Guest Writer

rss feed

Guest Writer's Latest Posts

Wild dogs roam West Bay

Wild dogs roam West Bay

| 13/08/2014 | 79 Comments

(CNS): A pack of dogs which apparently roams from the Northwest Point Road area in West Bay all the way to Cemetery Beach, viciously attacked a pet cat over the weekend, resulting in calls from concerned neighbours to capture these animals while imploring dog owners to keep their pets safely tethered. The pack of six dogs jumped a four-foot fence into Katie O’Neill’s yard on Watercourse Road at about 9:30pm Friday and went after her cat, mauling the animal and pulling one leg out of her hip socket. Despite an emergency trip to the vet, the cat couldn’t be saved because the injuries had resulted in paralysis from the midsection down, so she had to be euthanised. (Left: Sophie after the attack on an IV drip)

O’Neill is distraught over the incident and left wondering why these dogs, which have been involved in other violent attacks, have not been rounded up.

“I have spoken to several of my neighbours who have said these dogs are part of the same pack that have been roaming together for months. A few months ago, another cat was killed and left in a nearby yard,” O’Neill said.

On Friday night, she heard “a ruckus” in her yard, saw the dogs through a window and ran outside to chase them away, without realising they had already attacked her cat. The pack jumped the gate and ran off in the direction of a friend’s house.

She had her cat, Sophie, for 10 years and remains traumatised over the incident. “My cat was in our fenced-in yard. Why did those dogs come in our yard and attack her? She was so sweet and docile, and used to being around our Labrador. She did not deserve to be the object of a tug of war by vicious, rampaging dogs.” (Right: Katie O'Neill at the cat's grave in a corner of her yard)

She recounted how she found Sophie in the dark and brought her into the house, where she just lay on the floor, writhing in clear agony, bleeding from bite marks on her face, and prompting the emergency visit to the vet.

The death of her cat was “like losing a family member. I’m heartbroken and I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through this.”

After O’Neill’s house, the dogs wound up in the yard of her friend, Paul Rivers. He recounted how his family was awakened by the dogs, who were attempting to get to some hens he keeps in a coop. His aunt saw them attack the cage and ran them off. He spotted the dogs a few days later headed for Boggy Sand Road and noted one dog had a collar, indicating it had an owner.

The pack is identifiable by its leader, a white dog with black patches, which matched the description given by several different witnesses, including Mark Orr, chief conservation officer at the Department of Environment, who has had dealings with these animals. He said the description of the dogs matches what he has seen, notably the black-and-white dog.

In two separate instances, when he and other members of his department were on a beach in West Bay waiting for turtles to nest, the dogs chased the turtles back into the sea. His team ran them off and this happened again a few nights later. While no turtles were injured, these dogs remain of great concern, he said.

“They might pose a danger for the turtles. I don’t know that they would attack something that big but they will chase them into the sea and interrupt the nesting.

“I’d hate to see it if a nest hatched and the dogs found the hatchlings. That would definitely be a threat as they seem to be going after anything they can,” Orr said.

He added that they have been seen chasing iguanas and chickens, running over the road and through hedges and on beaches. “In general, these dogs can be quite a nuisance, posing a danger to pets and wild life. They are now attacking invasive species (such as green iguanas) but could switch to native species.” Orr added they needed to be trapped and brought to the Humane Society where they could be adopted or “take other action as necessary to lessen the number of wild dogs”.

Rivers, who owns a horseback-riding business, said a week-old foal was killed in 2008 by dogs whose owners had not kept them properly restrained. “I’d like to see more responsible ownership to begin with. They should be properly controlled or find the dogs another home.” If that fails, they might have to be euthanised, he added, saying that Animal Control needs to get them off the streets.

“It could escalate. There could be a small child outside their yard that could be attacked. Everybody should be concerned for the children. Someone’s child could be playing in their neighbourhood and dogs in pursuit of an iguana or chicken could scare them or run into them,” Rivers said.

