Archive for February 28th, 2013

PPM ready for GT fight

PPM ready for GT fight

| 28/02/2013 | 104 Comments

alno_0.jpg(CNS): The Progressives have formally confirmed their six candidates for what is expected to be a major battleground in the May General Election in the capital. At a George Town party meeting Wednesday night the candidates were elected by the party membership after an 11th hour nomination was put forward for a seventh potential candidate. Frank Cornwall was nominated and added to the ballot but in the end the six candidates who had previously been nominated by George Town members were all elected by a majority. Delighted with the final team, Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin said the party was now ready to win all six of the George Town seats.

McLaughlin, Kurt Tibbetts, Lucille Seymour, Kenneth Bryan, Marco Archer and Joey Hew were all confirmed for the capital’s ballot by the party’s GT membership. The opposition leader said the party mechanisms had worked and allowed the opportunity for the candidates to be elected in a democratic process.

However, McLaughlin said that now the team that he will be leading in the capital was confirmed, the hard work would begin. Confident that the Progressives will take George Town but with as many as 30 candidates across four parties or groups, as well as numerous independents, the vote in George Town was bound to be widely split, he said.

“It is going to be something of a wild ride,” the opposition leader told CNS Thursday. “I am increasingly confident of the Progressives' ability to win as we are the only party or group that has confirmed a full six seats in George Town and a national slate of candidates and are numerically capable of forming a viable government. Despite concerns about parties, which have been brought about as a result of the way the UDP has operated over the last four years, sensible people know we need a team in government.”

He added that the Progressives were not only a cohesive group big enough to form a government without having to horse trade, it was the only party, team or group that has already sat down around the table and hammered out policies and programmes and has a shared common philosophy and vision with the experience and capability to implement those policies. “The uncertainty of a disparate group which would be forced to cobble together a government is not something voters want,” he added.

“I don’t say that you can’t run a government without parties but you can’t run anything without a team,” he said. “It requires ten people to form a government in Cayman and whoever forms that government will be bound by collective responsibility.”

Ironically, the people advocating for independents would not operate their business that way as people expect their employees to support company policy, he noted. “A team means that its members are already working together to achieve a common objective. The reality is you have good, bad and different kinds of parties,” he added. McLaughlin said the Coalition for Cayman (C4C) was essentially a type of party but their leadership was a discrete small group of people and voters could not see the behind-the-scenes machinery.

He admitted that parties had to have leadership but in a democratic party it is the party members who decide those leaders and the membership contributes to policy formation in a number of ways.

“When we have major policy issues we discuss and debate them with the national council until we reach a consensus. Once we make policy, the executive is delegated to carry it out,” the Progressives leader said about the way that the PPM does business. “If a policy doesn’t get approval of fit with the philosophical roots of the party, then it won’t work and trying to impose it will see people leave. That’s how the system works.”

The backlash against party politics was based on the erroneous position that all parties are bad because of the UDP, the PPM leader stated. “People have wrongly concluding that once someone joins a political party they all become robots. That’s not true. Why is it that all over the world the political system operates through political parties in a democracy?” he asked rhetorically. “There is good reason as there has to be organisation and mechanism to deliver on political promises, which independents can’t do.

“The UDP is the best example of a bad party as it has really been a support system for a dictator and I never been able to figure out how one is a majority of nine, as no matter what he wanted he got," said McLaughlin.

Nevertheless, in the end some of them realized that they did have the power when they sided with the opposition’s no confidence motion, he noted.

The PPM leader said he did not fear the resurgence of the UDP in the capital and their possible full slate of six candidates and he believed if it were a straight fight between them, the PPM would romp home. However, the opposition leader recognised that with the five Coalition for Cayman candidates who have declared, plus the interim government's expected candidates, as well as the various independents, the number of people running in George Town will split the vote. He warned that in those circumstances no one gets what they want.

With six seats up for grabs and some 7,500 people able to cast six votes, the race was going to be an interesting one but he said he believed the people in the capital would back the PPM as the party enjoyed considerable support. At Monday’s meeting at the Seafarers Hall, he said, it was standing room only as the PPM base in the capital is growing again as the election approaches.

McLaughlin said he believes the Progressives have struck the right balance between political veterans and novices and different types of skills and experience in the team.

