Archive for March 15th, 2013

Officials warn candidates to check qualification

Officials warn candidates to check qualification

| 15/03/2013 | 28 Comments

kearney gomez.JPG(CNS): With questions over the legitimacy of at least two candidates who are planning to run in the forthcoming general election, the elections office is reminding all would-be candidates to check their qualification to run for office before nomination day. Kearney Gomez, the supervisor of elections said that both the nominator and the candidate will be committing an offence if they sign the relevant papers and turn out not to eligible to run for office. The elections boss reminded all candidates who intend to stand for office in the 22 May poll that the onus is on them to ensure they follow the election law and the constitution.

“Both candidates and their nominators are committing an offence and could face fines of as much as $5000 if they go through the nomination process only to find afterwards they are not qualified,” he said. “The candidates must take responsibility to ensure they are in compliance and qualified to be elected. The Elections Office has produce a candidates pack which are available at the office and is an essential A-Z for anyone running for office and particularly helpful to first time candidates,” the Supervisor added.

“We have had a few candidates come and buy one but I recommend all the others come and collect what is a comprehensive package and will ensure there are no excuses about what is expected of candidates,” he added.

The office will also be holding training sessions for candidates after nomination day to ensure that everyone running for office knows what they have to do by when and why.

See related story: Elections Office makes kits for candidates:

Continue Reading

Gender gaps in health

Gender gaps in health

| 15/03/2013 | 3 Comments

From birth to death, human beings experience a wide range of emotional, psychological and physical experiences that shape our lives and inevitably can affect the state of our health and well-being. These experiences and our reactions to them can be quite different depending on whether you are a boy or a girl, or a woman or man.

Males and females are socialised by parents, caregivers, peers, intimate partners, spouses, schools, religious institutions and the media to have certain stereotypical emotions, perceptions, and behaviours. These are known as our gender roles, and they often influence the way each sex deals with emotions, forms thoughts and ultimately how we behave and interact with one another.

Gender Roles and Behaviours

For males in the Western world, traditional gender roles typically promote and expect boys and men to be active, aggressive, and express anger, but not to openly display sadness. We have all heard our boy children being scolded and told messages “don’t cry” or “don’t be a sissy” when they injure themselves, and Caymanian seafarers can relate to coming of age in an era of “wooden ships and iron men.” These traditional male gender roles are considered masculine, and when these behaviours are taken to the extreme, they may be used to attain goals without engaging in the process of social interactions (e.g. bullying, violent crimes, involvement in gangs, etc.).

Conversely, traditional feminine gender roles encourage girls and women to be passive and yield to the needs of others and authority (e.g. “be seen and not heard”, provide caregiving for children and elderly, volunteer to assist with community needs). Girls and women are allowed to express sadness, but it is frowned upon if anger or aggressiveness is openly expressed by females.

Additionally, when females assert themselves in a positive manner to look out for their own needs, this is often perceived negatively by others and labels or “who does she think she is” looks are doled out.

These traditional expectations of how males and females are supposed to behave and react to situations and problems are in opposition, creating very rigid gender roles that influence how males and females are expected to live their lives. Traditional attitudes about gender roles can leave persons feeling confined to their ascribed ‘gender box’, and when they are not allowed the opportunity to experience and display the entire range of human emotions and behaviours, there can be negative effects to their health and well-being.

Traditional Gender Roles and Health 

Research from the United States suggests that gender role socialisation influences a person’s vulnerability to the level of stress and distress experienced as a result of life experiences and problems and the need to fulfill gender role expectations. Traditional feminine gender role attitudes have been linked to turning distress inward and internalising problem behaviors in females. Specifically, women report higher levels than men of psychological distress, depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and somatic complaints.

In the Cayman Islands, the 2010 Census of Population and Housing revealed that our women are similarly internalising this distress. The prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases like asthma and diabetes was higher among females and this gender gap was widest in regards to high blood pressure. Among females, 106 of every 1,000 reported having high blood pressure compared to 71 of every 1,000 males.

For males, traditional masculine gender roles encourage boys and men to deal with issues by externalising problem behaviours. Impulsivity, sensation seeking, risk-taking and other anti-social behaviours have different and often times more deadly health consequences, including accidents, injuries and early death.

