July 2008 Archives

I have never been able to understand the kind of statement reported today in an interview with PLP Senator Marc Bean:

"I will be there to support Dr. Brown until his time is finished as the leader of this country and then I will support the next leader and the next leader and so forth, my loyalty to the party is undividable and not partial," he said. "I look at my deputy the same way."

What Mr. Bean just said is that no matter what an organisation does he will never, ever, speak against it and will follow in lockstep and defend it no matter what.

After that quote, anything else he has to say ceases to be interesting, because his comments are predetermined to be parotting a party line and are by admission based on nothing more than a loyalty to three letters.

I imagine Dr. Brown was aware of this when looking for a yes man and resulted in Mr. Bean receiving a) a taxpayer funded job with Mirrors and now as Caricom Advisor b) a Senate appointment and c) selected him as a prime candidate to go out and loyally defend the party leader.

The problem with this mentality is that party loyalty presumes the party is loyal to those who've elected them as well. Mr. Bean's assertion that he will always support a political party, even if it veers wildly from what it professed to stand for is a betrayal of the public trust.

He says party first, public second.

That's a recipe for disaster. Political parties and politicians need to know that they will be kept in check by their membership and the public at large.

As I said, I've never understood anyone who would give their permanent unwavering support to something or someone. You never know what they're going to do.

I could never say that my loyalty to any organisation, whether political or not, was 'undividable and not partial'. That makes you subservient to someone else's agenda.

I prefer a little critical thought, and being asked to support principles over party.

It's also a formula for exploitation and abuse, which is why it was the message of the PLP's election slogan of "All the way PLP. PLP all the way" and Dr. Brown's election defense of his actions with the phrase that "Attacks on me are attacks on the PLP".

The idea was to trigger a vote based on brand loyalty.

The recent research.bm poll which shows that support for his party has only trickled down while his own numbers are in a free fall thankfully suggests that this is not necessarily the case.

Mr. Bean's unwavering loyalty to anything associated with the letters "PLP" might not be so widely shared. It looks like the party retains some goodwill and majority support of the electorate but that Dr. Brown is becoming a liability to his party.

The idea of uncritical party loyalty certainly worked as a central component of their re-election campaign though. The question is how far can it be pushed.

| More

In case you hadn't put it together, the PLP have decided to restart election antics, aka The Silly Season (party website hysteria, restarting the UBP and 8,000 new Bermudians lie, two defensive op-eds (here and here) in The Great Satan The Royal Gazette in two days, rolling out Julian Hall in the Mid Ocean News); all in an effort to repel the elitism label (psst, it isn't the UBP and the "UBP friendly media" giving you that label, it's labour and your own MPs).

Presumably the Premier is taking a page from his foreign consulting friends and reusing his work from the 2007 election campaign with the window for a party leadership challenge approaching.

I'm not sure who the audience is here, presumably party delegates and reporters looking to fill column inches with internal party battle stories during the long dog days of a Parliament-less summer.

Somehow I don't see the "Oh my God the UBP are out to get you" meme being as successful. The Opposition are apparently in an extended session of navel gazing while the PLP fire Bermudians by the dozen for those more capable American consultants.

I was going to dissect the media strategy, which is so painfully contrived that it can literally be turned on overnight, going from zero to 200 MPH in 24 hours, but a reader decided to demonstrate it graphically for us (click on the image for a full size link):

scandalabatement.JPG

| More

A reader takes me to task for being too gentle, not something I'm usually criticised for:

Call a spade a spade, Christian. For the PLP to *still* be claiming on their blog that their free day care is for *all* Bermudians isn't spin. It's a lie.

Well, they've struck out the 'all' on their website, but it's still an absurd post.

It's actually funny that they say this:


We are pleased that members of the United Bermuda Party voted for the PLP's free day care proposal.

The truth is that the PLP implemented the UBP's proposal of means tested day care versus their own election promise for 'all Bermudians'.

But they can't possibly bring themselves to admit that the UBP were on the right track, even though they adopted their position can they.

UBP Bad. PLP Good. Say it 10,000 times.

