at the hospital while a period of observation is conducted to assess her condition and suitability for interview by the officers conducting the investigation. The RCIPS said it is working very closely with the HSA and Butler’s family, who have now arrived on island, and the director of public prosecutions has been consulted throughout this process. Bethany’s father is a serving police officer with the RCIPS.

The child’s death and the circumstances surrounding her murder have rocked the community and government has organised counselling for the children and staff at her primary school in Savannah.

Officials said Thursday that the terrible tragedy has had a powerful impact on the entire school community.

“The Department of Education Services’ critical response team has been working closely with the school since we were first advised of this incident,” a spokesperson from the department said. “Members of the team were at the school (Wednesday) to meet with members of the school community and continue to be available to provide needed support.”

Bethany Butler was a Year 2 student at Savannah Primary and officials said that any parent who wish to seek counselling support for their children or who would like advice on how to deal with this issue with their child are urged to contact Raven Ramoon at the DES Student Services office at 926-8469 to arrange for support.

The response team also met with staff on Friday morning to offer their support and to help them prepare for the opening of school on Monday after the mid-term break. The team and counsellors from across the education system will also be at the school on Monday to provide support for students and staff.

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Man denies status grant con

| 31/10/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Paul Ebanks pleaded not guilty to seventeen counts of falsely selling status grants, Friday. He is accused of obtaining over KYD $100,000 from a total of 17 different people between July 2012 and August 2013. The court heard that Ebanks falsely stated he could get his victims Caymanian status. The Bodden Town man will face trial on 1 June next year. Ebanks was bailed until trial and is currently under 24 hour house lockdown. Defense attorney Lucy Organ told the court that Ebanks was in danger of losing his home as the onerous bail conditions were preventing him from working, as she argued for a change.

However, the court heard that Ebanks was charged with these 17 counts while on bail over similar allegations. He is alleged to have received KYD $108,300 from his victims who the crown says, believed they were buying legitimate status grants. The request for changes in his bail conditions were limited and the defendant will need to apply to the court for permission to go for job interviews.

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Breeze Fusion on the home stretch

| 31/10/2014 | 0 Comments

(Radio Cayman): We’re heading down the home stretch to The 8th Annual Breeze Fusion Walk/Run thisSaturday, November 1st.  Walkers will start off from Smith’s Cove at 6:30am, with runners setting out at 6:45am.  This family event is now a more competitive 5k or 3.1 miles and, for the first time, includes a separate children’s race. Part proceeds go to the National Council for Voluntary Organizations (NCVO), adding to its recent fundraising Radio/Telethon this past weekend and John Gray High School’s “Helping Hands Program”.  

As the countdown begins in earnest to Radio Cayman’s & Breeze FM’s signature event, Deputy Director Paulette Conolly-Bailey says, “Just like Radio Cayman, the Breeze Fusion Walk/Run has a special place in my heart because of what it represents to our community and the lives it touches from the funds raised.  I’m delighted that the event is growing every year and we have reached our 8 year milestone.  Rain or shine it’s going to be another superb family event for our charitable causes.”

Principal of John Gray High School, Lyneth Monteith, is also enthusiastic, “JGHS is grateful to Radio Cayman for selecting the school’s “Helping Hands” Project as a recipient.  Our students face many challenges and to be able to support them in overcoming these challenges, will lead to them being able to achieve success at school, as they work to be the best that they can be.”

Major sponsors include Cayman National, ROMA United Sports Club, Maedac Supply Company/WATA and Grand Old House, with numerous Associate Sponsors providing cash as well as gift certificates.

Registration is $15.00 for adults, $10.00 for students under sixteen and is ongoing at radiocayman.gov.ky and caymanactive.com/breeze, on October 31st at Grand Old House, 5:00 until 8:00pm.  Final chanceto register is at 6:00am at the event.  All participants receive an event t-shirt & goodie bag.  Trophies go to the overall male & female finishers in the run, along with medals & prizes to the top competitors in each age category for both the run & walk.  Random prizes will also be up for grabs.  Breeze Fusion is organized by Radio Cayman/Breeze FM and the Phoenix Athletic Club, assisted by Coach Jerry Harper and service club volunteers.

