Archive for November 2nd, 2010

East End MLA pays respects in Barbados for PPM

| 02/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The PPM opposition member for East End Arden McLean and Edna Moyle the former speaker of the House are currently in Barbados attending the State Funeral of the Prime Minister of Barbados, David Thompson, who died last month. They are representing the People’s Progressive Movement at the late Prime Minister’s funeral who was a personal friend of the Leader of the Opposition, Kurt Tibbetts and other members of the PPM. Tibbetts said he was unable to travel to Barbados as the Third Meeting of the Legislative Assembly commences on Wednesday but he sent a personal letter to the family of his late friend.

The PPM said its relationship with David Thompson goes back even before the party was officially launched. Thompson, who was then Leader of the Opposition in Barbados, was instrumental in the creation of the PPM, providing guidance and advice to the leadership in the formative years of the party.

Over the years, he visited Cayman a number of times speaking at PPM organized events including a public Lecture on constitutional issues back in 2002 but he last visited Cayman in April 2009.
 

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Mac and his tekkies

| 02/11/2010 | 13 Comments

The controversy over the premier’s direct involvement in the decision to choose which financial institution should supply a loan to government has revealed some interesting points about the tendering process and the relationship between elected ministers and their technical staff. The CTC does not actually choose the winning bids but supervises the choice of technocrats in a given government ministry.

It remains to be seen where that leaves Mac and his tekkies, given recent events.

Many people still believe that Ronnie Dunn and his colleagues on the Central Tenders Committee make the decision but it is clear that none of the committee members are experts in all of the diverse areas of procurement government gets involved in, even on a small island such as ours. From helicopters to concrete, a quick scan on the CTC website reveals that the government buys an awful lot of different types of stuff – stuff that the committee could never know everything about (or even anything in some cases).

What the CTC does is ensure proper process and supervise the decisions, making sure that there are no irregularities. On this occasion, with the financing arrangements of the government’s CI$155 million it appears that the CTC was perfectly satisfied with the decision of the technical experts from the ministry. The decision they had made was arrived at under the supervision of the CTC, which endorsed the choice, as common sense seemed to say that awarding the contract to local bidders who had the means and were offering the best interest rate was the most sensible way forward.

There are many issues raised by McKeeva Bush’s choice on this occasion to ignore his technocrats and the official process of central tendering, not just about why and how he did it – the possible contravention of the law and the question of whether his deal does represent value for money or not – but also, interestingly, what this says about the premier’s relationship with his ministerial team.

Putting all the blogger jokes aside about Bush being a dictator, in truth many who have worked with him have said that his style of leadership does tend to be one where he makes spontaneous decisions and steamrolls ahead, despite opposition, or even reservations, from his Cabinet colleagues. In this instance, however, Bush has completely overridden the advice of the people in his ministry who are paid to tell him the facts – not the political spin or stuff to boost his ego but the tekkies who are paid to say ‘this is the way it is’.

There are no two ways about this: such action has to be ill advised. In recent months, in fact almost since he came to office, the premier has berated bureaucrats and civil servants for what he says is lack of cooperation. It is apparent that the most recent decision will serve to exacerbate that situation.

It is fair to assume that the senior civil servants from the Ministry of Finance that made up the technical team that worked through this procurement to finance the government’s $155 million loan are probably less than pleased that the premier has called either their integrity or their ability into question. By overriding their advice concerning the best selection, which was approved by the CTC, Bush has undermined a significant number of civil servants, people who continue to be essential in delivering the elected government’s agenda.

This move can’t have done anything to improve the premier’s relationship with his senior ministry staff (and one cannot help but wonder if that includes the financial secretary) but surely must have made it worse. Under such circumstances, in future the power of the disgruntled civil servant is likely to take an even greater toll on the premier’s reportedly thwarted efforts to implement the policies he wishes to see in place. Anyone familiar with the classic British television comedy series ‘Yes Minister’ will understand that elected officials upset senior civil servants at their peril.

