Archive for February 19th, 2013

Local activist plans to fight for West Bay seat

Local activist plans to fight for West Bay seat

| 19/02/2013 | 35 Comments

Mervin Smith (226x300).jpg(CNS): One of the leading campaigners against the ForCayman Investment Alliance and an outspoken opponent of what he says has been the poor representation of the United Democratic Party MLAs in his district has revealed his intention to fight for one of the four seats up for grabs in West Bay. Local plumber, Mervin Smith, has declared as an independent but he has confirmed that he is seeking the endorsement of the Coalition for Cayman. Focusing on the district’s unemployment problem, Smith said he would also be campaigning on the need to promote development that genuinely benefits Caymanians.

“Over the years I have watched our community deteriorate to a level that is no longer acceptable to me. We have gone from a prosperous, relatively crime free country to a country on the precipice of serious social and economic decay,” said Smith, who has been a regular on the local political scene for some time.

A founding member of Truly4Cayman, an organisation for the preservation of the West Bay Road, which is facing imminent closure, Smith said the country needed to engage in development that promotes long-term social and economic benefits for the future generations of the Cayman Islands. 

“We must diversify our economy and promote sustainable development that creates reliable results over the long term,” he added. “We can no longer afford to promote development that only provides short-sighted gains for the country. This economic model is outdated and has left our country requiring continual quick fix solutions for our employment needs.”

With the unemployment rate in his district higher than anywhere else on Grand Cayman, Smith said he plans to work to create more jobs for Caymanians if elected.

“All of our people deserve to earn a liveable wage. Unemployment is a serious problem in West Bay. I want to work with other like-minded representatives to create a more equitable employment system where all citizens have an equal opportunity to the jobs available in our country.”

Pointing to the government’s procurement process, Smith said the system did not currently allow for collective bargaining and so government paid too much for goods and services.

“I want to promote a system of governance that is in keeping with the best practice standards as suggested by the Auditor General’s Office and achieve true accountability within the public sector,” he said. “If the procurement process is not carefully managed it will continue to increase government spending, which creates the knock on effect of higher taxes and a higher cost of living.”

The third child of John and Charity Smith, Mervin Smith grew up in Birch Tree Hill and has been active in his community for the past 16 years. He was the founder of the West Bay Sports Foundation, an organization that looks to provide young Caymanians opportunities through sport and offers them financial assistance when they compete overseas in tournaments and camps. Smith currently lives in West Bay with his family and is the owner of MJS Plumbing Ltd.

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Walkers seeks best young artists

Walkers seeks best young artists

| 19/02/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): In keeping with the firm's commitment to supporting art and educational opportunities for young people in the Cayman Islands, Walkers is hosting a School Art Competition to find the best young artists in Cayman. Since the competition was announced to local schools late last year, budding young artists have been busy submitting their entries. Walkers is offering cash prizes totalling US$15,000 for the schools of the winners and the theme of the competition – 'A Cayman Future' – reflects Walkers' recent move to its new offices on Elgin Avenue.

"As we moved to our new home on Elgin Avenue we wanted to mark this milestone by encouraging students to use their imagination to create fresh, modern pieces of artwork depicting what they think the Cayman Islands will look like in the future," said Antonia Hardy, Managing Partner of Walkers' Cayman Islands office. "We have been delighted by the response from the local schools and some of the themes selected are very imaginative, including the environment, tourism, Cayman's natural beauty and some futuristic space scenes. Overall the standard of entries has been extremely high, which will make judging the competition quite challenging."

Schools from across Cayman, including Cayman Brac have participated with 42 entries received by Walkers at the closing date. There are two age categories – 'Ten to Thirteen' and 'Fourteen to Seventeen' – with a First Prize of US$5,000, a Second Prize of US$1,500 and a Runners-Up prize of US$500 in each category, as well as a special prize of US$1,000 for the school with the 'Best Youngest Artist'.

Ms. Hardy is joined on the Judges' Panel for the competition by well-known local artist Wray Banker, Natalie Urquhart, Director of the Cayman Islands National Gallery and Inga Masjule, Walkers' Global Executive HR Director. Judging will take place in late February, with the winners announced shortly afterwards. An Awards Ceremony will be held in March at Walkers' offices, where the winning pieces of artwork will be unveiled.

