Archive for September 5th, 2013

Cops net another suspect for burglaries in GT

Cops net another suspect for burglaries in GT

| 05/09/2013 | 1 Comment

(CNS):  A 27-year-old man has been charged with two counts of burglary, the RCIPS stated in a short release on Thursday morning. The man was arrested and charged in connection with two residential burglaries in Bedrock Circle and Mangrove Avenue in June of this year. The man was expected to appear in court Thursday. This follows the charging of 37-year-old Courtney Johnston, who appeared in court Tuesday relating to four commercial burglaries at Cayman Cabana, Uncle Bills, Kirk Marine and The Wharf restaurant. 40-year-old Sarah Elizabeth Day was also charged with one count of burglary at an apartment on Courts Road in July.

Although the RCIPS has claimed a fall in serious crime, it continues to battle with a rate of more than two break-ins a day, in particular in the George Town area.

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CIG reports on first 99 days

CIG reports on first 99 days

| 05/09/2013 | 35 Comments

(CNS): A self review of the PPM's first quarter at the helm of government covers a variety of achievements claimed by the new administration, from a re-drafting of the explosives law to a transparent policy regarding duty concessions. In a clear and concise easy to follow document, the government lists some promising new initiatives as well as a number of developments, from the UK's approval of its new four year fiscal plan to the restraint on expenditure over the last three months in the public sector. In the introduction the premier said that government had worked diligently to bring back stability since it was elected, starting with the restoration of confidence in government from the UK and the local business community

“Enhanced confidence in Cayman will assist us in our other priority — ensuring a vibrant economy so that Caymanians can secure jobs today and into the future,” McLaughlin said.

Admitting there was a lot to do, he said the PPM government had made great strides, especially with the UK accepting the multi-year budget framework. “We are able to put behind us the uncertainty and anxiety that has attended the budget process over the past four years,” he stated.

The premier also pointed to a number of other areas of controversy that the new administration had been working on. “We have tackled difficult areas like the Nation Building Fund, including the scholarship programme, as well as concerns with certain Government authorities head on; seeking to improve what was a bad situation.

"We have successfully pursued several initiatives relating to jobs and apprenticeship programmes to ensure that Caymanians have opportunities forjobs. We have reopened discussions with the Dart Group and good progress is being made on a variety of issues, including waste management,” he said.

According to the report, the Dart Group is still involved in talks with government regarding the George Town landfill on site, as well as continuing negotiations over the NRA agreement.

A scrap metal removal contract was signed with a local company that has generated CI$250,000 for government with the sale of 5,000 tons of scrap metal, which will be removed. Three new rear loader garbage trucks have been ordered and a 40-foot container load of various types of hazardous waste was also successfully shipped to Florida, in accordance with the USA regulations, for the first time in many years.

The report reveals that the National Conservation Law will be brought to the Legislative Assembly before the end of this year.

Before the year end, Cabinet will also bring the Commission for Standards in Public Life Bill, which covers a wide range of critical areas for good governance, including procurement, appointments to statutory authorities and government company boards, a new Register of Interests Law and setting standards for the behaviour of public servants.

Government has also agreed to an amendment to the Summary Jurisdiction Law to introduce a code of conduct for Justices of the Peace and training. Regulations have been drafted and a training programme is has been established for a Police Public Complaints Commission

“The Government has agreed to set up a commission that will act as an independent civilian oversight body for the Police and will receive and order an investigation of any complaint made by a member of the public against a police officer and or civil servant acting under the auspices of the police. Amendment to the Police Law 2010 to establish the Commission will be taken to the next session of the House,” the report states.

The Cabinet Office has begun the process of reviewing Cabinet’s Guidelines and a revised Code of Conduct for Cabinet. The report covers the economy, jobs, immigration, the Sister Islands culture, housing and numerous other issues that the government has turned its hand to since it was sworn in on 29 May.

“I reiterate that while we have done much in the first 99 days, there is much more to do, but I already feel a renewed sense of optimism in, and for, the Cayman Islands,” the premier stated.

