Archive for January 22nd, 2013

Pension board failed to justify exemptions

Pension board failed to justify exemptions

| 22/01/2013 | 3 Comments

stuff they don't want.jpgCNS): Although the information commissioner has upheld a decision by the Public Service Pensions Board to withhold some records from an applicant following a freedom of information request the commissioner has once again pointed to procedural failures by a public authority. In this case the board did not give any reasons for its decision to exempt certain documents in contravention of the law. The PSPB also missed deadlines among other issues leading to another long and protracted FOI battle for the applicant. In her 27the decision under the Freedom of Information Law issued on Monday, Jennifer Dilbert confirmed the decision of the board to withhold records from legal professionals to their clients but she ordered the disclosure of others.

The request was originally made one year and two months ago and the commissioner pointed to several factors which contributed to this matter taking an inordinately long time to come to hearing. She said that throughout the investigation stage, more records were fully or partially released to the Applicant which often took longer than promised by the PSPB.

Redactions were also revised to release further information and confusion reigned over what was and wasn’t disclosed a dispute, which had to be resolved by the ICO. In addition, Dilbert pointed to the growing workload of her understaffed office. However, she also stated that it should not be contingent upon the ICO to compel public authorities to meet their obligations under the Law.

One of the concerns raised by the commissioner in this latest decision was that the PSPB failed to provide any reasons for the use of the exemptions at any stage during the request and appeal.

“I can find no reference in any of the material before me, neither in the various responses given to the Applicant on request or at internal review, nor in the submissions prepared by the PSPB in preparation for this Hearing, to reasons for the application of the exemptions claimed,” Dilbert writes in her decision. 

As this is the third hearing in which the PSPB has been involved, Dilbert pointed out that the  public authority should be well aware of the requirements of dealing with an appeal including the hearing stage, and that the burden of proof is on the public authority to demonstrate that they have correctly applied the exemptions.

Dilbert pointed out as a result of that failure she was the one who had to ensure she protected the disclosure of information that is clearly exempt under the FOI Law such as legal professional privilege and personal information of a third party that it would be unreasonable to disclose.

See the full decision 27-00912 c on the ICO website at


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Local dengue transmission continues in West Bay

Local dengue transmission continues in West Bay

| 22/01/2013 | 6 Comments

(CNS): One more locally transmitted case of dengue fever has been confirmed in West Bay following the receipt by public health authorities of further results this week from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) previously known as the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC). With 2012 recording the highest number of dengue cases in Cayman for more than thirty years the disease now appears to be here to stay and the jurisdiction can no longer consider itself free of the disease which is endemic across many countries in the region. The total number of cases investigated for suspected dengue in 2012 was 94 and a further 8 cases have been reported so far this year.

There are currently twelve cases awaiting results while 36 cases proved positive since the start of 2012 50 supected cases have proved to be  negative and four  have been inconclusive.

Only twelve people who have contracted dengue did so overseas the remaining 24 patients are believed to have been infected here in the Cayman Islands and 20 of those in the district of West Bay. Two cases were  resident in Bodden Town and two lived in George Town. Last year 25 people were admitted and treated in hospital for the disease but so far there have been no new hospital admission in 2013. 

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Court space problems see lawyers evicted

Court space problems see lawyers evicted

| 22/01/2013 | 25 Comments

Barrister-wigs-006.jpg(CNS): Local attorneys appearing in the Grand Court at the main courthouse this week will be looking for somewhere to dress in their courtroom garb as their robing room has been annexed by the court for use by jurors. With space increasingly tight in the courthouse and no money to begin the long shelved new court building project, things are likely to get worse over the coming months as the case load for the courts grows. So far, the chief justice’s pleas for the project to start appear to have fallen on deaf government ears and the potential site of naked lawyers adorning themselves in the public corridors may be the least of the local criminal justice system’s woes.

As noted by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie last week at the opening of the Grand Court, with the implementation of the Bill of Rights, “justice delayed is justice denied”. With more than a 300 day average wait for trial, defendants, especially those in custody, are increasingly likely to argue that the time-line does indeed constitute a breach of their human rights.

The current courthouse was built in the 1970s at a time when criminal cases were few and far between and the offshore sector was a long way from generating the kind of work it now desperately depends upon the court system for.

The plans for a new courthouse were shelved more than four years ago in the face of the financial crisis and the collapse of government revenue. Since then, year after year the case loads in the financial, civil, family, drug and criminal courts have all increased and space, especially for trials requiring secure facilities, has become a premium.

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Local Rotarians head to Guatemala on key project

Local Rotarians head to Guatemala on key project

| 22/01/2013 | 0 Comments

Guatemala%20photo.jpg(CNS): Four Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman will be traveling to Guatemala in February to join with the Cooperative for Education (CoEd) and Rotarians from the USA and Canada to deliver books to secondary schools and open computer centers. Joey Hew, Trevor Neckles, Alan Roffey and Derek Haines will assist on the 10 day trip during which they will cover several hundred miles over bumpy roads in mountainous terrain. This is the 4th trip for the past president Hew who said it brings vital textbooks to secondary schools in Guatemala.