“It is the most able team that I see anyone putting out there,” the leader said. “There is often confusion about what being a good representative is really about. Being a successful businessman or a good lawyer or accountant isn’t the only qualification. The most important quality of a representative is compassion. You must care about your people. You need ability, but compassion is critical.”

Being a success in business or in his own legal profession does not necessarily convert to being a successful MLA, he said, adding that while there are several lawyers in the Progressives team, himself included, they are not there just because they are lawyers but because they care about what the people need.

“It is not all about sitting around boardroom tables making decisions,” McLaughlin explained in relation to work in government. “A major part of the job is looking after the interests of your constituents and making the difficult decisions that will help all of your constituents.”

During the meetingMonday the Progressives in George Town nominated the party executive. Anton Duckworth was not seeking nomination as chair this time and Pat Estwick was nominated for that post. Barbara Connolly was nominated as general secretary and Vanessa Godfrey-Banks as treasurer. They will all go forward to be elected at the party conference on 23 March alongside any other district nominees.

With the Bodden Town district slate already confirmed and the Deputy PPM Leader Moses Kirkconnell expected to retain his seat in the Sister Islands, the remaining team members to be nominated are in West Bay, which will be confirmed on 7 March, when the party will reveal its fourth man for the district likely to still be the hardest battleground of all for the Progressives.

Continue Reading

Pigs Trotters Grounded by the Storm

Pigs Trotters Grounded by the Storm

| 28/02/2013 | 0 Comments

aacupw5b (317x400)_0.jpg(CRFU): Round 5 of the Alex Alexander Memorial Trophy did not disappoint as a win for the Century 21 Cayman Storm in the regular season sees that team get their season off to a late start and a big win for the Advance Fire & Plumbing Buccaneers sees them surge into first place in the league standings with only 1 round of games left to decide who will lift the league Trophy for 2013. The 2pm fixture (23 February) between the Cayman Storm and the Queensgate Pigs Trotters saw the Pigs Trotters, still badly bruised from their encounter with the Buccaneers the weekend previous fielding a new look back line with Christopher Haines filling in at 10 for the injured Marco duPlessis.  Photo — Caroline Deegan

The Cayman Storm were also welcoming back many of their 2nd row and back row players who had been lacking in their heavy losses to the Buccaneers and the John Doak Architecture Iguanas.

Buoyed by their fuller squad the Storm took the lead with lock Hugh Williams crashing over the line in what is becoming a trademark swallow dive from only 5 yards out. The Storm extended their lead to 10-0 when Michael Sumares covered the majority of the field in a solo effort to add 5 more points to his teams tally. The Pigs, who had previously this season defeated the Cayman Storm 18-35 managed to get into gear when sending James Waters in for 5 points before throwing all but the kitchen sink at the Storm in the closing moments in search of the win. It wasn’t to be for the Trotters but the lossby less than 7 points saw the Pigs earn what may be an invaluable losing bonus point.

The 2nd encounter of the day between the Iguanas and the Buccaneers saw the Iguanas coming out of the blocks early and looking likely to take control of the game from the outset but the Buccaneers absorbed the pressure well as the Iguanas looked for an early try instead of slotting opportunities for points with the boot. The cooler Buccaneer heads however slotted 6 points from the boot of John Murphy to ease nerves and earn a 6-0 lead going into half time.

The Iguanas then suffered the loss of Shaun Hardcastle and Chris Bunce both going off the field with head injuries leaving a hole at fly half to be filled by Ollie Collins and the mounting pressure and fatigue on the Iguana forwards meant the Buccaneers slowly but surely found their way to the try line and never looked back as 4 Buccaneer forwards including Mick Kehoe, Saviri Tabuniwera, Shaun Gerrard and Stefan Prior bullied their way past the Iguana pack to score and ring in a resounding 30-0 win over the Buccaneers.

The bonus point win for the Buccaneers sees that team take a 2 point lead over the Iguanas in the league table and a win over the Cayman Storm in week 6 will see the Buccaneers raise the league trophy for the first time in 5 seasons. However should the Cayman Storm continue on from their win over the Pigs Trotters with an upset against the Buccaneers then the 4pm Fixture between the Iguanas and the Pigs Trotters may well decide who will win the league.

