Archive for April 9th, 2013

Dump EIA is a ‘whitewash’ say BT Activists

| 09/04/2013 | 79 Comments

(CNS): Opponents of the plan to relocate Grand Cayman’s landfill to Bodden Town have described the environmental statement which was released to the public yesterday as a whitewash. The length of the document, at 1887 pages, makes it impossible for the public to digest and ensures controversies are “well camouflaged”, one of the leaders of the Coalition to Keep Bodden Town Dump free said in a release. Alain Beiner believes, however, that there was no hiding the fact that the proposal is nothing more than a clone of the George Town landfill and a long way from a promised modern eco-waste-management site.

Arlene Whittaker, another coalition leader, said the EIA notes the impact of the proposed site on the district’s traffic volumes, among other issues, as activists have long claimed, as well as odour problems. But she said these are “glossed over with assurances that they will be mitigated. But, with the new landfill to be operated by  the same government department that currently runs the GT landfill with even less of a budget, things are unlikely to improve, she said..

Former Cabinet minister and candidate for the district, Charles Clifford, said the report ignores the needless waste of travel time, truck fuel, wear-and-tear of roads and vehicles, the increased noise, pollution and safety hazards involved in the additional truck mileage, or about the spike in illegal dumping, which is to be expected by moving the dump so far from the island’s main population base.

“On the contrary,” Clifford said, “not only are these negative impacts ignored, but the report’s summary identify as ‘significant factors’ in the choice of site location, its ‘remote location’ and the 'presence of nearby quarry operations’. One can’t help but question the values and priorities of the Dart Group and its hired help. The substantial residential community in neighbouring Midland Acres doesn’t seem to count at all. The proposed site is certainly ‘remote’ from Dart’s Camana Bay and from the main source of Grand Cayman’s trash, but it certainly is not ‘remote’ from these residents or from the thousands living in BT.”

Clifford said government had an overriding duty to represent and protect the public from developers that consider the community’s interests secondary. “The government and in particular Minister Scotland and Minister Seymour have failed in their duty to their community and have placed Dart’s interests above those of our people.”

Mark Scotland has still offered some support for the BT dump plan, but recently brushed the problem off as one for the next government to wrestle with. His new Cabinet colleague Dwayne Seymour, however, has distanced himself from the plan, claiming in an unexpected declaration at the last government press briefing that he never had and did not support the move.

Gregg Anderson, another hopeful candidate in the district, said there was little in the EIA to allay the serious health fearscaused by dumping toxic waste in such a vulnerable area.

“There is no financial study as to how much the project will cost the government, nor is there information as to the expected lifetime of the proposed facility. There is nothing mentioned about the economic and social impact on Midland Acres in particular and on the Bodden Town district in general – the certain loss in real estate and land value, the loss of new businesses, tourism facilities, new residential developments,” he added.

The Coalition has challenged the very legitimacy of the EIA process from the onset, underlining the unethical link between dump proponent and dump evaluator, the complete disregard of due process and the refusal to respect the conclusions of the Central Tenders Committee (CTC), which, after an open tendering process, had rejected Dart’s plan.

“The Coalition also protested the secrecy surrounding the deal between Dart and the then UDP government, as part of the so-called FCIA agreement,” Beiner said as he pointed to the refusal to consult the population about the relocation and the choice of BT as the Dart plan with no other alternatives. “The entire process surrounding Dart’s dump plan flouts the rule of law,” he said, as he pointed to the newly adopted Framework for fiscal Resonsibility, which was ignored.

“Reckless deals like the Dart dump plan, and the long-standing failure to properly manage the GT landfill – instead of ‘exporting’ it to BT — prove that past and present governments are responsible for our shameful environmental ranking,” he added, noting the recent news that Cayman came bottom for environmental protection among the UK’s overseas territories.

The Coalition is calling on candidates for the forthcoming election to stand up against the waste management facility in BT and commit to voting against any such project should they be elected to the next parliament.

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Young swimmers invited to ‘Duel in the pool’

| 09/04/2013 | 0 Comments

swim_0.gif(SSC): The Ernst & Young “Duel in the Pool”, hosted by the Stingray Swim Club of Grand Cayman at the Lions Aquatic Centre (LAC) takes place this Friday, April 12th. It is a fun, fast paced meet designed specifically to provide younger swimmers with a stress free, competitive environment where they can just get used to diving off the blocks; and the older swimmers with a fun meet, where they can enjoy the comraderie of swimming and of competing before the third cycle of the training season kicks off in earnest.  “Swimmers who want to take part in the Duel in the Pool need only indicate that they will be taking part,” said Stingray Swim Club’s Head Coach Andy Copley.

