Archive for September 16th, 2008

Police seek owner of abandoned car

| 16/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): According to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS), they have been unable to trace the owner of an abandoned vehicle which has been passed to them since it was left outside a shop in West Bay. Police said today, 16 September, that the blue Honda Civic, registration number 116-955, has been handed to officers months after it was left at the The Shop, on the corner of Watercourse Road and North West Point Road, in December 2007.

All efforts to locate the registered owner, Glendon Williams, have so far proved unsuccessful, the police said. The vehicle was abandoned at The Shop by a woman who said she had lost the car key. After shopping in the store, she told staff she would return for it but never did. Police are appealing for either Williams or the woman who was driving the vehicle to contact West Bay police station on 949-3999 so the vehicle can be returned.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.


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Issues on Tobacco Legislation

| 16/09/2008 | 6 Comments

It is indeed exciting that we are finally going to get a tobacco law passed and I would like to thank everyone who has struggled to make this a reality. I would like to, constructively, point out that I feel there are a couple of areas that may have been watered down too much in this final draft of the bill.

First the exemption of outdoor bars and restaurant areas is a concern. To me this seems a bit unusual.  Why is it ok for me to eat or have a drink indoors and not be bothered by smoke but outdoors I do not have the same protection?  

Anyone who has sat down wind from a smoker knows that being outdoors does not eliminate the problem of second hand smoke.  This will mean that the nonsmokers, to be assured to dine smoke free, will be relegated to doing so indoors. 

Also consider this question, should my right to be smoke free be less at an outdoor restaurant than it is at an outdoor park? 

Right now one of my favorite spots is an outdoor establishment it is now likely to become a “haven” for smokers.  Smoking sections outdoors will work no better than they did indoors in keeping nonsmokers and employees free from the hassle of smoke. Also another thing to be considered is the question whether cigars will be allowed in the above mentioned outdoor bar and restaurant areas?

My other concern is the exemption for Cigar Bars. I say let them have their cigars but not cigarettes.  If this is not to be changed there needs to be a very strict definition of what a “Cigar Bar” is.   They should be separately licensed and regulated to assure that this does not become a loop hole in the law

 I very much fear that if this is not done many establishments   will declare themselves Cigar Bars just to be able to allow smoking.  There needs to be strong regulations in this regard or I feel certain it will get out of hand.  

I am sure there is pressure from the restaurant and bar industry as well as others lobbying for the least effective legislation possible.  I think this is an important enough of an issue to make sure we get it right the first time and make sure whatever is settled on does in fact have “teeth” in it. Otherwise we are not really moving forward but just giving lip service to the issue.    

Again my thanks to all who have helped to get us to this stage and those who will continue the work necessary to make any legislation meaningful.



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Justice Levers facing tribunal

| 16/09/2008 | 6 Comments

(CNS):  UPDATED — Despite denials that there was anything amiss regarding Madam Justice Priya Levers by the Chief Justice Anthony Smellie in July, the Governor has now announced the appointment of a tribunal to investigate complaints relating to Levers that arose in April of this year, which the justice has said she welcomes.

In a press statement issued this morning, 16 September, HE the Governor Stuart Jack said that in April 2008 certain complaints relating to Madam Justice Priya Levers, Judge of the Grand Court, were brought to his attention.

“Having given the matter the most careful consideration I have appointed a Tribunal under the relevant provisions of the Constitution to inquire into the matter and report back to me,” he said. “The Tribunal will be chaired by the Rt. Hon. Sir Andrew Leggatt QC.  I have suspended Madam Justice Levers from performing her judicial functions whilst this process is taking place. I will keep the public informed about the Tribunal and I will provide further details in due course.”

At around 1 pm today Justice Levers issued a statement in response, via her own legal counsel, stating that on Friday, 12 September, she had been informed by the Governor of his intention to initiate an Inquiry pursuant to Section 49(J) (4) of the Cayman Islands (Constitution) Order 1972.
"Madame Justice Levers welcomes theInquiry and the appointment of Sir Andrew Leggatt as its Chairman. She denies any of the misbehaviour alleged and, with the assistance of her experienced legal team, intends to vigorously defend all the allegations made against her to the fullest extent permissible by the law," said Anthony Akiwumi, Head of Litigation at Stuarts Walker Hersant. "Given the defined scope of the Inquiry, the Governor’s decision completely exonerates Madame Justice Levers from any financial impropriety or irregularity previously and erroneously implied by earlier media reports."

