Archive for September 4th, 2013

West Bay suspect gunman released by police

| 04/09/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The police have released the 23-year-old man who was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder in connection with shooting in the district of West Bay on Saturday 24 August. A police spokesperson also confirmed that the attempted killing was not gang related but no motive for the shooting has been revealed. The 22-year-old victim, who was shot at least three times when a gunman opened fire on the house in Powell Smith Drive off Town Hall Road, has been released from hospital, despite receiving serious injuries during the incident.

Following the shooting police patrols in the area have intensified and more armed officers had been deployed to the district. However, with the motive no longer believed to be gang related, it is not clear if the police are maintaining a heavier armed presence in West Bay.

If anyone has information they are asked to call 949-7777, or West Bay CID on 525-8303, or 800 TIPS to remain anonymous.


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Mac at Jo’burg CPA too

| 04/09/2013 | 53 Comments

(CNS): The opposition leader was absent from the Legislative Assembly meeting Wednesday, as well as the speaker and education minister, as they were all attending the CommonwealthParliamentary Association (CPA) annual meeting in South Africa. McKeeva Bush said he was in Johannesburg to chair a forum on taxation and he would be submitting a report when he gets back to Cayman. Bush confirmed that both he and MLA Winston Connolly had been chosen by the local CPA branch to represent the Cayman Island at the regular annual meeting but said Connolly did not attend. The UDP leader revealed, however, that Minister Tara Rivers was also at the event but the local CPA executive had not chosen her and he did not know who had.

Bush said that as a member of the CPA and one of its vice-presidents his attendance at the meeting is paid for by the Association, which is granted its funds by government.

“I was asked by the international CPA in London to chair the forum on taxation,” he told CNS via email on Wednesday. “I did that and will make a report on it when I'm back. Winston Connolly did not attend. And Tara Rivers came. But the ExCo of the CPA did not choose her. So I don't know who did,” he added. “At the time when I was chosen to attend no date had been set for the House of Assembly to meet.”

Bush explained that his arrangements were made and his costs paid before the government announced the House meeting. The opposition leader also said that his wife was also there but he had personally paid for her to travel with him.

Rivers had not intended to be a part of the delegation, which also includes the Speaker of the LA, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, but Bush said he was told at a later point that she would be attending. He said that the executive of the local CPA, of which he is an officer, which is responsible for choosing the Cayman representatives at the meeting, did not choose her. “I don't know who did. But she is here attending the meetings here in Jo’burg with me,” he added.

Although CNS has contacted the premier’s office for clarification on whether Rivers has gone in an official capacity and what costs, if any, are being incurred by the local treasury as a result of the trip, but so far there has been no response.

See related story on CNS here.

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Farm needs to measure real demand for meat

| 04/09/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): The Cayman Turtle Farm’s decision to reduce the price of its meat without any real assessment of the true size of the local demand for the product is a bad business model, an international charity has noted, especially given the massive subsidy that the farm receives from the public purse. Dr Neil D’Cruze from the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), who is leading the campaign for the CTF to change its model from a butchery to a full conservation facility, said manipulating the price of the meat to stimulate demand without understanding where the demand comes from or how much of a demand there is from local people makes no sense. Read more and comment on CNS Business

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Rivers in Africa as LA meets

| 04/09/2013 | 55 Comments

(CNS): The education minister will be missing when the Legislative Assembly meets this morning, as well as the speaker, as the two women are both understood to be in South Africa at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting. Although government had revealed that Speaker of the House Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Cayman's CPA representative, would be attending the annual meeting, which is in Johannesburg this year, there had been no indication that Tara Rivers would be joining her, as she was said to be on leave. The LA will be presided over this week by deputy speaker and backbench Progressive MLA, Anthony Eden, while Winston Connolly was sworn in last month to cover Rivers' work while she was absent.

CNS has submitted questions to the premier’s office to establish why Rivers is attending and whether she is doing so in an official capacity. While there has been no confirmationthat Rivers is attending the CPA or that she is in Africa on any government related business, sources close to government have confirmed she is in Johannesburg.  We have also asked for details of costs, as the CPA foots the bill for some expenses but flights are usually paid for by the CPA representatives’ own governments. There has been no response as yet.

