Archive for February 24th, 2014

Shetty partners’ charity status in question

Shetty partners’ charity status in question

| 24/02/2014 | 8 Comments

(CNS): On the eve of the much anticipated opening of the Cayman Islands Health city in East End news reports from the United States reveal that the Catholic health care provider and Dr Devi Shetty’s partner in the venture, Ascension Health is facing questions about its charitable status in that country. The hospital charity’s partnership with Shetty and the Narayana Health group in Cayman is not the only for profit venture that it is involved with. The Catholic health group and is America’s third-largest health care system earning  some $17 billion in revenue in the 2013 fiscal year with some $30 billion in assets.

Despite these earnings and assets, according to reports in the United States the group has retained its charitable status and does not pay taxes.

John Colombo, a University of Illinois law professor who studies tax-exempt organizations has questioned the charitable status of the St Louis based health firm. "Why is this organization charitable? In my view, it's not," he said John Colombo. "They provide health services for the poor, but it's not their primary mission anymore … Ascension has transformed itself over time to a major big business enterprise. I'm not denying that they do some charitable things, but so does Microsoft — and they pay taxes."

According to John D. Doyle, an Ascension executive vice president the company provided $525 million in charity care to the poor last year as well as $775 million in community benefits to the general public.

"As a tax-exempt organization, Ascension acts for the public good," he said. "We are a faith-based ministry that's trying hard every day to make sure we have the resources to take care of people."

Ascension Health Ministries is a corporation within the Roman Catholic Church that reports to the Vatican on its key transactions and must adhere to church directives such as the prohibition on abortions. It's affiliated with a religious order called the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, which created schools for orphans and hospitals for the poor.

The organisation is working with Shetty and at the time of the deal’s announcement officials from the Health city said the Ascension group will handle purchasing, facilities management and biomedical engineering services at the new hospital, while Dr Shetty’s group will provide technical input and run the facility. It was also stated that Ascension would also be supplying medical staff for the facility.

The official opening of the first phase of the project a 140 bed hospital is scheduled for Tuesday 25 February at 9am.


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BT meets GT in local football final next week

BT meets GT in local football final next week

| 24/02/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Ash Wednesday football finals will see Bodden Town and George Town battling it out for the 2014 Presidents Cup. With an emphatic 3-0 victory over Elite Sports Club in the second leg of the semi-finals following their 2-0 defeat to the club in the first round, George Town carried through with a 3-2 aggregate to book their place in the final. Meanwhile, Bodden Town’s Theron Wood’s 53rd minute goal stopped Sunset’s challenge in Sunday’s game which ended in a one all draw, allowing Bodden Town to squeeze through with a 2-1 aggregate advantage for their spot in the big match.

The final sees the two current leading teams form Cayman's Premier League face to face at 7pm Wednesday evening  for the Ash Wednesday traditional game at the T.E Mcfield Sports Complex.

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Cops charge 45 year old man for mystery burglary

Cops charge 45 year old man for mystery burglary

| 24/02/2014 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Police have arrested and charged a 45-year-old man in connection with a George Town burglary which reportedly occurred on 16 February at a downtown George Town business. The unnamed man was expected to appear in Summary Court Tuesday to answer the charges, police said, but were unable to disclose the location of the premises that the man is accused of breaking into. An RCIPS spokesperson said the owners were overseas and unable to give authority for the release of the name of the business.


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UK toddler suffers savage attack by pit bull terrier

UK toddler suffers savage attack by pit bull terrier

| 24/02/2014 | 2 Comments

Cayman Islands(The Telegraph): A judge has demanded “urgent reform” of the Dangerous Dogs Act after hearing how a pit bull terrier maimed a four-year-old girl in the street. Sentencing the dog’s owner to just over two years in jail for the mauling which left the youngster scarred for life, Judge Peter Clarke QC said the case highlighted the need for tougher sentences against those who keep fighting dogs. “This case has demonstrated that the maximum sentence for this kind of offence is in urgent need of reform,” the judge told Blackfriars Crown Court, as the family of victim Carla Cutler looked on. “When a small child can be attacked in this way even without the owner wanting it to happen – given the harm that was caused to Carla I feel I was constrained in this case by the maximum sentence set by Parliament.”