The point, of course, is that either Bush does not care or the motivation to secure this particular deal must be so great the premier is willing to live with a collection of disgruntled Sir Humphries around him. Bush must be completely convinced that this deal is in the best interests of the country for it to be worth running the gauntlet of accusations of irregularity over procedure, investigations by various officials, unsavoury accusations from his opponents, and on top of all that, vexing his own team.

Given the difficulties Bush currently faces, despite there being two and half years to the next election, he desperately needs a major economic miracle whereby he can roll back the fees he implemented over the last two budgets and balance the books with a surplus by the 2012 budget in order to ensure re-election for the UDP. It may well be that the firm he has chosen to do business with could help Bush towards that economic miracle with the consolidation of all of the country’s current debt and, indeed, eventually saving the millions of dollars he has promised.

However, it will be a risky business as a large part of the country’s debt is presently tied up in the bond offering from last year, something that the premier will not simply be able to change without, at the very least, incurring considerable fees – if he can change the conditions of that offering at all.

At present Bush does not seem to want to spell out what his plans are but these things have a habit of unravelling. It will be interesting to see what the terms of the Cohen and Company deal turn out to be compared to those offered during the tendering process, details that no doubt will soon be revealed. Whatever they are, one thing is certain: Bush is in for an even rockier ride with his bureaucrats in the coming weeks and months.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall …

 

 

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Sex offender list petition filed

| 02/11/2010 | 25 Comments

(CNS): Community activist Sandra Catron finally managed to get her petition for a sex offender’s register in the Cayman Islands filed with government on Tuesday. For several years Catron has been campaigning for the establishment of an official public list of convicted sex offenders which will name and shame those who have been found guilty of a sex related crime in order, Catron says, to make it more difficult for them to continue offending. Catron collected more than 1,100 local names for her petition but has been struggling for many months to get the petition accepted by the authorities. Finally, the chief officer in the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, Franz Manderson, agreed to take the petition at the Glass House. (Photo by Dennie WarrenJr)

Catron says that the anonymity that these offenders have, which is given to them indirectly in order to protect victims from public exposure, merely allows offenders to keep re-offending once they are released from jail and does nothing at all to help the victims.

“My motivation is to protectthe child victims and anonymity merely protects the perpetrators, who continue to abuse because people do not know who they are,” Catron told CNS after she had delivered the petition. Aware of the problems that many offenders are related to their victims and that the register would not be a fix-all, she said it was a step forward towards the community as a whole coming together to protect these young victims. “If nothing else it is a gesture to the victims to say we care and we are going to support you by exposing the perpetrators.”

She said it was important to start somewhere and find a way of stopping these offenders returning to the family situation where they committed the abuse in the first place and either continue to abuse the same victims or pick out new ones. If everyone knows it becomes harder for offenders to find victims.

Catron said the implementation of a register had to go hand in hand with much more support and counselling for victims as well as wider awareness of the real harm caused to victims. She said the petition was a first step and an expression of support for a proper register. Although there is a lot of work to be done before the register becomes a reality, Catron said that at least government was now aware of how much support there was for it.

It is not clear whether any register that is created would be held by the police or a ministry. Manderson cited the questions over which government department would eventually be responsible for it as the reason for the delay in government being able to accept Catron’s petition. Manderson has said he will hold on to the petition for a period of 21 days for review before handing the document over to elected officials to debate how they want to move forward.

Catron believes she has the support of law enforcement officials but wants to ensure that the register is an open public list and not just limited to the authorities and relevant agencies. “It is entirely pointless having a list that the public cannot access as it cannot prevent future offending if the wider community is not on their guard against an offender,” Catron said, adding that she did not believe vigilantism in Cayman would be an issue in the community as she had seen little outrage about the widespread abuse of children in the society.

Now the petition is in the hands of government, Catron says she hopes that the government will move quickly to enact the necessary legislation to establish the register. “Government has moved at what seems like lightening speed on some laws recently. I hope it will take this petition seriously and give this issue some priority.”

