February 2004 Archives

It was inevitable that our political leaders were going to be asked to take a position on the issue that is dominating the US political scene, namely gay marriage. I come down squarely in favour of marrying same sex partners. They are entitled to all the rights and benefits that any other couple are and should be protected by law, not discriminated against.

I've been waiting for this to hit Bermuda and unfortunately the first politician to comment was predictably discriminatory in her comments. One of the things that continually disappoints me in Bermuda is the homophobia and downright bigotry around homosexuality. Phil Wells points out that this is an issue of equality, human rights at it's most basic. You'll find that both sides of the political divide in Bermuda will almost unanimously oppose this, primarily due to a strong church influence.

It's immoral people will say (Ms. Minors for one) - so we should discriminate. I'm sure Ms. Minors would have opposed laws prohibiting interracial marriages, and lots of people think that's immoral. The same people who will rant about the immorality of homosexuality are multiple divorcees or one of the many Bermudian parents of children out of wedlock. Bermuda is rampant with immorality, let's not be so hypocritical and sanctimonious when it comes to homosexuality.

The most obvious response to this argument has almost always been that it is the first justification used by someone who wants to discriminate, and Ms. Minors is no exception. More worringly, Governments have no place legislating morality as Ms. Minors feels entitled to do when she states that "In my opinion, I do not believe it to be representative of a family based on moral values". (I can't help but point out that Ms. Minors must feel uncomfortable then as a member of a parliamentary group comprised of a large number of homosexuals, some of whom have children and live-in partners).

The black churches in Bermuda have tolerated this aspect of the PLP as long as it wasn't pushed on them, but that's a big reason for the split which grew in the PLP since 1998 (but has been taboo to the press). Some in the PLP resented the control of the Government by a) a woman and b) a homosexual clique. Any move to liberalise Bermuda's laws around homosexuality would be sure to receive a swift response from the churches.

So, if the PLP are not open to treating gays and lesbians with equality in Bermuda what does that say about the PLP's claim to be a modern day civil rights movement? Well it exposes it as the sham that it is. Many in the PLP who pat themselves on the back are more than happy to violate the principles of equality and human rights when it comes to sexual orientation.

The UBP will almost certainly have a large number of MPs against gay marriage as they did in with the Stubbs bill. In that instance a motion from the backbench pushed through legislation to remove this discrimination in 1994, to much controversy. It was a fundamental issue of human rights (not to mention affected the son of Dr. Stubbs, the mover of the bill) and was the right thing to do. This issue is no different.

I recall reading somewhere that Bermuda has one of the highest incidences of children born out of wedlock! I'm yet to hear our politicians crying about the immorality of that (it would turn off lots of potential voters). We're very selective with our application of morality, as Bermudians are notorious for nothing if not infidelity.

Bermuda is sadly in the dark ages when it comes to tolerance, particularly around sexual orientation. We have a long way to go.

(As a side note: I became interested in Bermudian politics after the embarrassing public outcry when homosexuality (banned strangely only for men) was finally legalised in 1994. I was embarrassed to sit in the public gallery of Parliament and watch people wave their bibles (literally) shouting pure hate during the debate of the legalisation to legalise consensual sex between adult men. It's the only time I've ever seen the gallery of the House full, standing room only! I was stunned and felt the need to get involved).

This post has been corrected.

CORRECTION: Politics.bm incorrectly inferred that the UBP as a party moved the motion to decriminalise sexual intercourse between men. The motion was from the backbench and did not have Cabinet support. Politics.bm apologises for the error.

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Dr. Ewart Brown has led off the budget debate and seems a little sensitive to the UBP's reply. He hasn't said one thing about his Government's budget, he's just attacking the UBP's reply. But I guess that's expected because there isn't much meat in the 2004 budget.

In response to the suggestion to 'outsource' housing to the UBP he complained that the "UBP or their equivalent, has had the whole enchilada for over 300 years" and the people of Bermuda have said that they weren't good enough. Hmmm, we'll be into race if they get really backed to the wall I'm sure but housing didn't reach crisis levels until the mid-90's and has got exponentially worse under the PLP's administration.

