Archive for May 10th, 2013

CCTV nabs political vandal

| 10/05/2013 | 45 Comments

ezz.JPG(CNS): Updated with correction — The person who is believed to have drawn an eye-patch and beard on North Side independent candidate Ezzard Miller’s campaign poster appears not to be a teen prankster but a grown man. Police confirmed Friday that a 44-year-old man was arrested on 4 May on suspicion of damage to property. It is understood that the culprit was nabbed after he appeared on the local CCTV footage vandalizing the poster. In an ironic twist, it was Miller who led the campaign in his district to raise the cash and have the cameras installed in his constituency, long before government began its own installation. However, it was the naitonal CCTV camera's rather than those installed by Miller's fundraising efforts that nabbed the suspect vandal.

The suspect vandal has since been released from police custody on bail, an RCIPS spokesperson said, noting that a file was being prepared for the Legal Department and it would be up to the director of public prosecutions to decide whether charges should be laid against the individual. Police did not say if the suspect was a resident or a voter in the district.

Following news of the arrest, Miller congratulated the police and said he was glad to hear that the cameras were working and had assisted the officers on the case.

Miller is not the only victim of campaign vandalism as several PPM posters and PNA boards are also understood to have been vandalized. An entire poster for C4C candidate Winston Connolly was stolen from the Linford Pierson Highway.

According to the law, anyone convicted of political vandalism can serve as much as six years in jail or face a $5,000 fine and police have said they are committed to pressing charges.

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The tragedy of tactical voting

| 10/05/2013 | 55 Comments

While the loudest voices in Cayman are currently calling for a coalition government, the reality is that under the absurd multi-member voting system that we have, which seems only to be welcomed by former premier McKeeva Bush (and with good reason), it’s not going to happen. On Thursday 23 May, Cayman will wake up to a government led by one of the two political parties. With the vote hopelessly split, however, it may not be the PPM, leaving the very real prospect of Mac back at the helm.

Despite the wish of many for a collection of independents, who would then team up with the PPM to form a fantasy-style government, tactical voting under the local system will ensure that unless there is one independent candidate who is incredibly popular with the entire electorate in one of the three multi-member constituencies on Grand Cayman, the only independents that will be returned will be in the single member constituencies.

In the multi-member constituencies the independent candidates, including those running on the Coalition for Cayman ticket, will be looking for tactical voting and will quietly encourage their closest supporters to just vote for them. When they themselves enter the polling booth, the nine independents in George Town, for example, will be casting only one vote and hoping that anyone else voting for them will do the same.

It is, after all, a competition and everyone in it wants to win.

However, candidates in the UDP and PPM camps, and more than likely the PNA camp too, are far less likely to do so. When party candidates enter the privacy of the booth they will very probably vote for their party colleagues as well as themselves, and most are also openly encouraging all their supporters to vote straight.

So, party allegiances give candidates straight votes that they may not get as individuals. And while the concept of getting elected on other people’s coat-tails (an accusation hurled at the West Bay representatives for years) may not account for the majority of votes a candidate gets, it is still a significant amount.

None of the independents have that type of support and there is no front runner emerging among any of the lone candidates for George Town or West Bay (although Charles “Chuckie” Clifford might be the exception in Bodden Town), so it follows that the capital and "the Republic" will both be returning party candidates. The only question is, which ones?

A few short weeks ago, as McKeeva Bush’s criminal matters blazed across the headlines, it was inconceivable that he would be back on the top floor of the government building just across the way from the governor, Duncan Taylor, but this is no longer out of the question.

There is no doubt that the former premier still carries a considerable amount of hard and fast loyal support. Although this may be less than it was in 2009 when he really was 'Mr Popularity', ushered into office by some of the very people now running against his team in George Town, many UDP voters are still blindly loyal to their leader. If he asks them to vote straight in George Town and West Bay and cast only two votes in Bodden Town, that’s what they will do.

In contrast, PPM supporters are more flexible and their loyalty to the party leader considerably less firm. While they will probably give four or five of their votes to the party, they will be far more likely to vote for one or two independents as well – just as they did in 2009. Many votes were cast for independents at the last election, but not one was elected in a multi-member district, and the same thing will happen this time.

While some people find it unpalatable to be told to vote straight, until Cayman has one man, one vote independents are extremely unlikely to be elected. And while true democracy is voting for who you want to get elected, sometimes that is a wasted vote on a candidate that cannot win a seat, which means most people will not get what they want. After all, the late Margaret Thatcher was elected to office the second time with just over a third of the vote, leaving two thirds of voters very disappointed because, as is the case in Cayman now, the opposition to her was hopelessly split.

In George Town there is no front runner among the C4C or the ‘independent-independents’. If you ask five people who they think is the most popular of the independents and the most likely to be elected, they will all give you a different answer. Although four or five names come up more than others, there isn’t one consistent name, which means that the people who are giving their votes partly to the PPM and partly to independents or even all six votes to a collection of these independents will be spreading them across nine names.