Walkers is an active supporter of charitable causes across all the jurisdictions that the firm operates in, with a particular focus on art and educational opportunities for children as well as conservation programmes. Among the initiatives undertaken in Cayman in recent years, Walkers has sponsored the Art@Governors event for the past decade and local dance company Dance Unlimited. The firm has its own Children's Art Club, the 'Walkers Art Club', which is led by the National Gallery.

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Foundation donates lifesaving equipment to Maternity Ward

Foundation donates lifesaving equipment to Maternity Ward

| 19/02/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Caring for Life Foundation (CFLF) donated much needed equipment to the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority’s (HSA) Maternity Ward last month, in the form of four sets of laryngoscopes.The life-saving devices were presented to HSA Chief Executive Officer, Lizzette Yearwood, Nurse Manager of Maternity, Shannon Hydes, and Head of Child Health, Dr. Marilyn McIntyre. Each of the laryngoscopes consists of four elements: lighted scope, battery pack, inflation valve line and balloon pump.


Explaining the importance of this equipment Dr. McIntyre said, “These scopes have a light at the end and help us elevate the infant’s tongue so the doctor can see the vocal cords when entering a breathing tube. The laryngoscopes are smaller than the ones we currently have here in the maternity ward and will be a great asset to the department.”  She added, “We are all very thankful for the Caring for Life Foundation for these generous donations.”

Representatives present from the Caring for Life Foundation present included Wil Pineau, Christine Mathews, Richard Hew and Kim Remizowski.

The Caring for Life Foundation is a community-driven charity that raises funds for equipment and supplies to ensure that Cayman’s healthcare system can respond when medical care is needed. Further information about the Caring for Life Foundation can be found at,

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Constitution threat to election

Constitution threat to election

| 19/02/2013 | 55 Comments

lawsuit.jpg(CNS): Warnings by  North Side MLA Ezzard Miller that the results of the next general election could be challenged because of the language of the constitution as well as the bill of rights may be valid. Attorney General Samuel Bulgin wants to amend the constitution to prevent a possible upset, further undermining the campaign for one man-one vote, and to this end has sent a memo to members of the Legislative Assembly asking for their support to amend section 92 pluralizing the language and making the constitution support the current election system of multi-member constituencies. However, Miller has said he will not support the move and believes it will not prevent election challenges.

The request by the attorney general for the support of members to amend the constitution in section 92, part I, by inserting the words “or elected members” after the words “an elected member” is more than a minor change, Miller said. The North side MLA said it goes to the very heart of the one man-one vote campaign and the inequality of the current system, which was already the subject of a referendum, and as a result it should not be the case that the amendment could be made by way of an order in council.

In addition, Miller said, the addition of “or elected members” cannot change the fact that voters in single member constituencies with one vote are being discriminated against when compared to those voting in George Town, where they will have six.

The independent member stated that the only way to address this sticky problem is to have all voters at the next election cast just one vote. Miller explained that, because there was no time to address the multi-member constituency problem, the top six candidates in George Town would be elected and the top four in Bodden Town and West Bay. He said the elections law needs to be amended accordingly.

“It will be a lot easier for Election Office officials and candidates to teach people in the capital that they have just one vote rather than six," he said. “The inequality issue will not be addressed by altering this clause, as section 16 of the Bill of Rights is still an issue regarding equality. The attorney general’s proposal won’t prevent challenges under the Bill of Rights. This is a Band-Aid approach.”

Miller also noted that this move would “enhance the current situation” when the majority of people had voted against the status quo during the July referendum, which lost because of the artificially high bar set by the former UDP government.

“I do not think this is a minor amendment,” Miller said. “Especially as this was the subject of a referendum. I disagree entirely with this proposition,” he said.

Although the AG states in his memo that he believes that the existing language in the constitution would withstand a challenge, he said it was more advisable “to proactively seek to avert any potential which could conceivably be protracted and expensive.” Bulgin points out that to make a change to the constitution by order in council, the UK would require wide support from all elected members, which is not the case.