According to Brian Crichlow, assistant director at the Department of Agriculture, anyone having a problem with stray dogs on their property can call the DoA to request traps be put on their land. “The Department does have a new Animal Welfare Officer Mr. Joel Ebanks, and he can be contacted through our office. The Department also continues to provide Animal Control services,” he said.

At press time, Crichlow was trying to confirm that there had been any requests for traps in regards to the particular pack of dogs that attacked O’Neill’s cat.

O’Neill is hoping to see a culture change among negligent pet owners. “I think it is unconscionable that people have animals and not care for them properly. A lot of times, I think people have dogs as cheap burglar alarms and that is what they are worth to them.”

As for the pack of dogs that attacked Sophie, she said, “I’d like to see these dogs captured before they can harm any other animals and even possibly small children. Do we have to wait for that to happen?”

Continue Reading

Past time for Liquor Board change

Past time for Liquor Board change

| 13/08/2014 | 22 Comments

Liquor Board chairman Mitchell Wells should have resigned or recused himself long ago, especially after he himself and two other members of the board declared a conflict of interest and walked out of the December 2013 session of the Liquor Licensing Board, forcing the adjournment of the session because of the lack of a quorum.

Considering that a conflict is so obvious and so glaring (both Mr Welds’ mother and son are liquor license holders themselves), it is equally obvious that his continued presence as chairman of the board serves to compromise the office itself. In fact, my attorney Clyde Allen, who attended the December 2013 meeting on behalf of Tortuga, made a statement to the board that because the chairman and the other two members of the board who had recused themselves had acknowledged that a conflict existed, it meant that all previous liquor license decisions that they were a part of could now be legally challenged. He also stated that all future decisions of the board could also face legal challenge.

It is an affront to the intelligence of all Caymanians for Mr Welds to merely shrug his shoulders and maintain that it is difficult to avoid conflict because the Islands are too small, when his immediate family members are directly involved in the liquor industry. Where direct conflict exists, a presumption of prejudice is immediately raised (whether real or perceived), and in any other country would result not only in an investigation but a call for the chairman’s resignation. I agree with a call for further enquiries and investigation into the issues raised by the internal report from the Department of Commerce and Investment and would urge the ruling members of government to show the courage and political will necessary to address the issues that arise from an enquiry.

It could never have been the intention of the framers of the Liquor Licensing Law for any one person to dominate a position on the Liquor Licensing Board for in excess of 25 years and sit as chairman for 12. In fact, Section 4 (3) of the Liquor Licensing Law (2000 Revision) states that members of the board, including the chairman, shall be appointed by the governor and shall hold office at his pleasure for such period not exceedingfive years as the governor may determine and who are eligible for reappointment. The definition section of the Liquor Licensing Law states that “governor” means “governor in council.” Governor in council refers to the leader of government business and the Cabinet of the sitting government, so Mr Welds has sat as chairman for 12 years under both the UDP and PPM administrations.

The fact that the law expressly refers to a maximum period of five years is proof that it was never intended that service on the board was to be perpetual. The question that needs to be asked is whether Mr Welds has ever been formally reappointed by the governor in council (the leader of government business and the Cabinet of the ruling party). If not, can it not be said that his position as chairman is invalid?

Thirty years ago, when my wife and I started Tortuga, the Hon. Lem Hurlston, Chief Secretary, was then chairman of the board; thereafter, magistrates were appointed, followed by the first justice of the peace 12 years ago. The intent of the law was to have someone with legal knowledge chair the board. Following recent court decisions, there has been a call for JPs to get some form of legal training because of the nature of their responsibilities. I think it is time to revisit the tenure of the chairman and indeed all board members. This is not about Mr Welds personally, but the office of chairman itself, and a desperate need for confidence in it to be restored.

Considering the obvious conflict, I believe the proper thing for Mr Welds to do is to resign; failing which, the powers that be should thank him for his years of service and ask him to step down. What concerns me, as well as many license holders, is that there are many young Caymanian attorneys qualified and talented and worthy of a JP appointment, who have not been considered by the UDP or the PPM for the role of chairman.