That means that even the independent loyalists will have a myriad of combinations on their ballots, in the end cancelling each other out.

While the party’s block vote may not be as large in this election as it has been in the past, it doesn’t necessarily need to be to take all the seats. With the exception of Mike Adam, who will probably still attract a reasonable number of votes from across the board, most of the UDP voters will be voting six straight and the candidates will be less likely to pick up random votes from non-party loyalists or their own supporters.

But that does not mean that the PPM, whose candidates can attract random votes from people who do not support the party, will benefit. The vote for the PPM will be split significantly and unless there is a massive surge in popularity for one or two independents that take that PPM split vote in the next ten days, the idea of a UDP government is no longer inconceivable.

No doubt many CNS readers will disagree with the writer as they champion the virtues of the C4C candidates. And while the author of this rather ominous prediction wishes it were not so and believes that some of the independents running deserve to be elected, none of them will be voted in.

The awful dilemma that Cayman faces is that if it is the UDP that carries the day because of the split “anti-McKeeva” vote, we will face the prospect of another four years of that party in office – and, of course, Bush in the top job, with the prospect of a very public trial.

And then, because the UDP will never introduce single member constituencies, we will go through exactly the same thing again in 2017.

So, sorry if I put anyone off their supper but that’s the tragedy of tactical voting.

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Taylor: Government can’t be extravagant or corrupt

| 10/05/2013 | 15 Comments

government building.JPG(CNS): Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor has told civil servants that they must reassure the public that the government was neither “extravagant” nor “corrupt”, and while he has constitutional responsibility for promoting good governance, he has limited power to enforce it, relying on influencing public servants to do the right thing. Speaking yesterday at a “Lunch and Learn” session on good governance, part of a week of specialized talks organised by the Commissions Secretariat, Taylor said it was  “fundamental” that government develops business cases for major undertakings. He said this was a key part of the procurement process, which should encompass analysis, planning, competitive tendering, evaluation and monitoring.

Taylor's comments come in the wake of government's recent announcement that, after four years of avoiding the correct process for the cruise berthing facilities, a 'request for proposals' had been circulated to find a consultant to do such a business case.

Taylor said that business cases should form the basis of government’s Invitations to Tender and should ideally also be made public.

“We must keep trying to raise standards and reduce risks … a reputation for integrity is critical, and is what will attract more people and investors to Cayman’s doors,” Taylor told the group of civil servants  one day ahead of the announcement that he will be leaving Cayman this summer and heading to Mexico as the UK ambassador.

“We must reassure the public that government is not extravagant or corrupt. Good governance is about having clear, open, objective and transparent processes in place – and ensuring that they are followed,” added Taylor. "These values relate to staff appointments and procurement but apply in other areas, too.”

The presentation also covered the challenges relating to preventing conflicts of interest and concluded with a question and answer session for the civil servants present. This speaking series is designed to clarify the linkages between the Constitutional Commissions and government operations, government officials said in a release.

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Cops and cadets create new training programme

| 10/05/2013 | 0 Comments

cadets.JPG(CNS): The Cayman Islands Cadet Corps and the RCIPS have joined forces to create a new six week training programme for the young recruits. The police said the goal was to develop and enhance the leadership skills and knowledge of the Cadets and teach them about uniformed and other community based services. The programme will be certificated and aims to expose the Cadets to activities which will allow them to build confidence, develop new skills and provide civic and career awareness. Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis said he was sure the Cadets will learn a lot from the great initiative which may help swell the ranks of the local police force.

"The aims of the programme are commendable and who knows, maybe after experiencing some of what the RCIPS has to offer and learning more about the standards and the expectations we have of our own staff,” he said. “Some of the Cadets may think about changing their uniform for the red stripe of the RCIPS in the future."

Major Ricardo Henry, coordinator of the programme added that of the support the cadets have received from the police this was a highlight. “One of our aims is to expose Cadets to the "other sides" of policing that many people are not aware of, in this they will have an opportunity to see that the various career paths they have in mind may be realised in the multi-disciplinary RCIPS, and thereby achieve the dual goal of continuing their military aspirations,” he said. “This is a key partnership for us and we look forward to its continuation well into the future. The Cadets are excited and will glean much from the experience."

The partnership with the RCIPS is one of several currently being explored by the Cadet Corps as part of its Adventurous Training & Alternative Training Programme.

Over the next six weeks the Cadets will spend time in numerous departments within the RCIPS including the Joint Marine Unit, Traffic Management, Training, Operations, CID, Scenes of Crime, Air Operations and Financial Crime.  They will also learn about the administrative functions within the Service such as the Process Department, Crime Desk and Self Inspections.