While the minority government has confirmed that its members agree and the UDP members are also believed to be in support of the AG’s suggestion, Miller is not alone in his opposition to the move. Arden McLean also opposes the amendment and Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin stated that the PPM would not support such a constitutional change so close to the election.

“The optics of this are all bad,” McLaughlin said, adding that it was inappropriate to make such a move at such a late stage.

See memo from the AG below.

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UK expert to help with revenue forecasting

UK expert to help with revenue forecasting

| 19/02/2013 | 27 Comments

1981503_stock-photo-error-word-on-calculator-inaccurate-bad-data-glitch.jpg(CNS): As the Cayman government continues its struggle to balance the public books, another technocrat has arrived from the UK to assist. The latest British consultant is an expert in cash revenue forecasting, which has been one of the government’s main problems. Since the economic downturn began in 2008, budget predictions made locally have proved to be completely inaccurate and hampered both the PPM and UDP administrations’ ability to manage the public purse. The finance consultant arrived on Thursday and will be on Island for two weeks. According to the minutes from the deputy governor’s 11 February meeting, he will be assisting with forecasting.

The visit by the consultant, who was not named, has been paid for by the UK and is another element of the efforts by the FCO to keep Cayman on its budget track. This year there can be no additional appropriations to the government’s budget, and although the interim government managed to secure a short-term extension to the overdraft facility, there can be no further borrowing.

Revenue expectations for this budget are extremely high, but if the track record of poor forecasting continues, the government could find itself in difficult circumstances as the year end approaches, at a time when the interim government will be facing a general election from what is already a position of weakness. A poor showing in the budget will further undermine the former UDP members' chances of re-election, as well as that of their former UDP colleagues.

According to the latest minutes released by the governor’s office for the 11 February meeting with civil service heads, the Expenditure Review Committee has also submitted recommendations on the budget, which have been accepted by Cabinet, though the details were not revealed.

Meanwhile, a draft policy on voluntary redundancies in the civil service has now been drawn up in consultation with CICSA and the Public Service Pensions Board. Chief officers have been asked to review the draft and provide feedback in two weeks.

An update on Phase IV of the Public Service Review and potential spending cuts is also expected at the next deputy governor’s meeting.

Cutting spending and managing revenue will be crucial to the next administration as the global economy shows no sign of any significant upturn. With all of the candidates campaigning against any kind of new or increased taxes, cuts in public services and public jobs wil be the only way government will be able to stick within the extremely tight parameters set by the UK to reduce Cayman’s debt over the next three years. To do that, politicians will need the support and cooperation of a more able civil service and will need much more accurate predictions when it comes to calculating how much revenue government is likely to raise in a given year .

See deputy governor’s meeting minutes from 11 Feb below.

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Lions Club Walking Workout this Sunday

Lions Club Walking Workout this Sunday

| 19/02/2013 | 0 Comments

(LCTG): The Lion’s Club of Tropical Gardens is hosting its ‘Walking Workout’ fundraiser at Camana Bay this coming Sunday, 24th February. All participants will receive a Lions t-shirt and can register at the observation tower at Camana Bay this Saturday between 9am and 6pm, on the morning of the event, or online at:

Registration forms can also be email to

See links below to the route map, flyer and registration form. 

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Race for Rugby League title gets closer

Race for Rugby League title gets closer

| 19/02/2013 | 0 Comments

(CRFU): After 4 weeks of top notch rugby action in South Sound the Advance Fire and Plumbing Buccaneers have slowly but surely climbed their way from last place in the opening week of games to 2nd place, with only 2 weeks of the Alex Alexander Memorial Trophy action left in the domestic Rugby season. Having already secured the Heineken Charity Shield with a 2 point win over the Century 21 Cayman Storm, the Buccaneers faltered in the opening league game with a 25-10 loss to the John Doak Architecture Iguanas.

They were held to a 17-17 draw by the Queensgate Pigs Trotters in week 2, but turned their season around in week 3 with an impressive 52-6 win over the Century 21 Cayman Storm, followed quickly by one of the best games of the domestic season in which they defeated the Pigs Trotters 20-11.