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Cops release pictures of hotel robber

| 02/11/2010 | 31 Comments

(CNS): The RCIPS have released video and pictures of one of the men involved in the robbery at the Ramada Grand Caymanian Resort on Monday morning. Police are repeating their appeal to the public to come forward with any information they may have that could assist officers in tracking down the two armed, masked men who tied up two members of staff before making off with money from the hotel safe. Although no one was hurt the staff members were bound for more than two hours before one of them was able to work himself free. The robbery took place at about 1.30 am but police say the suspects may have been watching the staff and the hotel in the days before the crime.

Detective Sergeant Richard Scott who is leading the investigation asked anyone with information to come forward. “This was a terrifying ordeal for the two men involved – luckily they weren’t injured. Initial indications are that this was a pre-planned robbery,” the detective said. “It could be that the two suspects had been watching the movements of staff for a few days prior to the actual incident. That’s why I’d be keen to talk to people who saw anything suspicious in the days and nights leading up to the incident, as well as anyone who may have been in the area around the relevant time this morning. The information you have may be vital to the enquiry and I’d ask you to get in touch with us as quickly as possible.”

DS Scott said information can be passed to the Criminal Investigation Department at George Town police station on 949-4222 or the confidential Crime Stoppers number 800-8477 (TIPS).

The first suspect is described as having a dark complexion, 5’6” in height and weighing 200 – 200lbs. He was wearing a black t-shirt, dark blue faded jeans and black and white sneakers. He had a black ski mask covering his face. The second robber had a slim build and was about 6’ in height. He was wearing a long sleeved hoodie with camouflage pants and white sneakers.

Footage of the robber can be seen on Cayman 27

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Tennis star to visit Cayman for book signing

| 02/11/2010 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Tennis superstar, designer, entrepreneur, and author Venus Williams has confirmed a new date for her visit to the Cayman Islands. Williams was originally scheduled to appear at the Books & Books store in Camana Bay earlier this year but following her exhausting long run at the U.S. Open she was unable to make the trip. Fully rested, now however the tennis ace said she is looking forward to her visit to Grand Cayman later this month. Williams will be at the book store on Thursday, 11 November at 7pm to meet fans and sign copies of her new book Come to Win: Business Leaders, Artists, Doctors, and Other Visionaries on How Sports Can Help You Top Your Profession.

Williams is a multiple grand slam tennis champion who became a professional tennis player at age 14. She has since go on to become a successful and entrepreneur as well as a successful athlete and she joins an A-list cast of business leaders, media figures, creative executives, politicians, and doctors in a book that every aspiring professional should read, say critics.

Described as an indispensable tool for parents, coaches, and teachers looking to build confidence and discipline in their children and students Come to win sees Williams also reflects on what she has learned from her own coaches, including her father and mother, and how their wisdom contributes to her own remarkable achievements, including the launch of her own businesses, V-Starr Interiors, an interior design firm and EleVen, an athletic clothing line.

Books and Books said Williams’ appearance is an autographing only event and visitors must purchase a copy of the book from Books & Books to enter the signing line. The line will open at 7pm. Here are some guidelines: Venus will only sign her book Come to Win, not memorabilia. There is no limit on the number of books that she will sign. Venus will sign her name, but will not have time to personalize and will not pose for pictures, but pictures can be taken from the line.

This event is part of the Books & Books International Visiting Author Series and is sponsored by Ogier and the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.

 

 

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Brackers hope to boost business with weekend expo

| 02/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Competitively priced corporate retreats on Cayman Brac was just one possible business offering suggested to the business community from Grand Cayman at a trade show held at The Alexander Hotel on Friday. Speaking at the newest hotel on the Brac to twenty-six Chamber of Commerce members who travelled to the Sister Island for the first Cayman Brac Business Weekend, as well as a gathering of local residents, Sister Islands MLA Moses Kirkconnell also proposed back office support for businesses based elsewhere, the introduction of a second bank, continuing education seminars, conferences and domestic tourism to stimulate the Brac’s economy and create jobs.

Kirkconnell also noted the attractiveness of owning a retirement or second home in the crime free community.

The weekend, which included an island tour on Saturday, was hosted by the Sister Islands Tourism Association (SITA) with the help from the Chamber, especially with marketing the initiative, with the goal of developing business connections between Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac and showcasing what the Brac has to offer private sector investors.

