April 2007 Archives

The more I think about, the more astounding the news is that Randy Horton, an incumbent PLP Cabinet Minister and key ally of the new party leader was rejected by his branch committee to run again.

I can't think of another time that a Cabinet Minister has been kicked to the curb so definitively by a branch, and it would appear from the comments by the PLP spokesperson today that the party hierarchy were stunned and had no idea this was coming.

They just seem shell-shocked and in a scramble to try and salvage something workable.

That can only speak to a real disconnect between the on the ground party workers that keep a party moving forward, and the party leadership.

Fortunately for now, the parties seem to be keeping mum, which shows a little more discipline on the PLP's part than a few in the UBP managed with their recent struggles. How long that lasts remains to be seen. Eventually the press will get someone to talk.

I expect that this will be written off as a simple act of the branch wanting a better candidate for their area than a Dr. Brown ally - which probably is the case. But if this were the UBP we'd be seeing this act spun as the work of some sinister white elite, not just branch workers doing what they should do, which is make sure no candidate thinks they're indispensable.

But that's the double standard of Bermuda politics.

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This Letter to the Editor in Friday's Mid Ocean News nagged at me all weekend, not just because it's quite a dispassionate assessment of the new Premier, but because it has the feel of being written not by a rabid UBP supporter but a disenchanted PLP insider:

HERE’S a little food for thought for those who take time to read: I often wonder whether former Premier Alex Scott honestly has any regrets for nominating Dr. Brown for the deputy leadership post. If indeed he does, maybe he should have thought like Dame Lois Browne Evans when she stated in July 2003 that if she was leader, she would be more careful who she picked as candidates. I also wonder what Alex Scott meant when he stated that “...Bermuda will get the Government it deserves”. Exempt company chieftains and leaders of legal and financial industries already have the ability to influence new policies and directions i.e. the Bermuda International Business Association mentioning the impact the propised new law to restrict car ownership for guest workers would have on international businesses.

Despite all of this, the Progressive Labour Party diehards may once again show their support based on party lines. They are entrusting their future in the hands of a leader who played a major role in misleading the electorate in 2003 in a desperate attempt to hang on to power, and ultimately forgetting the interests of the people who are left to ponder the question “What about us?”

We must remember that according to Charles Caleb Colton, ‘No man is wise enough, nor good enough, to be trusted with unlimited power.’

When PLP member Craig Clarke spoke of certain members of the PLP who have their own political agenda, did Premier Brown fit into that category? When Dr. Brown returned to Bermuda in 1992, after a 28 year absence, he had the mindset that “If you think I’ve come here just to practice medicine you couldn’t be more incorrect. I have scores to settle, accounts to pull even.”

In the 1998 Election, he was elected despite a strong campaign against him. In 2000 he launched a bid for the deputy leadership of the PLP but was soundly beaten out by the late Finance Minister Eugene Cox.

At that time, he vowed he would one day seek the top job. Dr. Brown’s persistence together — with his political strategy in not divulging everything, every time — and his influence over the other rebels of his party in his pursuit to lead the country, may have been acceptable to the PLP delegates, however, his fate now lies in the hands of the electorate.

Although he is known to be a leader who places great emphasis on achievement and getting things done, Dr. Brown is considered “too American” by some members of his own party.

How will he heal the party rifts and “make it happen” with his autocratic style of leadership should he attempt to take Bermuda to Independence? He did state that he would not stay in the hot seat for ten years because much of what he would like to achieve can be achieved within five years, whilst ruffling some feathers - so I guess that would include “Independence”.

So brace yourselves for the hidden agenda and what Premier Brown has in store for us during his tenure in office, and remember five years is one term in office - so the other five of the ten years he mentioned is for prestige.

In the 1950s he was exposed to Jamaica’s Independence movement when he was being educated in that country, so he is aware of what to expect, which explains the need for beefed up security around his home and the bodyguards.

Bermudians in their shortsightedness, however, are being distracted by the cost factor of implementing the security the Premier seeks (i.e. fencing etc.), when they should be concentrating more on the Premier’s ulterior motive.

Although his ambition is not blind or aimless and has been fortified by many years of preparation - education, hard work, team work, deference, deferral and service — his hasty nature of making decisions that are not vetted fully may one day contribute to his downfall.

On that note, he should be reminded that hasty climbers have sudden falls and that in Bermuda; the electorate prefers to be consulted rather than dictated to.

As Walton Brown stated in July 2003, “It’s not sufficient to say you’ve got your head in the trenches doing the people’s business, they have to know what you are doing and feel a bond with you.” He also said, “A victory for any party has much to do with the leader—”

Does this also apply to Premier Brown, who obviously delegates many of his responsibilities to avoid direct contact with individuals, masking his true personality as seen in his management style, which explains why he chooses to surround himself with spokespersons etc.?

According to October 2000 polls, he was the least popular choice for a leader with just 6.9 percent of the vote. However, he recently managed to convince the PLP delegates, when he crushed his predecessor Alex Scott by 31 votes, to allow him to fulfill his life long ambition of becoming Premier of Bermuda.

Will the Honorable Premier Brown’s reputation of being a bad boss who can’t keep staff affect his ability to be an effective “leader”, or will his vision lead to further division? With Premier Brown now the “Captain” of the ship he once described as “listing in the sea with no rudder”, has his party found the time to right the ship, sit down and have the “open discussion” on “Independence” to decide where it fits in on their agenda or will they once again have to deceive the public to maintain their power?

At least Premier Brown was honest in one of his speeches when he admitted that under the PLP Government, we are no better off today than we were three years ago - neither is our neighbour and neither is our son or daughter.

His objective to have every child of every PLP member and every child of Bermuda aspire to great heights has been partially achieved, as we’ve already seen some of the politicians’ relatives being rewarded with promotions etc.

If every single vote was needed to secure their 2003 election victory, what will happen at the polls this time around?

Will the electorate have the mindset, “once bitten, twice shy”? What about having a plan ‘B” like Premier Brown who hasn’t completely severed his US ties?

After all, he married an American, so he can jump ship and leave Bermuda once again should his dream of Bermuda becoming independent turn into a nightmare. Considering this, when the election does roll around, ‘be careful what you ask for because you just might get it’.

VIGILANT IN DEVONSHIRE


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One of the fun things about running this blog is the email that I receive with tip-offs, compliments, critiques and the occasional insult which are usually fun too.

Unfortunately lately one individual who shall remain nameless for now, has been making a complete and utter fool on himself with a series of emails that he has sent me.

Originally I replied to a few but stopped once it became clear how pathological and uninformed this individual was. His responses weren't only usually wrong on the facts, but also never remotely connected to the thrust of my argument, instead just making that predictable racism attack.

The best example of this individual's ignorance was a multiple email exchange where he blamed the UBP for shutting down Berkeley in an act of racism, even though they never did such a thing. Then it morphed into the UBP closing it down as a successful black high school for a middle school, which of course didn't happen either. He never did admit that he was wrong, he just kept attacking.