The win over the Pigs Trotters, mingled with a week 4 win for the Iguanas over the Cayman Storm saw The Iguanas jump back into first place in the league table, hanging on to a slim 3 point lead while the Buccaneers jumped into second place over the Pigs Trotters on points difference.

The Buccaneers have hit their stride at the right time because a win over the John Doak Iguanas in week 5 could secure them the league trophy, making the Buccaneers the first ever team to hold both the Charity Shieldand the Alex Alexander Memorial Trophy at the same time. The only team to manage something similar was the DHL Cayman Storm, when that in 2010 they held both the Charity Shield and the Waterford Vase (now sponsored by DART).

It looks like it will be a fight to the death as the Iguanas look for their first trophy of the season and a potentially record equalling 5th league trophy victory. Meanwhile the Buccaneers, if they win, will not only have their 6th league trophy but will be well on course to win the first ever “treble” in domestic Rugby history.  

The early fixture on 16 February saw the struggling Century 21 Cayman Storm succumb to their 2nd heavy loss of the season, a crushing 48-3 to the John Doak Architecture Iguanas. The Storm, missing key players in the second and back row and Simon Crompton at scrum half, welcomed back talisman Vanassio Tokotokovanua from long term injury, but the inclusion of the fleet footed Fijian did little to improve the Storm’s fortunes as the absences in the Storm pack meant little lineout ball or scrum ball to work with. When the Iguanas fed the ball with misplaced kicks to the Storm back-line the likes of Keswick Wright, Baron Solomon and Tokotokovanua did cause the Iguanas defence issues but a lone Josh Brown penalty kick resulted in the only points the Storm recorded on the day as the Iguanas ran in 48 unanswered points. The Storm, unfazed by the mounting points deficit, did put in big hits wherever possible thanks to Captain Jacob Macadam, Claudio Sarfati and Hugh Williams.

Whilst the Iguanas win was a tale of one way traffic, the Buccaneers clash against the Pigs Trotters was a tale of two finely balanced rugby teams, one used to winning big games and the other more used to sitting at the bottom of the league table.

The opening minute of the game set the tone for a tough match as the Pigs Trotters lost 2 players and conceded a converted try to the Buccaneers when a big hit on Pigs Trotter scrum half Iain Currie saw him spill the ball to Addae Andrews to run in for the score. Currie’s first touch of the ball was to be his last as the hard blow lead to his removal from the field of play with a concussion, whilst Pig’s young winger Mark Westin broke a finger seeing his match also end early. Unfazed by the early set back the Trotters looked to their bench, made the necessary personnel changes and were soon on the score board themselves when scrum half Neil Montgomery found his way through the strong Buccaneers back line defence.

A Marco du Plessis penalty kick saw the Pigs ring in the half time whistle with the slimmest lead of 8-7.

The second half was also a tight affair but the Buccaneers game plan lead to two unconverted tries and a penalty kick from Mick Kehoe, Paul Murphy and John Murphy compared to a lone drop goal to du Plessis of the Trotters.

The final points of the game, a John Murphy penalty kick denied the Pigs Trotters an all-important losing bonus point.

Whilst the Iguanas top the table with 14 points and the Buccaneers and Pigs sit on 11 points, the top 3 teams know that 2 more wins for any of the top 3 will very likely seal the league!

The next games text place on 23rd February, Century 21 Cayman Storm (Home) vs. Queensgate Pigs Trotters (Away) at 2pm and John Doak Architecture Iguanas (Home) vs. Advance Fire & Plumbing Buccaneers (Away) at 4pm.

Cayman Rugby can be followed on Facebook or on Twitter, @caymanrugby.

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Road deal concerns mount

Road deal concerns mount

| 19/02/2013 | 158 Comments

790.jpg(CNS): Campaigners trying to keep the West Bay Road open have voiced their concern that the imminent closure will set a very dangerous precedent for Cayman and the entire community. Despite the opposition to it, with more than 4000 people signing a petition against the closure, the new government has refused to meet with protestors to review the information they have gathered. While the interim government and the UDP candidates are backing the closure, North Side MLA Ezzard Miller is far from being alone in his political opposition. Along with the PPM candidates, two of the independent candidates in George Town have also voiced their concerns over the value and process of the deal.

