Archive for September 18th, 2012

CUC power outages over the next four days

| 18/09/2012 | 31 Comments

3-lit-candles-712347.jpg(CNS): Grand Cayman’s power supply company has said that customers in various parts of the island may experience temporary outages over the next four days as a result of a temporary lack of generation capacity due to equipment failure. CUC said that engineers are currently on site and working to restore the engines to full working condition. In the event that these outages do occur, CUC will limit them to one hour per outage, where possible, the power company said, promising to keep customers regularly updated via the media and on its website. CUC offered apologies for the inconvenience these outages may cause. 

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Dolly evicted for Dart park

| 18/09/2012 | 117 Comments

Dolly Brown.jpg(CNS): A new park on Cayman Brac, which will cover just over an acre of land owned by the Sister Islands Affordable Housing Corporation (SIAHDC), will be totally funded by Dart Cayman’s Growing Communities, the District Administration Ministry has announced. The park will feature an amphitheatre, half basketball court, an eight-foot walking path along the perimeter, cabanas, grilling areas, restrooms and playground equipment, and the landscaping will feature coastal indigenous plants, the ministry says. However, the move has brought the deputy premier, who has responsibility for the ministry, into conflict with one of her constituents, who says that her 95-year-old mother, Dolly Brown (left), must move to make way for the creation of the park.

Colleen Gibson claims that Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly promised her that her mother, Dorothy “Dolly” Brown, could remain in her home until she died, even though the land it sits on is owned by government. (Below: Colleeen Gibson outside Dolly Brown's home in Watering Place)

Colleen Gibson at Ms Dolly's house.jpgShe said that her mother, who is bed-ridden and cannot walk by herself, is assisted by a staff member from social services 14 hours per week and the rest of the time by a helper that Gibson pays for herself.

“Now, all of a sudden, she will be evicted from her home of 70 years,” Gibson wrote in an open letter to the deputy premier. “This seems highly unfair to treat a 95-year-old woman and a matriarch of Cayman Brac in this manner. It appears government has little concern for the elderly at this time. The least government could do is relocate her to a home where she will be happy for the few remaining years on Cayman Brac.”

The piece of land where Ms Dolly’s home is located, which will form part of the park, was sold by members of Ms Dolly’s family to the SIAHC on December 2004 for CI$30,000, but Gibson said that she and other members of the family did not know this at the time. When she found out later, she said, she spoke to O’Connor Connolly and received assurances that her mother could remain in the house for the rest of her life.

Gibson, who is 65-years old and a grandmother herself, works full time making traditional craftwork out of silver thatch that she sells in her own clothing and variety store. She wrote, “Miss Julie, I am unable to take on the monetary burden that would be put on my shoulders. The room I built twenty-five years ago is now not acceptable for a woman of age and disability and her special needs. I am not physically able to provide for her.

“Miss Julie, please help me. You have known me almost 50 years and over those years we have built a friendship that means a lot to you and myself. We have seen good times and bad times and you know me – I never walk away from a problem but this is a mountain I can’t climb.  Please, I need all the help I can get from you and, as a fellow Bracker, I am asking you to call on all the government people that are involved in this problem to provide a fair and humanitarian solution to this unfortunate situation.”

In a statement from the ministry, O'Connor-Connolly noted that Ms Dolly’s husband left the house and his share of the land for his grandson and the other share belonged to his brother, who left it for his children. “After government was approached to purchase the land, we purchased it for CI$30,000. As Ms Dolly had no family member who offered to take care of her or house her I was not prepared to put her out on the street so I told her that she could continue staying there. Subsequently, there was an agreement for Ms Dolly to live in the structure but over the years from various home visits I have become increasing concerned about her living conditions.”

The deputy premier said that government had built an additional room onto Gibson’s home and Ms Dolly relocated there. “For whatever reason, Ms Dolly chose to move back to the old wooden house,” she said.

“In May, after the flooding District Administration officers, whilst conducting a flood assessment report, found the house to be in a deplorable state, the plumbing was not working, plastic bags were stuffed in the sides of the wall and some of the wood is rotten and we spoke with both of her daughters about moving Ms Dolly to better living conditions and again was met with family resistance as no one wanted to take her.

