Archive for May 18th, 2013

Dump bid lands CIG in court

Dump bid lands CIG in court

| 18/05/2013 | 81 Comments

GTLF 1(2)_2.jpg(CNS): The Cayman government is facing yet another law suit resulting from a decision by former premier McKeeva Bush. Peter Campbell, the local partner of US-based waste-management firm Wheelabrator, which was selected to begin talks with government over a multi-million dollar contract to deal with the George Town dump and manage local rubbish, is asking for a judicial review of the decision to select DECCO despite the results of a competitive tender. Campbell has filed suit against the relevant ministry and premier via the attorney general. However, he has done so alone and not with the US firm, which stepped away from the issue soon after government made it clear it was going to work with Dart. Campbell is seeking damages and a finding from the courts that the decision was unlawful and order government to re-tender the project.

Campbell had said he would take legal action after the well-publicised decision made by the former premier to give the project to Dart as part of the ForCayman investment Alliance. The circumvention of Campbell and his US partner by McKeeva Bush happened even though the deputy premier at the time, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, had completed a request for proposal within her ministry and the Central Tenders Committee had selected Wheelabrator.

Campbell, who was a founding member of the UDP, resigned from the party early in 2010, some nine months before the request for proposals on the dump was circulated by the Department of Environmental Health.

Campbell had teamed up with Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. to put together a bid, which came in first according to both the ministry's technical committee and the CTC in December 2010.

The law suit filed with the courts on Thursday shows that Campbell was in talks with government over the issue since early last year and, with an agreement from the attorney general, the delay in filing is not expected to impact the legal action.

In his statement of claim Campbell explains that his partner, Wheelabrator Technologies Inc.,  lawfully won the 2010 bid to implement a waste-to-energy facility at the dump in George Town and take over the management of Grand Cayman’s rubbish. However, despite going through a proper competitive tender and being selected to begin talks with the ministry responsible for garbage about how the contract would work, Campbell and his major US partner were pushed aside when the former premier changed the plans.

Bush announced at the Cayman Business Outlook Conference in January 2011, just weeks after the results of the tender were made public, that the dump would instead be capped and remediated by Dart and a new landfill created in Bodden Town as part of government’s mega deal with the local developer.

DECCO, Dart’s construction company, had taken part in the competitive tender and was found to be one of the least suitable bids by the CTC and technical experts, who had gone on to select Wheelabrator, one of the world’s most experienced waste management companies.

Campbell is hoping to overturn the decision, which will further undermine government’s controversial deal with the islands' biggest developer. Campbell claims that the unlawful and illegal decision should be set aside because government failed to comply with the 2010 Financial Regulations and the Public Management and Finance Law, which governs the local procurement process.

The former UDP member stated that he and his international partner had a legitimate expectation that they would be in talks with government to work towards a contract but they never got to the table. Although Campbell indicates that the suit is not alleging corruption, it states that “such conduct by government could spark suspicions.”

In the suit Campbell points to the international reputation of Cayman being at stake when government does not honour its commitment, and a decision in his favour by the courts would go a long way in the new era of transparency to direct government on how to behave.

The ForCayman Investment Alliance deal, which includes Dart’s proposal to relocate the dump, has been stalled as a result of a disagreement between the developer and government over concessions. In an ironic twist, the CEO of Dart has stated recently that the Cayman government should honour its legal commitments regarding that deal over the closure of the West Bay Road, as CIG is risking its international reputation by not doing so.

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Observers won’t interfere with election

Observers won’t interfere with election

| 18/05/2013 | 10 Comments

Elect obs-ID 52.jpg(CNS): The international mission of observers that will be watching the Cayman Islands general election next Wednesday (22 May) said they would not interfere with the process but would record and validate the election from start to finish. Mario Galea (left) from Malta, who is heading up the six man team, told the press Friday that the team was here to ensure a free and fair election but the members were not interested in who was elected, only how they get elected. Galea said the mission would observe every element of the election on behalf of the people, from campaign finances to the count. Two days after the polls close they will give a preliminary report of their observations before publishing a final report within two months of the election. (Photo by Lennon Christian)

“We will carry out this mission in the most impartial, fair and independent way,” Galea said. “We are interested in the election process but not in the political outcome. Our main interest is that the result truly reflects the will of the people. Our first and utmost commitment is to the people of the Cayman Islands. We wish them well and hope they enfranchise themselves in the upcoming elections.”

Paid for by the UK and invited by the Cayman government, with only the UDP objecting to the mission, the team made it clear they will be monitoring the process, not running it, and will be following accepted international standards.