McLaughlin was expected to formerly deliver the 99 day report on Thursday in the Legislative Assembly. The 100 day mark comes on Friday, coinciding with the arrival of the new governor, as well as the premier’s birthday.

CNS Note: Earlier information in this article and contained in the report below regarding a reduction in CUC bills is understood to have been detailed inaccurately by officials. CNS is awaiting an update from government and the ERA about the reality of a potential credit to CUC customers and a future rate reduction.

See full report below.

Vote in the CNS poll: How do you rate the PPM administration after the first 100 days?

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Archer tidies up UDP appropriations

Archer tidies up UDP appropriations

| 05/09/2013 | 7 Comments

(CNS): Finance Minister Marco Archer led the Legislative Assembly's Finance Committee in a fiscal tidy up on Wednesday. Archer brought four supplementary appropriation bills to the LA to reshuffle the money that had been allocated during the four budgets presided over by the previous UDP administration. During the debate, which focused on what appeared to be personal grudges rather than the details of the bills, the magnitude of the break between the new PPM government and its former independent allies became apparent as the back and forth between the benches became increasingly prickly. Archer, however, pressed on as chair of the committee in an effort to straighten out the public books in accordance with the Public Management and Finance Law.

He emphasised that the exercise had nothing to do with new spending but to address figures in government spending over the last four years, comparing what was budgeted to what was spent and adjusting the lawful budget appropriation where necessary.

Objections were raised by North Side MLA Ezzard Miller as he pointed out that the bills did not meet the constitutional requirement of 21 days notice, even though they were far from urgent. The independent member noted how frequently the new premier had joined him in complaints when he was sitting on the opposition benches about the previous premier’s habit of doing the same thing. He urged the new government not to go down the road of abusing parliament during its tenure. He said that as these bills were unconstitutional, he was reluctant to take part in the cleaning up exercise.

East End MLA Arden McLean also noted that while the government had brought a budget tidy-up for the fiscal years from 2010 to 2013, the controversial year of 2009 — the last year of the previous PPM administration — which had allegedly ended with an $81 million deficit rather than the $29 million that the Cabinet had expected, was not among the bills. McLean said it was time to settle that issue and ensure that the true figure, good or bad, was revealed.

McLean said if the UDP leader was going to continue to use that to beat all those who had been a part of that PPM government, as he had been one of them, he wanted to know the truth.

During the very short debate on the bills the premier urged the opposition benches to work with the government. He admitted that government had failed to meet the 21 day notice period but members had had the bills for a week, which was considerably longer that they had enjoyed during the previous administration for most of that government’s proposed legislation.

McLaughlin said he would be striving hard to comply with the rules, but given the context and the issues of being voted into office just as a new budget was required, it was impossible for finance staff to have prepared the bills any sooner. But the tidying up exercise needed to be done before another full budget was delivered later this month.

“We could have ignored this as they let it go for four years,” he said, referring to the last government, “but given the state of government finances and the criticisms about management, we felt it was necessary to bring this to the attention of Finance Committee and the wider public.”

McLaughlin said it was easy for Miller to complain but the government was playing the hand it was dealt. Once the budget was sorted, he would be working on a legislative timetable and prioritising laws to get through, so they would not wind up with emergencies bills being short of the notice period. He said it may happen sometimes but he urged all members “not to abdicate” their responsibility of attending to the “people’s business” that they, as MLAs, were all asked to do.

McLaughlin admitted that he had objected to the management of the House many times but had never let that get in the way of his contribution or his duty to carry out the scrutiny of government business, which was the duty of all members. He urged the members not to fight over the technical issues and save it for the substantive matters.

“I believe in order, principle and procedure and we will do everything to operate within the rules but we are asking for indulgence on this occasion because of the situation,” he said. “The country doesn’t want to see this back and forth so I have striven up until today to have an inclusive government and give everyone here opportunity to make a difference.

“I will continue with the principle of the out-stretched hand to colleagues. If it is slapped aside, I can’t do anything about that, but this administration is not about that,” the premier said, accusing the independent members of sitting on talk shows and slagging government but not doing anything.  “The people have rejected that,” he said, as he urged members to “stop the bickering” that was already surfacing and put aside any self-interest and game playing.