Maybe there's more than one 'Weapon of Mass Deception' on the Government benches.

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The pondblogger picked up this story in the Sun Herald about a Bermuda contingent studying the Biloxi casinos.

The Sun Herald: 'Bermuda officials study Biloxi casinos', Feb. 27th, 2004

Why haven't we heard anything about this trip locally? More worringly, where does the reporter get his information that "a decision is expected this year by the Bermudan Parliament on whether to legalize gambling"?

Look for the local press to pick up on this shortly.

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The UBP's Budget reply is available online. It's a good read and caused quite a few groans in the House while it was being read.

My favourite line was the reference to Alex Scott as a 'Weapon of Mass Deception'. How true!

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More diversion, no plan for action.

Bearing in mind that my information is 3rd hand, apparently the Premier held a joint press conference with Pro-Active which essentially listed off all the projects that ran over time/budget under previous Governments.

My concern is less that the projects ran over, but that:

a) this is the first (or second if you include the PLP BHC scandal) capital project under the PLP to involve not just contractors but the police and an Auditor who has raised the real possibility of fraud!

b) rather than deal with the budget/problems years ago Alex Scott preferred to deny what everyone knew. The PLP could have dealt with this a long time ago but chose to do nothing.

c) if this is the best the PLP can do around economic empowerment we're doomed! This project has set back small black contractors light years due to the ineptitude and scandal surrounding it. It's given everyone who opposes Government programs to broaden economic opportunity the firepower they wanted. Economic empowerment needs a plan and the recipients must be managed, not just given a cheque for $70M (now $100M)! The PLP have done far more to damage Pro-Active through this project than they have to help small black businesses.

But that's all irrelevant apparently because the PLP don't want to do things right, they feel that they only need to do things as badly as it might have been done before! Why? Perhaps because as someone recently summed up the PLP's raison d'etre to me as: "Yes you're getting shafted, but wouldn't you rather be shafted by people who look like you?"

Spin, spin, spin.

PS Apparently VSB is going to run clips of the press conference on the 12:15PM news.

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Alex Scott, apparently with Pro-Active, just held a press conference on Berkeley (after both parties canceled separate ones yesterday). I missed it but will be looking for a summary on the 11AM.

If anyone heard it I'd be interested in the summary.

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PLP Chairman Neville Tyrell is doing the press rounds hyping a speech the Premier will give on Sunday outlining the PLP's plan for independence.

No one has yet produced a compelling argument for the BENEFITS of independence to the life of Bermudians, but the PLP can't even build a house (or a school), produce a tourism plan, or even advise on the appointment of a new Chief Justice without a major debacle erupting. Their history in Government doesn't give me any confidence that they'll be able to manage a process to independence any better.

I imagine Mr. Scott's reasoning is that he thinks this is an issue that:

a) fires up their base (before a by-election perhaps);
b) clearly differentiates them from the UBP, and;
c) will cause serious internal divisions in the UBP

I'm not sure that b) and c) are the case anymore as the United Bermuda Party has learned some valuable lessons from the 1990s and has a very different Parliamentary group now. I imagine the issue of independence will be handled much better now.

Regardless, Alex Scott is skilled in the art of hype and subsequent inaction so this could be just another case of lots of talk no action.

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For one of the first times I can remember I agree with Cal Smith.

I have only one question though:

If Mr. Smith rightly believes that 'Bermudians should not patronise businesses merely because they are black, but because they are “simply well-run businesses”' shouldn't he also agree that "Bermudians (I think he means Black Bermudians but there's the code words again - Bermudian means black, expat means white) should not partonise political parties merely because they are black, but because they are simply well-run parties"?

It's a shame that Mr. Smith supports a party which runs campaigns of "Vote for us because we're black" when he doesn't really seem to feel that way.

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Today's Royal Gazette resurrects, courtesy of Tony Brannon, the issue of the value we get for our tax dollar out of the Ministry of Tourism. Economist Bob Stewart is a regular contributor to the Letters to the Editor page on this topic.