“Studies show that the use of books in the classroom improves grades by 30% and the amount of material covered by over 70%,” Hew said in a release about the trip.

The Cooperative for Education is a Cincinnati based non-profit organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty in Guatemala by providing textbooks and educational opportunities to under-privileged schoolchildren in impoverished areas.  The programmes are designed to improve both traditional and technological literacy, which are the corner stones of economic development.

CoEd was founded in 1996 by brothers Joe and Jeff Berninger who will both be on the tour.

Candidate schools are matched with donors such as Rotary clubs, companies, churches, foundations, and individuals.Donated funds from the above groups are used to purchase textbooks in Guatemala in the vital areas of math, science, Spanish language, and social studies. After delivering the textbooks, CoEd trains the teachers and students in methods for effective use and care of books. This training is essential because most teachers have never instructed using a book and most students have never owned a book nor do they have books in their homes.
Finally, CoEd help the school set up a rental program whereby it rents its books to the students for a small fee. The fees are put into a revolving fund that the school uses to purchase a new set of books when the original ones wear out.

Since the end of the Civil War in1996 that killed over 200,000 people some 150,000 textbooks have been provided by the programme to more than 160 communities in Guatemala.

On what will be his fifth trip Rotarian Trevor said the project establishes computer centers within secondary schools, teaching the students Microsoft software basics and how to access the Internet. “Eighty percent of mid-level jobs in Guatemala require computer skills; CoEd Computer Centers provide training necessary to obtain those positions,” he added.

CoEd identifies candidate secondary schools, typically from its pool of successful textbook project schools.The computer center teachers are selected, directly trained and supervised by CoEd. Like the textbook projects, the computer centers are made possible by matching them with donors and striving for self-sufficiency through the schools’ revolving fund process. Also, individual, corporate or other donors can directly sponsor the computer centers themselves, or individual workstations. 30 plus computer centers have been established in Guatemala, benefiting over 13,000 students supported by 40 libraries. Scholarships have been provided for almost 250 secondary students.

All of the Cayman Rotarians, plus local resident Gordon Barlow and family, are private donors to the computer project. They have also sponsored a student for a scholarship.

Haines will also be on his fourth trip and has been very impressed with what he saw previously. “When one considers that 75% of the rural community is illiterate this programme is vital to the educational needs of the communities. I was delighted at the reception wereceived at all of the schools and the children were extremely enthusiastic and welcoming. It was obvious to all how hungry they are to learn and I have been happy to recommend that we continue to support the programme in the future,” he said.

Roffey who will be going for the second time said he really enjoyed his first trip and was excited about going again. “The enthusiasm shown by my Rotary chums is infectious and I feel the project is rewarding and most worthwhile. This is what Rotary is all about,” he added.

Besides supporting the programme financially, Rotary Grand Cayman has also provided funds for sporting equipment and the Cayman attendees provided the funds for a toilet block at one of the schools they visited in 2011.

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Local artists on show at annual event

Local artists on show at annual event

| 22/01/2013 | 0 Comments

broad.JPG(CNS): Organisers of this year’s Art@Governors are calling on local artists who have not already signed up to join in the popular event to display their work. Meanwhile, the governor is extending an invitation to the public to Government House on Saturday, 2nd February where the exhibition is held on the lawn and across in Governor’s square. Over 100 artists are expected to contribute to the event which this year is themed, “Forging a Creative Future”. The National Gallery will feature information about creative careers and highlight several Caymanians working in the creative industries.

Visitors to Art@Governors 2013 will be treated to a diverse number of visual art forms from paintings, ceramics, sculpture and leatherwork to thatch work, body paintings, jewellery, quilts, photography and handicrafts,” gallery officials said. There will be a chance to meet artists one on one, to query their art processes, and to participate in creating a work of art themselves. The event also provides the opportunity to view the differences and similarities between the traditional heritage craft and the contemporary arts of the islands, and the ways in which one has inspired the other.

Both seasoned and emerging artists will be exhibiting their work either on the non-commercial Governor’s House, or across the road at Governors Square which will be hosting sales once again.

Art demonstrations, displays and activities can be enjoyed on both sites. All the favourites are back – The NGCI’s Arts Creation Station, the Walkers Art Club Tent, the popular Schools displays, The Governor’s Cup, Catboat rides, face painting, storytelling, the Cayman Airways ‘Cayman Brac’ tent, entertainment by OneWorld Entertainment and the Non-Profit Corridor, and much more.

Artists interested in registering for this event can log on to our website (events page) to download the application form, call or email Ivanna at 945-8111 or before Friday 25th January.

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Jurors to judge attempted murder case

Jurors to judge attempted murder case

| 22/01/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following a preference in recent years for defendants to elect a judge-alone trial when facing serious charges, a 21-year-old man from George Town has bucked the trend and opted for a jury trial. Justin Ramoon is facing an attempted murder charge and an alternative count of wounding with intent in connection with an incident outside Archie’s Bar on Sheddon Road last August. Ramoon, whose trial started last week, has denied trying to kill or deliberately wound Andrew Lopez and a jury of three men and four women will decide his fate.