The reader added in a subsequent email:

And what's the point? Why lie? What do they hope to achieve? Has it just become compulsive behaviour for them now?

And how about David Burch belittling Michael Dunkley as a "milkman"
again, who knows nothing about law, after he helped kick their
dentistry amendment into touch? Yeah, because their senators are so
much more experienced (*cough* Thaao Dill *cough*).

God, this shit makes me depressed.

| More

On a related note to the PLP blog's return to torture us all with it's trademark distortion and incessant spin, there is a statement (yet another Government statement not posted on the Government website but on the party's) that seeks to provide an 'update' on the North American Department of Tourism and the fired employees.

The problem? It paints a very rosy picture that doesn't at all mesh with what an employee sent me yesterday.

The email I received is published in full at the end of this post, but first read a sample of the PLP's spin which directly contradicts the immediate recount from my source:

PLP's statement:


The distributed information included details on the new structure of the overseas Tourism operation, job descriptions for the new job posts within the restructured overseas Tourism operation and information on posts currently vacant within the Ministry of Tourism and Transport.

Employee's version:


Of the 17 positions, only 4 are retained for current staff members.
Staff must apply for the other positions, some of which clearly no one now working for the Department will be qualified for, so there will certainly be more than 8 people out of work as reported. When asked to review the job descriptions for the new positons, it was discovered that the "forgot" to bring them. In addition, the positions have not yet been graded.

Were the job descriptions provided or forgotten?

The full version I received yesterday can be read below (I've left typos):


Well, today the Permanent Secretary Mrs. Cherie Whitter along with the Acting Director of Tourism Ian MacIntyre and the Head of the Civil Service once again met with the overseas staff of the Bermuda Department of Tourism. Mrs. Whitter presented an overview of the "new structure". It is certainly not as presented in the press. Of the 17 positions, only 4 are retained for current staff members.

Staff must apply for the other positions, some of which clearly no one now working for the Department will be qualified for, so there will certainly be more than 8 people out of work as reported. When asked to review the job descriptions for the new positons, it was discovered that the "forgot" to bring them. In addition, the positions have not yet been graded. The PS gave the whole presentation in a manner that was certainly unconcerned and appeared to project a feeling of "oh well." Mr. MacIntyre doesn't seem to have a clue as to whati is going on, and Mr. Dill was caught off guard and unable to a question as he spent most of the meeting reading and replying to messages on his Blackberry.

It was mentioned that there will be some opportunities for those returning to Bermuda, but these appear to be within the Tourism and Transport Ministry, not "within Government" as previously reported. Ms. Whitter advised of two positions in Tourism (which have not yet been approved and both are temporary), and a few positions in Transport......some of which are being in charge of queing up taxis for passengers for the taxi line at the airport, and traffic control at the airport.

Quite insulting...this is truly a sad day for Bermuda. This whole ordeal is so sloppy it is beyond reason.

| More

Brace yourself, the PLP's election-time-crazy-with-dishonest-spin blog is back. (The dormant website has been creaking back to life since the elitism criticism started. The first change was to the restart the slideshow on the site's main page with their candidates posing for photos with the public).

See. We're not elitist. We have photos to prove it.

It's starting to feel like the election never ended and was just a short chapter of the Brown soap opera.

A reader writes:

Speaking of spin, in the "The Blog is Back" post leading with "We're back and we're better than ever", the PLP blog announces today that: "We put Bermudians first by making sure that all Bermudian families will have access to free, high quality day care."

and

"Thanks to your PLP government, all Bermudian parents will be able to send their kids to free, high quality day care"

(note , ALL)

But the announcement a few days ago from the House is that "MPs passed a bill yesterday to pay child care bills for families or single parents earning under $70,000 a year"

Sigh indeed.

| More

The Gazette has a must read letter today from former Department of Tourism employee Kerry Judd who provides a devastating deconstruction of the rationale for closing the North American Tourism Office.

Of the many shifting rationales for the closure from the "Bermudians are un-trainable" to "it was an unaccountable "Wild West" office", the responsibility for a lack of sales production was laid at the employees' feet with the Premier saying that they were using an outdated model.

