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Friday, February 28, 2020
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Story of a stayover tourist

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My wife and I had our honeymoon in Grand Cayman in 1979. We returned after a long hiatus in 2006. We were so enchanted with the place in which we were staying on Seven Mile Beach, we returned the next month for another week.

The next year, after Dart closed the suites where we stayed, we went to a nice two-storey condo on the beach further toward town. We had such a pleasant, quiet time. We returned again that year. The next year we rented side-by-side condos for the week and brought the whole family. We did that in 2018 and 2019. We averaged total daily expenditures of around $1,000 per day per condo.

As I loved the experience of the island and its culture, early on I became a daily reader of the Cayman Compass, which I still am to this day.

By following local events through the paper, though, I have noticed a very pronounced trend to put as many cruise tourists and high rises on the island as possible. Crime is up. Corruption is obvious in government and the traffic has become absolutely terrible. Where is the charm in all that?

We can’t see it.

We are going to pass on coming back for a while until all this plays out. We have two weeks planned at a more peaceful and less-crowded spot in the Caribbean for this year.

I’m sorry to see the direction of the island and where it is leading. I hope this government can shed itself of its ties to developers long enough to say enough is enough.

John Wilson
Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Barnes takes 5th in shot put at indoor championships

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Lacee Barnes

Lacee Barnes, Cayman’s five-time CARIFTA Games medallist, took fifth place in the shot put at the Conference USA Indoor Championships in Birmingham Alabama, on 22 Feb.

Barnes also competed in the weight throw event, where she came in 22nd. While those finishes weren’t the athlete’s best performances, the junior at the University of Texas San Antonio is optimistic heading into the outdoor season, which begins next month and is where Barnes shines.

“It was a decent close to my indoor season,” said Barnes. “I was able to throw near my personal best while scoring points for my team. Now, I will be focusing on my opener for the outdoor season in my main discipline of discus and still working on shot put.”

Barnes will open her outdoor season at the UTSA Invitational on 19-21 of March.

Kanuga to run and swim 112 miles

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Kerrie Kanuga has big plans for her 50th birthday. On 29 Feb., in addition to swimming six miles from Barkers to Starfish Point, she will run 53 miles back to Barkers, and then, for good measure, make the return trip on the road to Starfish Point, covering a total of 112 miles in the water and on land.

In addition to completing the impressive physical feat on Leap Day, Kanuga is raising money for charity, splitting the proceeds between the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which funds childhood cancer research, and local animal rescue group, Canine Friends.
This is not the first time Kanuga has covered this distance. On her 45th birthday, she completed the identical swim and run, and raised US$38,000 in the process.

“I did this five years ago and I thought it is time to do it again,” said Kanuga. “I’m going to swim from Starfish Point to Barkers, if the weather permits, fingers crossed.”

The once full-time swimmer has transitioned into running, competing in extreme events across the globe. When she’s home, though, she said it is only fitting she takes to Cayman’s waters.

“I do miss swimming,” Kanuga said. “That’s the reason I wanted to make it a part of this event again. I was just beating myself up too much, so I had to let one go a little bit. I’ve accomplished a lot of pretty cool things from swimming. I’ve swum between the Brac and Little Cayman; I was in the water for about 12 hours. I think it was about 10 miles, maybe a little bit more.”

Kanuga has also competed in marathons, aquathlons, and triathlons, and said these races have taken their toll on her body.

“Your body just breaks,” she said. “I’ve had broken bones in my feet. I haven’t had a toenail for quite some time, but it’s just continuous training and the body just gets stronger. “The more you train the stronger you get, and I think I’ll do better than I did five years ago on this challenge.”

She added a safety crew will be on hand throughout her 112-mile journey. “During the swim, I’ve got one of my friends coming from Florida, she’s a kayaker – Brenda Anderson,” said Kanuga. “I’m hoping that she’s going to be able to get the kayak in the water and get me through. I think they said they saw a 10-foot tiger shark the other day in the sound, so I’m going to have some company in there. But hopefully she’ll have a big paddle just in case it comes after me,” she said, jokingly.

“But in all seriousness, I think she’ll be a good help for me. I have Captain Anderson with his boat as far as a safety crew in case we really need to get out of there in an emergency. My brother is coming from Canada. He’s going to help me at night and give me all the supplies that I may need on the road.”

As for future competitions, Kanuga has been invited back to the Badwater 135 in Death Valley California, this July.

“It’s the fifth time in a row that I’ll be doing it,” said Kanuga. “They have made it very difficult for people who have completed the race to get in again, so I am truly honoured and blessed to be one of the hundred spaces. “They have only allowed 25 people who have run the race before to run this year and, of course, for females it’s even slimmer than that so I’m very lucky. It shows women can compete at the same level as men.”

For more information and to donate go to www.caymangiftcertificates.com/canine-friends or www.stbaldricks.org/hero-funds/hannahsheroes

Bernie Bush resigns as Deputy Speaker

Bernie Bush

West Bay North MLA Bernie Bush has resigned as Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

His announcement came less than 24 hours after House Speaker McKeeva Bush said he will be taking an immediate leave of absence in the wake of allegations that he was involved in the assault of a female bar manager Friday night.

Bernie Bush, in a statement released Thursday, said, “The Speaker of the House has admitted that he will be seeking the help he needs, and I wish him and his family well in what will be a long and difficult process. But with great powers, come great responsibilities, and as a representative of the people I must always strive to lead by example. I therefore in good conscience cannot step up to fill a role that has been tainted by the weakness of the Unity Government to take the morally right, rather than politically expedient, course of action.”

He contended that he started his political service on the premise that his principles will not be “for sale or rent and remaining in the post as Deputy Speaker, in view of the current circumstances, would very much go against my core values”.

He said the recent alleged assault incident which resulted in a female member of the public being injured, “only to be followed by the Speaker taking a temporary leave of absence, leaves me in an untenable situation when considering the severity and seriousness of this incident and the implications of the Speaker’s planned leave”.

His resignation now leaves the Speaker’s chair open for a new Deputy Speaker to preside in the absence of McKeeva Bush, who despite taking a ‘leave of absence’, officially remains as the Speaker of the House.