So, that should give you some insight into the type of mental midget that he is.

Once I began ignoring him however, things became more and more demented and I started to realise that this individual was potentially more than just a nuisance.

I began to receive emails from someone purportedly called "ronnie foster" with an email address of "whiterulebermuda@yahoo.com" (spam away at that). I ignored those as well and after the second of them I realised who it was.

The emails never really had any content but subject lines such as:

"your blog roks - stoopid blks"

"good going CHRISTian - we're going to get them!!"

"keep up the good work - we are with you".

Anyway, I guess that my silence just got this nut-case even more worked up (I presume the hope was that I'd respond with a supportive comment which could then be used against me).

Last week, and then again today just a few minutes ago, I received an email from a Yahoo! email address in my name (and I don't, nor have I ever, maintained a yahoo email account).

Here's what that email said:

"fat angry white guys r real funny - try killing your..."

So, while I won't dispute the fat part, I think it's clear how mentally unstable this individual is, even going so far as to set up an email address in my name.

On Friday however, he tried another stunt which crossed a line. I won't comment on what that was, but it shows just how nasty a piece of work he is. We should be fortunate that he doesn't live in Bermuda right now.

So, while I'd been encouraged by a friend who is well acquainted with this individual that I should post the emails on the blog, I felt that if I simply ignored him that he'd go away. But that doesn't seem to be the case so I decided to let everyone judge for themselves.

The funny thing is that the behaviour that this individual is engaging in is everything that he'd argue was so wrong in the past.

Mental midget indeed.

I actually feel sorry for him. He clearly needs professional psychological help, and in Canada there are plenty of resources available for him. I'd encourage him to seek it out.

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Now that's very interesting.

A sitting Cabinet Minister, and a strong supporter of the Dr. Brown wing in a relatively safe PLP seat is rejected by the branch he currently serves.

It would seem that he could still hold that seat if the PLP Central Committee backs him (I'm not particularly aware of how this works in PLP-land), but that's a recipe for one of those intra-party explosions that the UBP are intimately familiar with.

I said a week or two ago that the big impediment to the calling of an election before Parliament resumes would be Dr. Brown's ability to supplant existing candidates not loyal to him with his hand-picked friends, associates and yes men.

And that looks like it could be an issue based on Friday's events.

I'd heard that Dr. Brown's Chief of Staff Wayne Caines had been summarily dismissed by the branch he was pointed to, which unanimously reappointed incumbent Ashfield DeVent, and Dean Foggo looks to remain in the St. George's seat that he barely scaped though with in 2003.

So, other than Ottiwell Simmons, it doesn't look like people are going to go quietly into the night as had been hoped, to open up the doors for the Brown generation.

There's lots more to unfold here, and it could go much more smoothly than some thing, as Dr. Brown isn't one to let much stand in the way of his wishes, but that is a great way to alienate the grass-roots supporters of any party, and is not the way you want to head into the election.

This kind of event is a balancing act best handled by someone with a soft touch, not the brute force favoured by Dr. Brown when he sets his mind on something.

And, it would seem clear that the rush is on to get candidates placed so that an election can be called, which means that one big advantage that the incumbent party holds in the Westminster system could be squandered to some extent.

Time will tell. But it's clear, the UBP aren't alone, and the narrative that the PLP have been sowing that they're one big cohesive team ain't the case.

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Just quickly, the idea that the PLP is "breaking new ground" by polling individual constituencies rather than national polls, and that the result of this is a "deepening of the democratic process" is utter nonsense.

The UBP has been doing it for years. I worked on the last election and it was done extensively then, and it's been done this time around as well. I've been polled myself.

What it probably does mean is that the PLP is more organised and has more resources than in the past, likely a result of the special interest money that they raked in during their Gala in January.

I'll give it to them though, they really are shameless in trying to suggest that things which have been done by others forever are somehow revolutionary when they do them.

I wasn't going to comment on this as it was so childish, not to mention preposterous, but take the PLP Chairman's comment over on the Progressive Minds blog when announcing their own site:


On a side note, I see that the UBP (not to be outdone...) has now decided to put video on their website. ... Oh wait, now they are putting up a blog on thier site (at this time its still empty)....

Imitate my flattery! Its so typical of the UBP always reactionary.... Guess that's why they are the conservative party of Bermuda.

Funny that. The inactive blog link and video were added before the PLP rolled out their site, and, here's a tip-off PLP Chairman...why did they film a special video clip of Donte Hunt's roll-out a week before the PLP website went live?

The PLP website is well done. It looks good. But it just speaks to an over-riding insecurity that they can't let it stand on their own, opting to try and inflate what has been done and run down the other side.

The two sites actually to me show the different personalities of the parties. The PLP's is visually appealing, geared around presenting an image of vitality, whereas the UBP's is much more geared towards presenting actual information.

Both are a work in progress, but I see no need to run down either one. They're just different, and frankly if this kind of mindless taunting is a precursor to an election campaign, it really is going to be a dull one.

There are politics, and arguments worth having, but this tendency is just purely juvenile.

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Scary scene at Harbour Nights about 45 minutes ago.

About 5 minutes after the Gombeys began to perform at the flagpole there were screams coming from further down Front Street, towards the bird cage.

I turned around and saw two white horses pulling a carriage, with no driver in it, bolting at full pace towards the 5 or 6 row deep crowd, backs turned, of which I was at the back with my family and brother's family.

While some people (including us) were able to get out of the way, others were trapped in the crowd, oblivious to what was about to happen as the horses and carriage crashed into the crowd, adjacent to the stage. A number of people were trapped beneath the horses and the carriage.

The crowd got together to lift the carriage up, and get people underneath out as quickly as they could while securing the horses. There were a number of injuries, some cuts and head wounds and some that appeared potentially more severe.

Emergency services were there quickly with the centre area being cordoned off for what appeared to be about 5-10 more seriously injured people. Hopefully these won't turn out to be too severe and everyone will recover. Let's hope.

It was a very scary moment, but the emergency services, off-duty nurses, police officers and those in attendance responded quickly.

A sad start to what was looking like a great kick-off to Harbour Nights.

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Evidently all the press hasn't made a bit of difference to the Presidential motorcade. Should cycle squad be dealing with dangerous driving, not stroking dangerous egos?

A reader reports:

Wednesday 25 Apr 07 10:29am Ferry Reach Road heading east 3 Police motorcycle outriders (in dress uniform) Premier's Limo 2 other cars with flashing lights (leading and following limo) Front riding motorcycle cop waving oncomming traffic to side of the road as if a wide load was comming.

You should start a "Spot the motorcade" competition!

Get that. Six vehicles in total, 3 motorcycles, GP1 and two additional cars.

[UPDATE: A few readers have written in suggesting that this was for the Peppercorn ceremony which like most formal parades has always included a motorcade for a little pomp and circumstance. And in this case, the Deputy Premier Paula Cox was the occupant as Dr. Brown was at RIMS.]

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The PLP has released their new website today.