During his contribution, the East End member was clearly outraged as he took aim at his former colleague, the premier. He said he had heard the cries many times from the previous premier and accused McLaughlin of using the parliamentary forum to put the blame on the opposition when it had been the government that started the games after the election.

His efforts had been to try and ensure the UDP could never rise again but he was “rejected”, he said, making it clear he was affronted by what happened in the wake of the election, when the PPM had invited Rivers to the Cabinet and when both he and Miller had tried to block the opposition leader’s appointment to the Public Accounts Committee. McLean said McKeeva Bush should have been cast out into the “political wilderness” and not placed on such an important committee as PAC.

He said he had tried to help, but in the end the responsibility lies on the government benches for the management of its affairs.

“It doesn’t lie here,” he said, indicating the opposition. He said he had a responsibility to do what was best for Cayman but not at the behest of personal likes and dislikes. He said he was not there to “cow-tow to anybody”, stating the Legislative Assembly building was not a church but a house of politics.

The East End member took umbrage with the premier, calling him selfish, as he (McLean) had given his entire life to the country. “I spent over ten years with him as a member of a party. You’d think he would pick up the phone and call,” he said, clearly angry over the PAC appointments.

“Selfishness? He doesn’t understand the meaning of the word … You accuse me of something that didn’t happen and when you say I am selfish, you can’t expect me to sit back asthough someone sutured my tongue to top of my mouth,” McLean added, during a  contribution, which exposed the real size of the rift between the two former Cabinet colleagues.

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Manderson remains on run for three weeks

Manderson remains on run for three weeks

| 05/09/2013 | 7 Comments

(CNS): There is still no sign of Marcus Manderson, the 25-year-old son of multiple escapee, Steve Manderson, despite being on the run alone now for almost a week. It is more than threeweeks since Manderson escaped from Northward with his father and fellow inmate Chadwick Dale by cutting through the prison’s perimeter fence. Last week, the lead investigator in the manhunt,Detective Chief Inspector Malcolm Kay, called on the younger Manderson to give himself up, as he believed the young prisoner was living rough after his father was recaptured. Dale had already been rounded up a week after the break-out, which happened on 14 August.

Kay had said time was running out for Manderson, but there is still no sign of the young man. His father was rounded up in the Frank Sound area and Dale around Run Point, and it is understood that searches are still focused in the area, but the police are asking residents to remain vigilant.

Manderson is serving a mandatory ten year sentence for the possession of an unlicensed firearm after he was recently convicted of attempting to throw away a modified flare gun after being chased by police.

“It’s clear that the men have been living rough and we believe that they have stayed together since the breakout. Marcus is now out there on his own. He will be tired and feeling vulnerable. He must know that it’s only a matter of time before he too is recaptured," Kay said, adding that the escapee may not have access to food or water

“I would ask property owners and residents to report any suspicious activity or thefts from their premises," he said.

The three men escaped from HMP Northward just six weeks after the arrival from the UK of the new prison boss, corrections veteran Neil Lavis.

It is not yet clear if the local authorities intend to conduct a public enquiry into how three inmates, all convicted of violent offences, including (in Steve Manderson’s case) murder, managed to spring themselves from the facility.

Anyone who has any information which could assist the manhunt is asked to contact their local police station. Any sightings of Marcus Manderson should be reported immediately to 911.

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Governor arrives via CAL Friday morning

Governor arrives via CAL Friday morning

| 05/09/2013 | 14 Comments

(CNS):The new governor will arrive in the Cayman Islands to take up her new job at 11:15 on Friday morning on Cayman Airways. She will be met by the premier and other dignitaries on the tarmac at Owen Roberts International Airport. Helen Kilpatrick will then inspect a guard-of-honour before driving to Government House, her new home on Seven Mile Beach. She will be sworn into office at the Legislative Assembly at 2pm. After that, Kilpatrick will be attending a special welcome reception from 6:30pm at Pedro St James. Kilpatrick is not only the first woman to take up the post of governor in Cayman but also the first from outside of the diplomatic corps. A financial expert, Kilpatrick joins the FCO from the UK’s home Office.