The mission will be observing the campaigning between now and the polling day and ensuring that all the candidates are able to move around freely. They will also look at voter awareness and education, the freedom of the press and they hope to observe at least 90% of activity at polling stations. They will watch the entire count and will observe how the local authorities deal with any complaints before, during and after the election.

Having already started their job monitoring the mobile polling in West Bay on Thursday, speaking at Friday’s briefing Galea said they would reserve all their comments about what they had seen so far until after the election. While their role is to watch, Galea said that, should they observe anything that they felt was contrary to the process being free and fair, they would draw that to the attention of the presiding officer or local authorities and they would then observer how it was dealt with, rather than stepping in themselves.

The election experts denied that there was any stigma at all to having international observers and said that in reality it helps to validate the result. With most countries now inviting observers, it is seen as a positive step that helps to preserve the democratic process not undermine it. Not only can the people of Cayman have the confidence that the result was fair, the elected officials can be confident that they have a genuine mandate, Galea said. The mission’s leader also said that their recommendations could help to make what is already a good system into an excellent one.

Alongside Galea, who is a member of Malta’s parliament, there will be five other observers from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. They are Scottish MP Margaret Mitchell, Senator Philip Ozouf from Jersey, legal officers Juanita Barker of Guyana, and Fern Narcis from Trinidad and Tobago and the speaker from the Bermudian Parliament, Randolph Horton. The international team will work alongside but independently from the local team appointed by the Elections Office, which Cayman’s election supervisor said would assist his office in supervising the process.

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Driver arrested in fatal crash

Driver arrested in fatal crash

| 18/05/2013 | 34 Comments

(CNS): The son of local musicians Chuck and Barry Quappe has been killed in a road smash, which is now being investigated by police. Sources have confirmed that 21-year-old Zac Quappe was killed in the crash that occurred early Saturday morning on South Church Street near Sand Cay condos. Police released information about the two-vehicle collision on Saturday at around 12:15pm. A spokespersonsaid the driver of a second vehicle had been arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving after he was treated at the hospital. Police said the crash happened at about 3:11am on 18 May when both cars were speeding southwards on the single carriageway with a 30mph limit road.

The Ford Taurus being driven by  Quappe and a Mitsubishi Lancer driven by an un-named  23-year-old male, accompanied by a 20-year-old female passenger, crashed when the drivers were negotiating a left bend, lost control of their vehicles and ran off on the right side of the road. The Mitsubishi collided with a rock wall by Sand Cay condominiums and a parked unattended Honda CRV, which was in the Sand Cay front parking lot. The FordTaurus continued about 200 yards up the road and collided with a concrete column.

Quappe was transported to the George Town hospital, where he was pronounced dead at about 5:10am. Meanwhile, the driver and passenger of the Mitsubishi were also transported to the hospital, where they were treated for minor injuries. Police said the driver of the Mitsubishi was arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving at around 8:20am

Anyone who may have witnessed this car crash or have information pertaining to it should contact the investigating officer PC 313 Ellis at 949-4222.

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First corruption conviction attracts 9 month sentence

First corruption conviction attracts 9 month sentence

| 18/05/2013 | 20 Comments

(CNS): A civilian employee of the RCIPS has escaped going to jail in the first ever corruption case in the Cayman Islands. Patricia Webster pleaded guilty to two counts of misconduct in a public office following an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission. Justice Charles Quin handed down a nine month jail sentence on Thursday but suspended the sentence for 12 months because of a significant number of mitigating circumstances, despite the seriousness of the crime. The judge found that Webster was foolish and naive but had not received any pecuniary gain from her crime when she gave out confidential information to a friend.

Webster was employed at George Town police station as a receptionist but she still held a position in public office and was charged in October 2011 for misusing the police and immigration data systems. According to the crown's case, in the first count between April and August of that year she made extensive searches of the confidential databases and solicited information in an effort to find out if a friend was the subject of a police investigation and if there was a stop notice on him coming into Cayman as he was at the time overseas.

The police staffer was, however, unable to find out if her friend was under investigation and as a result was never able to pass anything on to him.

The second charge related to a search on behalf of a former RCIPS employee who wanted another friend’s phone number, which she obtained and passed it on.

When she was interviewed by the police, Webster admitted making the database searches but said she did not believe she had done anything wrong as she was merely trying to help friends. However, the importance of protecting and keeping information confidential was part of Webster’s job description and the RCIPS’ employee code of conduct and was raised in regular staff meetings.

As a result of what was considered a serious crime, even though it was committed for foolish rather than selfish reasons, Justice Quin said the crimes warranted a custodial sentence of nine months for each count, to run concurrently since the crimes were at the lower end of the scale. 