He added, “We will divide all the swimmers, being careful to keep the teams balanced by the Ernst & Young colours, on either Team Yellow or Team Grey; and swimmers will be assigned to events and relay teams as well.”

Longstanding corporate citizens of the Cayman Islands, Ernst & Young Ltd.’s Managing Partner, Dan Scott was delighted to once again support swimming in the Cayman Islands. “On behalf of Ernst & Young Ltd. I am proud to add our congratulations to the CARIFTA Swimming Team which just returned home from Cayman. The CARIFTA Swimmers are fine examples of what hard work and determination can do; but, even as we look forward to their continued success it is imperative that we continue to invest in those coming behind them as this is how we will build a strong legacy for Cayman swimming. This Meet is designed to do just that, to enourage younger swimmers. To give them experience on the blocks with a starter in a fun and nurturing environment. Best of luck to swimmers in Teams Yellow and Team Grey … you will all be winners.”

President Brenda McGrath added, “The Duel in the Pool is going to be a lot of fun,” she said, “Meets such as this are great for team building, and for exposing our youngest swimmers to competition in a non-competitive environment. We are going to have a potluck social afterward where we will celebrate the success of our CARIFTA Team, and particularly of the SSC members who were on the team, and we really hope that even if you are not going to swim that if you are interested in learning more about Stingray Swim Club, and seeing what weare all about, that you drop in to the Lions Pool and join us.”

The Meet starts at 5:30pm. All swimmers are invited to take part, and if you are not a member of a club or swim school with a Coach who can contact SSC then you can email

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McLeans faced-off in first chamber forum

| 09/04/2013 | 17 Comments

mcleans.jpg(CNS): The two East End McLeans, Arden and John Jr, launched the Chamber of Commerce political forums on Monday night with a head-to-head debate that demonstrated some significant differences between the two candidates on topical issues, such as the ForCayman Investment Alliance, how to tackle Caymans growing immigration dilemmas and the country’s voting system. The younger of the two McLeans seemed to be on the wrong side of the argument over one man, one vote in the district, while his opponent seemed to have the support of the district when he revealed his intention to abolish the work-permit boards and create a separate labour agency if he was a member of government after the election.

John McLean Jr revealed that, despite being a candidate in one of only two single member constituencies, he had voted against one man, one vote, as he said he thought it would create enclaves of foreign voters as more people from overseas got Caymanian status.

However, only 79 people in East End voted ‘No’ in the summer referendum while 297 had voted ‘Yes’, reflecting the position of the electorate on that issue where the inequality of votes in this election will be particularly hard felt. With only one vote compared to the six held by each voter in the capital,  Arden said it was unequal and unfair. While his constituents still paid the same taxes as people living in George Town, they had six times less influence on government.

The men both answered well over thirty questions in a tightly managed debate. Disagreeing over the relocation of the landfill, which was supported by John McLean and opposed by Arden McLean, the men also differed over the West Bay Road closure. Arden pointed to the need for two roads into West Bay and the need to renegotiate the deal and the closure.

Asked about the constitution, John McLean said he was not in favour of the bill of rights and anything that was not in line with the Bible should be changed, while Arden, who was part of the team that negotiated the constitution, pointed out a number of things that may need to be changed now that the document was in use, including the need for a simple majority and not a two thirds majority to remove a an incumbent, given what had happened last year.

The candidates did, however, agree that the district councils set up under the constitution should be democratically elected and not appointed by government, as the law which was passed by the former UDP administration calls for.

They also agreed that politicians facing criminal charges should use their own moral compass and not run. And although both of the McLeans are associated with parties while running on an independent ticket, they both defended their independence.

The next forum which takes place Tuesday 9 April in Bodden Town but it will be more like a free campaign meeting for the PPM than a debate. Although 13 candidates are running in the district, only Al Suckoo and Wayne Panton, both from the Progressives, are scheduled for tonight’s forum as all of the other candidates have opted to attend one of the other scheduled forms. Nevertheless, despite the likelihood of agreement between the twonewcomers to the political scene, the Chamber is promising some tough questions for the Bodden Town hopefuls.

As well as being broadcast on Radio Cayman, the Chamber is also posting the audio of forums to allow people to listen again or catch up if they missed the event and find out where the candidates stand on the main issues of the day and what they plan to do about them if elected.

