May 2008 Archives

I've got sporadic internet access for the next few days, but the news that the taxpayers are going to hire a PR firm to try and combat Brown's image as corrupt (it's really about him not Bermuda) is interesting and absurd of course.

For now, I'll just deal with this quote from the Premier:


"The cunning tactic of shielding an attack under the cloak of parliamentary privilege is sad and disingenuous. Such actions play to the worst fears of the population and do nothing to lift the standard and quality of debate in this House."

Ok. Now, recall that Ewart Brown threatened, in Parliament, under Parliamentary privilege to physically attack the UBP's Grant Gibbons; he accused him, under Parliamentary privilege, of corruption while he was finance Minister (TBI); he told a stupid story about monkeys, so he could get "Grant Gibbons", "monkey" and "black people" into the same sentence under Parliamentary privilege; and he and his colleagues can barely complete a sentence in Parliament without slandering the UBP as racist.

Why is it ok to use Parliament to portray previous Governments as racist but not ok to portray the current one as corrupt; when that's the only place that questions must be answered (or at least that's what used to happen and should happen in any Westminster Parliament?

The reason Dr. Brown delivered that shameful and disgusting speech in Parliament is simple, he'd have exposed himself to one hell of a slander trial if he'd dared make his attacks outside of Parliament.

So spare us the sanctimonious BS about a 'cunning tactic of shielding an attack under the cloak of parliamentary privilege is sad and disingenuous.'

What's sad and disingenuous is the current occupant of the Office of the Premier.

We can add disingenuous and hypocrite to the list of things the PR firm will have to address.

And just quickly, the UBP is continually called completely inept and irrelevant, yet they can somehow execute a worldwide media campaign to unfairly brand Brown as corrupt?

Who the cap fits.

Here's a suggestion. Bermuda's image problem isn't a public relations problem, it's a public policy one.

People think our Government is corrupt (yes I said it, so sue me - again) because:

1) Wedco's demands for the renewal of a lease for the Bermuda Cement Company were dropped once the company was finally wrestled into the hands of a crony of the Premier.

2) Because Government money appear to be allocated according to a friends and family plan.

3) Because the Premier went all the way to the Privy Council to try and suppress information in a troubling police investigation of several Government MPs, including the now Premier of Bermuda.

4) Because Zane Desilva, now a now Government MP, had what appeared to be money earmarked to two Cabinet Ministers who would vote on the allocation of an asbestos disposal proposal.

5) Because the current Premier of Bermuda, who is highly involved in health care public policy, has not recused himself from either the public of private roles, and is in fact expanding his private interests with the opening of a stem cell clinic which will experiment on humans in an jurisdiction which has no regulation for this kind of medicine and in which the Premier himself would be able to craft any legislation that might come to pass.

6) Because the current Premier of Bermuda, at the time the Tourism Minister, went to great lengths to sell a property to the Bermuda Housing Corporation for what was deemed dramatically above fair market value.

7) Because the PLP made wholesale and extremely favourable amendments to a lease which was granted to Coco Reef, and have not made the original lease public.

Shall I continue?

A PR firm won't help.

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A reader puts it in perspective:

To clarify, then:

(a) the Opposition asking questions that directly relate to Government businesss = unacceptable time-wasting that must be stamped out at all costs; and

(b) an hour and a half period in the House of self-indulgent back-slapping and dissemination of all manner of trivial information which is actually designed to waste time and restrict the Opposition from doing its job of holding the Government to account = just fine and dandy!

Alrighty, then. Glad we cleared that one up.

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A reader writes on the undermining of Parliament:

When democracy was last seen she was a speck on the horizon waving a white flag.

Vexed is also right:


We are seeing a terrible erosion of Bermuda’s institutions and an incredible abuse of power. The manipulation is transparent and artless. Pure politricks.

The UBP (and the soporific PLP backbench) must stop acting like someone farted at the tea party and start fighting for what they know is right. Dr Brown’s insatiable hunger has become the PLP’s problem and Bermuda’s great risk.

I've been meaning to to get to this topic, but I watched the HBO documentary on the 2000 US Presidential Election called "Recount" on Sunday night.

I've said repeatedly for years now that the PLP tactics and pathology is in lock-step with the Republicans since they swept into power in the 1994 bye-elections, while the UBP is very much like the Democrats who have lost (until recently) almost every political and policy fight of the past decade.