A few readers have emailed me to ask the obvious question which I have been remiss in highlighting: If the model was broken whose responsibility was that?

Surely not the Tourism employees, but the Minister (and senior management's). I put senior management in brackets because Kerry explains what many have long suspected: the Department has had little continuity in business model, which changes incessantly due to the revolving door of Ministers and directors.

She also makes clear that the outdated sale model that the Premier blamed is in fact his own model:

In fact in the 22 months that I was part of the BDOT team THREE different sales models were used. The first was in place when I arrived. I'm not sure when it was instituted, but I did agree at the time that it needed to be updated.

The new (and second) sales model was implemented under the leadership of then Minister Renee Webb. Less than one year later the third sales model was introduced under the new leadership of Premier Brown (then Minister of Tourism & Transport).

Ultimately there had to be someone to take the heat for the collapse of the tourism facade that the Premier constructed to boost his image as the Minister who gets things done.

The truth is that the tourism stats and 'pop and sizzle' were a sham; a carefully built PR exercise to boost the Premier's personal image, and it would appear direct portions of the Tourism and Transport budget (among other Ministries) to his friends (Consulting gigs, Music Festival promoters), family (his son's Playboy 'charity' sponsorship) and the North American social circle he aspires to (Oak Bluffs/Martha's Vineyard crowd).

The 'Tourism revival' has always been a farce to those who've ignored the glitz and glam and looked at the manipulation of numbers through gaming the timing, gaming the classification of visitors, and embedding huge cruise arrivals to skew the total tourism numbers.

It's all crumbling now because Dr. Brown's tourism strategy (if there ever was one) had no foundation and was simply a scattershot short term headline generating self-promotion exercise.

Kerry explains her conversion to believe that the privatisation of Tourism (a la the UBP's Bermudian run Tourism Authority) is the only way to go forward:

Unfortunately, I learned pretty quickly, that it didn't matter how much talent, strategic vision and capabilities existed. As long as the responsibility for promoting Bermuda comes under the direction of the Government (regardless of which political party is in place) and is under political influence our Tourism industry will never recover. With every change in Ministerial leadership, comes a change in consultant, a change in ministerial vision for Bermuda and a change in strategy (tourism had three Ministers, three consultants and two directors within a three-year period). No business model could ever sustain this.

The question is will the public fall for the latest effort at redirection and shifting the blame for Dr. Brown's failed tenure at tourism onto some easily scapegoated Bermudian employees.

| More

Today, a press release went out with the headline of Bermuda Releases Additional Tickets for Bermuda Music Festival to U.S. Travelers.


The Bermuda Department of Tourism announced today that additional tickets to the 2008 Bermuda Music Festival have been released and are available to visitors looking to attend the highly sought after event.

Additional tickets, or the same 3,500 tickets allocated for tourists which Festival Promoter Rock Newman told The Bermuda Sun less than 3 weeks ago remained unsold a day after the Premier said it was sold out?

Spin, spin, spin. It's all just spin. (As well as a big self-indulgent plug for the Promoter):

This year's Bermuda Music Festival is being produced by Gibraltar Promotion LLC., in association with Yhoshi Productions LTD. Gibraltar Promotions is a full service marketing, promotions and event production firm headed by Rock Newman, former manager to Heavyweight Champion, Riddick Bowe. Dubbed by Jet Magazine, the "Renaissance Man," Mr. Newman is now using his experience and expertise to spearhead what promises to be Bermuda's most illustrious event in music festival history.

The reader who forwarded me the link sums it up:

Methinks foreign sales have not gone too well and they're scrambling to save face.

The economic climate in the US isn't conducive to the kind of high cost event the taxpayer is underwriting and I think the odds of this year's event going further into the red than normal are pretty good.

It's a good lineup but an American tourist can see these acts for far less money during the usual concert circuit, particularly in this economic climate.

