Archive for July 31st, 2009

Cops make arrest in Treasure Island attack

Cops make arrest in Treasure Island attack

| 31/07/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Police said this afternoon (Friday 31 July) that they arrested an 18-year-old man last week (24 July) on suspicion of attempted murder following an incident at the Treasure Island complex in West Bay Road. On 26 May a 31 year old male victim sustained a number of stab wounds to his head following an assault on the ground floor of the resort. Police are now calling on anyone who may have any information in connection with the incident to come forward as they continue with their investigations.


On the evening of the attack the 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call from the man around 5.25pm. He told operators that he had been attacked and required medical attention when police and medics arrived at the scene they found the man had sustained head injuries which were not life threatening but the man was taken to hospital where he was treated.

 The victim told police officers that he defended himself against the attacker and the offender ran around the front of the building. It is thought that the suspect may have fled in a station wagon.

“We encourage anyone with information on this incident to come forward, no matter how trivial that information may seem,” said Detective Constable Dave Morrison.

Anyone with information on the incident should contact DC Morrison on 521 1045. Callersmay also 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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GIS boss told to reveal salary

GIS boss told to reveal salary

| 31/07/2009 | 28 Comments

(CNS): In her first formal decision over a Freedom of Information request refusal the new Information Commissioner, Jennifer Dilbert, has ruled that the Chief information Officer at Government Information Services, (GIS), Angela Piercy, must reveal her salary and provide a narrower salary range of staff in the department. Dilbert’s order comes in the wake of an appeal by a Caymanian Compass journalist after his request for the precise earnings of staff in the government’s communication office was turned down.  

Dilbert said that the original FOI application had asked for the exact salaries of all GIS employees but the department had only supplied names, titles and general salary bands associated with each job. Refusing to give the exact details of individual earnings, GIS had said it was an “unreasonable disclosure of personal information". Brent Fuller, the Compass journalist who had submitted the FOI request, appealed against the refusal, which lead to Dilbert’s first written decision under the FOI Law 2007.

In her ruling Dilbert states that, while exact salaries of individuals at GIS would be unreasonable, she determined that the disclosure of the CIO’s earnings was not. “In their respective roles as agenda setters as well as implementers of political will, senior managers wield significant influence over the direction of government. Common sense and the FOI law strongly suggest that the higher and more influential the post the greater the need for transparency.”

Although Dilbert chose to order GIS to reveal narrower salary bands for all other posts to the Compass, she drew the line at exact salary disclosure as she stated it was personal information. She did however reject the argument made by GIS that releasing individual salaries would create a decline in morale.

In its submission GIS had made a number of arguments for not giving up salary details into the public domain, and one was that by undermining employee morale productivity would be affected and therefore the public affairs of government would be interfered with. Under the FOI law requests can be refused if it can be justified that the affairs of government could be negatively impacted.

“There is a real danger that releasing the exact salaries will result in deterioration in employee/employee as well as employee/employer relationships,” GIS wrote. “This deterioration would lead to a more stress filled work environment loss in motivation and morale and eventual loss in output.”

The Civil Service Association also submitted its position to the hearing that revealing exact salaries would allow civil servants to compare with each other, which could lead to “unnecessary unsettlement and disappointment", and see people wanting to re-negotiate their salaries. The association suggested that if individual salary revelations became the norm the entire civil service would be undermined because of negative incentive.

The Compass had submitted, however, that the argument not to disclose because “people will be upset” was not a high enough standard and raised concerns that if it was allowed it would be detrimental to FOI as a whole. 

“If this argument is allowed to stand in this case, section 20 (1) (d) can then be used to deny almost any FOI request one might think of because it could ‘prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs’ by which government means people will be too angry or jealous to do their jobs,” the Compass submitted.  “Many people within government have been upset and angry that information regarding certain matters has been given to the media under FOI. We imagine this will continue as the FOI process moves along until individuals finally accept that this instrument of openness and transparency is here to stay.”

Dilbert chose to dismiss the GIS argument and said that in her observations elsewhere of salary revelation under FOI there had been no calamitous drop in morale and she said this was not a reason not to disclose. She noted that, in actual fact, managers explaining why one civil servant is paid more than another for doing the same job would be a positive step towards greater managerial transparency and accountability.