I've come around to this position after the past few years of declining arrivals but increased taxpayer funding. The DOT has turned into a huge money pit. It's not all their fault as they work at the direction of the Minister but I think the Minsitry needs to be overhauled. As Tony Brennan points out in today's story, if the DOT were to exist in the private sector it would have either been out of business or the employees replaced a long time ago.

In fact, the most promising thing to hit the tourism front recently is the competition to redevelop the Hamilton Waterfront, and that is - not surprisingly - a private sector driven project that the PLP will no doubt try and latch on to as their own.

One thing sums up the lack of need for a Department of Tourism staffed by career civil servants: there is no Department of International Business yet this industry, largely self regulating with Government facilitation, has rapidly superceded tourism as Bermuda's economic engine.

I don't think this can be understated.

The Ministry of Finance plays a high level role, the Registrar of Companies facilitates the setting up of companies and the industry has an advisory council made up of industry leaders. There is no budget!

So let's get rid of the Department of Tourism as we know it.

Let's have a budget that gets allocated to a private sector Tourism Authority who develops a strategic plan and spends the dollars with little bureucratic interference. The cost overhead of running a bloated Ministry would be removed, releasing more dollars for marketing and product development. The people whose jobs depend on the industry thriving, not union protection regardless of performance, would inevitably get creative and stand a much better chance at returning the industry to it's former glory days.

I'd argue that it would make more sense than the current status quo to take the $35 Million dollar budget, drop the marketing and use it to buy 70,000 airline tickets (assumed $500 each) and give them away to tourists in our key markets!

So while the Minister may want to dismiss Tony Brannon with a comment like: "My life doesn’t revolve around what Tony Brannon thinks", he's got a point. Unlike the Minister, who appears to have total job protection from Alex Scott in return for loyalty, Tony's livelihood (and those of the thousands of Bermudians working in the industry) are inextricably tied to a successful tourism product.

To add insult to injury the Minister herself stands to get a hefty pay raise in this year's budget, despite presiding over the continuing decline - and embarrassing Hawaii episode - of Bermuda's tourism product.

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I remain completely puzzled by the constant drip of news that we have yet another connection with Cuba. After the revelation that Wedco is acting suspiciously with the cement contract we now hear that we've got a new charter between Spain, Cuba and Bermuda.

I can't think of two more different destinations from a target visitor perspective. People go to Cuba go for a cheap vacation and lots of partying. On the other hand the people we target, according to our Tourism Minister, are high earners who don't mind dropping a bomb and going to bed early. So I'm more than a little skeptical that this will last.

But again, the PLP seem to want Cuba to be involved in everything they do. I don't get it.

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The following is the complete text of the 2004 Budget as delivered by Finance Minister the Hon. Paula A. Cox:

To His Honour the Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly

Mr. Speaker,

As the first female Finance Minister for the Government of Bermuda, I have an awesome task. I may be creating a precedent on the one hand as a woman Finance Minister and then there is the dual responsibility of following in the footsteps of a man who is said to have had many of the attributes for a perfect Minister of Finance.

I am honoured to press forward on the path of prudent stewardship of the public purse that was so ably mapped by my predecessor and father, the Progressive Labour Party's first Minister of Finance, the late Hon. C. Eugene Cox, CBE, JP, MP. So I acknowledge the responsibility and distinction of presenting the sixth successive Annual Budget from the Progressive Labour Party Government and should therefore like to salute and acknowledge the efforts of the former Minister of Finance.

Mr. Speaker, this next term of Government has a great starting point: a firm foundation from which to continue our work.

Mr. Speaker, in the midst of many challenges, both international and domestic, Government is committed to the on-going transition and transformation to the 'New Bermuda'. The Budget for 2004/05 further strengthens the economic and financial foundation and simultaneously provides a catalyst for action in further advancing the social policy agenda in the 'New Bermuda'.