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Premier taking Gibraltar trip

Premier taking Gibraltar trip

| 05/09/2013 | 47 Comments

(CNS): Officials revealed this morning that the premier will be leaving the islands on another government overseas trip, this time to Europe. Alden McLaughlin will head to Gibraltar at the weekend for a pre-meeting of the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council (JMC), which coincides with that contested territory’s National Day, and then on to Jersey for a meeting in relationto the G8. Accompanying the premier to Gibralta will be the chief officer from the health ministry, Jennifer Ahearn, in the role of ‘Sherpa’ – or emissary – for Cayman, to work with others from the Overseas Territories and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to develop the agenda for the JMC meeting in London in November.

The news comes following the revelations on CNS yesterday that Speaker of the House Juliana O’Connor Connolly, the leader of the opposition and the education minister were all in South Africa for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association while the Legislative Assembly was in session here.

The premier's week long trip is reported to be laying the groundwork for the main JMC meeting in London later this year.

“The pre-meeting will be held from 8-11 September and is an opportunity for all Overseas Territory heads of government to exchange views on political and constitutional issues, especially as they relate to the United Kingdom and its relationship with the OTs,” officials from the premier’s office said.

JMC members last met in London in December. Since then the Council has identified issues to be worked on, which include economic growth and jobs; protecting the environment; harnessing international support; and delivering better government, better education and stronger, healthier and safer communities.

After that, McLaughlin is travelling to Jersey at the official invitation of the Jersey government, to meet with the country’s chief minister, Ian Gorst, as a follow-up to discussions relating to the pre-G8 meeting in London in June of this year and the action plans that were published by Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies.    

The premier will be joined in Jersey by Financial Services, Commerce and Environment Minister Wayne Panton and his councillor, Roy McTaggart, while Ahearn will head to London for a Sherpa meeting. They will all return to the Cayman Islands on Saturday, 14 September.

According to details from the Gibraltar press, the Cayman Islands premier will be one of 8 OT leaders going to the island for the meeting; the others are from Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Falkland Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos and Pictairn.

“A full programme of activities and events has been prepared for them. This will include working meetings in advance of the Joint Ministerial Council between the Overseas Territories Governments and the United Kingdom Government which will take place at the end of the year,” an release from Gibraltan officials said.

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UK parliamentary porn hits laid bare

UK parliamentary porn hits laid bare

| 05/09/2013 | 1 Comment

(BBC): More than 300,000 attempts were made to access pornographic websites at the Houses of Parliament in the past year, official records suggest. It is unclear whether MPs, peers or other staff are responsible, House of Commons officials said. The figures were not all "purposeful requests" and may have been exaggerated by third-party software and websitesthat reload themselves, they added. About 5,000 people work on the parliamentary estate. The data was released following a Freedom of Information request by Huffington Post UK, which published the story with the headline Oh Yes, Minister!

However, the figures vary wildly: in November, there were 114,844 attempts to access websites classed as pornographic, but just 15 in February.

A Commons spokeswoman said: "We do not consider the data to provide an accurate representation of the number of purposeful requests made by network users."

This was because there was a "variety of ways in which websites can be designed to act, react and interact and due to the potential operation of third party software," she said.

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Judge lenient on troubled teen mugger

Judge lenient on troubled teen mugger

| 05/09/2013 | 25 Comments

(CNS): A seventeen-year-old boy who was arrested and charged for four different crimes in the space of four months but admitted them all immediately on arrest was given a total of 14 months behind bars by a Grand Court judge Tuesday. Although the teen had committed a robbery, attempted a street mugging, stolen a bicycle and handled stolen goods in the separate incidents, all of which were just months apart, Justice Charles Quin went easy on the young offender because he had cooperated fully with police when arrested, admitted his criminality and because it was clear the teen had been completely neglected by his parents, one of whom isalready a serving prisoner at HMP Northward.