The ForCayman Investment Alliance deal is likely to be an important campaign issue, but when contacted by CNS about their position on the issue, many of the independent candidates remained silent. However, Jude Scott, who is running on the C4C platform in George Town, expressed his concern about the lack of transparency surrounding the deal and the expected closure. 

“Government has failed to provide the necessary transparency to demonstrate to the people of the Cayman Islands that the government has gone through due process, made a proper analysis of value for money, or provided tangible and sustainable benefits to Cayman and Caymanians to support that the transaction is in the best interest of the Country,” Scott said. Saying that it’s too late was unacceptable, he added.

“A good government should at all times understand what exit strategies and remedies are available to it regarding all significant transactions and should never proceed past 'the point of no return' until the government has sufficient evidence to satisfy itself, and can demonstrate to the people of the country, that to proceed is in the best interest of the country,” he said.

For some time now, independent MLAs Ezzard Miller and Arden McLean have been vocal about their significant concerns about the process and the closure. Miller said this week that the size of the road being closed and the importance of the road makes it very different from the usual road closures which were used as illustrations recently by the current Cabinet members. Miller has stated that after the May election he will do all he can to overturn the NRA deal with Dart and re-open the road as he believes the agreement is not legally binding.

Although a former member of the UDP, the party that orchestrated the deal, Matthew Leslie, who has announced his intention to now run as an independent in George Town, said he did not believe the deal provided good value for money either, pointing to some questionable issues surrounding the FCIA.

“The fact that the people were misled on the actual length of road being given up is of concern to me,” he said, adding that it made sense for Dart as the highway extension was is in the interests of their development but he believed it could have been accomplished without sacrificing the beach land.

Leslie said government had been “too quick to jump” at any offer that came its way. He said, “There must come a point where government must ask, 'Is this good for the people? I only hope that Dart will show good faith in allowing this land that went from being crown property to now being 'corporate property' to be used for the good of the people as promised,” he said.

Meanwhile, both of the PPM candidates running in West Bay said their party position was that there needs to be two roads running from the district, not least because of its significance to the tourism product. Woody DaCosta pointed to the days when traveling to and from West Bay took at least one hour, which was behind the former PPM administration’s move to start the EsterleyTibbetts Highway.

“The Progressives maintain that this second thoroughfare laid the foundation for the new tourism products that came online, such as but not limited to the Dolphin Attractions and Camana Bay, and now a marked increase in stay over tourism in almost one decade,” DaCosta said, noting that visitors do not like traffic jams. “This closure takes us back several steps,” he said, warning that "the Bridge" will become a bottle neck.

“The simple fact is that the UDP government failed on all fronts to adequately and satisfactorily negotiate an agreement that offers the people of the Cayman Islands equally long term benefits as it does Dart Realty and the Progressives have questioned the legality and validity of such an agreement,” he added.

DaCosta’s West Bay PPM running mate, Ray Farrington, said he failed to see the need to close any of the road.

“With the intended speed limit reduction and the installation of traffic calming measures to automatically enforce the limit, the entire 'old' road would become the visitor friendly, safer thoroughfare our tourist product needs,” he said. “Future beautification would only make it more pleasant, enhance the use of all of the beach area amenities and promote other future developments. I fail to see how this scenario prevents or detracts from any proposed development. Once a section is closed, we lose this opportunity forever.”

Farrington also raised concerns that the public has not seen the details of the arrangement before what could be irreversible action is taken.

Paul Rivers, one of the main activists in the campaign to keep the road open, said that the various groups opposing the closure are meeting to coordinate their next move in the face of the imminent closure.

“We are very disappointed that the new government has been unable or unwilling to renegotiate this very mysterious and questionable deal,” he said, adding that the Cabinet members have refused to meet with the protest groups. “This is a very serious precedent that is being set. If this closure goes through, then there is nothing that cannot be taken from the Caymanian people.”