Mr. Speaker, Government's objective is to provide an enabling environment for businesses, stable levels of growth and employment, a proper system of governance and equity for the people of Bermuda.

Budget 2004/05 is about building a Bermuda that is strong economically and that is sensitive to the needs of the people. It is about building a Bermuda that recognises the importance of focusing on the domestic social agenda, while at the same time we continue with robust sustained economic diplomacy and remain vigilant in protecting Bermuda's position as a premier financial services jurisdiction. We will not take our eyes off the ball. We must protect the home hearth in terms of our social policy agenda so that Bermuda is truly regarded as a 'Mecca' where we promote policies geared to equity and justice for all, without fear or favour and without adopting an exclusionary approach.

Mr. Speaker, it is critical that as a country we grow and develop our economy and provide social safety-net protections to our citizens. This way, we promote greater overall financial and therefore social stability - these are critical public policy issues for the future. This way, we build confidence and trust based on a philosophy and policy of economic and social equity. It is our intent to maintain Bermuda's economic stability through sound economic management.

Our objective is to deliver a sound economy, where there are continued stable levels of growth, to promote investment in education and training for our people, to foster an enabling environment for business and entrepreneurs, to tackle the complex issues of providing affordable housing, to address the needs of our youth and our seniors, to promote a climate where those who work in our hospitality and tourism sector have a renewed sense of enthusiasm and commitment, to continue to build on the strong foundation and to see a Bermuda that is dynamic, responsive, able to compete in a global environment and fair to all.

Mr. Speaker, we want to do what we can to promote enterprise, efficiency, innovation and skills in all of our people. We may not all have equal talents but we should all have an equal opportunity to develop our talents.

A few weeks ago, the Premier of Bermuda, the Hon. W. Alexander Scott, JP, MP in a speech to the Rotary Club of Bermuda spoke passionately and unabashedly of Government's focus and vision. He stated and I quote: "We must strategise to create a 'New Bermuda' where the 'haves' continue to have and the 'have nots' have more. Given the proliferation of the social issues in Bermudian society today, there is a need more than ever to address these issues collectively. The focus of the Government should now be on the social agenda addressing the negative elements in society to improve the overall quality of life for all Bermudians."

So it is noteworthy that at this stage I announce some specific initiatives that underscore the Premier's and this Government's commitment to further advancing the country's social policy agenda.

Mr. Speaker, you will be aware that as part of the negotiations with the US Government, the Bermuda Government received a lump sum payment from the US Government as part of the termination of the US Base Lands Agreement. There was consideration paid of some US $11 million. Of that sum, a charge of US $3 million has already been made for repairs to Longbird Bridge. The remaining balance of US $8 million is currently in the Consolidated Fund.

Mr. Speaker, I note that these monies received from the United States Government were to be used for whatever purposes the Government of Bermuda so determined.

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UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for the decolonialisation of the remaining 16 territories with the "active participation of the peoples".

The question remains: if the people of a colony want to remain a colony (this could be the case with Bermuda) then will they force the issue?

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Hmmm. The Bermuda Sun is reporting that the Premier, Finance Minister and BIBA are off to NY to do a press tour and belatedly try and protect Bermuda's image from the negative onslaught of the past several years. The idea of Alex Scott attempting his brand of spin in the US media doesn't make me feel too good.

Why NY? Wall Street gets it, that's why they keep using Bermuda and other countries to do business, it's Washington where the problem is. Trying to change people's minds at the NY Times, CNBC etc. isn't really a productive use of time without a first effort in Washington. They don't legislate - they just report the hype coming from the politicians. We should be building relationships first and doing the press tour second. What will the Premier say when a reporter asks what presence we have in Washington to protect our reputation as a financial centre?

I'd much prefer the Government to drop their love affair and profiling with Cuba and Caricom and make their way over to Washington where they can make personal contacts and build relationships with the policy makers.

This PLP Government under Alex Scott has so far proven adept at talk and not much else. This Premier is completely averse to getting into the details and producing results. If Alex Scott were serious about representing Bermuda he'd start making some appointments on Capital Hill and leave the press alone for awhile until he has something substantial to report.