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Planning law trouble

| 31/10/2014 | 49 Comments

(CNS): A package of changes to the planning law saw the independent members railing against them in the Legislative Assembly this week. The MLAs said the amendments would help big developers but do nothing to assist locals. The restrictions on objections to development, along with the removal of polling for major projects and giving the minister the ability to waive fees and give concessions, while imposing new fees on small homeowners, among other issues, were described as “an abomination” by the member for East End. While the independent members won an important victory to get the regulations approved by parliament, the changes will still have far reaching negative implications, they warned.

Described the changes as a package of measures to modernize the law and improve efficiency, Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts removed significant chunks of the law and transfer them to the regulations. He also repealed a number of important restrictions and requirements that had helped to control major developments. The removal of polling people around an area where a developer is making an application for a major project and the power of the planning minister to change the law to accommodate a developer as he sees fit, were described as very worrying.

Although changes to the planning regulations will now require the approval of parliament and not just Cabinet, the significance of the changes to the law and the placement of many elements in those regulations still caused immense concern. MLAs Arden McLean (East End)and Ezzard Miller (North Side) warned that the changes had gone virtually under the radar of public attention and were verydangerous.

Ahead of the vote, government confirmed it was repealing a change made by the previous government that had placed the power to make and change regulations with Cabinet, returning the power to the Legislative Assembly. But the government still made significant transfers from the law to the regulations that have not yet been made public.

Convinced there was an ulterior motive, McLean said he wondered who was driving the changes. He said all of them were beneficial to major developers and the ones that impacted local smaller property owners were detrimental.

“The country doesn’t derive anything from these large developments,” he said. When the UDP entered into the development agreement with Dart, ultra vires of the law, Cabinet did not have the right to waive the infrastructure fees, but they did, he said. “The public purse lost tens of millions of dollars as a result,” McLean added.

The East End member said that the country had had a runaway government with the UDP and now had another one with the coalition, and he wondered if it was entering into a new “giveaway deal with Dart.” He asked, “Who is pushing these changes? There are no secrets in this country.”

McLean said he wanted to find out who would benefit but that the record of public consultation for the bill may reveal that. “Perhaps we will know.”

He made it clear he believed there was an agenda for major developers to make it easier for them to do what they wanted without due consideration to Cayman’s needs or the costs to the wider community. 

“This is some dangerous piece of legislation and this is going to cause problems in the country,” he said, warning that with the zoning flexibility the law was facilitating people would be making applications for commercial activity in the heart of residential neighbourhoods. But, he added, homeowners would be restricted from objecting.

“It should never be case that after you develop in a residential area that someone can come and develop a use clearly contrary to that without getting the consent of the people,” McLean said.

Blaming Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush as well, McLean pointed to the ForCayman Investment Alliance with Dart and said Bush had started “this rubbish we have to face today … with this substance over process to stimulate the economy”.

McLean pressed the point that he believed everything to control large development was being removed, creating “a free for all for large developments”, which gave regular people nothing.

“We don’t benefit; we just get the strain on the infrastructure to accommodate these large developments. They need to pay for the strain and the enhanced infrastructure required to operate it but when we waive the fees there is nothing left to pay.”

Ezzard Miller also raised concerns about who the amendments were designed to help. He pointed out that parliament was supposed to oversee planning matters to protect the people’s interest and government’s institutions were failing. With the repeal of these protections for big developers, he asked what possible assurances he could now give his constituents that their interest was being protected.

“This country should have a proper development and economic plan and any investor must meet the requirements. It cannot be right for us to pass legislation … that the Cabinet can change to suit a developer,” he said. “If we have to waive so many fees to make a development profitable to the developer, than we don’t need it.”

Miller said there was no benefit to locals from most major developments that do not create local work but generate more work permits. Even worse, as a legislator, he would be forced to vote more taxes to pay for the extensive infrastructure support these developments requirewhen fees are waived.

As both members pondered the source of the changes and implied it was for Dart, the islands’ largest developer, investor and land owner, the premier categorically denied the allegations.

During his contribution to the debate Alden McLaughlin said the package had nothing to do with the struggling Dart negotiations. He took aim at McLean for the accusations he was making and attack on the integrity of the government, and in particular the planning minister.

Although the draft of the planning law amendments went through the 21 day public consultation period during Thursday’s committee hearing, the bill went through a catalogue of changes and the new draft is not yet available to the public.

See original amendments below.

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The Emperor’s qualifications

| 31/10/2014 | 133 Comments

Once upon a time there existed in the islands that time forgot a thriving opportunity for its people to develop and work in an industry that would welcome visitors to its shores.
These three emeralds in the northwestern Caribbean Sea were inhabited by a hardworking industrious people who had endured and even prospered through various farming and industrial initiatives. Then the need to establish transportation from and to the islands led them to become expert boat builders and seamen.