“At first Ms Colleen wanted to find out if the building could be moved to be placed behind her shop in Stake Bay but when PWD looked they too decided that it was not possible to move this old building as it was on a cement slap and the structure was not sound. Then Ms Gibson demanded that government renovate the room that we built on to her home years ago. She has since changed this position and has agreed for social services to rent a place to put her mother in. Social services and Administration stands ready to do this tomorrow and now Ms Gibson wants to wait for a week more before this occurs.”

O’Connor Connolly concluded, “Successive Governments have and will continue to care for its elderly and in fact budgets millions each year for this purpose however whenever possible families must and should also assist.”

The deputy premier’s ministry has stated that the park will be sited at Watering Place, where the deputy premier was raised, in between the affordable homes complex and Pop-a-Top Park, an area of beach land that is also owned by government. It will be totally funded by Dart Cayman’s Growing Communities, including labour, and government resources will not be used. The ministry further stated that the park is a goodwill gesture only and is not part of any deal or in exchange for anything.

O’Connor-Connolly said, “Brackers have a strong sense of community and they like open spaces where families can get together. This park will provide another avenue for family cohesiveness,” she stated. “Every park user knows the benefits of green space, but the benefits of parks, trails, and green spaces extend far beyond users. From improving our physical and psychological health, to strengthening our communities and making our neighborhoods more attractive places to live and work – the benefits of parks are endless – to individuals and our communities.

“Beyond the benefits of exercise, a growing body of research shows that contact with nature improves physical and psychological health. Older adults who participate in a variety of social and recreational opportunities benefit from the social connections and interactions that are fundamental to their well-being.  Parks have long been recognised as key contributors to the aesthetic and physical quality of neighborhoods,” she noted. 

“Over the past years, and in partnership with successive governments, we’ve created community parks in East End, North Side, George Town, Bodden Town and West Bay, and we’re pleased to now focus our efforts on the Sister Islands and Cayman Brac,” said Ken Hydes, VP Place Management & Experiences for Dart Realty (Cayman) Ltd.  “We’d like to thank the deputy premier for helping us to get this Growing Communities project off the ground.”

Construction is expected to start in November, subject to the necessary construction permits being in place, the ministry stated, adding that future plans include a 25-metre pool and an area for portable bleachers to host local swim meets. 

 

The following was sent from the DAWLA Ministry:

I, Tara Bush, PR Officer for DAWLA, apologize to Deputy Premier and Minister of District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture and the Ministry for causing any embarrassment relating to “Brackers get a Dart Park” release which I wrote. The writer (me) is accused of plagiarizing a statement from GIG Harbor Foundation website – relating to parks — by using a portion as the Minister’s quote. 

I researched the material, so it is extremely important for me to point out that while the quote from the CIG Harbour website is too similar to ignore – the benefits of parks is also noted on several other sites. There are commonalities in the benefits of parks in the statement.  While this doesn’t make it right, it is what happened. For some of the commentators to castigate the Minister is truly unfair. The blame is mine.

Tara Bush

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Miller demands answers in explosives case

| 18/09/2012 | 13 Comments

rr21 (252x300).jpg(CNS): The independent MLA for North Side is demanding answers regarding the investigation into the premier’s memo sent to the collector of customs in connection with a recent case of illegally imported explosives. Ezzard Miller said the people of Cayman are being let down by the authorities, who are allowing the issue to be swept under the carpet because of the office held by McKeeva Bush. The outspoken MLA said that since the company was recently convicted, there is no question that an offense occurred and the letter sent by the premier asking for the release of those explosives must be considered as an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

“We have seen recently how the director of public prosecution’s office has arrested and charged people on the flimsiest of evidence in connection with several firearms cases,” he said. “The courts have decided against them, throwing the cases out or acquitting those involved. Here we have a ‘smoking gun’ in the memo sent by the premier and nothing at all has happened. Police don’t normally wait until they are 100% certain of a conviction before they arrest an individual. Why is it different in this case?” Miller asked rhetorically.

