Jet Gate & Casinos

I’m a little busy right now, however I figured even a small post was better than no posts!

Casino Legislation

I continue to be amazed at how farcical the entire handling of casino gambling by the OBA has been.

Quite frankly, if they’d focused on moving forward with a referendum on casino gambling like they promised in their election platform, rather than getting involved in scandals and using public monies to devise a strategy to ditch the referendum, well, we’d likely:

Gambling

  1. Have a clear idea of what casino gambling in Bermuda would look like and operate.
  2. We’d have a clear idea of the full pros and cons of casino gambling, including the negative social costs.
  3. We’d likely already have had the referendum on the issue and, if it was a yes vote, be much further along than we are right now.

Moral of the story?  Do what you said you’d do rather than mess around and end up further behind than if you’d just did what you said you’d do in the first place…

Also, I’m disappointed that the Minister, who says the draft legislation is ready, just being tweaked, hasn’t sought to make it publicly available at this moment in time so that the public – a key stakeholder – can review it.

Jet Gate

Despite the desire of Premier Dunkley and various OBAers to spin this as ‘Dead Gate’ this scandal is turning into a ‘gift that just keeps giving’.

OBA logo

It’s far from ‘dead gate’, that’s for sure.

My initial thoughts on reading the OBA Chairs report:

  1. The report doesn’t go as far or as in-depth as was/is needed to restore credibility to the party and remove the stench of scandal and/or corruption.
  2. Minister/Senator Fahy is a central figure in this scandal and his involvement calls into question his very character.  As it stands, he may not have done anything illegal.  Unethical, perhaps.  And in Bermuda today, well, we’re tired of ‘unethical but not illegal’.  In my opinion he needs to resign.  Which is a pity as he’s actually one of the more effective OBA Ministers.  However, the longer he stays on the front line, or is seen not to be reprimanded for this scandal, the more he becomes a liability for the OBA.  He (and the OBA) would be best served by his removal now, and perhaps his rehabilitation in the future.
  3. The report leaves more questions unanswered than not.
  4. It also asks more questions than it answers.  Seriously, as if this is just going to ‘this too shall pass’? “I discovered in the course of this investigation other matters of equal concern.  However, I have been instructed by Resolution to stay within the original statement of 14th May, 2014…”
  5. It’s not clear what the actual consequences of these findings will be.

Ultimately, it’s a rather unsatisfactory ‘conclusion’ to this scandal which I doubt will please anyone.

To give credit where it’s due though, I do commend Mr Hollis for at least trying, and I hope this sets a new standard for our political parties going forward.  Hopefully though it’s a standard to be improved upon…

Beachlime has a piece up about the further delay in casino gambling legilsation.

Bermuda Blue has a piece up about the Jet Gate report ‘can-of-worms’.

 

Solidarity with Gaza

I’ve been somewhat swamped with work of late, so apologies for the lack of posts.

There’s quite a few things going on locally and internationally, and I haven’t had the opportunity to cover them.

Perhaps the main thing politically here is the Governor effectively killing off a motion of parliament to form a Commission of Inquiry on historic theft of property – which has led to the Opposition PLP effectively going on strike from parliament and they will be marching on Government House tomorrow.

Palestine

One of the main things internationally though is the latest war on Gaza by Israel – and for that I’ve had the opportunity to write an OpEd which you can read here on Bernews.

I’ll try and write about the local politics soon – but I’ll summarise my immediate thoughts now:

  • I think the HoA motion to set up a Commission of Inquiry was sufficient for the Governor to launch the Commission;
  • As such, I think the Governor has acted inappropriately;
  • While the Governor has the power to not act on such a motion, it’s highly unprecedented;
  • I always support any peaceful demonstration, especially ones that help highlight and educate certain aspects of our politics and colonial situation;
  • I don’t necessarily agree with an indefinite ‘strike’ by the Opposition, although I have no issue with a symbolic strike by them until parliament resumes in the fall (it should end for summer recess this Friday);
  • I expect some sort of compromise to be arranged.

Murder on Our Roads?

I’ve been a tad busy of late, so apologies for the lack of postings…

Bermuda Blue posed the question the other day about whether the number of road fatalities was essentially murder on our roads.

In particular, he asked why there’s no outcry about it – with essentially one ‘murder on our roads’ per month, with this being the sixth road fatality this year alone.

I think these are both good questions.

I guess we’re just desensitised to these road fatalities.  And as they often seem to be due to solo drivers being involved, despite the pain for their immediate friends and family, they don’t seem to have the sensational impact that a more conventional murder – where one person directly kills another – has.