Justice Quin gave the young man four different sentences, and while he ordered the two longer ones to run consecutively, he ran the two shorter sentences concurrently, as he said he had given consideration to the totality of time the teenage offender should spend behind bars.

Although the boy had committed a catalogue of offences in a short period prior to his first offence in January, the young man had no criminal record. It is not clear what started the period of offending but at the beginning of this year he was arrested when police found him in possession of a stolen Blackberry. The teenager confessed immediately to buying it from someone even though he knew it was stolen and cooperated with the police in their investigation into the original robbery on Sheddon Road in George Town.

After his arrest and charge, the teenager was bailed but then committed a much more serious crime. On the 23 March the young offender stole a woman’s handbag in what was a violent and frightening crime. The victim was sitting in her Jeep Wrangler, which has open sides, and was beginning to drive out of a car park off Dr Roy’s Drive in George Town when the teen grabbed her bag with such force he pulled her out of the moving car, which crashed into a wall as she threw the bag at mugger. His sunglasses were left at the scene, and although he ran away, he was soon arrested as he was wearing an electronic tag.

This was an unprovoked attack which also turned into a crash, and although the complainant was not injured, that was only by good fortune, but her car was damaged.

Having been released on bail again, the defendant then stole a bicycle that had been left unattended and unlocked outside the Brasserie Restaurant off Elgin Avenue. The judge described it as an opportunistic offence in broad daylight, but when the boy was later arrested he admitted to it. The bike was also recovered as the young offender left it at the scene of his final crime hours later and before he was taken back into custody. 

This time the 17-year-old was charged with attempted theft after he tried to mug another woman as she headed to work at the Chrissie Tomlinson Hospital. Riding the bike he had just stolen in Caycourts, the teenager attempted to steal her handbag but the women held on to her bag and in the struggle both she and the defendant fell to the ground. Fortunately, a man driving by saw what was happening and he stopped and apprehended the defendant. The court commended the passer-by for his alertness and courage, and as a result of his intervention the teen was apprehended for the crime, when he once again gave a full confession.

The judge handed the young man a three month sentence for the charge of handling stolen goods and another one for the theft of the bicycle. However, he handed down eight months for the robbery and another six months for the attempted theft and ordered that both those sentences should run consecutively while the three month sentences could be served concurrently, with time served since April taken into account.

As he delivered his judgment, Justice Quin revealed some serious challenges faced by the young man, including the “complete absence of parental involvement in his upbringing”, which had a direct detrimental impact on the teen. He had been “tossed around from institution to institution" and had no love from either of his parents. His father is already serving a long sentence following a cocaine conviction, which had also deeply disturbed the young offender, and the judge urged the teenager not to follow his example.  His mother was said to have played no part in his upbringing.

However, a social enquiry report described the young man as intelligent and very good at auto-mechanics and auto-body repairs, a skill the judge said was highly sought after and could take him away from a life of crime. “The lack of community resources and the blatant neglect by his parents have robbed the defendant of the necessary guidance and encouragement for him to succeed,” the judge observed.

Clearly needing help and with no love or support from his parents, Justice Quin said it was a very sad case. However, he pointed to the aggravating circumstances of some of his crimes

“I hope that whilst this young defendant is in custody he will think of the fear he caused and the physical and emotional harm endured by those he attacked,” Justice Quin stated, adding that the court recognized that things had not been easy for him.

However, as he was still young and “had the good sense to admit the offences”, he could bring the criminal activity to an end and change the course of his life by focusing on his skills.

“At the end of your period of incarceration you must put your skills to use and concentrate on obtaining a job … and never resort to criminal activity again,” the judge said. “You are the only one who can ensure that you lead a crime free and productive life and have the necessary ability and skills to do so,” Quin said, as he urged the teenager to be the best he could be and turn his life around.

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Tropical storm disorganised, heads to Puerto Rico

Tropical storm disorganised, heads to Puerto Rico

| 05/09/2013 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Tropical Storm Gabrielle, which formed South of Puerto Rico late last night, poses no threat to the Cayman Islands, weather officials have said, but the storm and other weather systems are being closely monitored. At 8am Thursday morning the centre of the storm was about 65 miles WSW of Ponce, Puerto Rico, moving northwest at near 8mph. Forecasters said a turn toward the north-northwest is expected on Friday, with a slight decrease in forward speed. On the forecast track the centre should pass near or over the southwestern portion of Puerto Rico this morning and across the Mona Passage later today. Gabrielle should then move east of the Turks And Caicos Islands on Friday.

