Archive for July 16th, 2012

Inmates get spiritual support from female chaplain

| 16/07/2012 | 18 Comments

Prison Chaplain Cathy Gomez (242x300).jpg(CNS): Cathy Gomez has been appointed as the new prison pastor, officials announced Friday, a key position that has been vacant for several years. Gomez’s will provide pastoral counselling for inmates, to assist them with inter-personal issues, and to work with families and other members of the community. Although her focus will be on spiritual beliefs she will also play a part in the management and rehabilitation of her new captive flock. Gomez has been providing volunteer counselling and spiritual guidance to inmates and their families since 2006 and she says she became drawn to prison ministry during a counselling practicum in the prisons.

“For the past six years I have felt a calling from God to do His work in this particular environment,” said Gomez, who started in her official capacity as the chaplain for the Prison Service on 3, July 3.

Gomez is working with male and female inmates from the Northward and Fairbanks prisons, as well as the young offenders in Eagle House.

As part of the rehabilitation process she acknowledges the problems resulting from crime and recidivism. “Crime is a great concern to all of us, and I believe that deep, spiritual change is the most meaningful answer for individuals,” she said. “Through genuine remorse forgiveness, and reconciliation, rehabilitation efforts will be enhanced and the recidivism rate will hopefully decrease.”

Relating that she has seen many inmates turn their lives around, she said several have become lay-preachers, and others are dedicated to evangelism, locally and overseas.
“There is much work to be done in the areas of forgiveness and reconciliation, and I am confident that the inmates, prison staff and the entire community can work together to make a real difference.”

Music has been a primary tool for her volunteer work, and Gomez formed and conducted the prison’s Voices of Hope choir for three years. She now hopes to revive the choir although many of the former members have now been released.

Prison Director Dwight Scott said welcomed Gomez’s appointment as chaplain. “It is a role that provides a great opportunity to touch, in a positive way, the lives of individuals incarcerated, and will indeed enhance the rehabilitative effort of the service.”

A veteran civil servant, Gomez served for more than three decades in healthcare, in both the clinical and administrative areas. In 2008 she obtained a Master of Arts in Pastoral Psychology and Counselling from St. Stephen’s College in Canada. This followed a Master of Science degree in Public Policy and Management from the University of London in 2003.

Following the sudden loss of her own job as a senior civil servant in 2006 and understanding the impact of job loss, she published a book Coping with Sudden Job Loss: Experiences in the Cayman Islands some two years ago.

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Corruption warning issued

| 16/07/2012 | 47 Comments

MoneyGift.jpg(CNS): The supervisor of elections has issued a warning to the community about bribery and corruption in relation to Wednesday’s referendum on one man, one vote. Kearny Gomez said that encouraging people to vote on polling day (18 July) is acceptable but activities that constitute corruption are offences under the elections law, as he urged voters not to accept ‘gifts’ from anyone asking them to vote one way or another or to refrain from going out to cast their vote. Gomez said elections infractions would not be tolerated and offenders will be liable to prosecution.

“The Cayman Islands has always been considered to be a law abiding jurisdiction and the fact that a Referendum is around the corner is no exception. Persons who may be deemed liable for committing election offences are members of the public who give or receive 'gifts' in exchange for votes," the elections supervisor said. “Members of the public, in particular are urged to refrain from receiving any 'gifts' such as money, food, or any other items in exchange for a promise to vote or refrain from voting for a particular answer as such individuals may be committing an election offence and may be liable to prosecution.”

Anyone convicted of an act of bribery, treating or undue influence under the Elections Law (2009 Revision) may be liable to a fine of two thousand dollars or to twelve months imprisonment. Those convicted under the law are also barred for five years from being registered as an elector or voting at any election, referendum or by-election; or being elected a member of the Legislative Assembly, or retaining his seat as a member.

Meanwhile, officials are also reminding liquor licence holders that alcohol cannot be sold or given away while the polls are open on Referendum Day. This restriction applies to retail as well as wholesale establishments, hotels, bars and restaurants until one hour after the polls close, which means no liquor can be sold between 7am and 7pm.

For further information the public may also log onto the Elections website.

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Pleasure yacht sinks in North Sound

| 16/07/2012 | 18 Comments

boat sinkin.jpg(CNS): Ten passengers including two infants were rescued by a department of environment vessel at the weekend when a yacht sank in the North Sound. Police confirmed Monday morning that they had received a report shortly after 5.00pm that a 52 foot motor yacht was taking on water off Bobby Cay. Although the Joint Marine Unit began making its way to the location, a DoE vessel that was nearby was first on the scene and was able to safely remove all of the people from the pleasure boat, which is believed to have been taking visitors from the Ritz Carlton on a Stingray City excursion.

Sources tell CNS that the boat is The Lady T and the owner has made arrangements to have the vessel removed by a salvage crew.