The following summation of the dynamic at play between Bush's recount team and Gore's sums up for me the essential dynamic between the PLP and UBP:

The avatar of Establishment wimpiness in "Recount" is Christopher, the former secretary of state who was brought in to helm the battle over the recount. Again and again, the film shows Christopher declaiming that "the world is watching," delivering lofty speeches about America's unique status and insisting Gore's team must adhere to Marquis of Queensbury rules, while Baker is revving up the full power of the well-oiled Republican attack machine. "I want our protesters down there in Palm Beach, Tallahassee and Miami," Baker tells his team. "Listen, people, this is a street fight for the presidency of the U.S. It ain't gonna get more political than this." Cut to Christopher, his brow furrowed loftily: "We want to proceed as if this is a proper legal process, not a political street fight ... chaos will not help our cause." A few moments later, Christopher says, "No lawsuits." Cut to Baker: "I want to file a lawsuit in federal court as soon as possible."

On one side, a bunch of dithering, principled losers who politely ask permission to enter the ring. On the other, a disciplined, ruthless gang of brawlers burning with self-righteousness, a near-holy sense of entitlement and controlled rage. We can't say we should be surprised by the way George W. Bush has run the country -- the blueprint was laid out even before he took office.

It's probably a little simplistic, but is at it's core correct for the US on a national level.

In our case, the UBP (Democrats) are the principled losers who politely ask permission to enter the ring, cautious and respectful of tradition, institutions and rules while the PLP (Republicans) care very little for process and precedent and simply treat every issue as a political street fight where the ends justify the means.

I include myself in this. I tend to get tied up in procedural and policy arguments as I believe they are important and define crucial boundaries.

However the UBP are going to have to figure out how to not betray their principles and respect for the political system while either putting the gloves on and taking on Dr. Brown with vigor, or getting out of the way.

Dr. Brown has demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that he is manifestly unfit for public office of any kind, let alone the Premiership.

Even if you were willing to ignore the nepotism in his Playboy Mansion giveaway, his lack of judgment as a steward of taxpayer funds and Bermuda's reputation is horrendous.

What politician in their right mind in any reputable country would give taxpayer funds away to an event at the Playboy mansion promoting soft porn and gambling with a health care charity as the excuse?

The hubris and sheer lack of respect for the people of Bermuda is mind-numbing.

I know the complaint seems to be that the UBP is weak, and in a way they are; they haven't figured out how to fight tougher because they don't want to adopt the tactics they abhor.

However the critical weakness lies within the PLP Parliamentary group now.

Surely enough of the PLP MPs can see how bad Ewart Brown is for Bermuda; how he sees only the interest in conflict of interest; how his power hungry vendettas are dominating the Government agenda, yet they sit by like a bunch of deaf mutes.

They say there's a tipping point, the Iraq War was Bush's, what will be Bermuda's?

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Ok Bermuda. We have a serious problem with Parliament. The Speaker appears to be completely in the Premier's pocket, to the extent that he's sending out press releases on Cabinet Office letterhead doing his partisan bidding:

The Cabinet Office

________________________________________
Department of Communication and Information

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 27, 2008 - Time: 7.25 p.m.

CONTACT

Nea Talbot

Ph: 294.2779

Email: ntalbot@gov.bm

SPEAKER SUSPENDS PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

Today the Speaker of the House of Assembly, the Hon. Stanley Lowe, JP, MP, weighed in as it relates to Opposition questions from previous
Paliamentary sessions being raised in this current sitting.

In fact, Speaker Lowe said any previous questions posed in the form of Parliamentary Questions will not receive a forum on the Floor of the House.

Issues, raised in recent sittings include queries relating to Government travel among others.

Speaker Lowe said, "From a Parliamentary perspective, we have conceded to the fact that this is a new Parliament and as such, all matters,
proceedings etc. which were pending prior to the prorogation of Parliament on May 9th, are quashed. In that vein, Ministers will not be required or obligated to respond to the questions put on Ministerial travel prior to December 20th, 2007."

And in response to the Speaker's decision, the Premier, Dr. the Hon. Ewart Brown, JP, MP said, "The floor of the House is where substantive debate is supposed to occur. It is an outright rejection by the Speaker of the Opposition's time-wasting questions about travel and the like."

- ENDS -
_________________________________

Nea N. Talbot
Public Affairs Officer (MLHA&H, MOF and MoT&T)
Department of Communication & Information
Bermuda Government
Global House
43 Church Street
Hamilton HM 12
BERMUDA

ntalbot@gov.bm
www.gov.bm
www.citv.gov.bm

1 (441) 294-2779

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A reader observes:

Dr. Brown often claims that the mainstream media in Bermuda is hostile to him. But according to the court reports, a passerby f***ed him off in front of a press conference and not one single local news report mentioned it ... that is until the Premier's personal security detail tracked the guy down a week later and took him to court!