The maximum sentence for being in charge of a dog which causes injury while dangerously out of control in a public place, under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, is just two years.

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Jamaica plans to decriminalise ganja this year

Jamaica plans to decriminalise ganja this year

| 24/02/2014 | 55 Comments

(CNS): The leader of government business in Jamaica’s House of Representatives, Phillip Paulwell, has indicated that the decriminalisation of ganja is on the parliamentary agenda for the upcoming legislative year. Although Cayman’s neighbour is not legalising the recreational use of weed, unlike politicians here the legislators are talking about the issue and plan to move on medical uses. Having met with the Cannabis Commercial and Medicinal Research Taskforce (CCMRT), Paulwell has told them that the motion for the decriminalisation of small amounts of marijuana will be enacted sometime this year.

According to reports in The Gleaner, Paulwell said, "It is my view that decriminalisation of the weed will become a reality this year, arising from the parliamentary debate and the support by the majority of the members, I believe it will be approved this year."

Although he emphasised that ganja would not be legalised for recreational use, he said this did not stop the country from using it for medicinal or scientific purposes and it was within Jamaica's supreme rights to decriminalise marijuana.

"We are not speaking about legalisation; we are speaking about decriminalisation and I think it is in our remit and within our sovereignty, based on what is happening in the United States to do so in relation to decriminalisation," he said. "Legalisation is another matter." 

Delano Seiveright of the CCMRT said this was a major game change in the discourse on ganja law reform.

"We have seen where many places north and south of Jamaica have been relaxing their laws as they clearly see the tremendous advantages," he said. "Jamaica of all places should move to make changes sooner rather than later."

Meanwhile, here in Cayman local politicians have refused to even answer enquiries about their position on the issue and the health minister has made it clear that his ministry is not even discussing the matter, despite the growing body of evidence regarding the herb’s healing powers for a number of serious and life threatening conditions, from cancer to epilepsy. Cayman still has some of the most draconian laws in the west regarding the use of ganja, with people criminalised not just for possession but consumption as well. 

However, the strict legislation has done nothing to reduce the use of ganja in the community and in particular within the prison walls, where, despite claims of a crackdown, the drug is still used commonly by prisoners and where no prisoner appears to be given assistance over any drug dependency issues.

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MLAs and C4C silent on rift

MLAs and C4C silent on rift

| 24/02/2014 | 11 Comments

(CNS): Although it is obvious that the Coalition for Cayman is less than impressed with the three candidates it endorsed at the general election and who are now serving on the government benches, it has remained silent about the rift and whether or not it has withdrawn its endorsement of its three MLAs. Roy McTaggart, Winston Connolly and Cabinet minister Tara Rivers have also said nothing about the significant criticisms from the group which endorsed and promoted them during last year’selection campaign. The C4C, which still claims it is not a party but believed its candidates would deliver the right agenda for the country, has now made very public criticism of two major policy areas supported by all three MLAs who were elected on the C4C ticket.

CNS has submitted questions to the three MLAs as well as the C4C about the relationship but no one has responded.

In the wake of C4C’s heavy criticisms of the government’s support for the National Conservation Law and more recently its condemnation of government finances, it is clear that the Coalition feels that the candidates it endorsed are not supporting the policies the C4C would like them to, based on the organisation's founding principles.

During the campaign the C4C stated that the candidates it had endorsed had filled in questions and had been surveyed regarding their support of the founding principles and had made much of the idea that it was endorsing people who would make the right decision for country. The political non-party said that the candidates it endorsed would be independent and that they would not make decisions on party lines but on what was best for Cayman.

However, having agreed to join the Cabinet, Rivers is now restricted to its collective responsibility and the only way she can disagree with the PPM government policy publicly or refuse to vote with government is if she resigns her post as education and employment minister. While McTaggart and Connolly remain on the back benches, having taken jobs as counsellors working directly with the ministers for finance, financial services and education, disagreeing with the ministers they serve would also likely see them ousted from those support roles. 

