Archive for April 9th, 2009

Mail arrives 8 months late

| 09/04/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Postal Services said today that three bags of mail, which had been delayed since last year have now arrived in the Cayman Islands. Some of the mail was reportedly dispatched as far back as August of last year from New York but did not make its way here until last Friday way 3 April. The postal service said the reason for the delay is still not known.

The delay involved three separate dispatches of mail dispatched through the US Postal Service in New York to Cayman on 4 August; 30 November; and 6 December. “The reason for the delay has yet to be determined,” Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow said. “But there seems to have been some mix-up between the airlines involved in transferring the mail, and it was left in a warehouse in Jamaica.” Glasgow emphasised however, that the Jamaica Postal Corporation is not responsible for the delay. “We regret any inconvenience this delay has caused and we are dealing with the matter with the appropriate agencies.”

The Postmaster General confirmed that all of the mail should now be awaiting collection in the relevant Cayman post boxes.



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Barbados High Commissioner to replace Jack

| 09/04/2009 | 29 Comments

(CNS): Duncan Taylor, CBE, who is currently serving as the British High Commissioner for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean will step in to Governor Stuart Jack’s shoes when he departs at the end of November this year the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has announced. Taylor, will take over the position in January 2010, according to a communiqué issued by the Governor’s Office.

Stationed in Bridgetown, Taylor has held the post of HC since 2005 which covers Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.  The Governor’s office have described Taylor who was born in October 1958 as a career diplomat who has served in the UK’s Foreign Service for 27 years.

He started his FCO career in 1982 as Desk Officer for the FCO in its West Africa Department, he went on to become Third andlater Second Secretary of Chancery in Havana between 1983-87. Subsequently, he was Head of Japan Section in the FCO’s Far East Department for two years. Between 1989 and 1991, he served in the FCO’s Personnel Operations Department. In 1992, he took over as Head of the British Embassy’s Commercial Section in Budapest, Hungary, where he served for four years.

During 1996-7, as Director of Latin American Affairs, he was seconded to Rolls Royce. From 1997-2000, he was Head of Consular Division for the FCO and immediately prior to his current posting in the Caribbean he served as Deputy Consul-General and Deputy Head of Post in New York.  

Married to Marie-Beatrice he has three daughters and two sons.


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The UDP’s “Holy War”

| 09/04/2009 | 62 Comments

(CNS): At a UDP political meeting on Cayman Brac Wednesday night, the war of words over what took place during the passing of the Education Law turned into a supposed battle between the UDP, as the party fighting for Christian principles, and the PPM, with criticism aimed mostly at Education Minister Alden Mclaughlin, as the party that is trying to take religion out of schools. “Alden thinks he’s God,” party leader McKeeva Bush said. “He needs a good flogging. He’s nothing but a little fop.”

The Education bill was passed into law Thursday 19 March. During the committee stage, Sister Islands MLA Julianna O’Connor-Connolly raised her concerns that the minister was attempting to remove the mandatory obligation for schools to teach religious instruction by mandating a broad national curriculum in the law but not stipulating that it must include RI. Subsequently, McLaughlin said he was willing to offer an amendment that he hoped would address O’Connor’s concerns. (See Minister achieves ambition)

At the UDP rally on Monday 6 April, O’Connor-Connolly again claimed that the minister had tried to take God out of the schools. In response, at a PPM rally Tuesday night McLaughlin explained that religious education had been enshrined in the curriculum, which is already in use and had never been removed. He further explained that drafts of the bill had been brought to the House for debate in 2006, again in 2007 and again in October 2008, more than four months before the bill came to the House for passage. “I don’t want to call her a liar but she is damn careless with the truth!” the minister said Tuesday. (See Minister calls out Brac MLA)

At the rally on Scotts Dock on the Brac, West Bay MLA Rolston Anglin laid out the UDP version of events, claiming that Education Minister Alden McLaughlin had “rushed through the Education Law at the eleventh hour without the proper consultation.”