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Cuban refugees repair boat in Frank Sound

| 16/07/2012 | 7 Comments

Cuban Boat 712 press (300x235).jpg(CNS): Updated 3pm — A wooden vessel carrying thirteen Cubans has departed from the Frank Sound area immigration officials have confirmed. The boat reportedly arrived in Cayman waters in the eastern districts at around 8:00am this morning, 16 July. The men aboard the 20-foot motorized wooden craft undertook their own repairs on the vessel while in the ocean as the group of refugees intended to carry on to another destinaiton and therfore did not seek assistance from Cayman officials.

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Dart has say over cash

| 16/07/2012 | 54 Comments

developer_0.jpg(CNS): Although government has said the money Dart Realty Cayman Ltd is donating to the public coffers as part of the ForCayman Investment Alliance was to go directly to the Treasury, the deal signed in December reveals that the developer gets to approve how government spends the cash. So far, Dart has given government $5 milllion and the premier’s office has announced two programmes that will use the funding. The first is to assist Caymanians at risk of losing their homes through mortgage arrears, and more recently his office announced a grant programme to help those unable to make important safety repairs to their homes. 

According to the deal signed between Dart, the National Roads Authority and government, the cash donation forms part of the acquisition by the developer of crown land, but the agreement allows the group to have a say in how the cash will be spent and how it is promoted.

Clause 117 indicated that Dart will be entitled to a plan detailing how government intends to spend the cash it has donated in respect to education, parks and housing before the money was given to government and clause 118 states that the publicity for these projects will be coordinated between government and Dart.

North Side MLA Ezzard Miller, who received a full copy of the agreement from an unknown source last week, said that this was yet another clause in the deal that raised serious concerns over the influence Dart now had on public spending and the political process in the Cayman Islands.

“While Dart is giving government money as part of a land deal, it is also expecting to influence how those funds are spent, so it is clear that the developer is involved in the political process,” Miller said. The independent MLA pointed out that it is highly unusual for someone in the private sector to be able to influence how public money is spent.

Despite being described  as a donation, the $5 million is part of what is expected to be as much as $20 million once the full ForCayman Alliance agreement has been signed between the government and Dart, which relates directly to the land that the investor will acquire as part of the overall deal.

The full agreement, once signed, will include the swap with government for the George Town landfill in exchange for land in Midland Acres, where it proposes to build the first phase of a new waste-management site, as well as the land in Barkers in the district of West Bay and the controversial strip of the West Bay Road.

According to comments made by Dart CEO Mark VanDevelde, the delay in the signing of the main agreement relates to the review by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which, he says, the group disagrees with. Speaking to The Journal, VanDevelde said Dart takes issue with the way PwC has assessed the value of the land that Dart will receive as part of the deal.

“We have a fundamental disagreement with the methodology they have taken regarding the land uplift, but even considering their approach to take the uplift, they still found it to be value for money,” VanDevelde said in the interview.

Like the NRA agreement, which was not made a public document, the PwC review has also been kept under wraps and Miller has challenged the Dart Group and government to release this to allow the people of Cayman to judge for themselves whether or not this controversial agreement will benefit all the people of Cayman and not just an elite few.

See related story and full agreement: 

Full Dart deal exposed

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Police charge fifth man in bank robbery gang

| 16/07/2012 | 0 Comments

CNB robbery_0.jpg(CNS): In what has become a notable success for the RCIPS, a police spokesperson confirmed that a fifth man was charged on Friday and appeared in Grand Court in connection with the recent bank robbery at Cayman National in Buckingham Square. The 32-year-old was charged with robbery and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence, the RCIPS said. Police have already charged Andre Burton (27) of West Bay, who is accused of being the gang’s second getaway driver, as well as George Mignott (23) from Savannah and Marlon Dillon (29) from West Bay, who are both charged with robbery and possession of an imitation firearm.

The three masked men who held up the bank on the morning of Thursday, 28 June, escaped with around a half million dollars as they attempted to flee the scene. However, they collided with an armoured cash van and the men then headed off on foot. As they fled scene they are believed to have dropped around $100,000 of the cash booty before being picked up by another getaway car.

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Chopper now air ambulance

| 16/07/2012 | 28 Comments

IMG-20120713-00166 (225x300).jpg(CNS): Four members of the RCIPS Air support unit have been certified as emergency medical responders and, as a result, the police helicopter will now be able to act as an air-ambulance. Staffed by the tactical flight EMR officers who have been trained by the Health Service Authority, the chopper will enhance and support first line medical response in Cayman, especially in difficult locations or where time is critical to saving lives. The police commissioner said that, despite the controversies surrounding the machine, it continued to enhance the services the police could deliver to the community.

This initiative means that the RCIPS Air Operations Unit is now classified as one of the first ‘Helicopter Emergency Medical Service’ (HEMS) of its kind in the region and it will also now carry medical equipment, such as a heart defibrillator that was donated to the RCIPS by the Cayman Heart Fund. Helicopter awareness and safety training for the EMT paramedics is also underway and this will allow qualified health professionals to be deployed on board the helicopter when needed.