They even progressed to the great heights of building ships for the United States Navy to use in the Second World War to defeat and turn back the Nazis.

Their skills in seamanship and boat building led to the development of the turtle industry and the establishment of a canning factory for turtle products, some of which were shipped to the European countries and were even reported to have been consumed by Royalty.

These same home grown skills and the advent of Southwell led to many of the men taking to sea for lucrative careers as seamen and in the fifties decade they earned, through hard work, determination and commitment, the reputation of the world’s best seamen. They commanded and crewed the largest supertankers and transported the most dangerous of cargoes across the world’s most treacherous seas and oceans.

The tourism industry grew into a thriving industry and during the years of the greatest expansion every hotel in the Cayman Islands was managed and staffed by friendly ambitious hardworking islanders, who went out of their way to please a guest. The industry was built on relationships between the hotel staff and its guests. Many of our first time visitors returned because of the way they were treated by the friendly islander bartender, waitress or cleaning ladies.

The advent of corporate and brand name hotels led to their demands for qualifications unavailable to the islanders to work in their hotels, and the government’s response to their demands, which was to by allow them to get work permits for persons with qualifications, led to the deliberate exclusion of Caymanians without these Emperor’s qualifications (Emperor's new clothes).

While these persons on work permits may have possessed some types of qualifications on paper based on the needs in their own countries, they had no knowledge of the islanders' way of doing things or the Islanders' work ethic or personality. The guests complained about the changing level of service, the increased cost to provide these persons on work permits and the changing clothes of the Emperor.

The focus of the corporate name brand on profits led to the extraction of the Caymanian flavour and relationship-based tourism to get them in, take their money and send them back home. These Emperor's new attitudes led to blaming the islanders' laid back, respectful, accommodating, helpful attitude as being lazy unreliable and not good for profits (more Emperor’s new clothes).

The friendly island, bartender who would willing tell an entertaining seaman’s tale to ease the troubles of the guest, now his friend, and sometimes slowly invented new rum-based drinks like the mudslide, yellowbird and fluffypussy, were told they were not qualified because they could not and did not juggle bottles of rum or beer (more Emperors new clothes) in a flamboyant way and drip their sweat generated from all these body movements into your beer or mixed drink. The friendly honest islander bartenders were unlikely to inflate their friend’s bill that was now computer generated with other patron’s drinks or double bill for your drinks which could lead to loss of profits

The elected governments of these three emerald islands tried on several occasions to replace these Emperor's new qualifications with home grown qualification for Caymanians, only to have these efforts thwarted and eventually stopped by the corporate and brand name managers, through hirings and terminations in rapid succession  — often because they interacted with the guest against corporate policy.

These hardworking islanders who were used to having to find ways to survive and improve their lot encouraged their children to shift their focus to the fast growing financial industry and abandon the tourism jobs to the work permit holders.

It was not long before these easygoing accommodating islanders were overrun in the financial industry as well and the Emperor’s new qualifications that had been so effective in the tourism sector was introduced into the financial industry.

Political leaders in these emerald isles then abounded their principles of integrity, honesty and interest in the island’s welfare and progress for WIIFM (what is in it for me) philosophy and concentrated on inward investment (more Emperor’s new clothes) to stimulate and grow the economy.

A few brave and barefaced politicians tried to tell the people the Emperor was naked but they were ridiculed by the powers that be and told they were xenophobic and were against development and wrong. They enforced the Emperor’s qualifications on the gullible and corruptible, who were willing to sell out to the handlers of the emperor or just go along and do nothing.

Today the islanders are outnumbered in the work place, the Emperors command the top jobs, own most of the successful business in both the tourism and financial industries.

Crime is rampart and increasing daily. The police force, once all Islanders who understood their physic and behavior, is also overrun by the Emperor's qualifications. Gone is the caring friendly islander police who solved and prevented crime.

Social decay is everywhere as the islanders try to adopt and accept the Emperor's changing new clothes because as the islanders acquire the present emperor’s clothes, the emperor comes out dressed in different new clothes.

Un-employment amongst the islanders is at an all-time high and growing. The younger generation of islanders are getting restless; a revolution is brewing; trouble is coming. The islanders need a Moses to deliver them from the bondage of the Emperors.