While none of the three C4C candidates have formally joined the PPM itself, as a member of Cabinet Rivers’ independence is of limited, if any, relevance as she is delivering PPM policy and voting on PPM lines. There is mounting speculation that McTaggart is considering joining the party and while Connolly may be keen to retain an independent image, he distanced himself from the C4C sometime ago. All three of the Coalition’s endorsed candidates have also attended several PPM political retreats and meetings.

Claims by the coalition during the campaign that their candidates would behave differently and would do the right thing without any influence from party politics have apparently failed to materialize.

The executive chair of C4C, James Bergstrom, stated at a presentation about the group during the run-up to the election that it was optimistic it could make a change to party politics. At the time he said the goal of C4C would be “to give their candidates advice on policy but not make policy”, despite the publication of their founding principles, which could be interpreted as a policy direction.

However, so far, what advice the Coalition has given to its candidates publicly has not been followed by those candidates. Bergstrom said the C4C would continue as a watch-dog over endorsed candidates if they were elected and would publicly condemn those that did not continue to follow the principles.

Nevertheless, C4C has remained silent on whether or not it has lifted its endorsement on the candidates it helped to finance and support in their campaigns for office.

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Developer’s claims ‘a worry’

Developer’s claims ‘a worry’

| 24/02/2014 | 54 Comments

(CNS): Claims being made by a potential developer in the district of North Side have unnerved the local MLA, as he says he has been told nothing about the plans for a 4.5 acre inland saltwater lagoon in the middle of farm land in his constituency as well as alleged plans for an airport in East End. Ezzard Miller told CNS that he has concerns about some of the things set out in a sales brochure from Crown Acquisitions regarding a proposed inland beach and golf resort in his district, which seem at odds with reality but which, if true, could have a serious impact on his constituency

Miller states that claims in the promotion brochure, seen by CNS, that a “new international airport facility” is currently “pending receipt of a formal go ahead” and will be complete by 2020, as well as the creation of a man made salt water lagoon is problematic, either because the developer is making exaggerated claims to promote a development or because government has given the go ahead without informing his constituents.

Concerns about these particular developers were also raised by the UK’s environment committee during its recent audit of the overseas territoriesover possible land banking in Little Cayman, in particular. The developer has bought and cleared a significant amount of land for proposed subdivisions that would, if they were to go ahead, easily overwhelm the smallest of the three islands.

The development in North Side is smaller but would, with a proposed saltwater inland lagoon, still have a serious impact on the environment and, as Miller noted, on the surrounding farmland in the area of Grape Tree Point in his constituency.

Miller said that the developer had also informed him that government has promised him myriad concessions and accommodation tax breaks to create the resort, which would be made from prefabricated buildings that would be shipped in and pieced together on the island.

In the brochure for the potential resort the developers state that they are in talks with the CIG regarding the proposed resort, and although claiming to have the go-ahead for the lagoon, they do not appear to have filed a planning application. In addition, although claiming in the brochure that work is underway at the site, CNS visited the location last week and there is no evidence of any ongoing work, other than the clearance of a short marl access way some time ago, which is now growing over.

CNS has submitted questions to the tourism and environment ministers and is awaiting a response, and Miller says he too hopes to get some answers from government about what is happening. He said either the developer is misrepresenting the situation, which does not bode well for the image of Cayman as the resort is being promoted overseas to potential investors, or significant development is about to being in his constituency for which he and the residents have been given little to no information.

“I have concerns about this either way,” Miller said. “This developer is being either being allowed to be economical with the truth or the government is keeping a lot of information to itself.”

While not opposing appropriate development in his constituency, he said that there were some serious questions about this particular proposal. Miller said he would be looking for answers from government in short order to find out what is really happening at the site and what sort of long term impact, if it is going ahead, it will have on his district.

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Airport confirms Civil Aviation probe

Airport confirms Civil Aviation probe

| 24/02/2014 | 10 Comments

Cayman Islands, Owen Roberts Airport, Grand Cayman Islands(CNS): The Cayman Islands Airport Authority has confirmed that an air traffic controller based at Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman has been placed on administrative duties as a result of an ongoing investigation by the Civil Aviation Authority. Following revelations that a Cayman Airways Ltd (CAL) pilot had been suspended, officials from the airport said the air traffic controller was not suspended or being disciplined but the airport was cooperating with the probe and the air traffic controller’s removal from active duty was in accordance with international regulations. The air traffic controller is understood to have been on duty when a CAL aircraft was reportedly brought down to close to the North Sound. 

