Archive for April 24th, 2013

Officials plan destruction of over 4000 plates

Officials plan destruction of over 4000 plates

| 24/04/2013 | 15 Comments

DVDL to destroy plates (229x300).jpg(CNS): The Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing is making plans to remove thousands of vehicles from the register and destroy the plates if owners fail to contact licensing about what should be just a short term suspension. The department said Wednesday that it currently has 4,312 suspended plates, with the oldest going as far back as 2000, that will be destroyed on 31 May if owners don’t contact the office to extend the extension or let them know what is happening with the related vehicles. Officials explained that suspending registration plates on cars is a temporary measure designed to last from three months up to the expiration date of the current licence coupon.

“If owners haves no plans to continue using the vehicle, then they should terminate the registration,” said DVDL Deputy Director Richard Simms. 

He said it was necessary to destroy them because so many people had suspended their vehicle’s registration years ago but had not returned to advise the department of their intention for the vehicle. Simms noted that the suspension period could be extended at the owner’s request.

According to the Traffic Law 2011, an extension should be applied for at the DVDL one week before a current licence coupon expires. Drivers who previously suspended their registration and plates, but whose suspensions have expired are asked to visit any DVDL location – on Crewe Road in George Town or in West Bay at Banks Plaza before the end of May to seek extensions.

“If we have not heard from these owners by that date, we’ll be forced to remove the vehicles from the vehicle register and destroy the plates,” Simms said.

For more information on the destruction of suspended registration plates, contact the DVDL at 945-8344.

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New elections boss to take up job after 2013 poll

New elections boss to take up job after 2013 poll

| 24/04/2013 | 14 Comments

Wesley-Howell-Speaks-on-Behalf-of-Sponsor-FSH-Design-at-Website-Launch (245x300).jpg(CNS): Wesley Howell, the deputy chief officer in the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, has been formally appointed by the governor as the new supervisor of elections, who will step into Kearney Gomez’ shoes after the May 2013 general election on 1 July. Alongside Howell, Sheena Glasgow, who is currently the postmaster general, and Suzanne Bothwell, who is crown counsel in the Attorney General’s Chambers, have been appointed as newdeputies. Howell, who already has over 20 years’ experience working with the Elections Office in various roles, will work alongside Gomez and his team over the next couple of months in order to ensure a smooth transition.

Glasgow and Bothwell will replace Colford Scott and Orrett Connor, while the district commissioner Ernie Scott will retain his job as the third deputy. 

Glasgow has headed the Cayman Islands Postal Service for the last ten years and has also worked in the planning ministry and at Radio Cayman. 

“We have only just begun to see the impact of recent constitutional changes on Cayman’s political landscape, so the role of the Elections Office in overseeing future electoral processes will remain an important one,” Glasgow stated.

Bothwell has worked closely with the Elections Office as an attorney and in her past role as director of the constitutional review secretariat with the then Cabinet Secretary Orrett Connor. She said she was looking forward to working with the newly appointed team and Elections Office staff in maintaining the high standards of Cayman’s election process. 

Governor Duncan Taylor, who announced the appointments on Wednesday just five weeks ahead of the General Election, said he was delighted to appoint dedicated and experienced civil servants into the important roles.

“Their knowledge, experience and commitment to public service will go a long way to ensuring the Elections Office continues to fulfil its legislative role effectively and professionally,” he said.

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Teenage arsonist jailed for 18 months

Teenage arsonist jailed for 18 months

| 24/04/2013 | 10 Comments

(CNS): A woman who was only 19 when she set her husband’s bed on fire with the help of rum and toilet paper was jailed for 18 months on Tuesday after receiving a three year prison sentence for arson with half of it suspended. Shaneeke Wellington admitted starting the fire last June following an argument with her husband, which caused some $85,000 worth of damage to the property that belonged to her husband’s family. Justice Charles Quin, who heard the case, described the incident as a very serious offence for which she had not shown any real remorse and which attracted an immediate custodial sentence.