The liquor industry in the Cayman Islands is a significant player in the economy and an essential stakeholder in tourism. It creates many jobs, the trickle-down effect of which can be seen in the growth of huge hotels, restaurants, party boats, liquor stores and warehousing delivery, just to name a few. It is important that the members of the public and the primary stakeholders have confidence in the impartiality of the decisions of the board. As it stands now, that confidence is woefully lacking.

Continue Reading

Brandyn Murray trains with elite in Germany

Brandyn Murray trains with elite in Germany

| 06/08/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Over the summer, twenty-year old college sophomore Brandyn Murray had the unique opportunity to train with a number of professional and semi-professional football teams in Germany and England. The trip was made possible with the financial support from Grasspiece Promotions and a number of local companies and individuals. Brandyn’s preparations included several early morning training sessions at the Annex Field and numerous beach sessions with former Cayman internationals Lee Ramoon and Colin “Dougie” Rowe. In June, Brandyn spent one week with FC Augsburg’s Under 23 team in Augsburg and four days with SV Pullach in Munich.

FC Augsburg play in Bundesliga 1 and their Under 23 team participate in the German fourth division (Regionalliga Bayern). SV Pullach compete in the Bayern League South, Circle Class (equivalent to Division 5).

At FC Augsburg, under the tutelage of Under 23 head coach Dieter Märkle and assistant coach Oliver Beer, Brandyn enjoyed five days of high-intensity training at the FC Augsburg Youth Facility.

As the squad was already in their second week of pre-season training, the sessions were very technical and physically demanding and Brandyn took a few days to adapt to the speed of German football. By the second day, young Murray had adjusted his game and adapted quite comfortably in meshing with the rest of the squad.

He was exposed to a number of technical drills involving quick passing, ball control, positional play, possession and movements without the ball mixed in with weight training, calisthenics and yoga.

At SV Pullach, under head trainer Frank Schmöller, Brandyn trained for four days with the semi-pro outfit before heading over to England on July 3.The training in Germany was arranged through Joseph Albersinger, a former resident of the Cayman Islands, who returned to Germany 12 years ago to complete his UEFA coaching licences. Once a member of the historic Strikers Football Club in the Cayman Islands, Albersinger has coached a number of youth teams in the German professional leagues and was most recently a youth coach at FC Ingolstadt, a Bundesliga 2 club.

In England, Brandyn was based in Swindon and travelled to Macclesfield Town FC in Macclesfield, just south of Manchester. Macclesfield Town play in the Conference Premier, one tier down from League Two and is managed by John Askey.

Brandyn spent two weeks with the Silkmen along with several other triallists and quickly learned that at this level, unlike Germany, it is very physical. The training experience in England was arranged through Fitzroy Simpson, who is responsible for the placement of the three Caymanian youngsters at Swindon Town FC’s Youth Academy and one Caymanian youngster at Reading FC’s Youth Academy. Simpson has been instrumental in developing the relationship between the Swindon Town FC Youth Academy and the football
fraternity in the Cayman Islands through Grasspiece Promotions. 

Commenting on his European experience, Brandyn said, “It was an awesome experience, especially in Germany where I felt more comfortable with the style of football FC Augsburg and SV Pullach play. I am small in stature and prefer the technical aspect of football where I can use my passing and speed rather than my physical attributes. The reviews and comments I received from the coaches in Germany were positive so I hope to return to Germany next summer to secure a few try-outs. We’ll see what happens.”

He added, “Special thanks to the individuals and companies who helped finance my trip and to those persons who supported my efforts. Thanks to Mr. Albersinger and Mr. Simpson who were instrumental in securing these valuable training opportunities for me and who made my stay in Germany and England enjoyable and comfortable. Thanks also to Coach Lee (Ramoon) and Coach Dougie (Colin Rowe) for their efforts in preparing me for my trip.”