It looks pretty good, professionally done, complete with a cheesy video tribute to President Brown from his Cabinet Ministers, because they don't have to say nice things do they? (sarcasm alert).

But a reader sent in an absolute gem, from their donations page. Read it and weep:


We're not the party that rakes it in from the wealthy and the special interest elite. Ours is the party of the people and we rely on people like you to give our party the resources we need. Please, make an investment in Bermuda's future by contributing today.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

That made my day. PLP Gala anyone? $25,000 for Platinum donors. Big foreign money welcome.

You really can't make this stuff up. Comments like that show just how much the PLP subscribe to the idea that if you tell a lie often enough, people start to think its true.

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Denis Pitcher over at 21 Square follows up on my post of last night with his own take on the misinformation at the core of the latest "tourism" statistics.

Money quote:

We're told that the numbers speak for themselves. Well here are the numbers according to the number of times the following words appear in the first quarter statistics.

Arrival: Occurs 19 times

Visitor: Occurs 16 times

Tourist: Occurs 0 times.

Remember those definitions above?

I'll belive [sic] it's been a banner quarter when you can tell me in statistics that include non-bermudian, bermudian, resident, non-resident, business, pleasure and hopefully how much is approximated to have been contributed to the economy by each group. Until then, these numbers mean nothing to me.

Now, if only the mainstream press would ask the right questions, rather than printing completely incorrect headlines like "Tourist arrivals jump 22.9% over 2006".

No they didn't. Cruise and air arrivals did. Tourists? Who knows?

Over to you The Royal Gazette. VSB. ZBM. Bermuda Sun. Ok, not the Bermuda Sun.

It's all been teed up for you. Take a swing.

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A police officer writes in on Dr. Brown's insecurities:

As a police officer I have assisted in securing convictions against murderers, rapists, drug dealers and many other types of crime.

I am regularly threatened and I go out into public with my family and children.

Do I feel I need personal protection? No, I don't. I wonder why Dr Brown feels he needs it more than any of us who are truly on the front line.

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I didn't see it myself, but I was told that Rosie O'Donnell talked about the canceling of the Bermuda leg for R Family Cruises today on her talk show The View.

My understanding is that she made it clear that she said they made the decision not to come based on threats of protests and while not outwardly hostile to the island, she was obviously quite negative about us to an audience of millions.

Just what we need.

UPDATE: Here is a summary of the segement from the website "Watching the View" (which for the record I don't, except for tips on hair products and weight loss).


Rosie brought up how the R Family Cruise ship will not be going to Bermuda this summer, as I previously reported. She said that there were expected to be 80 churches protesting the ship’s arrival and they were worried about security and the effect the protests would have on the children. She said that people have canceled their cruise because of the removal of the stop.

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...they can bend it all they want.

I'm sure tourism numbers are up. And I'm glad that we seem to be making some gains. But if we're honest, once you get past cruise passengers (which is like shooting fish in a barrel), the question is "by how much?".

Reporting air arrivals as tourists is highly misleading - intentionally I believe - and produces a relatively useless number for measuring tourism as a product.

When I see a headline like today's "Tourist arrivals jump 22.9% in 2006", my reaction is: Really?

How many are business travelers - clients, brokers, consultants, boards or otherwise? How many are these commuters who work in Bermuda Monday to Friday and fly home for the weekends. How many are people waiting for work permits who have to fly in and out every couple of weeks?

A material amount methinks.

I ask not just because I'm a cynic (which I can be), not because I want tourism to fail (which I don't), but because when I see big moves in the 4th quarter for example, a period which isn't historically a busy tourism season for Bermuda, I think of the peak annual insurance/reinsurance renewal period.

I'd estimate that somewhere around 2/3rds of reinsurance policies worldwide renew on January 1 every year...I know, because I work my butt off from October through the New Year and then up until July.

And what am I doing during the last 3 months of the year? Meeting with contingents of clients and brokers, almost all of them from overseas. With so many new reinsurance and insurance companies in Bermuda post Hurricane Katrina, there has been a HUGE volume of corporate visitors to Bermuda. HUGE.

I see more of some US and UK brokers in Bermuda than I do Bermudians. And that isn't an exaggeration. Today I met with 10 brokers and clients from overseas with two companies, tomorrow I'll meet with another 6-8 from two companies. Add those up over 12 weeks in the busiest time of year and you've got a lot of business travelers the Minister is calling "tourists".

Shouldn't we report pure tourist numbers?

The Department of Tourism must have this information; arrivals forms break down the purpose of your visit into business, conference, vacation, visiting family and friends etc.. So why are we releasing this very broad number which is not, despite the headlines, "tourists".

What we really need to know if we are to measure the effectiveness of the Tourism strategy, is how many pure tourists do they attract with their $40M annual budget. Cruise companies do their own advertising, so they should be isolated from the budget. Remove business travelers. Remove people visiting family. Remove commuters. Remove all the noise.

Let's see the true tourism numbers so that we can decide if things are as rosy as we're told. Because I'm willing to place a bet that reality is a lot less sexy than a 22.9% increase in tourists.

So while the taxpayers are paying for a swanky luncheon every quarter for over 200 people at the Fairmont Southampton to be wooed, oohed and aahed by the Premier, the actual raw numbers are nowhere to be found because the report doesn't get released.

When they own the information they can bend it all they want.

And let's not forget, with all the PR hoopla, that we're only back at levels from the year 2000.

The devil is in the details. So let's see the details. We're smart enough. We can handle it.

I don't think it will be all bad, but it won't be nearly as good as we're being told. The raw numbers will paint a very different picture than the one that gets portrayed from the Fairmont Southampton teleprompter every quarter.

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If the Premier is really so concerned about his security in general, including at those dangerous celebrity golf tournaments (where the most common question would be "Who are you?") and at home, why did he allow the Bermuda Sun to do an extensive interview at his home, with photos, address and details of his electric gate?

Surely, if security is such an issue, he'd have guarded this a little closely.

I think we all know what this is about: playing dress-up to impress people overseas and a few at home. We all know that once Dr. Brown steps off a Bermuda flight in any other country (something he does more than any politician I can recall), no-one knows who he is.

No-one. Not a clue.

Consider this: if on the eve of an election we're getting this kind of excess and blatant abuse (entourage, bodyguard, police escort, security fencing and more I'm sure we don't know about) imagine what it would be like if he gets his own 5 year mandate.

This isn't even the beginning. Private jets anyone?

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A reader writes on the power of prayer:

Don't know if you have read the paper yet this morning (Friday April 20th), but there was something in the front section that made me smile. CADA has requested for the power of prayer to be used to help combat the islands alcoholism problems. Thinking about the recent "boat load of gays" that God himself steered clear of the island thanks to the power of prayer, I guess it is safe to assume that alcoholism will be solved within a week!

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A reader writes:

Even I couldn't believe the sheer chutzpah demonstrated by President Brown in requesting planning permission for a security fence around his (private) property.

The application has been made by the Department of Works and Engineering, so it's obvious that the taxpayer will be picking up the tab for this, which is, frankly, outrageous.