From whence will it come? Can they save themselves from extinction?

Wow! Where can these troubled emerald islands be? Could they possibly be the Cayman Islands?

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Focus groups providing insight for minimum wage

| 31/10/2014 | 37 Comments

(CNS): The minimum wage advisory committee has said it is already gaining useful insight into the position of the wider community on the introduction of a minimum wage. Government has begun a long process towards the eventual introduction of a basic rate of hourly pay that no person should be expected to work below. Having created a committee earlier this year it is now going into public consultation and is urging more people to register forthe closed-door focus group sessions scheduled for Friday. Having already undertaken sessions on the Brac and at the Family Life Centre in Grand Cayman Thursday night, officials said the information coming in is proving very useful.

The MWAC is tasked with coming up with the recommendation for the regime and rate that the wage will be set at, as at present it appears government will be looking to implement different rates as a result of what are perceived as the different circumstances surrounding the hospitality sector and the most vulnerable people in the local community  — helpers.

Although the PPM government campaign on the introduction of a minimum wage, the employment minister Tara Rivers who ran with the Coalition for Cayman did not. The minster has still not given her full support to a minimum wage and has talked about a “livable wage” but she said that the government she is a part of is committed to implementing a minimum wage regime.

Following a meeting on the Brac last week the committee had its first focus group on Grand Cayman last night with youth people aged 17-24 years old. Some 14 individuals took part in what officials said was “a great discussion…providing great insight for the MWAC.” The next two session will be at the Family Life Centre on Saturday morning and the committee is urging more people to sign up to take part.

There is a morning focus group at 10am for business and household employers and then in the afternoon at 1pm there will be a focus group for employees in business and households as well as unemployed Caymanians. Anyone who wants to take part can register by emailing minimumwage@gov.ky Open public town hall meetings are expected to begin in January and in the meantime people can take the online survey here. http://www.education.gov.ky/portal/page?_pageid=3901,8229740&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

All of this information will be used by the committee in its final report to government which had been expected in October. The ministry recently announced however that because the situation ‘was complicated” the committee needed more time. Its report is now is expected in February next year, delaying the introduction of what many people see as a much needed first step in addressing the significant exploitation of workers.
 

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Machete gang rob Tortuga

| 31/10/2014 | 81 Comments

(CNS): The Tortuga Rum Company’s van was robbed at the North Sound Way location Thursday by men wielding machetes. The heist was reported to 911 at about 5:50 in the evening after the robbers had made off with an undisclosed sum of cash. The police said that a 62-year-old male employee of the company had arrived at the North Sound Way location from a Tortuga store at the Royal Watler in one of the vans. When he drove into the car park, a white Nissan Sunny drove in behind him. As he was about to get out, two men who were passengers in the Nissan approached him armed with machetes. The robbers threatened the Tortuga driver then demanded money.

They reached into the van and took a bag that police said contained a substantial amount of cash and made their escape in the white car. It is understood the bag contained the day’s takings from the cruise port shop after a busy day in port.

The driver of the Nissan remained in the vehicle during the heist but was described as having a light complexion. The two men who threatened the employee and grabbed the cash were described as dark skinned but they had their faces covered. 

Despite the ordeal for the Tortuga driver, no one was physically injured.

Police said this week that they have been upping their visible patrols as a result of the growing number of robberies occurring at commercial premises and restaurants.

There is now a single incident room for these crimes and anyone who may have been in the area at the time of the robbery, or who may have information that could assist the investigators is asked to contact Detective Inspector Joseph Wright at 949-7710 of the Serious Crime Task Force or Crime Stoppers on 800 8477(TIPS).

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CUC cut-off policy catches out injured customer

| 30/10/2014 | 120 Comments

(CNS): As Grand Cayman’s power provider attempts to clamp down on delinquent bill payers, CUC appears to be giving increasingly less time for late payers to catch-up and not giving much notice when it comes to cutting off their power. A George Town CNS reader, behind on her payments by just two months, was left in the dark last night with a broken leg. Her pleas to CUC, given her inability to get to the office to pay and difficulty stumbling around on crutches in the dark, fell on deaf ears. CUC confirmed that it considers all bills delinquent after three weeks and 30 days after a bill date and customers can be plunged into darkness without warning.

“Customer accounts are due for payment twenty-one days after the bill date and are considered delinquent thereafter,” a spokesperson from CUC told CNS Thursday. “Thirty days after the bill date, if the outstanding balance is greater than $35, the account is subject to disconnection for non-payment.”