CNS has submitted enquiries to the Governor’s Office regarding the denials earlier this year by the Chief Justice and regarding Justice Levers’s circumstances when those denials were made, and awaits a response.

On 23 July, in the wake of numerous requests for information and comments on circulating reports that Justice Levers was the subject of an investigaiton and had been suspended, Chief Justice Smellie issued a very short statement: "The reports that Justice Levers has been suspended are incorrect. The Judge is presently away on leave,” he said at the time.


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Bush animals face extinction

| 16/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(Discovery): The hunting of wild animals poses a threat to species’ survival in many parts of the world, but an all-out ban on bushmeat hunting is not the right solution, according to a new report, because many people depend on such animals as their major source of protein. Without regulations for sustainable hunting, many Central African forest mammals could be extinct within 50 years, the report said. Go to article.

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Tourism everyone’s business

| 16/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS) : The Department of Tourism is hoping to attract a significant number of local people who are not necessarily connected to the business of tourism to its annual conference this year as it says even those not directly involved are still stakeholders in the country’s tourism product. Tourism is everyone’s business says the DOT and by attending the conference they can find out why. 

“The Annual Tourism Conference is an open forum designed to provide the tourism industry, other partners in our economy and the broader community with an overview of the Department of Tourism’s goals, strategies and plans for sustainable tourism, the economy, people and the environment,” said Shomari Scott, Acting Director of Tourism.  “This conference is not just for members of the traditional tourism industry, Tourism is a major player in the Cayman Islands, and everyone who lives here is somehow involved in creating a positive experience for our visitors. Knowing a little about how the industry works helps people put their best foot forward and make a lasting impression.”

 Scott explained that the conference would however provide a means to inform everyone involved in the industry what the DOT will be working on in the upcoming year. “ATC is an efficient and effective way to network and basically understand how the tourism industry conducts its business,” he added.

This year the diverse range of presentations include a keynote address focusing on “Climate Change & Tourism Global Challenges” by Dr. Murray C. Simpson who will share his wealth of knowledge in sustainable development, tourism, climate change and the environment.   The presentation during the Friday morning session promises to bridge the gap between research, policy and implementation. Dr. Simpson is a Senior Research Associate at the Oxford University Centre for the Environment, as well as Principle of the international consultants Sustainable Solutions Worldwide. He has worked extensively in both the public and private sectors in a range of initiatives, including sustainable tourism development, tourism strategy, tourism analysis and climate change adaption and mitigation projects in developed and developing countries and small island states.

Set to be opened by Minister of Tourism and Environment Charles Clifford with the ‘State of the Industry Address, the Annual Tourism Conference takes place on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 September at the Westin Casuarina Resort & Spa.  

Trina Christian, Executive Director CITA said that the conference is a valuable annual event for members of the tourism industry and the business community at large and chance for them to come together and receive industry updates.

“It also presents an opportunity for networking and for us to discuss issues that our Islands and our tourism product are facing locally and globally so that we can increase awareness and begin planning proactive strategies for this coming season. CITA is encouraging all of its members to attend and looks forward to contributing to the programme this year,” she added.

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No guarantees on Port

| 16/09/2008 | 2 Comments

(CNS): The investor Atlantic Star, with which the government has signed an MOU to negotiate the redevelopment and separation of the country’s cargo and cruise facilities at the George Town Port, has been given no guarantees on the land or the outcome of the negotiations. And according to the Minister for Tourism, the proposed port development is also dependent on the results of the Environmental Assessment Study (EAS).

Answering questions in the Legislative Assembly (LA) posed by the Leader of the Opposition, McKeeva Bush, and the second elected member for West Bay, Rolston Anglin, the Minister for Tourism, Charles Clifford, said that as the project was still at the negotiating stage and he had no idea of the costs involved, but that the developer had an expectation of return on any investment.

“No guarantee has been given to the developer. Under the terms of the MOU we will negotiate the financial modelling,” said Clifford. “During this stage we are looking at the financing and we will be seeking to ensure government is protected and the investor receives some return.”