Now, this is not the same type of situation as when Pam Gordon's private residence was security-modified at taxpayer expense - at that time, there was no designated residence for Premiers, unlike now.

Firstly, The Laurels was upgraded when Elliot Mottley became AG (so far, so good). Then Jennifer Smith moves in and further upgrades are made to the property, including necessary security upgrades (still no issue there, in my opinion).

Then the PLP government starts to take the piss: having spent a ton of money to upgrade The Laurels as a Premiers' residence, Alex Scott decides that he wants the completely unsecure-just-a-hop-over-a-four-foot-wall from Corkscrew Hill Chief Justices' residence not 1/4 of a mile away from The Laurels. So hundreds of thousands of dollars are unnecessarily wasted in upgrading the security of the Clifton property, which is very odd, indeed, as The Laurels is actually a far nicer, far more secure property.

Obviously, we all know why Alex Scott insisted that he have Clifton as his residence: he didn't get his choice of Chief Justice, so he threw his toys out of his pram and exercised that one bit of control that he did have over the Chief Justice. OK, so we've wasted hundreds of thousands there [Ed Note: actually it's over a million and a half for the complete renovation].

Then Dr. Brown announces that he's staying put in his private residence on South Shore - no surprise why, it's obviously a very nice house indeed, with a shore-side swimming pool and hot-tub. If he wants to stay put, I don't have a particular problem with that. What I do have a problem with is the taxpayer being forced to shell out dough to upgrade a Premier's private residence because the security at that residence has been deemed to be inadequate.

No one forced him to stay at his private residence. He simply decided to stay put because his house is nicer than what the government had to offer, and we're picking up the tab, even after the PLP government spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade both The Laurels and Clifton. To quote the Pope: "that's bullshit, dude."

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The Bermuda Sun is so shamelessly pandering to the PLP that it really has become embarrassing.

Today is the second time that they've put a real live UBP candidate announcement in the 'Island Briefs' section, while giving a big splashy article to someone in the PLP who has just 'thrown their hat into the ring'.

Compare the treatment of candidates:

For the PLP:

Huge Bermuda Sun splashes, with multi-day front page treatment for rumoured white candidates (gasp!) - aka FOEs (Friends of Ewart) - Zane De Silva and Jane Correia, a big article on Ianthia Wade maybe being selected, today an article on Walter Roban wanting to be a candidate, all written in this gushing "wow they have such a huge pool of candidates" tone. (Way to buy the PR spin).

And then there's the UBP:

The announcements of real-live-in-a-constituency-not-waiting-to-be-selected-candidates Austin Warner and now Donte Hunt get a couple of lines in the Island Briefs.

Yesterday's announced candidate Donte Hunt for example is running in a constituency that is a must win for the UBP - an area decided by 8 votes in 2003. You think it would warrant more than the 'Island Briefs'.

It's pretty sad really. It's one thing for a paper to have a philosophical bent on the political spectrum, it's another to act as a PR agency.

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A reader follows up on the politics of term limits and car restrictions; this shallow insincere politics (gesture politics) will have real consequences for Bermuda, and not just a few votes and another term for short-sighted narrow-minded politicians who can't put country before self:

Due to the reluctant of expats to talk openly about politics, for fear of losing their work permits; Bermudians may not be aware of the new attitude with in the expat community that the island has become unwelcoming to guest workers.

There is a growing consent in the expat community that we are suffering the blight of gesture politics. (i.e. a policy not really meant to achieve anything other than vote winning.) No one is sure how the term rule will give one Bermudian a job, or how the car ownership rule will have any real affect upon traffic congestion.

Normally accountants (I'm not one) are exempt from these policies i.e. the term rule, but recently the government have set their sights a little too high with the car ownership policy and the BIBA spoke out.

It seems that when you have a large section of the community (one third of the working population) who can't vote, its just too tempting to dump some bad new on them. However I think the government have fallen for the misconception that expat don't have a vote.

We do have a vote, and arguably the largest vote of all. Expats can vote with their feet.

I normally get an email every other month from a friend of a friend thinking of moving to Bermuda and while once my replies were always positive, now I've started to mention the chef and construction site manager who lost their jobs. Once Bermuda has the reputation for being unfriendly to guest workers it will be difficult to shake-off. If employers find it difficult to get staff, then those that can, will simply move away.

I've heard LaVerne Furbert repeatedly make the comment "if guest workers don't like it here, then leave." As my mum told me when I was a small boy………. be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

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Hilarious Hector in the Gazette today.

My favourite is the bit about Gary Moreno's lead-off question to Michael Dunkley in the UBP's TV interview a week ago:


Hector tuned into watch the Milkman, or Michael Dunkley as he used to be known before he chose his own ludicrous nickname, deliver his first address to the nation from one of his own living rooms. While it may have been a bit more coherent than stumbling Wayne-speak, Hector was rather perplexed to see Milky fluff a question which seemed to have been thought up by an eight-year-old before being given to ZBM journo Gary Moreno to deliver. Mr. Moreno wanted to know why the UBP hadn’t followed through on its 2003 promise to build 100 low rent homes at Tudor Hill. “Good question” said the Milkman strangely, before failing to deliver a remotely good answer. Clearly emboldened Mr. Moreno came back on the same tack and it was left to Deputy Leader Pat Gordon-Pamplin to point out that it was in fact a rather silly question in that Oppositions aren’t allowed to run off and do their own projects unless they wanted to get into the business of squatting on Government property and diverting Government funds. However, given the Government’s inability to complete even one major house building project in nearly nine years of being in power, maybe the PLP are secretly hoping the Opposition resort to anarchy to help solve the housing crisis.

Michael was being far too nice. The real response to the question was not "Good question", but "That's the most idiotic question I've ever been asked."

But it didn't end there, with Mr. Moreno trying to play a little game of gotcha, spouting imprecise questions fed to him by Jamahl Simmons - the guy who can't move on after crashing out - about who voted for whom in the UBP's leadership vote and then following up the next day trying to suggest Dunkely was lying.

He wasn't. You just need to phrase your questions a little better, and not take everything Jamahl spews at face value.

From what I hear, Mr. Moreno's boss Rick Richardson has tired of Jamahl's act, calling in and tying him in knots yesterday on Cromwell Shakir's new weekly radio show on 1340 yesterday, where Jamahl was peddling his usual nonsense about why his branch got fed up with him.

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Some readers provide data points for the claim that the Premier has only used a police escort twice (Keep 'em coming, dates, times and location are very helpful):

A friend also saw GP1 and the police escort rushing along Ferry Reach a few months ago (presumably to the private jet terminal at the airport) ... clearly those Gulfstream IV's present a major security threat ...

and

On Remembrance Sunday I was pulled over by police, on the causeway (rather rudely, police man screamed at me STOP THERE) so GP1 could go racing passed me. I remember thinking it must have been the Premier leaving the church service at St George's and head back home.

There's a theme emerging I think....and it involves air travel.

