Archive for April 9th, 2014

School assault focuses policy

School assault focuses policy

| 09/04/2014 | 50 Comments

(CNS): Education officials have confirmed that a teacher at John Gray High School was assaulted last month in a classroom by a Year 11 student, who was later arrested and charged. The teen was said to have engaged in disruptive and aggressive behaviour in class, which culminated in him punching the teacher before he was removed by a school security guard. In the wake of the incident ,the chief education officer said behaviour issues were a priority for education services and that it was currently working on refining key expectations around behaviour and discipline in schools to ensure clarity for everyone affected. Shirley Wahler also said that there would be important changes for the start of the next school year.

The teen who hit his teacher is being dealt with by the school in accordance with the school’s behaviour policy and it was immediately referred to the police, demonstrating the seriousness of how the school and education authorities consider the matter.

“We treat any assault within the school as a very serious matter, but in particular threats and assaults to teachers are regarded as matters of the utmost gravity and carry serious consequences,” said Wahler. “This incident has not only been dealt with by the school but has, as is our standard policy with incidents of this nature, been referred to the police as well.”

The CEO said that as well as the overall existing policy on behaviour, each school has its own individual school policy on discipline under the umbrella of the ministry policy. However, she said there was more to come that would require the involvement of all stakeholders.

“We all want—and our community deserves—that we provide safe, welcoming, supportive and inclusive learning environments,” said Wahler. “Significant work is currently well underway by the ministry and Department of Education Services to refine and publish key expectations around behaviour and discipline to ensure clarity at all levels and for all stakeholders. We believe that this will enable us to improve and strengthen the way in which behaviour and discipline issues are managed going forward, building on what currently exists.

“There will be important changes in this area for the start of the next school year. The ministry will be reaching out to all stakeholders to play their part to make this a reality at all schools, for all students,” she added.

The assault on the teacher at John Gray comes following reports last month of exit interviews that showed teachers were leaving asa result of the appalling behaviour of students and that existing teachers are still dealing, on a daily basis, with all of the issues recorded by the departing teachers, including classroom violence.

See national behaviour policy and John Gray’s own school policy below.

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Premier says sacred cows will be auctioned

Premier says sacred cows will be auctioned

| 09/04/2014 | 35 Comments

(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin hopes to count on support from the opposition benches when his government starts to put what he described as public sector "sacred cows" on the auction block. Speaking in the Legislative Assembly Wednesday, he told his parliamentary colleagues that if he kept the support of the government benches he was committed to passing the public authority law, despite the push-back expected from the semi-autonomous government companies and statutory authorities. The law will pave the way for more accountability and see some authorities amalgamated, some taken back into government and others sold off. McLaughlin said, however, that Cayman Airways wouldn’t be one of them.

During an unexpected debate in connection with a report from the local maritime authority that the member from North Side said should be rejected as a result of that authority’s failure to explain five years of losses, the premier revealed that the draft public authority law was well down the road to reaching a bill and coming before Cabinet, and soon after would be published for consideration and public consultation before debate in the parliament.

“No government has had the courage before to see this through because of the push-back from the public authorities,” he said, adding that the PPM administration of 2005-09 had tried but never got passed the discussion stage because of that push-back.

This time, however, he said that they would be pressing ahead with the law and the review of public authorities. With that came the issue of privatization and divestment but ,McLaughlin said, "No one wants to put the bell on the cat,” as he referred to the public authority “sacred cows” that could be sold.

The premier did not identify which authorities, government companies or public services that his government had in mind but he was quick to state that the national flag carrier would not be on the auction block at this stage.

With Miller calling for accountability regarding the losses at MACI and the debate that his motion had caused regarding the mismanagement of some public authorities and the significant loses at some, such as the turtle farm, requiring massive government subsidies, McLaughlin called on him and the other opposition bench members to back government and not “change course when the sacred cows are put up for auction.”