Bush pushed the Minister on the details of the deal and asked what value had been placed on the land that the government intends to use for the project. “This is not ya-ya land, it is real; what is the value?” he asked.

The minister did not offer a sum but said the value would be taken into consideration and would be part of the negotiations. He said government owns the existing port land and the investor the land to the north, where the proposed cargo facilities will be. He said it was essentially a case of government and investor each owning half of the land.

Bush persisted in trying to get the Minister to offer some estimate of land values or the cost of the development but Clifford refused. “The Leader of the Opposition is expecting me to say how much and I can’t. There are protocols that require me to divulge the details at the appropriate time,” he added.

Bush noted that it was a common occurrence that the House was not informed about what was happening until after it happened. The Minister said the opposition’s questions were premature and that the entire development would be subject to extensive public consultation and the results of a detailed environmental impact study.

He said it was impossible, at this stage, to say where the negotiations are going to end up. “From the investor’s point of view he is only interested in a return on that investment but as far as operational control is concerned government is keen to ensure we remain in control.”

Anglin queried the financial arrangements using the term "funny business", a phrase he said that the PPM had used when it first came to office to describe non-traditional financing of government projects. “Early on in this administration there was much talk about traditional financing and not using ‘funny business’  — so what has changed? This is obviously a public-private partnership,” asked Anglin.

“I don’t know what he means by funny business,” said the Minister, adding that the government faced a number of redevelopment and capital projects andit could not finance them all. “This is not funny business. Public-private partnerships are common in many countries. We have decided to go this route, and the project is going to be public and not happen behind closed doors.”

The Minister also said the EiS would be a key part of the project, and that the investor would be offering a choice of three companies to undergo the assessment from which the Department of Environment would select the best company for the job. He said if for any reason the DoE were unhappy with the names put forward, the investor would have to come up with another one.

The Minister said that there were two teams involved in the negotiating process — one from government, consisting of Wayne Panton, Chair of the Port Authority, Paul Hurlston, Director, and an outside financial expert, and the Atlantic Star team — and they had met about 3 or 4 times. He added however, that there would be parallel talks with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) which, the Minister said, was interested at the very least in being involved and investing in the design.

The Leader of the Opposition also questioned the Minister on alternative locations and raised the issue that no thorough study had been done to rule out the eastern end of the island as a better site. The Minister said preliminary enquiries conducted by the Port Authority before he came to office had suggested taking the port facilities east was not a viable option.

“If he thinks digging a hole in East End is better than George Town he needs to say what it is,” said the Minister to Bush, who replied, “The Minister digs holes whenever he opens his mouth,”but that he needed to tell the house why he was so sure the east was a bad choice when no proper study had been conducted.

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Cubans’ dilemma

| 16/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A Cuban-Caymanian living on Grand Cayman has said that their situation is far worse than that of other nationalities. “We are the only nationality that looses our residency in our country and still don’t get immediate residency in the place we now call home and where we would stay and live for the rest of our lives. In other words, we are expatriates here and in Cuba,” she said.

Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush posed a Private Member’s Motion to regularise the status of Cayman-Cubans on Monday, 8 September, saying many of them were now being denied permanent residency because of the new law. Bush also asked that the facility be extended to Nicaraguans with Caymanian connections and US-born children of Caymanians. Bodden Town MLA Osbourne Bodden also raised the issue of other nationals with Cayman connections and said he believed that the motion should extend to Hondurans.

The Cuban-Caymanian, requesting anonymity, told CNS that all the other nationalities can live and work here while renting their house back in their home countries. They can purchase homes and land as security for a safe return home when they can no longer work in Cayman or simply don’t want to stay here any more.

“We Cubans, once we leave home we no longer can own or buy anything and even worse we can never return home again to stay, only to visit maximum for 21 days with a visa. Everything we once owned and worked hard to get is taken away from us before we leave. We cannot leave the island unless we sign our home and all personal possessions off to the government,” she said.

“It is hard to go back and see that someone that we don’t even know is living in the place we built and lived for most of our lives. Not even a family member can stay in our home unless they were living with us for the past 10 consecutive years, and if they do meet this criteria they would have to pay for everything in the home, plus for the house as if they had just purchased everything new. No other nationality has that problem here.”