I imagine that we'll be seeing more of the kind of ticket giveaways that Rock Newman has been doing in the US to get the numbers up so a press release with total attendance numbers can be dressed up as a big win, while the fundamental return on the taxpayer's investment will look pretty ugly.

| More

A question for Government relating to the Department of Tourism layoffs:

If these employees were operating like "the Wild West", misusing public funds as alleged by The Bermuda Sun's anonymous source today, and are un-trainable Bermudians as declared by The Premier, what did the Minister do about it and why are they now being promised new jobs elsewhere in the Civil Service?

| More

The Gazette today has an article which includes the text of an email the Premier sent to the Department of Tourism staff.

I received it a few days ago and meant to comment then about one paragraph in particular that struck me as particularly galling, and a not so veiled threat in what was otherwise an exercise in hasty damage control:

We stand ready to fully assist staff prepared to work with us in finding alternative jobs in the Civil Service or, if they choose, with the newly tapped company leading our sales effort. It is their professionalism that will reflect well on them in the days ahead on both fronts.

Emphasis mine. The final sentence in that quote takes a hell of a lot of nerve to write.

After being summarily dumped from your job, being called un-trainable, and even having your positions advertised on the internet for a month before Cabinet decided to inform the Bermudian employees that their jobs were being outsourced, the Premier tries to turn it around on them with the warning that "their professionalism will reflect well on them".

Their professionalism? What about his professionalism?

That line is nothing less than a threat: go along with the program quietly and we'll hook you up; go against us and you'll be hung out to dry.

I suppose that some of those rumoured Department of Tourism hefty golden handshake severance packages with mandated secrecy agreements are the pot at the end of the rainbow for being 'professional'. (I doubt those are enforceable in the public sector if they do exist).

This Government really has no class. After firing a whole team of people in the most unprofessional manner they immediately turn around to talk about the employees professionalism.

Like school in summer...no class.

| More

The latest Jib Jab is out. Imagine what they could do with our crazy political soap opera.

| More

Judging by the intensity of emails that I've been receiving over the weekend, this North American Department of Tourism outsourcing is not going to go away quietly.

While it's clear that this has been in the works for some time, I imagine that once staff began to leak emails to the press (as they did to The Bermuda Sun and vented in the Mid Ocean News - the latter is not online) and call out the Minister/Premier for the Friends and Family plan he's been running with taxpayer funds, the writing was on the wall. It was inevitable that the people who knew too much would have to go.

The problem now?

Those folks now have a lot less to lose.

| More

An online petition has been launched regarding the firing of the Department of Tourism North American staff.

You can sign it here.

| More

A reader with a background in the employment field points out the direction the North American Department of Tourism labour dispute could be heading:


Having made his bed so to speak, it will be interesting how the lawyers get on with aligning "dismissed because they couldn't be trained" with the opposing argument of "dismissed by reason of redundancy" which I assume will be the reason for the dismissal.

The two do not go together in the context of Unfair Dismissal. If they couldn't be trained, they should have been dismissed for reasons of "capability/performance".

| More

Sift through the anger, upset and betrayal with the Department of Tourism outsourcing, and digest the core position from the PLP when it comes to Bermudians:

On Wednesday night, Dr. Brown claimed attempts at training the Bermudians had been unsuccessful. However, staff point out all this amounted to was one day in which they watched a DVD and received a book which most of them had already read called: "The Little Red Book Of Selling."

Got that. The Premier, head of the PLP, has his party now on record as saying that Bermudians are un-trainable.

Not just in need of further training, but UN-TRAINABLE. So much for the party of Bermudianisation.

This is a very perilous position for the PLP to take when they've built their recent political success on the idea (I stress idea) that they were of and for Bermudians while the UBP were not.

This example should undermine their whole political brand (a pretty powerful one recently) by stating that a group of Bermudians are completely un-trainable for an industry they've been working in for decades in some cases.

That's a shocking position when you're familiar with the rhetoric they fire at local employers for not hiring enough of our capable and qualified Bermudians and promoting them in large numbers to the senior executive levels. If I were a local employer or international company I'd have this as Exhibit A for the next time they're used as political target practice.