Reminds me of that Katrina press conference with Dick Cheney where a passerby sent his regards:

At least Cheney just laughed it off; here they arrested him.

Sacred (Brown) Cows.

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Anyone remember the PLP-led outrage when the UBP had their "Let Yourself Go" campaign calling for it to be withdrawn because of suggestive imagery?

My how times have changed: Photos (NSFW) here and here.

No photos of the Doc. though. Which has to be a first for our camera loving Premier. Normally he can't resist a red carpet, celebrities and a camera.

I guess we've completely Let Ourselves Go. Now the Premier goes to parties at the Playboy Mansion to dispense taxpayer goodies on his son's behalf, and his colleagues don't say a peep.

Nada. Silence.

What's wrong? Bunnies got your tongues?

Speaking of bunnies, here's a video of the event:

Of course, the fact that the Premier's son was behind the Playboy Mansion gambling night had nothing to do with the decision to be a sponsor:


"These types of sponsorships afford Bermuda an opportunity to do public good in communities around the United States while also promoting the Island as a travel destination of choice - particularly among affluent travelers.

"The Department's charitable participation of this event is beneficial to the Bermuda tourism product. The Department's affiliation with UHI has directly led to visitor arrivals, particularly for the Bermuda Music Festival and the Annual Love Festival."

Got it. This is apparently our tourism demographic: people who like to gamble and get neked in public, neither of which you can do on vacation in Bermuda.

I've got nothing against poker nights at the Playboy Mansion, but let's not pretend this was some above board tourism event please.

This is a scandal about the misuse of public funds and self-dealing, not sex and gambling - although that component does liven up the story and could finally see the public pay attention. I live in eternal hope.

Sex, money and celebrity tend to do that. Arguments about Parliamentary process aren't quite as interesting, although equally disturbing.

That the event is completely out of sync with Bermuda's tourism product simply provides further proof of the arbitrary insider decision making behind it, and perhaps an insight into what Dr. Brown has in mind for Bermuda.

How long will Bermudians ignore and therefore condone the abuses that are being perpetuated before their eyes with shocking hubris?

Here's another question raised by this event for Glenn to conjure up one of his increasingly preposterous defenses for (anyone else notice the Premier hasn't directly answered this issue, hiding behind intermediaries):

Why should Bermuda tax dollars be directed towards US charities when there are plenty of deserving charities and social needs locally?

Way to Buy Bermuda. Tax Bermuda. Buy America.

Are there no financial controls at the Department of Tourism?

The truth of course is the Tourism budget it's about profiling Dr. Brown and letting him throw around other people's money to his friends, family and those he wants to be in with.

Deep pockets, short arms as they say.

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The Mid Ocean today runs what could be the story that sums up everything that is wrong with our current political leadership.

The story isn't yet online [now it is here], but in short:

The Department of Tourism sponsored a charity poker event for one of Dr. Brown's sons, in the US, at the Playboy Mansion, which Dr. Brown attended, but Bermuda received no promotional displays.

Gambling, sex, misuse of public funds and nepotism.

It's got it all.

Why am I not surprised?

The serious questions of course are endless. In a real country this would result in resignations and investigations.

What was I saying just three days ago about the misuse of the Tourism budget as Dr. Brown's entertainment and miscellaneous fund?

But that's what you get when you elect someone who sees the Premiership as a step to being a hip hop mogul.

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Remember that story that brought Bermuda Network News back to life (briefly...it's gone quiet again...sort of like one of those horror movie last gasps after you think someone's expired) about a supposed bid for Spanish Point Boat Club by the MEF group for a cool $45M?

Well...poof...it's now vanished into thin air.

Gone. As is it never existed.

That's what I'd call a stealth retraction.

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A reader writes:

They were holding out on us.... I'm feeling a bit ripped off right now because I would have rather waited and tried for better seats tomorrow instead of settling for crappy seats today.....

Indeed. He's not alone in that sentiment. I feel the same way. I'd have held off the tickets I bought to take my chances tomorrow for the 3 day passes I really wanted but weren't available.

When sections were appearing as "Sold Out" I think it created a lot of confusion rather than a more accurate description of "Presale allocation sold out".

As usual the PR launch was flawless, the execution of the event details itself, not so much.

When you stage a big media event to create a ticket frenzy, you really need to match supply with demand and have the systems capable of processing it.

