Archive for December 19th, 2014

Cabinet shuffled for Ozzie

| 19/12/2014 | 233 Comments

(CNS): There will, it seems, be no resignation by Minister Osbourne Bodden as the premier has shuffled his own ministries around to separate him from his chief officer. Premier Alden McLaughlin has swapped his community affairs ministry with his Cabinet colleague’s health portfolio. In a short statement from his office Friday, officials said that from the start of the New Year the  premier will take responsibility for health, including environmental health, and culture with Jennifer Ahearn as the chief officer. Bodden will then assume responsibility for community affairs, along with youth and sports, with Dorine Whittaker as the chief officer for that ministry.

Roy McTaggart, councillor to the financial services ministry, will also assist with the Ministry of Health and Culture. The premier will retain his Home Affairs portfolio in addition to the responsibilities for health, his office added.

In the very short statement it was said that the administrative detail and “re-arrangements resulting from these decisions” would be handled by the deputy governor as the head of the Civil Service.

No comment was made about Bodden’s tirade against Ahearn in the Government Administration Building last week w,hen he launched a verbal attack that was heard across the entire top floor. It was witnesses by dozens of civil servants and security officers were called to the location. Although there have been no denials that Bodden made derogatory comments about Ahearn’s Caymanian status, it appears there will be no consequences for that.

It was apparent from the statement that despite the public outrage and calls for Bodden’s resignation, the premier is not demanding that his Bodden Town party colleague step down and has found another way to accommodate the workplace problem created by the major bust-up. However, while the reshuffle will succeed in keeping the chief officer and minister apart, it will do nothing to address the widespread public concerns about the manner of the attack and the divisive insults made by a Cabinet member.

The reshuffle will also mean that as well as dealing with the controversies surrounding his home affairs ministry at present, including the ongoing issues relating to police management and the immigration department, McLaughlin will be heading into another potential public firestorm. The premier will now have direct responsibility for overseeing the solution for the country's waste management problem and the George Town dump.

Vote in the CNS polls:

Should Osbourne Bodden resign from cabinet?

Who-should-replace-Bodden?

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Teenager jailed after blinding man with bottle

| 19/12/2014 | 18 Comments

(CNS): A 19-year-old West Bay man has been sentenced to two years in jail after assaulting another man with a bottle, which led the victim to lose his sight in one eye. Shaquille Bush first pleaded not guilty on 7 February this year but the day after his trial was set to begin he changed his plea to guilty of unlawfully wounding Roy Ebanks in West Bay last September. The court heard that as Ebanks was walking to the Miss Daisy Lane intersection, a drunken Bush shouted for him to leave. Ebanks agreed that he would but Bush caught him off guard with a slap to the left side of his face and then struck him on the right side of his face with a glass bottle. 

After the incident occurred Ebanks reported it to the police and was taken to the hospital, where he was told that he had suffered a serious penetrating injury to his right eye and blood in the chamber of his eye. The injury has affected Ebanks’ vision as he is now completely blind in his right eye, which is likely to be permanent.

During the sentencing hearing earlier this month, the court heard that Ebanks was going to the Logwood area to collect limes from a friend for sale when he noticed Bush some distance away. Ebanks said that wen Bush started to shout to him to leave, there were other people around him so he did not know who he was speaking to. Bush came up to Ebanks and said “Get out of here!” and slapped him on the left side of his cheek with his hand, and as Ebanks turned around to leave Bush picked up a glass bottle from the ground and hit him over his right eye with it, causing it to shatter.

Ebanks told social workers in his impact statement that he was completely shocked by Bush’s actions and that he has received what he feels is an insincere apology from Bush, in which he said, “Sorry, I was drunk.” Ebanks has been unable to work for 6 months and has found it hard to readjust back to his regular routine. In addition, Ebanks’ lack of sight has caused him to fall off a step at his house and break his leg.

The outstanding medical bills for Ebanks’ hospital visit are CI $5,526.67 as well as thebill for his broken foot, which is CI $2,165.97.