Bernie Bush left the Unity Government backbench last year during the port referendum debate.

In his statement Thursday, he thanked all members for electing him as Deputy Speaker.

“It has been a great privilege to serve as Deputy Speaker of the House and an honour that I will cherish long after I cease to be a member of the Legislative Assembly,” he said.
With this latest development, Premier Alden McLaughlin now has to name a new Deputy Speaker from among the elected MLAs.

According to the Constitution, the Speaker of the House can be chosen from outside the pool of elected representatives, but a Deputy Speaker must be an MLA who is not a government minister.

McLaughlin, in a comment to the Cayman Compass on Bernie Bush’s announcement, said he was not surprised by the resignation.

“Mr. Bernie Bush and I discussed his resignation as Deputy Speaker during the last meeting of the House in January. At the next meeting of the House, members will proceed to elect a new Deputy Speaker.”

He said the member to be offered for election in the House will be announced in “due course”.

No date has been set for the next sitting of the Legislative Assembly.
Bernie Bush, in explaining his decision, said, like many members of the public, this issue has prompted conversations not only within his personal circle, and with constituents, “but also with the Leader of the Opposition and some of my other colleagues as well”.

He said he was “encouraged” by the many people who were refusing to stay silent or compromise their principles.

“More and more people are choosing to do the hard but right thing, instead of going along, trying to justify the easy wrong,” he said.

The phrase #sheissupported has been trending locally as a show of support for the female manager whom McKeeva Bush referenced in his statement.

Bernie Bush added, “I ask that you all continue to pray for the victim and the many other victims who have the unfortunate experience of dealing with violence. I also ask that you pray for the many perpetrators of violence so that they may turn from the errors of their ways and find the peace that they need. As a community, we are making strides in standing up for what is right.”

He said that he cannot condone violence against anyone, and “as an elected leader, I certainly expect to be held to a higher, not lower standard, of conduct”.
“Caymanian women have always had a strong role to play; they were the backbone when our grandfathers and fathers went off to sea and through nature, remains our first nurturers and teachers,” he said.

What’s next?
Members will elect a new Deputy Speaker at the next Legislative Assembly sitting.
The Deputy Speaker must be an MLA, who is not a government minister.

 

It’s time for Bush to resign

When it comes to violence against women, there is no room for debate. Confusion is not an excuse. Drunkenness is not an excuse. Grief is not an excuse.

The full details of the alleged attack on a female member of staff at the Coral Beach bar should emerge over the course of a thorough police investigation.

As of Thursday, McKeeva Bush has not been arrested nor charged. If any charges arise out of the incident, it will be up to the courts to determine guilt or innocence. We don’t intend to prejudge that process.

What is already clear, however, is that the veteran politician and former premier is guilty of conduct unbecoming his office.

He has not denied that an “incident” took place and that he “reacted badly” to staff at the bar who came to his aid after he fell. He has even issued a public apology, though he notably steered clear of directly acknowledging an assault.

While his descriptions of events make it difficult to determine precisely what he is apologising for, his admissions are alarming.

The Speaker acknowledges that he passed out in a public space and lost recollection of events, that he needs professional help and that he has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

He went on to name his alleged victim, who, unlike a publicly elected figure, had a reasonable expectation of anonymity. It has long been the accepted standard to shield the identities of victims of violent crimes, especially when the individual is a private citizen. As Bush knows, public opinion can be a harsh judge and it was unfair to subject this woman to unwanted and uninvited scrutiny.

The rest of his public statement details his personal struggles to deal with grief following the death of his daughter nine years ago and the more recent loss of his mother. He also pledged to “cease any use of alcohol” and seek “long-term professional help” for the “emotional pain” he is dealing with.

While we sympathise with the Speaker over his personal losses, citing them in an ‘apology’ over an alleged assault on a woman seeks only to deflect from the severity of his actions.

There is an old adage that one should never ruin an apology with an excuse.

As a public figure, Bush has an opportunity to demonstrate what it looks like when an adult sincerely acknowledges that he has done wrong. He assumes responsibility.

That said, we hope the Speaker gets the help he needs to deal with his personal problems.

Whether he should do so while maintaining one of the most important roles in government is another matter.

Ezzard Miller, one of the few politicians to come out with an unequivocal response to the incident, rightly points out that Bush’s comments raise “inevitable implications for his ability to sustain the confidence, trust and respect essential to his role at the apex of government”.

For his own sake, as well as for the country, it may be time for the Speaker to take some time away from the spotlight. A temporary “leave of absence” is not enough and, as Miller points out, does not appear to be a constitutionally viable option.

Whatever the underlying causes, politicians and public figures should rightly be held to high standards of personal behaviour. From his own account, Bush fell well short of those last weekend.

While due process must take place in terms of any legal accountability, we should not have to wait so long for personal or political accountability.

We call on the honourable Speaker to do the honourable thing: Resign from government.

‘She is supported’ protest planned

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Protesters are set to hold a demonstration outside the Government Administration Building on Friday, 28 Feb., to show their support for the woman assaulted in an incident allegedly involving Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush last weekend.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has approved the protest, but as of press time organisers were still awaiting approval from government to use the steps outside of its building. The demonstration is set to run from 7:30am to 9:30am.

Amid the outcry over the alleged assault, a social media movement with the hashtag #sheissupported has been launched.

Angela Pretorius, the organiser of Friday’s protest, said she hopes the demonstration will highlight violence against women.

“At first, I was very hesitant and scared to post the idea of a protest regarding the issue. I wrote out my post on Facebook on Monday, cut it and saved it to a Word document, and slept on it,” she said. “Then, on Tuesday morning, I decided it was too important to not post, so I then posted it on a local Facebook group and got tremendous support for the idea.”

After news of the alleged assault at the Coral Beach bar on Seven Mile Beach emerged, Bush released a statement saying that he had passed out and fallen down at the bar on Friday night, 21 Feb., and was told that he “reacted badly” to people who tried to help him.

He said he did not remember falling down, but apologised in his statement to the female manager, and other staff. He subsequently announced that he would take a leave of absence as Speaker of the House, but would remain as an MLA.

