Archive for March 16th, 2009

UK takes control of Turks & Caicos

| 16/03/2009 | 11 Comments

(Times): UPDATED – Britain will seize full administrative control of the Turks and Caicos Islands next week after a corruption probe into the governance of the small Caribbean territory. Gordon Wetherell, the British Governor, broadcast a message across the islands announcing that a proposal had been drafted in London to transfer the authority of the local government ministers into his hands. He blamed “clear signs of political amorality and immaturity and general administrative incompetence” for the move which is likely to suspend the democratic administration of the territory until the next scheduled election in 2011. (Left: Premier, Michael Misick).

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Woman jailed foradultery

| 16/03/2009 | 1 Comment

(BBC): A British mother jailed for adultery in Dubai has lost a second appeal and will stay in prison. Marnie Pearce, 40, hoped to be freed but will have to serve the rest of a three-month term. It had been reduced from six months at her first appeal. She will be deported on her release and fears she will lose custody of her two young children. Ms Pearce says her ex-husband accused her of adultery to gain custody of their two children, a claim he denies.

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Police say DJ stabbed multiple times

| 16/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS):  The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) has said that 42-year-old Sherman Alvin Bodden, aka Jazzy B, of North West Point Road, West Bay, who was murdered during a fight on the evening of Monday, 9 March, sustained multiple stab wounds. The incident took place at a home in Savannah where a 39-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder.

“This is a tragic, senseless incident which has resulted in the untimely death of a young man,” said Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Kim Evans. “Our sincerest condolences go out to all the family and friends of Mr Bodden.”

On the night of the murder  911 received a call from a woman reporting that two men were fighting at a house in Prince Link. Police and medics responded and Bodden was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead. Police said the man who was arrested on suspicion of murder remains in police custody at this time.

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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Search goes door-to-door

| 16/03/2009 | 45 Comments

(CNS): UPDATE Tuesday 11:25 —Police said this morning (Tuesday 17 March) that the search for 21-year-old Sabrina Schirn is continuing as detectives carry out door to door enquiries in relation to the recovery of the vehicle that Sabrina was last known to be using. Officers are actively following up reported sightings of Sabrina to ascertain if they are genuine. “We are extremely worried for Sabrina and are doing all we can to find out where she is,” said Detective Inspector Kim Evans.

“If Sabrina can hear (or see) this, we need her to come forward and let us know that she is ok.” Evans also said that police had located another vehicle which Sabrina had access to but had not located another vehicle in which she was allegedly sighted in on Sunday. “We have now located the two vehicles that Sabrina had access to,” Evans added. “We have not located the blue Honda which she was reportedly seen in Wednesday night (March 11). It’s essential that we hear from anyone with information about Sabrina’s movements.”

Sabrina was reported missing to police on Thursday, March 12. Detectives launched a missing person’s enquiry and have been carrying out investigations into her disappearance since then. Sabrina reportedly left her workplace, Blockbuster in Grand Harbour, at approximately 10:00am on Wednesday, 11 March after borrowing a co-worker’s vehicle, Sabrina did not return to work.

The borrowed car was found in bush land off in the East End area, by a member of the public who called 911 at around 17.10 on Monday, 16 March.  The RCIPS had earlier appealed for sightings of the car, a white 1999 Honda Torneo, registration number 133-249 which Sabrina had borrowed from a friend on Wednesday, 11 March 11. The vehicle was processed at the scene by Scenes of Crime Officers and the car has now been moved for further forensic examination. The Fire Department assisted with providing a light source at the scene for the examination of the vehicle and area searches were carried out by officers, including the K9 unit.

House to house enquiries are being carried out today and statements are being taken from various people who live in the area who can assist with the investigation.

Evans said officers needed to know how the car got to East End. “Did anyone see the vehicle? Who was driving? I appeal for anyone who can help to get in touch,” he said.

Sabrina is described as approximately 5ft 5ins tall with a medium brown complexion, of heavy set build, and with dark curly brown hair with red highlights.

Anyone with information about Sabrina’s disappearance should contact Sergeant Winsome Prendergast on 516 5241 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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A fine place to live

| 16/03/2009 | 0 Comments

It’s a golden rule of marketing that advertising works best if it’s tailored to the needs or desires of selected target-markets. Scattershot advertising is hit or miss.