“Where someone abuses their position of trust, the court must of necessity consider an immediate prison sentence,” the judge said. “Whilst not in any way minimizing the seriousness of these two offences, I find that theyare at the very lower end of the scale. The sole motive for both offences was to help a friend and not to help herself. The defendant was extremely foolish and obviously did not consider or anticipate the serious consequences of her actions.”

Justice Quin suspended the sentence for one year because there was no criminal intent on Webster’s part, she did not receive or ask for any benefit in return, there was no third party determent, she admitted her crime quickly and pleaded guilty, she has clean record and is the sole provider for her two children.

“The defendant was naive in the extreme in both cases,” the judge said, as he pointed out that she had done a friend a favour without considering the strict rules about confidentiality.

“Because the defendant had no criminal intent in carrying out her actions she did not stop to think that there could still be consequences for what she was doing,” the judge said.

After passing his sentence, he pointed out that it was still a sentence of imprisonment which would be on Webster’s record, and should she commit any offence during the 12 months she would be liable to go immediately to jail.

Webster has been on required leave since September 2011 and the police confirmed Friday that steps were being taken in line with Public Service Management Law policies, to terminate her employment with the RCIPS but she will remain on required leave until the process is complete

Despite the widespread corruption believed to be taking place in Cayman in high places, the first corruption conviction was of someone who thought they were being helpful and gained no personal benefit from the action.

However, David Baines, the police commissioner and chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission, pointed out that corruption takes place at all levels and that anyone in public office who abuses their position of trust will be looking at jail time. In addition, the senior officer said he believed this would be the first of many convictions.

“Yesterday’s successful conviction underlines the serious nature of the charges, as well as the continued determination of the RCIPS, the ACC and the DPP’s office to vigorously investigate and prosecute those who misuse their position in public office for corrupt purposes,” Baines said.

“Much has been said in the media of late about corruption in high levels – this case proves that corruption can take place at any level within our society. I would urge anyone who has information about corrupt practices to come forward and contact us. I would also warn anyone who might be tempted to misuse their position to take the news of this conviction very seriously, because there is little doubt that this is the first of many to come,” he added.

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Cruise passenger dies while snorkelling in GT

Cruise passenger dies while snorkelling in GT

| 18/05/2013 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The police have confirmed that a 63-year-old man who was visiting Cayman on a cruise ship died Thursday after a snorkelling trip off Eden Rock. The US tourist was swimming with friends at around 10am on 16 May when he got into difficulty. The man was brought to shore by his friends where CPR was administered by emergency staff. He was then taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. A spokesperson for the RCIPS said that the matter is now under investigation by the Joint Marine Unit.

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Welshprison boss to take over Northward

Welshprison boss to take over Northward

| 18/05/2013 | 15 Comments

image.jpg(CNS): Neil Lavis, who has 30 years corrections experience in Britain, has been appointed as the Cayman Islands new prison director. Lavis is currently serving as the governor of HMP Swansea in Wales. Appointed because of key achievements during his three-year tenure there which have direct relevance for the HMCIPS, the new prison boss will start next month at a very challenge time of change for the local prison. HMP Swansea currently houses over 435 prisoners with 400 staff and a £9.5 million budget. Eric Bush, chief officer in the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, said he was confident Lavis would play a central role in efforts to improve the state of the local prison system.

“I was very happy to see the quality of applicants we attracted during the open recruitment process. We received 26 applications from highly qualified corrections professionals from all over the world and we are confident that Mr Lavis is the best person for the job,” Bush said.

The Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs started the recruitment process in February of this year in the wake of a damning report about HMP Northward and the failures in the local prison system.

After two rounds of shortlisting, comprising a review of candidates’ qualifications and experience and an evaluation of written responses to scenario questions, five candidates (three women and two men) were invited to attend an assessment centre and interview process in Grand Cayman. Lavis was chosen following thorough screening, which included rigorous background checks.

Commenting on his new appointment, Lavis said,  “I am keenly aware of the challenges ahead and am confident that I will make a positive difference and be able to deliver a prison service that meets the public expectations of keeping those in custody safe and secure and treating them decently while providing rehabilitation to break the cycle of offending, which will allow them to return to society better equipped to live as law abiding citizens.”

During his time at Swansea’s jail he has improved the overall prison performance from borderline level 2 to a level 4 high performing establishment under the rating system used by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP). He also improved mandatory drug testing, sickness levels, time out of cell and purposeful activity as required by the HMIP. He led and restructured the senior management team during a period of economic and social instability.

Lavis was also credited with maintaining a safe, decentprison and setting a strategy to improve resettlement provision and children and families pathways as well as linking with outside agencies to provide “through the gate” provision for prisoners resettling in the local community. He also effectively dealt with performance and conduct issues, including those of staff who hold senior management positions.

The authorities here said all of this experience would prove helpful for his new post.

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