The RCIPS, which has not named Bush in the incident, said in a statement that a female had been assaulted at the bar and had received minor injuries.
Pretorius said she wants to demonstrate the Cayman community’s unity against violence to women.

She said she believes that government needs to see how passionate the community is on this issue and, while she understands that police are still investigating the incident, the people’s voices needed to be heard.

“We want the government, as well as the community of Cayman, to see that this type of behaviour is not acceptable, and we will not stand by while it occurs,” Pretorius said. “We are happy to see that yesterday the politician announced that he will be taking a leave of absence. We hope that this is a permanent leave…”

According to Pretorius, violence against women is a subject that is swept under the rug, not only in Cayman, but also globally. She said that often women are afraid to speak out.

“By uniting together in peaceful protest, we hope to demonstrate that this kind of behaviour is not acceptable and women who are subjected to violence are supported and can speak out,” Pretorius said.

The Cayman Islands Crisis Centre’s board of directors on Thursday issued a press release about the Coral Beach incident, stating that the organisation shares concerns expressed by the community and welcomes open dialogue on the matter of violent acts against women.

“When a situation like this happens, involving a public figure in a public place, the violence issue, way too long on the back burner, is brought into a sharp relief,” the Crisis Centre said. “The Centre also encouraged the survivor of last weekend’s attack to call the Crisis Centre if she needs anything at all, someone to talk to, or to just sit with people who have been in a similar situation and understand.”

The Crisis Centre ended its release with the hashtag #sheissupported.

Ethics Commission: Bush incident out of its remit

The Commission for Standards in Public Life has distanced itself from the ongoing furore over assault allegations involving House Speaker McKeeva Bush, saying it is outside of its remit.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, the Commission said it has noted the allegations made against the Speaker of the House, his public statement and the expressions of concern by members of the public regarding this matter.

It said, based on legal advice, its powers do not extend to such situations.
“Based on the information in the public domain and in view of legal advice obtained previously on the Commission’s powers as set out under section 117(9) of the Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009, whereby the Commission was advised that its authority does not extend to engagement with a public official’s private life or dealings except where the circumstances raise a reasonable inference of lack of integrity, incompetence, corruption, conflict of interest or lack of standards of ethical conduct in the conduct of that official’s public functions, the Commission considers this matter to be outside of its remit at this time,” it said in its statement.

On the Commission’s website, it states that one its functions is “to monitor standards of ethical conduct in the Legislative Assembly, the Cabinet, and on the part of public authorities and public officers”.

The Commission added in its statement that it is not privy to the factual events that occurred during the incident and understands that the matter is being investigated by the RCIPS.

“No further statements will be made by the Commission at this time,” it said in its statement.

The Commission will be empowered on 1 March when the Standards in Public Life Law officially comes into force. Its creation was to ensure all those in public positions, such as politicians, government officials and board members, uphold all ethical standards. Its overarching law was passed in 2014 and amended in 2016.

Premier Alden McLaughlin last month announced the commencement of the law.

RCIPS recover gun, drugs after traffic stop

Police arrested a 22-year-old George Town man on suspicion of drug and firearm offences after a traffic stop Tuesday on Academy Way.

Daniel Minzett was also arrested in relation to a Shedden Road robbery on 21 Feb.

His residence was later searched and a loaded hand gun was recovered. A 36-year-old George Town woman was then arrested on suspicion of possession of an unlicensed firearm.

Minzett was charged with Possession of Cocaine, Possession of an Unlicensed Firearm and Possession of an Unlicensed Firearm (Ammunition). He appeared in court Thursday and remains in custody. He’s scheduled to next appear in court on Monday.

The 36-year-old woman was granted bail in relation to the offense of suspicion of possession of an unlicensed firearm.

House Speaker takes immediate ‘leave of absence’

In the face of mounting public pressure, House Speaker McKeeva Bush has taken a leave of absence from his post with immediate effect.

In a brief statement issued to the Cayman Compass Wednesday evening, Bush said, “After careful thought and advice, I will take an immediate leave of absence from the duties of speakership.

“I will be doing the grief counseling and emotional stress management sessions that I spoke about and that I should have done a long time ago.”

Bush’s announcement followed a meeting with Premier Alden McLaughlin in London in the wake of allegations that the West Bay West MLA was involved in the assault of a female bar manager on Friday night.

McLaughlin, in a statement to the Compass Wednesday night, said he welcomed the Speaker’s decision.

“This will enable him to deal with the personal issues he identified in his previous statement and also allow the investigation currently underway to be completed unhindered by perceptions,” the premier said.

McLaughlin added, “I wish Mr. Bush the very best as he seeks to resolve his personal issues.”

Bush, who is deputy chair of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Small Branches Executive Council, was in London for a previously arranged CPA meeting.

McLaughlin, who is also in London on official business dealing with the European Union’s blacklist, met with the Speaker to talk about the allegations.

There was no immediate word on how long Bush’s leave of absence will be or who will act as Speaker in his absence. Usually, the Deputy Speaker would temporarily take up the role, but the current deputy, Bernie Bush, has announced that he has resigned from the position.

Miller: ‘Leave of absence’ not constitutional

In a statement Thursday, Opposition MLA Ezzard Miller questioned the constitutionality of McKeeva Bush taking a leave of absence, and he maintained his call for Bush to resign as Speaker.

“The only immediately available constitutional provisions that would allow him the time he needs is carried in section 65 (2) b. [of the Constitution] – that he resigns his position as Speaker. Otherwise, the only other provision [section 65 (2) f.] is removal by a two-thirds vote by the elected Members of the Legislative Assembly pursuant to a vote of no confidence,” Miller said in his statement.

Section 65 (1) deals with who can be Speaker and how a Speaker is elected. Section 65 (2) deals with how the Speaker’s post can become vacant and how the Speaker can be removed from office, and Section 65 (3) deals with how a vacancy in the office of Speaker can be filled.

“The only section of the Constitution that deals with mental issues is section 62 that deals with disqualification for elected membership of the Legislature. Specifically, section 62 (1) d. states that disqualification applies to “a person certified to be insane or otherwise adjudged to be of unsound mind under any law in force in the Cayman Islands.” For clarification purposes, this is not to be taken that I am suggesting that this section be invoked in this matter with the Speaker,” Miller said.

