Archive for October 25th, 2009

Ex MD denies booze-up

Ex MD denies booze-up

| 25/10/2009 | 25 Comments

(CNS): The former managing director of Boatswain Beach has denied partying on public funds following revelations in the latest report from the office of the auditor general. Admitting that he had borrowed more than $66,000 in salary advances, Joey Ebanks said that the $6,500 bar tab was to promote business at the Schooner Bar and Grill, which he said was struggling to attract patrons. Dan Duguay states in his report that he was not offered any explanation for the spending by Ebanks at the bar during the audit of the turtle farm, but Ebanks insists it was part of a policy to improve business.

According to the AG, Ebanks was offered the opportunity on several occasions to respond in writing to the report before it was published. Ebanks says, however, that he has chosen to offer a defence on his Facebook page as he did not believe he would get a fair hearing in the report.

The former MD and PPM candidate in the General Elections earlier this year offers apologies to his family friends, the staff at the turtle farm and the board of directors over the salary advances but says the hospitality charges were legitimate.

“I wish to state first and foremost that the Auditor General’s report on my salary advances is accurate and fair. I deeply regret this and apologize to my family, friends, Boatswains Beach staff and Board. When I am wrong I admit so and accept responsibility,” he writes on the social networking site. “When we began to promote our ‘Happy Friday Nights’ we only had two customers for the first three months or so. Having re-evaluated the strategy we decided to increase our alcohol purchases with free product. Staff members were identified to assist with inviting their friends to the events and being allowed to ‘buy’ a drink for their friends from the free stock. Additionally, I spent Friday nights working the crowd to secure loyal customers and using this inventory to ‘buy’ their loyalty.”

Ebanks also states that he paid forlunch for primary school children — though a significant number of the tabs, which were seen by CNS, were charged on Friday and Saturday nights and were predominantly for alcoholic drinks.

In his response Ebanks refers to the auditor general as Dan "Carpetbagger" Duguay, accusing him of pursuing headlines and that the report “was about getting Joey Ebanks".

Throughout the Facebock posting Ebanks makes a number of unsubstantiated allegations against various people, which he says is why he believes Duguay wrote the report. However, Duguay said on Friday when he released the results of the audit into the public domain that it was conducted because of stories in the media concerning unorthodox salary advances and loans which had been made to the MD.

In the audit, Duguay confirmed that the articles were correct that the MD had been taking cash from the farm on a regular basis. Between June 2007 and February 2009 Ebanks had taken $65,870 and made repayments of just over $16,023. When he resigned from his post in March 2009 the outstanding sum was $49,847.87. Ebanks also owed $1,900 for turtle meat that he had purchased on credit.

During the audit the AG’s office also discovered that the loans were made to Ebanks without the knowledge of the board and uncovered the bar tabs, which Duguay says he also included in the report because he could not find a full explanation for the charges, most of which (70%) were for alcohol and cigarettes.

Speaking to News 27 on Friday evening, Ebanks said he regrets taking the loansand would not say what he borrowed the money for other than it was for personal use.

Following Duguay’s revelations about the full extent of the salary advances and loans, the current Turtle Farm Board also issued a statement on Friday evening thanking Duguay for the report. Ken Hydes, the new board chair and past MD of the Turtle Farm, said the new board had reviewed the report and had noted the content and recommendations.

“The members of the current board are committed to ensuring that the necessary policies and administrative changes are put in place to guarantee that best practices are followed with an emphasis being placed on accountability at all levels of the organization,” Hydes added. “Prior to the release of the report, the Board of Directors had already implemented significant policy changes that directly relate to the recommendations contained in the document. One of these policy changes is the requirement that all disbursement of funds to employees other than that which is contractually due to the employee, must receive prior approval of the Board of Directors.”

The Turtle Farm is currently running a $14 million deficit and was allocated a further $9 million to keep the facility afloat in the 2009/10 budget.

See News 27 video

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Officials make list about fighting crime

Officials make list about fighting crime

| 25/10/2009 | 12 Comments

(CNS): Top level officials say they have identified ten measures to tackle the escalating levels of crime according to a release from government information services. Follow the commissioner’s meeting with members of the Legislative Assembly last Monday,another high-level meeting was reportedly held on Friday (23 October) called by the governor where government ministers, top civil servants and the commissioner made a list. Deputy Chief Secretary Franz Manderson said the meeting focused on gun and violent crime as well as youth at risk.

The group will meet again in about a month to reviewprogress made on the action points and agree on the next steps, Manderson said.

The meeting took place against a backdrop of community outrage over the number of murders and shooting incidents in the country over the last few months as well as the number of robberies where weapons have been used from women mugged in parking lots to day time heists.

With few reported arrests and limited information about the progress of the murder investigations as well as the armed robberies the elected government has also been calling for the establishment of a specialist task force to tackle the problem.

At this latest meeting the officials reportedly agreed on the following points:

Provide more resources for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, and convene a special task force to focus on gun and other serious crime.

Work with the business community to install closed-caption television (CCTV) coverage on their premises, in order to help identify and convict criminals.

Review licensing requirements for nightclubs and other licensed premises, in order to reduce the chances of those locations becoming the scenes of serious criminal activity.

Urge the public to volunteer information and testify in court, while making every effort to ensure confidentiality and protect witnesses.

Consider changes to law and trial procedures that will protect witnesses and prevent jury intimidation.

Modernise the Police Law to better equip police officers to deal with emerging trends in criminality

Immediately begin using electronic tagging in prescribed circumstances.

Follow up the 2006 Crime Survey and subsequent recommendations, through a government-wide effort spearheaded by Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam. The intention is to provide a constructive future for at-risk youth, and to prevent as many as possible from becoming the next generation of criminals.

Establish, as soon as resources allow, a facility for juveniles that would separate them from older offenders, and meet the requirements of the new Constitution.

Establish a criminal justice steering committee, chaired by the Attorney General that would develop a comprehensive strategy to reduce crime. In addition to the ten points agreed during the meeting, the committee would speak to other aspects of crime prevention, alternative sentences, parole, rehabilitation, and community involvement.


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Scientists to freeze coral

Scientists to freeze coral

| 25/10/2009 | 1 Comment

(BBC): The prospects of saving the world’s coral reefs now appear so bleak that plans are being made to freeze samples to preserve them for the future. A meeting in Denmark took evidence from researchers that most coral reefs will not survive even if tough regulations on greenhouse gases are put in place. Scientists proposed storing samples of coral species in liquid nitrogen. That will allow them to be reintroduced to the seas in the future if global temperatures can be stabilised. Legislators from 16 major economies have been meeting in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, to try to agree the way forward on climate change.


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Severe swine flu cases increases in UK

Severe swine flu cases increases in UK

| 25/10/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Telegraph): Doctors have been "unnerved" by the severity of swine flu in some patients and their rapid deterioration into a "life and death situation", Sir Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer has said. The number of people in intensive care with swine flu has reached its highest point yet, with 99 people currently in critical care beds out of a total of 506 inhospital. Sir Liam said intensive care specialists have told him privately that they are ‘unnerved by the severity off the illness and how quickly it can develop’. He said some patients are ‘getting into a life and death situation very early on’. The number of patients in intensive care has risen from 74 last week.

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