The 1-888 number listed on the website didn't work for me either. First it was busy, then it just said it was an invalid number.

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MEF have asked me to advise the following with respects to the Bermuda Network News article on an offer for Spanish Point Boat Club:


For the record, there is no truth in any bid for Spanish Point by MEF for any price.

And there you have it. From the horse's mouth.

Some SPBC members certainly thought an offer was out there.

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The following press release was just sent out:

2008 BMF TICKET SALES ADVISORY

Overwhelming demand for the 2008 Bermuda Music Festival presale has exceeded expectations, the Bermuda Department of Tourism (BDOT) announced today.

In less than five hours the dedicated allotment of local presale festival tickets available online is near capacity.

However, beginning tomorrow, Thursday, May 22nd, a new allotment of tickets will be made available online and at designated ticket locations across the Island. These tickets will represent a cross-section of the seating categories for all four nights of the 2008 Bermuda Music Festival.

Furthermore, the BDOT announced, that to accommodate our overseas visitors who are interested in travelling to Bermuda for the Music Festival, the Department has set aside a special allotment of tickets and will work with designated overseas vendors to facilitate the sale of those tickets.

Based on the level of incredible excitement exhibited over the past 24 hours, the new allotment of tickets being released tomorrow is likely to sell quickly.

In order to satisfy the overwhelming demand, the public should be advised that on-island ticket locations will open early tomorrow from 6.00 a.m. until 5.00 p.m. Tickets for visitors and residents will be available.

As a reminder, the on-island ticket locations are as follows:

Fairmont Southampton
Fairmont Hamilton Princess
Café Latte, St. George’s

After today’s presale, tickets can also be purchased for as long as they are available online at www.bermudamusicfestival.com.

Entertainment schedule and ticket prices for the 2008 Bermuda Music Festival are as follows:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Whispers

The Fairmont Southampton Beach Club – General Admission Ticket

Gates Open 6:00pm Show Time 6:30pm

$60.00 General Admission Ticket


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lyfe Jennigs, Solange Knowles, Beyonce

National Sports Centre – Reserved Seating

Gates Open 6:00pm Show Time 7:00pm

Gold Seating $125.00

Silver Seating $100.00

Bronze Seating $75.00


Friday, October 3, 2008

Collie Buddz, UB40

National Sports Centre – Reserved Seating

Gates Open 6:00pm Show Time 7:00pm

Gold Seating $125.00

Silver Seating $100.00

Bronze Seating $75.00

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Aaron Neville, Alicia Keys

National Sports Centre – Reserved Seating

Gates Open 6:00pm Show Time 7:00pm

Gold Seating $125.00

Silver Seating $100.00

Bronze Seating $75.00


_________________________________

Nea N. Talbot

Public Affairs Officer (MLHA&H, MOF and MoT&T)

Department of Communication & Information

Bermuda Government

Global House

43 Church Street

Hamilton HM 12

BERMUDA

ntalbot@gov.bm

www.gov.bm

www.citv.gov.bm

1 (441) 294-2779

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If I may rant for a second.

The website for the Music Festival is a complete disaster. I've been getting tons of emails.

After much wrestling with it it would appear that there are no multi-day tickets available (or occassionally it offers you some way at the back), the front section tickets are $1,000 each if the section isn't already sold out, Beyonce is almost totally sold out (sorry tourists), Alicia Keys is almost sold out (sorry again tourists), UB40 and Collie Buddz (spelled wrong on the site) is the only show with some availability.

Maybe the sections listed as 'sold out' are blocked for general sale tomorrow to tourists. I don't know. But if that's the case I think people would have happily waited until tomorrow rather than buy seats in sections they didn't want just because they were the only ones available.

What a mess.

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Remember that $45M offer for Spanish Point Boat Club as 'reported' by Bermuda Network News that I raised an eyebrow over?

Well, I did some intensive investigative journalism to get to the bottom of it (let's say it wasn't hard), and the answer is....the offer from MEF was $4.5M not $45M as I suspected, just like 5,000 people didn't attend a PLP pre-election rally.

What is it with these decimal places?

Anyway, sounds like the offer has been on the table for some time and hasn't gone anywhere. The club has 450-500 members, which would equate to about $10,000 each, which isn't enough to really spark much interest from what I've told.

Anyway, there you go. Debunking that BNN original reporting wasn't hard. Moving right along....

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As a clarification, I can confirm definitively that Bermuda Music Festival tickets are on sale tomorrow morning to all Bermuda residents, not just 'Bermudians' as the press release stated.