As Brandyn alluded to, plans are already underway for him to return to Germany next summer for try-outs following the completion of his sophomore year at college.

Photo: Brandyn Murray (left) with FC Augsburg Under 23 head coach Dieter Markle.

Continue Reading

Ten-point reparations plan is seriously flawed

Ten-point reparations plan is seriously flawed

| 06/08/2014 | 74 Comments

I don’t think that I have seen a comprehensive challenge to the ten-point reparations plan that our Caribbean governments are using as the blue print to press Europe for reparations.  However, I think this plan can (and will) be successfully challenged. To start, we want Europe to apologize. The Europeans can successfully refuse this demand on several good grounds. 

Firstly, both the supposed perpetrators and the supposed victims are long dead. Secondly, those alive in Europe didn’t commit the “crime”. Thirdly, andthis is the most powerful reason, slavery was both morally and legally acceptable at the time – both to the Europeans and the Africans. Far from apologizing, I think the Europeans should be proud of their great imperial past.

We also want repatriation. This most impractical aspect of this plan is quite laughable. What guarantees do we have that those in Africa will be glad to see us returning? If those thought that life was hard in the West, they should wait until they reach Africa! Also, it is interesting to note that many of those calling for this pipe dream actually have the means to go back, but refuse to do so.

We also want an “Indigenous People’s Development Programme”. As the ten-point plan itself says, the scholarship programme that the University offers to members of the indigenous community is woefullyinadequate. This is an admission that our own governments care very little about these peoples. The Europeans have been doing much more. For example, directly, they funded the upgrade of the water supply system in Dominica’s indigenous Carib territory. Indirectly, they have pumped tens of millions of Euros into Dominica – for both the native and non-native populations.

We also want “Cultural Institutions”. The first point I would like to make is that if we cannot come up with the intellectual means to create our own cultural institutions, then no amount of reparations can help us. However, the Europeans have been helping us in this regard. The Institute of Jamaica was started in 1879 by the then British governor. That organization is mainly responsible for the preservation of Jamaica’s culture. It has oversight responsibility for the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica, the National Gallery and other cultural organizations. What more do we want from the Europeans?

Then the European must help us solve our “public health crisis”. Again, this can be successfully challenged from many angles. Among others, firstly, no one two hundred years ago would have been able to foreseen the effect of the slave diet today, if there is any.  Secondly, we today still continue to feed ourselves with this “poison” diet.  Thirdly, the evidence for this claim is very unsound. Fourthly, our “modern” diet of fast food has done much to contribute to the health problems we have today and fifthly, this fast food diet would have done much to “dilute” the link to two hundred years ago.

As for our Illiteracy problem, the advances that we have had since independence have been due in large part to the assistance given to us by Europe. The ministry of education itself was created during British rule, in 1953. The University of the West Indies was started by the British in 1948 as a college of the University of London and given to us as a gift. Many of Jamaica’s popular schools were built during British rule. It may be true that at the time of independence we had a high illiteracy rate, however, it is through the same education system that the British bequeathed to us that we have been able to reduce this problem.

We also want an “African Knowledge Programme”. We want the Europeans to help us Africans in the West to know our history in Africa. In fact, it is largely because of the Europeans why we know what we do about Africa’s past. Napoleon’s discovery of the famous Rosetta stone and its translation in Europe enabled us to better understand the greatness of ancient Egypt. Many European universities and other organizations have done much to open up Africa’s hidden past. Of course, I wouldn’t want to discount what African universities are doing. But to claim that Europe isn’t helping us to know our past is very disingenuous. Also, with modern means of communication, we don’t need to be physically present in Africa to know its history.

This “Psychological Rehabilitation” demand is a strange one. I havea feeling that the “reparatory justice approach to truth and educational exposure” that is being demanded may cause more harm than good, especially if the truth about our own involvement in the export of slaves and the millions that died in Africa at our own hands are told to us.

