April 2010 Archives

Just so we're all clear here:

Everyday Bermudians have to license their foreign spouses if they want to own property, can't own more than one property with their foreign spouse and can't sell previously qualified properties to non-Bermudians, but a PLP benefactor at Coco Reef gets the sweetheart lease of the century and a green light to sell off Bermuda Government land for 120 years.

OK then.

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After my last post I received an email from Kath Bell a bit surprised that I didn't realize that her Letter to the Editor about Senator Burch was satirical.

I'm a fan of satire, but that one went over my head, and a few others, none of us who could decide whether it was serious or not. In hindsight the first paragraph is obviously satirical, but I have heard people seriously argue some of her later comments, and the last sentence of the first paragraph isn't satire, it's demonstrably true:

We could dispense with the rest of his colleagues in Cabinet - most of them haven't the slightest notion what they are doing anyway.

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I'm convinced that if you sprained your ankle the PLP would propose amputating both your legs as a long term solution to ankle sprains.

This land license legislation is completely over the top, offensive, and unnecessary. Vexed is absolutely correct. Marginalising families because their spouses are non-Bermudian is only going to further drive wedges through this community. And what exactly does all this achieve?

Properties owned by Bermudian families with one not-yet Bermudian spouse should not be classified as foreign owned. Those are Bermudian owned. This claim of 37% foreign ownership of land is nonsense, because it's inflated by classifying mixed status couples as foreign.

What problem are we solving here? Fronting? This will do nothing to prevent fronting, because if you're going to front you sure as hell aren't going to register the front with the Government. And Vexed makes another good point that this same Government is happy to sell off tourism zoned land as fractionals with massive tax concessions to foreign owners, yet discriminates against Bermudian mixed status couple who buy property.

This is all compounded by the fact that it's impossible to make any sort of a nuanced argument when the Minister foams at the mouth if anyone dare suggest there's an easier more sensible way to go about things.

Right now the Minister and the PLP are creating huge legal uncertainties and expense without actually remedying a supposed problem.

This is the identical sledgehammer approach that we're seeing on term limits which is undermining Bermuda's viability as a financial domicile.

Contrary to Kath Bell's Letter to the Editor an autocracy is not a good thing, not even temporarily. In fact, Mr. Burch is a huge liability to Bermuda as a legislator. His skills lie elsewhere.

A friend recently said to me that there are thinkers and doers and that Mr. Burch is a doer. Give him a policy to implement and he'll get that done quickly and as intended, but ask him to think about the solution to a problem? Yikes. His trail of devastation is testament to this.

At its core, both of these issues boil down to the PLP's view of Bermuda being far too insular and inwards looking. Their dogma doesn't reflect the reality of life and the real world of interdependence that Bermuda has thrived in, and in many cases led the way.

Instead we've seen a shift in already restrictive but realistic immigration policies from the UBP era to ones that make no practical sense and end up alienating huge segments of the community, both local and foreign who have close social and economic ties.

Bermuda is a cosmopolitan place. We can't continue to thrive if we're at the mercy of an outdated mentality built on a fantasy about what Bermuda is and should be implemented by a guy who clearly has anger issues.

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Loving Fox Soccer HD on Cablevision. It's a shame we'll have to suffer through the world cup on local TV = below standard def.

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My golf slice defies the laws of physics.

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Spent the evening shredding bills back to 2004. Very therepeutic.

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In what can only be described as an informercial, the PLP website today posted a video of Finance Minister Paula Cox being 'interviewed' by Roger Scotton for a program called "The Expert View".

I started watching and immediately was struck by how odd and contrived the whole thing felt, particularly with the attempt to BBC-ify the segment.

So I did a bit of looking around about "The Expert View" and Mr. Scotton and can find little info on either, certainly nothing on any news show called The Expert View, which only appears to exist on the PLP website.

Mr. Scotton is a former XL Capital PR guy, whose bio on a website he appears to consult for describes his services as:

Roger is an experienced communications professional with extensive knowledge of strategic corporate communications (CEO & "C" level messaging, employee engagement, media relations and training) and its practical role in supporting business objectives and the development of an effective corporate infrastructure and culture.

And then it all made sense. Watch the interview.

This is a not so subtle piece of propaganda, PR disguised as journalism where Mr. Scotton asks all the obvious questions but never probes or challenges, rather giving Ms. Cox a platform to begin her post-budget image rehabilitation.

It's all a bit bizarre really. I suspect this will be looped on CITV, masquerading as news and an independent journalist interviewing the FInance Minister, when it's quite patently some pretty bad propaganda that you'd expect to see out of the Soviet era or China.

I wonder how much the taxpayers of Bermuda paid to produce this political advert?


[UPDATE: Embedded video removed due to inability to stop video playing automatically. Click here to view.]

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Oooh. The Martha Ann is back alongside PWs marina. I'm still in love. http://bit.ly/9l1f0W

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The Sun today has an article with Peter Carey of the Family Centre discussing the link between the breakdown of families and the proliferation of gangs.