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Well, the blockbuster lineup for the 2008 Music Festival was announced today after great hype and pop and sizzle:

"Bermuda Regiment soldiers are standing guard over the highly sought-after list of performers until the official announcement is made Tuesday."

Let's get the obvious out of the way, it's a great lineup. I'll be there most nights as I have almost every year after I worked on the very first JazFest the year I graduated from University.

However (there's always a however)...I'm going to be the killjoy for a minute if I may.

For years now I have been asking us to admit that this event is not a tourism event in any real sense (see here, here and here), and this was confirmed with the announcement today that "Bermudians" (residents or Bermudians? I'm not sure) will have a 24 hour head start over tourists to buy tickets.

Got that? Tickets to our marquee tourism event go on sale to tourists a day after locals clean it out.

So, on the upside, at least we've dispensed with the pretense that the event is aimed at tourists.

Now, this brings me to my longstanding complaint about the way the Department of Tourism is being used by Dr. Brown since he took it over.

The Tourism budget is increasingly being used to entertain locals (Music Festival, Movies on the Beach), market and networking for Dr. Brown himself (Mets promotion, Miami Heat promotion) and throw parties (The Love Festival, THE Foundation) for the Premier and his friends, those he wants to be his friends and those he wants to pander to (Faith Based Tourism).

As it stands now, taxpayers are basically throwing themselves a big expensive party, but paying full ticket price to watch... and if a few tourists make it then that's a bonus.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't believe it's the job of Governments to throw concerts once a year. And with this year's lineup the event must now be massively more expensive.

But back to the Music Festival, I can't believe that the event is anywhere close to breaking even, and I don't recall seeing any study on the economic value of it to our economy.

After 10-plus years of running this event it should now be standing on its own and self-sustaining, but I don't think it is, or even remotely close to it.

Sure, Bermuda needs events like these, but if our promotions aren't geared at the right audience then they're not serving their purpose. And surely the idea of taxpayers underwriting these events is to spur a broader economic gain for the island, but I'm not sure that's the case.

I'd love to see some numbers put out on how many tourists it attracts, what they spend while on island, how much money goes out to the overseas promoters/artists. I bet the number will blow people's minds.

But, it does make for a great political headline, an annual feel good event, and a chance for the politicians to schmooze and be photographed with the beautiful people.

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Another week, another education debacle:

Whitney Institute Middle School will close this summer, its board of trustees told the Ministry of Education today, The Royal Gazette understands.

Potentially permanently.

Here's the kicker: the complaint is that the school needed renovating yet Government hasn't moved on it and it is now unsafe.

Contrast that with a very urgent renovation that did take place: the renovation of an Official Premier's Residence for $1.5M that remains unoccupied over a year later.

Education? We'll get to it. Vacant home for Premiers. Check.

PS The Gazette is likely to have an inside track on this story, the Editor is a Trustee of Whitney. He's got a fine line to tread on this one.

[UPDATE: The Gazette has informed me that the Whitney story was obtained after a Whitney staff member contacted the paper, and reporter Tim Smith pursued it.]

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Vexed is quick off the mark to point out that electoral reform conducted behind closed doors is not reform:

Appalling. In the name of equity and transparency, it’s remarkable that changes to the Parliamentary Election Act could be proposed without structured involvement of all political parties, and then be provided solely to the political incumbent.

This document should have been released to the public and the political parties simultaneously. To do otherwise risks attracting accusations of favoritism.

When the public and other political organisations are kept in the dark until the Governing party gives a supposedly non-political appointment 'the green light' to let others have a peek, then you have a process which is illegitimate and politically poisoned from the start.

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A reader extracts a point from my snarkiness:

Regardless of the price it [Spanish Point Boat Club] is another piece of Bermuda, with a considerable history to the ordinary Bermudian, being sold off to effectively foreign interests. No doubt there will be no reaction, as per Alexandrina Hall.

Indeed. It's a sign of the times really. The social clubs are disappearing rapidly, with National Sports Club (now Somersfield Academy), the Old Colony Club (of which I was a member and is now owned by Argus Insurance), Alexandrina Hall and others I'm sure.

I'm not sure what can really be done; you can't force a club to persist forever and the memberships have generally aged and reduced - although I think Spanish Point's membership is a bit younger and larger than most.

My prediction is that the increasing presence of mid-rise apartment buildings in Hamilton (which isn't a bad thing in theory) is going to gobble up many of the older buildings on Cedar Avenue.