It is these limited ways of dealing with problems that lead to different negative effects on health when females internalise problem behaviours and males externalise problem behaviours.

Seeking Assistance for Health and Well-being

The 2010 Census data did reveal positive news in regards to gender and health. There was virtually no gender disparity regarding access to health insurance between men and women overall. It is only when comparing Caymanians and non-Caymanians that minimal gaps are evident. Caymanian females were more likely than Caymanian males to have health insurance, and conversely, non-Caymanian males were more likely to have health insurance than non-Caymanian females.

While males and females in the Cayman Islands seem to have equitable access to health services, gender roles often influence whether or not they access services or seek preventative care for physical and mental health matters.

More flexible gender roles need to be encouraged which allow girls and women to express themselves, look after the needs of others without sacrificing their own health and well-being, and seek solutions to their problems instead of internalising them. Boys and men need to hear that is okay to express sadness and to deal with anger in a healthy manner instead of expressing it through violence, risk taking or anti-social behaviour. Males also need to be encouraged to take preventative physical and mental health measures instead of subscribing to the ideology that seeking assistance makes them less masculine.

When all individuals are taught and allowed to experience the full range of human emotions in a healthy manner – without either internalising or externalising their problems – then we will close the current gender gaps in health status and experience a healthier society overall.

Continue Reading

LA rejects Mac’s motion

LA rejects Mac’s motion

| 15/03/2013 | 84 Comments

mac pointing.jpg(CNS): The government, the opposition and the independent members all voted ‘No’ to the private member’s motion filed by the former premier Thursday, asking for government to refuse the request from the UK to invite election observers to Cayman. At around 10pm last night legislators rejected McKeeva Bush’s motion but the beleaguered former premier didn’t go down without a fight. With the election just ten weeks away, the debates on all four of the private members’ motions looked more like campaigning than policy debate but the final motion of the day was the one which saw tempers fray on the now crowded opposition bench.

Tabling his motion to have government refuse to invite a team of international election observers to come to Cayman for the election, Bush said the UK government had raised the issue with him as well and he had asked them why it was necessary when the election process here was without any problems. The UDP leader argued that observers only go to places where there are known or suspected problems or to emerging democracies. He said no one here has ever made a request for observers as there have never been any threats to voters or problems with elections here, which he said have been free and fair.

Despite the persistent rumours of vote buying and undue influence on voters for decades, Bush said observers should only come by invitation and there were many problems associated with their presence, as he laid a book before the parliament that detailed the process of election observation.

“There is a lot entailed in observers," he said, adding that it was not just a matter of sending people a few weeks before the poll and that a whole range of things needed to be done to make it credible. Having been involved in ten general elections and a candidate in seven, he said he was well versed about the process. However, he described the past when there were no political parties as “mayhem” and said he has seen voters punched in the face when they said they had voted for the wrong person.

Observers could smearCayman’s reputation and were only invited where there were historical problems or systemic problems and where the scope and coverage of a mission was established. “We have a good system,” he said as he praised the election officials and said that candidates all behave well.

As a contingency against government rejecting his motion, he said, if observers must come he had a preference for regional representatives and offered potential names, including the former Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson.

When his motion was rejected, he accused the current premier of agreeing to the idea because she wanted to please the governor because of her minority government, as he referred to her washing his feet on his first visit to Cayman Brac. He lambasted his political colleagues for not supporting it as he said that the observers go where there is massive election fraud. “They go to places like Haiti and Angola where results are not heard for days because of the massive fraud,” he exclaimed.

He hit out at Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin, who said he believed the request by the UK was as a result of the complete loss of trust in government over the last four years and the numerous questionable actions of the premier and his UDP administration.
Bush accused Alden McLaughlin of persistently trying to undermine his government instead of trying to help, and because of “weak people” in the UDP government, the “so-called leader of the opposition” had succeeded.

“Let them investigate me; they have found nothing,” Bush said as he referred to the more than three police investigations relating to accusations of theft and corruption made against him that had led to his arrest in December. “Iknow why I was removed and the whole world knows it,” he said. “I have done nothing illegal.”

Defending his record in office and the controversial decisions, including the infamous Cohen loan deal, he blamed what he called the "stopaholics", who he said were petitioning against everything, which he described as a serious sickness. 

He said government was not supporting him and going along with the governor, whom he accused of dividing the local politicians.