This reminded me of the following from a Gazette article after the Good Friday shooting:

A 40-year-old woman told how her grandson heard gunshots from inside the family home and ran to her.

"He was shaking when he came to me. He said: 'Nana, nana, I heard gunshots.' I was sitting outside and I heard them too. He is nine and he goes to the school. And this is not the first time he's hearing gunshots.

Did you catch that?

A 40 year old grandmother...with a 9 year old grandson!

Do the math. That situation alone is part of the problem, babies having babies, and is indicative of a serious problem which is more widespread than people think. It leaped out at me when I read that article. I'm surprised that no-one really picked up on it.

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A big shout out to Anchor Gary Moreno at ZBM/ZFB News for delivering a broadcast last night, reading the stories from his blackberry.

What a joke BBC is. The staff and journalists there must feel like they enter the 1960s every day when they clock in.

Starting the broadcast on time would be nice. A teleprompter would be good. A digital signal would be better. HD would be even better.

That place is like a television museum.

Right now BBC's signal is quite clearly below Standard Definition. Lost is unwatchable due to the darkness. And don't blame it on Cablevision. I hooked up an antennae and it was worse.

The telecommunications Minister should allow Cablevision and Wow to offer a watchable signal (read HD) for the US networks if and until Bermuda Broadcasting (and VSB) start putting out an HD signal.

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Denis Pitcher provided a great running twitter feed of the Term Limits Bermudians in International Business meeting.

Not surprisingly the meeting appears to have gone off well, appeared constructive and respectful and is hopefully a step in the right direction to more mutually beneficial immigration policies for Bermuda and International Business.

I remain puzzled why the Minister approaches these things so combatively and is so unnecessarily confrontational.

Perhaps he mistakes his post as a military like one, where he's a Commanding Officer, but he's not. He's a public servant and these kind of issues need to be discussed and aired in public in a substantive way, which will benefit everyone.

There's no need to exclude other politicians who have every right to hear the views of Bermudians on a major topic, and particularly not someone like Michael Fahy who is both a politician and a Bermudian in International Business.

The circus side shows Mr. Burch creates need to stop.

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Wondering if the Bermuda Gov is on the payroll of the Swiss Business Development Commission. Otherwise they're intent on econmic suicide.

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When the meeting to discuss term limits was initially announced I encouraged people to give the Minister the benefit of the doubt and try to engage him constructively. I have to say that I'm disappointed that Mr. Burch has adopted the tone he has towards Michael Fahy and Michael Dunkley.

Unfortunately I won't be able to attend, but it appears that as the Minister has created a circus around who can attend the MInistry is now micro-managing entry in a very unpleasant way as seen in the email below:

To expedite entry into the meeting on Thursday, 8 April at The Berkeley Institute for Bermudians who work in International Business, wrist bands will be issued to persons who have RSVP'd.

As you have RSVP'd you can collect your wrist band from the Ministry of Labour, Home Affairs & Housing located in the Government Administration Building, First Floor 30 Parliament Street, Hamilton HM 12.

Also, it will be available prior to the meeting at the venue.

Zina Tucker (Mrs.)

Ministry of Labour, Home Affairs & Housing

This doesn't have to be this way. Anyone with a shred of intellectually honesty or realism knows that this is not the way that a member of a credible Government anywhere in the world behaves, least of all Bermuda who used to have a reputation for being sophisticated and reasonable.

It's an embarrassment. This is not the way anyone who is going to work or invest billions of dollars in a jurisdiction deserves, expects, or even need to be treated. There are many more welcoming places that would love to have, and are already getting, investment formerly sent to Bermuda.

The Minister has missed a real opportunity to elevate the discussion by the tone of his original email and subsequent fights over who can and cannot attend.

A credible, serious Premier would not allow a Minister of the Bermuda Government to act in such an unpredictable and unpleasant manner. They'd either reprimand them or remove them.

Is it any wonder that the Minister and Premier complain that they hear more unguarded views from senior international business executives anonymously in the press than in personal meetings.

The Minister comes across as unpredictable and vindictive. No-one is going to expose their shareholders directly to this kind of behaviour, so they most likely edit themselves in private, or the Minister isn't hearing what they're saying behind the layers of formality and politeness.

I don't understand the obsession with manufacturing conflict. I really don't. This makes us a laughing stock. I know. I get the emails and phone calls from overseas.

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If I were advising the PLP, I'd suggest the following:

More Kim Wilson, less of everyone else.

The Senator and Attorney General comes across as reasonable, serious, genuine and not overly political. She's sort of the anti-PLP in a lot of ways.

She's not cantankerous like Mr. Burch. She's doesn't come across as a self-absorbed-professional-say-anything-politician like the outgoing Premier. She doesn't escalate situations and get used as an attack dog like Marc Bean is.

From a distance, Ms. Wilson comes across as a pretty impressive person who is in politics for the right reasons, is deeply serious and keeps her head down.

