Archive for December 19th, 2012

Major Red Bay smash lands two in hospital

Major Red Bay smash lands two in hospital

| 19/12/2012 | 8 Comments

(CNS): Two people have been taken to hospital following a major road crash in the Red Bay area Wednesday, police said. At around About 1:35pm today, 19 December, a white Honda Integra collided with Toyota Landcruiser as it tried to turn left from Selkirk Drive into Red Bay Road. The Landcruiser flipped following the collision before coming back to land on its wheels again and both cars sustained major damage. The man who was driving the Honda lost consciousness and is currently being treated at the Cayman Islands Hospital. The woman who was driving the Landcruiser is also being treated in hospital for injuries, which are not thought to be life-threatening.

Police and fire crews remain on the scene where there is an oil spill. Although single traffic lanes remain open in both directions, drivers are being urged by police to drive slowly and use caution.

Anyone who witnessed the crash should call Inspector Adrian Barnett at the RCIPS Traffic Management Dept. on 946-6254.

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New premier takes on finance

New premier takes on finance

| 19/12/2012 | 136 Comments

julie new premier.jpg(CNS): As expected, both Cline Glidden and Dwayne Seymour have now been made Cabinet ministers and the new premier has added government finances to her own portfolio. Rolston Anglin has added financial services to his existing responsibilities of education and employment and has become the deputy premier. while Mark Scotland has retained the same ministerial duties, Glidden has taken on tourism and development, formerly McKeeva Bush’s area of responsibility, and Seymour, despite never holding any junior counsel posts or government responsibilities in the past, has been given Mike Adam’s former community affairs ministry.

The reshuffle was not unexpected as O’Connor-Connolly has little choice, with her government now consisting of the ‘UDP 5’, with four of her former colleagues now in opposition.

The governor confirmed he has given his assent to the appointments and confirmed that the first Cabinet meeting with the new members would meet this afternoon (Wednesday 19 December).

With Bush now on the sidelines of power and his bid for an early election in ruins, it is not clear what shape the wider UDP will now take. With the UDP 5 attempting to limp on with a majority government, Bush may seek to realign the UDP behind him or regroup with the Bush 4 into a new party or group, aiming to at least carry West Bay in the May 2013 election.

The UDP wider party was scheduled to meet Wednesday but there was no word whether that meeting had occurred and if Bush had attended.

New Cabinet:

Juliana O’Connor-Connolly: Premier and Minister of Finance, District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture

Rolston Malachi Anglin: Deputy Premier and Minister of Education, Financial Services and Employment

Dwayne Stanley Seymour: Minister of Community Affairs, Gender and Housing

Jason Mark Philips Scotland: Minister of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture

Cline Astor Glidden: Minister of Tourism and Development

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Juliana anointed premier

Juliana anointed premier

| 19/12/2012 | 122 Comments

Acting Premier Controls the Paver.jpg(CNS): The governor has revoked McKeeva Bush’s appointment as premier and handed the leadership job to Juliana O’Connor-Connolly to take the now beleaguered minority UDP government through the next few months before Cayman voters can themselves elect a new government. This exchange of power is likely to see Cline Glidden and Dwayne Seymour become Cabinet ministers as a result of the party split following yesterday’s no confidence motion. In the very public division of the party, Bush not only carried his West Bay colleague Capt Eugene Ebanks and GT back-bencher Ellio Solomon across the floor, but he also took community affairs minister Mike Adam, who has now lost his Cabinet job.

Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor said that, following the passage of the lack of confidence motion, he had consulted with the premier as required by the constitution and Bush had suggested to the governor that he dissolve the Legislative Assembly. However, Taylor took a different approach.

“After careful consideration and using my discretion as the Constitution entitles me to do, I have decided not to dissolve the Assembly but to revoke the appointment of the Premier. Formal notification of my decision has now been given to him.  As a consequence, all Ministers have vacated their office, as required under Section 52(2) of the Constitution,” he explained.

“Following representations made to me by a majority of UDP MLAs advising that they support the appointment of Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, JP, MLA as Premier of the Cayman Islands, I have this morning appointed her in this capacity. I await her advice on the appointment of Ministers. I am satisfied that the Honourable Juliana O’Connor-Connolly can form a stable, functioning government,” the governor added.

