Archive for December 17th, 2008

The Governor’s mistakes

| 17/12/2008 | 5 Comments

The Governor’s interventions during the last year (Clifford, Kernohan, Henderson etc.) have done real harm to nearly all of this country’s vital institutions, those which protect our society from chaos – the judiciary, the police, the government, and indeed the Governor’s own office.

Confidencehas been eroded at home and abroad, and our police force still has no permanent head. Obviously, this is not what the Governor had in mind. So what has gone wrong?

The idea that seems to have taken possession of the Governor is that, if anyone alleges any kind of misconduct in high places, the Governor’s response should be to make a public announcement, put the alleged wrongdoer in the public stocks, and call on someone from the UK to conduct an investigation.

But this kind of “nuclear” response should be a last resort, precisely because it is sure to cause the kind of fall-out we have seen. The media may be thrilled by the drama and controversy, but it does the country real harm. The nuclear button should only be pressed after careful consideration and advice, and only if there is no other way to go.

In all our cases the allegations or suspicions could and should have been dealt with in other ways.

I am not suggesting that anything should be swept under the rug. But when a doctor suspects that there may be something wrong he does not immediately cut open the patient. He looks for less invasive ways of investigating. The body politic requires the same care.

In our cases it appears (from what has been concluded by Sir Richard Tucker, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, and Sir Peter Cresswell) that the doctor could have discovered quite quickly and easily by following normal channels that there was nothing wrong – or nothing requiring surgery.

The irony is that the Governor’s UK team of police investigators has conducted itself in a manner worse than the allegations it was investigating, with scant regard for our laws and institutions. If you doubt that, take a look at Sir Peter Cresswell’s astonishing judgment.

Bridger should be sent back to the UK, along with his unqualified legal adviser. The rest of the team can finish anything that still needs to be done. It is not good enough to say that Bridger acted in good faith. Is good faith all that we require of the police? Has anyone suggested that Kernohan did not act in good faith? If anyone needs to be held publicly to proper standards, it is the policeman brought in to enforce proper standards.

Though the Governor’s interventions have had no good outcomes thus far, there may be a silver lining to this cloud. People who previously had doubts may now see why we need to modernize the Constitution, as the elected Government has proposed.

The Governor is the Queen’s representative but he is only human. He is not an infallible super-hero. Intellect, political neutrality and good intentions are important but they are not enough.

Now that the days of Empire are over, the UK does not have a pool of experienced colonial officers who have worked their way up the ranks. So now we are given Governors who have no prior experience of government – and, of course, no local knowledge. The people in London are no better placed. So our Constitution needs to make sure that they receive reliable local information and wise advice before important decisions are made.

But let us criticize the Governor reluctantly. Consider that this public servant was parachuted into unfamiliar territory to hold high office and high responsibility for things in which he has no experience, under the eye of local politicians and media. Why would anyone take on such a task? Surely it requires a strong sense of duty and service. And surely this person deserves respect even when we think he has erred.


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Rockers on bikes play Santa

| 17/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A collaboration between local rock station, 96.5 CAYROCK and LIME the third annual Motorcycle Toy Run on Sunday, 14 December saw more ten 40 bikers collecting a truck load toys for kids in need this Christmas.. “We were thrilled with the outpouring of support that we received from the local community – the generosity was overwhelming,” said 96.5 CAYROCK’s Brad Bregani.

“It was hugely rewarding to be involved in an event that directly benefits the children of Cayman, especially those who are less fortunate. We are also grateful for the enthusiasm and support that our riders received as they traveled along collecting donations – it was a memorable day for us all, and an annual event that we continue to hold close to our hearts.”  

Collecting donations along the way, over 40 riders met in the parking lot of Boatswain’s Beach, and between then rode through West Bay, along the length of Seven Mile Beach and through South Sound – continuing all the way to East End and looping around with a final stop at Kaibo. Riders travelled on motorcycles, mopeds, scooters, choppers and hogs. The 96.5 CAYROCK monster truck ‘Rockzilla’ and the X107.1 van also joined in the ride to ease the burden of carrying all the donations collected.  