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Cayman’s flu pattern normal says top doctor

Cayman’s flu pattern normal says top doctor

| 31/07/2009 | 2 Comments

(CNS): The HSA Medical Director Dr. Greg Hoeksema has confirmed that there is nothing unusual about the behaviour of the H1N1 (swine flu) virus in the Cayman Islands when compared to all other countries where the virus spread before or on a similar time line. He warned that while so far the patient who died and those who have become very ill all had existing medical conditions, it is likely that there will be cases of perfectly healthy people becoming severely ill or even dying as a result of contracting the flu because of evidence from other countries.

“It is important we recognise how this virus has behaved elsewhere and understand that its impact in Cayman will be the same,” Dr Hoeksema he said. “As with other countries we have seen the illness impact range from making some  people mildly unwell for a couple of days through to those who have been quite sick at home for over week, some who have been hospitalised and become critically sick to one death.”

He explained that no one can predict what this virus is going to do but we can base expectations on what has happened so far in other jurisdictions and there have been a few cases of people who are very healthy becoming very sick and even dying. He said that he and Dr Kiran Kumar and other officials were monitoring the progress and development of the virus all over the world, as well as here in Cayman, everyday to see what patterns were emerging and how to best deal with the changes as they occur.

Dr Hoeksema confirmed that doctors and health care works here, just like in the rest of the world, have also come down with the virus but all have recovered well. He also noted that we have only one patient who is critically ill at present who has another medical condition. Dr Hoeksema said there are one or two flu patients in the hospital at the moment being treated in the critical care unit but they are not in a life threatening condition. The hospital is utilising the unit because of labour and equipment issues but also because the CCU rooms provide isolation.

The top doctor noted that at the moment the focus is on monitoring the pattern of the virus, issues of mutation as it goes around the world and exactly how the virus will behave as we move into the fall flu season. He said that so far this particular flu virus was behaving differently to other flu epidemics in that where we would normally expect the severity and persistence of the virus to die down in certain phases of its life cycle swine flu virus seems particularly persistent.

“We don’t know whether the virus will become more virulent or whether it may simple infect more and more people because it is persistent,” he added noting that a milder virus may be more enduring in its life cycle than a more severe flu virus.

 He said however, Cayman must be prepared for the possibility of many more people becoming ill later in the year and that local businesses need to plan for the fact that their staff may be absent from work for projected periods. “We are having a meeting with the chamber of commerce on 13 August so the business community can discuss plans and preparations and get the information they need from us,” Dr Hoeksema added.   

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Website gets people active

Website gets people active

| 31/07/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS):, a website that follows and promotes the Cayman Islands sports and fitness scene, celebrates its first anniversary this week. The website was originally created by Andy Bonner but has subsequently been propelled forwards by a number of contributors across the whole community. “When I look back, I’m pleased with how far we’ve come. When we started we had a basic information site, and now we have a vibrant community with over 300 people contributing content, registering for events, watching daily videos, and monitoring their health and fitness goals amongst other things and over 1500 people receiving our monthly newsletter,” Bonner said.

Site Members can connect with each other, blog, add news, views and photos onto the website and upload class schedules or even pay club subscriptions. The whole concept centres around bringing advanced web capabilities to the community for free, Bonner said, noting that this eliminates the costs that have traditionally been associated with having these features for the sports and health clubs and organisations, and reduces the administrative overheads they face. offers a fun and interactive site which ultimately promotes a healthier lifestyle for all, Bonner said. Over 40 on-island activities are represented and a quick click onto the drop-down menu links users to their chosen activity, and there’s also a selection of tools and special features for users to enjoy. For example, the calorie calculator tells users how many calories they burn on a morning boot camp or beach walk, and with the new health and fitness stats system users can record anything, from blood pressure to the time they spend in front of the games console, to monitor progress to personal goals.

There is also an ongoing football predictions competition with prizes to win. The second season of the English Premier League version is now up and running, and later in the year the hope is to have a version covering the Cayman Premier League too, Bonner said.

He noted that has also been forging links with other sports organisations on the island, including the Cayman Sports Authority and the government’s Department of Sports, which has recently launched its own sports website covering their ‘focus sports’ of athletics, basketball, cricket, football, netball and swimming.

Bonner said he is pleased to see these other websites promoting Cayman Sports. “Everything is going in the right direction. We are gathering momentum here and getting everyone active. The more that can be done to improve awareness of the huge diversity of sport and health opportunities we have, the better. If others can produce their own sites that fine, and if they can’t, then CaymanActive can help them by giving them free professional tools and all the support they need.”