Cayman Airways confirmed last week, following enquiries from CNS, that the pilot had been grounded as a result of the investigation.

The news regarding the probe into the air traffic controller comes against the backdrop of a major shake-up at the airport, plans for redevelopment and the formation of an association by air traffic controllers to protect and promote their profession. The president of the new group told CNS last week that the creation of the new association had nothing to do with what was happening at the airport. He said efforts to create a local branch of the professional association had been ongoing for several years and it was not a workers' union.

The airport management confirmed that they had been informed of the association, with which it was not familiar, but dismissed allegations that there were concerns about the formation of this new body.

“The CIAA was formally notified in an email from the President of the Cayman Islands Air Traffic Controllers Association (CIATCA) of the official formation of their group. The CIAA is not familiar with the Association but supports any measures that increase the professional knowledge and competency of its employees,” officials stated in response to questions from CNS.

The airport also denied allegations over outstanding pay to staff at the airport in connection with various acting posts and other issues, despite numerous reports of complaints from employees.

“All CIAA personnel who are performing acting duties are doing so on mutual agreement and are being compensated accordingly,” said Acting Managing Director of the CIAA, Andrew McLaughlin. “I am not aware of any grievance in this regard,” he added.

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Tributes paid in death of Cayman’s former AG

Tributes paid in death of Cayman’s former AG

| 24/02/2014 | 5 Comments

Cayman Islands(CNS): Sir Richard Ground, a member of the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal and a former local attorney, died this weekend at his home in Derbyshire in the UK. The former Bermudan and Turks and Caicos chief justice died on Saturday 22 February after a short illness, aged 64. Across the Cayman Islands tributes were paid to the regional legal heavyweight, who began his legal career in the region and in the Cayman Islands in the attorney general’s office as crown counsel under the then attorney general Michael Bradley. Cayman Premier Alden McLaughlin expressed his condolences to Sir Richard’s wife, Dace, and his family on their great loss

“I have known Sir Richard Ground for more than thirty years and am saddened to learn of his passing. He was an outstanding lawyer and a fine jurist and will be greatly missed,” said McLaughlin, paying one of many tributes from around the region.

Sir Richard Ground was born on 17 December 1949 in Stamford, England, and educated at Oakham School in Rutland; Lincoln College, Oxford; and the Inns of Court School of Law. He won an open scholarship to Oxford in 1967 and the Violet Vaughan-Morgan University Prize for literature in 1968. He graduated with a BA Hons in English Language and Literature in 1970. He was called to the Bar, in Gray’s Inn, in 1975; was appointed Queens Counsel (Cayman Islands) in 1987; and was elected a Bencher of his Inn in 2011. 

He began his legal career in private practice at 1 Brick Court, Middle Temple, where he specialized in media law, 1976-83. He left London in 1983 for the Cayman Islands where he served as crown counsel under HM Attorney General Michael Bradley. When Bradley was made Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1987, Governor Peter Lloyd appointed Sir Richard to be Cayman's attorney general in his place. He served in that post until 1992.

Sir Richard met and married his wife Dace in Cayman in 1986. She was government's marine parks coordinator at the time, and they met while developing the Marine Parks Regulations. Richard was a keen diver and enthusiastic underwater photographer, but then discovered the amazing wildlife of Cayman above water, and never looked back. He published his first book of wildlife photographs in 1989, titled "Creator's Glory" in reference to the National Song, which he loved.

He was appointed Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Bermuda, serving from 1992 to 1998. His next career move took him to the Turks and Caicos Islands, where he was Chief Justice 1998-2004.  He continued his love of wildlife photography, publishing his second book in 2001, "The Birds of the Turks and Caicos Islands". His photographs have been published in numerous magazines, such as WildBird, Bermuda Magazine, the Times of the Islands and The Bermudian.

In 2004 Sir Richard returned to Bermuda, when he was appointed chief justice. He served in this position for eight years, retiring in 2012.