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Ok, so I'm cooling out on vacation in Canada, pick up the Globe and Mail and flip on the news and begin reading and listening to news reports that make me think I've never left home!

What could it be?

The Federal Auditor General has just released a long anticipated report into the misuse of federal funds in Crown Corporations involving the channeling of funds into Liberal party friendly pockets (see story here) for little or no service.

The Liberals are in damage control mode and the new Canadian Prime Minister and former Finance Minister Paul Martin is struggling to contain the scandal with an election due to be called soon.

The similarities to Bermuda's own financial scandals of the past 5 years are striking - but there are also a few things of note in the Canadian situation that should be pointed out:

1) Someone has been fired! Fancy that, someone held accountable for their corruption.
2) The Prime Minister ordered an immediate inquiry, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee is meeting to discuss the report and the report was discussed in Parliament! Wow, inquiries, committees and discussion!
3) No-one, not even the accused, have attacked the Auditor's integrity, or called for her to be replaced, or called her a racist - well, that wouldn't really work with a white auditor and a mostly white government would it? If only our PLP didn't always have that card up their sleeve ready to play?

So, we'll wait and see how this unfolds but already the Canadians are closer to reaching a resolution and holding people responsible that we are!

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Blogging will be very light for the next few weeks as I'm in the Great White North. No, not Paget, Canada.

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Less than 8 months ago the successful PLP candidates split 11-11 between Jennifer Smith and Ewart Brown loyalists - a stand-off that threatened to bring down the PLP electoral success and continues to have ramifications for the PLP, contrary to the pronouncements that it's all behind them.

Mr. Scott's position as Premier continues to be tenuous, although I don't think it's on the verge of collapse. The continued presence of Jennifer Smith supporters in Cabinet is a tactic by Premier Scott to reign in any opposition and keep them under his thumb. The recent cabinet shuffle saw only one new face and he was an Alex Scott appointed Senator. If Mr. Scott had been secure he'd have kicked Renee Webb to the curb...but she would surely reciprocate by attempting to undermine his leadership.

The outcome of the Sandy’s By-election could put further strain on Mr. Scott's leadership, particularly if Michael Scott or David Burch emerge as successful on March 4th.

Both of these individuals are strongly aligned with Jennifer Smith, as is Paula Cox who appears to favour the unpopular former Premier's sidekick Col. Burch (Ms. Smith and Mr. Burch were seen hanging out together recently at a Bermuda Festival event - the alliance remains intact). Any endorsement from the Cox family could play a major factor in nominating a successor. If the branch elects a 'Smithite' to replace Eugene Cox, who was the key to Ewart Brown capitulating in his challenge for the Premier's post, Mr. Scott's support among his parliamentary colleagues could be further threatened.

Now, who could the challenger be? Well surely the slick Dr. Brown continues to have his sights firmly on the Premiership, but I'd put forward Jennifer Smith as candidate number 1. Jennifer Smith? Would she really stage a comeback? Well who knows what she's thinking, but I don't quite understand why Ms. Smith is still hanging around after being treated so harshly by her colleagues and moved to the backbench. There's a few potential explanations, I'll speculate here:

1) The former Premier has absolutely nothing else to do and being an MP continues to offer some prestige in the community and a place to hang out on a Friday. Well, that could very well be the case.
2) Ms. Smith remains loyal to the party and knows the St. George's seat could be lost to Kenny Bascome if she were to step down. Ok, a possibility.
3) Ms. Smith would like to be the first female Speaker of the House. Maybe, this has some credibility. It is a position that confers what Ms. Smith relished -power, prestige and mostly the ability to exert control, at least on Fridays - but it's still a demotion.
4) Ms. Smith has a desire to return as Premier and is waiting for her opportunity to strike. Now this one intrigues me. Why? Well, I can't comprehend why Ms. Smith is hanging around because it certainly isn't the money so it must be something else.