Miller claimed that while the premier’s decision to grant the Speaker a leave of absence “may be an acceptable political solution to some”, questions still remain.

“Who has granted the Speaker a ‘leave of absence’ – surely the Speaker cannot grant himself a leave of absence. What section of the Cayman Islands Constitutional Order 2009 authorises or enables anyone to grant the Speaker a leave of absence?” he asked.

However, the premier, responding to Miller’s statement Thursday, told the Compass, “Mr. Bush has taken a temporary leave of absence for a yet undetermined period to deal with the personal issues he has mentioned in both his statements. He has not vacated the office of Speaker. There is nothing unconstitutional or unprecedented in the Speaker taking a leave of absence. This is exactly what would be done if he was physically ill and unable to carry out his duties as Speaker.”

He added that, as premier, he has no authority to grant Bush leave. “Indeed, the Constitution does not make provision for anyone to grant the Speaker leave. But it does make provision for who presides in the Speaker’s absence.”

Section 72 of the Constitution 2009, McLaughlin said, mandates that “a) Speaker shall preside at Legislative Assembly sittings, or b) in his absence the Deputy Speaker, or c) in the absence of both Speaker and Deputy Speaker, such as one of the other elected MLAs (other than a Minister), as may be elected by the elected MLAs.”

He added that under Section 65 (2) of the Constitution, a person shall vacate the office of Speaker or Deputy Speaker if he or she informs the Assembly in writing and addresses to the Assembly that he or she has resigned.

Miller, in his statement, pointed out that there are many other undisclosed details on Bush’s leave of absence, such as the terms and conditions, the period of leave and date of commencement, the kind of professional help being sought, and who acts as Speaker in his absence.

Dolphin wins John Gray sports day

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Dolphin Academy claimed the honour of John Gray High School sports day champions on Friday at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.

Runners in action at the Year 11 girls relay. Photo: Seaford Russell Jr.

The annual event brought out family, friends and more than 400 athletes from Years 7-11, competing in various track-and-field events over the course of two days. However, not all the action was on the track – Marlin Academy earned bragging rights in the cheerleading competition.

Job seekers explore opportunities at Chamber careers expo

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Eager job seekers and those looking for direction for future careers turned out to the Chamber of Commerce careers expo Thursday.

The annual event, which is held at the Sir Vassel Johnson Hall at the University College of the Cayman Islands, showcases employment and internship opportunities available at local companies.

For university student Nefertiti Moore, the careers expo is more than learning about what’s available.

“[The careers expo] is important in terms of getting experience and really finding out what we want to do in the future. I know a lot of people, once they go on an internship for one of these companies, that they really figure out what they want to do and where to go,” Moore said.

The expo, now in its 26th year, featured booths from companies in several industries, from hospitality to financial services.

The expo opened to the public at 10am and attendees had the opportunity to speak with representatives from 38 businesses and organisations that were presenting scholarship, education, internship and career opportunities.

“It’s been very informative. I found a lot of opportunities I’m interested in interning and doing part-time work with to enhance my education in the field of information technology and media and graphical design,” Moore said.

Apart from signing up for available programmes and opportunities, attendees were treated to lots of free giveaways.

The Cayman Compass was also represented at the event, with staff fielding questions about careers in journalism, and offered attendees an opportunity to spend a day at the newspaper to see how the publication comes together.

Chamber CEO Wil Pineau noted the large turnout at the expo.
“In total, more than 500 students attended, and this does not include school leavers,” he said.

Pineau said the response was “excellent” and he was pleased that students from various schools, including Wesleyan Christian Academy, John Gray High School, Lighthouse School, International College of the Cayman Islands and UCCI, attended the event.

Chamber President Woody Foster, in his opening remarks, stressed the need for opportunities to grow local labour.

“There is an insufficient number of Caymanians and residents to fill the skilled and unskilled positions that are being created, so it is vital that we inform and motivate our students to prepare themselves for the opportunities that exist in today’s workforce,” he said.

Bodden Town residents feel minor tremor

A 3.4 magnitude tremor was registered 40 miles south of Bodden Town Wednesday night.

The US Geological Survey reported that the tremor struck at 7:25pm at a depth of 6.2 miles.

The minor seismic event follows last Wednesday’s 4.4 magnitude earthquake, which also occurred at a depth of 6.2 miles, 30 miles south of Bodden Town.

On 28 Jan., Cayman was rocked by a major 7.7 magnitude earthquake. In the days immediately after the quake, Cayman registered 21 aftershocks.

While there was no significant damage recorded in Cayman, the powerful quake, the largest recorded in the region in recent history, did damage the Water Authority’s underground pipelines.

Repairs are still ongoing.

The Water Authority, in a statement to the Cayman Compass, said it has made repairs to both main and service lines that were damaged in the January earthquake.

“Additionally, the Authority has made adjustments to its water distribution pumping to ensure daily water demands were met while leak repairs took place,” it said.

While damaged pipelines have been found across its network, the company said, areas that were particularly challenging in the initial response included South Sound and Windsor Park, due to the number of sinkholes found in those places.

“Normal water service was restored within 48 hours of the earthquake. However, as repair works still take place, there may still be periods when customers in isolated areas experience temporary service interruption to facilitate repair work,” the Water Authority said.

It added that assessments and repair work are expected to continue for the next several weeks.

“We thank customers for their patience with this process. We encourage customers to check our website and social media for information about the repair works in their area. We also ask that our customers report any broken lines to the Authority,” Water Authority Director Gelia Frederick-van Genderen said in the statement.

The full impact of the quake, and the cost associated with fixing related damage cannot be determined at this point, the authority said.

It added that it had been continually engaged in infrastructure upgrade work before the January earthquake, but such events can still have an impact.

“While the Authority does prioritise the proper maintenance of its network, because the distribution network is underground, there will always be a risk of impact in the event of an earthquake,” it said.

Cayman wins final game against Northamptonshire

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Cayman’s cricketers ended the 2020 development tour on a high note with a thrilling six-run win over the visiting Northamptonshire side. The islands’ senior national team batted first and made 129 for the loss of five wickets. Greg Strydom led the way with 38, while opener Sunil Sunil made 22.