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Monthly civil service gong goes to immigration officer

Monthly civil service gong goes to immigration officer

| 09/04/2014 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Noted for friendly and courteous service that he provides to tourists and residents alike in his border control duties, Immigration Officer Harry Forbes was named as February’s government employee of the month.  Forbes was described by colleagues and superiors alike an exemplary employee, who proves his value time and again to his superiors.  “It is clear that you are one staff member who will go beyond the call of duty to assist the public and your fellow civil servants, whether they are from Immigration, Police, Customs or Prison,” The Head of the Civil Service and Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, said as he handed out the award which is part of a scheme put in place by his office to inspire government employees in their work.

“Your overall care for service ranks you high on the list of valuable, loyal, dedicated and committed civil servants,”  he added.

Named the “Most Helpful” Forbes was said to work hard in all aspects of his job and was particularly noted  for assisting with Spanish/English translations in legal matters and interviews, even when off-duty. Always conducting business with integrity, his bosses said he showed the highest level of professionalism, upholding the principles of justice strictly, whether he is investigating or highlighting breaches that could be overlooked. Forbes was also said to have put his excellent IT skills to full use in the department’s newly reformed Intelligence unit by helping to design and create electronic templates to streamline processes.

Always responsive to calls of duty, Forbes was  lauded by his superiors for frequently returning after a full-day’s work, once even hitching a ride to work when his car was off-service. “Such dedication and commitment to duty are rare,” his bosses said.

Forbes said he was caught by surprise, albeit pleasantly,  by the award which he was happy to accept the award as a collective recognition of all hard-working colleagues in the department. “This has inspired me to strive to continuously improve the department’s work and my own contributions,” hesaid. 


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MACI losses stir up LA

MACI losses stir up LA

| 09/04/2014 | 57 Comments

(CNS): With losses of more than $1.2 million over the last five years, the Cayman Islands Maritime Authority (MACI) stirred up proceedings Wednesday, when the Legislative Assembly opened on Cayman Brac. Ezzard Miller called on his fellow members of the LA to reject its 2013 financial report, pointing out that year after year government was accepting increasing losses at yet another statutory authority, which at worst should be breaking even when it was originally created to make a profit. Pointing to the complete absence of any explanation for the growing losses by MACI, despite revenue increases, the North Side member said the report should be sent back and the directors held to account.

The report was tabled by the financial services minister, Wayne Panton, as proceedings began and although he mentioned the more than $377,000 loss which government will suck up, there was no detailed explanation given for it as he thanked the board for their “professional and steadfast service". However, when Miller got to his feet and called for the House to reject the report, that "professional service" was called into question.

He pointed out that although there were record level earnings on the 1,966 ships now registered with the authority of more than $8.4 million, expenses were more than $9.2 million. 60% went to wages for the 50 employees, with $476,000 alone on three managers. Over $600,000 was spent on travel and entertainment and Miller asked why no one was asking what was happening. Given the constant loses, Miller queried the sense in retaining the register as an autonomous authority.

“Members should be concerned and alarmed,” he said, pointing to the continuing habit of reports being tabled and accepted by the LA with no questions asked of boards or the well paid managers.

He said he had tried to look at the possible reasons, comparing the shipping registry to the General Registry, which manages hundreds of thousands of commercial entities and public documents with less staff, pays its management team less than half those at the shipping registry and brings in more than $200,000 for government every year.

Panton was quick to point out the losses had nothing to do with the current administration. He said the comparison to the General Registry was inappropriate as the regulation involved in the shipping registry’s work was technical and costly.

He said losses were down to a fall in the number of services or outputs that MACI performs for government, which Miller had revered to as a subsidy, amounting to almost $6 million over the last five years. He also pointed to pay-back on a lease when MACI moved to the new government building. However, that was later revealed to be incorrect as the authority had saved some five months rent for the relevant financial year, which was in the report as a benefit.

Panton assured members that the losses were being addressed and would fall next year. Also MACI, like all other government companies and statutory authorities, would soon be under review and called to account with the proposed public authority law. The minister underscored the importance of the registry to Cayman and its significance to its maritime history. He also noted that it generated significant work for the offshore sector, so while it might make a loss as an authority in contributed indirectly to the economy overall, as he dismissed Miller’s suggestion of rejecting the report.