Fortunately, there was no one else in the room when Wellington left the burning bed in Oakmill Street, George Town, in the early hours of 17 June last year and the fire was eventually extinguished by the Cayman Islands Fire Service. Wellington pleaded guilty to arson a few months after she was charged, and when the police arrived at her house on the morning of the fire and asked if she was responsible, she told them, “Yes, I burn the house and I wish he were f*#!ing there.”

During the sentencing hearing it was revealed that just before the fire, Wellington and her husband, the complainant, were involved in an argument after they had been out drinking as Wellington believed he was cheating onher. The couple, who were living separately in their respective family homes, were said to have been engaged in a physical dispute at a park in the Windsor Park area, where they had gone to meet friends. Her husband, who was ten years older than her, had thrown the teenager to the ground. Angry about the cheating and the violence, Wellington set off to her husband’s bedroom at his family’s house, where she proceeded to set the fire.

Although no one was hurt, the crown submitted that the fire could have seriously endangered life and the defendant had been extremely reckless. In her defence, Wellington’s attorney said that the defendant had been in an abusive relationship with the complainant, who was much older than her, and had asked for the judge to consider the Social Enquiry Report (SIR) which recommended a probation order. 

However, the judge found that in this case Wellington had time to consider her actions and the court had to impose a sentence that reflected the gravity of the offence and the need to protect others. He noted the comments in the SIR that indicated the defendant had laughed when she told the social worker that, after setting the fire, she sent her husband a message saying, “I hope you like how I decorated your house.” He also noted her admission of guilt to the police and further comments in which she told officers that she did not care about setting the fire and she did it so he would not have anywhere to sleep. The judge remarked that it did not appear that the defendant had shown any remorse or horror at what she had done.

Wellington had admitted being aware that other people could have been in the building adjoining the room but had done nothing to warn them about the danger, which caused the judge concern. The SIR also noted that Wellington did not seem to “grasp the gravity” of the offence she had committed.

The probation officers reported that Wellington’s relationship with the complainant was plagued with interpersonal differences, issues of infidelity, lack of trust, poor communication, verbal and physical abuse from the start. The pastor that married the couple also noted that three months into the marriage the defendant had come to his office looking for the marriage papers and then had proceeded to tear them up.

The judge said that while the defendant admitted her guilt immediately, she had shown little if any remorse, but he still gave her a full discount on what would have been a four a half year sentence based on the guidelines and case law, arriving at a three year prison term.

As a result of her age at the time of the offence and the fact that she had no previous convictions or any predilection or fascination for starting fires, the judge suspended the second half of her sentence. Justice Quin added, however, that Wellington’s temper was cause for concern, which he said had to be addressed while she was in custody. Once released from prison, the judge ordered that Wellington participate in the anger management group at the Department of Counselling and the Interpersonal Relationship Enhancement Awareness programme and perform 60 hours of community service.

“Ms Wellington, you have committed a very serious offence,” Justice Quin told the young woman, who was tearful once the custodial sentence was pronounced. “You will have time to consider the consequences of your actions. This court hopes that during the 18 months you will serve in custody you will avail yourself of all the programmes and facilities at your disposal and focus on educational pursuits.”

He told the defendant that she would still be on a term of imprisonment when she was released after the first 18 months, even though it was suspended and she would not be in custody. “During those 18 months should you commit any further criminal offence you will be liable to an immediate further term of imprisonment of 18 months,” the judge warned.

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ICTA ducks ‘Joey’ complaint

ICTA ducks ‘Joey’ complaint

| 24/04/2013 | 51 Comments

joey (225x300)_1.jpg(CNS): Despite being responsible for managing content on radio and television broadcasts in Cayman, the Information Communication Technology Authority (ICTA) has declined to act in the face of a formal complaint about potentially libellous and defamatory comments being made by a political candidate on a show being aired Monday to Thursday evenings on a local radio station. North Side candidate Ezzard Miller filed a formal complaint with the ICTA about the abuse of him and his family by his political opponent Joey Ebanks on the local airwaves in contravention of the law, but the ICTA declined to investigate the allegations and has passed the complaint to VIBE, the show’s host station, which is owned by the UDP’s George Town committee chair, Kenny Rankin.

