March 2006 Archives

I won't be posting for the next 10 days as I get some R&R.

I had been hoping to put a few thoughts together on the Hamilton Waterfront proposal but have run out of time. Suffice it to say I like the concept, but find the proposal on the table too ambitious.

I'd prefer we make better use of the existing waterfront before we go nuts and fill in half the harbour.

I'm also concerned about the proliferation of major capital projects on the table and coming down the pipeline. I can think of a number which are huge, including the new hospital (500M +), the replacement of the causeway (100M+), a new police station/courthouse and now this enormous undertaking in Hamilton.

The money's got to come from somewhere, and undoubtedly it'll be the taxpayer paying dearly.

I may put some more coherent thoughts together at some point. But chances are there will be no activity here until the 2nd or 3rd of April.

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As a follow-up to my post of a week ago on the huge poles erected for Belmont's driving range, the poles have been lowered with the nets now attached.

While lower, they remain visible from the Harbour and Middle Rd.. They're not as bad as before, but they're still ugly.

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Interesting comments from Dr. Brown to the BIU delegates conference on their declining work ethic. So interesting in fact that they felt really familiar...because they were.

I said much the same in a Royal Gazette column published on Jan. 11th, 2005 entitled: "We mustn't let the BIU's work ethic sink us all", a headline which pretty much sums up the message that Dr. Brown delivered on Wednesday, 13 months later.

Some of you might recall that my comments were greeted with a ferocious counterattack by the BIU's Laverne Furbert.

So I'll be waiting patiently (ok, maybe not) for Ms. Furbert to respond in kind to the affirmation of my comments by 'one of her favourite politicians', Dr. Brown.

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Parliament is in tomorrow, and one of the items on the agenda is pay raises for MPs.

I hear that the UBP will probably come out against what has been proposed by the Premier's committee, and I'd agree with that.

If we cut through all the BS that's bound to be spewed tomorrow, this isn't at all about pay-raises for our legislators. It's about pension raises. That's the bottom line. Alex Scott is interested in the 66% of $200,000 that he'll bank once his time at the helm is mercifully over.

There's a few issues that I have with the current proposal, the main ones being that:

:: Whatever is proposed should not be enacted until after the next general election. MPs should not be changing their compensation during a term. They know what they signed up for and that's what they should get.

:: There should be no raises for our MPs/Senators without associated Parliamentary reform. Paying our legislators more to do things the same old way is unacceptable.

Anyway, it's sure to be a touchy take note motion, and you can tune in on the Doug DeCouto's Parliamentary audio feed.

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Seems that the container ship Somers Isles has lost power while exiting the channel this morning in high winds. A tug eventually got it under control and anchored off of PW's Marina, but not before it drifted into the Hamilton Princess dock.

Not my usual view of the Harbour.

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I've been struggling to keep up with life lately, resulting in light activity here as of late.

I've also pulled back from my Royal Gazette column, which I plan to resume shortly when things settle down, and will be whining here less frequently for the next couple of months I imagine.

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Phil over at A Limey in Bermuda has a write-up of Saturday night's poorly advertised, badly scheduled and hence lightly attended forum on reshaping Bermuda's political system.

I'm not going to rehash every point he has outlined, but I can't help but comment on the absolute absurdity of this position:

"A recurring topic was the unwritten rule of British politics that politicians caught lying or engaging in unethical behaviour must resign at once. Both Julian Hall and Stuart Hayward suggested that such a principle was unworkable in Bermuda because of the risk that it would exhaust the small pool of political talent from which Bermuda has to draw. I wondered how, then, politicians were to be kept honest. Mr. Hayward later suggested to me that giving the people the ability to recall an MP in the middle of their term was one way to do this. Since Bermuda does not seem to have the UK’s “culture of resignation”, this seems like the next best thing. However I’m still uncertain how it mitigates the risk of exhausting the talent pool."

Anyone else do a double take here?

I don't care how talented a politician is, if they're a liar or unethical - and we've got an abundance of that around right now - they have no place in Parliament...small talent pool or not. In fact, there seems to be a surplus of politicians right now whose sole talent is lying and acting unethically.

There is no excusing dishonesty or a lack of ethics. Period. Anyone attempting to rationalise should be ashamed.

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How on earth did Belmont get approval to post those huge poles, for what is presumably their driving range, alongside Middle Road and clearly visible from the Harbour?