She said that when Cubans arrive in Grand Cayman, they get an exception stamp in their Cuban passports to stay and work here for unlimited time, but the only place they can travel with that passport is from here to Cuba and back. In addition, they can’t get a US visa with a Cuban passport.

“Most Cubans here have never had the opportunity to travel out side the country because of this,” she said. “Vacation after vacation, most Cuban families with born-Cayman kids have to stay home and see how all the other families can take their kids to places like Disney World, while the Cuban kids can only make it to Cuba.”

All Cubans have to follow the same procedures to get residency in the Cayman Islands and only some who have the closest Cayman connection, like grandparents and parents, are better off, but they still have nephews, nieces, cousins and other relatives and friends who need help with their immigration status, she said. Refugees who were allowed to stay here were given a special passport which allowed them to travel anywhere except  Cuba, where everyone must enter with a Cuban passport.

“I know one Cuban that came here 15 years ago. A hard-working young boy, he was in the marine service when he left so he was definitely a political asylum person, and he is still waiting to get residency. He has no Cayman connection but he sure has made Cayman his home and also has made the Cubans proud. He works from morning till noon, almost every day of the week and has no criminal record, all good things to say about him and still only holds his Cuban passport as his only identification,” the source said.

There are many more good Cubans like this young man who don’t know what to do, and some are tired of trying with no results, she said. “It’s a hard situation for all of us that left our homeland to get here and live here and not get the opportunity to get adopted by Cayman as residents.”

The motion to resolve this issue was accepted by Government. “Whatever the resolution, we need to act,” declared Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts, saying the situation could not remain as it was. “These people face definite difficulties because of the way the immigration law now works and there are no special exemptions for them.”

Tibbetts said Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson would be asked to examine the situation with a view to resolving it in their favour through an amendment to the Immigration Law or through directives. He said that Manderson was aware of the acute situation these people were in and he felt the government could usher in something similar to an amnesty period for affected Cuban residents to settle their immigration status.


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Cayman Went coming

| 16/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Cayman Went, an independent movie set on Cayman Brac and largely shot on location on that island, will be seen for the first time by members of the public this week at test screenings on the Brac and Grand Cayman, hosted by the Ministry of Tourism. The first showing on Cayman Brac on Thursday, 18 September, is open to all and there will be no entry charge. See the trailer

Since there is no cinema on that island, the production crew will be shipping down a high-end HD projector and screen for the showing at the Aston Rutty Civic Centre, which will be about 90 minutes long. Anyone wishing to attend is asked to arrive between 6:30 and 6:45 pm. Doors will be closed at 7:00 pm sharp for the show. On Friday 19 September, Cayman Went will be shown at an invitation-only screening at Hollywood Cinema at Camana Bay.

The movie was shot almost entirely on location on Cayman Brac over a two-week period in February, with a final scene shot on Grand Cayman using turtles from the Turtle Farm. Other scenes were shot in Los Angeles and New York.

The plot follows the development of fading Hollywood actor Josh Anders as he learns through the people he meets on Cayman Brac what is really important in life. Josh is played by Michael Lombardi, star of the TV hit movie Rescue Me. The girl he falls for on the Brac is “Darby”, a dive-shop owner and environmentalist played by actor/dancer Susan Misner. Hollywood veteran Jeffrey DeMunn plays the part of “Rodgers Bowman”, an eccentric Cayman Bracker.

According to Jim Ritterhoff, who wrote the first draft of the script and is one of the executive producers of the movie, some of the cast and crew will be attending the test screenings, including himself and the director, Bobby Sheehan, who also rewrote the script with Ritterhoff.

“The film looks gorgeous,” said Ritterhoff. The post-production colour correction was done by Nice Shoes of New York using color grading technology from FilmLight. The Baselight systems, which they recently purchased and used for the first time on Cayman Went, is the same technology used by Warner Bros to colour-correct the blockbuster movie Dark Knight.

According to Ritterhoff, this makes the Brac look beautiful, which is especially important since it is both the backdrop for the movie and a part of the story. “The water is just an amazing blue,” he said, noting that Cayman Went was made for less than $1 million but looks as though it cost $20 million.

After the two showings in the Cayman Islands, Ritterhoff said they will be taking it to New York and Los Angeles for industry screenings at the end of September and the beginning of October, where they are hoping to interest movie distributors.