Police Commissioner David Baines said he was pleased about the partnership with the HSA and the Air Support Unit (ASU) as the helicopter, which had already saved lives, would save more in future. Now able to be deployed in a medical emergency as well as used in crime fighting and border patrol, the helicopter’s role as an air ambulance would be a priority for the ASU, Baines explained. He said that where there was a choice between a drug interdiction and a life to be saved in a critical road accident, the life would come first.

“This project will help us get the right people to the right situation where minutes cost lives," he added. “It’s about getting the most out of this expensive piece of equipment.”

Baines said that the chopper had completely changed the way the RCIPS was able to fight crime and the more uses the machine could be put to, the more value for money the public would get from the investment. He said that the RCIPS was still learning how best to use the helicopter and it was important to enhance the services it can offer, such as adding emergency medical support.

“The arguments will always go on about the helicopter … but this has changed the way we fight crime and has been an invaluable tool,” Baines said.

Neil Mohammed, Ronnie Pollard, Steve Day and Danny McIlhagga, the four crew members who recently completed the accredited EMR course, have been trained in CPR; managing muscle, bone, head and spine injuries; assisting with childbirth; and mass casualty incidents and triage.

The remaining members of the Air Operations Crew will be trained in August.  A number of Marine Unit officers will also attend that course and all of the police officers who complete the EMR course will be regularly assessed to ensure that they continue to meet the stringent standards required, officials said.

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Accountability in OMOV and SMC

| 16/07/2012 | 20 Comments

As we draw nearer to the Referendum on 18 July 2012, much has beensaid concerning one man, one vote (OMOV) in single-member constituencies (SMC) and the attendant equality of voters. Therefore, by now, everyone with an open mind probably understands what is meant by voter equality. However, it is the issue of accountability that seems somewhat elusive and is being complicated by the anti-OMOV rhetoric of opponents.

Accountability should not be confused with equality in the number of registered voters in an SMC. It is about the quality of representation and not the number of voters represented.

Therefore, a representative has an obligation and should be willing to give satisfactory reasons to his or her constituents for any actions he or she may take while serving as their representative. With an SMC one can safely say that a representative has little choice but to be responsive to their constituents simply because there is no one else to blame for their actions or lack thereof.

A case in point is the ForCayman Investment Alliance between the Cayman Islands Government (CIG) and Dart Realty. Whether you are in favour of or opposed to the proposed closure of part of the West Bay Road or the movement of the landfill to Bodden Town, it is evident that approximately four thousand residents, primarily those in the three larger multi-member constituencies (MMC), believe their interests were ignored by their representatives. They contend that this only occurred because they account for a minority of the votes in each MMC. In other words, in each MMC, they are merely a voice within the crowd.

Now contrast the above with East End and North Side. Having only one representative each because of the smaller number of registered voters, they in fact each operate as an SMC where a smaller population enables everyone in those districts to become a name and a face within the community where their vote matters and, consequently, their voice matters.

Therefore, when the residents of those districts opposed the East End Seaport in 2011, as it was perceived by residents that it would adversely affect both districts, their elected representatives had no choice but to join the fight. What justifiable reason could they give for abstaining from involvement? Therefore, if the current polling divisions of George Town North, West Bay South and Bodden Town were each an SMC when the CIG and Dart Realty deal was proposed the representative of each SMC would have had no choice but to canvass the views of their constituentsas to the perceived pros and cons and then represent accordingly.

Consequently, in an SMC each voter has a single, easily identifiable, district representative who has no opportunity for passing the buck. This encourages a stronger connection between representative and constituent, which itself enhances accountability. He or she is therefore more likely to be responsive to his or her constituents than to their party. Furthermore, incumbent politicians in an SMC tend to be difficult for party leaders to remove, which gives them a degree of independence from their party.

While not putting it forward as their policy, opponents of OMOV have recently introduced the concept of a national vote where the first 18 candidates receiving the most votes would be declared the winners. Though not inconsistent with the use of one man, one vote and equality of voters, it would do nothing to improve accountability and responsibility. If it is possible to avoid accountability and responsibility at the district level it would be much easier to do so at a national level. It would also decrease the representativeness of the LA as it would no doubt be populated by candidates from the larger districts, leaving smaller districts with no representation. Furthermore, a national vote would do nothing to remedy the perception that introducing OMOV in an SMC will make our politics increasingly parochial. Therefore, a national vote would be counterproductive.

Another objection is that an SMC would be too small and allow elections to befixed. In fact there has been far more controversy regarding fair elections in the Cayman MMC than in any SMC.

Therefore, accountability is inextricably linked to responsibility. Accountability does not mean absolute and total perfection from a representative but it does demand that a representative be willing to provide justifiable reasons for their action or inaction. In an SMC with a smaller number of voters, the explanation is more likely to be forthcoming from the representative since no representative can afford the risk of losing any vote with so few available.

As a result, although the voters' ultimate recourse in an SMC and an MMC is to vote to change their elected representative at the end of an election cycle, the power of the voters in an SMC to compel their elected representative to act is greater.  Thus an SMC gives the voters a better chance to effect change within an election cycle as opposed to once every four years.

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