Friday evening’s event highlighted a number of local artisans and other businesses and organisations such as SITA, Cayman Brac Heritage House, local artist Conroy Ebanks, So & Sew Club, Brac & Forth, Tranquil Realty, National Trust, Heritage Designs, Department of Commerce and Investment, ERA Realty, Carib Sands Resort, Cayman Brac Power & Light, Walton’s Mango Manor/Sea Dreams Villa, Vanderbuilt Construction, Cayman Airways, Brac Reef Beach Resort, University College of the Cayman Islands and Parrot Estates.

President Stuart Bostock reiterated the Chamber’s support of SITA’s objectives and pledged a long-term coalition between the two organisations to boost the Sister Islands economy.

 

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Bodden Town MLA faces assault charge

| 02/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following the charges brought against UDP Bodden Town representative Dwayne Seymour for attempting to obstruct and pervert the course of justice, the MLA now also face a charge of common assault. Police confirmed on Tuesday morning that two men, aged 41 and 37, have now been charged with the offence in connection with an incident which occurred at the Grand Cayman Beach Suites on Saturday 1 May. The incident relates to a fight which allegedly broke out between Seymour and another man with Garrone Yap, a Florida based personal trainer, following which all three men were arrested. Seymour is due to appear in court on Tuesday of next week when he will face this additional charge and those laid against him last month.

In a recent televised statement the government backbencher said he was surprised by the obstruction charges brought against him by police last month and he did not understand how what he called the "baseless charges" relating to an incident at the Grand Cayman Beach Suites had been laid against him more than five months after the event. Seymour also said he didn’t know the people involved in the charges and he was looking forward to clearing his name in court. He has so far made no comment regarding the latest assault charge.

Soon after the MLA’s troubles went public, the premier and leader of the UDP, McKeeva Bush, issued a statement backing his backbencher. "On behalf of the elected government, we wish to express publicly, our moral support for our backbench colleague Mr Dwayne Seymour during this difficult time,” Bush said in the official statement. Implying the charges related to struggles in Seymour’s marriage, the premier said the government understood the many challenges faced to keep a family together.

“As Caymanians we understand and empathize with the pain that is endured when someone, against God and against all social and ethical obligations, interferes with that sacrosanct relationship,” the statement from the press office of the premier read. “It is in the appreciation of the circumstance and of those considerations that we publicly voicetoday our continued support and confidence for our colleague and friend Mr Dwayne Seymour."

Following the incident, Yap, who claimed he was assaulted by Seymour and another as yet unidentified man, said he was not pursuing charges against the two men but that he had been injured in the incident. It is not clear if the legal department has elected to bring the charges based on the police evidence contained in the file on its own volition or whether Yap has since changed his mind and asked the authorities to prosecute the case.

Although common assault can involve violence, the charge can only be heard in the Summary Court, unlike the obstruction charges, which are considered more serious and can be tried in the Grand Court before a jury.

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Pirates return for 33rd time for swashbuckling capers

| 02/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Despite fears that government still intends to rename the Cayman Islands’ longest running and most popular festival the pirates will still be taking centre stage at the festival’s 33rd anniversary. This is the second festival since the premier announced his wish to rename the festival Heritage week and shift the focus towards the country’s seafaring history and away from the pirates, where the moniker has remained. This year the swashbuckling capers get underway in Little Cayman on November 6 and Cayman Airways is encouraging residents of Grand Cayman and visitors to join in the Sister Islands festivities with discounted airfares of less than CI$84.

Acting Director of Tourism, Shomari Scott said it was no secret that the tourism industry was in need of a boost in November and the fun and excitement of Pirates Week would hopefully help attract new visitors to all threeislands.

Following the opening antics on Little Cayman the pirates move to Grand Cayman on 11 November through till the 21st of the month before invading Cayman Brac on November 26-27. During the month-long celebration, each island will highlight authentic Caymanian culture through live music, street games, parades, sports competitions, local delicacies, fireworks, costumes and an abundance of other activities including the ever-popular mock pirate invasion in Hog Sty Bay, George Town.