However, because Mike Adam crossed the floor with Bush, in order to form a new Cabinet Cayman’s first female leader must now appoint all of the remaining caucus members in the LA as ministers as she attempts to lead a minority group, with the help of the independent members and the opposition, until the elections in May.

There is still a considerable amount of legislation which the UDP had promised to pass before the Legislative Assembly is prorogued, including the introduction of a human tissue donation law for Dr Devi Shetty’s proposed hospital, the controversial Legal Practitioner’s Bill, changes to the seven year term limit in the immigration law, as well as government’s pre-budget plans in the Strategic Policy Statement.

The new government will now struggle to get much of this work done without the good will of the opposition benches. While the PPM and independent members have all agreed to prop up the minority UDP administration to give government a quorum for legislative sessions, they have said they will treat each piece of legislation on merit as it comes to parliament.. 

In one of the biggest surprises of yesterday’s no confidence vote, Adam who had reportedly been one of the original members of caucus strongly pushing for Bush’s voluntarily resignation, made an about turn and stymied his own political career in his support for the premier.

Check back to CNS for full details on the cabinet reshuffle.

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Alden calls for explanation

Alden calls for explanation

| 19/12/2012 | 17 Comments

alden_0.jpg(CNS): The opposition leader has said that the drama surrounding the fall of government yesterday could and should have been avoided if the premier had not abdicated his responsibility to resign. Alden McLaughlin said that McKeeva Bush and the three UDP members still supporting him needed to explain to the public why he was trying to cling to office and why they were backing him, given the circumstances surrounding the embattled premier, who remains on police bail after his arrest last week. Wrapping up the debate on his successful no confidence motion in the LA Tuesday, which resulted in the collapse of the UDP government, McLaughlin said Bush had forced legislators to go through the painful process. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

Despite the drama of Bush leading three other UDP members across the floor to the opposition benches, signalling a major split in the UDP government and party, the only audible comments made by Bush during the emergency meeting of the Legislative Assembly yesterday was his call for a division on the vote.  He made no contribution to the debate nor did his three UDP supporters, Mike Adam, Capt Eugene Ebanks and even Ellio Solomon, who also remained silent until after the proceedings.

By Wednesday lunchtime the premier had still made no further official statements following the short release he made after his arrest last week, in which he had remained defiant about continuing in office and his innocence. He has also remained publicly silent about his colleagues' move to oust him from office.

Since being released on police bail after his arrest last Tuesday, Bush has, however, denied the allegations of theft and corruption offences for which he was arrested and has pointed the finger at the UK, which he accuses of pursuing a witch hunt against him, fuelled by his political enemies. Bush categorically refutes the allegations under which he was arrested and says he has done nothing wrong.

Nevertheless, he remains the subject of several live police investigations. He is accused of theft and offences under the anti-corruption law in connection with the misuse of a government credit card and the importation of a consignment of explosives without the correct permits.

Refusing to resign despite the pressure from the opposition, the community and then finally the majority of the caucus, Bush forced his former political colleagues to remove him from office by joining forces with the opposition and supporting McLaughlin’s motion — ultimately removing themselves as well.

The opposition leader said that the government could have transitioned in the face of the crisis without any drama or the public spectacle incurred by the lack of confidence motion. He said it was Bush’s insistence on clinging to office, not the investigations he was under, that was doing the most damage to the country. He describe it as an “abdication of responsibility on the part of the premier” and those who were support him in continuing in office for failing to provide an explanation as to why legislators were forced to go through what he called a painful process.

“Given the events of last Tuesday, everyone knows the seriousness of the matters, and the premier, who has served almost seven terms, understands the full weight of the responsibility that comes with leadership, even in difficult times, and the country is owed an explanation by him,” McLaughlin said.

He said those who were standing with him, saying he ought not to step down, also owed a duty of responsibility, given their choice to walk across the floor, to explain to the people not only the significance of that move but why they did it.

As the country waited Wednesday morning to find out whether it would face early elections or whether the UDP 5 would attempt to limp on until the scheduled dissolution of parliament in March, both sides of the divided UDP remained relatively quiet. Meanwhile, it is understood that the party’s wider membership was meeting about the situation the political group now finds itself in, divided down the middle.