Ms. Smith is pulling in somewhere around the backbencher's salary of $36,000 per year plus a little extra for taking on the Deputy Speaker role.

'So what' you say, 'It's better than nothing if she quits'.

Au contraire, the former Premier wouldn't be getting nothing if she quits. In fact, she'd immediately start pulling in her Premier's pension if she quit! There's a big difference in dollars.

My understanding is that in order to qualify for a pension you have to have been in the Parliament or Senate for 8 consecutive years and will be paid a pension at your highest position held for 3 years. In Ms. Smith's case that would be the Premier, who pulls in somewhere in excess of $100,000 per year. So if we estimate the standard MP pension payment to be around 80% of your highest salary earned for 3 years, Ms. Smith could be pulling in around $80,000 per year for doing absolutely nothing. I think that means you can dismiss explanations 1, 2 & 3 above, you can't live the lifestyle Ms. Smith took a fancy to in Bermuda on $36,000!

So why would Ms. Smith give up around $40,000 per year to sit as a backbencher? I can only think of one thing that convinces me. If Ms. Smith can maintain her 11 supporters it only takes one more to give her a majority. If Alex Scott screws up (or takes ill) Ms. Smith could have another run at it.

Jennifer Smith remains popular with the party's branch membership, who do have the final say in leadership selection, but it would be one hell of a battle to watch! I'd like to be in that room - as a spectator! The election of either David Burch of Michael Scott could make this option a little more realistic for the former Premier.

The only thing that really stands in the way of my conspiracy theory is that Alex Scott was Jennifer's hand picked successor. So as someone said to me recently: "Loyalty to Jennifer is loyalty to Alex, he falls into the line of succession". (Remember that statement whenever Alex Scott tries to distance himself from his kingmaker)

Long-shot? Maybe. Anyone else have any theories?

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I've been meaning to get to this topic for some time now but here are my thoughts on the implications of the Sandy’s by-election for the PLP.

The fact that 9 candidates have put themselves forward is being spun by the PLP as an endorsement of a reinvigorated party post Jennifer Smith. I don't think things are that simple.

Sandy’s North is a PLP safe seat and anything less than an overwhelming victory for the PLP (ie. greater than the July by-election result) will be an indicator that all is not well at Alaska Hall. Remember, Alex Scott is the PLP old guard, notwithstanding his carefully crafted new persona. If turnout is lower than the general election, as it traditionally is in by-elections, it will be a further indication that Mr. Scott's posturing isn't having much traction with the large disenchanted traditional PLP support base. It is notable that the seats with the lowest turnout in the general election were the PLP's safest seats. Constituencies 14, 16 ,21, 29, 36 were all in the 64%-68% range. Those were the PLP's safest areas. Conversely turnout island-wide was 74.9%, fully 10 points off the PLP safe seats. The PLP were unable to mobilise their core support in July and will struggle again in a by-election, which are traditionally low in turnout.

The PLP are attempting to energise the Sandy’s North voters by claiming that almost 200 new members in the past few weeks in constituency 36. The more telling number is that several weeks ago they only had 60 members in one of their safest seats! It should be easy to get 200 members in your safest seats, that's not an accomplishment, that's normal.

Dennis Lister was out on the news last night downplaying the area and expectations for the PLP. Why would they do this if they knew they already had over 200 votes in the bag in one of their safest seats? They're worried that turnout will be even lower and their margin will be reduced and are playing the expectation game. Anything other than an increased number of votes for the PLP and an increased turnout is a loss.

So what can be read into the 9 potential candidates who've put themselves forward. Well, they certainly wouldn't get 9 people putting themselves forward in a marginal or UBP area so at the minimum that confirms the safe seat criteria, although I think there is something to be said for a renewed interest after years of Jennifer Smith's heavy hand.

One important question is: Who do the branch want and who do the Central Committee want? Alex Scott is playing coy on this, trying to stay neutral and not supporting any particular candidate. With 9 candidates in play it's almost certain that some supporters will be bitterly disappointed that their choice was unsuccessful, particularly where so many residents are related to the candidates! That's why Dennis Lister was quoted in the paper as doing some ground work saying: "...regardless of whether their preferred candidate is chosen they should leave the room as a 'united front to fight a campaign...for constituency 36'".

