Archive for April 25th, 2013

Top cop gets 4 more years

Top cop gets 4 more years

| 25/04/2013 | 75 Comments

baines3.jpg(CNS): David Baines, the RCIPS commissioner, has had his contract renewed, giving the senior British cop another four years at the helm of Cayman’s police service from 1 June this year. In a release form his office, Governor Duncan Taylor said that Baines had done an excellent job in challenging circumstances over the past four kil society representatives on the National Security Council, Dan Scott and Brigitte Kirconnell-Shaughness. They said, however, that levels of crime in Cayman were unacceptable and more work was needed to build on some prevention and prosecution successes. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

“As representatives of civil society we support the renewal of Commissioner David Baines’s contract for another four years. The crime level that the Cayman Islands is experiencing is unacceptable but we believe that the efforts of Commissioner Baines and the RCIPS have led to the successful prevention and prosecution of serious crime, though much work is still to be done,” Scott and Kirkconnell said.

Taylor remarked he was delighted that David Baines had accepted the contract.

“He has provided much needed effective leadership to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS), which has led to a welcome and consistent fall in crime rates over the last three years. Yet there is still much to be done to bring crime down to the lowest possible level. I believe that Mr Baines is the right person to build on the foundations he has laid, to ensure that we continue to see falling crime rates in the next four years,” he said.

Following the renewal of his contract Baines said it had been a privilege to lead the RCIPS over the past fouryears. 

“This has been a challenging time for the service as we have sought to rebuild our numbers and our capability to stem the serious and violent crime which has been threatening law and order in the Cayman Islands,” he said.  “I am grateful to the government and all members of the Legislative Assembly who, despite budget pressures, unanimously agreed to restore previous numbers and funding to allow the RCIPS to build its capability to confront the threat.’

He said the return of the former budget levels had enabled the RCIPS to stabilise officer numbers and provide much needed training across all branches and ranks, which has proved critical in allowing the police to carry out their responsibilities effectively. 

“We have come a long way in four years. Crime rates remain too high and we still have much to do but we have a strong foundation now which will allow us to build on what we have achieved to date,” Baines stated. “I would like to express my sincere thanks to all those officers who have played their part in supporting the changes that we have made and in delivering the improved service that we provide to our communities. Their commitment makes a difference every single day and helps us to continue to deliver our objective of making these Islands a safer place to live and work in.”

The news comes in the wake of a number of internal issues and question marks around several officers and the internal police procedures, as well as two law suits naming Baines, one from a serving constable over an alleged assault by a senior officer, and one from a police officer who was dismissed by Baines without reason after 26 years in the service.

Check back to CNS Monday for more on the internal trials and tribulations of the RCIPS.

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Joey charged with cocaine use

Joey charged with cocaine use

| 25/04/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): In addition to the 29 counts he faces for theft and fraud, 49-year-old Joey Ebanks has also been charged with consumption of cocaine and possession of a drug utensil. The former managing director of the Electricity Regulatory Authority, who is running his political campaign for the North Side seat from his Facebook page and a shock-jock evening radio show, has been bailed to appear back in the courts on Friday 3 May. Ebanks was first arrested at his home in the Pedro area on 6 March in connection for theft and drug offences. He was later charged on 29 counts of theft fraud and abuse of office in relation to misuse of ERA funds. The RCIPS has now added the drug charges as a result of forensic tests.

Ebanks appeared in Summary Court last week and the first of his offences was transmitted to the Grand Gourt, which is where the former ERA boss is expected to be tried.

He has vehemently denied the charges and placed a video on YouTube saying he can refute all of the charges. He has claimed that the charges are a conspiracy against him because of his attempts to expose corruption, including a bribe he claims he was offered by the Dart Group to fix the ERA bid for additional generating power, which has triggered an internal investigation.

Ebanks has also been making many allegations and insulting his political enemies, reporters and local officials on his radio show and Facebook. He has saved most of his vitriolic attacks, however, for his political opponent and North Side incumbent Ezzard Miller, who has filed numerous complaints about Ebanks' evening radio show being broadcast by local radio station VIBE FM.

Related articles on CNS:

ICTA ducks 'Joey' complaint (24 April 2013)

Cops throw book at Joey (10 April 2013)

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Chuckie says new MLAs will select the premier

Chuckie says new MLAs will select the premier

| 25/04/2013 | 45 Comments

chuckie 23.jpg(CNS): Former tourism minister Charles "Chuckie" Clifford said the MLAs will choose Cayman’s next premier and believes it is unlikely that either of the two party leaders will be in a position to hold the top job when a coalition government is returned to the Legislative Assembly. While Clifford has stated that he will be more likely to work with the PPM to form a government rather than either the UDP or the PNA, he, like most independents is still hoping for a mixed bag, which will see the 18 members, and not the voters, decide among themselves who should be the third premier of the Cayman Islands.