The successful developments of Atlantis and the two Gilbert Lopes built apartments on Cedar Avenue and Dundonald Street have created an area that could become a residential hub in town, and, I predict that the properties all the way down Cedar Avenue will become attractive for real estate developers.

In particular I'm thinking of Queen's Club, Leopards Club and even down to the Bermuda Public Services Headquarters.

That stretch of Cedar Avenue seems very likely to become lined with apartment blocks.

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Well I really seem to have jump started Bermuda Network News, with them producing some original reporting today, that the MEF Group has put a bid of $45 million in for the Spanish Point Boat Club, and rewriting a couple of old press releases.

A cynical reader of mine suggested the following:

To prove you wrong, he called Dale and got a scoop about MEF wanting to buy Spanish Italian Point Boat Club. It's a real media outlet, see!

Well, maybe, but $45M is a big number. A really big number.

I suspect they're missing a decimal place in there somewhere or I'm in the wrong business. $4.5M sounds more like it to me for an opening bid.

Let's do a little math.

SPBC is a nice piece of waterfront property, and I can see why MEF would be interested, but it's not more than 2 acres I don't think, so it's hard to see how it gets valued at $45M.

Last I heard an acre in Bermuda is worth about $2M, more for waterfront, so that would be a rather hefty premium.

I know they mark up their wine, but you can't mark it up enough to make those numbers work.

As someone said to me today, Southlands didn't even sell for $45M.

But this is the same site that reported that 5,000 people attended a PLP pre-election rally (that would be about 1 in 8 registered voters) before lowering that number somewhat.

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I've been remiss in posting a link which was sent to me a few weeks ago to a new blog from the BAMZ crew.

It's called Bermuda BREAM (Bermuda Reef Ecosystem Assessment and Mapping Programme).

I guess "Bermuda Bibbler" was already taken.

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Well that was fast.

A reader writes:

You goaded BNN back to life ....

Well, maybe not life, but there's a pulse, with the first press release being posted in a month...less than 24 hours after I declared it dead.

Not sure who posted that. Presumably owner and Senator Walton Brown himself, I understand the sole reporter left weeks ago.

PS Beachlime pointed out BNN's death 3 weeks ago. Being the generous guy I am I wanted to wait a little longer.

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Here we go again.

In typical control freak fashion, Government is positioning itself to take the aided school model (aka the successful model) and turn it into the public school model (aka the unsuccessful one).

Yet again Government has it bass ackwards. They pick the path that gives them total control but flies in the face of proven results.

You expected something different?

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There's one important reason missing in the Gazette's article today about the lack of use of the Police's snazzy boat for drug interdiction etc.:

Police had researched the purchase of a new boat for four years and top brass had travelled several times to Australia before buying the 54-foot craft — which can travel 200 nautical miles out to sea.

But its effectiveness in drug interdiction has been questioned as it is a fixed-hull and cannot come alongside another fixed hull without risking sinking one or both craft. A small inflatable was then put on the boat but Police are reluctant to use it in rough seas typical further out to sea.

What about the safety of the officers?

There's no law 200 miles offshore. It's the wild west. Drug runners shoot first and ask questions later. Unless our officers are packing some serious weaponry, that is one dangerous game to play in the open ocean.

A former marine police officer who was a friend once explained that to me as a reason the previous vessel would never get involved in any serious offshore drug interdiction.

Don't forget that the US Coast Guard is an arm of the military, not the police. They have massive firepower on board to provide some muscle and military training for the crews.

A 200 foot Coast Guard Cutter with artillery approaching a vessel is a whole different kettle of fish than a little 54 foot boat with a handful of police officers a long way from home with no backup.

The idea of using Regiment soldiers for this also strikes me as a really, really REALLY bad idea from this perspective; these 'soldiers' would be totally out of their depth (pardon the pun).

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If Dr. Brown's story is that he wants to direct the Government's advertising dollars to electronic media, then his pool just got a little smaller; Dr. Brown's cousin, PLP Senator and PLP pollster Walton Brown's Bermuda Network News is all but dead.

It hasn't been updated in over a month, with the last article being published on April 11. At its most active it was not a news site despite its name. There was little original reporting and it relied almost exclusively on churning press releases into 'articles' (a PR officers dream).

Bermuda Network News did benefit from some insider Government ad dollars, with Dr. Brown's Mets ticket giveaway running an ad on his cousin's website after it ceased to be active (the ad stopped running about 10 days to 2 weeks ago I think).

As an aside, without having much access to stats, I think it's safe to say that the most visited electronic medium for locals is The Royal Gazette's website.