It's even more galling when you consider that only a couple of weeks ago the Premier quite provocatively lectured a gathering of international business leaders about valuing Bermudians and offering them opportunities in their biggest industry:

"...unless Bermudians feel their country's most lucrative industry can provide them with fair career opportunities we are in a socially dangerous space."

Dr. Brown is actually pulling back the curtain here and showing that Bermudianisation to the PLP is what many of us have always believed it to be: a hollow political slogan.

It's a concept to pay mere lip service to; an election slogan and a political prop rather than a core value and a very effective way to shift blame from successive Governments failures to properly educate and train Bermudians.

How long will people continue to allow themselves to be conned?

| More

Here's a job posting for a NY DOT Sales Manager referred to in the NY Department of Tourism email I just posted.

Responsibilities include managing 6 person sales team from our NY office. Recruit and train sales team, conduct daily sales directions, assists in closing new business, assists in marketing, assists in generating activities including meeting and greeting potential clients.

The firm given the contract is Sales Focus Inc..

| More

The Department of Tourism under Dr. Brown has been a deeply dysfunctional department with terribly low employee morale and high turnover as a result; it appears to be rapidly coming apart at the seams.

A couple of weeks ago we heard noises from within the department about the Dictatorial style of the Minister (and Premier) in The Mid Ocean News (not online).

Now an email is doing the rounds with news that yet another aspect of Bermuda governance is being outsourced to an American company.

Two words: Big surprise.

DR EWART BROWN SQUANDERS OVERSEAS TOURISM JOBS AT THE EXPENSE OF BERMUDIANS!

It has come to a very sad day under the PLP Government, when they announced yesterday the outsourcing of overseas tourism jobs to an American sales company.

This announcement will have a major impact on the lives of several fellow Bermudians who have lived and worked overseas for upward of 30 years, many of whom will lose their jobs. We have toiled with such dedication, selling and promoting Bermuda and this has meant a severe sacrifice to friends and family along the way. However, our island home has reaped the benefit over the years and very much recently as you have seen the upswing in visitor arrivals. Do not be fooled in thinking that this upswing has been the result of the one man Ewart Brown show!

Of course the outsourcing of the jobs to American sales company means that we are will not be eligible to apply as many of us our on restricted visa and it has been noted that the company is not obliged to hire Bermudians. The proposed company has been actively recruiting our positions since June 6th 2008, on various internet job search sites whilst we were only advised in person yesterday July 9th 2008 of this pending outsourcing. Furthermore Cabinet only approved the outsourcing of these aforementioned post on Tuesday July 8th, 2008, some four weeks after the first job vacancy appeared online. The Permanent Secretary for Tourism & Transport, Mrs Cheri Whitter has clearly stated that the proposed sales company has not been contracted by the Bermuda Governent. So tell me Bermuda, how does a overseas company list Bermuda Department of Tourism as a client and begin to recruit on their behalf if they have no signed contract?

Tourism is the second pillar of our glowing economy, and we have watched over the years how Bermudians have shied away from working in the industry. This is so much that we are actively encouraging Bermudians to return and work in the sector of our economy. Why have such programs as the David Allen Internship for young Bermudians if we are giving the tourism jobs away to overseas companies?

Let it be known that your fellow Bermudians who work overseas are professionals, highly skilled, college educated and well respected in their respective territories. When the proposed company hire their new staff, they promise training in Bermuda. Well, that means that a Bermudian will have to train a NON-BERMUDIAN on island! The PLP government is effectively saying that yes Bermudians are good enough to train a NON-BERMUDIAN for the job but in fact not good enough to do the jobs themselves.

Really, you have to ask what has become of the PLP government when they are about to disenfranchised a group of Bermudian workers without any substantive rationale..