“I believe that there is going to be a coalition government,” Clifford told CNS this week, adding that he would prefer to form a government with the PPM if he was choosing between the parties. “I have worked with them before and I believe that they are an honest and trustworthy party. It is very difficult to say the same for the UDP and its estranged members, who have taken on the PNA label.”

Nevertheless, the former Cabinet member believes his old party colleague Alden McLaughlin will not be premier, even if the PPM is returned as the larger party. 

“The PPM leader ought to prepare himself for this possibility rather than isolating his party from all of the other candidates through his inappropriate utterances. In a coalition governmentscenario, it is very unlikely that either one of the leaders of the two political parties will become the premier. The premier will be chosen by consensus from the members that will make up the coalition government and I believe that will be in the best interests of the country,” Clifford added.

Hoping to be part of that government, Clifford said he would not join any administration that does not support conservation legislation. “I will not be a part of a government that is not prepared to comply with what I consider a constitutional mandate to ensure that we have robust legislation to protect our environment. I would rather sit in opposition to a government that was not prepared to make this step,” he said.

Another deal breaker for Clifford is the proposal within the ForCayman Investment Alliance to move the George Town landfill to his district.

“I will not make any compromise with respect to the component of the FCIA agreement which proposes a dump in Bodden Town. The problem must be fixed on the current site is George Town, which is where all of the experts, up until this proposal came along, have said that it can be fixed,” Clifford stated. 

He added that the next government must check if this really is legally binding, but if it is, as it relates to the Bodden Town dump, government will have to take on that liability to protect its people, Clifford said. “To be clear, there will be no dump or landfill in Bodden Town. We will fix the problem on the current site in George Town.”

If Clifford finds himself in opposition or as a backbencher, he said he would still hope to influence major policy and would use a private members motion to persuade government to overhaul immigration and labour policies.

“It is simply unacceptable for a country that has approximately 23,000 work permit holders to have over 3,000 unemployed Caymanians, especially when many of these Caymanians have skills and some have professional university degrees,” he said.  “If the private sector is not able to achieve the desired result of employing the unemployed Caymanians, then the government will have to act unilaterally in the public interest. But I believe that the private sector should be afforded the opportunity to act first within a specific and reasonable timeframe.”

Clifford has produced his own manifesto and will be depending on nine other people in the LA to support his ideas if he is to deliver on any of the promises. The Bodden Town hopeful said that when he was tourism minister in the 2005 – 2009 administration, he delivered on many projects and programmes, but he was then part of a political party with a majority to carry policies through.

Despite losing his seat in 2009 by just a few hundred votes, Clifford said he has never stopped working for the district.

“As a leader of the Coalition to Keep Bodden Town Dump Free, we have been fighting very hard to keep the dump out of our district and to expose the propaganda about this project,” he added.

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Local activist begins jobs drive initiative

Local activist begins jobs drive initiative

| 25/04/2013 | 44 Comments

(CNS): The fact that there are now some 23,000 work-permits circulating in the local economy while 2,000 Caymanians remain unemployed continues to frustrate many people in the community. Local activist Sandra Catron said she is launching a new jobs drive using her database of some 6,000 contacts to try and match these local people to the many jobs that there are available in Cayman. Having made several successful efforts over the years to match jobs and people on a case by case basis, the current unemployment crisis calls for more and Catron told CNS that she will use her own database of contacts  to try and get as many unemployed Caymanians as possible matched to a real job.

“For many years people have been contacting me to assist them with job placement,” Catron stated Thursday. “My sole efforts have been largely successful. However, recently I have had an unusual number and have decided to take more drastic steps to put unemployed persons in contact with potential employers.”

She explained that with a contact list of almost 6,000 people, she hopes she can help more and not just those with skills in high demand.

“In the past I’ve worked closely with CML but they can only assist certain skilled workers and also have a limited number of clients. I figured this could be the most effective means of getting the word out there, in hopes of assisting these persons. There has to be a meeting of the minds with both employers and employees knowing that the other exists.”

Catron said she had also been using social media to ask those who are unemployed to get in contact with me and provide me with their resume and to have an job packet ready at all times, including the essential documents an employer would be needing in the recruitment stage.

The local activist said she is also planning a seminar for the unemployed with tips on how to improve their job hunt success, including resume writing tips, presentation and some of the basics that employers are looking. This is scheduled for 4 May at the GT Public Library, 3rd floor conference room, from 12-1:45pm.