The sessions are planned to take place Monday – Friday between 3.30pm – 6.00pm

Major Anderson White, Deputy Commandant and Officer commanding Alpha Company, said,  " It has been a dream of mine to see the Police and Cadets working closely, as Cadets benefit from the experience of the Police and Police interacts with future leaders of the community."
See details of the training programme below

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UK on tail of hundreds of offshore tax cheats

| 10/05/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): The UK’s revenue and customs office is on the trail of hundreds of wealthy individuals and companies as well as their accountants and lawyers who they believe are using complex offshore structures to conceal assets from the tax man. HMRC confirmed Thursday that it is working with the United States and Australian tax administrations (the IRS and ATO) on some 400 gigabytes of data that indicates the use of companies and trusts in a number of territories around the world, including the Cayman Islands. Officials said in a release yesterday from the UK government that the information is still being analysed but early results have already identified over 100 people who benefit from these structures and some are now under investigation for offshore tax evasion. Read more on CNS Business

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Controlling fishing can avert Caribbean reef collapse

| 10/05/2013 | 45 Comments

6a013488a2ccae970c0148c66b69a8970c-800wi (300x276).jpg(CNS): As the local marine environment waits on politicians to make a decision about conserving its future, news from the science community suggests that Cayman and other Caribbean reef systems can be saved from collapse with fishing and pollution controls.  Work undertaken by researchers with the Future of Reefs in a Changing Environment (FORCE) found that it is possible to maintain reefs but it requires countries to take the management of their reefs seriously and global action to address climate change. The Department of the Environment has undertaken extensive consultation about the pressing need to enhance Cayman’s marine parks and control local fishing but the urgency for action has not yet attracted the political commitment needed.

As a result, the delicate reef systems in Cayman, which have been better protected than others in the region, remain at risk. Peter Mumby of the University of Queensland and University of Exeter explained that people benefit by reefs having a complex structure

"Coral reefs provide nooks and crannies for thousands of species and provide the habitat needed to sustain productive reef fisheries. They're also great fun to visit as a snorkeler or diver. If we carry on the way we have been, the ability of reefs to provide benefits to people will seriously decline," he warned.

In this latest research the scientists drew on hundreds of studies to develop computer models of Caribbean reefs.

"Reefs are mostly built by living coral but the limestone structures they build are naturally eroded by other animals and plants, such as sponges. In a healthy ecosystem, reefs grow faster than they erode and the reef is able to provide habitat for thousands of fish and to support fisheries,” Mumby explained. “However, human impacts including pollution, overfishing of parrotfishes, and climate change tip the balance towards erosion, meaning that the reef habitat could erode away leaving a flat, barren habitat in its place."

The research team, including scientists from Australia, Mexico, the UK, Israel, the USA and Germany, investigated whether it was possible for Caribbean reefs to 'keep growing' for the next 70 years.

Professor Roberto Iglesias-Prieto, of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, said, "We were relieved to find that it is possible to maintain reefs but it requires countries to take the management of their reefs seriously and global action to address climate change."

Mumby added, "Some people have felt that coral reef management might be futile given the problems posed by climate change, such as coral bleaching. But our research reveals that control of fishing and pollution is essential to maintain reefs and that it can have a very meaningful impact."

The researchers also stressed the importance of reef function in addition to reef diversity. Those functions of reefs include the provision of habitat for fisheries, the provision of a natural breakwater to reduce the size of waves reaching the shore, and so on. In very practical terms, hundreds of millions of people depend directly on reefs for their food, livelihoods, and even building materials.

"If people are to continue being able to fish, snorkel, and attract tourists to reefs then they have to take great care of the ecosystem", said Emma Kennedy, a PhD student that developed the models at the University of Exeter.

The findings were reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on 9 May and were based on an analysis that combines the latest science on reef dynamics with the latest climate models. The research took place in the Caribbean under the EU-funded project FORCE

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Governor cuts stay short

| 10/05/2013 | 105 Comments

dunc oath_0.jpg(CNS): Governor Duncan Taylor will be bidding farewell to the Cayman Islands sooner than expected after being appointed as the UK’s Ambassador to Mexico and what Taylor told CNS would be an interesting and new challenge. Taylor arrived in Cayman in January 2010 to a less than warm welcome from the then premier, McKeeva Bush, who issued a warning to the UK official about micro-management before he set foot on the islands. Although more popular than his predecessor, Stuart Jack, with the wider Caymanian population, his relationship with Bush went from bad to worse during his more than three years here. Taylor will leave Cayman in August and officials stated that the process of finding a replacement was underway.

Although Taylor’s contract had been extended, the new top diplomatic post will see him leave before the end of the extended period. However, he will be here to see a new administration settled.

In a completely different role from that of governor as the ambassador in one of Britain’s fastest growing trading partners with notorious crime problems, Taylor will revert back to the position of representing the UK’s interests alone.

Traditionally, a posting as governor in one of the UK’s overseas territories was seen as a pre-retirement job that was expected to be something of a reward for long service in the diplomatic core. However, the posts in the remnants of the UK’s empire have taken on a slightly different image in recent years. With Cayman’s reputation increasingly under attack on the international stage, the UK government’s growing concerns about its own liabilities regarding its territories and the changing relationship between the mother country and the one-time colonies, the job has changed and it is unlikely that Taylor’s replacement will be heading for retirement.

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