It is suggested that the outsourcing of these jobs will save money; however at no time has there been a staff consultation on what other solutions could be had as a means of cost saving. As a talented group of individuals we could have easily made contributions on possible effective solutions. Instead Dr. Ewart Brown as Minister of Tourism, strips the livelihood of young hardworking Bermudians whilst he waste millions on such tourism events as: THE INTERNATIONAL LOVE FESTIVAL, MIAMI HEATS SPONSORSHIP, NY METS SPONSORSHIP , A SO CALLED CHARITY EVENT AT THE PLAYBOY MANSION AND THE HIGHLY CONTROVERSIAL FAITH BASED TOURISM non of which generate significant visitors to the Island. Let's not forget to mention his private jet trips, luxurious new BMW and the $500,000 personal expenses for Beyonce.

Just like you we are in the everyday struggle during this economic meltdown, and in 5 weeks time on September 1st 2008 when our jobs have been squandered away many of us will still have a family to feed, rent and mortgages to pay. It was stated recently by one of our fellow country man that "we need to take the “P” and the “L” out of PLP. There is nothing “Progressive” about it and it dare not have the audacity to associate itself with “Labour”. The last “P” should remain, because the only thing this government under this leadership is good at doing is hosting a party."

BERMUDA, how can we sit back and let such an atrocity happen?

How can we sell out our Bermuda Tourism Jobs to an overseas company?

How can we continue to say 'Feel the Love'?

How do you let your tax payers dollars pay for another lucrative contract, while your fellow BERMUDIANS become unemployed?

DID YOU EVER EXPECT THE PLP, A LABOUR GOVERNMENT TO ROB BERMUDIANS OF THEIR JOBS?

STAND WITH US BERMUDA! This not only effects us but you as well as our Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, Nieces, Nephews, Grandparents, Friends, and Neighbors.

PLEASE FORWARD TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS & FAMILY......LET BERMUDA KNOW WHAT DR. EWART BROWN AND THE PLP GOVERNMENT ARE DOING TO BERMUDIANS.

| More

The very late release of the first quarter's declining tourist numbers fly in direct opposition to the tone of a statement posted on the PLP's website only 3 weeks ago entitled Bermuda Tourism on Verge of Early Summer Sellout:

Bermuda Tourism will once again begin the summer in high demand with hotel occupancy figures projected at 99%.

The Newport Bermuda Race is fuelling the late June surge with an influx of visitors likely to reach 3,000.

Way to cherry pick a specific recurring event and week that would be a sellout if the Department of Tourism didn't even exist. But then there's of course the lies, damn lies and statistics cliche, as a reader points out below.

The Government spin machine is working double time right now. It's a game of trying to stay a press release ahead of the facts, and I think it's starting to fall behind.

What the summer sellout statement shows is that Bermuda tourism is in such a bad state that we can sell out with much lower arrivals; hence the Minister's reliance on the occupancy percentage versus actual number of bednights.

That press release reeks of pre-quarterly number damage control.

A reader did the heavy lifting for me on the latest tourism stats for me:

While I'll acknowledge the economic downturn as a legit reason for numbers to dwindle, the PLP's penchant for statistics manipulation is lamentable. As Kim Swan says, that these numbers are reported so late makes it hard for businesses who depend upon the tourism cycle to plan ahead. Numbers being release 3 months later serve little purpose. (I also remember the days when these numbers were reported monthly.) All in favour of controlling the message and minimizing how bad they look. Statistical manipulation #1.

As usual, cruise visitors continue to drive our tourism 'renaissance'. There really is no need to repeat that they spend significantly less than their air arrival counterparts. So patently obvious, and yet Dr. Brown continues to trot around these numbers. Statistical manipulation #2.

#3 is a particularly fun and false presentation:

The estimated visitor expenditures for the first quarter of 2008 ranged from $42.3 million to $50.7 million, with average per person expenditure ranging from $1,013 — $1,216, up from a range of $979 — $1,088 in 2007 according to the Department.

Premier Brown said: "It's encouraging to see that visitors coming to Bermuda consistently spend more when they get here..."