Anyone wanting Catron to help them or who is looking for staff can contact her via Facebook or email:

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Two-by-Two, Cayman Style

Two-by-Two, Cayman Style

| 25/04/2013 | 37 Comments

In the year 2013, the Lord came unto Noah, who was now living in the Cayman Islands, and said: "Behold Noah, once again the earth has become wicked and over-populated, and I see the end of all flesh before me. Build another Ark and save two of every living creature along with a few good humans." God gave Noah the blueprints, saying: "You have 6 months to build the Ark before I will start the unending rain for forty days and forty nights." Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah in his yard with his head in his hands, leaning on the unfinished hulk of Ark Two.

"Noah!" God roared, "I'm about to start the rain! Why have you not finished the Ark as I commanded?"

"Forgive me Lord," begged Noah, "but things have changed since I built Ark One. To start with, Government said I needed a special building permit, which I cannot get because they say You are not qualified to design arks. For weeks I've been arguing with the Fire Inspector about the need for a sprinkler system. I told him it was going to rain for forty days and forty nights and You would be providing the sprinkling in case of fire, but that fell on deaf ears.

"My homeowners association claim that I've violated the subdivision by-laws by building the Ark in my back yard. The Civil Aviation Authority claims that I've exceeding the height limitations under a designated flight path.

"CUC demanded a shed load of money for the costs of moving power lines to clear the passage for the Ark's move to the sea. I told them that the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear none of it.

"Getting the wood was another problem, there was a Tree Preservation Order to contend with. And then there was the matter of protection given the Barn Owl. I tried to convince the environmentalists and powers-that-be that I needed the wood to save the owls — but no go!

"When I started gathering the animals, I was arrested for violating the Animals Law. They insisted that I was confining wild animals against their will. They argued the accommodations were too restrictive and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space. I was given a fine and suspended sentence.

"As I was trying to heard the animals into the holding area, I made the mistake of including a pair of Blue Iguanas. I ended up in jail, again. This time I was held in jail illegally for a week before being charged. That was months ago and the case still has not proceeded because it keeps getting postponed due to the attorneys continually being absent from court.

"Then the Department of Environment ruled that I couldn't build the Ark until I submitted an environmental impact study on Your proposed flood."

Noah continued, now crying:

'"I am still trying to resolve a dispute with the Immigration Department on how many Caymanians I'm supposed to hire for my building crew. And the Labour Board refused my staffing plan again.

"The Immigration Department rejected the Work Permit applications of all the people who want to work for You because they say You don't have a Trade and Business License. And Lord, You being a non-Caymanian, they say You will need to form a corporation and get a Company Control License before you can get the business license.

"The Department of Family Services says I can't use my sons because it would be child labour. And now the Immigration Board says my ad advertising for workers with ark-building experience is too restrictive against Caymanians."

Through bitter tears Noah went on:

"Central Planning Authority issued several planning violation notices as my yard is not zoned for manufacturing. Then they issued a Stop Work Order.

"To make matters worse, the Customs Department — acting under advice from the Director of the Department of Environment — just seized the Ark, claiming I'm trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species.

"All I can get from the Premier is that she says she has been 'praying about it', but I am pretty sure you don't listen to her anymore anyway."

Noah concluded between soft sobs:

"So, forgive me Lord, but it would take me at least 10 years to finish this ark."

Then Noah fell to his face, sobbing uncontrollably.

Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine and a rainbow stretched across the sky!

Noah looked up in wonder and asked, "Lord? You mean you're not going to destroy the world now?"

"No" replied the Almighty. " The Government beat me to it."

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CIG claims $50M surplus

CIG claims $50M surplus

| 25/04/2013 | 66 Comments

(CNS): Government officials are claiming that the public purse will have a surplus of more than $50 million at the fiscal year-end. The pre-election financial report by the financial secretary and his team, which had no input from elected officials, was gazetted last night at the eleventh hour in accordance with the Public Management and Finance Law. According to the report, after four years of fiscal crisis in government, it has finally managed to end a financial year with some cash left over. Although it is more than $30 million short of the budget predictions approved by the UK last year, it at least presents the next administration with hope that Cayman is still capable of earning more than it spends.

The government’s administrative officials are obligated to create a pre-election report, which must be published by 24 April, a deadline narrowly made when the report was published on the government’s gazette website on Wednesday night around 9pm. The report was shown to Cabinet members on Tuesday and signed off by the premier and deputy premier as an accurate prediction of public finances for this year.

The report is believed to reflect a relatively true position, as government neither collects or spends significant amounts of money during the final quarter of the financial year, which now has just over two months left.

The government’s bank balance for the entire public sector is also smaller than forecast in the original budget but officials believe that there will be over $157 million in the bank account by the end of the year. This is more than $21 million short of the predictions in the original budget delivered in July last year, after the former premier struggled in the face of UK pressure to balance the books.