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A reader comments on the letter I posted a few days ago from a US national who felt that she was discriminated against by one of our international companies based on her sexual orientation:

I have been thinking about that e-mail you posted. If I had to bet, I would bet that the job offer was pulled because the employer realized that this woman was going to try to put her partner on her work permit application. No way that would fly, so they had better find someone else now instead of fighting Immigration for a permit.

I agree that discrimination based on sexuality should be illegal, but
that should be extended to the government, too.

Can you imagine the reaction over there when that permit application
went in? The company would probably have work permit problems for years after that.

I've been thinking about it too, and I agree...with a slightly different twist that really should have occurred to me at the time.

While Immigration would almost certainly have had a problem when they saw a same-sex partner coming with a work permit application, they would have a problem with any non-working partner in this situation - regardless of gender.

As someone else pointed out to me, a Bermudian can barely get their fiancee on the island to work before they get married, let alone a non-married partner of a work permit holder, or a same sex non-married partner of a work permit holder.

So ultimately Bermuda Immigration policy would have been a problem regardless, and I really don't think this had anything at all to do with the company itself discriminating.

And I should have realised that at the time.

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From Wednesday's Bermuda Sun, Dr. Brown's Chief of Staff Wayne Caines delivers a real zinger:

"Since Dr. Brown has been elevated to Premier of Bermuda he has used GP1 for hundreds of official engagements; most recently he has used a police escort twice - it is only used in very rare and exceptional circumstances."

Asked what those were, Mr. Caines said he couldn't tell us for "security reasons."

A reader knows the answer to at least one of those exceptional circumstances:

In Wednesday's Sun, Waine Caines declines to comment for 'security reasons' on the Premier's destinations during the two times he has used a police escort. Perhaps he's just worried about the PLP's 'security' in the next election and doesn't want the Bermudian public to know that one of these police escorts was used to race the Premier to the airport to greet the cricket team - according to those Progressive Minds on the PLP blog. If that was one of the two most important trips he has taken in GP1 since he got the keys then it seems he needs to get his priorities in order.

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While a lot of the noise from the immediate reaction to the suggested transport reforms has quitened down, the Ministry did something smart yesterday by putting school buses on in the mornings and afternoon.

This is the obvious thing that should be tackled first to reduce peak hour congestion. And we shouldn't just do this for the private schools, but we should do it for all schools.

It's painfully obvious that traffic flows smoothly when either the public or private schools are out. Traffic in the summer, Christmas or Easter moves no problem whatsoever.

And there's lots of other easy steps to implement first to take the edge off traffic, firstly I'd suggest turning off all the traffic lights in town. Traffic flows great when the lights are off after every hurricane. And if we must have the lights on then we should have left turns on some reds.

And if we don't want school buses, we could stagger the start times of schools so that traffic isn't all coming in for 8:30AM, or whatever time drop-offs are.

There's lots of others as well, ranging from the easy to tolling vehicles into Hamilton (which I think is unnecessary).

But, if we're honest, we really don't have a traffic problem of any significance in Bermuda, and certainly not one that requires drastic, dramatic and divisive steps like limiting car ownership for non-Bermudians.

Regardless, today's article reminded me of something that I meant to mention sooner, which is that from what I've been learned over the past two weeks, it's become evident to me that the idea to limit car ownership for foreign workers has NOTHING to do with reducing traffic and everything to do with increasing votes.

I've also heard through the grapevine that there is no intention to actually implement this, it's just a pre-election stunt...just like term limits prior to the 2003. The problem with these stunts is that they're hard to back away from without losing face.

It's an identical tactic.

A few weeks before the 2003 election the PLP announced term limits and proudly proclaimed their pro-Bermudian credentials. Immediately after the election they backed away from it. Term limits was about getting a few votes, and trying to position the PLP as pro-Bermudian and the UBP as anti-Bermudian when they spoke sense against the policy.

Today, now that term limits are technically coming due, we have a situation where the PLP have come up with so many exemptions that anyone can be exempted and tons will be. The policy of today is meaningless and should just be revoked. But they can't back away from it entirely, so they're pretending term limits exist, when all you need to do is make a donation to the party or Government's pet project of the hour and an employer can get whatever exemptions you need.

Cue car ownership limits....an as-yet unformulated idea to limit car ownership for some expats that really should be explained as follows:

For every expat the PLP can be seen denying a car to they gain X number of votes.

So here we are today, like in 2003 with term limits, on the eve of the election with the PLP proposing a policy intended not to solve a problem but to play into some voters insecurities and animosity towards non-Bermudians.

So don't be fooled. This is just another insincere example of pre-election politicking - divide and conquer.

The election is well on its way. There's no way Parliament resumes in May.

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With the tug of war (see here and here) going on in the PLP between the existing candidates who don't want to move, and a Premier who's trying to put in place a loyal lineup of candidates of his choice (psst...there's only so many safe seats peeps - some of you have to actually work for it), the UBP have a great opportunity to make serious inroads on the ground, hitting the doorsteps while the PLP hopefuls jockey for the apple of Dr. Brown's eye.

Take constituency 27 for example, where the Gazette says the PLP is polling (who's conducting the polling?) 3 individuals with an existing candidate who probably doesn't want to move. All the while, the UBP's Wayne Scott has been aggressively walking the streets for a couple of years. In constituencies of 1,000 voters, that's what makes the difference.

This internal battle, which has the potential to get rather prolonged if people dig in, is in my mind the only real thing preventing the Premier from calling an election. He still holds the cards, in that the Government gets to pick the time that suits them most, and the PLP are the incumbent establishment party that won't be easy to knock-off, but these things can get messy if everyone doesn't play nice.

But if there's one thing that I know about Michael Dunkley (and Pat Gordon-Pamplin), it's that he understands the value of getting in front of the voters directly (Some UBP canvassers showed up on the doorstep of a house I was visiting on Saturday afternoon).

At the end of the day I expect the election campaign will be approached very differently by the two parties.

The PLP will run a Dr. Brown for President national campaign vilifying a segment of the community and indirectly asking people to vote in racial blocks (with a compliment of yes men hoping to ride his coattails), while the UBP will continue their on the ground/get in front of your constituents and show them you actually care who they are and will work for them strategy that is so important when these things will be won or lost by 10-50 votes.

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While United by Faith are busy celebrating today that prayer, not their threat of protest, stopped the R Family Vacations cruise to Bermuda, I thought I'd share the following email which I received about a week ago.

Legal discrimination remains in Bermuda.

I am a United States citizen who recently received a written offer of employment with an expatriate reinsurance company in Bermuda.

Three days later I received a phone call and was told that the offer was being withdrawn.

I believe that the offer was withdrawn because I spoke about my family like any human being speaks about his or her family. The problem for the reinsurance company seemed to be that I am a 43 year old professional woman who has a 50 year old professional woman as a life partner.

I had hoped to bring my life partner to Bermuda. Our plan was that she would do volunteer work for an organization such as Meals on Wheels while I worked to support us.