“What Julianna O’Connor-Connolly reported on Monday night was 100% accurate and 100% true,” he said. Anglin claimed that during the process of bringing a new bill to replace the old law “a truthful minister will get up on the floor to give all the positives in the new legislation and also a look back on the old law and say, here are some of the crucial changes.” He said that Mclaughlin had “purposely removed from the law the mandatory requirement regarding religious instruction.”

He said the billhad been voted into law by the whole House (when he was the only opposition member present). However, he said there were legitimate reasons why the rest of his colleagues had not been there, including the fact that O’Connor-Connolly had not been able to get a flight from the Brac. “When Julie came it had already been voted on and had gone to the second stage. “It’s a good thing we have a good Christian lawyer who can critique a law like no one else,” he stated, and said she saw “mischief and downright dishonesty” in the law. When she realized it, she went to the minister “in a ladylike fashion” and asked him if the omission was done accidentally or on purpose, Anglin said.

He went to claim that McLaughlin “ruffed her up”. According to Anglin’s version of events, the minster had said, “That’s done on purpose and that’s good enough!” and that O’Connor-Connolly had replied, “No, that’s not good enough.” The West Bay MLA told the Brac crowd that McLaughlin had discussed it with “his technocrats and his colleagues”, including Sister Islands MLA Moses Kirkconnell, “and they were fine with leaving God out of education.”

“Miss Julie went to Holy War with the minister,” Anglin said, describing the minister and his colleagues as “filled with hate that day”.

However, the MLA claimed he “witnessed a miracle” as the amendment was added to the law just before the final stage in the process. “It is now mandated that every school in the Cayman Islands shall shall shall have religious instruction!” Anglin exclaimed.

Weighing in on the topic during her own address to the crowd, O’Connor-Connolly said that the minister had been “caught with his pants down”. She said, “Rather than amend the Education Law, he had chosen to write a new law.” Section 27 in the old law had mandated religious instruction, and she said that if he had amended the old law he would have had to state that section 27 is hereby revoked or repealed, suggesting that “it is not a good idea to throw out the old till you know what the new one is.”

Referring to the proposed Constitution and the expanded powers of the Cayman government, she said, “Imagine what they will do with more power! Thank God we have a governor to keep them in order!”

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Trouble at school work site

| 09/04/2009 | 20 Comments

(CNS): Updated. Questions are being asked about who exactly is being employed on the Frank Sound School site following a dispute between the General Contractor Tom Jones International and the sub contractor Moises Construction. Independent candidate in the district of North Side Ezzard Miller is asking why experienced Caymanian workers who have been laid off may have been replaced by ex-pats. “There are a lot of questions regarding this site and we need an audit by the Immigration and Employment Relations’ enforcement agencies,” he said. However, Tom Jones has stated that it is emplying 70% Caymanians on site.

Miller explained that at every one of his meetings since he began his campaign the question of Caymanians being refused work and now being laid off at the site keeps coming up and he says he is demanding an investigation to get to the bottom of what is going on there.

Three weeks ago almost 140 workers were laid off by subcontractor Moises Construction a local firm which is in dispute with Tom Jones over finances and now appears to have lost the contract. Well over fifty of the qualified and experienced Caymanian workers laid off by Moses have sought work directly with Tom Jones but have reportedly been refused. However, it seems as though a number of foreign workers have been taken on and Tom  Jones has applied for another 36 construction work permits for foreign labour.  Tom Jones has confirmed that it has not replaced the subcontractor and is now dealing the workers directly.

In a statement issued on Thursday afternoon by owner Hunter Jones he said that the firm had an unsettled dispute with Moises construction. and as it was a matter of potential litigation he could not coment. He said howevr that,"TJI can proudly state that we have over 70% Caymanian employees working at the Clifton Hunter Site."  Jones also denied having any new applications in at Immigration but invited the workers to come and apply for work. "Any person seeking work is welcome to come to our offices and apply to our company," he stated.

Miller said however he understood Jones had just recently been granted a further 36 work permits for foreign workers. As a result he accused the Immigration Department of being culpable in facilitating Tom Jones’s discrimination against local workers if these permits have already been granted.