Leading up to the day of the ride, the localcommunity was encouraged to deliver donations to specified locations along the course. Amassing over a truck-load full of toys, the collection was later presented to the Lion’s Club of Grand Cayman which will be hosting a kids’ party on the 21st of December. At the party, the Lion’s Club will be distributing the donated gifts to less fortunate youngsters

“With an ongoing commitment to making the Caribbean a better place, LIME was eager to collaborate in this charitable endeavor with both 96.5 CAYROCK and the Lion’s Club – each playing key roles in making this event a success,” said LIME Events Manager Julie Hutton commented. “It was both fun and rewarding to do our part to make Christmas as special as possible for the kids of Grand Cayman.”

dms Broadcasting Network Promotions and Marketing Manager Phil Vinciullo said the event was  a roaring success. “Everything went without a hitch from ideal weather conditions to unwavering support from the community through their donations,” he said.

“As always – it is a team effort and we would like to give huge thanks to all the sponsors – particularly LIME, the Royal Cayman Islands Police for the escort, as well as of course, the riders and the community for their support. We look forward to making next year even bigger and better!”

Sponsors for the event include All Star Entertainment Cayman Ltd, LIME, Lion’s Club of Grand Cayman and Paradise Riders Motorcycle Association, and also Boatswain’s Beach and Dunkin Donuts who helped kick-start the morning. For more information visit .


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Goldman’s hedge funds up

| 17/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNN): Hedgefunds may be struggling and closing up shop in the current market environment, but Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) was able to make more money tending to the funds’ needs this year than last. The company, was able to post a 19% gain in revenue in its securities services operations for the three months that ended 28 Nov, compared to the same period last year. The business also turned in record net revenues for all of fiscal 2008. Go to article.

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Deep sea reefs discovered

| 17/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(National Geographic): High-resolution sonar images taken in early December have identified three huge deep-sea coral reefs off the coast of Florida. At depths of nearly 1,300 feet the recently discovered reefs are home to hundreds, if not thousands, of species, according to scientists. "Just imagine a 200-foot tall eerily white reef looming off the flat, muddy bottom," said John Reed, (left) a senior researcher at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, who led the expedition. Go to article.

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Christmas crime warning

| 17/12/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The new Acting Commissioner of Police, James Smith, is warning residents to take action this Christmas to protect their homes, businesses and property from crime, which often increases at this time of year. “The festive seasonis traditionally a time for people to relax, take a break and enjoy themselves,” said Smith.“Unfortunately, that is not the case for some criminals who see the holiday season as an opportunity. We need to do all we can to make things as hard as possible for thieves and burglars.”

Annual Christmas policing operations include high visibility policing, increased foot patrols and targeting known offenders – all measures designed to help prevent burglary and theft offences from taking place.

“We work hard to identify offenders but prevention is better than cure,” Smith added. “Many crimes can be avoided if some simple security measures such as locking doors and windows are taken.”

In addition, residents are being reminded not to leave valuables and Christmas shopping in vehicles. “Leaving items in cars is an open invitation to criminals,” the commissioner warned and called on the community to report any suspicious activity they see. “If you see something out of the ordinary in your neighbourhood, let the police know, you could help prevent a crime or solve one,” he said.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has issued the following advice to residents:

General Security: Ensure doors and windows are kept locked and secure – even if you are just popping out for a few minutes; Sliding doors are often a popular method of entry – inserting a piece of wood or something similar into the gap to prevent the door from sliding back, should the lock be broken, can discourage potential burglars from targeting your home; Do not leave a spare key hidden under a mat or plant pot;  Make sure keys are kept out of reach of windows and doors; Look out for your neighbours – if you notice something suspicious call the police; Don’t tempt burglars; Keep valuable items out of view; Make sure gardening equipment is secure and not left lying around; Let the criminals know you have taken precautions – if you have an alarm put the box or sticker on show and if you have a dog put up a warning sign.

Holiday security: If you are going away ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your property and ask them to open and close curtains or put lights on to make your house look lived in;  If you are leaving your car at the airport – ask a neighbour to park in your space occasionally;

Security Equipment:  Take a look around your home and imagine you are a burglar. Look for security weak points; Fit locks to windows and doors – if they are easily visible they may deter some thieves;  Consider fitting an alarm.; Mark your goods with your PO Box so that if they are stolen and recovered they can be easily identified as belonging to you.

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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Top cops exposed to law suits

| 17/12/2008 | 6 Comments

(CNS): The departure of the shortest serving Police Commissioner in Cayman appears to have been a direct result of his potential exposure to law suits arising out of the activities of theSpecial Police Investigation Team (SPIT) and Operation Tempura.  While the lack of indemnity insurance saw Royce Hipgrave take evasive action, the former Acting Commissioner David George (left) and the new Acting Commissioner James Smith may not be able to avoid their respective exposure to potential law suits arising from the investigation.