Arguably though, some of these fatalities are indeed murder.

Indirect murder though.

But if they are murder, then one has to ask who the murderer is.

Some will say it’s indirect suicide.

Or just plain accident.

As a number of these (I think the statistics are 50%) are understood to have an over the limit blood alcohol level, is it suicide by alcohol, or murder by alcohol?

And if it’s murder by alcohol, who’s the murderer?

Is it all of us, in as much as a culture is all too often enabling of alcohol abuse and driving under the influence?

Is it the alcohol companies who advertise and glamorize alcohol consumption?

Drunk driving

Is it the establishments that sell the alcohol (bars, clubs)?

Is it the police for not enforcing the laws we currently have regarding alcohol and driving?

Is it our parliamentarians who have not introduced better laws or provided the legislative structure for better approaches to alcohol and driving under the influence?

CADA has campaigned for improvements, but it’s not enough, obviously.

So, if it is murder, then who’s the murderers, and who’s going to hold them responsible?

Public Service Announcement – Ferries Disrupted; Industrial Action

Following on from the disruption to the bus services the other day, the ferries appear to be disrupted today.

Ferries disrupted today.

Ferries disrupted today.

I’m pretty sure this is an unrelated issue to the problems leading to the buses being disrupted, but it’s no secret that the workers there warned of problems with management months ago, and in doing so pretty much gave people advanced notice of strike action at that time.

I’m not aware of the exact cause of this disruption at this time though – although the Minister responsible was in the news recently touching on some issues which may possibly give some indication of the issues involved.

Public Service Announcement – Eastern Bus Services Issues

Just a quick ‘public service announcement’…

The news is reporting that the bus service is experiencing some industrial action at the moment.

I understand that this is only affecting the eastern services (1, 3, 10 and 11) right now, although there is the possibility that the other routes may become affected out of worker solidarity to expedite the problem being resolved.

I’m understanding (and I believe this has been confirmed by ZBM) that the problem is due to the toilets at the eastern bus depot currently being out of service, an issue which has been brought to management’s attention for months now, apparently to no avail, and has gotten worse.

Some bus routes are experiencing disruption today.

Some bus routes are experiencing disruption today.

As one can appreciate, not having access to toilet facilities is not simply a question of dignity for the workers affected, but also a clear health and safety issue.

Afterall, do we really want buses being driven by drivers who might be distracted by the call of duty, having to ‘hold it in’ due to the lack of facilities available to them?  I can imagine that would heighten the risk of accidents through distraction, and that’s something no one needs.

Hopefully management will finally take action to provide a sustainable solution to this problem, with stop gaps such as port-a-loo’s hardly a solution, even if they help a little.

***UPDATE***

I just received an email telling me that the issue is to do with plumbing at the Palmetto Road Depot, and as such it may very well be affecting all buses.

I’m off-island at the moment, so I’m not able to investigate this issue personally.

The same issue of worker dignity and health and safety applies however, be it a problem with the eastern or main central depot.

Help me develop Fixed-Term Elections legislation!

Happy National Heroes Day everyone!

As part of my trying to ‘do politics differently’ and to facilitate progressive political reforms, I’ve drafted some legislation for Fixed-Term Elections.

Fixed-term elections was something that both the OBA and I ran on in the 2012 General Election.

Unfortunately, despite the ‘urgency of now’ and popular support (from my perspective) for a variety of political reforms proposed by the OBA during the election, this and other political reforms have largely been put on the backburner by the Government.

There was talk last summer of a committee being headed by Minister Fahy to develop these reforms, but nothing clear was set out, such as timelines or further updates.

Recalling that the overseas students felt disenfranchised in the last election due to the lack of absentee ballots, and the then PLP Government’s response that it was too late to deal with that then, rather than wait with hope for the current government to proceed with these reforms, I thought I’d give them a helping hand.

So I reviewed some overseas legislation regarding Fixed-Term Elections (my draft is largely based on the UK legislation) and adapted them as I felt necessary.

fountain-pen-1441111-m

Now, I’m not a lawyer, and I’m not a member of any political parties, or the government.  I don’t have people who can commit time to developing legislation.

I know that.

I also want to help democratise our political system – and so I’m hoping that the public will review my proposals, offer their criticism and help me improve the legislation.

Bernews has been kind enough to help me with this, and you can find my draft Act there, along with the key questions I think need to be asked about the legislation to improve it.

Also, despite running in the last election, I didn’t win.

Quite frankly it’s hard for an independent candidate to overcome the cultural inertia of party politics, let alone the power of the party machines.