Northants came close in their reply, with skipper Amrit Basra again on top form with 35. But the visitors were pegged back by some fine bowling from the Cayman XI and fell just short of their target. The game marked the final time Northamptonshire played Cayman cricketers, ending the visiting British club’s pre-season tour with three wins and two losses in their five-game series.

Northamptonshire CCC, one of 18 first-class county clubs in England and Wales, is currently in a two-year strategic partnership with Cayman Cricket and is expected to return for another pre-season tournament in 2021. In a post on its Facebook page, Cayman Cricket described the tour as a major breakthrough for the islands.

“This is one giant step to establish Cayman as a destination of choice for international cricket teams to train and play. Besides providing valuable opportunities for the development of our own players and coaches, tours such as these have the potential for opening up completely new avenues for sports tourism and previously untapped tourism markets,” it said.

Storm win Alex Alexander Memorial Cup

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Even though the Fidelity Cayman Storm’s final match against the John Doak Tradeview Markets Iguanas was cancelled, the team had scored enough points throughout the tournament to claim the Alex Alexander Memorial Cup.

“Obviously, this season’s league campaign was very pleasing,” said Storm’s captain Rupert Stannings. “The team went unbeaten, but in particular, it was fantastic to see our new players integrate so well.”

He added, “Given the injuries to some of our more experienced players, it is a credit to the squad as a whole to grind out some tough victories against very stiff opposition.”

In other matches, the Queensgate Pigs Trotters beat the Advance Fire and Plumbing Buccaneers 24-17 in the final week of the tournament. The action was back and forth in the first half, but the Pigs Trotters gained an advantage heading into the second half after several conversions. The Pigs were able to keep the upper hand after the Buccaneers committed several handling errors. Dylan Bostock and Shane Westin each scored a try late in the game following opportunistic offloading from teammates, helping the Pigs earn the victory.

Jovan Bowles, technical director of Cayman Rugby, noted that players from the under-19 league joined the action for the final week of the tournament. “These players [are] contributing to the men’s senior league,” he said. “It’s also helping them develop their game for the under-19 league and it also just shows strong growth, and sustainability for Cayman rugby in general. So, it’s fantastic to see those youngsters come out and play.”

Bowles also thanked referee Justin Robinson and assistant referee Nicholas Fox for their efforts over the weekend.

The Great Rush Hour Race

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Four commuters, four different modes of transport, two routes, one race. Car vs. bike, kayak vs. bus.

To conclude our month-long series investigating causes of, and potential solutions to, the island’s traffic troubles, we wanted to challenge the assumption that the car is still the best way to travel in Cayman.

So we put it to the test in a rush-hour race.

Starting from Bodden Town, we pitted two wheels against four, with cyclist, business editor Michael Klein, testing his pedal power against news editor Norma Connolly, in her car.

From Marina Drive, Issues editor James Whittaker hopped on board his kayak, while journalist Kayla Young set out on foot, looking for a bus.

The final destination for all four participants was Camana Bay.

The results may surprise some, with the bike coming in first – more than twice as fast as the car.

But speed isn’t everything. What about comfort, cost and peace of mind? Our reporters each tracked their journeys and wrote about their trips, detailing the pros and cons of their chosen means of transport.

There are obvious drawbacks to each and our race was not intended as a scientific experiment. But it is clear that during rush hour at least, the car is no longer the fastest way to travel.

Had we included jet-skis, electric scooters or skateboards, it may not have even made the top three.

The evidence from our series, and to an extent from our race, is that Cayman must begin to think beyond the motor car.

First and foremost, the island is crying out for more reliable, more efficient public transport, with routes that go where people need to go.

There is also significant scope to provide new and better infrastructure to make other modes of travel safer and more user-friendly. Public ferries or water taxis could be another part of the solution.

When there are better, cheaper options, people will be willing to leave their cars behind. And when that happens, everyone will be a winner.

Cyclist Michael Klein finds two wheels are better than four

Klein celebrates his victory

In rush hour traffic, the bike beats the car hands-down. It is not even a contest.

As a cyclist and motorist who narrowly avoids the morning traffic jams coming from the eastern districts by getting up before the crack of dawn, at 5am, this did not come as a surprise.

If we are honest, to be twice as fast as a car over 20 kilometres (13 miles) says more about the dire traffic situation between 6am and 8:30am than the virtues of the bicycle.

Riding a bike is faster, yes; it is healthier, yes; it is way more fun, but this does not mean I will throw away my car keys just yet.

I would cycle to work probably twice a week, provided a couple of things happen.
First of all, there are not enough bike lanes.

Even where they exist, they are frequently untended and full of debris, stones and glass, which defeats the purpose and forces cyclists back onto the road.

Fortunately, there are the first signs of a growing cycling culture on island. Several businesses have started bike rentals and devised sign-posted trails or guided tours.

Michael Klein leaves the stationary cars in his wake.

There are even cruise ships, who bring their own bicycles for passengers to use. And many locals love to ride their bikes for sport or for leisure.

The problem is there are many more people who would use their bikes but don’t, because, as much fun as it is to undertake cars at 10, 20 or 30 miles per hour, they believe, correctly, that it can be dangerous.

A network of properly maintained bike lanes would go a long way to giving people more comfort that they or their children can be safe cycling in traffic. Kids riding a bike to school are the norm in Europe.

There is no reason the infrastructure and safety consciousness needed could not be developed in Cayman.

Employers can help, too, by accommodating different modes of transport.

As much as I am personally unperturbed by my sweaty middle-aged-man-in-lycra look, I also have to respect the views of my colleagues and peers about personal hygiene and proper work attire.

Cycle or kayak attire are not always appropriate in the office.

This means, where possible and within reason, offices could provide changing rooms and shower facilities. Given the climate, it does not require a bike ride to generate the need for them, anyway.

Reporters covering stories in the field frequently return to the office looking like they just finished a stage in the Tour de France.

The weather in Cayman is a frequent objection to bike use. Of course it is hot, but many residents are used to riding a bike in much harsher conditions, such as in freezing cold wind and rain, facing unsolvable riddles of how many layers to wear and the inevitable perspiration almost turning to ice as soon as it forms.

