Archive for August 31st, 2010

US disclosure law a “nightmare” say lawyers

| 31/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(FT.Com): Companies in the United States are facing a “logistical nightmare” from a new rule forcing them to disclose the ratio between their boss’ and their staff’s pay packets, lawyers have warned.  The mandatory disclosure will provide ammunition for activists seeking to target perceived examples of excessive pay and perks. The law taps into public anger at the increasing disparity between the faltering incomes of middle America and the largely recession-proof multimillion-dollar remuneration of the typical corporate chief. Last year, S&P 500 chief executives, received median pay packages of $7.5m, according to executive compensation research firm Equilar. By comparison, official statistics show the average private sector employee was paid just over $40,000.

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Ousted CIMA chair to deliver key note at old college

| 31/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The man, who learned he would no longer be chairing government’s regulatory body through the press, will be making a rare public appearance when he delivers a keynote speech for his old college later this month. Business and community leader, Carlyle McLaughlin, who retired from public life after he was ousted from the chairmanship of CIMA by the UDP government, credits his bachelors degree in business from the International College of the Cayman Islands as his stepping stone to a successful financial career. The speech will be delivered at a banquet celebrating the college’s 40th anniversary on 24 September.

 A retired senior partner from Ernst & Young McLaughlin replaced Tim Ridley as CIMA Chair in 2008 only to be removed by the UDP in favour of George McCarthy last year. The premier revealed his intention to put George McCarthy, the former Chief Secretary in the role, in the Legislative Assembly but had not told McLaughlin. The news was delivered to the former Chair by Tad Stoner a journalist at the time with Cayman Net News who called to ask him for comment.
McLaughlin earned his ICCI degree in 1976 and recalls how he took part in a movie to help promote the college. “My most vivid recollection was being a part of a movie that was filmed to promote the college way back when,” said McLaughlin, referring to a film that featured life in the Cayman Islands in 1974, including collecting college students in a van around the island, the British governor and the emerging banking industry.
While he graduated from high school as the valedictorian, his family did not have the financial means to send him overseas to go to a university and government and private scholarships were not readily available to Caymanians students in those days.
McLaughlin got his first break in earning a bachelors degree when the International College granted him a scholarship where he studied business and accounting alongside Caymanian and international students.
“I used to hitchhike to go to school because I didn’t have a car. Then I would have to walk to the street corner (about three-fourths of a mile) where Countryside Village is now to catch a ride into town to go back to work,” said Mr McLaughlin.
Later, the predecessor of Ernst & Young would sponsor McLaughlin to go to Florida to earn his masters in business administration and set him on a course to pass the CPA exam, eventually becoming a senior partner at his firm.
As the keynote speaker, McLaughlin will talk about the plans to break ground on the new business building as well as the history of the International College. He will also speak about the impact of being the first institution in the country to offer a college education that is internationally accredited, particularly for Caymanians and residents who juggle work and families while attending school.
The president of the International College, John Cummings, PhD, said Carlyle McLaughlin was the obvious choice as the keynote speaker because of his successful career and numerous roles in community service.
"We are extremely lucky to have such a talented individual as Carlyle McLaughlin to be our keynote speaker for the 40th anniversary banquet,” said Dr Cummings.
McLaughlin has served on numerous boards and associations including the International College, Cayman Islands Society of Professional Accountants, the Immigration Board, the National Drug Council, the National Pensions Board, Cayman Islands National Insurance Company and the Cayman Islands Turtle Farm.
After his removal from CIMA McLaughlin said he would no longer serve on government bodies and retired from public life. He made the announcement in a long statement issued to the press in July last year when following two weeks of press coverage he had still not received official notice of his removal from government. Expressing his disappointment over what he described as “such blatant disrespect” after so many years of service to his country, McLaughlin pointed out that this demonstrated that the chair of CIMA was a political appointment despite the fact the board had oversight of the country’s most important regulatory body.

“No matter what anyone says, it can no longer be said that there is an expectation that CIMA should act as much as possible as an independent body from central Government and that its appointments should not be seen as political,” McLaughlin said

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Donation helps government kids’ homes unify families

| 31/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A donation of $45,000 from the local hedge fund industry has contributed to some success for the Children and Youth Services (CAYS) Foundation’s family reunification programme. Officials say reuniting children in the care system with families reduces the numbers in protective custody. The process of reunification is an in depth one and the grant from Hedge Funds Care (HFC) was used to employ a full time expert last year who is now seeing the results of her work. Janet Ham who is responsible for bringing families back together says the programme has many challenges but it has improved the number of successful returns.