“Pirates Week is a favourite event for returning visitors and among one of the most suggested things-to-do for those travelling to our shores for the very first time,” said Scott. With the extension of reduced airfare to our Sister Islands, not only can visitors make the most of their holiday in the Cayman Islands by visiting all three of our islands, but residents, too, can take advantage of this opportunity by hopping over to Little Cayman and Cayman Brac to witness the heritage events to be had.”

The director said there were also special packages for visitors coming to Grand Cayman including flights with Cayman Airways and accommodation at the Comfort Suites or Ramada Grand Caymanian Resort.
For more information on the Pirates Week Festival and to view the special package offers visit www.caymanislands.ky
 

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Teen investment club opens up mysteries of finance

| 02/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Another group of students will be embarking on a journey into the mysteries of finance and investment over the coming months after some 70 students signed up for the return the Saxon Investment Club. The young would be investors will be formed into small teams within their school’s club to develop and maintain a virtual portfolio by picking stocks in accordance with the current market. This in turn will require them to research the companies that they have chosen for their group’s portfolio. As well as competing for monthly performance prizes, the group with the highest-earning portfolio by March 15th, 2011 will win a $2,500 cash prize, and the runner up team will receive $500.

The official launch of the programme was hosted last month at the UCCI campus after year 10 and 11 students island-wide were encouraged to start a chapter of the Saxon Investment Club at their schools. Organisers at Saxon said the club offers invaluable insight about investing in a hands-on environment. Following the success of the last six-month installment which came to a close in CEO of Saxon Brian Williams said that his team is excited to embark on this journey again with eager young students.

Representation returned from John Gray High School, Cayman Prep & High School and St. Ignatius Catholic School for the second installment of the Saxon Investment Club, as well as Triple C School also signing on for the challenge. St Ignatius’ Five Star team was the grand prize winner of the previous contest.

“The level of enthusiasm that the students demonstrated the first time was truly rewarding for us,” Williams said. “Saxon is committed to investing in our youth for we recognize that there is no better investment in Cayman’s future than instilling young minds with knowledge and wisdom. While this club certainly evokes a healthy level of competition, the most valuable reward is certainly the insight gained from the hands-on experience.”

He explained that through the careful planning of each group’s portfolio, the students will gain knowledge about sound financial investing and money management. “Saxon also hopes that introducing students to these disciplines at such a young age might spark an interest in a future career in one of the financial industries,” he added.

 

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Barracudas catch a free ride with CAL

| 02/11/2010 | 0 Comments

(CNS): While the young “Brac Barracudas” are pretty good swimmers the ocean between Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman proved even too much for them so Cayman Airways stepped in with free roundtrip airfares for the eight young Brac students who make up the swim team so they could compete in the to 2010 Sprint Swim Meet held at the Lions Pool on Grand Cayman last month. The aquatic athletes took home several medals after Carlie Tibbetts placed first in the 25-metre breaststroke and five-year-old Veandra Robinson earned second place in the 25m-breaststroke in her age group, and placed in the top six in her other four events.

Chineme Ezema finished fourth place in the 50m breaststroke. Other swimmers making up the Barracuda team included Haylie Tibbetts, Mara McLean, Antonia Mena, Garin Ritch, and Teddy Reid, all whom swim coach Michael Hundt, saids showed “guts and determination”.
The meet is the first sprint meet of the season, enabling Cayman Brac swimmers to dive in early with shorter distance races, which suits Brac athletes due to their limited pool on the Brac Hundt explained. “All year the Brac swimmers dream about travelling to Grand Cayman for the learning experience it offers both in and out of the pool, so we are extremely grateful to Cayman Airways for making their dreams come true through the donation of roundtrip tickets for each of the students again this year,” he added.
Paul Tibbetts, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Senior VP Commercial Affairs for Cayman Airways said the airline was proud to help the young Brackers who have limited access to many of the opportunities that students on Grand Cayman enjoy frequently. “We applaud the Brac Barracudas and their coach of many years, Mr. Michael Hundt, for a job well done and we look forward to continuing to support their endeavours,” he said. Tibbetts also presented each swimmer and Hundt with a complimentary “I Love My KX” T-shirt.

 

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