Government debt still remains at around $718 million when statutory authorities are included and, as a result, CIG will still fail to comply with the debt servicing ratio, which has to be less than ten percent of operating revenue.

According to the report, government earned some $31 million less than expected but expenses were also fractionally less than forecasted, at just $600,000 less than planned.
The report also reveals that inflation is higher in Cayman than was forecast for this year, as is the GDP, but unemployment has levelled off at one point less than last year at 6.1, so the statistics state.

See full report below.

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Retired cop adds to evidence against ex-governor

Retired cop adds to evidence against ex-governor

| 25/04/2013 | 18 Comments

P5210150.JPG(CNS): Former RCIPS chief superintendent John Jones, who retired fromthe local police service last year, has added his voice to the growing evidence against the previous Cayman Islands governor, Stuart Jack (left). Jones has suggested that Jack deliberately concealed his part in an internal cop probe that led to Jones' suspension from office in 2008 and a costly discredited UK police probe into alledged corruption within the RCIPS. In the latest instalment in the ongoing Operation Tempura saga, Jones has given a statement to Scotland Yard about the former governor, who is being accused of criminality by the lead investigator of the bungled probe, Martin Bridger.

In a statement in which Jones recounts the early events that led to the Operation Temupra investigation, he corroborates evidence given by the former RCIPS commissioner, Stuart Kernohan, that Jack knew all about efforts to try and locate evidence of a corrupt relationship between Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis and newspaper boss, the late Desmond Seales.

He states that Jack was fully briefed about the covert but supervised entry of Net News staff into the newspaper offices to look for the sensitive police information that it was believed at the time had been leaked to Seales, in preparation for obtaining a warrant.

Jones' statement was given to the British police in connection with allegations now made by Martin Bridger that Jack had denied any knowledge of the Net News entry and, as a result, caused the $10 million probe.

Although Jones was eventually reinstated and given an apology, he states that it has still had a long term impact on him and has detrimentally affected his employment opportunities since he retired from what had been a long and distinguished career in the police, both here and in the UK.

In the statement Jones reveals that he and Kernohan had met with Stuart Jack, who was the governor at the time, and discussed the plans to try and recover the alleged incrementing documents in the Net News offices that would or would not prove a high security leak in the RCIPS.

“We specifically discussed the option of an entry into the CNN office. The Governor was made very clear about what was planned to take place with the entry into CNN office and was definitely fully aware of all the circumstances. He did not raise any objections, concerns or opposition to the planned entry,” Jones writes in the statement, adding that he had always had doubts about the veracity of the claims that were being made.

“Following the arrival of Mr Bridger and his team in the Cayman Islands I assisted them in various ways, including providing him with a tape-recorded comprehensive verbal briefing concerning the covert entry into the CNN office,” he recalls in the statement, but it became evident that Bridger viewed the entry into CNN as a crime.

“I met to discuss Operation Tempura with the COP on several occasions. Neither of us could understand the reason for the Governor not coming forward to advise the investigation of his approval and knowledge of the entry into CNN, which was being described by the investigation team as a burglary. It appeared that the Governor, for whatever reason, was content to deliberately conceal his involvement in the process to the absolute detriment of the COP and I,” Jones tells the Metropolitan Police.

“Following my suspension from the RCIPS, I found it inconceivable that such action was warranted as in my view I had carried out a legal and legitimate policing operation surrounding the entry into the CNN office. Furthermore, such entry had been authorised directly and with the full knowledge of the Governor.”

The entire investigation, which lasted for some two years, cost the local tax payer at least ten million dollars. It saw a high court judge unlawfully arrested and then compensated, two criminal trials that led nowhere, and Stuart Kernohan lost his job and his reputation.  It caused untold damage to the morale in the RCIPS and led to speculation and distrust in the local community about the real reasons for the probe. 

Despite the current situation and the mounting evidence that the entire fiasco was the result of the former governor keeping quiet about his knowledge of the Net News entry, the governor’s office here in Cayman and the FCO in London are still trying to keep other related documents under wraps.

A report on a complaint made by Bridger about the investigation, which was dismissed by the current governor, Duncan Taylor, is now the subject of a judicial review in the local court system. The document in question was ordered to be released by the information commissioner following an appeal by an applicant, who made a request under the Freedom of information law for thereport. The governor is fighting to keep the report secret as it is understood it could prove embarrassing for both UK and local authorities.

Meanwhile, Bridger is also fighting to use and expose other documents he has relating to the probe in his own defence following a legal action filed by Kernohan against him and the local authorities after he was sacked during the Temupra fiasco.

All of legal action in the fallout from the bungled probe continues to be paid for by the local tax payers, who remain as much in the dark about the investigation some six years after it started than they did on the day then governor announced the suspension of most of the then RCIPS management and introduced Bridger and his team to Cayman.

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