March 2011 Archives

Surely when the Premier and Finance Minister is quoted as saying that Bermuda needs a third economic pillar, she is supposed to end that sentence with "and this is what it will be and here is how your Government is going to make it happen."

Notwithstanding that with tourism at 4.5% of GDP it's probably more appropriate to sort out the second pillar before wondering out loud what the hell the third could be.

PS Read Alex Jones's comment below the article.

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And in today's news, The PLP realizes that the PLP's policies have been bad for Bermuda.

No doubt there's a face saving exercise going on to figure out how to walk back term limits and land licensing without admitting the policies have damaged Bermuda and Bermudians.

To float the idea that revoking a signature policy could stimulate the economy is an admission that it has been at best suppressing economic growth and more likely contributing to the contraction.

The ultimate challenge for the PLP (and huge opportunity for the UBPBDA) is that even the PLP are acknowledging that the solutions to Bermuda's current problems involve unwinding the PLP's own policies, politics and spending culture dating back to the moments they took power.

A tough pill to swallow and one not without political consequences - if the Opposition(s) sort themselves out.

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Three data points makes a trend in my book.

I've now now been told (unsolicited) by 3 different sets of clients in the past 6 weeks that "Customs and immigration are extremely pleasant and friendly at the airport now", telling people "thanks for coming to visit" and "we appreciate your business" while processing them. Additionally, apparently the grilling over declaring small corporate gifts (pens, shirts, hats etc) has stopped as well.

The flip side however is that apparently locals are getting the 3rd degree over those antiquated yellow slips of paper and are being asked to produce accompanying original receipts as Government presumably searches for revenue anywhere they can.

I've also had several clients observe that "people are noticeably more friendly on the island now".

So that's a benefit of the pain that is permeating the island. It's taken time, but a serious dose of pain seems to have reminded people that, as the UBP said, business travelers are our customers. That behaviours and attitudes are changing - even anecdotally - is a very pleasant surprise and a sign of Bermuda maturing.

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It's hard to remember any issue which has united such a diverse group of people in Bermuda in opposition as the Tucker's Point SDO. The Uighurs is perhaps the closest I can think of, but even that didn't draw out publicly traditional PLP support in public opposition.

The protest today promises to be big, and it will be tough for the PLP to use their normal 'angry white mob' line against this one.

I'm hoping the Senate kicks this back to the House and all sides can come back to the table and reach some sort of a compromise position. The problem for TPC is that the scale of their economic problems appear to be so large that anything less than this massive proposed development will be insufficient to prevent bankruptcy.

I wouldn't be opposed to construction on the existing brownfield sites on the property, such as the top of Ship's Hill, but many of the areas are too environmentally sensitive, and the area would become too crowded.

There's not a lot of good options on the table, and Bermuda should support Tucker's Point and our existing properties as much as they can, but this request has been so horribly managed by both the developer and the Government and is too big of an ask. The overwhelming public opposition can't be ignored.

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Woke up to 17 USGS alerts overnight. Not good.

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Maybe this has been going on for awhile, because I generally don't pay much attention to CITV, but on the back of the Budget there seems to be a proliferation of fake news shows, particularly the "In The Know" show and "Today", with 'hosts' presented as journalists but lobbing soft balls at Government Ministers who then go on extensive monologues.

I'm yet to see any Opposition figure interviewed, although I could be wrong. This is exactly what CITV shouldn't be doing, which is political infomercials dressed up as interviews. The window dressing is that it is Government communicating directly with the people, but these are taxpayer funded one-sided political broadcasts at their core.

The sign offs from the host of "In the Know" tonight were

"Minister [Smith] you are a pleasure and a shining light and a gem to be around."

"Thank you Minister Desilva for all your hard work and dedication in regards to health. It is appreciated."

Cringeworthy.

This is not the model of CBC in Canada, or the BBC in the UK, or CSPAN in the US. Other than CSPAN who are ruthless in their equal time and lack of advocacy, there are of course accusations of bias, but there's no question that their shows are not an arm of the political communication apparatus, as CITV is.

I watch it and cringe at the obvious transparency of what is going on. In normal modern democracies these kinds of programs would never pass muster. At the minimum you'd see equal time, and I can't see the likelihood of the Opposition being invited on to discuss their Budget reply and plan contained within.

Not to mention that the most obvious use for CITV - broadcasting Parliament - remains elusive, with antiquated and flaky radio feeds still the only option. Parliament is one of the few times that the Opposition have a platform that can't be controlled (although they try through a pliable Speaker) and gives them a profile.

Hence why there seems to be no enthusiasm to get Parliament broadcast properly. Why give the Opposition airtime when you can produce puff pieces dressed up as news.

Of course CITV has other community shows and cultural programs, but this fake news stuff is embarrassing and the kind of propaganda that would be unacceptable in democracies we'd like to think we keep company with.

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Not quite an installment of profiles in courage from Dale Butler today.

Dale says:

"With an election in the next 12 months, all of these things are taken into consideration. I voted because your team puts out a programme and, if you are on the team, you can't keep objecting to the instructions given to you by your fellow teammates.

"Sometimes you can say no but you can't keep doing that. Everyone faces these dilemmas in one way or another. My feelings were expressed in the Progressive Labour Party [caucus], where the rules allow you to speak openly and freely."

He's got it backwards, and I don't think he's alone.

If you're part of a team and keep objecting to their decisions surely the answer is not to compromise your views so completely as he did here - by his own admission - but ask yourself whether you belong in that team anymore.

It seems self-evident that Dale is part of a team that he really doesn't belong in anymore because he disagrees with them on the big decisions of the past few years and ran a leadership campaign ripped from the last decade of UBP critiques (as did Terry Lister).

I sympathise somewhat with the broader issue of party voting; party membership is a continuum with team at one end and principle at the other. But on the big issues it's clear he is completely out of step with his party. From the outside looking in it's obvious that his views have evolved in one direction while his party's have gone in the other.

The gulf is wide now.

That's why Dale sounds so conflicted. In his heart and head I suspect he knows that he's no longer PLP in a real sense, just superficially, but has decided that his personal political survival trumps principle.

The kind of admission he made today was an attempt to salvage some credibility when faced with evidence that the self-style maverick voted against his conscience, but it's hard to see how he didn't just make things worse on all sides.

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I'm buried, I apologise but am trying to get back on the blog horse shortly.

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Has the trenching on Canal Rd set a new record for digging up a newly paved road?

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