The polite people of Bermuda were very impressive and I really wanted to live among them.

Bermuda does need laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

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Bermuda's getting some great international press, with top stories on Yahoo , MSNBC and other major media outlets about the cancelling of the Bermuda stop by R Family Vacations.

But, now that we're likely in the final countdown to the calling of an election (weeks not months), I can't see Dr. Brown following up too aggressively and calling the churches who chased out 2,000 visitors "un-Bermudian" as he did the Southlands objectors.

The irony of course, and elephant in the room, is that many of the same people who chased out the gay and lesbian tourists, would be the first in line to decry racial discrimination.

Bermuda has a lot of growing up to do.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - A summer cruise for gay and lesbian families organized by Rosie O'Donnell has cut Bermuda from its planned itinerary because of possible protests by church groups in the British island territory.

O'Donnell's charter company said it would replace the Bermuda stop with two other ports of call in Florida. It will also stop at a private island in the Bahamas. The tour is scheduled to leave New York in July on a ship owned by Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line.

The charter company, R Family Vacations, said on its Web site that it wanted to avoid the type of protests that greeted passengers when one of its cruises stopped in Nassau, Bahamas, in 2004.

In the statement, the company said Bermuda's prime minister had assured them they would be welcome as tourists and they had also received hundreds of supportive e-mails from people who live in the wealthy British enclave.

Still, organizers felt they could not be certain there would be no protesters greeting them upon arrival. "We feel that our cruise would be more enjoyable with an alternate itinerary to ports where we know we are welcome by everyone."

In 2004, about 100 protesters chanting anti-gay slogans met one of the company's cruises when it arrived in Nassau with about 1,150 passengers.

O'Donnell, 45, is a co-host on ABC's "The View."

R Family Vacations, with offices in Nyack, N.Y., was founded by Gregg Kaminsky and Kelli O'Donnell, partner of the talk-show host.

Kaminsky said in a phone interview Tuesday that he expects the cruise will be sold out with about 2,000 passengers.

"We have no hard feelings against Bermuda. It's just a few church groups," he said.

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Nice to see we've now manufactured a "security threat" to justify the bodyguard, entourage and motorcade:

"Dr. Ewart Brown was sat listening to tributes in honour of the late PLP leader Freddie Wade at the airport when a man walked straight up to him. He was able to shake the Premier's had and tell him he loved him before press secretary Scott Simmons and chief of staff Wayne Caines intercepted."

Actually, was this a security threat or has the Premier never met Johnny "I love you" Barnes before?

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I haven't really weighed in too much on the Medical Clinic controversy, other really than to comment on the condescending manner in which the public has been treated in this and Dr. Brown's inherent and for a long time undeclared conflict of interest:

Dr. Brown is the owner and operator of a private health care facility (which advertises heavily through Google AdWords by the way whenever you enter a "Bermuda" search) and is also actively involved in public health care policy. The Health Minister is simply his public front.

In mature democracies, the elected leader of the Government, and other public officials, are required to not only declare their private interests, but also resign any active involvement they hold in private businesses, but particularly those in which they are integrally involved in developing public policy.

So I continue to be amazed at the lack of attention that the mainstream press in particular has given to this aspect of the Medical Clinic.

There is simply no way, no matter how small of a financial impact that you might want to argue closing the clinic could have, that a public figure with a private interest can be operating in both fields.

If there are 30 doctors who have agreed to take those patients as we are told, and Dr. Brown's clinic gets exactly 1/30th of those 1,500, that's 50 new patients for Dr. Brown.

I should say that I think that you can make a case that the Medical Clinic should be closed, but I also think you can make a very strong case that it should remain open. However the public figure making that case cannot, under any circumstances, stand to personally gain a private financial interest from that decision - and the Premier does stand to gain if 1,500 patients are forced to get treatment from private doctors.

Some might argue, as one or two have privately to me, that it's not a 'big enough financial benefit' to warrant attention from the media. Well, where do you draw that line? Nor can we assume that the closure of the Medical Clinic isn't the first step in a plan to divert public health care services towards the private sector.

And it would become of even more concern when you have someone going on record in the latter part of 2006 about wanting to open their own private hospital in Bermuda. And Dr. Brown did just that in this Fall 2006 Howard article:

“I still have in mind the establishment of a private hospital — that’s still on my list for Bermuda,” he says. “And in politics, I always wanted to seek the leadership of my country and I’m still in that process.”

That statement expresses an ambition - which while reasonable for any private citizen - is wholly incompatible and unacceptable for a politician who has a current, and apparently growing interest in private health care, to be eliminating public health care services - the knock on effect of which is more patients into the private sector.

And perhaps more worringly, one could make a very reasonable argument that those two statements above are linked, and that now that Dr. Brown has the leadership of the country he can now establish the public sector framework for his private hospital.

Perhaps the article said it best:

So far, Brown has continued to mix medicine with politics.

Bermuda, we have a problem.

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You've got to love the response from the Premier's press secretary in response to a question from the Royal Gazette as to the need for a Presidential motorcade supported by Police escort:


Yesterday the Premier’s press secretary Scott Simmons was asked if the Premier was under an increased threat and whether he was aware people found the motorcade pretentious.

He declined to comment, but later rang back to point out Cherie Blair was travelling around in two cars.

Oh her. You mean the wife of the current British Prime Minister, the spouse of the head of a nuclear state and permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. You mean the wife of the head of state of a country that has had terror attacks and recently had 15 of their soldiers taken hostage by Iran and is in the middle of a war in Iraq.

Yeah. Dr. Brown needs the same security as the spouse of one of the most powerful heads of state in the world, who were harm to come to them (not that it would here, but nonetheless) would set off international incidents with far-reaching ramifications.

Or maybe I'm being unfair. Bermuda's Premier probably does need that bodyguard to protect himself from those terrorists at one of those very important celebrity golf tournaments.

Or is it that no self-respecting celebrity dare show up without a bodyguard, it just wouldn't look right would it?

These guys are delusional.

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Some things are hard to believe but completely believable depending on who you're talking about. On that note a reader writes in about the brazenness of Dr. Brown and his conflict of interest in this Medical Clinic saga:

"I was eating lunch in a restaurant today and a TV commercial came on advertising Dr. Ewart Brown's clinic!!!!!! Wow...the audacity of the Premier advertising his private clinic when he's just closed the public one!!!!"

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Classy.

The Premier - not the Health Minister - has been single-handedly driving the decision to close the Medical Clinic, but doesn't even have the decency to meet the patients and protestors whose dignity he repeatedly claims to be concerned about, thrusting out the Health Minister to take the heat.

Sort of makes Tuesday's 'caring government' sound-bite ring a little hollow doesn't it.

You see, this is how this Premier operates. If it's a ribbon-cutting, trying to steal the glory from the cricket team or holding a carefully scripted press conference he loves the camera and limelight, but if the people want to talk to him directly about a controversial issue, he hides in his office.