“Time and time again the complaint comes up about qualified Caymanian workers not been given a fair opportunity at this site, we have to investigate what is happening here,” said Miller. “We know that a significant number of both old and new workers have been hired and while some are Caymanians it seems many are also expatriate workers we need to know the details.”

Miller also pointed to some issues regarding changes of prerequisites in job advertisements for the site. “I have sent Caymanians to apply for jobs there and they are given all sorts of reasons why they cannot be hired. In one particular case the applicant was told he needed Canadian qualifications and Canadian experience for the position of site foreman,” Miller stated. He added that he had been doing some research into some of their advertisements and he said there were significant irregularities and changes. Miller said he had reason to believe that there is deliberate elimination of Caymanians from job opportunities for which they are qualified and he said it has to stop. This why I am calling for a Jobs Czar who will have the necessary legal authority to act for the Caymanians in these cases which are far too common,” he added.

Speaking to the media, today, on the spot where the new more than $51 million school is being constructed he said in the latest development at least fifteen of the original North Side workers had returned again this Monday morning to ask for work and they were refused entry on to the site. Miller was joined by some of those workers as well as the foreman who is now also unemployed as well as independent candidate for George Town, Walling Whittaker who said his potential constituents had complained that they too were being refused work on the site. With qualified and experienced construction workers available Whittaker said Tom Jones should not be given any more work permits until the issue of why he was not employing Caymanians was addressed.

One carpenter who stood outside the site pointed to the building and said he had been working for almost seven months as the lead carpenter and not a single question had been raised about the quality of his work but since he tried to come back to the site to work directly for Tom Jones he said he has been refused entry. He said that originally they had been told they would be taken back on at the site under new contracts but he has not received the promised call while expats he worked with from Moses Construction appear to be back on site.


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Independents stand together

| 09/04/2009 | 21 Comments

(CNS): With no flags, posters, podiums, t-shirts, campaign songs or cheering masses, Eddie Thompson stripped the campaign trail bare last night as he opened his bid for a seat in the Legislative Assembly, supported by three other independent candidates. The former president of the Chamber of Commerce and successful architect says he is putting aside his commercial interests to do something for his country.

On the corner of School Road and Rock Hole Road, Thompson was introduced by Bernie Bush, an independent candidate for the district of West Bay, who is no stranger to the political battlefield and who polled the highest percentage of the vote in 2005 of any independent candidate in that election. Walling Whittaker and Derrington ‘Bo’Miller also offered their support to Thompson before he took to the mike to begin his bid for election.

With no stage to yell from Eddie spoke directly to the small group of George Town voters and said that the talk of the “not so independents” was misguided and he along with his fellow candidates who were going it alone but planning to work together could get things done outside of the party system.

“I am not saying that I have all the answers but I am prepared to look for them along with my colleagues in George Town, Walling Whittaker and Bo Miller, and with Bernie Bush in West Bay,” said Thompson, adding that they would go to Bodden Town and talk to independents there to see who they could work with as well.

“Recently we have been hearing the term ‘not so independent’ and that if you are an independent candidate you can’t get anything accomplished. Are they telling us that Sir Vassel could not get anything accomplished? Are they telling us that Mr Craddock couldn’t get accomplished that Mr Jim Bodden couldn’t get anything accomplished?" he asked.

Speaking about the political teams of the past, he noted that they did not have to adhere to a particular party line, they were not yes men, but they listened to the needs of the people. He said that’s what was happening with the new teams and alliances the current independents were beginning to form, but they would still go to the LA and do what the people wanted.

Thompson also raised a number of policy issues that he said were of immediate concern, not least the proposed development of the George Town port, and while he acknowledged a need to redevelop the port’s cargo operations, he warned that so far the Minister had only brought part of a plan to the table.

“in doing my research on the best way forward for this project, I discovered the Minister of Tourism had only unveiled a quarter of a plan,” he said, adding that the major issue of the infrastructure to support a new dock development had just not been looked at and no financing plans were in place, and he asked how the rest of the project would be financed.