Highlights from CaymanActive’s first year include providing the on-line registration facilities for the Cayman Island Olympic Committee’s Olympic Day 5k Run, and working alongside the Cayman Sports Authority to broadcast the Cayman World Cup of Football live across the Internet. That event really took Cayman global and was watched by a total of 23 different countries worldwide.

Bonner said, “We’ve only achieved what we have and come this far because of the great support and ideas we’ve had from CaymanActive members. There’s so much more to com,e too. After all, we’re only one year old. We’ve still got a lot of growing to do!”

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Boat explodes at Kaibo

Boat explodes at Kaibo

| 31/07/2009 | 5 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Fire Service has begun an investigation into a boat which exploded yesterday (Thursday 30 July), causing burn injuries to four people. According to a police report, the explosion happened on a boat in the North Sound near the Kaibo Dock. The boat began to have engine trouble and then the explosion occurred, causing the occupants to jump from the vessel into the water. Medics responded to the scene and four of the people involved were taken to hospital for treatment to burns.

“Boat owners have a responsibility to take certain steps to ensure their vessels are secure and that all passengers are safe,” said Head of the Marine Unit, Chief Inspector Courtney Myles. “Yesterday, an explosion occurred on a vessel which resulted in some of the occupants getting burned. Thankfully, there were no life-threatening injuries. The cause of the explosion is being investigated by the Fire Department but this incident should serve as a reminder that safety checks need to be done every time you use your boat. You should also carry the necessary safety equipment, such as life jackets and fire extinguishers.”

In the wake of three boats found drifting yesterday after they had been cut from moorings, the Customs, Immigration and the Police Marine Unit also told boat owners to ensure the safety of vessels in terms of accidents but also the security of their boats.

Myles said owners should always ensure that everyone on board the vessel wears a life vest and leave boats and equipment as secure as possible. He reminded them never to leave keys in the ignition or on the vessel and take all steps necessary to deter a thief such as removing all unsecured items and setting the alarm if there is one.

Chief Inspector Myles also called on the boating community to look out for each other. “Keep an eye on other boats as well as your own and report any suspicious activity you see to the police,” he said.

Police listed the following tips to ensure safety and security in the marine community.

Always ensure that everyone on board the vessel wears a life vest – it is required by law to have a Personal Floatation Device, PFD.

Check engine, fuel and navigational equipment before every outing.

Always tell others where you intend to go and approximate time of return.

Carry some means of calling for help at all times (VHF radio or cell phone)

Check weather predictions and tides before going out and whilst at sea.

 Keep fire extinguishers on board; preferably at the most fire sensitive areas of your vessel.

Never drink alcohol and operate a vessel – alcohol tends to affect a person more on thewater.

Observe Port Authority rules and regulations.

Never leave anything valuable on display, however small and insignificant it may seem. Thieves steal first and think about value later.

Don’t leave anything loose on the deck or in the cockpit.

Always keep your boat locked when no-one is on board, even for a short time. Use strong padlocks or rim locks on all your hatches, entry points and cockpit lockers.

Fit an alarm and use a visible sticker to deter potential thieves.

Keep a list of the serial numbers of valuables on your boat like your radio or navigation equipment and take pictures of your items so you can prove they belong to you. Mark all your goods with an invisible marker stating your name and contact details.

Anyone with information about crime taking place inthe 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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LA clerk hangs up her wig

LA clerk hangs up her wig

| 31/07/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): After 28 years’ of service in the Legislative Assembly, Clerk Wendy Lauer-Ebanks has put aside her wig and gown as she starts her retirement today (Friday, 31 July).  Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush said recently that Lauer Ebanks would be missed as would her impressive grasp on House procedure and practice. He added that she had proved her mettle in organising and conducting the LA’s activities as well as in establishing the LA website. Lauer Ebanks joined the legislature as Deputy Clerk back in 1981 before being promoted to clerk in 2001.

Bush made his comments about Lauer Ebanks departure in the Legislative Assembly last month when he noted how hard she has worked over the years. “The public is generally unaware that the LA office is a behind- the- scenes hub of activity. Nor do they know that for the last eight years, it has been Ms. Lauer Ebanks’ hand guiding those activities,” Bush added.

Lauer Ebanks first worked under the National hero Sybil McLaughlin, the first female Clerk of the LA in the Commonwealth. Regarding her as a mentor, Lauer Ebanks still feels the deepest appreciation for Ms. Sybil, who she says was her inspiration, instilling in her a high regard for all aspects of parliamentary procedures.

Bush said Lauer Ebanks has kept the LA office ticking efficiently and precisely and has always been there to make certain that matters progress smoothly despite the hour.