I am still not sure how much more technology transfers we can get.  From modern communication systems, to the internet, to modern transportation systems and the like, all of these have been transferred to us. Technology transfers also involve know-how, though education. As mentioned before, we have the University of the West Indies and the University of Technology, both started by the British. If we can’t use institutions like those to create a culture of science and technology, after over half a century of independence, then I can’t see how the Europeans will be able to do it for us.

Finally, we want debt cancellation. For some strange reason, our high debts are high because we were slaves! Why should the Europeans reward us after we voluntarily entered into these loan agreements with these creditors and then refuse to be prudent with these loans?  However, we have received some debt write-offs. Guyana received some from Bulgaria in 2012. Haiti got some from the Paris Club in 2009. Jamaica has received four billion dollars worth of debt forgiveness from Britain between 1997 and 2004. It is utter nonsense if we think that all of our debts will be forgotten!

When one looks at this ten-point plan, the only impression that anybody can get of us is that we are a people determined to get more handouts. This ten-point plan is not an accomplishment – it’s an embarrassment.  We need to ditch it and grow up.

Michael A. Dingwall writes from Kingston, Jamaica.

Continue Reading

The corporate plantation

The corporate plantation

| 21/07/2014 | 132 Comments

I have lived away from the Cayman Islands since mid-October 2013, but arriving home on 11 July 2014 produced mixed feelings in me. On one hand I was happy to be on the Caymanian soil I love but on the other hand I was afraid because I have not yet learnt to manage anger within me with regards our social, economic and political realities. It is clear to me that foreign capitalist and the Caymanian merchant class, especially the newer generation of professionals, are protecting what I will term a corporate plantation society.

The term corporate plantation society is being used to depict structured human relationships similar to those created during the period of chattel slavery in the Caribbean and the United States of America four hundred years ago.

The only difference in the two systems is that the first relied upon the production of agricultural products, mainly sugar and cotton, and the latter on the management of a financial system designed to rob the middle class and poor citizens of the metropolitan states of their collective resources, i.e. taxes and other benefits. This structured relationship, especially between former slave colonies and their former colonizers, has enriched members of our community who have found a knowledge and class base relationship with the old order.

What is disappointing to me is that our political as well as our social and economic and improvements for those less educated and racially and culturally different will now depend not on local politicians but on what happens in the struggles for improvement in the metropolitan countries that recognize the human distortions now caused by financial capitalism's destruction of the middle class and a return to the enslavement of persons of African descent within the penal systems of these countries and their former colonies.

The continuing enslavement of black and brown people in America and England, as well as their former and present colonies like the Cayman Islands, is obvious to those who have eyes to see. But for a vote of ignorance, our political leaders refuse to admit the magnitude of our challenges that have been brought about by the establishment of our country as a financial plantation.

The middle class, or at least those of us that may have become part of a middle class, are losing ground every day as we are replaced by foreign nationals from the metropolitan countries, many of whom were members of their own middle class but have been forced to escape to find prosperity among us. And of course they are being favored and promoted in Cayman and can afford to buy or will be given credit to buy the properties and business taken away by the banks from us by the financial administrators, all of whom are not Caymanians.

Roy Bodden's thesis, for which he should have long been rewarded with a PhD, told us what the end would be but he, like me and others, had to lay aside the truth in order to survive with a little dignity in our native islands. But the truth of Mr Bodden's thesis was that if our capitalist development was not managed well by national educated elite then it would enrichthe foreigner and impoverish locals.

The local managers of our economy had been our local merchant class, which saw the survival of its power and prestige asbeing connected to the class and colour social structuring of our society. Therefore they married foreigners when they could not find persons equal to them in the sense of being of the same class and colour. Black educated Caymanians like me married white or foreign spouses, thereby lending support to the myth of 'whiting' as a sign of the lack of racism in our society.

This particular method of eliminating the racial nature of colonial and post-colonial societies (see for example Brazil) has been encouraged and glorified in many new world societies but it does not eliminate the use of colour nor does it remove the use of race to define and oppress those not whitened or those without the prerequisite class characteristic like education.