The member for East End, Arden McLean, who had seconded Miller’s motion, said all it asked for was for the board to recognize the problem and offer some reasons and solutions and asked how three managers could be earning almost half a million dollars at a government authority.

“We need to keep a close eye on these authorities,” he said, adding that they treated government like a “money tree” but the poor performance was continuously endorsed. He added that the intent of the motion was to find out what had gone wrong at MACI to ensure it won’t continue.

Offering the turtle farm as another shocking example, he called on government once again to just give the facility away as even paying the loan back would be cheaper than the ongoing subsidy. 

The planning minister, Kurt Tibbetts, emphasised the importance of the forthcoming public authority bill that will make government companies and statutory authorities accountable but he said that while he could not support rejecting the report, the issue had now been aired and he trusted the minister to handle the issue.

The opposition leader also joined in the debate, which stirred up feelings in the LA about the lack of accountability that has surrounded public authorities. McKeeva Bush took aim at Panton for being quick to say it wasn’t his government’s fault, but Bush said the authority had lost money under both administrations and the problem went beyond politics. He agreed it was important to find out why. Defending the turtle farm, he emphasised its cultural importance and again lamented the lack of support for a cruise ship pier in West Bay, which he said would have changed the fortunes of the attraction.

Meanwhile, the government’s veteran backbencher, Anthony Eden, who is increasingly ploughing his own political furrow, acknowledged that it was probably too late to send the report back but he said members could not put their heads in the sand and allow losses to continue, as he called for the public authority law.

The premier assured him and other members it had been drafted and was a long way down the road towards coming before Cabinet. (See related story: Premier-says-sacred-cows-will-be-auctioned).

He said the Maritime Authority could generate more income if it was able to attract commercial vessels, where the money was. He agreed with the leader of the opposition that the losses at MACI were fundamental and had nothing to do with any particular government but rejecting the report wouldn’t help.

Winding up the debate, Miller said he had never pointed the finger at any government but wanted the directors to be accountable. He raised concerns that the current board was more concerned with generating work for supporting financial services companies than getting MACI to break even or make a profit.

Disappointed by government’s dismissal of his proposal, he said it had missed an opportunity to send a clear message to tell the board to stop the bleeding. Miller warned that continuing to accept reports such as the one on the table was endorsing poor management.

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Maples Reserves trample over Stepping Stones

Maples Reserves trample over Stepping Stones

| 09/04/2014 | 1 Comment

(CRFU): Match Day 4 in the CRFU National Mixed Touch Rugby Championship saw two of the heavyweights of touch rugby come together in a potential league decider. SteppingStones have ruled the roost over the last couple of years with a combination of speed, guile and experience. Like an alpha rooster they have strutted and bossed the coop, with feathers preened and an air of dominance that has sent out the message that they are number one in the pecking order. However, they were well and truly knocked off their perch by a crack band of crowing young cockerels in the shape of Maples Reserves.

This merry band of bantams and chicks display all the youthful vigour that SteppingStones possessed a couple of years ago. They are simply younger, fitter, faster, stronger. 

From the kick-off, Maples Reserves started so fast one wondered if they had paid a small visit to the Lance Armstrong Tour de France fun bus for some light refreshment. Such was the speed of their play and the accuracy of their execution that SteppingStones could find no rhythm whatsoever. Early tries by Riley Mullen, Dave Acutt, Neil Montgomery and Jyoti Choi were evidence of the clinical efficiency that has typified their play this season.

The ‘Stones had some early opportunities but either dropped passes, missed passes, or wrong choice of options defined their game in the early exchanges. It proved that you need to take all your chances against the ‘Reserves if you are going to trouble them. Maples Reserves make the game look easy at times, as well-drilled as a Saudi sandpit and as well-disciplined as one of Miss Whiplash’s celebrity clientele. They make the hard yards through the early touches focusing the attack at one point in the defence in order to suck in defenders or break through a defensive line struggling to get onside.

SteppingStones had no answer and seemingly no safe-word either as their pain became tortuous with little or no respite.