Rivers accused Dart of “blatantly” disregarding the views of a significant number of people affected by what the activists refer to as a “steal” and not a deal.

“Money talks and roads get closed, thanks entirely to the UDP and all who support them.  With the closure of this section of the road, it’s a dark indictment on the government’s lack of foresight for the safety of the West Bay people, should an accident or natural disaster make that one exit from the district impassable. One way in, one way out … over a bridge that is not impervious,” he warned. “We will continue to speak out about this and future initiatives by the Dart Group as we scrutinize every deal to ensure that Caymanians and our country are not taken advantage of once again.”

However, he said it wasn’t just the campaigners that had to keep speaking out; the Cayman people need to wake up and educate themselves on every deal that affects the country. “We cannot be so complacent to think that our government or especially the developers are here for our betterment and future,” he added.

Len Layman, another member of the campaign, raised his continued fears that the rush to close the road before the people see the results of the independent review, illustrate how poor the deal really is.

“They know the longer they put it off the more likely the truth will come out and the people will see how much Dart benefits and the people lose,” he said. “They feel they need to get it closed now or lose the ‘steal’. If they were comfortable that what they are doing is correct they would not have to push it through like this.”

Meanwhile, Alice Mae Coe, a leader of the Truly4Cayman group, said that the minority government was not being 'transparent', as they claim. “It is crystal clear that they are following the same agenda as their predecessor, who loudly stated in a public meeting promoting and supporting the whole FCIA package deal as far back as August/Sept 2011 that,'The road is going to be closed, you're not going to stop it!' she said, referring to comments made by McKeeva Bush, the former premier.

The minority government of former UDP members is still backing the Dart deal and has stated that the first part of the proposed section of the West Bay Road which it has swapped with Dart as part of the ForCayman Investment Alliance will close in a matter of days but no date has yet been given. The rest of the road is expected to close in the next few weeks as Dart continues work on the new section of the Esterley Tibbetts by-pass, including the bridge.

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Sudden death of tourist under investigation

Sudden death of tourist under investigation

| 19/02/2013 | 3 Comments

(CNS): The RCIPS is currently investigating the circumstances of the sudden death of a visitor to the Cayman Islands at a Seven Mile Beach hotel. Police and paramedics responded to a report of a female visitor in distress at the Westin Hotel at around 11.10 Monday night (18 February). The 61 year-old woman was with her husband who rendered CPR which, a police spokesperson said, was continued by paramedics on their arrival. The woman was transported by ambulance to the George Town Hospital where medical staff continued the attempts at resuscitation but were unsuccessful and the woman was pronounced dead. Police gave no other details regarding the circumstances of the woman's death

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Postal and mobile voters urged to apply ASAP

Postal and mobile voters urged to apply ASAP

| 19/02/2013 | 5 Comments

cartoon_postbox.jpg(CNS): With thirteen weeks to go before the national poll this May, the Elections Office is keeping ahead of the game and is urging voters who want to be treated as a postal or mobile elector to begin submitting their applications now. The office reminded students who will be overseas on Election Day, which is 22 May, to apply early so they will receive their postal vote immediatly following Nomination Day, 27 March, when the first postal ballots will be issued once the list of candidates for all the districts is revealed. Voters unable to go in person to the polling station are also being advised to begin the application process as soon as possible.

The last date for applications to be received from electors seeking to vote by post or mobile polling will be two weeks ahead of Election Day on 9 May.

With more than 18,000 voters and an anticipated long list of potential candidates in the larger districts, the Elections Office is gearing up for a busy election day. In order to keep the voting moving and lines down to a minimum to ensure the polls close on time facilitating the start of the count, the office will be hoping to have all elements of the election run smoothly and efficiently.

Anyone who is likely to be in a hospital, rest home or other similar institution or because they are geriatrics at home can be treated as a mobile voter. Also voters who will not be able to go in person to the polling station because of the general nature of their occupation, service or employment may also apply to be treated as mobile voters. The Elections Office is particularly encouraging elderly and other physically challenged electors to take advantage of this opportunity.

Both forms, B for postal votes and C for mobile votes, along with all other information about the General Election can be found on the Elections Office’s website

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