Whitening began hundreds of years ago in Cayman and continues today, actively supported and maintained by educated non-white people in Cayman who publicly disapprove of any political mention of the negative role racial or colour considerations play in structuring our society.

But Cayman is not less colour conscious simply because we have more interracial marriages or dating. In fact, it is more prejudiced. One must only look at the last election results in the Cayman Islands (especially in the District of George Town) to understand our acceptance of class and color as characteristics for trustworthiness and respectability.

It is therefore difficult for me to remember a time when native George Towners would not have been upset if no visibly black working class person was elected to the Assembly in a general election. To understand what happened to the racial political consciousness of George Town voters in 2013, it is necessary to recognized how black persons who did not swear total allegiance to white corporate Cayman were mistrusted and marginalized. The white Masonic opposition school in the political theatre of Jamaica and England were very much responsible for the 2013 election strategy, which denied even Ms Lucille Seymour a seat and discouraged Dr the Honorable Lindford Pearson from trying to re-enter George Town politics.

Caymanians, and in particular the George Town people, many of whom are now dark skinned and of Jamaican decent, must now ask why Premier Alden McLaughlin's Masonic handlers do not want multi-constituencies. My guess is that black people vote in large numbers for persons not considered black but white people, especially expat whites, will not vote for blacks that are not truly brainwashed into supporting an upper class notion of respectability and transparency outside of the Masonic Temple.

Unfortunately there will not be equality in voting until we understand that not being black in complexion does not make us socially white. And politics in Cayman will not address the challenges those at the bottom of the educational, economic and colour spectrum face until colour and class is a consideration by the new black Caymanian and not just the Masonic Lodge.

Continue Reading

The tale of a frustrated trailing spouse

The tale of a frustrated trailing spouse

| 11/07/2014 | 172 Comments

When I arrived on island a few years ago for a teaching position with the government, I was told by HR finding a job for my husband would be easy, especially since he had sales, bar and banking experience. Three months after arriving he got his dream job in sales — work permit rejected. He then got a temporary job through a recruitment company which ended up in him being employed for over a year and managing a team of Caymanians. He was the only expat.

So imagine our horror to discover immigration won't even consider him for his role because of his status. The company have no choice but to try and find someone else. All the Caymanians were devastated to lose my husband and none of them wanted to step up to management, so the position remains unfilled.

Now, months down the line he is still searching for work. He gets offered positions then offers are retracted due to not being able to process permits. I understand fully that Caymanians should get priority if they have the experience but my husband is here, so he may as well be working too.

When he was employed, we ate out 2/3 times a week, happy hour most days and bought from local companies our new items, etc. Now, we stay in and barely survive — the bar staff have lost their tips, the waitresses have lost 15% on our meals and local companies no longer get our trade as we cannot afford to buy anything. Since my husband will be here regardless, surely there should be some allowance for trailing spouses of government employees/work permit holders!

I am a very well respected educator on this Island with excellent results. My proven success with difficult students was the main reason I was hired in the first place. When students ask about why my husband can't get a job, they struggle to understand it too. I am now seriously considering my future since our salary is too low to stay, especially with pay freezes and no increments, so every year the situation will get worse. I will one day leave, leaving innocent students without a very good teacher because her husband was suicidal at the thought of not being able to provide for his family.

Please, somebody look out for the trailing spouses. Our situation is not alone; I know of many people having the same issue and who will also leave. Yes, give Caymanians priority — but please give trailing spouses a chance afterwards.

Continue Reading

Our communal shame

Our communal shame

| 08/07/2014 | 29 Comments

It is settled law that the Cayman Islandsis subject to the European Convention on Human Rights and in particular the protection of refugees. The ancient 1999 treaty between the Cayman Islands and Cuba clearly violates that treaty but Cayman Islands Government has been bound by Cuban rope in continuing to implement what is clearly an inhumane policy. Semantic debates on refugees and migrants should be ignored.