At least the rain is always warm in Cayman!

Supporting a cycling-friendly infrastructure and culture does not mean forcing people on the bike against their will. It is simply about giving everyone more choice, to alleviate both the traffic burden and pollution.

Driver Norma Connolly finds frustration on the roads

Norma Connolly contemplates life in second gear.

It’s 7:21am on a Friday morning and I’m about to set off on one of Cayman’s most excruciatingly frustrating journeys – the morning commute from an eastern district into George Town.

I set my Strava to log my 12.5-mile journey from Bodden Town to Camana Bay.

Starting near the White House, just before Bodden Town, the traffic is surprisingly clear. Ahead of me, I spot my cycling ‘competitor’, Michael Klein – he’d taken off just before me and I wave confidently as I pass him and leave him in my rear-view mirror. See ya!

Passing Northward, the traffic still isn’t heavy and I’m travelling at the speed limit. So far, so smooth. I wonder what all the fuss is about. Where is this traffic that I’ve been hearing about for so long?

At 7:30am, I’m starting to slow a little bit as I get to Savannah. I’m doing 25 miles an hour and traffic is still moving at a reasonable rate.

And then I get to the Rubis garage past the Pedro St. James entrance, and the traffic just stops. It’s bumper to bumper.

It takes me about 10 minutes to crawl past the petrol station. It seems early in the commute to encounter road rage, but sure enough, the bus driver behind me shouts at me to move as the vehicle in front of me inches forward a car length. It seems I’m not moving fast enough, even at a snail’s pace.

This was point where the traffic came to a near standstill and it took 10 minutes to drive past a petrol station.

And that’s the point at which Klein shoots past me on his bike. If there had been dust, I’d have been left in it.

By 7:42am, I’m at Spotts. After a brief minute or two when I got up to an impressive 25 miles an hour, I’m back to second gear.

I marvel at the fact that at least there are two lanes along this stretch of road. If there were just one, I’d still be in Savannah, I reckon.

Further along, at 8:06am, about half-way through my journey, just after making my slow way round Prospect Road roundabout before Grand Harbour, my phone rings. It’s Klein. “Where are you?” he asks, before telling me he arrived at Camana Bay five minutes earlier and is about to have coffee.

He warns me that there is traffic all the way to the Compass office on Shedden Road. Great. More traffic to look forward to.

Next up is the Linford Pierson Highway. It’s no better than the last several miles, though I manage to get into third gear. I consider this a minor achievement. After nearly an hour in traffic, it’s the small victories that count.

Klein’s right, the traffic remains slow as far as our office, but from there to Camana Bay is smooth sailing and I pull into a car park there at 8:43am.

It’s taken me 1 hour and 22 minutes to travel 12.5 miles. According to my Strava, my average speed was 8.7 miles an hour.

My normal 7-mile commute, from West Bay, takes me 15-20 minutes. I decide I’m not moving to Bodden Town anytime soon.

 

Bus passenger Kayla Young gets a little help from CaymanKind

Taking the bus in Cayman isn’t much slower than riding a car in rush hour traffic. The problem is the wait at the bus stop.

I should start my segment with a confession. I had never taken the bus in Cayman before this commuter race.

This is despite having almost exclusively relied on public transportation, biking or walking before my life here.

When I moved to the island three years ago, it quickly become apparent that biking would be a death-defying ordeal and walking would likely end in heat exhaustion.

Plus, taking the bus confounded me – there was no schedule, few established stops and the only route map I could find didn’t indicate street names, just general directions.

So when my editor assigned me to take the bus for our rush hour race, I went into the task with little knowledge. But I had a strategy: look for someone standing by the side of the road who appeared to be waiting for a ride and stand next to them.

That did the trick. At the corner of Shamrock Road and Marina Drive, a man confirmed that, yes, he was waiting for the bus and, yes, he was heading to town. It was 7:28am when I located the ‘stop’. I popped on a pair of headphones and started scrolling through podcasts I had downloaded the night before.

The bus stop at Marina Drive and Shamrock Road.

At 7:50am, a bus finally approached. We popped to attention and each raised a hand to hail the driver.  He didn’t stop. All the seats were full.

It wasn’t long before another bus approached. Also full, it continued on.

Before I could moan to myself, a third bus appeared and this time we were in luck.

By 7:53am, 25 minutes after reaching the stop, I was settled in my seat and on my way to the finish line at Camana Bay. From WhatsApp updates, I knew Michael, on his bike, was closing in and Norma, in her car, was stuck in traffic somewhere nearby.

We hadn’t heard from James and his kayak. Best-case scenario, I think, I’ll come in third.

At 8:08am, we took a detour along the notoriously slow Crewe Road. It was 8:30am by the time we reached Shedden Road. This is when I made what could have been a game-ending mistake.

I got off the bus at the corner of Shedden and North Sound roads to find a connecting bus headed toward Camana Bay. I foolishly assumed that the westbound buses would run along North Sound Road. This is not the case.

Before I realised that I should have stayed on the first bus, some CaymanKind swept in to save the day.

After just two minutes of standing confused on the corner, I heard a shout, “Do you need help?”

It was none other than Police Constable Fabian O’Connor, better known as the ‘dancing policeman’. I had often heard stories of his acts of kindness and, suddenly, here he was, the man himself, just when I needed assistance.

 

PC O’Connor shows some CaymanKind to our bus commuter, Kayla Young.

I knew I could trust PC O’Connor (and hitchhiking was fair game). So at 8:36am, I accepted his ride and by 8:42am, we were at Camana Bay.

I had beat Norma but, alas, Michael was too quick on his bike. Thanks to PC O’Connor, I had done better than I originally expected and claimed second place.

Not too bad for a first-time bus rider.

James Whittaker is gonna need a bigger boat

James Whittaker takes to the water.

If you like to start your morning with a gruelling endurance test and arrive at the office sweaty, salty, shattered and searching for a chiropractor, sea kayaking could be the best way to commute.

For all but the most ardent advocates of paddle power, it is likely to be extremely impractical.