“Now it’s a pitiful mess, where we are so divided and conquered, where we have a government and an opposition and an opposition to the opposition,” he said.

Bush said he brought the motion because “we are taking enough licks from them up there”, referring to the UK officials. The only reason why the FCO wanted observers was so they could find a way to smear the Cayman Islands, Bush said, and it was not about endorsing what other members had referred to as a gold plated election system.

“They are coming to look for wrong," he said, adding that he would not trust anyone coming to the country from the FCO.

With only his remaining UDP team supporting him, while the government, opposition and independents rejected his proposition, Bush’s motion failed. Echoing comments she made at a press briefing recently, the premier said government was still looking at how the observers could be facilitated within local legislation. She said it was becoming normal practice in many countries, including major leading democratic nations. 

Juliana O’Connor Connolly pointed out that it was in the new UK whitepaper on its overseas territories. However, if observers came, government would want people from the region. She refuted the idea that observers imply the process is inadequate and said welcoming them demonstrated the confidence a government had in it system and become a “badge of pride”. She added that there was a global trend towards observers as it demonstrated strength and commitment to democracy.  “We have not made a decision but I believe it would be more negative to say 'no'," she added

McLaughlin said he failed to understand what the former premier objected to when the system is as robust as everyone believes. But he said there was a loss of confidence in the probity of government following so many headlines about the failure to follow proper process and the lack of transparency. But 22 May signalled a fresh start when a new government could begin putting behind it the reputational questions that have arisen over the last three and a half years.

“I would have thought he would be the last person to suggest that we should not have observers that could give us a certificate of good standing, as despite the rot in government our election process is solid and robust, capable of delivering a true and fair result,” McLaughlin said, adding he was always astounded at the audacity of Bush, “but this one takes the cake.”

He said any concerns about how it looked would be short lived and erased with a clean report from the observers confirming a good, solid, system with a fair and reliable result, free of fraud and intimidation.

The opposition leader said it could be what Cayman needed to lift it from the depths that its reputation has sunk.

Continue Reading

C4C candidate hopes to build support in BT

C4C candidate hopes to build support in BT

| 15/03/2013 | 64 Comments

Kent McTaggart candidate for Bodden Town (225x300).jpg(CNS): Updated — Kent McTaggart has thrown his hard hat into the political ring and will be fighting for one of four seats in Cayman’s fastest growing district on the C4C ticket. The first candidate to be endorsed by the group in Bodden Town McTaggart said his dream for Cayman is a country defined by trust, honesty, responsibility and respect. Adopting a mantra that is increasingly popular with many candidates, in a release announcing his intentions to run, McTaggart said he wanted to re-establish trust in government. With a 20-year career in construction, he said he would be refocusing his experience in managing diverse, complex projects to the cause of serving Cayman and its people.

“Cayman is our home and I am passionate about building a bright future for our children. It is time for me to step forward and defend the values of Caymanians,” McTaggart said.

Should McTaggart be elected, he said his first task would be to identify the true fiscal position of the country. “Running major construction projects – that include the management of budgets, labour pools, procurement processes and client relationships — has taught me to always look for better, more efficient ways to get things done,” he explained. “I’ll bring that experience with me to the Legislative Assembly.”

He said that managing large teams had also taught him how to unify and coordinate the efforts of diverse personalities towards a common goal, and he believes this is what the country needs to pull together and put Cayman first.

“Teams perform best when they work together,” said the would-be politician. “The best decisions for Cayman will come from lively, honest, respectful discussion that is centred on a common goal — to do what’s best for Cayman,” he said. “Our actions today will affect our tomorrow and that is why it’s time for us all to take pride, be responsible and provide our future generations with the opportunities they deserve.”

Talking about the key campaign issue in Bodden Town, McTaggart told CNS that he was opposed to the relocation of Grand Cayman’s landfill to the heart of his district.

"I am opposed to moving the waste of the entire country to Bodden Town," he said.  "I am completely in favor of mandatory recycling, as I truly believe this is the only solution for our refuse issues.'

Gregg Anderson, who has also sought endorsement from Coalition for Cayman has also made it clear he will be opposing the relocation of the dump, as do all four of the Progressive candidates, who are expected to make a strong showing in the district.