With maximum sustained winds near 40 mph and higher gusts, weather experts described squalls to the northeast of the centre, in what they said was a poorly organized storm with little change in strength expected today, though some slight strengthening is possible tonight and Friday. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the centre.

Meanwhile, Cayman was expecting another showery day in association with the interaction between a slow moving tropical wave and a upper level low over our area. Radar images show widely scattered showers, mainly east of Cayman Brac and southeast of Grand Cayman moving west to northwest.


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MLAs refuse PAC roles

MLAs refuse PAC roles

| 05/09/2013 | 35 Comments

(CNS): Captain Eugene Ebanks, the fourth elected member for West Bay and member of the United Democratic Party, was the last man standing on the opposition benches Wednesday when he was nominated by the premier and accepted a seat on the Public Accounts Committee. Premier Alden McLaughlin had attempted to nominate both independent members Arden McLean and Ezzard Miller but they refused. They said they had already been rejected when the LA was sworn in because government wanted to put the opposition leader on PAC instead, creating what they said was a dysfunctional committee because of his previous role as finance minister. Following their refusal, McLaughlin nominated Bernie Bush, who also declined, saying he did not yet have the necessary experience.

As a result, the only non-government member left in the House was Ebanks, who accepted the role after both McLean and Miller had taken aim at the new premier about his insistence that the opposition leader had a seat on PAC.

McLaughlin had said the committee would need to be re-balanced after Roy McTaggart, the PAC chair, crossed the floor from the opposition benches and joined government.  During the opening of the new parliament the committee was appointed with two PPM backbench members, the two George Town C4C members and the opposition leader. Although McTaggart and Winston Connolly are Coalition for Cayman MLAs, their role in government weighted the committee in that direction. But strangely, it was Al Suckoo, a full PPM member, and not Connolly, who was the last man nominated on Swearing in Day, that resigned.

When the House met Wednesday morning, McLaughlin nominated East End member Arden Mclean, his former party colleague and now independent MLA, but he declined. Notonly was it too late, he said, but he had had no discussions with the premier since the government had refused his own offer during the earlier LA meeting in May.

“I accepted the nomination during the swearing in ceremony to assist government and avoid having the leader of the opposition, who is the former minister of finance,being on it," McLean explained. "I asked for this to avoid this quandary that we find ourselves in.” However, he said, “I was resoundingly rejected.”

McLean said it would have been common courtesy for the premier to ask him again if he wanted to serve before nominating him, but he had received no call or written request that he take the post from McLaughlin. He said the chair had called asking if he was mindful to do so but he had told him no.

“I put country before me, and the government of the day decided they didn’t want me on PAC and preferred leader of the opposition,” he said. McLean said he had to defend his position as the premier was trying to put him “on the spot”, but the very least he could have done is pick up phone. “It is wrong, unfair and disrespectful to not discuss this with me first and I decline the nomination,” he said

Miller, the member for North Side, said that he too had been nominated earlier but he did not wish to serve on a committee "that defies all parliamentary conventions”, as he pointed to the premier’s nomination of the former minister of finance to it. He said it was “going to be a dysfunctional committee”, as he suggested that the former premier would have considerable influence.

“We all know the capabilities and experience of the opposition leader in parliament as well as his tenacity," he said, and told the government it should not start its four years in office playing games, before he also declined the nomination.

As the proceedings continued, the back and forth between the government and opposition benches continued to be prickly, escalating after the premier urged Miller and McLean to put aside the bickering and work with government when they began debating the supplementary appropriations bill, described by Finance Minister Marco Archer as a “fiscal tidy up”. 

The sitting of the parliament resumes tomorrow morning at 10am.

Check back to CNS in the morning for more from Wednesday's LA proceedings.

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