It has been widely reported that former Sen. David Burch has the support of the Cox family - a powerful endorsement. Also Michael Scott was long considered the favourite due to his history of running (unsuccessfully) in the west end and his grooming for the AG's position. Mr. Scott's recent snub by the Premier for the Attorney General's role could suggest that he's not the Premier's preferred candidate. Surely conferring the AG's role in advance of the by-election would have increased the profile and stature of Mr. Scott in the constituency.

According to a few people I've spoken with it seems that Ellen Kate Horton isn't the most popular candidate in the area and many of the others look unlikely.

Rodney Smith shows up all over the place in by-elections and comes with a certain amount of baggage after unceremoniously evicting a tenant from one of his houses and putting their belongings in the rain, in the middle of the General Election campaign of 1998! He's really a tag along for Dale Butler and mostly likes to keep his profile up in the press and on the radio talk shows.

Scott Simmons is also a possibility and would have the support of Mr. Scott after being selected as party public relations officer after the 2003 election/. Mr. Simmons also comes with some problems as well after questions surfaced about his character during the run-up to the 2003 election.

So, it will be intriguing to see who emerges tonight as the winner. I'd have to think Michael Scott and David Burch would be the favourites - but you never know in politics.

The implication for Alex Scott's leadership could be significant. More on that in my next post.

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The image in question:  Bermuda Coat of ArmsAn astute reader sent me a note suggesting that the use of the Bermuda Coat of Arms on the PLP website could be illegal. (Before you bombard me with emails...I'm not hosting the offending image on my site, I'm simply passing through to the offending image on the PLP site...as a public service of course!)

Now I'm not one to nitpick, but we are trying to stem the tide of lawlessness aren't we? So I felt duty bound to look into it, and after verifying this with some people in the know, it would appear that the reader could be correct:

Summary Offenses Act 1926

"Restriction on using Royal coat of arms and that of Bermuda

"22 Subject as hereinafter provided, any person who, otherwise than in conformity with the terms of a licence granted by the Governor or under other lawful authority, uses or displays——

"(a) in connection with the carrying on of any business, trade, profession or calling; or
"(b) in connection with the activities of any body of persons, whether corporate or unincorporate,

"the Royal coat of arms or the coat of arms of Bermuda, or any arms so closely resembling either of these coats of arms that they might reasonably be taken to be that coat of arms, commits an offence against this Act:

"Provided that nothing in the foregoing provisions of this section shall have effect in relation to the reproduction or representation of the Royal coat of arms or the coat of arms of Bermuda on any article, goods or things sold or offered for sale unless the Governor, on its appearing to him that any reproduction or representation of the Royal coat of arms or the coat of arms of Bermuda on any articles, goods or things is objectionable on public grounds, declares, by order published in the Gazette, that such foregoing provisions shall have effect in relation to the reproduction or representation of the Royal coat of arms or to the reproduction or representation of the coat of arms of Bermuda on those articles, goods or things."

Now I suppose that they could have sought permission from the Governor (or use themselves as the "other lawful authority"), but seeing as Mr. Vereker is the representative of the oppressive colonial master I doubt they did that.

Perhaps our new, rather humourous AG would like to look into this potential violation of the law when he's dealt with the seat belt and parking ticket problems?

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Today’s Royal Gazette gives us a rundown of the PLP hopefuls, albeit with a rather gushing and mischevious headline.

The PLP, have been taking some deserved lumps lately for lacking diversity and running a racially divisive campaign - but Alex Scott has been cranking up the PR machine and trying to portray his party as diverse and representative of all Bermudians.

The Royal Gazette kindly obliges in this article by saying that the PLP candidates "impress with their diversity". I'm sure Mr. Scott appreciates the early Valentines Day gift!