Emily Davies managed to grab a try back just before the half-time break but the damage was done. SteppingStones seem to be defined by slow starts and are often in need of a rallying call at half-time before an improvement comes in the second half. However, there was little they could do to stop the Maples’ juggernaut. Momentum is everything and Maples Reserves were like a snowball flying down a St. Moritz double-black run on greased-up skis.  An early try from the Stones’ Rudolf Weder gave a brief glimmer of hope but Choi (twice) and Vikki Piaso stretched the lead. This contest may have been effectively over by half-time but Reserves just kept flying along.

A brief scoring cameo from Simon Raftopolous brought some consolation for SteppingStones but the final score of 9-4 was as emphatic a drubbing as SteppingStones have received for well over two years.

Rarely in touch rugby does a match get dominated by one person but when Island Air get took on KPMG it was as good a solo performance as I have witnessed in many a year. In the diminutive shape of Elaine Kerr, Island Air have a strike weapon of rare quality. Fast, nimble and able to side-step off both feet this girl has it all. She was the main reason that Island Air bombed KPMG out of the water with a comprehensive 14-0 win. Kerr was on fire. Her return of four tries, with crucially three of the first four to be scored, set up the platform for a much needed win for an Island Air side that has blown hot and cold this season. Her fourth try was simply sensational. Spinning through two would-be tacklers who were left grasping the thinnest of airs, she pirouetted between them before dashing 30 metres to score.

The crowd rightly got to their feet to applaud that one. She inspired her teammates to play with confidence and Brandon Smith, Nic Swartz and Brad Stephenson took full advantage. As Kerr took a well-deserved rest, Brid Verling took up the reins and finished the game with a well-taken hat-trick oftries, the pick of which was a length-of-the-pitch sprint that left a bunch of KPMG defenders drowning in her wake.

KPMG have had a tough season but never gave up and with players such as Kim Denison, Tanya Potiyenko, Andrew Edwards and Richard Kerr all doing well they can be proud of their attitude and contribution to the game. A final score of 14-0 puts Island Air back into the top four and more importantly into those end-of-season play off places.

In the day’s early game Heineken Brew Crew took on Maples1. In a game effected by the heat the pace was understandably slow. Eddie Westin scored a fine brace, with Alex Pineau, Biannca Johnson and Dave Bailey adding the extras for a 5-0 win. The try of the game was something that the Maples defender Paul “Barrel” Johnson will want to forget. As Heinekens’ Biancca Johnson took the ball past the Maples 5m line, Barrel clearly shouted “I have ball, I have ball”.

His confidence was inspiring for his teammates. They could concentrate on their own defensive responsibilities and leave Johnson to easily deal with the player with ball-in-hand. Or could they? What happened next will haunt Mr. Barrel for years to come because anyone knowing how Biannca plays knows that she a big fan of the dummy pass to break through the line. She knew she was going to throw the dummy, the crowd knew she was going to throw the dummy. Her teammates knew it, the Maples bench knew it, the bar staff knew it, the man with his dog walking past the ground knew it and even my lovely ol’ Mum knew it (and she wasn’t even watching)!. The only person apparently who didn’t know it was Barrel as he was left looking totally looking the wrong way as Biannca sold him the farm and went through easily to score.

In the case of “Johnson versus Johnson” it was Aussie 1 Kiwi 0.

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Cayman riders top Caribbean dressage contest

Cayman riders top Caribbean dressage contest

| 09/04/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Dressage riders from Cayman took first place in a premier Caribbean dressage competition last month. The four team members clocked up 209.655 points some 3.330 more than second placed team, Barbados in the regional contest of the World Dressage Challenge. Officials from the Cayman Islands Equestrian Federation said that Phoebe Serpell rode the Children’s Preliminary Test and finished top of her division with 70.862%. Tracy Surrey also topped her division, the Adult Preliminary Test, with 69.665%. Jessica McTaggart-Giuzio was a close second in the same class with 69.136 %. Polly Serpell also rode the Adult Preliminary Test and scored 66.466%.

Every year, the horse world’s governing body, the ‘FEI’, organize the World Dressage Challenge for countries in the Caribbean where dressage is considered to be a developing sport.