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Probably futile I know, but in light of our simmering controversy over the R Family Cruise to Bermuda in July, I thought I'd link to a very interesting NY Times article on what science is learning about how genes factor into human sexuality, both heterosexual and homosexual:

When it comes to the matter of desire, evolution leaves little to chance. Human sexual behavior is not a free-form performance, biologists are finding, but is guided at every turn by genetic programs.

Desire between the sexes is not a matter of choice. Straight men, it seems, have neural circuits that prompt them to seek out women; gay men have those prompting them to seek other men. Women’s brains may be organized to select men who seem likely to provide for them and their children. The deal is sealed with other neural programs that induce a burst of romantic love, followed by long-term attachment.

So much fuss, so intricate a dance, all to achieve success on the simple scale that is all evolution cares about, that of raisingthe greatest number of children to adulthood. Desire may seem the core of human sexual behavior, but it is just the central act in a long drama whose script is written quite substantially in the genes.

And then the Older Brother Theory:

A somewhat more straightforward clue to the origin of homosexuality is the fraternal birth order effect. Two Canadian researchers, Ray Blanchard and Anthony F. Bogaert, have shown that having older brothers substantially increases the chances that a man will be gay. Older sisters don’t count, nor does it matter whether the brothers are in the house when the boy is reared.

The finding suggests that male homosexuality in these cases is caused by some event in the womb, such as “a maternal immune response to succeeding male pregnancies,” Dr. Bogaert wrote last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Antimale antibodies could perhaps interfere with the usual masculinization of the brain that occurs before birth, though no such antibodies have yet been detected.

The fraternal birth order effect is quite substantial. Some 15 percent of gay men can attribute their homosexuality to it, based on the assumption that 1 percent to 4 percent of men are gay, and each additional older brother increases the odds of same-sex attraction by 33 percent.

Now if you reject evolution I know this will all be irrelevant to one's 'right' to discriminate.

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This line screams for follow-up in today's Royal Gazette story on Dr. Brown's yes men trying to fast-track their way into Parliament:

One former MP questioned whether some of the new influx of candidates were really interested in serving the people or were more interested in the status and financial rewards of being in Parliament.

"Financial rewards of being in Parliament"?

What! Care to elaborate please?

There you have it. So much for public service. It's about prestige, power and money.

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Here's the full article, reported on by the Gazette last week, from Advisen FPN addressing the positive impact foreign jurisdictions are expecting from the PLP's misguided obsession with term limits.

There a few minor inaccuracies in the article, but they're irrelevant to the key issue - which is that perception is reality - and the perception is that Bermuda has become hostile to expatriate workers and are making ourselves undesirable as a business centre.

The exit will be a trickle, not a mass exodus, but it's already happening, companies are looking for options, hedging their bets:

The message is clear. Bermuda's loss can be Ireland's gain. In the last few years, many financial services companies (especially insurance and reinsurance firms) have opened offices in Dublin. In 2006, XL Capital, the world's fourth-largest reinsurance company, which has its corporate headquarters in Bermuda, established a new European reinsurance holding company in Dublin - XL Re Europe - which is now its head office for reinsurance business in Europe. It is also speculated that many companies would leave Bermuda if things get out of hand.

Crofts explains, "The large employers (eg XL) are being very diplomatic and publicly saying that if the Bermudians want independence then that is entirely their choice, and of course they (the employers) would remain on the island... but somehow I doubt this."

An added boost from Ireland's point of view is that the Government has already adopted the European Reinsurance Directive. This is a further incentive for Bermuda-based companies looking to relocate to Ireland.

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Dr. Grant Gibbons (UBP) last week released an analysis of census data on Bermuda's education divide, which formed the basis of last Friday's Mid Ocean News article. It's much more succinct and hard hitting than those wishy washy feel good sermons written by bureaucrats and read verbatim in Parliament by the latest Minister.

Dr. Gibbons, and the UBP get it.

Economic opportunity is key to achieving racial parity in Bermuda, and education is key to economic opportunity. That’s why we’re increasingly concerned about the deterioration of public education on our island and the development of a clear educational divide amongst Bermudians.

Education should be a source of opportunity, not a mark of privilege. People who can’t afford to send their children to private schools deserve the same opportunities as those who can. But today, that birthright for Bermudian children in the public school system is in jeopardy.

Our schools may have been desegregated in the 1960s, but in 2007 they remain essentially segregated. Today’s de facto segregation isn’t based strictly on race, but on class. Two school systems were wrong in 1965, and they are wrong today.

There is an educational divide in Bermuda that’s very real and it’s confirmed by data from the 2000 Census.

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While walking past the empty Trimingham's construction site today, a friend noticed 6-8 flyers which had been glued to the wooden walkway attacking Dr. Brown for a number of things, but mostly his support of the planned cruise to Bermuda by R Family Cruises.

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised at the rhetoric and venom that can be seen on the fragments of the one remaining flyer; but while I believe Dr. Brown is correct in supporting this cruise, he lost any moral high ground on this by:

a)sitting silent in Parliament (with others) during the sexual orientation amendment

b) shamelessly pandered to the homophobic constituency in his PLP leadership challenge in his vision speech:

"I firmly believe in the right of all and any individuals to be free from discrimination in any form. However, I would not support the proposed Human Rights Amendment. I do not believe that there is a need for special protection of persons in Bermuda based on their sexual orientation. I personally know of many individuals who have reached the pinnacles of Bermudian society who have stated their preference for members of their same sex. There is no evidence that this divisive amendment is necessary for Bermuda at this time."

c) and by standing front and center alongside then-Premier Alex Scott at the United by Faith rally in October 2006, which was solely an anti-gay and lesbian event in response to the proposed Human Rights amendment.

I also find it noteworthy that one of the spokespersons against the cruise, Mr. Andre Curtis, is a former Dr. Brown appointed head of the Tourism Board and now chairman of the Faith-Based tourism.

This could get quite messy, and not just politically.

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A number of people have emailed me with similar comments on a) the logistics of having employers with more than 10 employees police the auto purchases of their staff and b) an expectation that businesses should just reincorporate into an endless number of companies each with 9 employees.

But on the bright side, the Finance Minister can tout the increasing number of businesses setting up in Bermuda as proof term limits aren't having an impact.

A reader weighs in with the real outcome:


The broader implication is that we (Bermudians) want both to have our cake and to eat it as well. But as we make it more difficult for anyone to do business here because it is politically expedient (far easier to say that an expat took a job from a Bermudian than to take responsibility ourselves for the abject and utter failure of our public school system to equip our kids to be able to do that same job, or any job at all) we should not be surprised when we finally learn what everyone else in the world knows already, knowledge based jobs generally follow the person with the knowledge, and if we chase that person from Bermuda we probably chase the job away as well.

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Here we go again, more of "us and them".

It was announced today that among other car ownership restrictions, any business who has more than 10 non-Bermudian employees will have car ownership for those non-Bermudians restricted.

Couple this with useless term limits and we have a real decrease in the quality of life for non-Bermudians that will just encourage businesses to look elsewhere for a home - which will only hurt Bermudians in the end.