“The trouble we are facing is that politicians have not been planning for the next forty years but only for the next four,” he said. However, moving on to education, where plans have certainly gone well beyond four years, Thompson criticised the development of the schools and said they may be fantastic from an architectural point of view but they were beyond the country’s means and that there was a greater need to focus on teachers. He said many people had been taught under almond trees in the past and it was the quality of the teaching not the quality of the surroundings that mattered.  “We need to provide properly paid teachers with the right resources,” he added.  In common with other independents in the district, despite criticising the government decision to build the other secondary schools, he lamented that fact that the George Town Primary school was being put on hold.

 Thompson also picked up on another common theme among independents on the campaign trail, which is to bring the money paid by people in Cayman into pension schemes to be invested on the island instead of overseas. He also said there was a pressing need to review the current health care insurance system, which he said was way too expensive for the poor level of coverage offered by the basic policy as the system was based on the failing US model.

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Teenage girls found safe

| 09/04/2009 | 27 Comments

(CNS): Police say that the two young girls who went missing after school yesterday have been found safe and well. Police issued an alert this morning regarding Kendra Bodden (16) and Gabriella Williams (17), both John Grey High School students and they have now confirmed the girls are safe but have not said what happened to them since they were last seen in the vicinity of Wendy’s on Walker’s Road on Wednesday lunchtime.

All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead toan arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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Police chief quits over blunder

| 09/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(BBC): Britain’s top counter-terrorism officer has quit after admitting he could have jeopardisedan operation which aimed to thwart a possible al-Qaeda terror plot. Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick resigned after he accidently revealed a a secret document to photographers. Police were forced to bring their operation forward and arrested 12 men – ten of whom 10 are Pakistanis. Gordon Brown said Pakistan’s government "had to do more" to root out the terrorist elements in its country. Sources say the planned attack was to be "very soon" and "very, very big".

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‘Global warming is a fact’

| 09/04/2009 | 7 Comments

(CNS): As a candidate for the Sister Islands in 2005, Maxine McCoy-Moore had used her two minute spot on Radio Cayman to say that the Cayman Islands must be prepared for an increase in hurricanes, she told supporters at a meeting Tuesday night, and said the three hurricanes that hit the Sister Islands last year – Gustav, Ike and Paloma – proved her right. “Global warming is a fact,” she said. “Six months every year is Hurricane season. Paloma is a drop in the bucket of what can happen.”

Speaking to a small crowd at Scotts Dock in the West End of Cayman Brac, McCoy-Moore warned, “Don’t think that won’t happen again. We need more hurricane shelters and we need a better system for bringing back Brackers living on Grand Cayman that want to come home.”

The independent candidate, who has run three times unsuccessfully, spoke out strongly about environmental issues and the lack of recycling, noting how high the landfill on the south side of Cayman Brac is getting. She said that metal and plastic could be sold to other countries for recycling, and other items such as glass bottles, cans and batteries could also be recycled.

Slamming plans for a new landfill on the Bluff, she noted the disaster around the landfill after Paloma, and asked what would happen if a hurricane came and the garbage dump was on the Bluff – there would be garbage everywhere, she suggested.

“I was told by the head man in Grand Cayman they he could guarantee that the dump would not leak. It would have to be God himself to tell me that before I believe it,” McCoy-Moore said, stressing her fears that having the landfill at that location would destroy the water table.

Turing to Agriculture, she said she would work “hand in hand” with the government to ensure that every farmer, “big or small”, received financial aid. Noting that the Brac was once self-sustaining, she asked why government was only assisting farmers in Grand Cayman and said it should buy more land for agriculture.

“I notice the PWD have no strict supervision. I see 5, 10 12 people with only one working and the rest sitting down getting paid to do nothing when we have a lot of work here that needs to be done,” McCoy-Moore said, adding, “The PWD crew might not like me saying this." But, she said, "It’s not just Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. I also see this in Grand Cayman,” and thought there was a need for opportunities for these workers to advance themselves."

Education was a constant theme in the candidate’s address, and she noted that many of the high school graduates had problems filling out a simple application form on their own. “One of the biggest problems is that some teachers are only here for the money. We need to scrutinize teachers and get dedicated teachers like we had years ago,” she said. “The schools are well-equipped but if students don’t want to study the teachers let them do what they want….We have remarkable children but they need training so they know how to live.”