The Team was picked in advance with the help of elite dressage coach, Cindy Thaxton, who has been travelling to Cayman for several years to coach local riders. Thaxton’s ‘Dream Team’ consisted of the Serpell sisters, Polly and Phoebe, riding Sundays’s Edition and Calidad, Jessica McTaggart-Giuzio riding Loris 7 and Tracey Surrey riding SonRise David. Thaxton had to assess which riders would get the highest scores but officials said that Thaxton was spot on.

“The CIEF is growing a strong group of equestrians,” said Thaxton. “It is always a difficult choice to compose a Team from such depth. As a Team competition, sometimes the selection can involve one risk for a low score from a brilliant but overly sensitive horse. That sort of decision means that the other three must be solid anchors. This year's choice was complex because of the talent and skill that is developing.

“I had the honor of choosing the strongest for this team, but there were many individuals that would have withstood the pressure of representing the Cayman Islands with brilliance. CIEF has an Olympic Team in the making, if they keep their present course,” she added.

Cayman’s win is no flash in the pan. Riders from this tiny island have won four of the last five international competitions they have entered, including last year’s CEA Dressage Competition.

The team is now back to work learning an entirely different set of Tests in preparation for the region’s next dressage competition on 1 June.

This time it is the turn of the Caribbean Equestrian Association to organize the competition. The CEA have selected US Judge, Jeanne McDonald to travel to Trinidad, Barbados, Bermuda and Cayman to judge riders from each country. McDonald hails from Turning Point Farm near Devon in Pennsylvania. She is well qualified for the job being a an FEI “I” and USEF “S” dressage judge, a USDF/USEF Dressage Sport Horse Judge and a USDF Bronze, Silver, and Gold medalist.

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Heartbleed Bug:Public urged to reset all passwords

Heartbleed Bug:Public urged to reset all passwords

| 09/04/2014 | 7 Comments

(BBC): Several tech firms are urging people to change all their passwords after the discovery of a major security flaw. The Yahoo blogging platform Tumblr has advised the public to "change your passwords everywhere – especially your high-security services like email, file storage and banking". Security advisers have given similar warnings about the Heartbleed Bug. It follows news that a product used to safeguard data could be compromised to allow eavesdropping. OpenSSL is a popular cryptographic library used to digitally scramble sensitive data as it passes to and from computer servers so that only the service provider and the intended recipients can make sense of it.

If an organisation employs OpenSSL, users see a padlock icon in their web browser – although this can also be triggered by rival products. Those affected include Canada's tax collecting agency, which halted online services "to safeguard the integrity of the information we hold". Google Security and Codenomicon – a Finnish security company – revealed on Monday that a flaw had existed in OpenSSL for more than two years that could be used to expose the secret keys that identify service providers employing the code.

They said that if attackers made copies of these keys they could steal the names and passwords of people using the services, as well as take copies of their data and set up spoof sites that would appear legitimate because they used the stolen credentials.

Other security experts have been shocked by the revelation "Catastrophic is the right word. On the scale of one to 10, this is an 11,” said Bruce Schneier.

Go to full BBC article

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Ex top cop payoff to be buried in 2014/15 budget

Ex top cop payoff to be buried in 2014/15 budget

| 09/04/2014 | 9 Comments

(CNS): Although the settlement between government and the former police commissioner who was sacked during the controversial Operation Tempura internal police probe is currently a state secret, the parliament’s finance committee may be able to shed light on the amount next month. According to officials from the ministry of home affairs the payment to Stuart Kernohan will be coming from the 2014/15 budget set to be before the legislative committee in May. This means the cash will be buried somewhere in a line item and questioning by MLAs during the usual probe over the allocation of public funds may help determine how much more the tax payer has been force to cough up as a result of the bungled investigation.

CNS Filed an FOI request about the budgeting for the payment which was announced at the end of last month and as a result of the home affairs ministry not holding documents they confirmed via email that the money would be paid from the forth coming 2014/15 budget.