Since the incident Bush has stated that he “feels really bad” about what happened and has expressed genuine remorse but stated that payment for Ebanks’ medical bills will not be made, and speaking on his behalf, his lawyer said, “Compensation is not going to happen.”

Justice Charles Quin described the crime as a  “malicious and violent attack”, where Bush deliberately “picked up a bottle and struck the victim again” after first slapping him in the face. He said this was "a serious aggravating factor” that had been taken into account. The judge also said that there were few, if any, mitigating factors and that Bush’s failure to “provide, or even offer, any compensation whatsoever to the victim does not convey genuine remorse”.

Taking all factors into consideration, including the defendant’s age, the judge said the appropriate sentence would be two and a half years but he gave Bush a discount for his last minute guilty plea, which avoided the need for trial, and sent him to prison for two years.

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Teen heard minister’s tirade

| 19/12/2014 | 76 Comments

(CNS): A teenager taking part in the Chamber of Commerce’s mentoring programme was one of dozens of people who witnessed the verbal assault by the health minister on his chief officer last week. The incident, which has caused outrage in the community and stirred up calls for the minister to step down, was overheard by the student from St Ignatius Catholic High School who was attending the ministry on her first workplace visit with her mentor, Nancy Barnard, the deputy chief officer. The Chamber confirmed that the youngster had reported the incident, which involved yelling and swearing, but that bothCO  Jennifer Ahearn, the target of the abuse, and Barnard had discussed the issue with her and explained that it was not normal workplace behaviour.

“Following the incident, Mrs Barnard and Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn took the time to meet with the student to stress to her that the behaviour she experienced was not normal or proper for the workplace,” an official from the Chamber stated. “Mrs Barnard and the Chamber’s Programme coordinator, Trisha Meyerhoff, also took the time to contact the student’s parents via email and by phone to discuss the incident and to offer further support if necessary.”

Chamber CEO Wil Pineau explained that all mentors are required to complete a mentor training seminar and to submit a police clearance in order to participate in the programme. At the opening reception, everyone was instructed to inform the Chamber’s Programme Coordinator if there is any incident that takes place at the workplace or during any visit that makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened in any way.

“Since the start of the programme in 2003, this is the first report of any incident during a workplace visit,” said Pineau.

Ironically the mentoring programme is sponsored jointly by the Chamber of Commerce and Osbourne Bodden’s ministry, which includes youth in its portfolio.

The Chamber has called for a full investigation to take place and the outcome to be made public. President Johann Moxam, who recently called for unity in Cayman, also raised his concerns about the allegations that Bodden had derided Ahearn’s Caymanian status and said such comments “destroy harmony”.

“The Cayman Islands is a multi-cultural society with residents living and working here from around the world. Our success is based on our ability to integrate and to accept that while we may have cultural and national differences, we are all working to make the Cayman Islands the best place to live and to conduct business,” Moxam said. “Anti-Caymanian or anti-foreigner comments destroy that harmony.

“We need to make every effort to remove these sentiments from our day to day discussions and interactions. Our collective objective should be to create a more inclusive Cayman for all stakeholders, whilst respecting and maintaining our heritage and traditions. This includes native, multi-generational persons married to Caymanians and persons who have lived and worked among us who have been granted the privilege of Permanent Residency and Caymanian Status, as well as those who are seeking to become Caymanian,” he added.

The existing divisions in the communities have been exasperated in recent years as the number of foreign workers coming into Cayman has continued, while the economic recession has taken a heavy toll on the local workforce, which is now competing with cheap labour from overseas.

As government battles to deal with the fallout, it too has been striving for a greater degree of unity and as a result it is the comment from Bodden that his chief was no more Caymanian than a piece of “f^*^ing driftwood” that appears to have exacerbated the minister’s tirade into a national crisis.

Vote in the CNS polls:

Should Osbourne Bodden resign from cabinet?

Who-should-replace-Bodden?