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Cop arrested over weapons charges stays on job

| 09/04/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The police have now confirmed that a serving officer on Cayman Brac was recently arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and illegal Importation of firearm accessories. The RCIPS has made no comment regarding the details of the arrest but has confirmed that the officer has not been suspended from his post, even though he is currently on bail. The police officer, who has not yet been charged, remains on duty and is believed to have imported a stun gun and items that could be used with firearms. Police have not stated when he was arrested or when the importation took place.

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Texas bidder wants open probe into ERA award

| 09/04/2013 | 0 Comments

cuc man.jpg(CNS Business): A bidder involved in the tender to generate 36MW of power for Grand Cayman has called for an open enquiry following the reports of possible wrongdoing at the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA). Navasota Energy, a Texas-based firm issued a release Tuesday afternoon stating that it was disturbed by the recent public disclosures alleging inappropriate behaviour by ERA officials and bidders in the recent solicitation process and pointed out that this throws the fairness of the tender process into question. On Friday, as a result of the allegations made by Joey Ebanks, the former MD of the authority, since he was suspended from his job in the wake of his arrest over financial irregularities, ERA officials announced plans for a probe into the bid. Read more on CNS Business

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Turtle Farm stands by commissioned report

| 09/04/2013 | 9 Comments

1012822 (285x300)_0.jpg(CNS): Following a statement by animal activist group, the WSPA, Monday, expressing its disapproval of a report commissioned by the Cayman Turtle Farm regarding the various welfare concerns at the facility the management said Tuesday it believes the findings are valid and based on the expert opinion of qualified scientists. The CTF said the report was independent and followed an intensive inspection of the facility in the wake of concerns raised by the animal welfare charity last year. The CTF said it has asked the WSPA to accept the report as a basis for dialogue but it has refused and the farm’s managing director said this was preventing the two parties from moving forward.

“The difficulty with trying to engage in a dialogue with WSPA is finding an agreeable direction for dialogue to proceed toward. WSPA proposed that CTF must stop visitors touching or holding turtles, and that CTF must stop farming turtles for meat,” he said. “Neither of those are end-goals that CTF is in a position to negotiate, as they would each be contrary to CTF’s remit to provide a highly attractive unique visitor experience and to provide a source of farmed turtle meat which preserves Caymanian culinary traditions and helps to preserve turtles in the wild. We believe however that pursuing the recommendations of the inspection report would have been a very worthy objective for our dialogue to be aiming towards.”

As part of the report the inspectors made some recommendations for improvement, which the CTF has said it is now working on but the Farm and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) have some fundamental disagreements. The charity rejects the legitimacy of the independent review on a number of grounds. Although they recognize the authors of the report as experts in the field of sea turtle biology they are concerned about the lack of detail and explanation in the report to back their conclusions. In addition, they suggest some bias but the CTF said none of the scientists who are “credible, conscientious internationally-recognized experts,” have been paid by the Farm.

The impasse also focuses on the CTF’s position that it will not accept the findings of the WSPA on which it has based its campaign to turn the farm into a conservation facility and move away from farming. The CTF said the WSPA report was based on limited observation and second-hand reports, despite extensive photographic evidence.

The WSPA claims that the independent inspection report “lacked detail and was not broad enough to be treated as an authoritative piece of work” – however, CTF points out that the same can be said of the WSPA research. The CTF believes that the methods the charity used in its case study are incomplete, as their research in Cayman was verylimited and conducted as part of an “undercover investigation” without the cooperation of the CTF.

The CTF said the four experts who produced the independent report were given full access to the Turtle Farm, its staff and records, and were able to take time to inspect the turtles in all the tanks both on the public display side and the “production” side of the farm. “Unlike the WSPA, the inspectors were not relying on clandestine practices or on photographs to try and give some interpretation of the actual situation with the turtles at the farm,” the farm said.

“These respected scientists were not going to risk their professional reputations by making a report that they were not confident had solid basis in facts that they could inspect for themselves,” Adam added.

Meanwhile, the farm is now pursuing the recommendations and issues highlighted by the report. It said the recruitment of a full-time Veterinarian and a Farm Manager is imminent and it has implemented a different type of treatment for skin lesions with very encouraging results. It has also adjusted feeding protocols to rectify what is said was moderate emaciation observed in some turtles and has increased hatchling tank capacity through the completed construction of additional hatchling tanks in time for the upcoming breeding season.

Necropsies are also being performed on turtle mortalities and tissue samples are banked for future pathology work. It is anticipated that this work will be done by CTF’s in-house veterinarian and through arrangements with overseas experts. As a long-term measure to continue improvements and evaluate the success of the Farm, a Scientific Advisory Committee is now being set up to oversee, review and make recommendations on the CTF’s improvement goals, farming and research operations.