These 12 or so poles tower high above the tree line and are a terrible blight on the view of the Harbour.

I can't believe that Planning signed off on those.

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Not surprisingly the teachers are hitting back at PLP backbencher Renee Webb for her speech in Parliament decrying the state of education.

The response is both predictable and interesting; predictable in that the teachers have taken collective offense at Ms. Webb putting the focus on them, but interesting because I didn't read her comments as either a blanket condemnation of all teachers nor a free pass for the Ministry.

As today's RG editorial states, the teachers aren't the whole problem, but they are part of it. The crux of the problem is in my opinion structural and lies at the feet of the Minister, Cabinet, the Ministry of Education and some parents.

But at least we seem to be recognizing that there is a problem. That's the first step. Now it's time to make the big second one and accept that feelings will be hurt in fixing the problem and that there are lots of constituencies with vested interests in the status quo...some teachers included.

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I don't find myself agreeing with Renee Webb on much, but her speech in Parliament yesterday is the second position (here's the first) she's taken recently which I wholeheartedly concur with.

Public education needs a wholescale revamp, not playing on the fringes as Minister after Minister seems content to do. We don't have the luxury of time. We're losing generations.

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Not surprisingly, today the courts overturned the real estate policy implemented a year ago, which prevented Bermudians who owned property previously eligible from selling to non-Bermudians.

The policy was stupid to begin with, and would neither alleviate the housing problem on the island or prevent fronting, which were the two lame justifications used by Miniter Horton in defending the rash decision.

This policy was as pointless and counter-productive as another hasty, but in this case act of desperate electioneering, imposing work-permit term limits of 6 years.

Tom Vesey, writing in The Bermuda Sun recently, had a great run-down on the problems with work-permit term limits (with a good discussion ensuing at Limey in Bermuda), an issue the Cayman Islands is currently experiencing.

This Government's propensity to cavalierly announce significant policy or legislative changes, with the sole intent of satisfying a short term political outcome, is a terrible trait.

It doesn't just make them look foolish, it's impacting our economy. At least in the real estate case, the courts had some good sense and an ability to intervene.

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Completely off topic, but obsessive fans of the show "Lost" may get a kick out of my brother's theory behind the show, which has caught the attention of the people at Entertainment Weekly who seem equally obsessed with decoding it all:

Paragraph 4: "Then, next week, I'm going to report on all your theories — from Sean Dunleavy's elaborate comparison of Lost to Animal Farm..."

I've never seen the show, so I'm blissfully ignorant of the hoopla, but its annoying fans are everywhere.

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If our politicians want to be paid like professionals, then they need to start acting like professionals.

"Speaking in the House of Assembly yesterday, Mr. Scott likened his job to being CEO of a large, modern day corporation in an era of sound-bites and provocative headlines."

Alex Scott speaking in Parliament, The Royal Gazette 27 Feb. 2006

While the housing development announced yesterday is a good initiative, the fact that the Government won't put a price tag on it is unacceptable.

If Alex Scott sees himself as the CEO of Bermuda, then we're the shareholders, and it's our money he's spending and we're entitled to know where its going.

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I've been reliably informed that the whole message of this morning's message board on East Broadway was "EXPECT DELAYS, ROAD WORKS ON SUNDAY". Which is even funnier, because the message itself was so delayed I only saw the first bit....and I was on a mountain bike, riding against a 30-40 knot headwind.

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"EXPECT DELAYS" is what the message board was flashing at us this morning on East Broadway, where every morning is a delay. Thanks Government. Very helpful as always.

Might I suggest that a more appropriate location would be outside of the entrance to the Berkeley school, or maybe permanently moored on the Cabinet Office lawn itself.

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Breaking News Alert: Seven years later PLP Government gets a clue on housing!

Finally, the Government takes a page out of the UBP's housing plan and partners with a private developer - in this case the prolific Gilbert Lopes - to build a 90 unit affordable home development (at Loughlands in Paget) for first time homeowners, as announced today by the Housing Minister.

And whose idea was it? Not the Government's. Mr. Lopes approached them. But at least they had the good sense to get out of the way and let someone who has a track record of developing housing take over.

By the way, which developer do you think the UBP had talked to prior to the 2003 election about their First Homes plan? Three guesses and the first two don't count.

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