Lies, damn lies and statistics! as Benjamin Disraeli would say. Average spending went up?! That sounds amazing! But on closer inspection we realise that there is a very important comparative figure missing - total spending from 2007 Q1. If it's the case that less affluent travelers spend less than their more affluent counterparts while on vacation, and that the former are more likely to drop out of the equation during times of economic downturn, then of course average spending would increase! It's simple math, folks.
There 's a smaller number of less-affluent travelers to weigh the average down. Which would you rather have: 100 rich folks spending $1,000 each? Or 200 average folks spending $750? The latter leaves the economy with $50,000 more.

Without a full roster of comparative data, we just don't know how healthy the economy is doing.

And once again (statistical manipulation #4) ...

The statistics provided by the Department do not include a breakdown of how many people came for business or leisure travel, nor do they state the number of visitors arriving from the US, UK or Europe.

The Department has recently stated that it will no longer give out in-depth statistics until after the Premier's quarterly media luncheon. Previously The Royal Gazette has obtained them independently of the Premier's luncheon.

The Department said the next quarterly media luncheon will be "later this month".

'Nuff said.

| More

A reader refines my comment from a couple of days ago on Dr. Brown's unapologetic mixing of public and private interests:

I concluded with the statement in quotes below and the reader rightly corrects me:

"Politicians have to make a choice: It's either public of private sector. It can't be both."

Actually, the voters have to make a choice. In a democratic society, the government (and its leader) serve at the pleasure of the public, not vice versa. The public needs to understand that the government is elected to represent the public's interest, not the politicians'.

But most of all, governments are elected to govern and follow policies of sound governance. Governance policies are put in place to mitigate the risk of a rogue politician acting for their own benefit, similar to the objectives of corporate governance in the private sector.

When government loses control of its members, and governance policies are regularly over-ridden and public interests are superseded by private ones, the voters need to make a choice.

I concur. Ultimately it's the voters who have to make the choice as to what is and is not acceptable.

| More

Bob Richards yesterday, in his critique of the overspend that is the 2008 Bermuda Music Festival demonstrates the fundamental difference between Bermuda's two political parties:

The UBP are planners, methodical, managerial and results oriented (focused on the bottom line - total return); while the PLP is scatter shot, light on accountability and short term headline oriented (increasing the top line).

Compare and contrast:

PLP (Ewart Brown)

"I do not know that we will make a profit," he said. "It's not designed for us to make a profit. I do believe though it's [this year's festival] the best opportunity to break even in the history of the festival.

"This festival like most music festivals in the world are not designed to make a profit but they have an effect far beyond the show itself.

"This is branding. It's already known around the world that Bermuda's festival is sold out and the entertainers we were fortunate to get this year we cannot get for peanuts."

We weren't fortunate to get this years entertainers. We paid through the nose for them.

And Music Festivals in the world are not designed to lose money as Vexed points out.

UBP (Bob Richards)

"The principal objective is to develop tourism, not entertainment for Bermudians. If an economic case for Bermuda tourism development cannot be clearly demonstrated by spending millions on high-profile entertainers, it should not be something Bermuda should spend public money on."

Mr. Richards said the festival was and continued to be a great fixture on the Island calendar but added: "We believe it has gone badly off the rails as a tourism-driven business proposition.

"The festival must provide value for money. By that we mean to justify the spending of public money the festival must attract enough visitors or so enhance the island's reputation abroad that it creates evidence that increased tourism will flow from it.

"Answers to our parliamentary questions indicate the festival costs are hugely out of line with the number of visitors it is attracting and we have to ask: what has driven this Government to commit to such unprecedented spending?"

| More

Exhibits A and B as to why Bermuda needs a free press:

Exhibit A

Yesterday the Premier was reported in The Royal Gazette as saying:

"It's already known around the world that Bermuda's festival is sold out and the entertainers we were fortunate to get this year we cannot get for peanuts."

Today, after speaking with Festival Promoter Rock Newman in The Bermuda Sun it is reported that:

Fewer than half of the 7,500 Bermuda Music Festival tickets allocated for overseas purchasers have sold, it was revealed yesterday.

You're not going to sell those extra tickets to tourists if the Premier is saying it's sold out.

Yet again we have spin replacing facts.