“Throughout the years, she has approached all aspects of her LA responsibilities with the same gusto and enthusiasm,” Bush noted. “Our Standing Orders are our rule book and the LA Clerk must demonstrate a keen ability to understand and grasp its complexities. Ms. Lauer Ebanks has consistently demonstrated this mastery, whether working in her own capacity or as directed by the Speaker.”


He said that to remain meaningful, Standing Orders have to be dynamic in nature, changing to suit developing parliamentary needs and Lauer Ebanks has proven a valuable team-player, always able to grasp the intent of MLAs.

He noted the trials and tribulations she had faced over the years including the LA office’s space congestion; evacuation from the building as a result of serious maintenance and health issues as well as the blow of Hurricane Ivan with the subsequent damage and mould problems which he said she had continued to work with customary effectiveness, adjusting to major changes as our legislature grew.


“I wish her the best of everything in the coming years and pray to God to continue showering her with His blessings. One thing I know for sure: Whatever tasks she may undertake in the future, she will bring to them her customary dedication, efficiency and style, all of which will continue to stand her in good stead,” Bush added.



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Miller goes full steam ahead with AG reports

Miller goes full steam ahead with AG reports

| 31/07/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): As promised, the new chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has begun his mission to clear the backlog of reports completed by the auditor general and ensure that the committee puts the findings before the Legislative Assembly. Following the formation of the new PAC and his election as chair, Ezzard Miller announced that there were 10 reports that had yet to be tabled and he intended to get to grips with all of them. The committee has now arranged for witnesses to be called and reports to be completed on all but one of them.

The PAC had already made a decision after its first meeting to table the outdated 2003 CUC report without any major comments, save to say the report should be considered in any future negotiations with the power firm and that the AG take a look at the new licence to make sure it met his 2003 recommendations. During a two day session starting on Tuesday 28 July, members rattled through the rest of the list.

The committee has now arranged to call witnesses next week to quiz them on four of the outstanding reports, including the audit on the purchase of the police helicopter, the gasoline issue at Pedro St James, the Matrix scrap metal tender, and the government’s settlement with Cayman General on Hurricane Ivan.  With the exception of the Affordable Housing Report, which forms part of three other reports, the committee agreed to move forward on finalising their comments on all the other reports in order to submit them before the LA.

One of those will be the auditor general’s own report on Government Financial Statements for the year end 2004. Dan Duguay explained to CNS why that is the most recent report he has done on government spending – essentially the fundamental role of his office. “These reports are based on government spending and as the office has not yet collected a full and complete set of statements of government departments and authorities for any of the years since 2004, we can’t do our report,” Duguay said.

He explained, however, that it is in these reports where he may find anomalies or problems and make his recommendations for improving accountability for government spending. He says there are issues that come up in the audits that need to be brought to the attention of government — areas where lessons can be learned but would not necessarily justify a full special report in their own right.

Without the full set of reports from all the government entities, Duguay said it was not possible for his office to complete their overall audits. “This was what drove us to publish the first report on the state of financial accounting,” Duguay added. “At first we just used to talk about the delays by government departments, but then the delay became a national public issue of itself.”

Duguay said that no matter how late the reports are, he and his team would still complete an annual report for every year to ensure that there is a documented record of how and where government has spent public money, and if it did so with accountability and responsibility. He said that his office was currently working on an update of last year’s Financial Accountability Report for the PAC to examine so they would have a more up to date picture about the continued delays.

With the financial year 2008/09 now closed, Duguay also noted that all of the government accounts are due at the end of next month for this fiscal year, but he happily reported that he has already received one or two reports from the few usual departments that can be depended on to make them on time. “There are about a dozen government entities that manage to get their accounts in on time every year,” he added, giving credit he said where it was due to agencies such as CIMA, the NRA, the ICTA and of course his own office.

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Brett and Shaune finish well at World Championships

Brett and Shaune finish well at World Championships

| 31/07/2009 | 10 Comments

(CNS): FINAL UPDATE Friday 8:35pm – At the World Championships in Rome, Brett and Shaune Fraser, both swimming in events that are not normally the focus of their training, again swam extremely well this morning, both establishing new National Records in the process. Brett took down his older brother”s National Record in the 50 Metre Freestyle, swimming a time of 22.80 which placed him 45th of the 209 athletes taking part in the event. Shaune swam 53.07 which was a full second faster than his best and left him in 55th place with yet another Cayman National Record time.