Couple that with the other gushing article by Mr. Johnson about new PLP Attorney General Sen. Larry Mussenden and I'm starting to this that Ms. Webb is right about her media bias, she's just got it backwards!

The RG seems to have gone completely pro-PLP.

CORRECTION: The line "mischevious headline courtesy of Ayo Johnson" was corrected to say "mischevious headline". Reporter's rarely if ever write their own headlines. However this one was pulled directly from the first line of the RG story where it stated that "The line-up of potential Progressive Labour Party (PLP) candidates for the Sandys North (district 36) by-election on March 4 is impressive in its diversity".

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I picked up this Chicago Tribune story from the Pondblogger. The short newspaper article makes for thought provoking reading (it's worth subscribing - it's free). I can't wait to get my hands on the book.

Mr. Gates raises issues that would stimulate significant debate here in Bermuda as well.

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The Premier today announced March 4th as the date for the by-election to fill the seat vacated by the death of the late Finance Minister Eugene Cox.

The UBP's candidate has been set for some time. The PLP are yet to decided with the clock ticking and an intriguing process set to reduce 9 people down to the final one.

Most people seem to suggest that Sen. Michael Scott is the front-runner while Col. David Burch lingers as the rumoured favourite of the Cox family.

Either way, I'm sure that Alex Scott would prefer someone else. Both of these candidates are Jennifer Smith loyalists and could threaten Mr. Scott's Parliamentary support base.

I'll write more on this tomorrow.

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There's no better way to show the idiocy of Renee Webb's latest diatribe against the media than using a sketch I've never forgotten by the brilliant Chris Rock (excerpts from Rock This! by Chris Rock):

"'Man, why you got to say that? Why you got to say that? It isn't us, it's the media. The media has distorted our image to make us look bad. Why must the media come down on us like that, brother? It's not us, it's the media'

"...When I go to the money machine at night, I'm not looking over my shoulder for the media.

"...Ted Koppel never took anything from me....Do you think I've got three guns in my house because the media's outside my door trying to bust in?

"Oh s#%t. It's Mike Wallace. Run!"

Several days ago her own Premier, spin-doctor Alex Scott, even acknowledged what everyone knows - that there is an increase in lawlessness in Bermuda.

The PLP are leading the charge as I've said before. They've condoned lawlessness in Bermuda by their own actions since Nov. 1998 yet somehow expect Bermuda's criminal element to not up the ante!

What does Ms. Webb want to do about it? Get the press to stop reporting it!

There's leadership for you.

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Pigeons get people fired up here too (see lizardfish's comment below)!

My point in the previous post was not to try and dismiss the discussion on pigeons as invalid, or even less valid than any other, but to point out how surprised I am that these corruption stories of the past 5 years don't generate more anger in the community!

I imagine the answer is that, sadly, the public expect politicians to lie to and steal from them!

"Well you see, it became an attack not just on what D. Wingate said about
pigeons, but the entire environmental movement in Bermuda.... In the long run, we won't have an island fit for living on, where we can afford to argue about BHC fiascos. In the long run,protecting our environment is, the first and foremost task humans should be attempting globally and locally.

"To you it may seem like just pigeons, but to many, this issue was just the
tip of the iceberg, which Dr. WC, went onto to attack.

"So, really you see when some... vet comes along and points her finger at
all the people who are, in my humble opinion, dealing with the most
important issues we currently face, there is great reason to get upset about
it. I loved the letters in the paper. Even hers. It got people reading about
the environment and interested in one of the many problems we currently
face."

Well said.

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It seems like lately, when I open the Royal Gazette Editorial page, there's something in there about pigeons (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and it all started here!) These are, by and large, some pretty well thought out and good diatribes, particularly by RG Letter to the Editor standards. I think we're well into the double digits on this topic! Who'd have thunk it?

So what's my gripe?

I must admit a certain amount of exasperation when I see so many people so irate over this issue but so little public outcry over things like, err - I don't know, maybe the feeling that the DPP is scared to go and get the people involved in the BHC fiasco!

Pigeons aren't the only ones stinking up Bermuda.

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