The MLA was referring to the recent controversial case in which Midland Acres admitted importing explosive materials and blasting caps without the correct permits. The owner of the company, Suresh Prasad, pleaded guilty on its behalf to four counts and was fined a total of $1,300 by a magistrate last month. However, before Prasad was arrested and charged the premier had written to the collector of customs requesting the release of the seized materials.

In the wake of that conviction, Miller said, the premier’s involvement now had to be addressed in the courts. He said the law should apply to everyone equally, regardless of high office, and it was plain for everyone to see the premier’s memo to the collector of customs was sufficient for an arrest as it was an attempt to circumvent the law.

“The authorities need to let the courts decide this issue and if they clear the premier of any wrongdoing, then so be it, but this suspicion and uncertainty is adding to the instability of the country that the current incompetent UDP administration has already created,” Miller added. 

According to Police Commissioner David Baines, the premier’s efforts to have the explosives released forms part of a third investigation that the RCIPS is currently conducting into the premier. The first is into a land deal that Bush was involved in with developer Stan Thomas in 2004 and the second has merely been described as other “financial irregularities".

Miller said that whatever the situation with the other investigations, the premier must be called to answer for his part in this case and explain why he felt he was above the law. He said the premier, as the minister responsible for customs, had to realize that the importation was illegal.

So far, the only public comment the premier has made about this case in particular was that he was trying to help a friend.

At the time of sentencing in the Midland Acres case, Magistrate Valdis Foldats recognized that the firm had been transparent about the importation of the materials and had not deliberately attempted to evade the law, but he said that explosives are inherently dangerous and, as such, the law and regulations concerning the importation of such materials were there to protect the public. He said anyone dealing with explosives should ensure they do so properly.

When the explosives were seized by authorities and the premier wrote to the collector of customs asking for the release, the NRA director, Brian Tomlinson, whose department was holding the materials, passed the issue over to the RCIPS but shortly afterwards he was fired from his job.

Related articles:

Dynamite request in question (14 May 2012)

Government road boss fired (9 July 2012)

Explosive import fine $1300 (29 August 2012)

Correspondence regarding the explosives attached.

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Arctic sea ice shrinks to smallest extent ever recorded

| 18/09/2012 | 0 Comments

ice1.jpg(The Guardian): Sea ice in the Arctic has shrunk to its smallest extent ever recorded, smashing the previous record minimum and prompting warnings of accelerated climate change. Satellite images show that the rapid summer melt has reduced the area of frozen sea to less than 3.5 million square kilometres this week – less than half the area typically occupied four decades ago. Arctic sea ice cover has been shrinking since the 1970s when it averaged around 8m sq km a year, but such a dramatic collapse in ice cover in one year is highly unusual. A record low in 2007 of 4.17m sq km was broken on 27 August 2012; further melting has since amounted to more than 500,000 sq km.

The record, which is based on a five-day average, isexpected to be officially declared in the next few days by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado. The NSIDC's data shows the sea ice extent is bumping along the bottom, with a new low of 3.421m sq km on Tuesday, which rose very slightly to 3.429m sq km on Wednesday and 3.45m sq km on Thursday.

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Public Accounts Committee

| 18/09/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS Library): Thejob of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is to question ministers and senior civil servants on issues raised by the auditor general in his reports and to give them an opportunity to defend themselves in the face of the revelation about how they have spent public money. The committee is weighted in favour of government, with three members from the UDP administration sitting on the committee and two members of the opposition, one of whom is the chair.

Current Members:

Moses Kirkconnell (PPM) — Chairman
Cline Glidden (UDP)
Ellio Solomon (UDP)
Dwayne Seymour (UDP)
Kurt Tibbetts (PPM)

On the Legislative Assembly website

Record of Attendance:

17 September 2012:

All 5 members attended

Brac paving left NRA short

Government failures continue

 

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OAG Performance Audits

| 18/09/2012 | 0 Comments

On the OAG website

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OAG Public Interest Reports

| 18/09/2012 | 0 Comments

On the OAG website

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