Miller also wrote to the police commissioner, the governor and the Elections Office about comments made on the show, which Ebanks has paid for and is using as part of his official campaign in his bid for election in North Side against Miller, the incumbent member.

Miller confirmed this week that he has received no replies from any of the agencies involved, despite what he says are serious breaches of the election law as well as the ICTA law. Miller said he has had no formal response from the ICTA and was merely included on an email from the ICTA to Rankin about the complaint, asking the radio station to deal with it.

Since then Miller has reported that response to the chair of the ICTA board, Dale Crighton, in an effort to trigger a formal investigation and some action against what appears to be an entirely unchecked regular tirade of insults as well as potentially libellous comments by Ebanks about Miller and his family, as well as other candidates, public officials, the governor, the chair of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission and members of the media.

The show’s host is facing multiple counts of theft and fraud offences, having recently been arrested and charged in connection with his former role as the MD of the Electricity Regulatory Authority.

Since then Ebanks is alleging conspiracies against him and corruption in government. He has also accused the Dart Group of offering him a half million dollar bribe to fix the bid he had previously awarded them for future generating capacity while still MD. Among a long list of targets, Ebanks has taken particular aim at Miller and made some serious allegations against the North Side political representative which go well beyond accusations of potential corruption.

As a result, Miller said he had chosen to file formal complaints about Ebanks’ behaviour but he is disappointed with the failure of any government agency to take action, despite the contravention of several laws and the serious level of abuse Ebanks is hurling at him.

"I am particularly disappointed that the ICTA has chosen to handle what I regard as a serious complaint in such a trivial way, by sending the complaint to VIBE FM for them to respond directly to me,” Miller told CNS, adding that he had not even had any response from the station.

“This complaint is not about bad reception but is about potential serious offences under section 90 of the ICTA law, which carries penalties of a fine of ten thousand dollars and to imprisonment for one year or on conviction on indictment to a fine of twenty thousand dollars and to imprisonment for two years.”

He said the Managing Director of the ICTA had abrogated the authority's legal responsibility to investigate his complaint by simply passing it to the management of VIBE FM, as he called on the ICTA Board to fulfil its legal responsibility under the ICTA law and request an explanation from the MD as to why he responded in this way.

“It is going to be very interesting to see how the Elections Office responds to the complaint made in accordance with section 75 of the election law given the coming of inspectors,” Miller added. “They certainly acted quickly in contacting me about a complaint Joey made against me and the committee to elect me, although it was not properly done or any evidence provided."

The Elections Office said Thursday that it did have very real concerns about the show, which, as a paid to air programme by a candidate in the election, fell under their remit and the election code of conduct. Officials said that they would be issuing a written statement to remind all candidates of the code of conduct but that they were paying close attention to the Ebanks show and may have to deal with that directly.

Miller said that, given the gravity of the comments Ebanks persistantly makes, the move by the ICTA to do nothing but hand his letter of complaint to VIBE succeeding in fuelling a further tirade by Ebanks on his show last week when he was given a copy of Miller’s complaint.

In his letter to Crighton Miller wrote: “The procedure that I expected the Managing Director to have followed after he received my complaint was to have requested copies of all the 'Joey Ebanks Show' since it started on April 2, 2013, then to have listened to the shows as part of his investigation of the complaint, and if he found evidence to support the complaint, to have then acted within the provisions of section 32 of the ICTA law.”

However, Miller said, despite the severity of his complaint and the nature of the Joey Ebanks Show, he was “concerned and disappointed” that the ICTA action had “served to expose me to further libellous and slanderous comment” as well as threats to his security.

“I am quite amazed that the Authority would ask VIBE FM to respond directly to me and not to the Authority. Even so, it is obvious that VIBE FM's response is to turn over the complaint to Joey Ebanks — the very subject of the complaint — and to blithely ignore any ICTA procedure to respond to the complainant," he added.