Next games:2 March 2013
2pm Advance Fire & Plumbing Buccaneers (Home) vs. DHL Cayman Storm (Away)
4pm Queensgate Pigs Trotters (Home) vs. John Doak Architecture Iguanas (Away)Follow Cayman Rugby on Facebook and Twitter @caymanrugby

Continue Reading

Woman dies several hours after single car crash

Woman dies several hours after single car crash

| 28/02/2013 | 10 Comments

(CNS): A 42-year-old woman from West Bay died in the early hours of this morning over four hours after she was involved in a car crash on Mount Pleasant Road last night. The woman was driving a 2001 Toyota Rav4 unaccompanied from the direction of Capt. Reginald Parsons Drive towards the Caribbean Bakery and Grocery. As she approached a slight right hand bend in the vicinity of Pleasant View Apartments, the vehicle veered off the road and collided with the pole at the left side of the bend. The driver was coherent at the scene when the police and medics arrived, but she subsequently died in the early hours of Thursday morning at the George Town hospital.

It is not clear if the woman’s injuries were the cause of her death. Police said that officers on the scene of the accident had noticed that the woman had a laceration to her right foot and only superficial wounds to her face. Other sources said there was little significant damage either to the light pole or the car.

Officers from the RCIPS are continuing the investigation into the crash and anyone with information is asked to contact the investigating officer PC 330 Donovan Chong at 927-1685.

A spokesperson for the police said, “The RCIPS would like to offer to the family of the deceased their deepest sympathy in this time of bereavement.”

Continue Reading

Mac rejects election observers

Mac rejects election observers

| 28/02/2013 | 90 Comments

_DEW9466(1).jpg(CNS): The former premier has revealed his intention to file a private member’s motion in the country’s parliament calling on MLAs to reject the FCO’s request for election observers at Cayman’s general election in May as he says it is part of the UK’s efforts to undermine the country. However, it is not likely to pass as neither the opposition nor the independent members in the House are willing to support the UDP leader’s position. And while the minority government has reserved final judgement, given certain conditions, the Cabinet has already offered its tacit support for the international observers.

Speaking at a UDP public meeting in Bodden Town Tuesday, McKeeva Bush said that observers only go to countries where election problems exist, which was not the case here and this was all about the UK wanting to embarrass Cayman.

However, Alden McLaughlin, the opposition leader, said that the sole reason why the UK had requested that observers come to cover the local elections was because of the former premier’s behaviour in office and the allegations of corruption. The PPM leader said he was disappointed that it had come to this but it was entirely as a consequence of Bush’s poor governance record. He said it was a “bitter irony” that the man who is responsible for the UK asking Cayman to have observers present at the general election would be the one filing a motion to ask the legislatures to reject their request.

“I am disappointed that it has come to this but it is been done because of all the allegations of corruption and the poor governance in Cayman over the last four years,” he said about the UK’s official request. “It is Bush’s conduct that has brought the UK to this point and we must recognise that this is the consequence of poor governance.”

McLaughlin said that, given the circumstances, he had to accept the need for the observers and the PPM members in the House would not support Bush’s motion.

Despite the concerns that this is the case, when he revealed his intention to file the private member's motion Bush made no mention of his own legal difficulties and the allegations of corruption made against him by the authorities. He said the request was designed to embarrass the country and the people should say ‘No’.

The issue was announced at last week’s government press briefing, when the current premier read a letter from the OT minister in London, Mark Simmonds. The correspondence confirmed details of the meeting between the UK and the Cayman in January, when a Cabinet delegation went to London to try and repair the relationship with the mother country after the public spat between Bush and the FCO before he was ousted from power.

The government said it was not opposed in principle to agreeing to the request to allow international observers at the poll, given certain caveats, not least the need to make sure the elections law allowed for it and that it was clear that the independent observers were just that and were not here because of any indications of suspicion, given what happened in December.

Premier Juliana O’Connor -Connolly said government was examining the request but she was inclined to believe that in the end the decision would be in the hands of the supervisor of elections and not local politicians.

However, the supervisor could be persuaded by the position of the incumbents ahead of the poll. Given that the new premier appears to be trying to maintain a much more cordial relationship with the FCO during the few months that she will hold the reins of power until the election, she and her colleagues are unlikely to give Bush’s motion support.

Her deputy, Rolston Anglin, seemed to see the request as acceptable and said observers are now often present during the elections of major democracies and no longer go only to places that are having their first free elections or where there are suspicions of corruption.