I'm yet to see any Government ads there, which puts another lie to the 'more efficent use of ad dollar' story and reinforces what everyone knows but Government can't admit: it's about shutting down non-compliant media.

I'm also a little surprised that The Great Satan The Royal Gazette never made a public proposal to Government to shift their subscriptions and advertising online (as bad as their website is) to take advantage of what must be Bermuda's most visited website and expose the flaws in the concocted rationale (Bermuda.com could be the most visited Bermuda website, but it's aimed at an external audience.)

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A reader seconds the reader comment in my previous post:

Excellent letter from one of your readers. He hit the nail on the head. You get the feeling that Govt. wants to consistently foist problems that should be dealt by Govt. right back on the shoulders of business. Shocking when you think of how bloated govt. is right now and how much tax payers dollars are wasted on it.

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A reader seconds the reader comment in my previous post:

Excellent letter from one of your readers. He hit the nail on the head. You get the feeling that Govt. wants to consistently foist problems that should be dealt by Govt. right back on the shoulders of business. Shocking when you think of how bloated govt. is right now and how much tax payers dollars are wasted on it.

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A reader weighs in on Burch's bitchin'.

The hustle truck is a great tool for easing people back into the working world who might be suffering any number of social ills, but not necessarily a sound recruiting pool for long term steady employees as many Bermudian-businesses need.

If there was a pool of 200 decent employees at arms reach of the Government and an equal (if not more) jobs that are hard to fill, then why can't Burch simply slot these workers into these voids? He works in IMMIGRATION!

Ask any restaurant owner, landscape company owner, construction business owner, hotel manager or retail store owner why this void exists and they will tell you- not many Bermudians are willing to do the hard blue collar jobs, especially young men. Government research has confirmed this. Problem is, most guys want just a quick "hustle." Show up to work for a week and disappear after pay day. Work a few days and quit without even giving notice. Leave the job for lunch and never come back. Unwilling to get dirty or to work in a position that they might have to serve another. Ask any one of these business owners or managers!

A foreigner is here JUST to work. They have less commitments like family and friends and are here to get ahead by sacrificing. They serve a purpose and a role in our economy. Not taking jobs from Bermudians, as perpetuated by many, but filling the gap where there aren't enough WILLING Bermudians. I am not saying us Bermudians are not CAPABLE, just not always willing. There are many shining examples of committed and hard working Bermudians. MANY, just not enough. There is no doubt we do have what it takes. However, if there were enough supply, there would be no need to spend all the time and money processing paperwork and struggling to find housing for a blue collar guest worker. It is a lot easier and less stressful to grind through this upfront to get a reliable employee than to go through many stressful incidents with several poor ones. Do the paperwork, find them a place to rest their heads (not easy), hook them up with a scooter and off they go.

It's part of our endless cycle - 1) a blue collar position becomes available - 2) not enough entry level Bermudian workers WILLING to fill - 3) eventually not enough to promote to a higher level position - 4) the need to now hire a blue collar and white collar foreign worker - 5) blue and white collar worker become efficient - 6) both positions vacated after six years - RETURN TO (1).

No wonder immigration is so busy. They have to pick up the slack from our poor education system and deteriorating family and social values that should be generating the SUFFICIENT* number of prepared Bermudians into the workforce.

*like I said - we have what it takes, but not a sufficient number of us that are demanded by our economy. This is entirely fixable. Immigration policy is just the band aid, we need a vaccine.

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A classic political argument today with no foundation in reality:

"The assertion that every effort is made to employ Bermudians in this industry rings a little hollow when we can recruit over 200 people to work on the Hustle Truck."

Here's a suggestion for Sen. Burch: If he's so confident that the Hustle Truck crew make such great employees then hire them to process work permits and clear the backlog that those 10 poor overworked souls at Immigration are wading through.

It's stunning that a man who prides himself on being a straight talker can't take a little truth telling back at him. But that's the whole M.O. of this Government, they want to demagogue segments of the community and call press conferences with them as political props, but then demand that all dissent and any rebuttals be delivered behind closed doors.

At some point people have enough and you have to deal with the fallout of your ill-conceived poorly executed political decisions.

Isn't it time we dispensed with the BS and the posturing over all this? It's been going on for years now and Government is being completely unresponsive. The problem is that we're seeing the results of great politics but terrible public policy.

Firstly, term limits IS hurting Bermudian job opportunities.