The spokesperson said that at present customers receive a disconnection notice on their bills if the previously issued bill remains unpaid, but the power firm is looking at developing an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) call out system, which will dial customers to advise them of a pending disconnection action. This is expected to be in place within the next couple of weeks.

But CUC said that could only work if customers keep their contact information with CUC up to date.

The Electricity Regulatory Authority keeps no figures on the number of people disconnected so there are no publicly available independent statistics that can say how frequently people are losing their power supply or how many families are living without power.

However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the numbers are increasing. With rising fuel costs, the loss of the rebate, the extra duty and the increase in the firm’s base rate, customers are facing ever-growing electricity bills. Although government has made a small duty cut on CUC’s diesel, it does not come into effect until January and is expected to result in just a 4% cut to residential bills.

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Lifestyle disease focus of local health conference

| 30/10/2014 | 4 Comments

(CNS): As the world’s health concern’s focus on West Africa and the most devastating outbreak of the deadly, Ebola virus in history, and as the Caribbean battles with outbreaks of denge and chikungunya virus, the diseases that actually plague Caymanians will be the subject of the fifth annual Cayman Islands Healthcare Conference. Diabetes, cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease, mental health and other non-communicable diseases will be the topics of discussions and presentations at the event. Local health officials said the free conference would include a line-up of experts from the front line in the war on these diseases.

The conference is set for 20 to 22 November at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and presenters include overseas and local specialists who will discuss some of the biggest challenges to the health of Cayman.

Dr James Hospedales is the Executive Director of Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and he will be opening the conference with an overview of whether the war is being won on CNCDs globally and in the Caribbean. Dr Hospedales, a citizen of Trinidad & Tobago, has been the Executive Director of CARPHA since February 2013 and has a wide breadth of knowledge of CNCDs in the region, officials said.

The Chief Interventional Cardiologist and Electrophysiologist at Health City Cayman Islands, Dr Ravi Kishore Amancharla, will discuss conquering the cardiovascular Leviathan. Since 1997, Dr Ravi has been working with Dr Devi Shetty and has been instrumental in establishing state of the art electrophysiology services across the group hospitals.

Dr Edward Anim-Addo, Internal Medicine, Chief Medical Officer with Tenet Florida Physician Services will address global trends in type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity and correlates. Dr Robert Cywes, also from Tenet, a specialist in neonatal, paediatric surgery and adolescent surgery with will tackle the facts versus beliefs as they relate to obesity.

Dr Lawrence Friedman, Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of California, San Diego will discuss using new technology to improve diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the role of electronic medical records and mobile monitoring. Presenting on food security, nutrition and NCD control in the Caribbean, will be Dr. Fitzroy Henry, a Professor of Public Health Nutrition at University of Technology, Jamaica.

As a Hematologist-Oncologist & Medical Oncologist with Cancer Treatment Centers of Americas, Dr Shayma Kazmi’s focus will be on genetics and DNA sequencing applications in cancer treatment.

Medical Director at The Heart Health Centre, Grand Cayman, Dr Mikhail Kosiborod will talk about the rising “tsunami” of diabetes and its complications.

Dr George Peoples is the founder of the Cancer Vaccine Development Program (CVDP); founder and CEO of Cancer Insight, LLC and Professor of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the HealthSciences. He will speak on the new frontier for cancer treatment: personalised cancer immunotherapy. 

Shannon Seymour, the Director of the Wellness Centre in Cayman will present on community first response to mental health.

“The calibre of speakers at this year’s conference is profound and we intend to highlight a range of topics that will be beneficial to the medical community and the general public alike,” said Osbourne Bodden who will also open the conference.  “We continue to offer this conference and knowledge to the community free of charge, so I encourage people to register soon, as space is limited.”

Committed sponsors this year include: Tenet Healthcare, Tower, Cayman Islands Health Services Authority, Dart, Health City Cayman Islands, CONCACAF, UnitedHealthcare International, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Cleveland Clinic, Baptist Health International, Marsh, Cerner, BritCay, University of California-San Diego, Aitheras Aviation Group, Aon Risk Solutions, Broward Health, The Wellness Centre, Fidelity, Heart Health Centre, Saint Luke’s Mid-America Institute, Generali, Cayman Airways and many other exhibitors and not-for-profit organisations.

Read more and register here

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