North Side MLA Ezzard Miller told CNS that he felt it would ensure everything was above board.  “I support the UK observers for the election. If we have nothing to hide, why not have the observers?” he asked. “And as an additional benefit they may make others think twice about breaking or skirting the anti-corruption provisions of the election law.”

With the current Cabinet already expressing some support for the idea, the PPM blaming Bush for the need in the first place and the independent member for North Side fully in support, it is doubtful that Bush and his three UDP members would sway the election supervisor.

There is considerable support for the observers among the new candidates who will be running for the first time.

Wayne Panton one of the PPM’s new candidates said the PPM’s first timers were, in principle, in favour. “Whether there are specific concerns or not, we do not see a basis for any reasonable objection to having observers and we feel that our election officials shouldfacilitate this,” he said.

There was support too from the C4C candidates in George Town. Winston Connolly said that in maintaining good governance and transparency, election observers provide an additional safeguard in the process of fair and free elections. 

“I await acceptance of the observers by our government and hope that all candidates, officials and the public will work together to ensure that the Cayman Islands is above reproach in our 2013 electoral process,” he added.

His colleague Roy McTaggart agreed, telling CNS that he had no objections to the UK sending election observers. “Cayman has a strong reputation of conducting fair elections and I have every confidence that this election will be no different,” he said.

Jackee Haynes, also running on the C4C platform in the capital, said she too wanted to see the observers welcomed here. “I am in favour of having election observers,” she said. “I believe the upcoming election to be one of historical importance for the future of these islands and I am in favour of ensuring that the process is conducted at the highest levels of good governance, transparency and accountability.”

Meanwhile, Dwene Ebanks, who will be going it alone in Bush’s district, said he was also in favour for a number of reasons. “Officially we have recorded past elections as fair in process. This is an opportunity for us to demonstrate this,” he said, adding that it could be an opportunity to settle long held suspicions. “We have all heard the stories, particularly in my home district West Bay, that calls this process into question and this is an opportunity to put this to bed,” he added.

election cheating.jpgWhile Cayman has enjoyed years of free and fair elections with the count in particular being above suspicion, snags regarding in appropriate influence in the otherwise clean record appeared in George Town in 2009, when UDP party officials were seen handing out small cards to voters before they went into the polling stations with the names and numbers of the four UDP candidates running in the district, which is strictly forbidden on election day. (See CNS report here)

There have also been persistent accusations of vote buying running up to the elections for decades, but the actual vote and count have not been in question. The supervisor of elections, Kearney Gomez, has been commended on many occasions for his exemplary record and has been part of teams assisting other countries to improve their own systems.

Nevertheless, independent observers are becoming increasingly common at many elections, including staunch democracies such as the UK itself, France and even the US, undermining the premier’s position that they only go to country’s suspected to have problems.

No particular reasons were given over why for the first time the UK has asked for observers to be welcomed in Cayman but in a letter to the current premier Mark Simmonds, the overseas territories minister, said it was simply good practice for mature democracies. Recently other Overseas Territories, including the British Virgin Islands as well as the Turks and Caicos Islands, have had foreign observers watch over their elections, although Bermuda recently rejected UK observers during its election.

Rejecting the idea of observers, Bush said Cayman had nothing to hide but the request would give a negative impression of the islands. Ironically, he entirely avoided mentioning his current legal difficulties and his arrest before Christmas on suspicion of a number of offences, including ones relating to corruption. He has said on a number of occasions that the allegations are false and all part of a major UK conspiracy to remove him from power.

Bush, who is due to answer police bail again later next month, was removed from the top job by his party colleagues shortly after the arrest, when five of the former UDP government members voted with the opposition and the independent candidates in favour of a no confidence motion in the  Legislative Assembly filed by opposition leader, Alden McLaughlin. The UDP government then fell, but the opposition leader and both the representatives from the eastern districts agreed to support a quorum for the former UDP members to hold office until the parliament is dissolved ahead of Nomination Day next month.

Despite his problems, Bush has come out fighting and denied all the allegations, saying they are nothing more than trumped up charges of which he will be completely exonerated. He has, however, said publicly on a number of occasions that he expects the police will charge him with something before Election Day.

Related article on CNS:

UK wants CI election watched

Continue Reading