“It is also clear that the ICTA has chosen to act in a way that aids and assists in the continued breach of section 90 of the ICTA law, section 15 of VIBE FM's license and other laws of the Cayman Islands, and I am forced to seek all legal remedy against the ICTA that my attorney may advise,” Miller warned as he threatened to join what is a growing list of legal actions against Ebanks for his continued on air allegations.

“I am therefore seeking your intervention as Chairman of the Board to ensure that this matter is treated with the seriousness it demands and in a much more professional and appropriate way in accordance with the provisions of the ICTA law,” he wrote, adding that as a result of the ICTA’s decision, he was also releasing all of his correspondence on the matter into the public domain.

See Miller's letters below and email from the ICTA to VIBE.

The Joey Ebanks Radio Shows are all available on YouTube as well via his Facebook page.

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Cops hunt for latest robber

Cops hunt for latest robber

| 24/04/2013 | 8 Comments

(CNS): The police are on the hunt for an armed suspect who held up a video store on Sheddon Road in George Town last night at around 8:50pm. According to a police report, the the lone gunman entered the store on Tuesday evening (23 April), pointed what appeared to be a handgun at the female sales clerk and demanded cash. She handed over an undisclosed sum of cash to the suspect, who is believed to have made his escape on foot behind the Video Centre’s premises. A police spokesperson confirmed that no one was injured and no shots were fired.

The gunman was described as approximately 5'10" in height, dressed in full black clothing with what appeared to be a black shirt covering his faceand wearing gloves. Officers from the RCIPS were dispatched to the scene in the wake of the robbery, where they carried out foot search of the area in conjunction with an overhead search by the police helicopter.

However, police have not yet arrested any suspects and are appealing to the public for information. Anyone who may have been in the vicinity of Shedden Road or School House Road area of George Town at the time and may have seen anyone fitting the description or have any information as to who may be responsible are asked to contact the George Town Police Station at 9494222 or Crime Stoppers on 800- 8477(TIPS)

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CG reveals port fiasco

CG reveals port fiasco

| 24/04/2013 | 94 Comments

Cline.JPG(CNS): Going back as far as his first disagreement with the former premier over the cruise berthing fiasco and up to the recently revealed details of the alarming agreement McKeeva Bush signed with CHEC, the gloves came off Tuesday night when Cline Glidden opened the PNA’s West Bay fight. With several hundred people crowded into a local district yard, Glidden, who is now tourism minister, said it was Bush’s insistence on dealing with the Chinese that had caused the cruise association to announce a drop in port calls to Cayman. He said that Bush signed the proposed deal with the Beijing firm without the knowledge of the board, except for the chair, andthat Bush had previously threatened to resign unless the UDP parliamentary group backed him in his decision to drop GLF in favour of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).

Glidden told the crowd Tuesday night that Bush had never offered a full explanation over why he insisted on working with the Chinese, which ended up being a far worse deal than the two that Glidden had negotiated.

He told the West Bay crowd that he had never taken any money from anyone during the course of the cruise port negotiations in which he was involved, but implied that the former premier may have had an ulterior motive for insisting that the party back his decision to cancel the GLF talks and instead push for CHEC.

Recalling the events of 2011 when the premier pulled the rug from under Glidden’s negotiations with GLF Construction at the eleventh hour, the new cabinet minister said that emails that have been circulating relating to the events at the time are genuine. He said they show that Bush threatened to resign as premier if the rest of the UDP caucus did not back him, even though others in the UDP believed that GLF’s proposal presented the best deal for Cayman. Glidden did not say why the party members all yielded to Bush’s will, despite the former premier’s failure to explain why he was so keen to deal with CHEC, but it marked the point when Glidden stepped away from the negotiations and had no further involvement.

However, since he took over at the Department of Tourism, Glidden said, there have been more revelations.

During his first meeting as tourism minster with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association they had informed him that the former premier, when he presented them with the CHEC proposal, had said the cruise lines had to pay $37 per passenger (as reported on CNS last year) to use the new dock — a price Glidden said the FCCA felt was too high.