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Garbage truck reverses over car in GT

Garbage truck reverses over car in GT

| 19/12/2012 | 4 Comments

(CNS): A police spokesperson has confirmed that an Isuzu garbage truck reversed over a car in an early morning crash. The truck was picking up garbage in Crewe Road, George Town, near to  near to Desmond Drive at about 6:20am on Wednesday when it reversed and collided with a westbound Suzuki Vitara. Fortunately no one was injured in the smash. Meanwhile, police said that the RCIPS has not received a report regarding a concrete truck which reportedly fell into a building pit at a construction site in South sound Tuesday. Other sources tell CNS that attempts to remove the truck have so far proved unsuccessful.

The truck reportedly slipped in to the pit at around 5pm yesterday evening at the Oceana development site on South Church Street. No one was hurt. Workers tried to remove the truck last night with a crane. However, it apparently could not take the load, and the truck remains in the hole.


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Temporary relief

Temporary relief

| 19/12/2012 | 39 Comments

That the UDP would let it all come down to this is not that much of a surprise. When I said in a previous viewpoint some months ago that the members of this group were much more likely to go down with a sinking ship, it was quietly hoped that they would at least jump before it truly sank. But the ship has sunk, is starting to rust and is full of seaweeds. And four members are still on it.

The actions of the entire UDP team before and during this recent debacle had proven that they were not of the character to act quickly and in a principled manner as is the expectation across the globe when a similar crisis occurs in political leadership. They were never being asked to incriminate the premier or suggest that he had done anything wrong, just to behave as any self-respecting politician (sorry if that’s an oxymoron) would in the circumstances.

If nothing else, this just cements in every voter's mind that the UDP has no place in the Legislative Assembly, has no business running for office next year and should go down in history as one of the worse political train wrecks this country has ever experienced.

Why Mike Adam, Rolston Anglin, Mark Scotland, Cline Glidden, Dwayne Seymour, and Jullianna O’Conor Connolly who, on the face of it (and despite one or two issues between them) seem to be reasonable individuals, failed to do the right thing on the Tuesday afternoon immediately after the premier was arrested seems inexplicable. Why Eugene Ebanks and Ellio Solomon failed to step up (and now remain at Bush's side along with Adam) is more easily explained; one does not do or say much about anything and the other is perceived by many as an inexperienced upcoming political opportunist who is apparently incapable of dealing with such matters of national importance.

The main issue that the UDP members face now is that they acted too late to save face or maintain any credibility. They should not have waited until Mr Bush had completed his questioning on Wednesday, they should not have waited for him to run off to Jamaica to "speak on integrity" while on police bail, and they should have remained as a group of eight in the LA a week later instead of toppling in the name of political cronyism.

The result does suggest that the man of the hour has ruled seemingly with an iron fist and had become so impenetrable and dictatorial that fear must have been the only explanation. Fear of political bullying, political persecution, fear of him abusing his office to their disadvantage and fear that his so-styled ‘coat tails’ would not be there for them to ride on during the upcoming election campaign.

And while none of this has to do with his presumed innocence, which is a matter for the courts, we can say, just based on his performance in office, that the country now seems immediately better off because of his removal. Because while we don’t know the number, the political removal of McKeeva Bush is very likely a huge relief for many, some for personal reasons and others for sake of country.

The governor must now act quickly because the prospect of five cabinet members limping along without a House majority does not bode well for Cayman. Call early elections and let the people sort this out.

In terms of politics and poor leadership, the curtain has certainly been drawn on McKeeva Bush because, while he has survived this type of thing before, he is unlikely to repeat a come back at this stage of his political career. At the same time, we must be wary of what occurs now as far as the formal case is concerned. If the RCIPS and other authorities are proven to be less than competent in their dealings on this case, we will certainly see the largest financial settlement ever in the country’s history because there should be no doubt that the former premier (as he has the right to do) will secure competent attorneys to handle his case.

So, as far as the ‘big man’ goes, the ‘fat lady’ has not quite sung yet, but at least the country is now certain that a political resolution will surface when the people go to the polls sometime between February and May of 2013. Too bad the UDP didn’t act quickly or responsibly enough to spare us the circus act.