The repeated delays by the Cuban Government to meet and settle a new treaty is unconscionable at best and lethal at worst.

Talk like this in Cuba would rush me to a long term cell reservation at Kilo 7 in Camaguey but Cayman is no Cuba and these Islands have the strong beating heart of humane democracy.

The Cayman Islands is not a cold war satellite of Cuba and should not be a pawn in the implementation of their domestic policy.

History is replete with the conflict of officials ordered to effect immoral or illegal acts. During the holocaust the Nazis propped up their execution squads with a steady flow of alcohol. When the ghosts of Cubans casualties rise from their watery grave to torment those responsible, some will no doubt seek the solace of liquor.

Immigration officers slapping biscuits from the hands of refugees do not bode well for our Cayman Kind promotion.

Our competitor in tourism can sit back and laugh as we approach the brink of boycott by foreign entities who do not take kindly to human rights abuses.

The past treatment of the LGBT community saw much back paddling when there was a threat of international fallout.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Continue Reading

No job for smokers

No job for smokers

| 26/06/2014 | 47 Comments

The Heath Services Authority in Grand Cayman recently announced that it will no longer hire smokers. A job applicant must be tobacco-free for six months to qualify for a position here. This decision will surely provepopular. Defending the dirty habit of smoking is now left to fat cat lobbyists, highly paid lawyers with no conscience. I am not in those ranks. Full disclosure: I was a former employee of the university. But, keeping smokers out of the hospital work force unless it protects patients makes me very nervous. Ethically, it is hard to digest. 

HSA is not the first health care institution to go tobacco-free in hiring. The Chrissie Tomlinson did so back in 2007. The HSA board has had such a policy complete with required nicotine testing for more than a year. Hospitals and health systems have all stopped hiring smokers. Lots of companies outside health care are not hiring smokers either, but the big push is in hospitals and health systems. So what is wrong with not hiring those who engage in (or have engaged in) a gross, sickening, bad habit?

In justifying its decision, HSA says smoking and secondhand smoke contribute to 30 premature deaths a year and cost CI $2 million in health care and lost productivity. So, clearly they want to try and make a dent in that bill by barring tobacco users. Employees who smoke cost, on average, CI $3,391 more a year for health care. In addition, smoke breaks during work may be disruptive and subject patients/colleagues to the unpleasant smell of smoke on employees' scrubs and clothing.

So the two big reasons are making a dent in a costly bad lifestyle choice and saving money for the health care system by hiring tobacco-free employees. I am not sure if I buy the smoke break disruption or the smelly clothes arguments. If they are problems, then send the smokers outside to a spot far away from where the patients come in and out, or have them wash their hands and faces, which everyone ought be doing anyway, and only give them the same breaks from work that everyone else gets.

It comes down to a matter of fairness. Why can't the hospital work with people who may want to change their behavior but are having a hard time doing so? There's a little hypocrisy when as a place where you bring people back from sickness to health, your policy seems to reflect little concern for getting health care workers to become healthier. I don't doubt smokers cost us all a lot of money. It is also cheaper not to have to hire them and give them insurance or see them miss work. But the obese, the gamblers, rugby players, skiers, the sedentary, the promiscuous who don't practice safe sex, those who won't wear helmets on motorcycles and bikes,horseback riders, pool owners, all-terrain-vehicle operators, small-plane pilots, sunbathers, scuba divers, and surfers — all of whom cost us money and incur higher than average health care costs — are still on the job.

Picking on the smokers alone is simply not fair. And what message does a no-smokers-are-welcome policy send? We don't want you in our health care system?

Shouldn't doctors and nurses learn to work with those who sin and stray from the dictates of good health? As long as those who have bad habits are not compromising the quality of health care being provided on hospital ground, then let's not exclude smoking nurses, fat physical therapists, and scuba diving pharmacists from work.