Since they could not prevent Cayman from choosing its own developer and as they were given no say in the decision, the only thing the FCCA could do was reconsider Cayman as a cruise destination. Nevertheless, Bush had still agreed to a minimum passenger guarantee for the Chinese, which, given the FCCA's position, Bush could not possibly hope to deliver and would have cost the public purse millions of dollars.

Glidden also revealed that the consultant, Alastair Patterson, engaged by Bush at a generous $15,000 per month, was employed after the former premier had already signed the framework agreement and had already committed CIG to a deal that favoured only CHEC.

The first part of the construction of the piers would have required around 400 workers, Glidden said, and with the deal Bush had signed guaranteeing the Chinese 300 work permits, Caymanian workers would have had little opportunity to be involved.

Pointing to a catalogue of issues with the CHEC dea,l Glidden emphasised how poorly it compared to the GLF proposal, which the former premier had gone to great lengths to cancel, even threatening to resign if the party didn’t play ball.

He said the framework agreement with CHEC was so secret that none of the board, with the exception of Port Authority chair John Henry Ebanks, had seen it, nor had their lawyers. Even the UK advisor sent by the FCO to assist with the port talks was unable to get his hands on a copy, he said.

Although Bush has insisted that this was only a draft agreement, Glidden said there was no indication on the document, (posted on CNS earlier this month) that it was indeed a draft and Bush had signed every page. 

As Glidden revealed the various details of what he said was a terrible agreement for Cayman,he asked the crowd to consider exactly why the former premier would have signed such a bad deal.

The minister did not detail the events of December which saw Bush eventually ousted from office by the current PNA members, leaving that to his district running mate and deputy premier, Rolston Anglin. However, Glidden stole the mantra of the Coalition for Cayman when he said the PNA members had actually put "country first". He said he had no regrets about supporting the opposition leader's no confidence motion in December which led to the downfall of the UDP administration, despite his previous long friendship with Bush.

Although they had been labelled "cut throats", he said none of the new government and PNA members had any apologies for doing what they did and, although it was a very tough decision, it was the right thing.

Promising more revelations at the next PNA meeting, Glidden called on the people of West Bay not to vote as they had in the past, ironically criticising the coat tail effect that Bush has had in the district, clearly to the benefit of the PNA members for three previous elections. 

Although Glidden’s revelations add to the catalogue of questionable behaviour by the former premier, the tell-all approach being adopted by the PNA may backfire, given that they were all part of the Bush administration when this took place. With the exception of Glidden, they had all opted to back Bush in his port negotiations with CHEC, despite being entirely unaware of what they were supporting. However, they had apparently been bullied into backing Bush because the alternative was likely to have brought the government down.

The eleventh hour decision to oust the former premier only when he had been arrested for theft and corruption offences leaves the five Cabinet ministers vulnerable to criticisms that it is too little, too late. Nevertheless, it is clear that in West Bay at least, Glidden and Anglin will be taking the fight directly to the UDP in an effort to return to the Legislative Assembly for the first time in both their political careers without the help of Bush.  

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Who will be premier?

Who will be premier?

| 24/04/2013 | 53 Comments

As the electorate gears up to go to the polls, there are only two certainties that we can count on. Thefirst is that if the PPM get a majority of seats, at least 10, then Mr Alden McLaughlin will lead the new government as premier. The second is that if the UDP wins a majority, then Mr McKeeva Bush will lead the next government. There are no other concrete certainties as the other groupings do not on their own have the numbers to form the government themselves.

The C4C stated last night at their political rally that under no circumstances would they support a party leader as premier. This was basically confirmed this morning again by an independent candidate on the radio talk show.

What does this mean for the voting public? It essentially means that if neither of the above two dominant parties wins an outright majority, the next premier of the Cayman islands (who will be expected to captain the good ship Cayman for the next four years) will be someone who does NOT have the direct endorsement of the people to assume the top job. This person will be chosen in the smoke filled room after all the secret negotiations have taken place, where people can be expected to offer their support for seats on cabinet, etc. Defections are also possible — and as they say, "politics make strange bedfellows".