As businesses are forced to end the employment of valued irreplacable-with-Bermudian-employees due to term limits they will send the individual, the Bermudian jobs associated with them, and the potential career paths for young Bermudians overseas. Quietly, but it's happening.

The problem for the local restaurant business and local businesses with no overseas operations? They have nowhere to send them, which is why you're seeing the local Chamber of Commerce being more vocal on this than the international companies who have options.

Secondly, the HUSTLE Truck program (which absolutely has a role to play and is a good program) is by definition aimed at people who have struggled to show up reliably for work and have behavioural issues.

The HUSTLE Truck program accommodates this, as they can decide on a day to day basis whether to go to work with the HUSTLE Truck. That may work for an ad-hoc Government program that doesn't have to make a return on its investment, but private businesses can't function like that.

The private sector needs reliable employees with no behavioural challenges. By Sen. Burch's own admission these workers present unique challenges as evidenced by the Payday Melee a few months ago.

Thirdly, Sen. Burch seems rather dismissive of blue collar workers, with his assertion that pot washers aren't key. They are if you're a restaurant which likes to serve food on clean plates. If you have no Bermudian applicants and don't want to have to churn through non-Bermudians to satisfy political demagoguery, the policy presents a legitimate business problem.

Fourthly, why is the PLP Government so disinterested in Bermudian business owners? They're Bermudian too aren't they?

Fifth, term limits do absolutely nothing other than churn expats, and add cost and lower productivity for businesses.

Contrary to the grumpy Senator's claim that he's protecting Bermudians, he's undercutting the very economy that will present them with attractive career paths down the road.

We have normal economic issues that present challenges without creating our own political ones to lump on top.

Sixth, if the bureaucracy is broken (or perhaps more accurately neglected), and can't keep pace with work permit applications, key employee applications etc., how is piling on whole new layers of bureaucracy such as housing licenses, spouse licences etc. a solution?

The PLP Government has broken the civil service through political interference, creating huge piles of unnecessary bureaucracy and not planning for their future bright ideas, yet the Minister wants to rage at those who actually have businesses to run which gainfully employee people creating jobs and oppotunities.

The problem here is that private businesses have to produce results or they'll go under; Government can just underperform and crawl along at a glacial pace, pawning off their inefficiencies onto the private sector, all while shouting down anyone who dare engage in public dialogue or dissent.

Seventh, the dirty little secret of term limits is that it's all about Independence, not protecting Bermudians' birthright or creating economic opportunities. The PLP don't want people for extended periods because they know that when they go for Independence again those residents present a problem.

That's before we point out that term limits are ensuring that our non-Bermudian workers feel a reduced motivation to get involved in the community. When you're made to feel so devalued and not particularly welcome (other than their dollar that is) you tend to exist in an expat enclave, which then becomes an argument used against them.

Even if the goal behind term limits was noble, it's a bad idea because of the age old law of unintended consequences.

Those of us who work in the private sector - where we aren't insulated from under-performance and don't have the luxury of simply raising taxes and mandating compliance - know that we are steadily eroding not just confidence in the island as a desirable platform to operate out of, but also are chasing away future career paths for our next generation.

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Your Hillary vs Obama entertainment on the day of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries:

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Someone forwarded me a link to an article from The Root, which they presumably picked up from Slate which also links to it.

[The Root is a website owned by The Washington Post Company and created in conjunction with great author and historian Henry Louis Gates and HBO, focusing on commentary from an African American perspective.]

It's a good piece of satire, and like all effective satire exposes a whole lot of truth.

The piece is entitled "The Original Black Man's Guide to the Press: Ten easy rules for spinning the white man's media", which is pretty self-explanatory.

You'll no doubt see that much of what is recommended is being deployed in full effect within our 21 miles, such as:

Rule #4: Make continual references to healing as your comments become increasingly offensive -- this will confuse the white man. Also, replace the word "reporters" with "distorters."

See local examples here and here.

Here's another;

Rule #8: You should be sure to lecture white people about how they can't understand because "you don't know your history" and don't hear your pain and you by contrast can feel THEIR pain because black people are more empathetic than their former slave master and his descendants.) This is a perfect time for you to mention that black people "cannot be racist because we don't have any power." (Ignore the implication that black people in powerful positions are, by definition, not really powerful. Or not really black.)

Local example, the ongoing Big Con, and CURB's Lyn Winfield's argument that black Bermudians cannot be racist.

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As you've probably noticed, I'm not keeping pace with the blog very well right now as I've got a few other things going on. Hopefully I can pick things up shortly, but for now updates will be infrequent.

Thanks.

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