Also on the subject of opportunities for the young, she said she would not tolerate the practice of retiring civil servants and hiring them back into the system, but said she wanted to increase the retirement age to 70, so long as the worker could get a medical certificate to prove that he or she could do the job. “Why should they be forced to retire at 60?” she asked.

Not everyone was given the opportunity to move on to further education, stated McCoy-Moore and said she wanted to set up a vocational training school on the Brac so that every child who graduated from high school would have no reason to move to Grand cayman unless they wanted to. “Most have to go to Grand Cayman to survive, but they do not know how to exist outside Cayman Brac.” She said students that were given full scholarships to overseas colleges “cannot adjust to life in the US or the UK and end up back on the Brac struggling to find work.”

“Everyone talks about the high cost of living in Grand Cayman,” the candidate said, but noted that on the Brac the amount that people pay for goods is double and on Little Cayman it is triple. “This has to be curtailed. The cost of living should not be so high, and is even worse since Paloma.”

On the Sister Islands economy, she said the stamp duty had been cut on the Brac but that didn’t extend to Cayman Brackers living on Little Cayman, and she also proposed that the cuts should be for Caymanians only. She said foreigners buy land cheaply, build a house themselves and then “put up a for sale sign and go home with a pocketful of money.”

The candidate said she has been asking “since Truman Bodden’s day through McKeeva Bush’s day to Kurt Tibbetts’ day” why overseas banks could be located on Cayman Brac, but had still not received an answer. The Bluff is the perfect place for a small financial services centre, she said and pointed out that after Hurricane Ivan the financial services took a downward turn when a lot of workers in the industry went to other jurisdictions

“Every week I see the barge leave fully loaded with aggregate to go to Grand Cayman. So why are Brackers still driving over potholes?” she asked, and wanted to know why the Lighthouse Road was still not paved.

Turning to immigration, she thought the laws "sell out" the three islands. She said that employers spend a lot of money hiring someone, including work permit fees, and sometimes even travel expenses for them to get here. But then, she said, even if that employer finds that the employee is doing something illegal, immigration still allows them to go and work with another employer. She said foreign workers say they have a lot of qualifications – “some do and some don’t”. There are 1500 foreign people in the Cayman Islands that don’t have a job, she said. This breeds crime and they should be sent home, she believed.

All the international marketing for the Cayman Islands portrays “the Cayman Islands” as Grand Cayman, and McCoy-Moore said it should be emphasized that we are three Cayman Islands. Rock climbing should be promoted for the Brac and she also wants to bring the cruise ship industryto the Brac (which has not been very sucessful so far) by either continuing to build the Scotts Dock or extending the Creek Dock.

She proposed improving the airport – there was no reason why Cayman Airways should be the only airline to fly into the Brac, she said. Furthermore, she noted the high prices of travel to the Sister Islands, which could be almost as much as getting to Grand Cayman, even from far away places such as Alaska.

We know from watching CNN and the BBC that US President Barack Obama will be lifting the US travel embargo on Cuba, she said, saying that it was a beautiful island that offered way more than the Cayman Islands – “cheap accommodation, cheap taxis and crime free”.

On the subject of crime, she said, “I do not know why people in Grand Cayman changed and so hate one another. Hate has taken over the people down there. We do not need to extend that to the people up here.”

The two incumbents cannot work together and one of them needed to be changed, McCoy-Moore said, promising, “You will not be getting a ‘yes’ woman. I will stand up for what is right and what is fair for the Sister Islands.”

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Jam eyes slice of finance pie

| 09/04/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Gleaner): Jamaica will push ahead with its plan to establish itself as an international financial services centre to capture a piece of the lucrative offshore market, notwithstanding a renewed crusade by rich countries to clamp down on tax havens worldwide. Last year, the finance ministry put up $15 million to explore the possibility of transforming the Kingston waterfront into a ‘low’ tax haven zone. But claiming the financial centre as a potential boost for jobs and new prosperity within the core of the capital, the Ministry of Finance has now set aside $102.6 million from its capital budget for the project, seven times the amount spent last year.

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