A coalition government will mean the people have no idea who will emerge as premier until after the fact, with the only known factors being that it will not be a party leader and most likely no other party member either. The reasoning for the latter comment is that if, say, Mr Moses Kirkconnell was supported for premier by the coalition group, you have to assume he would naturally replace the current leader of the PPM as well, and according to the C4C, they could not support this either (party leader as premier) as it would essentially be an endorsement for the party system, which they publicly despise. The party member could, however, resign from the party to assume the role of premier in this scenario.

I am not affiliated with either party, but support certain individuals in them, but I also like the credentials of many of the C4C candidates. However, with the position of premier carrying so much power and influence under the new constitution, I am somewhat reluctant to cast my votes for independents, as I want to be casting my votes ultimately for the best choice for premier.

With only two known choices as stated above, I am hoping that a third candidate for premier will be put forward from the C4C/independent group so that i can feel more comfortable mixing my votes. Otherwise I will likely vote straight for a party with a specific premier choice.

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GT independent won’t help former party

GT independent won’t help former party

| 24/04/2013 | 26 Comments

leslie (2).jpg(CNS): Despite being a former leading member of the United Democratic Party in the capital, Matthew Leslie said he would fiercely guard his independence if elected to the Legislative Assembly. The George Town candidate said he would not support either party, including the UDP, to form a majority government but would support “the ideas or motions that I and my constituents feel benefits them and the country” because he, like many independents, is anticipating a coalition government. Leslie said that when it comes to the GT vote, he hopes his supporters will use two of their other five to support Stefan Baraud and Roy McTaggart. Leslie told CNS that he hopes to see Dwene Ebanks and Andrea Christian in West Bay returned along with himself on 23 May.

If he is elected, Leslie said that he would use the opportunity offered to all MLAs to persuade government on an issue they feel strongly about via a private members motion to table a proposal for a Criminal Reform Act.

He said he wants to see changes in how the criminal justice system treats first time offenders to allow for rehabilitation and keep them from having a criminal conviction recorded against them. 

“This law would set out the guidelines of the Texas model of Deferred Adjudication and the policies that goes with it.  Community Service, Work Program, Counselling and Drug Program/Rehab will be a part of this motion which seeks to ensure 1st time offenders especially our young Cayman men are not victims of a system that seeks to damage them in the long run as the laws are currently.”

Leslie said he believed most elected officials would feel as he does on the subject, and although he did not identify anyone that would support the motion, he said finding a seconder should not be an issue.

The would-be politician, who is running a Facebook-based campaign, added his voice to that of many independent candidates, as well as those in the PPM, that the ForCayman Investment Alliance is a failed agreement as it gives more to a corporate body than it does to the people and needed to be scrutinized.

“If deemed unbalanced, I will seek to renegotiate the terms of the agreement,” he said, adding that there should be no more agreement to these major developments until the passage of the National Conservation Law.

Pointing to some of the major political issues of the day, Leslie said the issue of 21,000 work permit holders while 2000 Caymanians remain unemployed is a serious problem.  While he hasn’t stated yet if he is prepared to cut the permits or hopes to increase jobs, he said there must be a balance to ensure Caymanians are put to work in careers they can grow in, which he said would come from encouraging local entrepreneurs with grants and fees incentives.

Government needed to spend less, Leslie said, though he did not indicate which services he was willing to cut. However, he did point to the “luxury travel of leaders" and "the purchase of government vehicles for basically personal use”, which “must stop".

Leslie said that he is asking the people of George Town to elect people that will bring a balance of power and understanding for all classes in this country. 

“I never claimed to have all the answers but my track record in the community shows where my heart is,” Leslie stated, as he asked the electorate in GT to save one of their votes for him and to vote for team players that would work to make the country a better place.

“There should never be the case where family in Cayman has to decide on whether they buy groceries to put food on the table or pay the light bill. It is not right,” he added.

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