Setting out the crown’s case against Ramoon and a motive for the crime, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Trevor Ward said the two men had been involved in a dispute the week before the alleged stabbing after a session at Jahti’s in the heart of central George Town.

The crown said Ramoon approached Lopez and asked if he had taken a scooter away from a couple of youngsters who happened to be relatives of the defendant. Lopez maintained that he had because he had assumed the youngsters had stolen the scooter, so he put it in the bush. An altercation then occurred between the two men, and as Ramoon grabbed at his waist, Lopez said, “if you got it, use it” as Ramoon told his friend to “move that boy away before we kill him.”

The following week Lopez was by his car outside the George Town bar when he was stabbed in his back. The crown claimed that Ramoon was the perpetrator, who had asked his victim, “Where all ya mouth is now?” before continuing to stab him in his back, arm and chest. The jury heard that Ramoon had reportedly fled the scene in the direction of Sea Inn Bar.

The prosecution claims the identification of Ramoon is solid and the witness is positive that Ramoon was his assailant because he has known him for years and sees him frequently. The area was well lit and there was a close encounter and struggle.

Suffering from several stab wounds, Lopez got into his car and drove to his brother’s house before going home. He had not intended to go to the hospital until he arrived home and felt increasing pain and difficulty breathing. Once at the hospital, medical staff discovered he had a punctured lung. He attended Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital for a chest tube and remained there for several days. Lopez spoke to two police officers while at the hospital and Ramoon was arrested shortly after.

The crown said the attack was persistent and during the struggle Ramoon had restrained Lopez on purpose in order to continue stabbing him.

Ramoon denies the charges and the case continues in Grand Court One.

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Voters have one last chance

Voters have one last chance

| 22/01/2013 | 21 Comments

vote here 2_0.jpg(CNS): The largest campaign that Cayman has ever seen to get people onto the voters' register in time for the next general election will end at midnight tonight, when the re-opened window of opportunity closes for the final time. Election officials said this is the last chance because the need to verify new voters before polling day will not allow for any further extensions. Anyone who is qualified to vote but who has not yet registered has until midnight to go the office on Smith Road and add their name to the list. New voters on the Brac should go to Brac Executive Services, where Ellen Lazzari, the registering officer for the district, will also be registering voters until midnight. 

Although the register had closed on 2 January, the governor agreed to a request by the premier, supported by the other MLAs, for an extension until tonight.

With the Christmas and New Year holidays falling close to the end of the official registration period for this quarter, several eligible voters were unable to collect the necessary documents and make it to the office before the deadline. The extended window of opportunity means that any voter who registered after 2 January will now be added to the election list. Anyone who has moved districts must also let the office know before the midnight deadline which district they now reside in if they wish to vote in what is likely to be one of the islands’ most historic elections.

During the final surge on 2 January several hundred people registered and pushed the list to well over 18,000 names. Officials hope that the extra time will see a few more hundred names added to the list, which already represents the largest percentage of voters to population for many years.

As Caymanians no longer need to be naturalized British citizens before they can register to vote, a major barrier was removed and has enfranchised a significant number of people for the forthcoming election. Despite this, it is believed that there are still several thousand people who are entitled to become electors that have still chosen note to register.

A significant number of people and local activists across the political spectrum, as well as the Elections Office itself, have been engaged in a full scale campaign to try and encourage as many of those people as possible to place themselves in a position to vote on election day. Even if they exercise their democratic right not to vote on the day of the poll, the goal has beento ensure all those that are qualified have a choice.

With six seats now available in George Town, for the first time voters in the capital will have more votes than electors in the district of West Bay, which still has four seats, as does with the expanding district of Bodden Town, which now has one more seat than in previous elections.

In light of events in December, which saw the former premier, McKeeva Bush, ousted from office by five of his former UDP colleagues in collaboration with the opposition, and in the wake of Bush’s arrest on suspicion of theft and offences under the anti-corruption law, the political landscape for this election has changed significantly.

While George Town and Bodden Town will remain the key areas where the election is likely to be won and lost, the split between Bush, who remains the leader of the now divided UDP, and the current minority Cabinet has also thrown the district of West Bay open to question.

Despite his circumstances, Bush still commands significant support in his home district but it remains to be seen whether he can continue to carry all three candidates running with him to the LA while two of his his former district colleagues, Rolston Anglin and Cline Glidden, now plan to run against him. The split in the formerly solid UDP vote in the district has created the most significant opportunity for several elections for an opposition or independent candidate to pick up at least one of the four seats in Bush’s own constituency.

Once the register closes this evening, there are just two months to go until the current Legislative Assembly is prorogued on 26 March. Nomination day on 27 March, when the field of candidates across all six districts will declare their hands in what is likely to be a tough campaign with an anticipated record number of people battling it out for the 18 legislative seats in perhaps the last election in which some voters have multiple votes.

Visit the Elections Office website to find out more about the registration process. 

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