She explained that the programme is about building better relationships and improving the families understanding of the work by social services while the kids have been in care. Ham also works with the families to assess the strengths of the unit and use them to integrate the children back into their home environments through phased day and overnight visits. Ham works with a team of professionals including a social worker, case manager and residential support workers who collectively determine whether a child has reached a stage in the programme where they can be considered for permanent reintegration.
Ham was employed by CAYS in February 2009 and has more than 25 years experience with children suffering social, emotional, psychological and behavioural problems. Ham says that as part of the Reunification Programme she goes into the homes of families to work alongside them, attempting to help their children overcome problems, as well as assisting them with making changes both personally and to the home environment. “My greatest joy is seeing parents make positive steps in overcoming the challenges they face. Many of our youths have parents who themselves, have had difficulties growing up and a number of them are being raised by their grandparents,” she said. “The biggest challenge is getting families to press through the hard work of change and getting them to attend group sessions”.
There is currently no law in place that requires families to attend family support group meetings or group counselling sessions; nothing that ensures their accountability so Ham has to work hard to keep them on board.
“As well as working with the children in care, we really want to work towards a partnership with the families and see this as a key preventative measure for other children in the family unit being taken into care further downstream,” she added.
Angela Sealey, Chief Executive Officer at CAYS said without the programme the foundation looked for a window of opportunity to send the child home. “This new programme slows this process down, as returning children home requiresintensive, family-centred services to support a safe and stable family. The programme has also allowed for the families to have a thorough understanding of CAYS expectations which has increased the success rate for reintegration,” she said. “If we can improve the success rate of reintegration then the chances of the child or any of their siblings ending up in protective custody will be greatly reduced.”
One of the main approaches used in the Reunification Programme is therapeutic visitation. This provides an opportunity for parents to spend time with their children while the child moves towards coming back to the family. Each visit is supervised by a family support worker, who works with the parents and caregiver to develop guidelines and goals for the visits. Goals are designed to assure basic safety, identify and develop parents’ strengths, ameliorate any parenting concerns identified by the social worker and present parents with the opportunity to demonstrate improvement that will increase their chances for successful reunification, the CAYS officials explained. 
The key characteristics of the programme include working with the family inside the home during the period towards and during reunification of the child; provision of both concrete services and counselling, with emphasis on techniques that change behaviours and responses among family members; modelling discipline and behaviour strategies; providing coaching and mentoring of parents and contact with the family within 24 hours of a crisis
CAYS is also exploring the publication of a reunification manual which will be an easily accessible tool, providing written objectives and guidelines to parents following the child’s return to the family home. The aim of the Manual is to help the child and family achieve and maintain at any given time, their optimal level of reconnection from full re-entry of the child into the family system to other forms of contact such as visitation that affirms their child’s membership in his/her family.
The CAYS Foundation was established as a not-for-profit government owned company to manage and operate two residential homes on Grand Cayman; Bonaventure Boys’ Home and Frances Bodden Girls’ Home. The two facilities serve children and youths between the ages of 11 and 17 who are at risk and deemed to be in need of care and protection. The Family Reunification Programme is designed to strengthen vulnerable families during the transitional period when a child is being returned home from the residential programme and to provide support to the family once the child has been discharged from care.

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Family homeless after Bodden Town blaze

| 31/08/2010 | 13 Comments

(CNS): CID and fire experts are now investigating the cause of a house fire last night (Monday 30 August) which destroyed a home in Midland Acres Bodden Town and could have been deliberate. No one was hurt in the blaze as the family of four which included two small children of two and four years old were out at the time. The 911 emergency centre received the call at around 9pm and fire officers and police officers from Bodden Town Station responded to the address at 95 Periwinkle Arriving at the scene fire officers said the one bedroom concrete structure was engulfed in flames. Although the fire was quickly extinguished the property was severely, damaged. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

Police said that investigations are underway into the cause of the fire and are asking anyone who was in the area at the time of the fire and might have observed any suspicious activity, are being asked to call the Bodden town CID at 947 2220, the George Town police station at 949 4222 or the confidential Crime Stoppers number  800 – TIPS (8477)

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Jazz Fest cancelled as DoT strapped for cash

| 31/08/2010 | 39 Comments

(CNS): Government is cancelling this year’s Jazz Fest as it says it does not have enough money to host the musical event and there has not been enough interest from the private sector to make up the shortfall. In a statement released on Monday afternoon backbench government MLA Cline Glidden, said the Department of tourism budget was cut by $4million this year which had led to the lay off of twelve members of staff in the US and therefore could not find the $1.4milllion it costs to host the festival. Government had set aside CI$250,000 for this year and was looking for private sector participation to produce the event. However Glidden said that less than of third of the money needed had been committed.