However, the fundamental issue that is between the farm and the charity is that of animal welfare and the fact that turtles are not domesticated animals. The WSPA will be stepping back up its campaign for the Cayman and the international community to put pressure on the farm management and local politicians to put an end to the farming itself and move towards conservation only AT THE FACILITY.

Wth almost no political support for closing down the farming part of the operation and a continuing appetite for turtle meat the WSPA’s goal remains elusive regardless of its efforts and considerable international support.

Although the CTF sucks in some $10million of public money and is something of a political football, this surrounds the expansion of the farm into a wider tourist attraction which has been a costly exercise. The farming of meat is not the source of the financial losses at the facility which is caused by lower than hoped for visitor numbers to the now more costly attraction.

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Mac released over explosives

| 09/04/2013 | 0 Comments

(coyote_dynamite_answer_1_xlarge.jpegCNS): Although police say the investigation relating to the importation of explosive substances without valid permits last February is continuing, the former premier and the owner of the company involved were released from police bail Tuesday. McKeeva Bush and Suresh Prasad, the Managing Director of Midland Acres, the quarry company involved, met their bail conditions when they presented themselves to anti-corruption officers this morning and were let go. Bush still faces 11 counts relating to allegations of theft and corruption offences but no charges have been brought against the UDP leader in relation to the explosive importation or the emails he sent to senior civil servants asking them to release the illegal shipment after it was seized by the authorities.

Bush will be appearing in Summary Court on Friday morning in connection with the charges that were brought last month and he is understood to be the subject of other corruption investigations. No other arrests or charges have been made against the Cayman Islands former leader and veteran politician.

Bush has denied all of the allegations against him, pointing to a conspiracy driven by the UK because of the defiant position he has taken towards the British authorities and what he considers the undue interference of the mother country into local affairs. Bush also believes the UK is attempting to undermine his election chances as he fights for not just his own West Bay seat but to regain government and the premier’s job once again.

The second man questioned in the dynamite probe was already convicted in Summary Court last year after he agreed to plead guilty on the basis of administrative and technical errors relating to the process of importing the explosives which were meant for quarry blasting.

Prasad said that steps in the importation process were missed as a result of efforts to expedite the importation to meet a contract to supply fill to the Dart Group. The director of Midland Acre was fined $1,300 in his role as the company boss in connection with four counts of importing explosive materials without the correct permits. The court found it was a regulatory error and accepted the argument that there was “no sinister motive” and that the explosive materials had been imported for a legitimate purpose.

An RCIPS spokesperson confirmed Tuesday that the investigation surrounding the circumstances continued, despite both men being released on bail, and updates would be provided to the public as and when appropriate.

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Magistrate moves up, new appeal judge joins panel

| 09/04/2013 | 8 Comments

Nova-Hall.jpg(CNS): Chief Magistrate Nova Hall has been sworn in as an Acting Judge of the Grand Court and is sitting in the higher court throughout this week and as the need arises. Officials from the courts said that the Grand Court is exceptionally busy dealing with a large number of criminal and civil cases, necessitating the need for more hands on deck. Meanwhile, Sir Richard Ground will be sitting in the Court of Appeal for the next three weeks for the first time since his appointment last year. Sir Richard a former Cayman attorney general was sworn in by the Acting Governor, Franz Manderson, on Monday. 

Welcoming him back to the Cayman Islands, the President of the Court of Appeal, Sir John Chadwick said: “I am delighted that Sir Richard has joined the Court of Appeal. He will bring expertise and experience to the Court and, I have no doubt, will make a most valuable contribution to its work.”

Ground was a Crown Counsel in Cayman between 1983 and 1987 before he became attorney general he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Bermuda in 1992 and was Chief Justice for the Turks and Caicos Islands from 1998-2004 and for Bermuda from 2004-2012. He already sits as a Justice of Appeal in both Turks and Caicos and Bermuda.

Chief Justice, Anthony Smellie welcomed both appointments expressing his confidence that they will strengthen the abilities of the Grand Court and the Court of Appeal to manage their respective demanding and complex workloads.

Further details of both Justice Ground and Acting Judge Hall can be seen at


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Complaints boss to probe whistleblower protection

| 09/04/2013 | 11 Comments

whistle-blower (247x300).jpg(CNS): How well whistleblowers are protected will form the subject of the complaints commissioner’s next 'own motion' report. Nicola Williams said she has launched an investigation to find out if there are adequate protections and protective measures in place for those who report wrongdoing, often called 'whistleblowers', in government. She said she is hoping for the cooperation of all of the relevant public sector entities as she examines the protection both across the civil service and up and down through the ranks of government. Williams said notice of the investigation was served on the deputy governor and the attorney general last Thursday.