Check out the Irish newspaper article covered today in the Gazette which describes Dublin's glee at Bermuda continuing to turn ourselves into a second tier jurisdiction to run your business.

This is ridiculous and I can tell you that most employers are incensed by this. I'd been told weeks ago by some business owners that this might be coming, and they were outraged. I don't just mean whining, they were outraged.

Bermuda has a traffic problem at peak times, one that can be addressed with solutions that Bermudian and non-Bermudian can share in equally.

Our traffic problem is caused by both non-Bermudians and Bermudians, probably more so by Bermudian car ownership, yet the PLP continues to insist that the solution is to turn non-Bermudians into second class citizens.

Why stop at limiting non-Bermudian car ownership. How's about anyone who is married to a Bermudian? Or anyone who holds dual citizenship?

Or how's about Cabinet Ministers with oversized second cars?

Here's a question? How many cars does Dr. Brown have access to and own? Hmmm.

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Far more important news than politics, Tivo will be reactivated for Bermuda shortly.

Michael Branco has been slaving away for us on this and what looked bleak a week ago now appears to be resolved in our favour.

Well done Mike.

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You've got to love this.

The Bermuda Sun publishes what can be called the term limits edition today, with a number of articles from a variety of perspectives.

My take on term limits is unchanged and has been confirmed by the latest news: The PLP know this is a stupid idea but have invested so much into it that they need to be seen to be enforcing it while in reality they've gutted it of any teeth through an elaborate series of exemptions. They should just really retract the whole thing because it's so idiotic and suicidal to our economy rather than pretend they're enforcing a policy while in reality backing away from it entirely; but that would be responsible.

I'm going to be focusing on term limits much more in the coming days and weeks, but I couldn't help but chuckle at the Sun's interview with an anonymous Pakistani accountant entitled "It could be a lot worse":


Before coming to Bermuda, he lived and worked in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

"My experience [in Bermuda] is better compared to other countries I have lived in," he said. "In Saudi Arabia, your passport is [surrendered] to your sponsor, your employer, which ensures that you don't run away with the company's money.

"The exceptions to this rule are American and British nationals, or 'key' employees," he said.

Bahrain and Saudi Arabia! Both countries are monarchies - aka dictatorships. In Bahrain, political parties are outlawed and both countries are run under Islamic law.

Bermuda under the PLP is better than a theological dictatorship. Good to see that we're aiming high.

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Michael Dunkley and Pat Gordon-Pamplin have been announced as the leadership team of the UBP.

That's a pretty dynamic and hard working team with a good one-two punch.

Mike is without a doubt among the hardest working politicians in Bermuda with no tolerance for foot-dragging; so I expect the UBP to pick up the pace noticeably, almost immediately. If I know Mike, the first place that will be seen will be on the doorstep.

“We will put people first.”

A Statement by United Bermuda Party Leader Michael Dunkley, JP, MP

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for coming.

I want to take a moment upfront to note that our Deputy Leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin is off the Island until the start of next week.

Pat and I will operate as a team and so I am going to keep my remarks brief with a view to more detailed statements of policy and direction in the near future.

Until then, I believe it is important to make a few points about who I am and where we should be heading

The first thing I want to say today is that I am proud to be the new leader of the United Bermuda Party.

I am proud that my colleagues saw fit to nominate me and I am proud to carry forward the banner of this great party.

I am also proud to follow in the footsteps of Wayne Furbert. I appreciate all that he has done for the party.

Leadership change can be messy, difficult affairs, so I want to take a moment to recognize the dignity with which Wayne stepped down and the fact that his parting words were about meeting the needs of the people.

It stands as the measure of the man, and so I salute Wayne and I look forward to working with him for better government; because better government is what we are all about in the United Bermuda Party, and better government is what this country needs right now.

Let there be no mistake. I believe this country is fast approaching a fork in the road where we either proceed together as one people, with respect for one another and living by the highest standards of democracy, or we proceed along a path of division, self-interest and intolerance.

The stakes are high, and so the United Bermuda Party will continue to demand something better for the people. It is important that we hold this government accountable for its misdeeds, its failings and its record of underachievement.

If you reward poor performance, poor performance will continue.

Poor government is what we have. It makes no difference whether you’re talking about education, public safety, housing, seniors, the environment or economic empowerment; this government has not met the needs of the people.

It makes no difference that the PLP elected a new leader in October. The Premier has tried hard to separate himself from his party’s record in power, but the longer he continues the clearer it is that he is part of the same exhausted group with no fresh ideas, no plan and apparently no direction.

***

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe there is a serious need to renew the meaning and purpose of government in Bermuda.

I believe there is a serious need to renew people’s faith in government.

As leader of the United Bermuda Party, I promise you that we will offer people the chance for that renewal.

How will we do that?

The first thing we will do is work hard to earn people’s trust.

My colleagues know that I am a guy who likes to roll up his sleeves and get to it.

My colleagues also know that I am a guy who expects everyone to kick in with the same level of commitment that I give, which is 100 per cent all the way. That’s just the way I am.

So I promise you that all of us in the United Bermuda Party will work hard for the people; day in, day out, 24/7.

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Great editorial yesterday:

Indeed, instead of a new approach we see a continuation of the old way of doing things, at the same time as spending huge sums of money, with no apparent thought being given to how this expenditure is going to be funded in any kind of sustainable way.

As part and parcel of this, another PPM promise “to banish forever the attitude we can see in some of our representatives that they are elected to rule as they please for four years - and, equally, to banish the attitude of many members of the public that we must suffer in silence for four years,” is rapidly approaching the comical in its non-observance.

And it seems that the only “proper rules of conduct and accountability” that the PPM is willing to “insist” on are those in relation to its predecessors in office, although, heaven knows, such rules were sorely needed then as now.

And far from being a “forum in which the public can express their views and concerns effectively and without fear,” the current administration has followed in the footsteps of its predecessors and tries to “victimise its critics” wherever possible.

So much for restoring “public trust and confidence in Government” and listening “to what people have to say.”

Instead, we get the same old cozy deals made with hitherto unknown foreigners in preference to competitive local business interests, and those deals are subsequently renegotiated on terms that should warrant a resubmission of bids.

I should say that that editorial was in the Cayman Net News; insert PLP for PPM and it's 100% spot on for Bermuda.

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Since the news of the R Family Vacations gay and lesbian family cruise to Bermuda broke, I've been waiting patiently for Dr. Brown to apply the same standard to the AME church that he did to opponents to Southlands.

So Dr. Brown, when are you going to tell the 9,000 strong AME church congregation that they're "un-Bermudian" for opposing a tourism initiative?

Or is that a constituency you'd rather not offend with an election looming?

In fact, if the Doc really wanted to boost tourism numbers he'd be focusing on the high-earning gay and lesbian demographic. Instead of hiring GlobalHue as the marketing consultant we should be hiring GlobalChromosome.

I say, welcome to Bermuda, R Family Vacations.

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