Our government’s total tourism budget (including Cayman Airways) is pretty much a state secret, insofar as its administrators don’t tell us exactly who their targets are. Mostly, what they seem to do is find out where our visitors come from already, and advertise there, and then claim that all the visitors came because of the advertising. Pretty cute.

I’ve never read or heard what age-groups are targeted. I guess the spring-break youngsters are on the list, judging by the rowdiness along Seven Mile Beach the other week. Otherwise, there don’t seem to be any specific targets at all. The adverts are scattershot.

It occurs to me that the spring-breakers’ grandparents might be an attractive target. Retirees’ vacations aren’t limited to just a couple of weeks a year; they can take months at a time, if they want. Some of them would probably be open to the idea of setting up home here, if it wasn’t much bother.

Not as tourists on tropical vacations for a week or two, but as long-term stayers. Not as Permanent Residents, either, because our politicians don’t want Permanent Residents. That’s clear from the ridiculous financial obstacles they make applicants jump over. Ah well, no problem. Retirees don’t want to spend 365 days of every year in their retirement homes anyway. They don’t all feel the need to become citizens, or even “Permanent Residents”.

I don’t mean that Cayman should compete with Latin America’s “gringo colonies”. Rather, we ought to be competing with Florida and the Carolinas, Arizona and California. We don’t need to make them buy houses or apartments if they don’t want to. Let them take advantage of our surplus dwelling units and rent them for a cut price, in this recession.

Most oldies don’t particularly want to be on the beach, and don’t particularly want gated communities if the security situation doesn’t warrant them. Most oldies don’t want to become tax refugees. Americans are usually resigned to paying Federal Income Tax, although they wouldn’t mind avoiding State Income Tax. As long as they don’t tell lies to the IRS they won’t get into trouble.

They wouldn’t mind being excluded from our workforce, which they would be. Some among them would be willing to help with expert advice, if asked, but they wouldn’t go into a sulk if they were ignored – as they would be. That would be our loss, not theirs.

Retirees don’t necessarily look for the things that are usually advertised as Cayman’s strengths. Traditionally, our advertisements praise our beaches, our friendliness, our sunshine, and our clear waters. But, let’s be honest about it: the only extraordinary thing among those is the waters. The others can be found anywhere in the region.

Our standard tourist attractions of hotels, bars, restaurants, night clubs (”niteclubs”, excuse me!) and local purpose-built facilities are pretty ordinary.

See, here’s the thing. Cayman doesn’t have all that much to offer discerning visitors, except for the waters; but it is a very pleasant place to live. Our First-World lifestyle is a strong selling point, and it’s a wonderour selling agents don’t realise that.

For a town of 50,000 people, we have excellent medical facilities. We have plenty of shops, full of stuff to buy; plenty of appliances and household items; repairmen to fix them and domestic servants to clean them. American TV reception is never 100% reliable, but it’s fine for an isolated little island. Electricity and water supplies are excellent, though the bills are sometimes dodgy.

Phone and internet connections aren’t bad. They’re expensive, but everything’s expensive. Our roads are generally good enough; our driving standards aren’t as bad as some people say.

It’s a peaceful place. Our crime waves, like our traffic jams, are small beer by metropolitan standards. Our lawmakers and law-enforcement agencies are about what one expects in a community of this size, taking into account that most of the top positions are denied to first-generation immigrants.

Even after fifty years’ residence, immigrants are still regarded as foreigners. Well, that’s common in remote English villages, and probably in small, isolated, North American towns too. Foreigners and bloodline Caymanians don’t mix much socially, but each group is happy with that situation. Our social divisions are based on ethnic origins and social classes, but not on race or colour.

Anyway, there are no good or bad peoples in the world, only good or bad individuals. (My wife and I visited seventy-odd countries and lived in five of them, before choosing Cayman as our final home thirty years ago. We have had to fight to stay here, but that’s another story.)

Some non-natives are scandalized by the pervasive crony- corruption, but that’s generally because they are used to living in large cities, where corruption is more easily hidden. Here, everybody lives in the same room, so to speak. Rich retirees don’t normally have to get down and dirty with the Immigration authorities. Lucky them. It’s best to stay well away from that nest of vipers.

In general, Cayman’s people are courteous, generous and good-natured. To foreign residents and visitors alike, it doesn’t matter whether one deals with native Caymanians or migrant workers, the encounters will be equally pleasant. Cayman’s welcome-mat is kept in good repair by all groups.