“The Government has consulted extensively with the private sector, through the Tourism Advisory Council, including the Cayman Music & Entertainers Association and we are unanimously agreed that under the current economic conditions it was best to proceed without a jazzfest 2010 and instead focus on reviewing the jazzfest event concept, and agreeing with private sector how to best leverage a musical event to meet the needs of the tourism industry in 2011 and beyond,” Glidden said in the statementcancelling the festival which would have taken place in December.
Glidden said government hoped to make an announcement about next year’s festival by early November of this year.
The Jazz fest started in 2003 and had originally taken place at Pageant Beach on the West Bay Road, last year the festival moved to Camana Bay.
The festival had  become one of the country’s signature tourism events. Not only did it attract an increase of overnight visitors to the islands, specifically to see the headline acts, but it was also televised to some 45 million homes via BET the television channel and event production company which partnered with the DoT to produce the festival, promoting the islands in general.
Last year Alicia Keys was the headline act in previous years Michael Bolton, Chaka Khan and Natalie Cole have topped the bill supported by acts such as Anita Baker, Brian McKnight, Peabo Bryson, and Yolanda Adams. As well as the international stars a number of regional acts and local bands had also used the event to show case their talents on what was the biggest local stage of the year.

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CIG faces costly legal fight

| 31/08/2010 | 29 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline News(CNS): The courtroom battle which government now faces with the former schools contractor, Tom Jones International, is set to be an expensive fight.  Not only did government lose its bid to get TJI’s claim against it thrown out, the judge has also ordered that government foot the bill for the contractor’s attorneys in the first round of what looks likely to become a very costly exercise for the Education Ministry. According to the judgment handed down by Justice Alex Henderson last week, TJI was “wholly successful” at this stage and was entitled to costs. Henderson also said that government’s counterclaim against TJI was already vulnerable to strike out because of the “woeful lack of particularity” presented to the court in this first round.

In a government statement last week in relation to the loss, officials said the reason why it was, as the judge said, "forensically embarrassed" was because it had not placed its full case before the court as there was no need to do so at the early stage, but it would now spell out its counter claim against those made by TJI, the company which walked off the school job sites last year after its dispute with government escalated.
In the first instance government had applied to the court to have TJI’s claims against it for just under CI$3million plus interest dismissed on the basis that it was frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of process. The attorney general offered five reasons why government should not pay two certificates from TJI issued in October 2009 which related to work undertaken at the two school sites for the previous month, but they were all rejected by the judge.
In what is already a complex contractual case, government had essentially said that because of wider negotiations going on with TJI intended to address the broader claims by both parties against each other, these two certificates formed part of the whole negotiations. The goal was to find an interim settlement to deal with the growing school costs and disputes and to try and get the projects back on track.
Government claimed, according to the court document, that wider negotiations for all of the claims and counter claims were in the process of being worked out when TJI presented these two certificates, 15A and 17A, which came to $2,947,818. The CIG said it did not need to pay TJI until the entire negotiations were resolved, while TJI claimed that the certificates were not part of the wider dispute but had been signed off by the surveyor and the architects and should be paid whatever the outcome of the other negotiations.
Presenting its position to the court, TJI claimed disputes over payment began almost immediately on the school projects. While the details were not set out, in general TJI complained of late payments on a number of occasions and seven day notices announcing imminent work stoppages had been issued several times. Government, however, claimed that some of the applications for payment contained inflated claims and were not adequately documented, so it was necessary to request additional information, which caused the delays.
By September 2009 the relationship between the parties had deteriorated and the completion of the two projects had become endangered. By the month end work had stopped at the John Gray site and was reduced at the Clifton Hunter site, which government considered a breach of contract.
In view of the problems, government engaged a project manager to try and resolve them, which TJI welcomed and negotiations began with the goal of reaching an interim agreement. Both government and TJI give a varying account of what happened with regard to the negotiations and the issuing of the disputed certificates.
The dispute boils down to the whether or not the two certificates for work which was completed and signed off by the architect and surveyor was or was not part of the wider negotiations. TJI says not as it claims these two certificates were approved by the architect and were not intended to be conditional upon an interim agreement and therefore government should pay. Government, on the other hand, says the certificates were drawn up in good faith as part of the attempt to settle the bigger picture, but as no agreement was ever signed they do not need to pay.
This argument, along with wider claims and counter claims will now go to a full trial in what is likely to become both an expensive and lengthy court room drama where all of the issues in dispute between the two parties will ultimately be decided by a judge.