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Gov should have met MLAs

| 19/12/2014 | 52 Comments

(CNS): The closed door decision made by Governor Helen Kilpatrick to retain and back the police commissioner was wrong because she should have at least heard from all of the country’s political representatives first, the independent member for North Side has said. The governor made it clear she supported David Baines, regardless of the shocking revelations that the RCIPS had recruited and retained an officer who was charged and recently convicted of murder while Baines was at the helm of the organisation. Ezzard Miller said that whatever the governor decided, in the end was down to her but she should not have made that decision without first hearing representations from elected members on behalf of the people.

“The governor made her decision without considering the position of the representatives of any constituencies,” he said, noting that the politicians had made several public declarations that they wanted to meet with her. It is understood that the governor did have a closed door meeting with the premier, but no one else, and it is not clear if Alden McLaughlin passed on any concerns or requested that she meet with the other 17 members of the Legislative Assembly.

“She may have come to the same decision after considering my or anyone else’s input but without any input, how can we see if the process of making that decision was made fairly and in consideration of all of the facts?” he asked.

The issues of crime fighting and police management have been a hot topic lately, with the public and the politicians raising concerns about both. Despite the revelations that Tyrone Findlay was recruited to the RCIPS armed unit from Jamaica just weeks before he was charged with murder, the commissioner is not being held accountable.

Miller said that it does not matter who Baines delegated the recruitment duties to, in the end neither the commissioner nor anyone else at the top of an organisation can "delegate their accountability and responsibility”. Miller said it was up to the chief of any organisation to delegate the work to a competent person and if they didn’t, they are responsible.

Miller also took aim at the governor's allegations that people were engaging in “false criticism and unwarranted personal attacks”, and asked if the UK representative was in possession of information that contradicts what the public has been told.

“If the governor has evidence that Tyrone Findlay has not been convicted of murder and that the commissioner of police did not have his bail amended to allow him to come back to work in the RCIPS after he had been charged, she should release this information,” Miller added.

The North Side MLA said that was one of the issues that he found the most difficult to comprehend and why he believed the commissioner should resign. The MLA stated that even if Baines and the RCIPS had been duped into taking on someone under investigation for murder and then obligated legally to retain him, the idea that the police boss took steps to bring the officer back to Cayman to work in the local police was an outrage.

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Scott takes up advocacy job for finance sector

| 19/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Former Ernst and Young partner Jude Scott is the new Chief Executive Officer of Cayman Finance, the umbrella advocacy group for the local offshore sector. CF Chairman Ian Wight confirmed Scott’s appointment Thursday and said the organisation was fortunate to have such a well-respected member of the community take up this vital role and help guide its strategic development over the coming years. Cayman Finance has been working more closely with government recently in an effort to get everyone in the industry to join forces against an onslaught of negative publicity about the offshore sector and the tax haven label. Read more and comment on CNSBusiness

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Premier welcomes new dawn for US and Cuba

| 19/12/2014 | 17 Comments

(CNS): There were no statements on Thursday from the premier regarding his own internal government relationships as the ‘Ozzigate’ issue rolled on, but Alden McLaughlin did find time to congratulate President Barack Obama for making efforts to restore diplomatic and economic ties between the United States and Cuba. Still coming under increasing pressure to do something about his health minister and long-time PPM colleague and friend on Thursday, the premier’s public attention was on the advantages for local people the complete thawing of the more than fifty year impasse between the two countries would bring.

“The re-establishment of a US embassy on Cuban soil that is being proposed would benefit Caymanians who hold US passports as well as our resident US citizens,” the premier stated. “I expect a further easing of restrictions on US residents traveling to Cuba in the near future. I understand that Cuban President Raul Castro has welcomed the restoration of the relationship with the United States and has said the two countries must live with their differences in a civilized manner. I congratulate both men for beginning to end the chilled relations that have existed between the two countries since 1961,” he added.

Vote in the CNS polls:

Should Osbourne Bodden resign from cabinet?

Who-should-replace-Bodden?

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