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If the crime situation on the island wasn't so serious you could get a lot of comedy out of the outgoing Premier's rather desperate redirection by attempting to blame his party's inaction on the UBP for swatting at his SWAT team suggestion.

At the time, the UBP stood united against the SWAT Team and led a public relations charge to kill it.

Piublic relations charge? Seriously? The suggestion was part of the PLP's constant headline shopping whenever crime spiked; emergency Cabinet meetings, declarations that "we've had enough", the SWAT suggestion all were met with zero follow through other than jabs at the Governor.

Few amounted to anything whether the Opposition or others said they had merit or not.

The PLP have always been focused on the politics before the policy. But for the Premier to suggest that he couldn't follow through on SWAT because of the Opposition is comical, and more than a little desperate.

This is of course the guy who single-handedly imported the four Uighurs, without informing his Cabinet or the Governor, and quite frankly does whatever he wants in general with hiring, firing and uses the Tourism budget as his personal bucket list fund.

If he was serious about SWAT he'd have done it, or at a minimum pushed it harder. He didn't. It was floated and promptly dropped because it had served its purpose with a cheap headline.

So it's extremely lame to try and pin his party's failure to arrest escalating violent crime on a Opposition he routinely reminds isn't entitled to know what's going on because they're not in power.

Somehow, I think the public is tired of lip service on this topic. There's too many bodies for cheap politicking.

It's pretty clear where the responsibility lies on this one. That wouldn't be with the party that has been out of power for a decade and can't even get Government to respond to their Parliamentary questions.

But the time for excuses and finger pointing is gone.

Act. Stop blaming. Try a bi-partisan task-force if the UBP are really so persuasive with the public.

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The travel Gods still hate me.

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How is it that an airport cab ride anywhere in the world costs $50?

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RT @cdunleavy: Make that "bassline". Toronto's Easter parade lacked a baseline and inappropriate dance troupes.

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Toronto's Easter parade lacked a baseline and inappropriate dance troupes.

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Bermuda's biggest selling points for both tourism and international business investment were that we are stable and safe.

Term limits, ballooning debt and tax hikes means we're no longer stable.

The violent crime situation obviously means we're no longer safe. All of us.

It's time to get a grip and abandon the politics that have led us here.

We need tougher laws and less politicking. Bermuda lost 3 or 4 years to the criminals as the PLP demagogued the UBP's anti-crime election proposals to arrest escalating violent crime - which they denied was escalating - and then spent two years trying to use control of the Police as a wedge issue for independence with the Governor.

But we are where we are now and it's time to deal with it.

The UBP should re-table all of their election proposals on law and order, and Government should admit they have merit and implement them. Stat. Particularly preventative detention, three strikes and you're out.

Every time a murder or shooting occurs a massive amount of Police resources are redirected to investigate and prosecute, which dramatically reduces the amount of prevention they can do. This is not the fault of the Police.

Government should look to dramatically increase the size of the Police Force, not Service, Force. Double it. We should enforce any little law on the books to choke the criminals before they can even get around the island.

Loud muffler? Bike impounded. Tint on your windows? Car impounded. Loud music? Pulled over and warrants checked. Run a stop sign? Pulled over and warrants checked.

We have laws that we can enforce to make movement around the island close to impossible if you don't want to be pulled over.

With shootings in St. George's we know there's only one way in and out. So set up road blocks and start enforcing every little law and confining the criminals to their houses.

This will require many more police, meaning a substantial increase in budget and recruiting from overseas, including the UK which has been politically unpalatable to the anti-anything-UK PLP. Police officers can't be subject to fixed terms because it takes years to integrate into a community.

Times change. Our immigration policies are no longer working. Change them.

Everyone is going to be inconvenienced, but the alternative is an end to Bermuda as we know it.

I often tell people that the term Bermuda's Economic Miracle needs to be retired because it is not a miracle, it was the product of vision, hard work (and balanced budgets and low taxes).

But Bermuda is like a thoroughbred racehorse. If it pulls up lame you might as well shoot it in the head because the investment in people and dollars isn't going to come back once it leaves for Switzerland, Ireland or Luxembourg. The days of 'oh they'll never leave' are gone. Long gone. They're leaving, quietly, and they're not setting up here and creating new jobs. A shooting war is just another reason to implement your Plan B.

Employers, international and local need to know that they can staff their businesses adequately and that their employees, local and foreign, can expect to live and work in a safe environment.

The upside is that the PLP can no longer deny what many people they ridiculed have been telling them for years, that international business can not be taken for granted and that crime was on the verge of exploding to levels that would be hard to contain.

Well, both scenarios are here, at the same time.

Time for some realism and tough love.

The politics and policies of the past decade have failed. It's time for every Bermudian to step up and demand better.

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Flying kites in Canada, clearly it's only a Bermudian thing.

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After listening to the budget debate over the past few weeks, where Ministers read prepared briefs for hours on end, I'm convinced that a handful of Cabinet Ministers would fail the Work Permit Holders' Competency with the English Language test that Government launched today.

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