In other legal appointments, he had begun serving as justice of the Court of Appeal for Turks and Caicos Islands in 2005, and was appointed to the Court of Appeal in the Cayman Islands in 2012. Effective 1 January 2013, he was appointed to sit on the Bermuda Court of Appeal but his illness overtook him before he could attend his first session.

Sir Richard and Lady Ground loved their years in Cayman. After working on the Marine Parks, Lady Ground went on to become the founding Executive Director of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, and Sir Richard worked enthusiastically to ensure the success of that organisation. They were delighted when Sir Richard was appointed to the Cayman Court of Appeal, as it allowed them to return to the islands they love.

"Sir Richard's availability to sit as a Judge in the Court of Appeal was tragically curtailed by the onset of the illness which led to his death,” Sir John Chadwick, President of the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal said. “But he demonstrated, in the course of the session for which he was able to sit, both his outstanding quality as a judge and that the contribution that he would have made to its work in future years would have been immense. He was held in the highest esteem by his colleagues and will be sorely missed." 

Adding his comments on behalf of the Cayman Judiciary, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, QC, noted his own long association with Sir Richard, going back to their work as colleagues within the Attorney General’s Department in the early 1980s.

“As Crown Counsel and later as Attorney General, Sir Richard made a very significant contribution to the development of the laws and administration of government in the Cayman Islands. His contributions to the administration of justice as Chief Justice and as a judge in Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands is well known and appreciated throughout the Caribbean region and Sir Richard enjoyed the respect of his fellow judges and Chief Justices from aroundthe Region, and indeed of those many colleagues from around the Commonwealth who came to know him.

“The Cayman judiciary and the local profession were very much looking forward to his time on the Court of Appeal here and are deeply saddened by his passing.”

At the opening of the Courts on Monday the judiciary will observe a public moment of silence in remembrance of Sir Richard.

“It is with great sadness that I received the news of Sir Richard’s passing. During the time I served with him on the Cayman Islands Judicial and Legal Services Commission I found him to be a man of passion, integrity and humility. His love of life and passion for the law was portrayed in all that he said and did. He will be missed but his legacy will live on,” added Dan Scott, Chairman of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission.

Attorney General Samuel Bulgin added his condolences to Lady Ground and their family.  “The untimely passing of Sir Richard is unquestionably a terrible loss to the Cayman legal fraternity of which he was an invaluable and admirable member. We are profoundly saddened by his passing. He had a stellar legal career in the Cayman Islands as well as in some of the other UK Overseas Territories including his tenure as Attorney General of the Cayman Islands and more recently his appointment to our Court of Appeal,” he added.

Sir Richard was awarded the OBE in the New Year’s Honours List 1991 for his services as Attorney General in Cayman, and was made a Knight Bachelor in the Birthday Honours list 2012 for his services to justice in Bermuda.

“I was sorry to hear of the passing of Sir Richard, who gave so much to the Cayman Islands. He will be missed. My thoughts are with Sir Richard’s family at this sad time,” said Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick.

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Three marina plans for Brac

Three marina plans for Brac

| 24/02/2014 | 60 Comments

(CNS): Cabinet is currently considering coastal works licences in relation to three proposed marinas for Cayman Brac. One at Salt Water Pond next to the Alexander Hotel, which will require cutting a channel though the fringing reef and ironshore and building a new road around the pond, has been heavily criticised by the National Trust, which claims it could have a "profoundly negative effect" on the island’s diving industry. There is also a proposal for a marina on the northwest coast of the island, near Cemetery Pier (left), and another within the sound on the south side near Carib Sands condominiums. The Department of Environment (DoE) has said that multiple marinas for the island are not likely to be economically viable and it favoured the proposal on the north coast.

In its recommendations to the Development Control Board (DCB), which is the deciding authority for upland developments on the Sister Islands, the DoE said, “Taking into consideration local knowledge of prevailing weather patterns, sea conditions, reef structures, water depths and access to deep water, siting a marina on the north western section of Cayman Brac appears most appropriate.”