I began my journey, from Marina Drive at 7:15am, splashing into the water as mosquitoes nipped at my arms in the grey morning light.

After a brief moment of serenity, gently navigating the calm of the quiet residential canal, I quickly found myself bobbing like a cork in the North Sound.

With the tide racing in and waves pushing me towards shore, a straight shot across the sound proved impossible. I was left hugging the coastline, paddling furiously to keep the nose forward.

At times, the current seemed to be with me; at others it was a hard slog just to stay still.

As I reached the airport, my cellphone pinged in its waterproof case with a smug message from our bicycling business editor to say that he had already arrived.

From the video attachment, he seemed to be drinking cappuccino and listening to smooth jazz at the Waterfront Café.

That was motivation enough for a brief burst of energy. The unmistakable scent of trash wafting off the mucky peaks of Mount Trashmore let me know I was getting closer.

It was smooth paddling – until you get out of the canals.

In the middle distance, I could begin to make out the channel markers that guard the entrance to the Camana Bay canal system. Trying to ignore the pinging of more messages from my fellow participants, I pushed on.

Slow and steady wins the race may be a solid strategy against complacent hares, but in this case, not so much.

The final stretch, through the canals, was more like what I had imagined when I suggested this experiment: smooth paddling in clear blue waters as egrets rustled in the fringing mangroves.

I rounded the corner and under the bridge into Camana Bay, expecting what? Applause, a medal, a parade? Instead, I found my colleagues finishing up breakfast and paying the bill. They hadn’t even saved me a sausage.

My commute time came in at just over two hours. Cyclist, driver, even the bus had beaten the lowly paddler.

Speed isn’t everything, however. On some scores, the kayak could perhaps be deemed the winner. I had gotten a healthy dose of fresh air (if you discount the stretch passing the landfill), had a hefty workout and avoided the mind-numbing frustration of sitting in traffic for over an hour.

While the kayak may not be the most practical vessel for this particular job, the struggles I went through are nothing a 15 horsepower engine couldn’t solve.

If I had access to a jet-ski, a Boston Whaler, a sailboat, or a public ferry, I would surely have been the quickest to the finish line.

A direct route across the sound is, distance wise, the shortest version of the commute from the eastern districts to Camana Bay, yet I didn’t encounter a single vessel out on the water.

For a niche group of commuters who live and work on the ocean, aquatic transport is surely the way to go. A park-and-ride ferry system could theoretically open that option up to thousands more.

In days gone by, the Cayman catboat was the most popular mode of transport. Progress and development have changed all that, of course. But perhaps some of today’s problems could be solved with a dose of yesterday’s wisdom.

Triple C School improves since last inspection

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Office of Education Standards inspectors have determined that Triple C School has made satisfactory progress in adopting recommendations arising from an assessment last year that gave the school a ‘weak’ rating.

The progress report was released after a follow-through inspection of the school 10 Feb.

In the May 2019 inspection, the school was found to be weak in students’ attainment in mathematics and science in early years and elementary; in English in elementary; and in mathematics in middle school; as well as in progress in science in early years and elementary, in English and mathematics in elementary grades, and in leadership.

“School leaders were aware of most of the school’s areas for improvement but had not put measures in place to address those needs,” inspectors wrote in the 2019 report.

Although the school’s principal, Mable Richardson, had established a cohesive sense of community, according to last year’s inspection, there were no leadership roles allocated beyond the senior leadership team and Richardson made most decisions. There was no systematic analysis of the school’s performance and the past leadership structure did not support the school’s capacity to improve, the 2019 report said.

The inspectors made five recommendations following last year’s inspection – to raise attainment in English, mathematics and science in the early years and elementary by ensuring that the work is suitably challenging for all students; improve the curriculum for early years, elementary and middle school; improve health and safety in all areas; improve leadership from the principal; and improve arrangement for assessing students’ progress.

For the current school year, Triple C has appointed a new elementary vice principal, Sali Samaroo, to improve the curriculum as well as student assessment and achievement.

Since her appointment, the latest report said, “the school, with her direction, has made a satisfactory start addressing these areas for improvement, including challenge in lessons, subject leadership, curriculum and assessment”.

The follow-through report stated that the appointment of new subject leaders and heads of department has been a “fundamental change that helped start the process of improvement that was observed during this inspection”.

However, the inspectors noted further improvements needed to be made.

“In order to raise performance in the areas identified in the last report to ‘good’, all of the senior leadership team must remain committed and determined to address them, providing clear leadership, direction and support to the teachers taking the lead in the developments,” the report stated.

Triple C, a Christian private school that serves students from pre-school to grade 12, follows the American school system and is administered by the Church of God Chapels in the Cayman Islands.

INFO:
See the full report online at The Office of Education Standards, under Publications.

‘Go for Gold’ event raises money for Special Olympians

The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman took in more than $6,000 at its ‘Go for Gold’ fundraiser last week for Special Olympics Cayman Islands.

The event, held at A.L. and Melissa Thompson’s home on Thursday, 20 Feb., included backyard games such as giant Jenga, Connect 4, Twister and Cornhole. The emcees at the fundraiser were Alanna Warwick-Smith, who represented Rotaract Blue, and Chris Bailey, from the Rotary Club.

Kat Walsh of the Rotary Club said the games were inspired by sports in which Special Olympians compete.

“The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman wanted to come up with an event that would allow people of all ages to join in on, have fun together and raise funds without being super expensive to attend,” she said. “We knew that one of the sports that the Special Olympians compete in was bocce, and that led to the idea of a friendly backyard games competition.”

At a 2019 Rotary Club community service meeting, Walsh said it was brought to members’ attentions that Cayman’s Special Olympics team was short on funding to pay for their trip to the World Games in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.

“We wanted to do something to help raise funds where the athletes could be involved, and the various service clubs across the island could come together to support the cause,” Walsh explained.

She said the Rotary Club teamed up with Rotaract Blue, as one of their service platforms is special needs, and they focus on promoting inclusion in the Cayman Islands.

John Gray holds inaugural Spanish quiz

The Spanish department in John Gray High School held its inaugural Spanish competition finals earlier this month.