What is the best way to get a doctor or nurse who smokes to stop? Make sure they cannot get a job? Oh yeah — that will surely make them kick the habit! Why not hire them, tell them they have to get into anti-smoking programs and pay them a bonus when they stay smoke-free?

Not hiring smokers at hospitals does send a message — but it isn't one that hospitals and health systems ought to be sending.

Continue Reading

Let’s support our local criminals

Let’s support our local criminals

| 19/06/2014 | 39 Comments

This seems to be the agenda of our CI government officials and the HM Prison Budget. I highly doubt I am the only one appalled by the fact that an inmate who would typically live on less that CI$20,000 per year is commanding in excess of CI$60,000 per year from the public piggy bank. Let’s compare this figure to the annual salaries of a few important government posts: teachers typically make under CI$38,000 per year, whilst police and customs officers get about the same.

Why is it that our government feels that after they lock up a criminal they are to provide them with all the necessary amenities to keep them happy and comfortable? Most countries find many ways of making a fantastic income from prison labor.

Why are we HIRING people to repair, maintain and rebuild dilapidated prison buildings when we have 100+ capable male hands rolling spliffs and playing dominos until lights-out each evening!? These same men could be put to work and taught to do things like service government vehicles (under supervision obviously). Or better yet, put a block factory at Northward. Since everyone is chewing at Flowers recently, why not have prisoners build the blocks? That would seriously lower the cost of living for the free and give the incarcerated something constructive (literally!) to do on a daily basis and they could work-off this immense expense.

This is crazy! And so many are locked-up for stealing less than CI$1,000 worth of cash or valuables; now they are able to “legally rob” the tax-payers pockets of over CI$60,000 a year because of a backwards government system.

I’m appalled; this is horrible! Every year there is a scream in the air about the education budget and here we are with prisoners living off more than the free. How in the name of the world can one criminal cost more than a middle-class family? There are families living on CI$36,000 per year with two children, mortgages, bills, vehicles to maintain, groceries to buy, school lunches to pay for … and the list keeps growing, I’m just appalled.

Continue Reading

Lewd acts in public

Lewd acts in public

| 12/06/2014 | 43 Comments

I have noted that the response by the general public seem to range from outrage to nonchalance with regards to the lewd acts performed by two of our young people in a nightclub. Neither responses are helpful in charting the course going forward. It is important to bring some analysis to the situation; firstly these two young ladies ought to accept the responsibility for their erroneous actions.

Erroneous only because they have taken an act (sexual act) that is usually reserved for privacy into the public sphere. However, they are not the only persons guilty, as not only did others watched satisfying their voyeuristic curiousity, it also appeared that no efforts were made to disrupt these ladies. Guilty also, are those who chose to publish the pictures bringing them into the public domain. My only contention can only be that this was meant to be malicious or a continued lack of judgment on all those who were involved.

As a person who has worked with youth for several years I have noticed a number of social disabilities trending among some of our youth;

  • An inability to distinguish appropriate from inappropriate behaviours
  • Disengagement from consequences of behaviour
  • Unwillingness to take personal responsibility for their actions
  • Lack of empathy
  • Inability to problem solve

These are traits that I have noticed not only in those that we often describe as “at risk”, but also sometimes among those we believe are “well adjusted”. In my mind these are critical behaviours that needs continuous attention and support so that our youth can make better decisions. A quick content analysis of some of the responses on CNS also reveals that some sections of the adult population as well seem to be devoid of emotions and compassion, hence some of their callous responses.

So where do we go from here? Firstly, I hope that these young ladies and their family access therapeutic support and are able to get through this incredibly tough time. It is also my wish that young people and their leaders start to engage each other in healthy discussions about decision making especially about what is acceptable versus what is not.

Additionally, there is no denying that policies can be examined to facilitate the protection of youth when they fail to protect themselves. A hand off approach will get us nowhere, I encourage the community to gather not in outrage or a blame game, but to honestly garner support from each other and devise powerfully strategies that could reduce some of these “social disabilities” among our youth discussed above.

Continue Reading