156 swimmers took to the blocks in the 100 Metre Butterfly, Coach Dominic Ross reports

"Over the course of the eight day competition both Shaune and Brett have again proven that they are indeed now major players on the international swimming stage," said Ross. "Their continued hard work and dedication to the sport will undoubtedly see them continue to improve as they strive towards London 2012 with the support of their family, friends, coaches and the Cayman community as a whole."

Both swimmers swam solid personal best times in the 100 Metre Freestyle Monday night, finishing just outside the top 16 semi-final qualifying places. Brett’s time of 48.56 seconds left him 19th in the World, Shaune was one place ahead, in 18th in a new personal best and Cayman Islands National Record time of 48.47 seconds, 0.04 seconds outside of qhat was needed to advance to the semi-finals. Both were within a second of the top qualifier, Dave Walters of the USA.

Shaune will conclude his World Championships with the 100 Metre Butterfly while Brett will finish up with the 50Metre Freestyle.

On Sunday, Shaune Fraser again lowered his National Record in the 200 Metre Freestyle, to a time of 1:46.44 in his first appearance in a World Championship Semi-Final in Rome, Italy. His overall place of 10th in the event was not quite enough to make it through to the final, where the top 8 swimmers will compete. Coach Dominic Ross reports that Fraser is next scheduled to compete in the 200 Metre Butterfly heats on Tuesday followed by both Shaune and his brother Brett in the 100 Metre Freestyle heats on Wednesday. (Photo Shurna Robbins for the CIOC)

Fraser smashed his own National Record in the 200 Metre Freestyle set in last Summer’s Olympic Games by almost two seconds to become the first ever Cayman swimmer to qualify for a World Championship Semi-Final, taking the 11th spot after the morning preliminaries in a time of 1:46.89 seconds. Brett was not far behind and also under Shaune’s old National Record, in a time of 1:48.18, finishing the event in 24th place.

Olympic mega-champion Michael Phelps has advanced to the final of his first individual event at the world swimming championships. Germany’s Paul Biedermann set a championship record with a time of 1:43.65 seconds in the semifinals. Phelps, who holds the world record with1:42.96, wasthe third-fastest qualifier at 1:45.23.

Ross said both the Fraser brothers have a lot more swimming to do as the Championships continue in Rome throughout the week. Full results can be found at


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Cayman Bracker celebrates 100th birthday

Cayman Bracker celebrates 100th birthday

| 31/07/2009 | 4 Comments

(CNS): The only command in Scripture that promises long life as a reward is the Fifth Commandment to “Honour thy father and thy mother”, and Ms Ina Watler, who was born 30 July 1909, believes that because she took care of her parents for a long time that she has been blessed. Her grandson Vanderlinde Dilbert , a paramedic at Faith Hospital, said Ms Ina was in good health, her eyesight and hearing were good and she read the Bible every day. He said one of her favourite sayings is: “Hard work never kill anyone, but laziness kill you quick!” which might also account for her long life.

Ms Ina has lived in the Creek her whole life, raised by her grandfather, Alexander Kirkwood, the first Baptist preacher in the island, in a little house behind where the Creek Post Office now stands. She had five brothers, two of whom drowned at sea during the ’32 Storm, and three sisters. In 1929 she married Solon Watler and they had one child, Sadie (below).

She was all smiles as she celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday surrounded by friends and four generations of family, including a granddaughter Lavonida Edwards and her family, who flew from Jamaica for the event. Also at the party were her daughter, grandson, two granddaughters, one great-grandson, 5 great-granddaughters and one 2-year-old great-great-grandson, in-laws and friends, including her helper, Monica, and Sister Islands MLA Moses Kirkconnell.

(Below: Ms Ina with grandchildren, great-grandchildrenand great-great-grandchild. The cake was made by granddaughter Valden Scott)


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Cayman court freezes $9bn

Cayman court freezes $9bn

| 31/07/2009 | 1 Comment

(Financial Times): A Cayman Islands court has ordered a worldwide freeze of assets belonging to Maan al Sanea and dozens of his companies in a ruling that steps up the pressure on the Saudi billionaire who is struggling with financial difficulties. The decision by the court to freeze $9.2bn was in response to a complaint filed by Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi and Brothers, another Saudi company that is embroiled in a bitter dispute with Sanea, the owner of Saad Group. Sanea rose to international prominence in 2007 when he bought a 3.1% stake in HSBC and his group has numerous companies registered in Cayman.

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