Since the revelation during Justice Alex Henderson’s Judicial Review, in which the warrants issued to search his home and office were quashed, that the Commissioner of Police of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service was directly responsible for SPIT because the officers had all been sworn in as special constables, the question now remains over both George and Smith’s own exposure to law suits. Most police services offer indemnity insurance to protect officers from any suits that could arise against them during the course of their work as a result of mistakes or accidents. CNS has been unable to confirm whether or not the current commissioner has been covered, if David George had any such policy or if indeed the RCIPS offers any kind of protection to serving officers.

According to one legal expert who spoke to CNS, even if the other officers are covered, if Henderson’s or Kernohans legal teams are able to demonstrate that the actions of SPIT led by Senior Investigating Officer Martin Bridger in suspending Kernohan and arresting Henderson were in bad faith, the indemnity would not cover the Acting Commissioner for responsibility.

The first of what is expected to be a number of claims for damages relating to Operation Tempura has already been granted a hearing by Sir Peter Cresswell when he quashed the search warrants issued by Carson Ebanks on behalf of SPIT. In that case George was an additional party and not a direct respondent but could still be liable. However, the risk for both commissioners will come if Henderson’s legal team, which is now seeking to have the arrest of Henderson quashed, is successful in that venture. At that point the commissioners may very well be directly liable to pay significant damages themselves.

On arrival Smith said he would be addressing the situation regarding Operation Tempura, for which he said he had full responsibility, and he would make an announcement as soon as possible. However, more than two weeks has passed and SPIT is still operating in the Cayman Islands despite calls from both the elected members of government and the community for him to wind up his investigation, which has so far revealed very little so-called corruption, and go back to the UK.

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Homeless for the holidays

| 17/12/2008 | 4 Comments

(CNS): Having lost her Watering Place home twice to hurricanes, once in 1980 to Hurricane Allen and last month to Paloma, 73-year-old Meridith Dilbert is now the last of Cayman Brac’s homeless remaining at the Aston Rutty Civic Centre, the island’s main hurricane shelter and for the last month a refuge for those displaced by Paloma.

Dilbert is currently staying at night in the medical wing of the Civic Centre, not because she is sick but so she will have company since eleven elderly clients from the Kirkconnell Community Care Centre (KCCC), which was badly damaged in the storm, are still staying there until the Centre is repaired. Prior to that she was sleeping in the upstairs balcony in a room set up with cots, dormitory-style, with KCCC staff. Now that they have found alternative accommodation, and with nowhere else for the government to place her, Dilbert has been given a bed in the new medical wing.

Still, Dilbert feels depressed and forgotten. She has been told that she will be given one of the new trailer homes but she doesn’t knowwhen that will be and she is scared that she will be turned out of the Civic Centre. “They’re not interested in me. That’s the whole matter and the truth of it,” she said. (Left: A few days after the storm, Meridith Dilbert sits where her house used to be while a couple of good samaritans help sort though her belongings.)

“From the time the storm been here, I don’t have nowhere to go. No one has come here and said, ‘Meridith, we’re going to get you somewhere,’ and no one is checking that I have anything to eat.” She said that while the shelter wardens remained after the storm, they took good care of her, but since they went home she feels that she has been left to fend for herself and has lost weight since the storm.

All she got of all the emergency supplies given out after Paloma was a zipper-bag of rice, Dilbert said, though she did get parcels sent to her from people in Grand Cayman. “They’re not looking out for me in the right way at all.”

A source from the Department of Children and Family Services said that Dilbert was a priority, but admitted that she had not received any counselling and that there were probably others who would also benefit from this service. (Right: Meridith sits on her cot at the ARCC)

No one appears to know how many displaced people there are following Paloma. Some elderly residents have been sent to Grand Cayman to stay with relatives there, and there are an unknown number of people staying with friends and waiting for the trailer homes to be ready or homes to be repaired or rebuilt. Rental accommodation was snapped up very fast after the storm.

Deputy District Commissioner Mark Tibbetts said that there were 17 trailer homes in Watering Place. A lot of work had been needed to make them liveable, including building a septic system and doing the electrical work so that they could be hooked up to the mains, but they were hoping to have between one and three homes ready by this coming weekend.

Another nine were on their way from Grand Cayman and there was a strong possibility that these would be placed in private yards so that they could be hooked up to the main grid and the existing septic system. A number of people were in need of a trailer home and the decisions about who would get them would involve the Ministry of District Administration, Planning, Agriculture and Housing, Tibbetts said.

Meanwhile Meridith Dilbert waits for something to hope for. “This place is like a prison,” she said.


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