So far, the UDP candidates as well as the interim cabinet members, Dwayne Seymour and Mark Scotland, who are being dubbed the "UDP Lite", will all be campaigning in support of the Dart proposal to move the landfill. While there are many challenges for the country’s historic capital, which will be returning four members to the Legislative Assembly at this election, the question of the landfill will be taking centre stage on the Bodden Town campaign trail.

CNS Note: In reference to queries regarding Kent McTaggart's eligibility, the candidate has told CNS that he is confident he is qualified under Section 61.3 of the elections law.

Continue Reading

Former party official pushes independent message

Former party official pushes independent message

| 15/03/2013 | 40 Comments

baraud (215x300).jpg(CNS): Stefan Baraud, who is going it alone in the May general election, pushed the message about the value of independent candidates when he launched his campaign at his new HQ in George Town on Thursday. Once the chairman of the United Democratic Party’s George Town committee, the former party official distanced himself, not just from his former political colleagues but the principle of party politics as well, as he opened his bid for a seat in the capital. Baraud, the former Port Authority board chair who had a public split with the leader of the UDP and former premier over the cruise development, attracted around 100 people to his first appearance on the hustings and delivered a well-received short political speech.

He spoke about the scandals that have plagued public officials and government leaders, who he said have let Cayman down, as well as the many challenges that governments in the past have failed to address. Baraud said that both the political parties had promised a lot but achieved very little. He told the audience that a vote for an independent candidate was not a wasted vote.

Baraud called on voters to support other independent candidates but he didn’t indicate which independents (those on C4C ticket or those going it alone) his voters should give their remaining five votes to.

If elected, Baraud said he would support the National Conservation Law, all legislation that stamps out corruption and restore trust in government, and preserve the local culture among many other issues, which are now laid out in full on his campaign website.

Baraud’s debut appearance on the campaign platform was greeted with enthusiasm from the crowd of younger Caymanians, which was also dotted with former and current UDP supporters as well as Baraud’s replacement on the UDP George Town committee, Kenny Rankin.

However, there was no sign of any green on Baraud’s platform as the George Town entrepreneur has gone for gold with his campaign colours, and what it likely to end up being the most stylish t-shirt on the 2013 campaign trail.

Continue Reading

2nd West Bay Rd action filed

2nd West Bay Rd action filed

| 15/03/2013 | 45 Comments

IMG-20130112-00424 (240x300)_0.jpg(CNS): A West Bay resident has filed a legal action against the closure of a stretch of the West Bay Road as part of a proposed deal with local developer Dart and has received legal aid to do so. Rupert Ackerman has filled the second legal challenge to the closure against government and the National Roads Authority, which is seeking a judicial review to prevent the government from implementing any of the deal it struck with Dart Cayman Realty ltd in December 2011 in relation to the ForCayman Investment Alliance. It is understood that the applicant was granted legal aid to bring the action, which aims to quash the entire deal.

Ackermon claims that the government and NRA’s decision to sign the deal and the subsequent actions from it, such as closing the West Bay Road are erroneous in law, unconstitutional and contrary to the principals of natural justice. The applicant is asking for the West Bay to be kept open and for the crown land to remain the people’s property

In the grounds of the application Ackermon says the respondents were not lawfully entitled to make the deal and have acted “unfairly and procedurally improperly” and that the decision was unreasonable.

In a relatively short application Ackermon says government has not acted lawfully or rationally and failed to “provide open and accountable government.

Legally, the applicant said, the agreement is contrary to the Governor (Vesting of Lands) Law 2005 and that government failed to follow proper procedure or provide adequate opportunity for those affected to make representations.

In reference to the timing, the applicant points out that every effort was made to persuade government not to act and to avoid legal proceedings but every attempt at dialogue was ignored, as were requests for information. He also states that there was considerable difficulty in securing both funding and representation for the action.

The writ was filed by Campbells, who have instructed local QC Neil Timms.

The action follows one by a group of four women in West Bay, who filed a writ of summons on 25 February claiming, among many other issues, that the closure of the West Bay road would constitute a breach of the bill of rights.

Following the filing of action by the new owners of the Ritz Carlton the minority administration is now facing three high profile costly writs that it will be forced to deal with, which are a result of actions or inaction during the period since the new premier took the helm of government.

See the West Bay Road writ and judicial review as well as the Ritz Carlton action below.

Continue Reading