“All of us on the Brac are delighted that this movie, which seemed impossible in the beginning, has become a reality, and everyone is looking forward to seeing it,” said Sister Islands MLA Moses Kirkconnell. “We wish the producers luck with its distribution. Knowing everyone involved and the huge amount of talent and hard work that has gone into this movie, I have every confidence that it will be a great success,” he added.

Tourism Minister Charles Clifford said, “It is fitting that the first public screening of Cayman Went is taking place on the Brac, and the Ministry of Tourism is proud to host this momentous event. The movie captures the unique personality, terrain, flora and fauna of Cayman Brac in a way that transcends traditional advertising and I am sure that the movie will prove to be big draw for the island.”

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Driver in custody after clocking 100mph

| 16/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police said yesterday that a 25-year-old man had been arrested over various traffic offences and an outstanding warrant when he was finally tracked down after one police officer witnessed the vehicle he was driving reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph. The man, who is currently in custody, was eventually located in Savannah at around 12:10 on Sunday morning.

At around 11:20 pm on Saturday night (13 September) an officer saw a vehicle travelling at about 105 miles per hour on Bodden Town Road, in the vicinity of Midland Acres. Officers were then informed that a crash had occurred at Chester’s restaurant in Pease Bay, causing damage to the porch of the building. Police continued to search for the vehicle and the driver, and both were located at around 12:10 am at an address in Seaside Way, Savannah Acres.

Police said that the man was arrested on suspicion of various dangerous driving offences, leaving the scene of an accident and on an outstanding warrant. “This is a reminder of how dangerous it is to exceed the prescribed speed limit,” said Acting Commissioner of Police, David George. “This man was very lucky. The crash could have been much worse.”

Over the weekend some 23 other traffic offenders were netted during an operation by George Town police and the Traffic Management Unit. The team carried out a road check on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway on Saturday which resulted in various offences being detected including: driving without a certificate of roadworthiness, driving while disqualified and driving without a licence. Several other drivers were issued warnings for minor breaches.

“Through enforcement operations such as this, and the use of Streetskill for educational measures, we will continue to promote safe driving practices,” George added.

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Miss Lassie Art Exhibition & Fundraiser

| 16/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): An exhibition of selected works by Cayman’s renowned visionary artist Gladwyn K. Bush, better known as Miss Lassie, opens at the Harquail Theatre on 17 September with a private preview and fundraiser for the “Save Miss Lassie’s House” campaign. The exhibition opens to the public on 18 September and continues through 25 September.

The exhibition and campaign is spearheaded by the Cayman National Cultural Foundation (CNCF) in association with the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, the Cayman Islands National Museum and the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, according to a CNCF release.

Those attending the preview will have the opportunity to kick-off the campaign to restore the house, located at the junction of South Sound and Walkers Roads. They will beable to bid on art pieces by local artists during an opening night auction at the exhibition, and Derek Haines has volunteered his auctioneer talents for the evening. The general public will also be able to make donations to the campaign when they visit the exhibition.

The CNCF holds a collection of Miss Lassie’s original art which is not exhibited on a regular basis. This is an excellent opportunity to see examples of the work that brought Miss Lassie international recognition as a visionary artist. Her work is in private collections in England, the United States, Jamaica, South Africa, Germany and the Cayman Islands.

Miss Lassie started painting at the age of 62, after what she described as a visionary experience. Strong Christian themes run through her work, which she painted not only on canvas, but also on the walls, windows and furnishings of her home. The paintings on her house remain to this day and is one reason why there is an urgency to preserve the house as a national cultural treasure.

The Government of the Cayman Islands purchased the property and it is now up to CNCF to raise funding for the restoration and maintenance of the house. Private sector entities already lending their support either monetarily or in-kind are Dart Foundation, Bould Consulting, Cogent Communications, Caybrew, Evans & Associates, the Garden Club, John Doak Architecture, Jacques Scott Wines & Spirits, Patrick Broderick Photography, Pestkil Ltd., The Phoenix Group, Smart Construction Management, Ltd., Tortuga Liquors and Vision Real Estate.

The exhibition is open from noon until 7 pm on weekdays and from noon until 5 pm on Saturday. Admission is free. Anyone wishing to make a donation can contact the Cayman National Cultural Foundation at 345-949-5477 or by email at


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