“At its simplest, a Whistleblower, or Reporter of Wrongdoing, is a person who exposes wrongdoing within an organization in the hope of stopping it,” said Williams. “This should and must be viewed in a constructive and positive way, and should be encouraged.”

The civil service complaints boss said she had determined under the Complaints Commissioner Law in accordance with her powers that there are reasons of special importance which has triggered the own motion report. However, she has not indicated what those reasons are.

In the wake of a number of leaks of government documents during the previous UDP administration, the former premier had been critical of people who were leaking documents and had asked for investigations.

“This is an issue which I have determined, in accordance with my powers under the Complaints Commissioner Law (2006 Revision), Section 11(1), that there are reasons of special importance which makes this Own Motion investigation by my Office desirable in the public interest,” she said. “Whether employed by government or not, what happens in government affects us all, directly or indirectly, so if a Whistleblower is punished for doing the right thing, government maladministration will continue unchecked.”

Williams added that as government has publicly stated a commitment to good governance, she expected that the office’s investigators would receive full co-operation.

The report is expected by the end of the year and anyone with information relevant to the investigation may call the Office of the Complaints Commissioner at 943-2220.

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Joey took salary advance

| 09/04/2013 | 95 Comments

joey (225x300)_0.jpg(CNS): The former managing director of the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) appears to have taken a salary advance of $10,000 during his time at the power regulator. According to what appears to be a summary of controversial payments, brought to light by the auditor general, in a move similar to events at the Turtle Farm in 2009, Joey Ebanks seems to have borrowed the money against his salary in July 2012 and at the end of February. A few days before his arrest the MD still owed the public body $3,000. The report lists a catalogue of financial question marks, from unjustified expense claims, forged signatures, travel expenses not accounted for and cheques totalling over $15,000 over a three month period paid to Ebanks without support.

Ebanks, who is standing for elections in North Side, is currently under police investigation following his arrest on 2 March and he is expected to answer bail Wednesday morning (10 April). Since hitting the campaign trail, he has indicated that he expects to be charged and the North Side candidate has said he anticipates that the charges will relate to hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to derail his political aspirations. The report suggests than Ebanks may well be correct as a question mark hangs over some $120,000.

The document shows a list of red flags picked up by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) that have not been properly justified. Almost $68,000 was reportedly spent in the Cayman Mac store with cheques from the ERA account signed by either Ebanks or board member Mike Herland, or both men. More than $6,000 was written on cheques with possible forged signatures. Over $4,000 was spent on I-Phones, only one of which the audit office said may be justified, while more than $5,000 was spent on roaming charges on what appears to be around eight trips over a six month period.

Ebanks has denied all the allegations made against him and has insisted that the authorities are ignoring significant corruption in other places while conspiring against him.

After his arrest Ebanks took to the pages of Facebook to defend himself and has madeaccusations of corruption against his opponent, Ezzard Miller, in connection with an email he sent regarding the possible recruitment of labour from Cuba for the Ritz, as well as accusations concerning Cayman Islands Governor Duncanand the chair of Judicial Legal Services Commissions, Dan Scott. As a result, along with his difficulties regarding the criminal investigation, Ebanks could also be facing law suits from both Taylor and Scott before Election Day.

His continued allegations about the award made to DECCO, the Dart Group’s general contractor, when he was in the MD’s post, for the generation of some 36MW of future power has now triggered an investigation into the tendering process and how the islands' largest developer was awarded the contract to generate a significant portion of the country’s future power needs.

Despite his allegations that he was asked to fix the bid as a result of a ‘typo’, he was the MD at the time and a release in the wake of the reward stated that DECCO Ltd had submitted the best deal for the consumers. Ebanks said in the release that DECCO came in first, followed by CUC and then Navasota, a Texas-based firm. He said that two separate and independent consulting firms conducted the analysis of the bids and made comparisons, and once they reached consensus, the board was informed.

“A clear explanation was given to members for their insight to allow approval," Ebanks said at the time.

This is not the first time that Ebanks has courted controversy. During the last election in 2009 it was revealed that he had taken a salary advance of some $40,000, the details of which were never fully explained. Audits later revealed that during his time at the cash-strapped government company, which sucks up almost $10 million in public money every year, he had also run up a tab of some $6,000 at the on-site bar and taken turtle meat on loan.

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