The DoE noted that access to deepwater would likely reduce the requirements for significant offshore channel dredging within the marine park. Thislocation would also take advantage of the existing Scott’s Jetty as a sheltering breakwater and it would not require any road to be re-routed.

The DCB has given this application, made by developers MMCB Ltd, an affiliate of Le Soleil d’Or, conditional approval based on receipt of the coastal works licence, which is decided by Cabinet. Located between Scotts Dock (Cemetery Pier) and the Bucanneer, it includes a swimming lagoon roughly 100 by 65 feet, which the developers say will have recreational facilities, such as slides and trampolines.

According to the application, the marina section will be approximately 400 by 135 feet with a depth of 11 feet – large enough for cruise ship tenders – with removable boat slips and a public boat ramp. All excavation material will be used on the upland portion of the property.

A spokesperson for the developers said, “We want to see Cayman Brac develop in a sustainable way and offering a high end product.” She said the project would take approximately six months to complete once the coastal licence had been approved.

MMCB has also applied for a second coastal works licence for a marina located within the sound between Kidco Dock and Carib Sands, consisting of 17 perpendicular boat slips – about 400 feet across – excavated to a depth of seven or eight feet.

The Salt Water Pond proposal, which has been put forward by Cleveland Dilbert, owner of the Alexander, includes a coastal works licence to remove 167,000 cubic yards of marl, rock and sand from the sea bed; 80,000 cubic yards to be used on site and 87,000 cubic yards to be used for the new road, according to the application. (Left: The Alexander Hotel was built in 2009 next to a pond that smells when the water line is low.)

Large boulders will be placed going offshore to make the base of a jetty (groyne), which will act as a road for the excavators to move offshore, the application states. The proposal is for the inland pond to be excavated simultaneously (a decision that rests with the DCB) and water allowed to settle prior to the opening of the sea. The channel and the pond will then be connected.

In a statement about the Salt Water Pond marina, the Trust said it was “of the opinion that any economic benefit that the developers hope to derive from the proposed marina will be far outweighed by the economic losses for the already declining Brac economy as a result of the imminent damage that will ensue for some of the best dive sites in Cayman Brac.”  

Stressing the loss of protection for the land that would result from this proposal, the Trust noted that this area of the Cayman Brac coastline is subjected frequently to strong wave action from prevailing easterly winds. 

“The proposed channel would be constructed through two separate protected areas, a Marine Park and a Replenishment Zone. It would breach the fringing reef, negatively impacting these areas by removing 1.25 acres of seagrass, 1 acre of coral, and 17 acres of sandy bottom. These areas will be irrevocably changed leading to a loss of nursery areas for fish and other young marine life.  It is important to note that a total of 19.25 acres will be dredged and the proposed groyne would impact an additional area. The amounts of fish, conchs, lobsters, and other animals available to be harvested may decrease precipitously,” the Trust said. 

“The associated beach is one of the few on Cayman Brac where sea turtles have nested in recent years. The proposed channel and associated groyne have the potential to increase beach erosion, reducing the areaavailable for nesting turtles. Additionally the increased boat traffic would likely adversely impact turtles breeding, and effluent from the marina would impact the nests, not to mention the human population.” 

The Trust further noted, “Salt Water Pond acts as a water catchment holding runoff from the surrounding land through the rainy season with water levels in the pond often higher than mean sea level. Dredging a channel into the pond, and further dredging of the pond, will shunt sediments and nutrients into the marine environment. This will increase negative impacts to the reef, and sediments will threaten many popular dive sites down current with reduced visibility or increased algal overgrowth. This in turn could have a profoundly negative effect on Cayman Brac’s dive industry.”

Cleveland Dilbert, owner of the Alexander Hotel, released a statement Sunday night to say that comments made by Paul Watler of the National Trust regarding his proposed marina were “sensationalized, not based on the facts”, and accused him of “speaking to the public under the perception that he is an authority on constructing safe harbours in the Cayman Islands”.

However, though Dilbert said a more detailed response would be released later this week, he has not yet offered any factual arguments to counter the Trust’s position.

See below for full statements from the National Trust and Cleveland Dilbert, as well as images for locations of the two MMCB marinas.

Related article on CNS:

Critical habitat threatened (2 May 2012)

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