I knew that when I ran, and realised it would be quite a miracle to pull off a victory even in the best of situations, let alone an OBA stronghold.

However, I didn’t want to vote for PLP or OBA and felt that by running I could shine a light on areas the two parties were ignoring – for whatever reason – as well as help add some diversity to our rather bland, centrist and divisive politics.

Anyway, as I didn’t win or subsequently been appointed as an Independent Senator (hey, you never know!), I personally have no way of tabling this legislation.

My hope though is that this can trigger some discussion about the proposed reform and expedite the legislation being tabled in parliament on my behalf – or at least encourage alternative legislation on the same topic to be introduced.

Worth a shot anyway, right? ;-)

So, please take a look at what I’m proposing, and give me your feedback so I can look to improve the proposed legislation and encourage parliament to move forward on this (and other) political reforms!

feedback-form-excellent-866529-m

You can comment here, or on the Bernews article, or email me.

I’ll do my best to incorporate the feedback and release an improved draft later.

Outline of Proposal

  • Elections to be held every four years, starting in 2016.
  • Elections to be held on the third Monday of June in the scheduled calendar year.
  • Extraordinary elections possible only via a Motion of No Confidence.
  • Parliament cannot be otherwise dissolved.
  • The election may be postponed by up to four weeks via a parliamentary vote requiring 66% of the vote.

Key Questions

  1. Do you think elections should be every four or five years, and why?
  2. Do you think holding it on a holiday is a good idea?
  3. Do you think holding it in June is a good idea?
  4. Does the draft adequately allow for extraordinary elections and related scenarios?
  5. Should the mechanism for postponing elections be changed?
  6. Anything else?

 

National Heroes Day

Vexed has a post up in the wake of Mr Teddy Tucker’s passing so close to National Heroes Day (celebrated this coming Monday), arguing that to him/her this is the personality they’ll be celebrating this year.

National Heroes Day itself has been subject to some recent criticism, with the Government deciding not to identify anyone as the subject for this years celebration.

In truth, the holiday has been the subject of criticism/controversy since it was initiated – initially by those who think it’s an insult to the monarchy (officially replacing the Queen’s Birthday Holiday, the parade of which continues on the same day anyway), or that it was a conspiracy of reverse racism by the PLP, or that it failed to set out a clear way to select a hero each year (the first national hero, Louis Browne-Evans, was the subject of the day from 2008 until 2011 when three additional heroes shared the day – Pauulu Kamarakafego, Dr EF Gordon and Henry Tucker; and Mary Prince was the subject for 2012, and, by default, 2013).

national-heroes-day-bermuda-lois-browne

I support the idea of National Heroes Day, and recognise that it’s not novel to Bermuda, but exists in various countries (especially the Caribbean and Africa, but also Asia and Europe – including the UK), and being a republican I’m quite happy to see it formally replace the Queen’s Birthday (which isn’t even an official holiday in the UK).

In most cases, the day is held on a key anniversary, usually a key hero or event in that country’s history, and was originally held in October, but this was moved for the sake of expediency in terms of sharing out the public holidays more evenly across the year.

I understood that selection would be through nominations to a board/committee – related to the Department of Community & Cultural Affairs – which would then provide a short-list of candidates for the Minister to select from, and that this would be annual.

That has not been the case, and it remains unclear how the hero is to be selectedor, more frequently, not selected.

Which is disappointing.

The idea of National Heroes Day should be to (a) commemorate living national heroes (surely it’s better to celebrate them while still alive…); and/or (b) commemorate past national heroes who may otherwise be forgotten, and so help build an appreciation of our heritage.

Admittedly, due to the racial power imbalances prevalent in our history, ‘Black’ history has been largely erased from the historical record – indeed, ‘actively suppressed’ may be a better phrase than simply ‘erased’.

And this largely means that key national heroes are simply unknown – they weren’t recorded and so aren’t recognised.  Our history has, rather literally, been White-washed – as well as filtered in a sexist way to boot.

Despite this, there are plenty of heroes, historical and present, who can, and should have, been the focus of National Heroes Day, complete with a coordinated public education campaign, across races and sex.

And for those unrecorded heroes of the past we could have had a generic ‘themed’ day where focus would have been on past injustices and the resistance against them.

Alternatively, National Heroes Day could be a generic one (which it appears to be this year) where everyone’s left to determine their own national hero.

Which has its merits, but I feel it misses out on a pedagogical opportunity to highlight our collective heritage (living or other) and help inspire people to become future national heroes.