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Fiona forms as Earl reaches category four

| 31/08/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Tropical Storm Fiona formed this evening some 890 miles east of the Leeward Islands. Maximum sustained winds are 40 mph and it is moving west at 24 mph. A turn toward the west-northwest is expected on Tuesday followed by a turn toward the northwest and a decrease in forward speed on Wednesday. The National Hurricane Centre said on this track Fiona could be near or just to the northeast of the northern Leeward Islands by early Wednesday. Some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours and tropical storm force winds currently extend outward up to 140 miles to the northeast of the centre. Meanwhile, at 9pm this evening Earl was located about 100 miles of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Earl is moving toward the west-northwest near 15 mph this general motion is expected to continue tonight followed by a turn toward the northwest on Tuesday. On the forecast track the centre of Earl will move away from the Virgin Islands tonight and pass east of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday night and Wednesday. Maximum sustained winds are 135mph with higher gusts and additionally strengthening is forecast the NHC said. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the centre and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 200 miles.
As Fiona and Earl continue to pose a threat to the region Danielle weakened to a tropical storm over the open Atlantic. As the storm headed towards Newfoundland this evening winds were 70 mph and as Danielle increases speed further weakening is expected.  The system is expected to begin losing its tropical characteristics this evening but Danielle will still remain a large and powerful cyclone over the far north Atlantic for the next day or so as tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 275 miles.

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Cops criticize commissioner

| 31/08/2010 | 106 Comments

(CNS): The Police Association has publicly criticized Commissioner David Baines regarding comments he made about basic literacy training for police officers. The association suggested that the rank and file could have been further demoralised by what Baines said at a public meeting in West Bay, which was reported on CNS. Inspector Gordon, the group’s chairman, stated that this could have put further strain on an already strained relationship between management and the ranks. The group, which represents the interests of police officers, has complained about problems with training and believes it is mismanagement of cash that has caused the problems.(Photo Dennie WarrenJr)

For many years, Gordon said, the association had raised concerns with respect to training and development with the various commissioners, and some of the major failings of the RCIPS regarding training were as a result of money not being properly managed.
During the recent round of the public police meetings Baines revealed that there had been various complaints about the competency of his officers including their levels of basic literacy. He said people had complained that they could not take statements because they could not spell and they were lacking in various customer service skills. He said that, as a result, the RCIPS had now teamed up with the UCCI to address those problems.
He also announced a number of other training initiatives, including exchange programmes and an accelerated scheme for young Caymanian officers with exceptionalpotential, all of which were aimed at professionalising the service.
Gordon, however, said the UCCI course was geared towards further strengthening the twelve weeks police training programme offered to new recruits. He said the initiative at UCCI is for an additional twenty-four weeks to enhance and support the development of these officers, and he refuted the implication by Baines that it was a basic literacy programme for serving officers.
He said that graduates from the February 2009 police training class had completed their programme on 18 August this year and indicatedthat they, along with other serving officers, held diverse, academic and professional qualifications.
“Out of the twelve recruits in this class, six have academic competencies ranging from an associates degree to accountancy,” Gordon said. “The RCIPS has some highly skilled officers with various types of professional qualifications, such as LLB in law, business, engineering and other professional fields. A significant number of officers have taken personal responsibility for their development and are utilising the Civil Service College (CSC) and UCCI programmes.” 
He said that following the concerns over training and development, which had been raised with successive commissioners, the association had come to the conclusion that some of the major failings of the RCIPS with regards to training and development in an effort to professionalise the service are as a result of the allocated funds not being managed effectively.
“The Police Association is committed to working with management to strengthen the already strained relationship between labour and management but comments like the ones made by the commissioner at this recent meeting were left to one’s own interpretation at the risk of further demoralising the already hard working and dedicated officers that serve these islands,” Gordon said in a statement released to the media on Monday afternoon.
Gordon added that he applauded the commissioner’s efforts in trying to identify and improve the organization through his training initiatives and officers would benefit greatly from the exchange programme, when it started, with the exposure and training in other jurisdictions.
The objective of the accelerated scheme to attract and retaining qualified Caymanians was important, he said, but cautioned that if not managed properly “the laudable intentions will be placed at risk.” 

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