As a result the pay-off, which is estimated at around $600,000, far less than original speculation that it was in the millions, will be part of a line item entry in the home affairs ministry’s budget and savvy MLAs should be able to detect the approximate amount.  While it may be combined with other payments questioning of the premier, who is the minister for home affairs and his chief office Eric Bush may lead to a reasonable guesson how much the public purse stumped up for the mistakes of the former governor,  Stuart Jack as well as others associated with the discredited internal RCIPS probe.

Kernohan, a British national, was sacked while suspended from duty, when he refused to return to the Cayman Islands having gone back to the UK as a result of his late father’s then ill-health. Kernohan refused based on a catalogue of reasons relating to how the investigation was being conducted and what have since emerged as serious flaws in communication between the parties which still remain in contention.

The main issue surrounds Kernohan’s insisted that the his entry into Cayman Net News to look for evidence of alleged corruption between the late proprietor Desmond Seals and a high ranking police officer, by two reporters on the paper in collusion with the RCIPS, was authorized by the governor at the time, Stuart Jack as well as the overseas security advisor Larry Covington and the attorney general, Samuel Bulgin.

Kernohan has always stated that he had documentary evidence of this though it has been denied by the FCO officials.


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Smelly garbage trails due to rain, poor equipment

Smelly garbage trails due to rain, poor equipment

| 09/04/2014 | 15 Comments

(CNS): Trails of smelly and noxious water from local garbage trucks are due to rain water in the garbage and problems with broken seals on garbage trucks officials have said in a statement of apology to its customers. Although the director of the environmental health department that is responsible for rubbish said his engineers and mechanics are attempting to prevent trucks from leaking he said the department is also exploring the standardization of garbage bins with attached lids as well as a public awareness campaign to encourage people to keep a lid on their rubbish. Urging people to cover their bins especially in the rainy season he said environmental health was doing its best to mitigate leaks.

Responding to a letter of complaint printed in the Caymanian Compass recently from a Roger M. Davies who was concerned about the smelly trails coming from rubbish trucks Roydell Carter the Environmental health boss issued a detailed statement explaining how the leaching from the trucks occurs but which pointed the finger at the public for their failure to keep their garbage dry.

“Residential garbage trucks, which are used to service houses and some small businesses, are all equipped with a drain attached to the base of the truck’s compactors. There should not be any leaking from the trucks as these drains have sealed plugs, and optimally, residential waste collected from the public should be dry and with minimum water content,” he said in the statement. 

But in heavy rain water accumulates in open rubbish bins which is transferred to trucks which squeeze out the water as the garbage is compacted. Although the sealed plugs underneath the compactors should prevent the water leaking but if the seal is damaged or there is some much in the hopper of the truck water will spill out.

For more information contact the DEH at 949-6696. 
See full statement below

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Appeal court upholds 14 year jail term for dealer

Appeal court upholds 14 year jail term for dealer

| 09/04/2014 | 12 Comments

(CNS): A cruise ship worker from St Vincent who was jailed in the Cayman Islands in February 2012 for 14 years after being caught dealing cocaine on the streets of George Town will stay in jail after the Court of Appeal dismissed his application for a reduced sentence. Seaford Laborde, who wasworking on the Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas, was convicted of possessing over 2 pounds of cocaine with intent to supply after he was caught in March 2011 by an undercover cop investigating reports of drug smuggling on cruise ships. Local defence attorney Lucy Organ argued that Laborde’s sentence was excessive as he was a mule rather than a street dealer.

She said that the amounts were also in question because of the purity of the drug, and although he had been caught by an officer, the way the drug was packaged indicated that the cruise ship worker was smuggling rather than selling directly to people. Organ said nothing illegal was found in Laborde’s cabin, such as cutting agents or scales, that would indicate he was a dealer.

Organ said that her client had no previous convictions and had worked aboard the cruise ships for more than 15 years. She pointed out that as a foreign national he was miles away from his family in St Vincent where his wife and children, who cannot visit him, remain.

The lawyer said that the sentence was manifestly excessive because although there were no aggravating circumstances, there were several mitigating ones as she asked for the appeal court to consider dropping the sentence by two years.

However, Organ’s efforts fell on deaf ears and the court dismissed the appeal, upholding the 14 year term, stating that the judges would give their reasons in writing before the end of the current session.

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