Exhibit B

After weeks of government claiming that they needed to buy a new fancy GP1 in the name of fiscal responsibility, by asking a few simple questions The Bermuda Sun has revealed that the costs were overstated and the problems were preventable. Which leaves the conclusion that Dr. Brown wanted us to buy him a new car.

The rationale about maintenance was a completely concocted one.

In the real world these things are known as lies.

| More

Yet another Government statement posted on the PLP's party website but not the (terrible, and terribly expensive) Government website.

But ignoring the troubling merging of partisan party communications with official government work for a second, try to make sense of this statement:

During today’s gathering all sides agreed to the Premier’s request to reconvene the same parties around the table for monthly meetings on the topic of labour relations. The Government’s goal is to tackle specific issues of concern during those gatherings. Mutually workable dates for future meetings will be arranged, and at a mutually agreeable time, the meetings will be held on a quarterly basis.

So they're going to hold monthly meetings quarterly?

That's Government efficiency at its best if I've ever seen it.

| More

If the Bermuda Government is getting a reputation as being corrupt it's because:

The political campaign manager of the Premier of Bermuda can't account for hundreds of thousands of taxpayer funds, and those he can account for don't appear to have actually achieved anything.

And that's before we get into what looks like a whole bunch of lying being done in the name of the Lord.

Psst! Dr. Brown. It's not the Opposition. It's you.

Hell, they can't even run a successful political campaign let alone a global media conspiracy.

| More

I must say, that the Corporation of Hamilton has to be the most dysfunctional group around.

Bill Black. Gone.
David Dunkley. Gone (Appealing).
Graeme Outerbridge. Resigned (to re-run).
Carville Van Putten. Gone.

Talk about a melt down.

| More

Read the speech entitled "Medical Tourism - Myth or Reality" - posted on the PLP's website, but apparently not the Government portal (a persistent situation where Official statements are posted on the party site not the Government website (as Vexed pointed out recently), and ask yourself, just what is Dr. Brown promoting and in what capacity is his acting?

Is he promoting Bermuda as a tourist destination or his private business?

Is he delivering the speech as Premier of Bermuda or the owner of an expanding health care business?

New Onion gets it:

The one person who benefits from medical tourism in Bermuda is Dr. Brown with his clinic.

In the speech Dr. Brown says:


When I became Premier of Bermuda, I was serving as Medical Director of my clinic and serving my government as Minister of Tourism and Transport. I decided to keep the Tourism and Transport portfolios even after taking over the leadership.

So, you see, I am a busy guy – with a lot of interests in a lot of areas.

The final sentence should read, with a lot of conflicts of interest in a lot of areas.

If Bermuda is to be a mature democracy, and if Dr. Brown doesn't want to be pegged as corrupt and have to resort to spending taxpayer funds to fix his corrupt image problem, he needs to decide what he wants: a public sector or private sector life?

When you enter public life, particularly as Premier but also as a Cabinet Minister, you have to make a choice. If you have private sector interests then you must recuse yourself from all public policy discussions in that field.

When health care comes up in Cabinet, the Premier should leave the room.

David Dodwell did that while Tourism Minister under the UBP Government. He removed himself from day to day management of his hotel, The Reefs for a number of years. I know because he was excited to get back involved in the running of his hotel when the UBP was kicked to the curb in 1998.

In the US, the President has to put his assets into a blind trust while he occupies the office.

However, in Bermuda, the Premier takes great pride in announcing his conflict of interests to an audience who must have been scratching their heads wondering how someone can mix public and private interests so unabashedly.

Dr. Brown, as we saw with the secret Saturday meetings about the hospital, is driving healthcare policy in Bermuda.

For a sitting Premier to be developing and implementing public healthcare policy all the while competing (with an inside track) with his private healthcare facilities is appalling.

Politicians have to make a choice: It's either public of private sector. It can't be both.

| More

Today's RG interview with the signature quote of "I'm no coward" has that whole Nixonian "I'm not a crook" feel to it.

It's pretty clear that Dr. Brown knows he has lost control of the message, because he gave his first interview in a long time to The Royal Gazette, which he's been trying to starve of both funds and content.

| More

Archives