A press release was issued on 23 August about the resumption of the LA today, 4 September, which confirmed that the speaker would be absent and that Eden would fill in, but there was no mention of Rivers. On the 19 August, a release had been issued by the office indicating that history would be made the following day when two councillors would be sworn in as temporary ministers. This, the release indicated, was because Rivers would be on leave from 27 August until 8 September and Marco Archer would be absent from 16-26 August. Roy McTaggart and Winston Connolly have stood in for their respective ministers.

Archer has returned and will preside over the Finance Committee hearing being held today to regularize the extra appropriations made by the previous UDP administration over the last four years, but Rivers remains in Africa. It is not clear if she has gone as part of her own personal leave time or whether she is attending as a government representative.

Rivers, the Coalition for Cayman member for West Bay, caused considerable controversy when she took several days to accept the ministry position offered by the new PPM administration, and had at first engaged in closed door meetings with the other two C4C members and the two independent MLAs, as the five sought to negotiate a different shaped government.

With huge public support for her to accept the post, however, Rivers eventually took the job and negotiated for her C4C colleague, Winston Connolly, to be given a job as counsellor in the ministry. This eventually led to the recruitment of the third C4C member, Roy McTaggart, to the government benches.

Shortly after the government line-up was settled and ministries shaped, Rivers was embroiled in further controversy when a petition was filed on 12 June in the Grand Court challenging her election to office on the basis that she was not resident in Cayman for the required seven years prior to nomination and that she had a US passport which she continued to use. The challenge was filed by John Gordon Hewitt, the husband of the unsuccessful UDP candidate, Velma Hewitt.

The subsequent preparations for the trial and then the trial itself took Rivers away from her desk until the issue was resolved on 12 August by the chief justice, who found she was qualified. Having returned to her post for two weeks, the minister then began a vacation when news also broke that the election petitioner was appealing the court’s decision in the case on constitutional grounds, which is expected to drag the minister into more legal wrangling over the coming months.

The LA was scheduled to begin this morning at 10am and the proceedings were expected to be televised live on the government TV channel, CIGTV20.

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ICCI shuts out public from activist’s presentation

| 04/09/2013 | 9 Comments

(CNS): The International College of the Cayman Islands (ICCI) has issued a statement in connection with a presentation due to be given by local activist Sandra Catron Wednesday evening on sex offenders. In what appears to be a breakdown of communication, the college has denied that the presentation that Catron has been invited to give is open to the public. As a result, the college president has said that only students and faculty are being invited, barring both the media and the wider public, despite the widespread debate in the community at present about the issue.

ICCI President Dr Tasha Ebanks Garcia said that Catron was invited by one of the college’s instructors to address his class and engage them in a discussion related to child sexual abuse in the Cayman Islands but no public session was co-ordinated.

"The views or opinions expressed by Sandra Catron are solely her own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of ICCI. This forum is for the purpose of engaging in an educational dialogue among the students and faculty of ICCI and is not open to the public," Garcia said, confirming that the media was also barred from the event.

However, Catron claimed that after the instructor had asked her to deliver the presentation she had asked if non-students could attend before she invited others, and he had said yes, as long as he was made aware so that he could make sure there was sufficient space.

The flyer, which was created by the lecturer in question, was then circulated inside and outside the college, but the ICCI head said the flyer should not have circulated in the public domain.

“Neither the general public nor the media is invited as Ms Catron's visit is not a public forum; it is a discussion that will take place within the context of a course that students have enrolled in for the summer quarter,” Garcia confirmed.

In an email regarding the issue, the college president said that safety as well as the “controversial nature of the topic” was an issue for the ICCI. She said an invitation to the general public could attract people who are not intent in engaging in healthy and constructive dialogue.

“One of our primary responsibilities is to ensure that our students and staff study and work in a safe environment,” Garcia stated.

“The challenge with not vetting individuals that are invited but rather extending the invitation to the public as a whole is that we could potentially put our students and staff at risk,” she added, as she asked for the invitations to stop.

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