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UDP 5 blame Mac for split

UDP 5 blame Mac for split

| 19/12/2012 | 51 Comments

scotland dwj.jpg(CNS): The three cabinet members and two back-bench MLAs that remain part of the beleaguered UDP government have blamed the premier for the dilemma that the UDP administration now finds itself in. After Juliana O'Connor-Connolly, Rolston Anglin, Mark Scotland, Cline Glidden and Dwayne Seymour voted in favour of the opposition leader’s no confidence motion in government Tuesday evening, the five members said they were left with no choice given Mckeeva Bush’s refusal to step down, even though all his colleagues agreed that was the only option available. The group now finds itself in a difficult position; it has the support of the opposition benches to form a quorum but not a government. (Photos by Dennie Warren Jr)

In a short statement released early Wednesday morning, following the brief comments by Scotland, the only member of the government benches to speak during the no confidence vote, the five members said the motion had created an extremely difficult day.

“This motion was necessary as the country found itself in a constitutional dilemma caused by the refusal of the premier to step down when all of his caucus requested him to do so,” the group stated. “The caucus considered all possible scenarios, but the majority were still of the view that the right thing for him to do was to step down at this time.”

20121218-8924_0.jpgThe group added that they would continue to put Cayman first and work together with all members of the Legislative Assembly to ensure a functioning government and legislature, saying,  “We need united and mature leadership at this time.”

However, the issue is now out of the group’s hands. It may constitute the largest group of the UDP but it cannot hold a majority government without forming a coalition with the opposition or regrouping with Bush and his supporters. As a result, the governor may well proceed to call elections, given the split down the government benches.

As the motion opened for debate on Tuesday, Bush, along with Mike Adam, Captain Eugene Ebanks and Ellio Solomon, crossed the floor to sit on the opposition benches, signalling their split from their five colleagues.

During the debate Scotland said that all of the members had agreed to ask the premier to resign. He said that what they were doing may result in them losing their seats. He did not have a “lack of confidence in the government or his colleague”, he said but they had all agreed to ask the premier to resign and he was standing by that agreement.

“I am sticking to the agreement that we had all made that is in the best interests of all of us — the country , the premier and the government,” Scotland said adding that he was proud to have been elected with the group of UDP parliamentary members. Describing the situation as one that he and the others would rather not be in, he said that, given the construct of the constitution, without the premier’s voluntary resignation this was the best option available.

Neither Scotland nor any of the other members have spoken about the arrest of Bush on suspicion of theft and several offences under the anti-corruption law in relationto the misuse of a government credit card and the importation of dynamite without a permit, but it was clear that the group accepted that, even though no charges have been brought, having a sitting premier on police bail in the face of such allegations was untenable.

Sacrificing their own political futures in the face of the premier’s refusal to resign, the UDP government has now fallen and it is up to the governor to now revoke the premier’s post as he no longer commands a majority group in the legislature and then to decide what to do. He could either anoint Juliana O’Connor Connolly as Cayman’s second premier and allow the five members to attempt to maintain government until the parliament is prorogued in March ahead of the scheduled May general elections, or dissolve the parliament and call for an early election.

The premier, too, remained surprisingly silent on Tuesday, making no contribution to the debate but speaking volumes with his walk across the floor of the parliament. He was later seen at the UDP offices in West Bay with the party faithful but refused to comment on the situation to CNS.

Ellio Solomon, however, denied having an agreement with the caucus to ask the premier to resign, and said it was only one of a number of options the group had discussed. He further denied allegations that he had been the sticking point on a caucus agreement to force the premier to step down and claimed he had been offered the Cabinet post in a reformed government, which he had refused.

Solomon insisted he was standing by the premier because he believed in innocent until proven guilty. As party general secretary, he maintained that Bush still commanded the support of the party membership and that the government group which had just expressed a lack of confidence in themselves could not expect anyone else to have confidence in them.

He said that the party split now had to be addressed and in the meantime, if the members that had ousted the premier and themselves from office were able to limp on, he, the premier, Adam and Ebanks would examine legislation on merit. But, he said, the Bush four would not support the five other members to form a government, as he accused them all of mounting a power grab.

Sources inside the UDP told CNS on Tuesday evening that there was no consensus in the party rank to support Bush remaining as premier and a cabinet minister and the wider party membership was expecting to meet Wednesday.

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