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Jobless liable on health cover

| 16/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): People who lose their jobs are liable for the payment of all of their health care premiums from the first day of the month following the termination of their employment. According to Superintendent of Health Insurance Mervyn Connolly, while employers are obligated to keep their former employees on the company policy for up to three months after they let someone go, they are not liable for any of the payments.

“The Health Insurance Commission has been receiving increasing numbers of enquiries regarding what happens to your health insurance coverage if you lose or change your job,” he said. “Employees should not assume that continued coverage is automatic, and they should know their rights under the law.”

He said that employers health insurance obligations don’t end when they decide to terminate an employee’s contract as the Health Insurance Law (2005 Revision) says employees’ health insurance ends on the first day of the month following departure from a job. However, if employees lose their jobs and are not immediately employed elsewhere, they can keep existing health insurance for up to three months from the date of termination of work or until they gain new employment, whichever occurs earlier. An employer cannot refuse to extend the cover of a terminated employee. Doing so can lead to a fine of up to $5,000. However, following termination, it becomes the employee’s responsibility to pay the entire premium, unless the employer has agreed to pay it as part of a severance agreement.

Connolly said employers should proactively engage their staff on the issue of health insurance. “As soon as you know that you have to let someone go, sit down and discuss the matter immediately,” he said.

He added that employers should offer to keep the employee (and dependents — children and/or an unemployed spouse) on the group policy; make arrangements regarding how the premiums will be made; remind the employee that he/she will be responsible for 100% of the premiums if the employer is not offering to pay them; and honour employee requests to continue coverage for themselves and dependents.                          

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Legislative push begins

| 16/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): As the countdown to the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly started, government began its legislative push on Friday with the second reading of three important bills. A number of new and revised laws are stil to come as well as committee stages, but there are only six days remaining on the parliamentary calendar. The Children (Amendment) Bill (2009), the Cape Town Convention Bill (2009) and the Residential Tenancies Bill (2009), all of which found support on the opposition benches, were the first laws that legislators began tackling.

Although First Elected Member for the Sister Islands Juliana O’Connor-Connolly noted her concerns regarding the haste with which the legislation was being brought before the House, the opposition rose to support each of the threes bills as they made  a number of observations and recommendations. 

The first of the three was the Children (Amendment) Bill 2009, more commonly known as the child’s law. This new bill advances the 2003 legislation which was passed but never implemented and introduces mandatory reporting regarding the abuse of any child. It also gives greater responsibility for children to step parents, compels parents to be present if their children are appearing in court, and defers new powers to protect children on the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

“This legislation puts the force of the law behind existing efforts to protect children from abuse and neglect,” said Anthony Eden, Minister of Health and Human Services, who tabled the law. Although he said parents were ultimately the ones responsible for their children, legislation was required to help. “We need to build strong families, and public policy can establish the guidelines.”

The opposition raised a number of points and said an easy-to-understand version of the law in a pamphlet or brochure need to be created so parents and those working with children would understand their new responsibilities. O’Connor Connolly said that above all, the law must ensure that it does not ignore the wishes of the child. She was, however, concerned that the new powers of the DCFS to organise medical care for children without notification of the parents could be a liberalising move leading to contraceptives being given to children without parental consent.

On the government’s own benches Alfonso Wright also said that the register of sex offenders must move forward, but clearly indicated that this register must inform the community when offenders lived among them, contrary to Minister Eden’s recent announcement that the proposed register would be closed. “People must know who they are so we do not leave our children with neighbours not knowing,” said Wright.

The Cape Town Convention Bill (2009) was also met with little opposition and moved to its second reading, but there was criticism regarding its delay. Tabled by Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson, this bill gives local effect to an international convention regarding the financing of and protocol for the airline industry. It is legislation that members of the financial services sector have for sometime pushed for because of the competitive edge it will give Cayman. The delay was attributed to the fact that the UK itself had not ratified the convention and the Cayman islands government therefore had to seek permission to enact the legislation on its own, which Jefferson said had taken considerable time. The bill was originally placed before Cabinet in 2006.

“Given the economic climate we are in and the support for this bill by the industry, opportunities have been lost because of the delay,” said Rolston Anglin. “I have grave concerns over the time because passing legislation in a timely manner used to be our competitive strength,” he said.

The last piece of legislation for debate on Friday was the Landlord and Tenancies bill, which again was welcomed by both sides of the House. The bill was tabled by  Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts, who said it arose out of the unscrupulous behaviour of some landlords in the wake of Hurricane Ivan when Grand Cayman’s housing stock was dramatically reduced. He said landlords began evicting tenants and raising rents at will in some cases, but tenants also began squatting in others.