Kerita Levermore-Stewart, head of Spanish at the school, said this competition reflected the students’ enduring quest to find innovative ways to invigorate learning experiences at the high school.

“This is a truly collaborative effort resulting in a phenomenal outcome. We were joined by teachers of the Spanish Department at Clifton Hunter High School, who served along with our staff and other community members in varied capacities,” Levermore-Stewart said.

She said that the Spanish quiz, which was held on 11 Feb., was open to all grades and each team had a representative from Years 7 to 11.

The competition, which was themed ‘Saber es Poder’ (Knowledge is Power), was won by Team Tarpon.

Year 11 student De’Neil Watson said he is already anticipating next year’s event.

“This was truly a great experience for me and even though I am in Year 11, I would like to return next year just for this, and maybe as a judge, because I will continue my Spanish,” Watson said.

Principal Jonathan Clark said he was proud of the school’s Spanish team, adding, “We are always looking to extend and enrich our curriculum, and our inaugural Spanish quiz provided some of our stronger students with an opportunity to compete across our academies and also to inspire their peers.”

The economic impact of the coronavirus

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Have you ever read the back of the Clorox wipes container? It states that the wipes can be used to kill the influenza A2 virus and the human coronavirus. Given that this has been on their packaging for years, we can assume that the coronavirus is not something new, and it is not. The 2003 SARS outbreak was a strain of the human coronavirus and so was the 2012 MERS outbreak. The 2019 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak is another newly discovered strain of the same type of virus, and has been officially named COVID-19.

So what makes this deadly virus different?

The number of deaths reported as a result of the Wuhan-originated virus has easily exceeded 2,600, already surpassing the nearly 800 people who died from SARS. While the number of confirmed cases continues to rise, exceeding 79,000 worldwide, the fatality rate is still lower than the 9.6% SARS death rate. The fact that the majority of deaths are among older patients and those with weak immune systems has quelled fears somewhat.

On the other hand, China’s role in the global economy is unambiguously greater today compared to 2003, when the second-largest economy accounted for less than 5% of the world GDP compared to more than 15% today. With greater integration of global supply chains and lower growth rates in China and the rest of the world, there is growing angst about the potential ripple effect that this coronavirus can generate.

In an effort to contain the spread of the virus, Chinese authorities have imposed travel bans to and from Wuhan and the surrounding areas, essentially placing the city under quarantine. Further afield, more than 50 countries, including the US, Australia and Japan, are limiting entry for passengers arriving from China. We are only now starting to get a glimpse into the potential economic impact to China, let alone the rest of the world. Tourist attractions, restaurants and hotels are certainly feeling the pain as a result of a decline in consumption. With factories now closed beyond the traditional Lunar New Year holidays, manufacturing is also being disrupted. Even if factories would like to resume operations, many of their employees cannot return to work due to travel restrictions.

The economic impact

In today’s highly integrated global supply chain, the closure of factories in China is directly disrupting production in emerging Asian countries. Cambodia, for instance, relies heavily on inputs from China in its textile and apparel industries. For Vietnam and South Korea, more than 40% of imported manufacturing inputs used in the electronics industry are sourced from Chinese manufacturers. Likewise India’s pharmaceutical industry, which imports nearly 80% of pharmaceutical ingredients from China, is at risk of shortages. The country is already noticing price increases in commonly used antibiotics and fever medications.

Even countries with a relatively low reliance on inputs from China have specific industry giants getting caught up in the fallout of COVID-19. This was the case with South Korean carmaker Hyundai which has already been forced to close its Korean plants due to a shortage of specific auto parts. As for North America, US car producers are reporting potential plant closures if parts supplies are not replenished within a few weeks. Dow Jones Industrial member, Nike Inc., forecasts a material impact to earnings as it closed nearly half of its stores in China. Global tech giant, Apple Inc. already warned earlier this month of an expected revenue shortfall in the first quarter of the year due to depressed Chinese demand as well as manufacturing interruptions.

Due to strong trade connections, China’s neighbours in Asia are expected to experience the greatest impact and there is already evidence of that. According to Singapore’s prime minister, the number of visitors has already declined by 20,000 a day as a result of this outbreak, which is pushing policymakers to take an expansionary fiscal stance.

As a result of a natural disaster and tax increases, Japan reported a 6.3% contraction in GDP in the fourth quarter. Now the world’s third-largest economy is faced with dwindling tourist flows and falling exports, easily thrusting the country into a recession by the end of the quarter. The hardest-hit developed nation could be Australia, given the country’s dependence on exports as well as tourism from China. Regardless, the impact will be global with select regions and industries affected more than others.

In addition to signs of negative impacts on the airline, technology, car and health care industries, commodities have not been spared. Concerns mount as the world’s largest importer of crude oil tries to manage the coronavirus outbreak, resulting in reduced oil demand. Consumers are reaping the benefits with gasoline prices down at least 6% year to date, but this may not last long as OPEC producers hint towards tightening supply.

By and large, economists are expecting a contraction in China’s GPD in the first quarter followed by looser monetary and fiscal policy to stabilise growth for the remainder of the year. Current estimates suggest a first-quarter GDP slowdown in China close to 4.5%, down from 6% in the fourth quarter of 2019.

On 17 Feb. the People’s Bank of China reduced its medium-term lending facility rate by 10 basis points to 3.15%. The move should lower funding costs for banks and most likely feed through to the loan prime rate set by banks in an effort to encourage lending. More monetary and fiscal stimuli will probably be required the longer coronavirus disruptions persist, but in the case of a protracted crisis, such stimuli may be insufficient. Equity markets seem to be ignoring the potential economic impact at the moment, perhaps due to the lack of massive contagion beyond China.

If China can contain the spread of the virus, the impact to the global economy may be minimal; if not, the rest of the world would also have to boost their economies, but may not be in a position to do so. Then again, we may see further accommodative policies from major central banks. All eyes will be focussed on China in the coming weeks.

Sources: Bloomberg LP, Capital Economics, IMF, Barclays

Disclaimer: The views expressed are the opinions of the writer and whilst believed reliable may differ from the views of Butterfield Bank (Cayman) Limited.  The Bank accepts no liability for errors or actions taken on the basis of this information.

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