“The purpose of this bill is to properly define the rights and obligations of both landlords and tenants in the residential rental sector,” Tibbetts told the House. “It will improve relationships and standards of accommodation. It also creates a Residential Commissioner whose role it will be to mediate between landlords and tenants. It will set out the laws regarding rents and deposits and will provide for compulsory written tenancy agreements.”

The introduction of the commissioner should prove valuable for both parties. The only course of redress to date has been through the courts, which can be long, complex and, of course, expensive. “We need a clearer path for dispute resolution,” said the LoGB.“Mediation is informal, emphasises problem solving, is confidential, less expensive and generally produces a better outcome.”

Although O’Connor Connolly said the House needed more time to debate important legislation such as this, she said she would lend her support to the bill. She noted that knowledge is power and when passed tenants needed to get to know this law.

With the committee stage still to go on these three bills and considerably more legislation, including the Education Reform Bill, the National Conservation Bill, more changes to the Companies Law and others, it is expected that legislators will be sitting late throughout this week if they are to manage the full agenda of parliamentary business. Legislators are also expected to meet in Finance Committee this week, in particular to review the spending of the Special Police Investigation Team.

The government has not yet confirmed if the Public Accounts Committee will meet to review last summer’s revelation by the Auditor General’s Office that almost every government department and agencies was in contravention of the Public Management and Finance Law and had not submitted their accounts for in some cases several years. The governor, who’s official members have supervisory power over this section, had said in the summer that he wanted this issue addressed as it went to the heart of good governance. The House resumes at 2:00 pm on Monday, 16 March, following government’s meeting with Michael Foot and the review team from the UK Treasury.

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Ordinary women acclaimed as heroes

| 16/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Thirty-eight women have been chosen as local heroes as part of the March’s dedication to women. On International Women’s Day a Heroes Display recognised the contribution that ordinary women make everyday to the community. Minister Anthony Eden handed out appreciation certificates to those featured in the display who were present at the ceremony.

Winners of the Honouring Women’s Month photo and poetry contests were also announced. In the photo competition Margaret Jackson came first with “Helping Hands” followed by Sarah Edgar Kelly for “Heroic Mothers of the Cayman Islands” and Nasaria Suckoo-Chollette, came third with “Good Old Days”.Carren LaCruse, won the poetry contest for “Unsung Praises” with Alta Solomon and “Where is Love?” second folloed in third by Daisy Jackson, “I Kicked My Shoes Off”

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated globally under UN sponsorship on 8 March in order to commemorate women’s struggle to participate in society on an equal footing with men.

Since 1999, the Cayman Islands has extended the basic idea behind IWD celebrations into a month-long series of events known as Honouring Women Month, organised by the Empowerment and Community Development Agency (ECDA).

ECDA Programme Officer Miriam Foster explained the reason for organising this event: “Honouring Women’s Month aims to honour women whose lives have been a heroic journey. With this event we wanted to highlight women who live lives that are an example to all and offer an opportunity to other people to get inspired from these women,” she said.

Formore information about Honouring Women Month, to see the list of women honoured as heroes among usvisit


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Nominees to ‘come clean’

| 16/03/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS):  With nomination day some ten days, away the Registrar of Interests and Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Wendy Lauer said all election candidates are required to declare their interests on the date they accept the nomination. The law also states that the interests of a nominee’s spouse and children held at the date of nomination must also be declared. Lauer explained that the main purpose of the register of members’ interests is to provide information of any pecuniary interest or other material benefit which a member receives that might reasonably be thought by others to influence his or her actions, speeches or votes in the Legislative Assembly, or actions taken in his or her capacity as a member.

In other words, all would-be politicians need to come clean regarding their assets, benefits and specific connections that could lead them to be biased in some way.

The requirements for declaring interests are provided under section 4 of the Register of Interests Law 1996. Forms should be submitted to the Registrar at the Legislative Department in the Legislative Assembly building, Fort Street, George Town.  The Register of Interests Law 1996 together with the requisite declaration form is available at the Legislative Department and on the official website of the Legislative Assembly

Any kind of occupation, business interests, partnerships, connections or investments have to be made, under that law, to ensure the impartiality and objectivity of political representatives once they are elected. Those not conforming to the law are guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine up to $5000. 

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